'The Big Bang Theory': Is Howard a space case?

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For an episode that so heavily touted the return of Sheldon's mortal enemy Wil Wheaton, the story between Howard and Bernadette stole the show.

[Spoiler Alert]

In Thursday's (Oct. 13) episode of " The Big Bang Theory" Howard ( Simon Helberg) announces huge news - he's been selected to be a payload specialist for the international space station. Or, to put it in layman's term, he's gonna be an astronaut.

While most of the crew celebrates this news, his fiancee Bernadette ( Melissa Rauch) isn't quite so giddy. A rift emerges between the two because he didn't discuss it with her first. In a tender moment that's atypical of the show and certainly of Howard, he tells his future bride of his dreams and aspirations - including going into space. But Bernadette will have none of it. She even gets Howard's mother involved who barks out that her son is going into space "over my dead body."

Howard is crushed by Bernadette's backstabbing move. He even kicks her out of the house. Bernadette explains her actions were meant with the best of intentions and they ultimately reconcile. "The thought of losing you is more than I can handle," she says sweetly.

It was a refreshing change to see an episode showing a sensitive side to Howard and to learn that beneath his boorish, dork exterior, there's a real person. While we wouldn't want to see it in every episode, it added a nice touch of humanity.

And then there's Sheldon ( Jim Parsons) and his face-off with his arch nemesis Wil Wheaton. Fans of the show know that the two have a checkered past. This episode brings back some of those painful memories.

In the end, the two ultimately patch up their differences and Wheaton works his way out of Sheldon's dog house. But now there's a new occupant, Wheaton's former " Star Trek: The Next Generation" co-star Brent Spiner.
Photo/Video credit: CBS