The Big Bang Theory Recap: What’s in a Name?

Photo: Bill Inoshita/CBS
The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory

The Neonatal Nomenclature Season 11 Episode 16
Editor's Rating 3 stars

Two words you never want to hear Sheldon Cooper say: “mucus plug.”

But say them he does, as pals Bernadette and Howard await the birth of their second child, a baby that’s taking his sweet time arriving and making bed-rest-dwelling Bernie all kinds of anxious to get the baby’s body out of hers, and her body out of said bed.

Sheldon and the rest of the gang are in on the particulars of the birth (including that utterance about the mucus plug that makes me hope the series ends before Shamy has a baby and we hear him say it again), and they descend on Casa Wolowitz to do anything they can to help speed up the impending birth.

For Penny, that means trying to lead Bernie through a yoga session, but the sight of Penny’s flat tummy only irritates the mama. Both Raj and Leonard offer up foot massages, but if Bernadette is bothered by Penny’s tight abs, the fellas’ unkind remarks about the grotesqueness of her swollen tootsies certainly do nothing to boost her feelings, nor spark labor.

As for Howard, when he isn’t enjoying Bernadette’s attempt to hurry up labor by having sex, he picks a fight with his wife when he finds out from Amy that Bernie wants to name the baby Michael, after her father. Howard makes a fair point about wanting to help choose the name, of course, but it’s also tough to argue with Bernadette’s point about why she feels free to insist on honoring her father: “I carried it, had to stay in bed for four months, sacrifice my body and my job, and soon it’s going to burst its way out of me like the Kool-Aid Man.” Also, Howard’s name suggestions include Harry, “like Potter or Houdini.”

So, what finally brings about the birth of Neil Michael Wolowitz? Well, nature, of course, with an assist from the obsessions of Sheldon Lee Cooper. He gets his hands on a copy of the board game The Campaign for North Africa, and he brings it to Bernadette’s house with the idea that the two of them, and eventually the rest of their group, will play it while they await the baby’s birth.

For those unfamiliar with the game, it’s a real thing, and its complicated and maddeningly detailed play can take a little more than two full months to complete.

This is understandably not an appealing prospect to a woman who says, “This crap needs to end now!” about her exhausting pregnancy. But Sheldon persists, and while he tries to get everyone to join in on the, uh, fun, of reenacting with dice one of the lesser-known campaigns of World War II, the discussion of the mucus plug ensues, along with Sheldon’s fear that it might fly across the room and hit him in the eye.

Also understandably, and probably not coincidentally, this is about the time when Bernadette finally feels the first labor contraction, and she and Howard retreat from The Campaign for North Africa and head off to the less painful hospital maternity ward.

On the drive, the Wolowitzes have a few moments to talk about how they’re not as nervous as they thought they’d be at this moment, about how they’re just excited to meet their newest family member. Just guessing, but that might not be what they’re feeling when next we meet up with them, as they’re juggling the care, feeding, and subsequent diaper duty of two babies in the household.

As for their friends, Sheldon best sums up the evening of birth and World War II–themed game play: “Suez, birth … it’s a big night for canals.”


• Neil Michael Wolowitz: “‘Neil’ for Armstrong, Gaiman, and Diamond,” Howard says. “‘Michael’ because Bernie had to get six stitches.”

• For those keeping stats on Sheldon and Amy’s sex life, they’ve had coitus four times, Sheldon reports. That’s the same number of times Sheldon has watched La La Land, Amy reports.

• Amy tells Sheldon that Bernadette does not want to play The Campaign for North Africa. “Neither did the Egyptians, but that didn’t stop Rommel,” Sheldon says, in what has to be, even on a show that goes deep on scientific terminology, one of the more obscure jokes in The Big Bang Theory history.

• One of Sheldon’s suggestions of names for Baby Wolowitz II: Ozymandias. He’s referring to the Percy Bysshe Shelley poem, but as it is also the title of one of the best Breaking Bad episodes ever, I predict that somewhere in the world in 2018, a baby will be given the name Ozymandias.

• All this baby talk has Sheldon and Amy considering their family plans, and they’re more than a skosh apart on their wishes: She wants two kids, but he wants 15, and thinks Penny is the owner of a “suitable uterus” that they could rent to make it happen.

The Big Bang Theory Recap: What’s in a Name?