The Occupation Recalibration
Sheldon Cooper, PhD., and royal pain in the behind is stuck on forced vacation time, wearing his forced vacation time jacket (I swear it's the same one he had on the last time he was forced to take a vacation). It's left to the imagination what happened this time, but it's obvious that the university where Sheldon and the majority of the cast are employed- even Amy works there now- needs a Sheldon break. Yet again, he is being forced to take his vacation days which he views as a punishment. He's right. It's his job's equivalent of a time out for Dr. Cooper to send him home for a while with pay.
Sheldon being on vacation gives him plenty of time to briefly recap the last episode and define the impasse in Leonard's love life:
"Oh, this again? So Penny proposed. You didn't say yes.
And now you think you may have lost your love forever."
Last week, after finding just enough self-esteem not to say yes to a drunken proposal, Leonard's back to walking on eggshells around Penny. Forget that she ruined the proposal he's always dreamed of, he just doesn't want her to break up with him.
"If you want to break up just say it. No, no, no, I take it back. Don't say it.
Just hate me but stay with me. It worked for my parents."
Note to Leonard: It didn't work for your parents. Your mother divorced your father three seasons ago.
Clear-eyed, sober Penny is very aware of why her proposal was wrong and resolves the tension of last week with one sentence.
"You did the right thing last night, I was a mess."
Like most of this episode, it's kind of a let down after the tension of last week. Fans of this series who were hoping for more of change in the Leonard/ Penny dynamic got more of the same. Penny's back in charge of the relationship and Leonard is walking on eggshells around her, even more afraid of losing her than before.
But Penny is not breaking up with Leonard. She's breaking up with Cheesecake Factory. In her most impetuous move yet, she's decided to quit her job and eliminate what is her one source of consistent income.
As Penny would say to anyone but Penny, "What the hell?"
Leonard, still in eggshell mode, just can't bring himself to tell Penny that she can't exist without income. He could point out that it's a recurring plot point in this series where Penny has enough trouble paying her bills working at the Cheesecake Factory. He could point out that he already subsidizes her groceries and even Sheldon has generously loaned her money in the past. He could point out that she will have to stop buying shoes -- if only for a little while.
Leonard could do anything other than refuse to tell her that just up and quitting with no other plan than "focusing all her energy" on her acting career is foolish. Unless that single hemorrhoid commercial is bringing in some serious residuals, there is going to a serious deficit in Penny’s budget.
Sheldon gives Penny his unequivocal support. At the beginning of this series, it would have been unthinkable, but now Penny and Sheldon are firm friends. She's not exactly a candidate for the tree-fort, but on terra firma, she's seems to be more Sheldon's friend than Wallowitz and Raj and on equal footing with Leonard. Sheldon says to her:
"He's not like us, Penny. We're dreamers."
Sheldon's comment is played for laughs but it's very true. This season has gone a long way to giving the Shenny shippers fodder for the shipping gristmill. (I will go down with this ship. And I won't put my hands up an surrender. There will be no white flag above my door....)
Sheldon is right, he and Penny are both dreamers. This season has also given us some interesting insights into Sheldon and this is yet another. I was given to understand that Sheldon's attempts to keep a rigid grasp on his physical world are less peculiar and almost reasonable, well, for him. Mainly because his mind takes him on such radical science heights it may actually be the only way to deal with the way he views the radical and ever-changing universe.
The rest of the regulars are given stories that make a pleasant but uneventful distraction to Penny's looming poverty.
Even in a side story, Melissa Rauch is a great comedic foil to Kevin Sussman's straight-man, sad-sack act. I really want to see him get the comic book store back on track, now that he's a regular member of the cast.
Amy Farrah Fowler may not like Bert but I did. His crush on her is sweet. He asks her out and brings her a pretty token every day. Does she get half this much attention from Sheldon? Oh well, the heart wants what the heart wants.
Just for Laughs:
Amy Farrah Fowler: "Hello Mr. Rat Brain. Not so bitey without the rest of that rat to back us up now, are we?"
Bernadette: "[Howard's] always saying I should be more careful with my curling iron and it seems like a dangerous precedent to let him think he can be right."
Title Reference: Penny quitting her job and focusing all her attention on her acting career.