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The Big Bang Theory Recap: Billionaire Boys Club

The Big Bang Theory

The Gates Excitation
Season 11 Episode 18
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Bill Inoshita/CBS

Bill Gates is coming to town, and since Penny is the one who will be squiring him around — he’s collaborating with the pharmaceutical company where she works — Leonard and the other fellas are in total geek mode as they try to find a way to leverage Penny’s hostess duties into a meeting with their tech hero.

Meanwhile, as is so often the case when the dudes are off being dorks, their significant others are actually getting stuff done. Like Penny. The one-time aspiring actress who took the job as a pharmaceutical sales rep to pay off her debt is now getting serious about her career. Her company has an opening in the publicity department, and Penny thinks she might be able to land the new gig if she impresses Gates and her bosses. Hence, no meet-up for Leonard, Raj, Howard, and Sheldon (who thinks the Gates visit is nothing more than an April Fool’s Day prank Penny is playing on him anyway).

The group’s other female members have it going on, too. When Amy Farrah Fowler visits Bernadette, she has a tough time getting the mama who just gave birth to her second child to talk, think, or watch anything that isn’t kiddo-related, right down to offering Amy a juice box and nanners as refreshment. Amy finally gets Bernadette to turn off the latest episode of Bob the Builder to go out for lunch, but when they get to the restaurant, it’s nothing but baby videos on Bernadette’s phone. They try to chat about books, except the only one Bernadette has read recently is “three pages long and floats in the bath.”

TBBT is taking viewers through every common experience of dating, friendship, marriage, and parenthood via the group — Bernie and Howard have tackled child care, sleepless nights, stay-at-home dads, pregnancy bed rest, and baby-naming this season alone — so it’s not a surprise that this Bernie story line revolves around her being one of those mothers who talks nonstop about her children, much to the annoyance of even her most patient friend.

Thankfully, the episode puts a cool twist on the trope. Bernadette begins to worry that she’s slowed down and can’t function with anyone older than humans who spend most of their time in cribs, but Amy points out that the structure of a mother’s brain changes with pregnancy and childbirth. It makes a new mom bolder, more attuned to danger, and better at multitasking. These are all positive changes, and Bernie takes Amy’s pep talk to heart. No longer will she spend her days making up songs about her babies’ toes (“To be fair, I co-wrote ‘Pinky Toe, Pinky Toe,’” Howard says) and bingeing Bob the Builder.

“Evolution gave me this mom brain to focus on a baby,” a newly confident Bernadette says. “I figure I can hack it to learn all kinds of things.”

She drops a whole bunch of this new knowledge on Amy at their next lunch, including some disturbing facts about a doomed Earth. “Just a little something I read while nursing a human being that I made,” Bernadette says, making Amy long (just a bit) for those cell-phone videos of little Halley and Michael Wolowitz.

Back to the guys, Leonard learns where Gates is staying (thanks to Penny’s itinerary) and sneaks off with Raj and Howard to try to see him. Naturally, Leonard winds up fanboying all over Gates.

As for Gates’s comedy chops? He’s only in two pretty brief scenes, but he holds his own when a very excited Leonard tears up while he’s talking to him.

“Would you like a tissue?” Gates asks.

“How ’bout a hug?” Leonard counters.

Gates, not missing a beat: “How ’bout a tissue?”

THEOR-EMS

• “Please Keep Your Clothes on While Doing Laundry.” That’s a sign that’s hanging in the laundry room of Penny, Leonard, Sheldon, and Amy’s apartment building, and it begs the question: Was someone not wearing their clothes while doing laundry? Is naked laundering a thing? Is this inspired by one of those kooky real-life anecdotes often shared in TV writers rooms? Chuck Lorre, please elaborate on that sign in your next vanity card.

• Sheldon, explaining to Penny why he won’t be fooled by her attempt at an April Fool’s Day gag (even though, as she points out, she’s never tried to fool him): “You know what they say: Fool me n times, where n equals the amount of times you’ve already fooled me, shame on you. Fool me n plus one times, shame on me.”

• Raj’s video-game avatar is named John Williams. Why? “Because I always score,” he tells Howard.

• Sheldon returns to the apartment building just before Leonard, who starts yelling, “Hold the door! Hold the door!” Anyone else think that was an intentional shout-out to Game of Thrones? I mean, will you ever hear that phrase shouted again without thinking of Hodor?

The Big Bang Theory Recap: Billionaire Boys Club