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In “Extract Obliteration,” Sheldon plays Words with Friends with Stephen Hawking and Penny is taking a class at the community college.
The episode begins with Sheldon starting a game of Words with Friends with Stephen Hawking. Sheldon plays the game throughout the episode and is destroying Hawking. Once he wins, though, Hawking stops playing. Sheldon waits days for him to make another move. He constantly complains, of course, and Howard tells him Hawking was probably upset that Sheldon had won and was a horrible loser. He tells Sheldon that Hawking is a big baby and “forget the wheelchair, he should be in a stroller.” Sheldon keeps waiting for Hawking to make a move, even resorting to attempting to use Jedi mind tricks (this is when he does the chess-style talk with Leonard that I describe later). Hawking does eventually make a move and Sheldon wrestles with throwing the game to keep Hawking his friend. He does lose and the episode ends with Hawking calling to trash talk Sheldon about the loss.
The other major story was that Penny is taking a history class at the community college. She is keeping it secret from everyone, but Bernadette and Amy find out when Bernadette finds the textbook under Penny’s couch. She is keeping it secret in order to keep it from Leonard. She knows he will be supportive and smothering. Penny decides to tell him over dinner and, just like she though, he was super supportive and she told him to keep it to himself, since this was her thing and she wanted to do it on her own. She even points out her first paper, sitting on the table next to them and I am sure all Big Bang Theory fans can see where this is going. In the middle of the night, he sneaks out of bed and looks at her paper. Apparently it is not a well-written paper. Leonard is now faced with a dilemma (which could easily fixed, but Leonard is kind of an idiot at times) – tell Penny the paper sucks and reveal he read it against her wishes or let her fail. He asks for Sheldon’s advice, which is, of course, unhelpful. They are both talking about their problems without really listening. So, to fix this, Leonard suggests they have a chess-style conversation. Each person has five minutes to say something and get something helpful back. Sheldon fails horribly at this.
He decides to make her breakfast in bed and give her the paper he had completely re-written. She is, of course, furious and yells that she will pass or fail on her own merit. At the end of the episode she shows up at the apartment with a B-. After returning to her apartment (after doing a ridiculous impression of Leonard that Sheldon loved) Amy and Bernadette are waiting. Penny threatens them if they tell anyone that they helped her rewrite the paper. Then says that the next time they could get an A and Bernadette says they got a B- on purpose to make it believable. Penny poses threateningly and bullies them asking if they think she is stupid. They cower and say this is just like high school, doing the prom queens homework to get her to like her. This was the one part of the episode I did not like. They said that Bernadette and Amy helped, but the implication with joke was that they did all the work. I hate when they do this to Penny. Why does she have to be an idiot in these moments and not just someone with a lower class background that did not see the importance of education after high school? Not only did they turn her into a bully again, they made her a hypocrite.
Other than that one, rather large, complaint, this episode was good. I am really glad Penny is going back to school, since they have made it pretty clear Penny is not a good actress. I also love any time Sheldon is chasing after some sort of human connection, even if it is, as Sheldon says, with a genius with a computer voice (Sheldon’s ideal friend).