"The Killer Robot Instability" is the twelfth episode of the second season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Monday, January 12, 2009.

Summary

When the guys have an entry into the killer robot contest, Howard makes the mistake of pushing Penny one too many times with his creepy ways and he is subject to her anger.

Extended Plot

The gang of geeks has built a killer robot to enter into the Southern California Robot Fighting League Round-Robin Invitational named MONTE, aka. Mobile Omnidirectional Neutralization & Termination Eradicator. Their entry, mainly designed by engineer Howard, has a razor-sharp circular saw, one polycarbonate grinding and flipping wheel, steel armor-plated exoskeleton top and bottom and a 110-horsepower that can go from zero to "holy crap" in 4.8 seconds. The robot destroys the toaster oven.

He had to be told.

Next, as Penny is coming up the stairs talking on her phone, MONTE crashes through their apartment door into the hallway, causing Penny to run away screaming. The guys are cleaning up their killer robot as Penny comes in and tells them that their thing tried to kill her. Sheldon denies this fact and insists that if that was MONTE's intent, she would be dead now. The robot fighting competition is explained to Penny as Howard invites her to the post-competition dance. He casually remarks that the guys would love to see a girl there. Penny wonders how it could be a dance since she'd be the only girl there. Howard describes her as the only “doable” girl to which Penny calls him a pig. Leonard tells Howard to back off, while he continues dancing "their tango". Penny gets madder as she calls him “pathetic and creepy”. Howard is shocked that she is not flirting with him. Penny, sick and tired of Howard's antic, finally explodes with “No woman is ever going to flirt with you! You're just going to grow old and die alone!" Howard then leaves, shocked and crushed. Penny's actions shock all of the guys into silence, even Sheldon. Raj thinks that Penny would make a good entry as a killer robot herself.  

Penny punching Howard in the face.

A depressed Howard stays at home in his bed. Leonard calls him and hears Howard fighting with his mother about not going to school. His engineering expertise is very missed because their colleague Barry Kripke challenges them to fight his robot, the Kwipke Kwippler, in a grudge match at the university. Sheldon engages him in trash talk that as usual is too convoluted to make any impact. Leonard wants to decline because Howard is absent. Kripke refuses that excuse, as everybody there is pathetic, creepy, and can't get girls. Leonard tries to get Penny to apologize to Howard; however, Penny has no intention of apologizing, stating that it had to be done. Howard has been in bed for two days, he tells her. Penny still has absolutely no sympathy. Leonard reminds her that she has an overexposed-to-gamma-ray thing going on. Penny doesn't get the Bruce Banner Hulk reference. Out of options, Leonard invokes the favor she promised after Leonard and Sheldon tried to get Penny's television back from her ex-boyfriend in the show's Pilot episode. First she pleads with him not to ask for that, but then Leonard reminds her emphatically that they came back without their pants. She reluctantly agrees to go talk to Howard the next day. Leonard begins to warn her about Howard's mother, but decides not to.

At Howard's house, Penny is announced by his mother as Patsy. Howard doesn't want to see her, but she slips passed his mother anyway. Choosing her words carefully, she tells Howard that she has been informed that he does have feelings, that she hurt them and apologizes for that. Howard stands up to her and tells Penny that she did not traumatize him, so Penny says goodbye and leaves. In the hallway, she hears Howard breaking down. Feeling guilty, she returns to comfort him.

Howard with his broken nose.

At the university, the Kwipke Kwippler destroys a Chevy Cavalier. Leonard and Raj want to forfeit the match, but Sheldon refuses to quit since they have been running away from bullies all their lives. Sheldon wants to get MONTE ready; however, he doesn't know how to open the box.

Penny is cuddling with Howard who is telling her about every girl he had a crush on including Marcy Grossman who had the hottest overbite, once the braces came off. In a talent show he sang a song to her, "My Girl" using her name in the lyrics. Afterwards, she approached him and spit in his hair. Penny stops him and wonders if he tries too hard. She tells him that she thinks he is smart, funny, and has a cool job. Penny admits that underneath all his swagger, that he really is a nice guy. Howard asks her if she really thinks that and Penny confirms it. Then, Howard tries to kiss her and Penny punches him in the nose.

In the lab, Leonard is impressed with Kripke's robot. His spinning blade is rotating at 3400 RPM. Sheldon has the controls and wants to have revenge against all those bullies until their opponent lights up his flame thrower. Sheldon finally loses his nerve and MONTE leaves the lab (smashing the door down in the process) and is chased down the hallway by Kripke and his killer robot.

Back at the apartment, MONTE is a hopeless burnt wreck which Sheldon takes full responsibility for. Howard arrives with a bruised and bandaged face. Penny explains that he slipped and fell in the bathtub and that Howard now knows "what bathtubs are capable of doing when you don't treat them with respect." Howard agrees, saying "Yeah. They sucker punch you when your eyes are closed." Sheldon asks Howard if he can repair MONTE. Howard first sarcastically says that he can fix it with electrical tape and solder, and then adds that he has seen space probes that have returned from space and crashed into the desert in better shape. Sheldon again apologizes and that they will bury MONTE in the morning. Penny remarks that he is getting a little carried away since it was just a toy robot. This upsets Sheldon as he runs off to his room. Penny leaves to console him, while Howard is not all that unhappy since he feels that he is halfway to pity sex with Penny.

Credits

Critics

Notes

  • Title Reference: The title refers to the robot that the guys built and Penny's anger at Howard's behavior.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card [1]
  • This episode was watched by 11.81 million people with a rating of 4.4 (adults 18-49).
  • Episode transcript [2]

Costume Notes

Mow 'em Down

Green Lantern

Ray Gun

Sheldon wears his Ames Brothers "Mow 'Em Down" charcoal gray shirt, his double-sided Green Lantern logo tee, and his blue Ames Brothers Flash Gun t-shirt


Wisdom

Yellow Plane

Unknown

Leonard wears his Ames Brothers "Wisdom" shirt (with the owl), his yellow airplane shirt from Wayward Tees, and an unknown dark t-shirt.


Set/Props Notes

On the whiteboard to the right of the closet, behind the DNA tower, is the Bekenstein-Hawking formula for creating black holes.

There are lots of new items/props in this episode. In the living room of the apartment, we see:

S02E12Bizzaro.jpg
Firestorm.jpg
S02E12Ball.jpg
GrnLanternSinostro.jpg
Bizarro figurine Firestorm figurine Magic 8 ball Green Lantern figurine, sold as a set called "Ultimate Showdown"

When Penny visits Howard, we see in Howard's bedroom:    

To the left of the bed:
HowardCheetah.jpg
HowardCatwoman.jpg
HowardBatgirl.jpg
HowardWW0212.jpg
HowardPowerGirl.jpg
Ame-Comi Cheetah Catwoman Ame-Comi Batgirl Ami-Comi Wonder Woman Ami-Comi Power Girl
To the right of the bed:


 
HowardWW0212II.jpg
HowardBatgirl0212.jpg
S02e16 zat.jpg
S02E12BlackCanary.jpg
 Wonder Woman bust BatGirl bust Zantana bust Black Canary bust
On the dresser/left of door:
S02E12Superman.jpg
S02E12Martian.jpg
HowardClassicWW.jpg
  
DC Universe Classics
Series: Superman
DC Universe Classics
Series: Martian Manhunter
Classic Icon series: Wonder Woman   


Trivia

  • The robot the guys build is called MONTE, an acronym for Mobile Omnidirectional Neutralization and Termination Eradicator. They could enter a real MONTE in an event sponsored by the Robot Fighting League.
  • Raj says, "Excuse me, but how are we going to make any modifications without Wolowitz?... But, Sheldon, we don’t have a chance. The only improvement you were able to make on the robot was to put fresh batteries in the remote." This is inconsistent. At eight years old, Sheldon converted Missy's Easy-Bake Oven to some kind of high-powered furnace, needed to fire ceramic semiconductor substrates for homemade integrated circuits. He was trying to build an armed robot to keep Missy out of his room (S1E15: "The Porkchop Indeterminacy"). When he was twelve, he built his own CAT scanner (S2E9: "The White Asparagus Triangulation"). One summer when he was thirteen, Sheldon built a small nuclear reactor in the shed and a sonic death ray in his room (S1E4: "The Luminous Fish Effect"). Likewise, when Leonard was ten years old, he built two radio-controlled arms (S2E15: "The Maternal Capacitance"). Beyond tech support (S1E16: "The Peanut Reaction", S2E19: "The Dead Hooker Juxtaposition"), all four of the guys show diverse technical skills (S1E2:"The Big Bran Hypothesis", S2E18: "The Work Song Nanocluster", S2E22: "The Classified Materials Turbulence"). Yet, they have no clue how to fix an internal combustion engine (S2E5: "The Euclid Alternative", S4E19: "The Zarnecki Incursion").
  • Penny's first appearance at Mrs. Wolowitz's house.
  • This episode ends Howard's delusion that he will get together with Penny someday.
  • First new episode broadcast in 2009.
  • This episode marks the first appearance of John Ross Bowie as Barry Kripke
  • For once Mrs Wolowitz speaks without shouting.
  • Barry proposes the unsanctioned robot fight to the guys claiming that "there's no guarantee that [they're] gonna go against eachother in the round robin," even though the exact point of the round robin format is for every contestant to go against all other contestants.
    • Though it is feasible that Barry accounted for the possibility of the guys having to retire their robot from the tournament before being able to go against Barry, as certainly happened afterwards.
    • It's also possible Barry was aware of his fallacy but banked on the guys, especially Sheldon, to be too focused on defending their honor to refute his claim.
  • Barry claims that the Kripke Krippler's spinner weapon spins at 3400 rotations per minute. This would be a very fearsome speed; for comparison, the Robot Wars Series 9 champion Carbide had a similar weapon rotating at just 2300rpm, and the few bar spinners wielded by other robots that rotated faster were usually mounted vertically to reduce the stress on the robot.

Quotes

Mrs Wolowitz: HOWAAAAHD, THE PHONE IS RINGING!
Howard: Here's a crazy idea, Ma - ANSWER IT!
Mrs. Wolowitz: Hello. Alright, hold on one minute. IT'S YOUR FRIEND, LEONARD! HE WANTS TO KNOW WHY YOU'RE NOT AT SCHOOL TODAY!
Howard: I DON'T GO TO SCHOOL, MA, I WORK AT A UNIVERSITY!
Mrs. Wolowitz: THAT'S A SCHOOL, NOW, PICK UP THE PHONE!
Howard: I DON'T WANNA TALK TO ANYBODY!
Mrs. Wolowitz: SHOULD I ASK LEONARD TO BRING OVER YOUR HOMEWORK?!
Howard: I DON'T HAVE HOMEWORK, I'M A GROWN MAN WITH A MASTER'S DEGREE IN ENGINEERING!
Mrs. Wolowitz: EXCUSE ME, MR. FANCY PANTS! WANT ME TO GET YOU A POPSICLE?!
Howard: CHERRY, PLEASE!
Mrs. Wolowitz: I ATE ALL THE CHERRY! ALL THAT'S LEFT IS GREEN!
Howard: YOU MAKE ME WANNA KILL MYSELF!

Mrs. Wolowitz: SHE RAN PAST ME! WAS I SUPPOSED TO TACKLE HER?!

Leonard: Forget the robot; what happened to you?
Penny: He slipped and fell.
Howard: Yes, I slipped and fell. In the bathroom. Bounced right off the tub.
Penny: Yes, now he knows what bathtubs are capable of doing when you don’t treat them with respect.

Howard: Once again, Penny and I have begun our little tango. The carnal repartee, the erotic to and 'fro. But as delicious as the appetizer might be, at some point we will HAVE to succumb and eat the entree while it's still (demonstrates a sizzle) hot!
Penny: Normally, I can just ignore you. I get it, you're a little peculiar. Like Sheldon...
Sheldon: Excuse me, Penny. But in this room, you're the one who's a little peculiar.
Penny: (to Sheldon) You may be right. (to Howard) But back to you. I know you think you're just some smooth-talking ladies' man, but the truth is you are just pathetic and creepy.
Howard: So...what are you saying?
Penny: I am saying it is not a compliment to call me do-able. It is not sexy to stare at my ass and say "Oooh, it must be jelly 'cause jam don't shake like that." And most of all, we are NOT dancing a tango, we're NOT to-ing and fro-ing, nothing's going to happen between us! EVER!
Howard: Wait a minute. This isn't flirting, you're serious.
Penny: (she's now at her last straw with him) Flirting? You think I'm flirting with you?!? I am not flirting with you! No woman is ever going to flirt with you! You're just going to grow old and die alone!

Video

The_Big_Bang_Theory_-_"_Penny_punches_Howard"

The Big Bang Theory - " Penny punches Howard"


Gallery

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