Does Sheldon Cooper know how to party? Well, this is a man who has produced more than 200 episodes of a podcast called Fun With Flags, so … no. No, he does not. But he does know how to plan a perfectly lovely evening for a pregnant pal with whom he has spent little one-on-one time, proving that The Big Bang Theory still has a surprise or two up its sleeve when it comes to shaking up its character dynamics.
Sheldon and Bernadette's delightful evening begins after Penny wins entry for the gang to a wine-tasting event. (It's a reward from the pharmaceutical sales-rep job she hates, as we learned earlier this season.) Preggers Bernie can't drink, and Sheldon just doesn't want to, so he invites her to spend Saturday night at his apartment instead. The agenda for the "fetus-friendly festival of fun" includes lessons on model trains and the many different ways to make toast. (French, cinnamon, Melba, and Star Wars — one side lightly toasted, the other side totally dark).
Bernie thinks the night will be filled with Sheldon-centric interests that don't interest her, but his tale about swallowing a small model train as a child (and spending the next three days muttering, "I think I can pass it, I think I can pass it") leads to him sharing why he loves trains so much. To a little boy whose genius intellect, unique personality, and warring parents left him feeling lonely in a chaotic home, trains made sense. They could be ordered and controlled and categorized. "They gave me a sense of calm in a world that didn't," he tells Bernadette. "Other than when they're shuttling through your bowels, these things are magic."
After the toast lesson — during which Sheldon produces so many varieties that there's a "goody bag" of yeasty treats for Bernie to tote home — he springs one more activity that appears to be another selfish Sheldon selection: a game of Dungeons & Dragons. But with the mommy-to-be already swapping a boozy night out with the gang for sparkling cider with Sheldon, Bernadette is tickled to discover that he created a Bernie-centric round of D&D, where she is Bernatrix, a strong, beautiful, tall warrior queen who wields a sword. Naturally, Bernatrix demands the strongest libation available when she makes a pit stop at the local tavern.
In this special Bernie-fied D&D game, only men get pregnant ("So your husband's home trying not to pee when he laughs," Sheldon tells her), and she kills a hell prawn that offers itself up to her, along with a packet of soy sauce, for a tasty sushi nosh.
Bernadette thanks Sheldon for giving her a night off from everyone focusing on her pregnancy, and he tells her that whenever "Bernadette the Pregnant" needs a time-out, "Bernatrix the Warrior Queen is here waiting." With one caveat: "That offer's only good until the third trimester," Sheldon says. "I can't risk getting amniotic fluid on my spot."
As for the rest of the gang, Amy and Howard are the first to arrive at the wine tasting. Unlike Sheldon and Bernie, they find they have very little to say to each other outside a group setting. Their uneasiness comes to a merciful end when Penny, Leonard, and Raj arrive. Raj warns everyone that when Claire arrives, they shouldn't ask a lot of questions about their relationship, because he's trying to be casual with her. (And what about your other girlfriend, Raj?) But then Penny's ex-boyfriend, Zack, wanders over to the gang's tables. He flirts with Claire, expresses surprise that Penny and Leonard are married to each other, and sparks an ethical quandary for Leonard and Howard when they explain their navigational system to him and he immediately points out its likely military applications.
It disturbs both Leonard and Howard that the military angle hadn't occurred to them but did occur to Zack, the man who once honestly questioned whether he and Penny had children together. He really didn't know! Also, while Howard remains focused on how their invention could lead to the serious cash he needs as a daddy-to-be, Leonard is troubled enough by a potential military use of it to question whether they should continue with the project at all.
And Raj, while trying to prevent Zack from swooping in on Claire, can't keep himself from being duped into admitting he's also still seeing Emily. Yes, he's still juggling multiple women. For now, anyway.
- Raj, accepting Penny's invitation to the wine tasting: "I do enjoy the complexity of an aged Pinot Noir."
- Leonard, handing Raj his takeout dinner: "I'm sure that would pair nicely with your fine nuggets of chicken."
- Sheldon, on why he doesn't want to attend the wine tasting: "No, thanks, I prefer my grapes the old-fashioned way — in a juice box."
- Sheldon's take on hot tubs: "Vats of sweaty-people soup."
- Sheldon apparently has a pair of new friends, Frank and Alicia, who give him advice and play games with him … but Leonard has never heard of them. "Leonard, friends are like toilet paper: It's good to have extras under the sink," Sheldon cryptically explains. Let's hope this pays off in a story line down the road.
- The guys test a prototype of their infinite persistence gyroscopic navigational system, and while it's a graphically beautiful mechanism, it makes Sheldon so dizzy he faints. He also isn't too happy with Leonard's introduction of the device when he films the test run, so he plans to have James Earl Jones take over the narration "in post."
- A note for Amy and Howard: The next time you share an awkward scene, just remember your shared love of Neil Diamond.
- One of Zack's favorite scientists is "Mike deGrasse Tyson."