|The Monopolar Expedition|
Season 2, Episode 23
May 11, 2009
"The Classified Materials Turbulence"
"The Electric Can Opener Fluctuation"
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After Sheldon wakes up the president of Caltech in the middle of the night simply to ask a question, he is offered to spend three months doing research at the North Pole in an attempt to prove the validity of string theory trying to identify magnetic monopoles. Leonard, Howard and Raj are overjoyed, since this will make them able to do things which Sheldon doesn't usually allow, like sitting on his side of the couch. Sheldon later tells them that he's decided to accept the offer, but then asks them to go with him as his support team and leaves them alone to talk about it.
Leonard points out that this is a National Science Foundation expedition involving important scientific research, and he and Raj become enthused about potentially becoming part of the team that confirms string theory. Howard on the other hand is very reluctant to accept, as it would mean spending three months in close quarters with "an anal nutbag". Leonard tells him that he could be the engineer that builds the equipment that gets them on magazine covers, but Howard retorts that he could also end up becoming "the engineer who builds the crossbow that kills Sheldon". He asks them if they are seriously considering going and that they really think that they could put up with Sheldon; Raj states that because he believes if he suffers that much, he will be reincarnated as a "well-hung billionaire with wings" and that they will be associated with a ground breaking discovery. Once Sheldon returns to ask about their decision, Leonard and Raj agree, and Howard caves in to peer pressure and also agrees. Leonard later realizes the trip will mean that he won't see Penny for the whole summer.
Penny seems upset when she learns that he will be away for so long and did not mention it to her. She later gives him a blanket with sleeves and a long hug. Leonard becomes confused about what happened, and seeks advice from Sheldon later that night. Sheldon says that the long hug means that on some level, Penny wants Leonard. Once he realizes what he just said to Leonard, he takes it back. Very early the next morning, Leonard asks Penny what it all meant. Penny claims that the wishes, blanket and long hug didn't have any deeper meaning except that she'll miss him, but after she closes the door, it turns out that Sheldon's instincts were correct, as she whispers "It means I wish you weren't going". At the North Pole, the quartet settle into a cabin similar in layout to Sheldon and Leonard's apartment's living room, watch Ice Station Zebra and John Carpenter's The Thing (both of which take place in polar climate) and eat reconstituted Thai food. Howard urgently tells Raj "There's no time for a crossbow, find me an icicle".
"The Leonard and Penny relationship has been on the back burner all season and so this low key acknowledgment of her feelings felt appropriate. The show is probably going to be around for years to come so the producers are in no hurry to change the dynamics of the group yet...Instead of that scene we could have been exploring how Leonard and Penny feel about each other and why. Again there are so many simple things which the show could do to help build their relationship up as a more realistic entity...This episode sums up the whole of season two of the show. It’s too reliant on Sheldon, not focused on character development and too static for my tastes. On the flip side it is also funny, consistent and showcases a genuinely strong comic character." - The TV Critic's Review
- Penny: Leonard, I don't know what to tell you. It was just a hug.
- Leonard: Glad we cleared that up.
- Penny: Yeah.
- Leonard: I guess I'll see you.
- Penny: OK, have a safe trip.
- Leonard: Thank you. Bye.
- Penny: Bye. [closes her door and sighs] It means I wish you weren't going.
- Title Reference: The title refers to the scientific expedition that the gang is taking to the North Pole.
- Chuck Lorre's vanity card 
- This episode was watched by 9.81 million people.
- Sheldon tells Raj to paint sideburns and a Van Dyke beard on a six-inch figurine of Legolas.
- When Sheldon says "logic dictates," he mimics Spock's words, memorably stated in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and the Star Trek episode "The Savage Curtain". Similarly, in "The Bat Jar Conjecture", he purports, "No man should be forced to emblazon his chest with the bengal tiger, when common sense dictates it should be an army ant."
- Penny again can't tell Leonard how she feels about him.
- This episode introduces Sheldon's catchphrase "Bazinga".