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'The Big Bang Theory' recap: Guest star Judy Greer gets to 'know' Leonard...and Raj

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Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBSThroughout The Big Bang Theory‘s third season, Penny + Leonard = A highly variable equation for comedy. But as these last few episodes have proved, (Penny – Leonard) x Sheldon’s utter befuddlement = A rock-solid constant of belly laughter. After dealing with the end of Pennard head on last week, the writers slyly came at the issue sideways by introducing Judy Greer as Dr. Elizabeth Plimpton (pictured, right), a famous physicist visiting the Big Bang boys’ university who also turned out to be an insatiable sexpot with an apparent taste for sex-starved science geeks.

Since it was obvious that Dr. Plimpton’s official host Sheldon was infinitely more interested in her body of work than (yep, I’m going there) her body, she set her sights instead on his smitten roommate Leonard, who, she learned from Sheldon, was all the more ripe vulnerable thanks to his recent break-up. One strip show in Leonard’s bedroom (while expounding on theoretical physics) later, and Leonard’s brain was instantly “Penny who?”

Speaking of Penny, she was remarkably cool-headed after she discovered a post-coital Leonard and Dr. Plimpton the next morning, wasn’t she? Still, I was immensely grateful that the writers kept Penny from veering off into an earnest, maudlin, how-dare-you! tirade. These scenes were a bit of a tightrope act for Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki, all the same — we don’t want them to drown the show by wallowing in heartache, but we kinda don’t want them to callously act like they haven’t been dating for the better part of a year either. Both actors managed to keep the show’s broad comedy buoyant while remaining tethered to recognizable human emotions. Jim Parsons may still be Big Bang‘s breakout star (and rightfully so, what with his morning voice-check rituals and “two shakes for Texas” urination song), but increasingly Cuoco and Galecki have become the show’s quirky beating heart.

Of course, no sooner had Dr. Plimpton bedded Leonard than she turned her gaze to a buzzed-on-NyQuil Raj. Now, Big Bang exec producer Chuck Lorre is fond of the self-deprecating crack that this show “isn’t Lost,” the implication being that the writers are basically lucky if they can cobble together a coherent story for a single episode, let alone plan out an entire season. To borrow Sheldon’s fondness for bygone exclamations: Balderdash! Last week, if you’ll recall, the show spent a fair amount of time establishing that Raj desperately needed to get laid. And whadayaknow, there Raj was last night, “romancing” Dr. Plimpton in his bachelor pad, getting himself laid. (See! IT WAS ALL PLANNED FROM THE BEGINNING!) After Howard showed up and Dr. Plimpton tried to get him to role play with Raj, however, I do feel like the show missed a golden opportunity to take Howard and Raj’s bromance to the next level and see just how far Big Bang‘s resident horn dog would go for sexy times with a hot lady. Ah well.

Oh! Right! How pissed are you that the writers just summarily wrote off the delightfully daffy Bernadette as Howard’s girlfriend? An entire episode could’ve been written around Howard’s breakup with her, but instead she’s callously 86’d as a throwaway punchline?!? Shenanigans, says I! Shenanigans!

What else did you think about last night’s episode, fellow Big Bang theorists? Do you think everyone getting flabbergasted by the prospect of Sheldon entertaining a lady friend was perhaps foreshadowing the appearance of one Mayim Bialik in the Big Bang season finale? (Click here to watch Parsons discussing the plotline with EW’s own Michael Ausiello.) How well do you feel the show is handling Leonard and Penny’s break-up? Do you think the show made one Activia joke too many, or is there no such thing? And what was your favorite line and/or exchange? (Mine? Leonard, after revealing he’d slept with Dr. Plimpton: Oh come on, it wasn’t my fault! Sheldon: The implication being that you somehow tripped and fell into her lady parts?)