Young Sheldon season 4 is doing something that The Big Bang Theory never did — give Sheldon a worthy competitor who doesn’t tolerate his unreasonable behavior. While the CBS long-running sitcom wrapped up after 12 seasons in 2019, the network is continuing to capitalize on the massive fan community over the years through its prequel. Granted that Young Sheldon isn’t known to take liberties breaking established continuity. That being said, its current season is handling Sheldon so much better than The Big Bang Theory ever did
Currently in its fourth year, Young Sheldon tackles the summer right after Sheldon graduated early from high school and is waiting to start college at East Texas Tech with Dr. Sturgis. While the boy genius got invitations from Princeton and CalTech, he struck a compromise with his mother, with the help from his dad, to let him go to college on the condition that it would be at an academic institution nearby. As Sheldon waits for the school year to begin, he spends time with his family and engages in various summer activity including a bible camp as seen in Young Sheldon season 4, episode 4.
In the outing titled “Bible Camp and a Chariot of Love,” Sheldon was forced to attend the bible camp instead of stamp camp after the latter was suddenly canceled due to lack of interest. Not exactly a religious person, he presumed that the sessions were going to be boring until he found Paige also in the event. As revealed last season, Paige is going through a rebellious phase following the divorce of her parents and she continues to act out in the episode. Things initially started okay between the pair, but it didn’t take long for them to reignite their rivalry, this time through the bible pop quiz. Annoyed that Paige won the first round, Sheldon came back the next day fully prepared to go against her only for Paige to not care. This infuriated Sheldon; he resorted to a string of pranks to get a reaction from her, but nothing worked. When she explained that she’s not bothered by his antics because she’s more concerned about the status of her family, Sheldon crossed the line and goaded her by floating the idea that it’s her fault that her parents split up. This earned Sheldon a black-eye — something that even he knew he deserved.
This highlights how Young Sheldon effectively gives Sheldon a worthy challenger in Paige which was never seen in The Big Bang Theory. Granted that he’s had his rivals over the years like Barry Kripke and Wil Wheaton, they always stooped down to his level of pettiness, resulting in a childish round of pranks where Sheldon almost always emerged victorious from. He even engaged in these silly trolling wars with his friends like when he got into a fight with Howard about a parking space at work. Instead of calling Sheldon out for his bad behavior, the people around him during his adult life tend to let him dictate how things should be handled. Young Sheldon‘s Paige, on the other hand, doesn’t tolerate Sheldon; she doesn’t let herself be affected by his annoying ways because she knew that he’s deliberately doing that to rile her up. With this, she denies him the satisfaction of knowing that he accomplished hassling her making her street smart as well. As seen in her latest small-screen appearance, Paige also doesn’t think twice about putting him in his place — something that very few people do.
It’s curious if Sheldon would’ve turned out differently had Paige stayed in his life. The character has never been mentioned outside of Young Sheldon, so perhaps they lost touch after he moved to Pasadena. In hindsight, there’s a case to be made about how his family and The Big Bang Theory friends tolerated Sheldon too much to the point that he got used to the idea of getting everything he wants. Clearly, he needed someone like Paige in his life.