Despite the intimidating presence of Dean Norris's gruff Air Force Colonel Williams, Howard and Leonard are firmly against using their quantum gyroscope to help the military create a "weapons system that will oppress mankind for the next thousand years." Too late now, though.
Despite the efforts of Messrs. Wolowitz and Hofstadter to keep Sheldon's lips zipped while they hash out details of a possible collaboration with the government, his quiet is short-lived. What could possibly make Sheldon break his silence? Williams makes him apoplectic by suggesting the Death Star is part of the Star Trek universe, MIT is a great school, and engineers are better than scientists. (Jim Parsons's physical reaction is the highlight of the episode.) Let's just take these one by one, shall we? Per Sheldon: Death Star is a Star Wars thang, MIT is a trade school, and he and his friends can make a miniaturized version of the gyroscope in far less time than MIT estimates it would take. Whoops!
Suddenly, Howard, Leonard, and Sheldon have to whip up a mini-gyroscope in a mere two months. (That is, two months of 12-hour days, seven days a week.) It's enough to make you feel sorry for them, almost, until you remember that they should have found a way to keep their meeting Sheldon-free.
Elsewhere in this lackluster episode, we learn just how mean teeny, tiny, little Bernadette can be. Sure, Penny is wrong to accidentally blab about Bernie's pregnancy at work — Bernie worries it will cost her the chance to work on a project she really wants — but there's a deeper issue at play here. Bernadette's personality has been boiled down to basically two characteristics: repeatedly reminding everyone how miniature she is, and barking at her friends so frequently that they're all terrified in spite of her petite stature. In this episode alone, she threatens to sue her boss, yells at Amy for bringing her a healthy snack instead of French fries, and admits to sabotaging the career of the co-worker who she suspects was trying to sabotage hers.
The scant takeaways from this, just the second episode of a 24-installment season: Sheldon's a control freak, and Bernadette's crabby. No news there. The only reason to keep The Big Bang Theory going is if the characters continue to evolve, even if it's in (echoing a theme of this episode) the most miniature of ways. Ten seasons in, that's pretty much the only thing left to do, isn't it?
- Here's a quick fix: Why not fly Penny's brother Randall back to Pasadena? This show is dying for another Jack McBrayer cameo.
- A quibble: Sheldon likes few things more than being in charge, so it doesn't make sense that he would get so excited about becoming a "faceless cog in the military industrial complex." He tells his friends he fantasizes about being a Stormtrooper when he watches Star Wars, but we can all agree that if Sheldon Cooper were to be a big-screen baddie, he'd opt for Darth Vader, right?
- According to Sheldon, Elon Musk thinks life may be a video game created by a more advanced civilization. Leonard doubts it. "So, some alien kid spent his money on the asthma-and-glasses upgrade for me?" he asks. Sheldon: "Well, he doesn't say it's a good game."
- Given her access to pharmaceuticals, Penny suggests Bernadette get Howard some anti-anxiety drugs for his dealings with the Air Force. "He won't take any pills that aren't chewable and shaped like a Flintstone," Bernie replies.
- Do appreciate the vocab lesson from Sheldon, who denies being a know-it-all, but knows that the German word for one is "besserwisser."
- With the introduction of a retina scanner, TBBT continues its long history of using props to great comedic effect. (See also: Raj's giant teddy bear from season nine.) There's one at the entrance to Howard, Leonard, and Sheldon's new office, and they spend a lot of time and effort to test its effectiveness in recognizing their peepers. And I do mean a lot of time: They even hold Howard upside down in front of it.