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The Big Bang Theory Recap: No Noble Nobel

The Big Bang Theory

The Confirmation Polarization
Season 12 Episode 13
Editor’s Rating *****

The Big Bang Theory

The Confirmation Polarization
Season 12 Episode 13
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Michael Yarish/WARNER BROS.

Into every 24-episode sitcom season, a smattering of middle installments must fall, and this is as middle-of-the-season as it gets.

Yes, more super asymmetry.

In what initially appears to be good news, Sheldon and Amy learn via an email they read during an episode of the Fun with Flags podcast (more specifically, Dr. Sheldon Cooper and Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler Present Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s Fun with Flags) that a pair of Chicago physicists have proven the couple’s super asymmetry theory.

But when those scientists — Dr. Pemberton (guest star Sean Astin) and Dr. Campbell (guest star Kal Penn) — pay a visit to Caltech, they reveal some unpleasant details. First, they confirmed Sheldon and Amy’s theory accidentally. In fact, they don’t even understand super asymmetry themselves. Second, as excited as they are to be in town to meet the super asymmetry supercouple, they’re just as excited to attend a taping of Ellen … John Stamos (Uncle Jesse!) is her guest!

And third, and most problematic for the duo (and viewers, since this is yet another way this storyline is going to drag on): exciting talk of Sheldon and Amy potentially sharing a Nobel Prize with Pemberton and Campbell is replaced with talk by the weasels from the Windy City about how only three names can be submitted to the Nobel committee, and they think Amy’s is the one that should be MIA on the official entry.

Pemberton and Campbell have already launched a media tour to try to link themselves to super asymmetry. Sheldon’s worried. Raj tries to reassure him that credit will go where credit is due.

Howard pours some reality salt on the wound. “Yeah, who remembers the guy who was trying to find India and discovered America instead,” he says. “What was his name again?”

When the Chicago pair tell Sheldon they think Amy, the neuroscientist, should be bumped to make room for only the three physicists for the Nobel bid, he gets angry. But he doesn’t immediately refuse to go along with their suggestion.

“So you really think I’m the kind of man that would sell out his partner for the chance of winning a Nobel Prize?” he asks Pemberton and Campbell.

“Are you?” Pemberton wonders.

Sheldon: “Boy, I hope not!”

Sheldon goes home and shares this development with Amy, who tells him he might want to consider throwing his Nobel hopes in with his fellow physicists. She’s sad, but she knows how important winning a Nobel is to Sheldon, and this may be the best chance he’ll ever have to make that happen.

Despite her magnanimous offer, Sheldon marches into Caltech President Siebert’s office and tells him he only wants to move forward with a Nobel campaign if both his and Amy’s names are credited. It’s the only possible ending to this particular chapter, though that heartbeat of a moment when Sheldon himself wonders if he’d be willing to put his own career dreams above his wife’s contributions and their relationship is a heartbeat too long. The season began with newlywed Sheldon excited about and committed to being a good husband, making his relationship and Amy’s happiness a priority. That guy, as he has evolved across 12 seasons, shouldn’t have hesitated for a second when it was suggested that he put his own ego above his marriage.

Bernadette, meanwhile, has some less ambiguously great job success news. The drug she’s been developing for the last five years has just gotten FDA approval. Well, a drug she’s been working on for the last five years. A decongestant project had to be turned into a mining equipment solvent, and her anti-itch balm ended up as a funny story that she’s legally prohibited from telling. But her anti-inflammatory drug looks like a winner, and she wants to share her success with Penny by getting her pal assigned to lead the sales team that will pitch the new pill to the medical community.

To which Penny gently responds, thanks, but no thanks.

Penny’s been doing well in her job as a pharmaceutical sales rep, but she’s still nervous about taking on such an important, high-profile project. Plus, the thought of working under the oft-intimidating, demanding, demeaning Bernadette? Penny wisely ponders the potential landmines in that particular mixing of business and friendship.

However, Bernie is determined, and pushy, and one obvious plot of reverse psychology involving Karen, an office rival with a habit of swiping Penny’s yogurt, is all it takes for Mrs. Wolowitz to convince Penny to take the promotion.

As Penny’s new team on the Inflamminex project soon finds out, Bernie’s not only her boss, but her inspiration for how a leader treats her team.

That might spell trouble. But Karen probably isn’t going to be stealing Penny’s yogurt anymore.

Theor-ems:

• “We did it! We did it! We did it!” Sheldon and Amy shout after they read the email from Pemberton and Campbell. Their celebratory shouts are so loud that their friends hear them in the hallway. Says Penny, “Awww … remember when they only did it on her birthday?”

• Amy and Sheldon meet up with Pemberton and Campbell for lunch at the university’s Athenaeum Club, which was also the site of their wedding last season. “It’s a lot less impressive without Mark Hamill in it,” Sheldon notes.

“That’s what you said about our honeymoon,” Amy says.

Sheldon: “And I stand by it.”

The Big Bang Theory Recap: No Noble Nobel