The Big Bang Theory has come a long way. “The Confirmation Polarization” is a perfect illustration of how far, as Penny (Kaley Cuoco) hits a new milestone in her career at the same time Sheldon (Jim Parsons) finds himself within reach of his dreams– and considers the social ramifications of that! 

RELATED: Here’s our recap of the last episode!

The big news in this episode is that Amy (Mayim Bialik) and Sheldon’s Super Asymmetry theory has been proven by two Fermilab physicists, Dr. Pemberton (Sean Astin) and Dr. Campbell (Kal Penn). With their theory proven decades earlier than they’d ever hoped for, this means that Amy and Sheldon truly are the darlings of President Siebert (Joshua Malina), and that he can recommend them formally for a Nobel Prize. 

Drs. Pemberton and Campbell come to California to meet Drs. Fowler and Cooper, whose enthusiasm for the men who have fast-tracked their Nobel eligibility gets checked when the visitors tell them that it’s a complete accident that they proved Super Asymmetry. Apparently the Fermilab duo had been working with kaons for some time, and their data made no sense. When someone told them about Amy and Sheldon’s paper, they realized that their “failed” experiment confirmed the theory. 

The next day, Sheldon comes to lunch with his friends angry about how Drs. Pemberton and Campbell have been on a press tour, essentially attempting to take credit for Super Asymmetry. Raj (Kunal Nayyar) tries to assure him that nobody will be able to steal his thunder, but Leonard (Johnny Galecki) points out that there’s a precedent for experimentalists who prove theories beating the theoreticians who first published ideas for the Nobel. He offers the example of how the scientists who proved the “big bang” just thought their sensors needed cleaning, until someone pointed out that they were picking up cosmic background radiation from a singularity, leading to their Nobel win over the scientists who came up with the theory (which is true).

This gets Sheldon’s dander up. He rushes to the guest dining room where his rivals are eating and confronts them about their obvious intention to take credit for his discovery. They shock him by revealing that what they really want to do is share credit with him– and only him. Only three people can be on a Nobel-winning team, and they believe Amy should be eliminated, since she isn’t a physicist. Sheldon asks if they think he’s the kind of man who would betray his partner for the possibility of a Nobel, and when they ask him if he is, he says he sure hopes not. 

That evening, Sheldon is behaving so suspiciously that Amy picks up on the fact that he’s holding something in. He confesses the dilemma the other physicists have created, challenging them for their discovery while simultaneously offering him a seat at their table if he excludes Amy. She struggles with the news, but ultimately she decides to encourage him to ally with them if he believes it will improve his chances. She only wants him to be happy, and he deserves the win. He tells her she’s the only reason he has a shot at it, and they embrace. 

The next day, he marches into President Siebert’s office to insist that the president’s letter of recommendation to the Nobel Committee include Amy or just not be submitted at all. When Siebert acquiesces without hesitation, Sheldon is taken aback. Siebert says that this course of action may start a fight with Fermilab, which is something Sheldon is willing to deal with, provided the fight has no physical or eye-contact and happens online or through intermediaries. He’s left with so much unspent nervous energy after getting his way so quickly that Siebert takes him to see where the university’s gymnasium is in hopes of finding some monkey bars. 

Meanwhile, Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) has achieved a goal nearly as meaningful to her as a Nobel: an anti-inflammatory drug she’s been working on for five years has been approved by the FDA. A bonus of this good news is that she gets to pick whomever she wants to lead her sales team, and she wants Penny.

Penny does everything she can think of to withdraw from consideration, and not because Bernadette is a mean boss. She doesn’t have a college degree and is worried that she won’t be good enough to lead a team of better-educated, more experienced salespeople. She doesn’t think they’ll listen to or respect her. 

When Bernie gets that truth out of her, she asks incredulously if Penny has learned nothing from her and recommends being really mean to people who don’t listen. 

Penny continues to hold out, but Bernie trusts her track record for “improving” the people in her life. Look at Howard (Simon Helberg), she says to Raj. He used to be a loser, but now he’s an astronaut with a hot wife. The fact that Howard thinks he always wanted to be an astronaut is just proof of how good she is. 

When Howard asks if she plans to badger Penny until she gives in, Bernadette tells him that that stuff may work on him, but Penny’s too smart for it. 

Instead, she waits for Penny to get home from work the next evening and catches her on the apartment building’s stairs. She tells Penny that she respects her reasons for wanting to pass on the job, and that the role really does require an excellent salesperson with a lot of confidence… so she’s giving it to Penny’s work nemesis. 

Penny takes the bait, talking herself into the job as Bernie continues pitching the woman who steals Penny’s yogurt all the time and lies about it. Even though Penny finds Bernie’s methods transparent, they’re effective. 

Monday morning, Penny faces her team for the first time, giving them drug specs to memorize by the next day. With a proud Bernie smiling in approval, Penny terrorizes a room full of college-educated underlings by claiming her excellence as a salesperson in a loud and intimidating manner. 

RELATED: Follow my Season 12 recaps here!

It was so great seeing all three female leads get big career boosts tonight! Amy’s in line for a Nobel, Bernadette gets credit for a new drug (which should mean big bucks for her) and Penny is making it in sales in a way she never did in acting. Bonus – their supportive spouses! Especially Sheldon, putting his Nobel chances at risk for the sake of honoring Amy’s contribution to the work. Big Bang Theory, you really have come a long way, baby!