The Big Bang Theory scores again with “The Grant Allocation Derivation,” a light episode that pairs some standard sitcom silliness with another realistic snapshot of parenthood.
Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) is overwhelmed. Work has been crazy, and when she gets home every day she has Howard (Simon Helberg) and the kids up in her business without a moment to herself. On the weekend that the whole gang comes over to help build a playhouse (with water and electricity) for Halley, Bernie is a frazzled mess trying to get work done inside with both kids climbing on her.
The following Monday, she can hear Howard struggling with the kids when she approaches the front door after a long day at work. Halley has put her brother’s dirty diaper on as a hat. Bernie withdraws her key from the lock and backs away slowly. She takes refuge in the new playhouse and calls Howie to let him know she’s working late. Then she kicks back to savor some alone time.
A few days later, Penny (Kaley Cuoco) notices that Bernadette is distracted at work. Bernie confesses that she’s been hiding in the playhouse for an hour every evening when she gets home. She feels guilty about lying to Howie, but she also recognizes that that little gap between work and motherhood is making her feel human again. Penny teases her about it, but that evening Leonard (Johnny Galecki) is being so off-putting at home that Penny fakes a yoga class so she can sneak over and join Bernadette.
It doesn’t take long for Amy (Mayim Bialik) to confront Penny about how she and Bernie are doing something that Amy’s being left out of. She credits Penny with the superpower of being able to drink just enough to have a good time without being hungover the next day. Her own is being able to tell when she’s being excluded. It takes Penny a couple of minutes to crack, but she finally admits what she and Bernie have been doing and invites Amy to come along.
That evening, they’re enjoying wine and Easy-Bake quesadillas in the playhouse when Howard and Raj (Kunal Nayyar) come into the backyard to use the jacuzzi. The women get quiet, but the Easy-Bake Oven pings, and Raj hears it. He tells Howard not to freak out, but he thinks there’s someone in the playhouse. Charming twist alert: Howard knows it’s Bernadette!
He explains to Raj that he knows Bernie has been hiding in the playhouse after work all week because she needs some downtime. He’s pretending not to know, because that’s how marriage works… banking things he’ll be able to whip out in a future argument. They hear a wine cork pop and observe that it sounds like Penny’s in the playhouse, too.
Meanwhile, Leonard has been given a big responsibility by the university’s president (Joshua Malina). There’s some extra money available, and Leonard has been given sole discretion over who gets it. He accepts proposals from anyone interested, and discovers while evaluating them that he has a decisive streak. (One Penny finds intoxicating.)
Ultimately that decisiveness abandons him, and he finds himself torn between proposals from Raj, Kripke (John Ross Bowie) and crow-studying Dr. Lee (Maribeth Monroe— Mindy St. Clair from The Good Place!). He drives himself crazy trying to find an empirical method of determining which proposal is most deserving.
In the midst of his turmoil, Sheldon (Jim Parsons) inspires him to stop caring about making people angry. He realizes that there are no choices that won’t make *someone* angry, so he may as well award the money to himself. He does, and he buys a laser for his lab that he doesn’t really need. It’s super cool, but Mindy St. Clair’s crows hold grudges, so good luck to him.
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