In last week's episode, Sheldon was excited to become a "faceless cog in the military industrial complex," thanks to the quantum gyroscope that he, Howard, and Leonard agreed to miniaturize for the Air Force. But thanks to overzealous (read: arrogant and controlling) behavior on Sheldon's part, the group (read: Sheldon) promised to finish the project in an impossibly short period of time. Which brings us to this week's installment, in which Sheldon becomes a sleep-deprived drug addict who's forced to admit he isn't quite the math genius he thought he was.
Okay, I may be exaggerating the dramatic stakes of "The Dependence Transcendence." But unaccustomed to burning the midnight oil, Sheldon balks at Howard and Leonard's insistence that he stay in the lab with them as they race to finish the miniaturization in the two-month delivery window he promised to Colonel Richard Williams.
After acknowledging his friends are right to demand he do his fair share, Sheldon grudgingly downs his first caffeine-filled energy drink. (He's egged on by a hallucination of the Flash, naturally.) Buzzing with energy, Sheldon speeds around the lab, distracting himself and his partners from any discernable progress. When the energy drink starts to wear off, he realizes he's craving another, which leads him to believe he's now an addict.
Hang in there, everybody. This is where it starts to get good.
After Leonard and Howard's refuse to give credence to his claims of addiction — and who knows how many hours without sleep — Sheldon finally admits the truth to his sympathetic friends: The math portion of the project, the one he's in charge of, has stymied him. He's been loath to make this confession about his own limitations, and his friends need him to work out the math before they can move forward with their tasks. But Sheldon reveals that he's hit a roadblock, and in its own way, this is as big a moment of growth for Sheldon Cooper as his decision to have sex with Amy Farrah Fowler on her birthday.
It's hard to overstate how significant a change this is for The Big Bang Theory. Much like the Fonz, Sheldon doesn't like to admit he's wrong. He not only does so in this episode, he specifically does so because he's the one who put his friends in this high-pressure situation. (And because his lack of progress on the math impedes their overall progress on the gyroscope.) After all the grief he's given Leonard and Howard about their supposed intellectual inferiority, Leonard is fortunate that they let him off the hook pretty easily. The three of them go together to Col. Williams's office and ask for an extension, one that will stretch the project from two months to two years. "You think you're the first government contractor that wasn't going to deliver on time? We're still waiting for a big space laser Reagan ordered to beat the Commies," he tells them.
The relieved trio scoots out of the intimidating military man's office and, within his earshot, immediately makes plans to go see a movie instead of getting back to work. I guess there are more moments of growth to be had.
Elsewhere, Penny accompanies Amy to a party with her university colleagues, where they learn that Amy is considered the coolest woman on campus among her co-workers. "I'm sure it's just because I'm dating Sheldon," Amy says. "Actually, I think Sheldon's popular because he's dating you," party host Bert tells her.
Coupled with Bert's comment that Amy and Penny's friendship makes sense because hot girls always stick together, the revelation about nerd popularity impresses Penny so much that she declares CalTech to be exactly like her high-school alma mater.
"Well, it's not exactly like it. We're all exr" Amy begs to differ. "We're all extremely smart."
"Wow, you popular girls are mean," Penny says.
And with Howard's lab work leaving both Bernadette and Rajesh with a load of free time on their hands, Raj decides to keep Bernie company. But she doesn't want to shop for baby things, or plan the theme for the baby's room, or do anything else baby-related. As she tells Raj, she's just not feeling the maternal vibes yet. In fact, she's so freaked out about her lack of excitement about the baby — or any baby — that she's seriously questioning this whole impending mama gig.
Raj, who's proven himself many times to be the most sensitive of the Pasadena pals, offers her reassurance in the form of a phone call to his OB-GYN papa in India. The other Koothrappali doc reassures Bernie that her feelings are normal, and that even if she doesn't love other people's babies, she will love her own. His words soothe her.
Then, in an obvious jab at his son's frequent pleas for money or things that cost money, he also wishes for her a female child. Poor Raj.
- Raj's tempting pitch to get Bernadette to go to the mall with him: "We could share a pretzel and get sideways glances from racist old ladies."
- According to Sheldon, Yoo-hoo is "chocolate milk's delicious, watery cousin."
- The Flash tries to convince Sheldon to drink caffeine by insisting the Hulk uses steroids, and that Batman gins up his aggression by downing copious amounts of scotch. Sheldon's sold: "I do like things better when famous people also like them."
- Penny overhears the university gossip about Leonard: They all think he "tricked some hot girl" into marrying him. She's pleased by her description in that scenario, but corrects Bert. "He didn't trick me, he just wore me down," she says.