Veronica wants Ted to make a job offer to a scientist named Stella Clifton (guest star Khandi Alexander). This has Lem a little on edge because Stella is his brilliant, sexy, judgmental mother. Ted convinces Veronica to nix the idea of hiring Stella because it would be way too upsetting to Lem. Crisis averted, right? Wrong. Lem is later devastated when he discovers that his mom is having an affair with Dr. Bhamba.
Oddly, Lem and Bhamba seem to bond over how inferior Stella makes them feel. They decide to join forces to do something that would impress her. This bugs Phil, as he's never been a big fan of the way Stella has treated her son. Nevertheless, Lem and Bhamba embark on an effort to finish one of Stella's unfinished scientific equations.
Ted has spent years developing a super long-lasting light bulb. So when Linda comes in with an idea for a scented light bulb, Ted is less than enthused. He doesn't want anything to distract the company from his project. A dejected Linda mentions her idea to Veronica, who takes the concept to the higher-ups. You can probably guess what happens next. Yep, management loves Linda's smell-a-bulb plan and kills Ted's bright idea.
The company wants Ted and Linda to co-run the scented light bulb project. Ted is bummed when Phil and Lem develop a prototype in just one morning. Veronica tells him, "You're worried that after years of the company adoring you, a shiny new Linda has come along and they may not have enough love for both of you." So Ted figures out a new way to impress the brass. He'll get them what they want: Stella Clifton.
Veronica tells Linda that she must ooze confidence if she wants to succeed. That's going to be tough after Linda realizes that her scented light bulb starts to smell like rotting meat after three days of use. Veronica says the facts can't hurt her if she makes her pitch with confidence. So when one of the Veridian department heads says he heard about the foul smell of the bulbs, Linda cuts him down with some harsh retaliatory remarks. In other words, she lies. But we feel it's a small fib. After all, the smell of rotting meat does still qualify as a scented bulb.
Ted tries to court Stella over dinner. He brings Phil along in case the conversation gets too sciencey. Unfortunately, Phil isn't used to downing grown-up drinks, so he gets a little liquid courage. He tells Lem's mom that she should be proud of her son instead of belittling him. He continues to tell Ted that he shouldn't be such a "childish, approval-chasing butthead." He also accuses Ted of being "blurry and spinny." Gotta love those grown-up drinks!
Ted later apologizes to Linda for being so competitive. Linda also feels bad for acting so un-Linda-like. Rounding out the contrition trifecta, Stella stops by the lab to see Lem. She catches him working her unfinished equation. Stella suggests Lem stop wasting time on her projects. Instead, she wants to see some of the things he's working on at Veridian. She's more than a little impressed at the popcorn kernels that pops from the heat in your mouth. And, yes, every kernel pops.
At the end of the episode, Ted says, "I realize that whether it's a giant multinational company or your own mother, you should never chase someone else's approval." But don't let that stop you from lighting up the message boards if you like this recap. We crave validation.