This post contains spoilers for all aired episodes of The Big Bang Theory, including last night’s 7x12, “The Hesitation Ramification."
After nearly a decade of going to auditions and working at the Cheesecake Factory, Penny has finally nabbed a guest spot on NCIS. She’ll be playing a customer in a diner, flirting with Mark Harmon. Leonard’s not too sure about sharing his girlfriend with a TV hunk, but he’s happy for her success. With a role on a hit show and the support of her loving boyfriend, Penny should be living the dream, but when her scene gets cut, it’s time to reconsider.
Leonard immediately offers his sympathy, but Penny’s hit hard. She thought she’d done a pretty good job. Explaining the cut scene to her father, who had hosted a family gathering to watch the episode, takes a lot out of her. This was supposed to be her big break, leading to more auditions, more roles, breaking out of her struggle and finding success at last. Leonard tries to minimize the damage by pointing out that with only three lines in this episode, this one appearance wasn’t going to do all that.
Penny interprets this as Leonard not believing in her and puts him to the test. In his one-hundred-percent-honest opinion, does Leonard think Penny has what it takes to really make it as an actress? His initial answer is yes, but when Penny prods him, giving specifics of being in movies and on TV and winning awards, prompting him to answer honestly, Leonard answers with “No.”
How could he say that? Leonard furiously backpedals, insisting that he finds Penny beautiful and talented, and if he’d stopped there, this episode might have taken a different turn. Leonard, however, being Leonard, he has to take the logical route. Los Angeles is full of actresses who are equally beautiful and equally talented, all going for only a few roles. Penny is shooting for a very hard thing; the odds of becoming a successful actor are very small. With a catch in her throat, Penny thanks him and closes herself in her room.
Later, Penny watches TV by herself, drink in hand, heckling all the scenes that didn’t get cut. Leonard stops by to try and make amends. Can they talk? They can, Penny says, but the part of Penny may get cut. Leonard apologizes. He really does think Penny could be one of the few who make it in her profession. To prove his belief in her, he got her an audition for the new Star Wars movie. Penny’s ecstatic, until she finds out it was an open call on the internet and anyone can send in a tape, even Wolowitz. She calls the audition as a PR stunt, and Leonard can feel her hating him as he tries to cheer her, comparing her to Luke Skywalker.
Penny knows Leonard was only trying to help, but she feels like everything is falling apart. She’s stuck in her waitressing job, can’t do anything else, and when she finally got her big break, it went away. She’s been out in California for ten years and has nothing to show for it. Leonard protests; she has him. Penny drops to one knee and proposes. Leonard answers with “umm.” Wrong answer, Leonard. He tries to recover by telling Penny she’s too drunk and sad to make such a big decision, but Sheldon spoils the moment and Penny heads home, humiliated.
Leonard stays up late into the night, brooding. Penny, he explains to a concerned Sheldon, proposed, and he didn’t say yes. When Sheldon asks if this means Leonard and Penny’s relationship is over, Leonard doesn’t know. Sheldon suggests Leonard asks, but Leonard is afraid to know the answer. Sheldon proves that at least the bromance is going strong, replying only that he’s sorry. Okay, he did put a “kick me” sign on Leonard’s back, but he did remove it, so we’ll give Sheldon this one.
Now that Leonard and Penny have both proposed, neither getting the answers they’d expected, what’s the next step for these crazy kids? Is the discussion we see in the teaser for next week’s episode going to bring a black moment or another step closer to happily ever after?
Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing with Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.