The Big Bang Theory season 12 episode 17 review: Penny climbs the career ladder

Penny pushes pills while Sheldon experiments on Howard and Bernadette's kids in the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory...

This review contains spoilers.

12.17 The Conference Valuation

Right from the start of this week’s The Big Bang Theory, The Conference Valuation, the episode wants to flip your expectations. You may have thought that that plot line a few weeks ago where Penny was put in charge of a sales team was never going to come up again but, behold, plot continuity! Assumed the show had forgotten about Howard and Bernadette’s children? Nope! The wonders may never cease.

The former plot is the less entertaining, but perhaps the more important, of the two. Penny is still leading the sales team and is thriving, even if members of her team are crying in the bathroom and staying in the conference room past midnight. Turns out Penny can be as scary as Bernadette when she wants to be.

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But Bernadette shouldn’t get used to having Penny and her talents to herself for long, as her ability to sell drugs that don’t really work to vulnerable customers (“mediocre actress but excellent drug pusher, who knew?!”) has caught the eye of competitors. As soon as they’re outside the office walls, Bernie’s arch-nemesis pounces with his business card, and you can’t blame Penny for being tempted.

Coming from the acting world, Penny knows about the hustle but she knows even more about taking opportunities when they come. Similarly, Bernadette fits perfectly in this cut-throat corporate environment and knows only to make her staff feel valued when they’ve got one foot out the door. We’ll never know what number was written on that napkin, but at least Penny knows her worth.

As the girls are in San Diego, Howard has been left with the kids. Despite having been a father for a number of years now, everyone is acting as if this is the first time it’s happened, but then can’t you just imagine Howard being the ‘fun parent’ while Bernie takes care of things like food, nap time and keeping them alive. Of course, Howard immediately recruits his less kid-phobic friends to come over and help out.

Despite initial reservations (i.e. refusal to hang with Howard’s loud, sticky children), Sheldon is soon begging to play with the kids. The reason? Amy introduced him to a book detailing experiments you can do on babies – testing their development, early signs of personality and pitting the two siblings against each other. It takes a few hours before someone calls Amy out on her plan to get Sheldon more enthusiastic about children as a concept, but it makes a lot of sense.

While I’m not convinced Amy will announce her pregnancy before the end of the show, at least we know that – if it did happen – Sheldon wouldn’t freak out as much as he might have done earlier in their relationship. Despite his quirks, Sheldon came from a traditional family with traditional family values, and some of that is clearly still embedded in him. And as Amy says, you don’t want to bet against her.

The unintended side effect of Amy’s little experiment is the repressed memories it awakens in Leonard, who realises that his entire childhood may have just been one big experiment (or lots of small ones).

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As an episode more concerned with setting up potential future storylines and following up on past ones, The Conference Valuation doesn’t feel like an episode we need to take much note of. But with an end date now set, we won’t have many more of these quiet, everyday episodes, and we should appreciate them while they last.

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The D&D Vortex, here.