The BIg Bang Theory Recap: S09: E16: The Positive Negative Reaction

Bernadette is going to have (another) child…

(Editor’s note: This post should have appeared yesterday, previewing The Big Bang Theory’s 200th episode that aired last nite. My apologies.)

The episode opens up with the fulcrum scene of last week’s episode, Bernadette’s reveal to Valentine the Rabbit that she and Howard are pregnant, but she’ll find another time to tell him. The episode then jumps ahead to the present when Bernadette is sitting at the kitchen table. Howard comes in and finds a note on his coffee mug that says “We.” When he questions it, Bernadette suggests there might be writing on the back, thereby setting him off of a simple three step scavenger hunt to put together his coffee and learn that the remaining words are “Are” and “Pregnant.” As he searches, he informs her that he won’t be tricked into making his own breakfast. Meanwhile, Bernadette teases him with suggestions of “We are Groot,” “We Are the Champions,” or “We Are Family,” the last song rather close to her actual message, the first an actual reference to comic book culture. Upon finding the third message, Howard asks her for confirmation and Bernadette replies she’s positive as she holds up a pregnancy test. Howard’s initial joy at having a baby and the perks that come with it quickly gives way to his neuroses as he questions whether he has the right stuff to be a father, a very normal reaction to the news.

Leonard asks Raj about Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin’s “discovery” of a new planet in the solar system (the two men, who are correctly identified as belonging to the same department at CalTech that Raj fictionally belongs to, announced a mathematical prediction for a potential planet, not the discovery of a planet). More to the point, Sheldon asks why Raj isn’t the one to have discovered the planet. The authors did a nice job working real life scientific news into the lives of their character where appropriate. The discussion of whether Raj should have been working with Brown and Batygin or staying home making home-made jam to give as gifts is derailed when Howard enters to share his and Bernadette’s news. As Leonard and Raj congratulate Howard, Sheldon laments the change, after all, how will they go to Disneyland, play games, or hang out at the comic book store with a child?

As Bernadette prepares to tell Amy and Penny the news, Penny receives a text from Leonard spoiling her surprise, made worse by Penny blurting it out. She then reads the part of the text saying “act surprised when she tells you.” Penny asks Bernadette how they should handle the awkward situation and Bernadette responds “I’m pregnant,” allowing Penny and Amy to congratulate her. Bernadette doesn’t seem as excited and happy as they would expect and she explains that Howard is the one who really wanted to have kids and his luke warm response has her concerned, although she (and the authors) decide to play it off as her hormones causing mood swings about her happiness and reaction to Howard’s concerns. Penny and Amy talk Bernadette down and she realizes that after his initial reaction, Howard calmed down, and the scene cuts to Howard commenting on the ways he’s still a child.

Howard notes that he doesn’t eat his own vegetables and that his son might look like him, or worse, his daughter might look like him. Sheldon, of course, is concerned about how the changes will impact him. If Howard brings the kid over, they’ll have to childproof the apartment and Sheldon admits he can’t figure out the child proofing at his sister’s house despite having two doctorates. Raj doesn’t help by pointing out that raising a child through college can cost up to a million dollars. Howard’s comment that that he needs to raise more money elicits the suggestion from Raj that he asks Bernadette for a raise in his allowance. Leonard and Raj try to calm him down and Leonard suggests that they should go out to celebrate.

The women have the same idea, but Bernadette can’t drink, can’t eat sushi, and can’t use the hot tub, although in the previous episode she was ready to give Howard the news while in the hot tub. Bernadette seems less than thrilled that she needs to change her lifestyle to accommodate her pregnancy, again a reasonably normal initial reaction. Amy’s suggestion that Bernadette should get a new doctor is not met with much humor from Bernadette.

Howard, of course, can still drink, and the boys have found their way to a bar. As they toast Howard’s impending fatherhood, Howard starts trying to come up with some sort of invention that will earn him money. Sheldon, meanwhile, is being introduced to the “fruit punch” in his drink, actually alcohol. He finishes it off, clearly a little bit wasted. Sitting around, Howard continues to brain storm inventions. When Sheldon comments how much he’s enjoying the bar, he asks why they haven’t been there before and Leonard responds that it is for the same reason they don’t do a lot of fun things…Sheldon. Leonard’s jibes at Sheldon in recent episodes seem to have become more frequent, more open, and more biting. Interestingly this turn to nastiness seems to have occurred around the time that Sheldon admitted to Leonard that he was aware of all of Leonard’s nasty comments in season 8, episode 12 “The Space Probe Disintegration.” As Sheldon perceives Leonard to go blurry, he gets up to go to the bathroom, although he finds his way to the kitchen by mistake. Howard starts thinking about guidance systems for drunk people (which Raj calls “Uber”) and realizes that the theoretical physics paper that Sheldon and Leonard have written can be applied to creating the guidance system.

In their attempts to cheer Bernadette up, they point out that with a baby, she’ll get to buy toys and little clothes, although she points out that she already does that for Howard. Penny also suggests that Bernadette will be in a minivan which will have Cheerios all over it if she gets hungry. Amy mentions that she has found a new travel cup for Sheldon which only lets out three Cheerios at a time. While the writing for the show often as a misogynistic feel (see earlier in this episode when Bernadette’s mood was blamed on hormones), it also treats the male characters as men-children (as it does here or earlier when Sheldon mentioned playing games or going to Disneyland. The male characters’ arrested development has always been part of the show, but it does seem that it is being treated with less respect as the show continues. Penny and Amy ask Bernadette for the details after she admits that things got rather spontaneous and Bernadette admits that they conceived on Sheldon’s bed.

In the bar, the guys are checking the internet to see if anyone is using helium vortices for the sort of thing Howard is suggesting. Sheldon agrees that Howard’s suggestion is theoretically possible and compliments Howard, pointing out that they’ve both grown up without fathers and he knows that Howard will be the best possible dad. Along with Sheldon’s support of Howard following the death of Mrs. Wolowitz in season 8, episode 15 “The Comic Book Store Regeneration,” this may be the most supporting Sheldon has been of one of his friends.

Amy, Penny, and Bernadette and dangling their feet in the hot tub and Bernadette tells them that they can use it. Penny begs off because they are Bernadette’s friends and supporting her, although this rings false as Amy points out that she and Penny are still drinking even though Bernadette can’t drink. Penny gets a text from Leonard telling her that Sheldon is drunk and they were about to do karaoke, inviting them to join the guys at the bar. Amy received the same message from a drunk Sheldon, demonstrated by the fact that he used a period rather than a question mark.

In the bar, Howard tells Bernie that he’s getting ready to be a father, Sheldon agrees to do karaoke, and the rest of the show is the various characters singing songs that include the word “baby” to Bernadette. It is an ending which looks like the cast had much more fun filming it than the viewer does watching it. In the middle of Howard singing “Having My Baby” to Bernadette, Sheldon learns where the baby was conceived.

The next morning, Leonard admits to Penny that his beat-boxing during karaoke was really an asthma attack. Leonard then asks Penny if she has ever considered having a baby. They agree that they would make great parents, although a shot of a sleeping, drunk, Sheldon with marker all over his face suggests that they might have some maturing to do.

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