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The guys are planning their dinner and movie night using a map defining the theater and restaurant locations and the movie schedules, but none of them meet Sheldon’s conditions. Even Raj's suggestion of sneaking in a Slurpee from 7-Eleven is not sufficient for Sheldon by requesting an "emergency ad-hoc Slurpee/Icee equivalency." Their only option is for them to go to the movies without him. Sheldon agrees that it is the only logical option.
Sheldon enters his apartment with Penny rushing in ahead of him. She is hiding from the building manager landlord to whom she owes one month’s rent. She has lost hours at the restaurant and her car needs repairs. Sheldon again mentions that her "Check Engine light” was on.
Sheldon observes, "You know, it occurs to me you could solve all your problems by obtaining more money."
Sheldon then offers to loan Penny some from his a trick peanut brittle can (complete with snakes). He tells Penny to pay him back when she can. Sheldon only need 46.9% of his post-tax income and is saving up for when science develops an affordable technology to fuse his skeleton with adamantium like Wolverine. He also discloses that the rest is split up between a savings account, the snake can, and the hollowed out buttocks of "a superhero action figure who shall remain nameless for his own protection....or HER own protection". (Leonard later discloses that Sheldon has cash in Green Lantern's butt.) Penny reaches for some cash, takes it, puts some back, does some mental math and then takes a lot more. She just doesn't want things to be weird between them. Sheldon says that he would find it weirder to say hello to Penny every day on the way to work while she's living in a refrigerator box and washing her hair with rainwater.
The next day, Sheldon and Leonard pick up Penny’s mail and deliver a box to her. It is her new beret which she quickly explains she paid for more than a month ago and was just on back order. Neither Sheldon nor Leonard asked about it. "I ordered it a month ago and it just arrived, now get off my case!" Leonard is stumped by Penny's defensive reaction.
At dinner, Howard laments that the rising cost of moo shu pork makes it tougher for him to be a bad Jew. Leonard agrees to pay for Penny’s who defensively demands to pay him back. Penny also snipes at Raj for his free meals comment and then jumps on Sheldon. Penny complains that she has eaten restaurant leftovers for four days and wanted something new. She pleads with Sheldon that she will pay him back to which Sheldon offers to loan her more money. Penny yells at Sheldon and runs out. "Oh, you would just love that, wouldn't you? Yeah, you would just love to open up your little snake can and throw some money at the girl who couldn't pay her bills."Leonard goes over to see what was troubling Penny. She is having dinner by candle light since she couldn't pay the electric company. Leonard comments that Sheldon really doesn't care when he gets paid back. It's one of the few idiosyncrasies that doesn't make you want to kill him. Penny laments not being able to make a living as a movie star or a TV star. Leonard suggests getting rid of her cable TV or her acting classes. She can’t get rid of her classes because she is a professional (though never earned any money). Besides her car breaking down, she also paid a fine for her old boyfriend Kurt for whizzing on a cop car. She's reluctant to go to him and ask for the money. She thinks she has to find a cheaper place to live. Leonard suggests getting a roommate, like himself. Penny replies with a sultry voice, "Oh, Leonard, honey. If we started living together, I wouldn't be able to keep my hands off of you." "R-R-Really?" he asks. "And you thought my acting classes were a waste of money!"
Back in the apartment, the guys are on a quest through the Valley of Fire. Leonard wants them to join him in a real quest to get Penny's money back. The guys aren't enthusiastic to help him and Sheldon mentions losing their pants the last time they went to get Penny’s television.
Leonard convinces them to help him and Howard proposes a plan where "Koothrappali's gonna wet himself, I'm going to throw up, Sheldon's going to run away, and you're going to die. Shall we synchronize our watches?"
Leonard confronts Kurt and tells him that Penny's in a bad financial bind, and the money Kurt owes her would go a long way to helping her. Kurt asks if Penny sent them, and Leonard insists that he came to him on his own. Kurt slams the door in his face; however Leonard begins to pound on the door and demand that Kurt pay up. In the car Leonard is driving back without the money, however Kurt did acknowledge the debt. Leonard has "I owe Penny $1,800---Kurt" written on his forehead in indelible ink. The guys are really impressed. Howard even suggests having Leonard's head notarizes. Penny visits the guys. Leonard is wearing a stocking cap to hid his forehead. Penny pays Sheldon back and mentions that Kurt surprised her by repaying the money he owes her because he felt guilty. Leonard wants to know what led to this "moral epiphany." She doesn't know, but she is convinced Kurt has changed and will meet him for dinner tomorrow night. Sheldon is further impressed, saying that Leonard should wear that ink as a badge of honor, his "warrior's wound." Minstrels will write songs about Leonard:
"There once was a brave lad named Leonard. With a fi-fi fiddle dee-dee. He faced a fearsome giant. While Raj just wanted to pee."
- Guest starring:
- Teleplay: Richard Rosenstock & Eric Kaplan
- Story: Chuck Lorre & Steven Molaro
- "The Big Bang Theory feels like a show totally happy with who it is and where it is. The dialogue is crisp and silly in equal measure. Everything flows from the well established geeky world which the guys live in and well performed. The show is reliably funny, usually enjoyable and clearly capable of so much more." - The TV Critic's Review
- IMDb user reviews
- Title Reference: The title refers to Penny's financial problems.
- Chuck Lorre's vanity card 
- This episode was watched by 10.89 million people with a rating of 4.1 (adults 18-49).
- Episode transcript 
|Sheldon wears his Prehistoric Monsters shirt, his "Are You Grid Equipped?" shirt from Thinker Collection, and his red and blue striped shirt, discontinued from Urban Outfitters. |
|Leonard wears a red shirt with unknown graphic, his white on green recycle shirt, and his "Circles" shirt, by VolCom.|
- When Leonard asks the guys what they are doing, Rajesh says that they are on a quest to the Valley of Fire to acquire the Sacred Crown. The goal of the real board game, "Talisman: The Magical Quest Game, 4th Edition," is to reach the center area, called the Valley of Fire, and to acquire the Crown of Command. This time is the third appearance of the game, following first season episodes "The Peanut Reaction" and "The Tangerine Factor".
- When the guys first face Kurt in this episode, Howard, a Jew, inexplicably makes the sign of the Cross, a Roman Catholic devotion. There is no precedent in the series, no explanation and no further instance of this happening.
- In fact, there is a solution to the "movie problem" at the beginning of the movie. The theater screening the movie at 7.40 pm (one of the cinemas Sheldon did not eliminate) is much closer to one of the restaurants Raj pointed at when suggesting his 7-Eleven solution than the theater he was referring to. It also screens the movie twenty minutes after that theater.
- Sheldon keeps a daily log of social interactions. This log is easily possible for him due to his eidetic memory; a particularly revealing example of his complete recollection is in "The Staircase Implementation", when he says, "I know what my mother said on March 5, 1992."
- If this episode takes place in February (see airdate), then Sheldon drinks hot chocolate in a month with an "r" in it, consistent with his so-called "whimsy" in "The Lunar Excitation".
- Last appearance of Penny's former boyfriend and roommate Kurt.
- At the end of the episode, Sheldon created a song about Leonard and his act of bravery and honor:
- There once was a brave lad named Leonard.
- With a fi-fi fiddle dee-dee.
- He faced a fearsome giant.
- While Raj just wanted to pee.
- Leonard: [to Sheldon, Howard, and Raj, who have come to help to get Penny's money back.] Okay, is everyone clear on the plan?
- Howard: Yes. Koothrapalli's going to wet himself, I'm going to throw up, Sheldon's going to run away, and you're going to die. Shall we synchronize our watches?
- Leonard: Excuse me. There are four of us and one of him.
- Sheldon: Which means his triumph will be even larger. Minstrels will write songs about him.
- Penny: Oh, Leonard. If we moved in together, I wouldn't be able to keep my hands off of you.
- Leonard: Really?
- Penny: And you thought my acting classes were a waste of money.
- Penny: Is Leonard around?
- Sheldon: He went to the movies without me. It was the only option. I’m sorry, I don’t understand which social situation this is. Could you give me some guidance as to how to proceed?
- Penny: The building manager’s showing an apartment downstairs, and I haven’t paid my rent.
- Sheldon: Oh, I see. Penny, I’m not sure I’m comfortable harboring a fugitive from the 2311 North Los Robles Corporation.
- Penny: It’s no big deal. I’m just a little behind on my bills because they cut back my hours at the restaurant and my car broke down.
- Penny: Okay. Well, thank you. Oh, God, no, I can’t. Sheldon honey, I don’t want things to be weird between us.
- Sheldon: Won’t it also be weird if I have to say hello to you every morning on my way to work and you’re living in a refrigerator box and washing your hair with rain water?
- Penny: I’ll pay you back as soon as I can.
- Sheldon: Of course you will. It’s impossible to pay me back sooner than you can. Assuming you subscribe to a linear understanding of time and causality.
- Penny: I’m regretting this already.
- Sheldon: You know, I’ve given the matter some thought, and I think I’d be willing to be a house pet to a race of super-intelligent aliens.
- Leonard: Interesting.
- Sheldon: Ask me why.
- Leonard: Do I have to?
- Sheldon: Of course. That’s how you move a conversation forward.
- Leonard: Why?
- Sheldon: The learning opportunities would be abundant. Additionally, I like having my belly scratched.
- Leonard: Hey, Penny. How was work?
- Penny: Great. I hope I’m a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory for my whole life.
- Sheldon: Was that sarcasm?
- Penny: (crossly) No.
- Sheldon: Was that sarcasm?
- Penny: Yes.
- Sheldon: Was that sarca..
- Leonard: Stop it!
- Sheldon: Penny, you appear to have a package here.
- Penny: Oh, thanks. This must be the beret I ordered. A couple of months ago. It was back-ordered.
- Sheldon: Did you know the beret is an example of piece of women’s fashion adapted from male military uniforms? Another fascinating example is the epaulet.
- Leonard: He’s not lying, he does find that fascinating.
- Penny: Okay, whatever. It’s not like I’m running up and down the streets just buying myself berets. I bought one, like, a month ago, and it was back-ordered, look, it finally arrived, all right?
- Sheldon: All right.
- Penny: (she's now gigantically cross) Oh, my God, would you just get off my case?
- Leonard: Weird.
- Sheldon: Oh, good, that was an unusual interaction. I wasn’t sure.
- Leonard: Did you guys have an argument?
- Sheldon: No.
- Leonard: Well, you clearly did something to aggravate her.
- Sheldon: I’m at a loss. If you like, you can review my daily log of social interactions and see if there’s a blunder I overlooked.