The Big Bang Theory season 12 episode 18 review: the Nobel rivalry continues

Howard's ego takes a hit, while Sheldon and Amy lack the X factor in their Nobel prize bid. Spoilers ahead in our review...

This review contains spoilers.

12.18 The Laureate Accumulation

The Big Bang Theory is back and pretty much exactly the same as it was when it left but, let’s be honest, we wouldn’t have it any other way. After a month away from our screens the show is now sprinting towards its finish line and planting some interesting seeds that may or may not come up in the future (probably not – old habits die hard).

The most time of the episode is, as has been the case for a while now, dedicated to Sheldon and Amy’s super-asymmetry findings and the duo attempting to claim the discovery as their own. While this storyline has been progressing slower than your average, this episode does at least offer a couple of interesting character moments related to it.

Ad – content continues below

We begin as Campbell (Kal Penn) and Pemberton (Sean Astin) appear on Ellen. The pair have apparently gone viral because of their novelty science songs and videos, and their likeability has put them at an advantage over Sheldon and Amy. We as an audience know this is unfair, but then again we also know that ‘Let’s Get Physicist’, as terrible as it is, is probably more entertaining to the average YouTube dweller than ‘Fun With Flags’. Shamy have the know-how, but they don’t have the X-Factor.

The University President arranges a reception to fix this, and invites previous Nobel Prize winners for a meet and greet. Unfortunately, they all hate Sheldon because of previous slights of varying severity, and even a box of oatmeal cookies can’t save the day. In the end, Leonard and Penny plead with them to give their friends a chance, reasoning that Amy’s niceness averages out Sheldon’s less than sparkling personality. They succeed, but then Campbell and Pemberton turn up to ruin the evening.

It’s not actually Sheldon who spoils things this time, though, after he agrees with Leonard a code word (‘shut up’) for when he’s about to go too far. Instead, Amy snaps and makes a huge scene. Whether this will hurt or help their cause will is yet to be determined.

A smaller, sweeter freak-out is going on at the Wolowitz house, with Bernadette and Stuart creating a slightly non-flattering comic book that depicts Howard as a ‘Scared Little Astronaut’. Though Bernie was inspired by Howard’s bedtime story for Hallie, he still wants the world to see him as the engineer who bravely went to space, rather than what he is – human.

The fact that Howard’s sense of self-worth is tied to his brief jaunt to space is an ongoing thread for the character, and it’d be nice to see it being deconstructed before the end.

Ad – content continues below

But both storylines this week fail to satisfyingly resolve, which is unusual not just for  but also for sitcoms at large. I hope this isn’t another case of a potentially interesting storyline acting as a placeholder while the writers figure out how they actually want these characters to wrap up (I’m looking at you, Zach’s request for Leonard as a sperm donor and Raj’s arranged marriage), because I can’t think of a nicer way to end than for Stuart to have a girlfriend and a best-selling book.

Screw everyone else, that’s who I’m rooting for.

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Conference Valuation, here.