overnights

The Big Bang Theory Recap: Bernie’s Playhouse

The Big Bang Theory

The Grant Allocation Derivation
Season 12 Episode 7
Editor’s Rating *****

The Big Bang Theory

The Grant Allocation Derivation
Season 12 Episode 7
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Michael Yarish/WARNER BROS.

As a New York City apartment dweller, the potential for a backyard playhouse — or, as that woman in that State Farm commercial calls it, a “she-shed” — eludes me, and I’m really sorry about that after seeing how much fun such a thing provides for Bernadette, Penny, and Amy this week.

It takes a lot of little white lies, multiple bottles of wine, and what appears to be an Easy-Bake Oven to complete the picture, but the friends do manage to co-opt a playhouse constructed for the Wolowitz children as their secret club. The whole gang spends a day putting together the cute mini-house (complete with electricity and running water). Well, Sheldon doesn’t so much “help” with construction as hurry it along, because his abstruse, trivia-laden soliloquizing makes everyone want to end the activity as quickly as possible. And that they do.

But before the kiddies can play house in the playhouse, mama Bernie takes refuge there one evening. She’s about to unlock the front door when she overhears Howard talking to the two toddlers about some mishap that may or may not involve one child wearing the other child’s poopy diaper for a hat. She stealthily removes her key from the lock and backs away, calling Howard from the playhouse to tell him she has to work late.

This reprieve from rambunctious kiddos and other post-work stresses becomes a regular thing, with the addition of wine, but Bernadette does have guilt about the fact that she’s unwinding while Howard is up to his tacky belt buckle in poo. But not enough guilt to come clean about her private getaways — or to stop having them — especially when Penny also finds the playhouse to be a perfect hideout (again, with the addition of wine and Easy-Bake Oven-heated quesadillas) from Leonard and his whiny, math-soaked inability to make a work decision.

One of Amy’s talents, she reveals to Penny one evening when Mrs. Hofstadter is leaving her apartment with a wine-filled tote bag, is to suss out when other people are trying to exclude her, and that’s how Bernie, Penny, and Amy end up turning a children’s play-space into their wine-and-snack hideaway.

In a little twist, though, it’s not really a secret club. While Howard and Raj are taking a dip in the backyard hot tub, they hear noises coming from the clubhouse. Raj thinks there’s trouble afoot, but Howie whispers the truth: it’s Bernie blowing off some steam before she comes home from work. She thinks he doesn’t know, he tells Raj, and he’s going to keep it that way — partly because he wants her to have an outlet for de-stressing, but more because he wants ammunition to throw back at her when she eventually discovers his big secret: He never bought the life insurance she asked him to buy several years ago.

Hey, but at least she has a she-shed!

Though, as fun as that is — and as much as it feels like a story inspired by a real-life situation in which someone’s husband neglected to do something as serious as buying life insurance — this episode also suffers from the fact that it’s too light on the Sheldon storyline.

Up front and center instead is a Leonard plot, in which he’s tasked by Caltech’s President Siebert with deciding which of his colleagues will be the recipient of leftover grant funds, an assignment Leonard feels is a vote of confidence in his integrity. When the number of requests he’s getting begins to overwhelm him, he takes a stand and starts working his “DENIED” rubber stamp overtime, which proves to be a turn-on for Penny — seeing her man taking charge and being decisive.

The swagger doesn’t last for long, though. The pressure from his grant-hungry co-workers continues, sending Leonard back to being paralyzed by indecision. With several worthy projects in competition, and Siebert confirming the project was one he offloaded to Leonard in order to avoid making an unpopular decision himself, it’s only a bit of advice from Sheldon that finally clarifies for Leonard what he should do.

Sheldon tells him his problem is that he’s afraid of making people angry at him — something Sheldon has no problem with, himself. He could make this decision with no hesitation, which people-pleaser Leonard begs him to do. Sheldon refuses, telling his BFF this is a chance for him to grow.

“Does that upset you?” Sheldon asks.

Leonard: “Yes!”

Sheldon: “Ask me how I feel about that.”

The next day, Leonard announces he’s come to a decision about who will receive the surplus cash. It will be used to buy a new laser for … himself. His takeaway from Sheldon’s words is that, if he is going to make several people angry at him anyway, why not make himself happy in the process?

Sheldon’s proud of him. Leonard says that doesn’t matter. Then admits it really does.

Theor-ems:

• Amy wonders why the kids’ playhouse needs running water. “The same reason it’s got electricity: Bernadette and I both work, and we’re overcompensating,” says Howard.

• Howard demands to know why his grant money request isn’t among the final three Leonard is considering. “Because they wrote detailed proposals, and you sent a YouTube clip of the guy from Jerry Maguire saying, ‘Show me the money!’” Leonard tells him.

• Best takeaway from the episode: as per Mayim Bialik’s Grok Nation blog, you can buy the pom-pom-ed llama lamp from the playhouse at Target.

The Big Bang Theory Recap: Bernie’s Playhouse