The Wife:

The gang is jealous of the success of McArthur Genius grant winner Dave Underhill, a thirty-something physicist who looks, as my sister-in-law observed, like the poor man’s Dane Cook. (My husband’s retort: “Dane Cook is the poor man’s Dane Cook.”) In short, not only is Dave Underhill a genius, but he’s also pretty good looking in a douchebaggy sort of way.

“The guy was just at the right place at the right time with the right paradigm shifting theory of the universe.” – Leonard

Dave saunters over to the guys’ table and asks Leonard if he’d like to assist him with some experiments. Thrilled to work with the rockstar of their university, Leonard accepts. Quickly, he becomes just as cool as Dave. Well, sort of. He and Dave hang out a lot outside the lab, but most of Dave’s cool scientist activities involve things that cause Leonard bodily harm. For example, even just sitting on Dave’s motorcycle without the motor on, Leonard somehow manages to break his foot. Penny spies Leonard hanging with Dave on the night of the foot injury and immediately takes a liking to Dave. As she helps Dave escort Leonard up the stairs, she starts flirting with Dave, telling him how much into science she is. Dave asks her to go for a ride on his bike once Leonard is safely delivered to his apartment and so begins their brief affair, much to Leonard’s chagrin.

Wow, you really do look like Dane Cook.

Wow, you really do look like Dane Cook.

“Science is my lady.” – Leonard

Leonard doesn’t understand why Penny would be interested in Dave, especially because she broke up with Leonard because she said he was “too smart for her.” After seeing her tool around the lab with Dave, Leonard eventually confronts her, citing that Dave is a bajillion times smarter than Leonard could ever hope to be, thus making Dave far too smart for Penny. Penny informs Leonard that Dave may be a genius, but he’s not very smart at all. Turns out, he was cheating on his wife, which Penny discovered when she found nude pictures of said wife on Dave’s phone. Penny may not be much, but one thing she’s not is a homewrecker.

In the B-plot, Penny announces that she has purchased Christmas gifts for Leonard and Sheldon. This disturbs Sheldon, who has a strictly non-gift giving policy because he doesn’t participate in pagan holidays. Or something. The spirit of giving is reciprocity, he claims, so for Penny to say that she does not need a gift from Sheldon in return is an unacceptable answer to Sheldon. Pressured to find a gift for Penny, he drags Raj and Howard to a faux Bath & Body Works to help him find a present for her. Raj and Howard posit that Sheldon can’t go wrong getting her bath items, a standard but always appreciated/needed gift in the world of women. Assuming the bath item gift hypothesis is correct, Sheldon then begins to agonize over the size of the gift basket he should get for Penny, wondering why each basket size portends for their relationship. Ultimately, Sheldon decides to buy one of each size gift basket. He will wait to open Penny’s gift and then, feigning intestinal distress, excuse himself, look up the value of the gift online and then select the appropriate valued gift basket to present to her.

Assuming, your hypothesis is correct . . .

Assuming, your hypothesis is correct . . .

Fresh from her talk with Leonard about Dave, Penny appears fresh and happy on Christmas morning, ready to watch Leonard and Sheldon open their gifts. When Sheldon opens his, he is confused to find a napkin, until Penny tells him to turn it over, on which he finds written: “To Sheldon, Live Long and Prosper. – Leonard Nimoy.”

Sheldon is overcome, especially when Penny tells him that she’s sorry it’s not a more pristine napkin, but she didn’t get a chance to get a fresh one before she asked Nimoy to sign the napkin he had wiped his mouth on. Now, not only does Sheldon have Nimoy’s autograph, but his DNA.

“All I need is a healthy ovum and I can grow my own Leonard Nimoy!” –Sheldon

As Sheldon excuses himself, Penny sits down with Leonard to exchange gifts, both of which end up being jokes about the pairs’ mutual infatuation with Dave Underhill. For Leonard, Penny bought him motorcycle lessons. For Penny, Leonard bought a children’s chemistry set. (I actually bought a children’s chemistry set for a friend in high school who is now well on her way to being a biochemist. Children’s chemistry sets are fun gifts, yo.)

Leonard, Sheldons hugging me!

Leonard, Sheldon's hugging me!

Knowing that Penny has given him something completely invaluable, Sheldon has no choice but to give her every single giftbasket he had purchased. Feeling that’s not enough, he runs over to awkwardly hug Penny, a moment that actually filled me with a great amount of joy and pride. That little girl from the Midwest without much of a brain for book smarts has actually succeeded in teaching Sheldon to be slightly more human. The gift exchange was certainly the best part of this episode, to be sure. It showed us heart and character and the set-up to that event utilized the ensemble and the guest star brilliantly. BBT has never been a show I look to for more than a few laughs and my own need to geek out about things (and sometimes my need to bitch and moan about the stuff these guys geek out about), but this week, it actually took the time to explore the relationships between the characters, furthering the strange friendship between Penny and Sheldon that can only get stranger from here and cementing the very real friendship that’s been blossoming over the course of the second season. The end of this episode was great, and very genuine.

Some wardrobe notes, which I feel need to start being included because there are so many good geeky tees on BBT:

1. What is up with everyone and their mom having that green inverted tree and bird shirt? I know it’s based on tee designs from Atticus, but the one featured in BBT is mass produced from somewhere. Target? I think I’ve seen it at Target. Anyway, my best friend has this shirt in black, and it’s also on one of the guys in Cinemark Theaters and AT&T’s “Happy the Hedgehog” commercial shorts. It’s everywhere.
2. Sheldon’s bars and tone shirt from the opening of this episode? Awesome.
3. Penny’s dolman sleeve sweater with the butterflies was really lovely. I must find it in time for my sister-in-law’s birthday next April . . . that’s enough lead time, right?