The Big Bang Theory recap: Monkey Business
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How you feel about last night’s episode of The Big Bang Theory may rest at least in part on your feelings concerning the innate hilarity of smoking monkeys. I suspect I may be in the minority with this opinion, but the prospect of Sheldon Cooper alone late at night in the apartment of an inebriated (and randy) Amy Farrah Fowler does not really need a cute monkey toking on a prop cigarette in a cloud of CG smoke to be funny. In fact, up until the scene in question, this episode had all the makings of a top-notch Big Bang: Sheldon is outwitted (by Priya!), forcing him to go on a girls night with Penny, Amy, and Bernadette, resulting in ballroom dancing and ultimately Sheldon’s first kiss with a girl (that wasn’t his mom, sister, memaw, or an elderly nun suffering from heat exhaustion and requiring mouth-to-mouth). Now with all that packed into one 22-minute episode, did we really need a tacked-on sight gag of a monkey puffing on menthols too?
I know, I know, as Amy herself said, people love monkeys so much they could let one get away with murder(ing a perfectly good episode of television), so obviously I’m just being crabby. I’ll get over it eventually, I’m sure, especially since there was so much to enjoy about last night’s episode. As foreshadowed in the previous Big Bang episode, Priya finally got a good look at Sheldon’s roommate agreement with Leonard after an altercation in which Sheldon was prevented from relieving his overflowing bladder because Leonard was showering — with his Cambridge-educated lawyer girlfriend. Sheldon leveled his usual charges of agreement infractions, but Priya quickly batted them away after a mere “cursory reading” of the contract. “No offense,” a beaming Leonard said to Priya afterwards, “but shower sex with you is now the second best thing that’s happened today.”
Priya wasn’t done poking holes in Sheldon’s roommate agreement, either. Next up: pizza night. It would appear that when the boys changed to a different pizza joint after the one specified in the agreement closed, they didn’t then participate in the specified public hearings and 60-day comment period. Ergo, Leonard, Howard, and Raj ordered Greek food instead. “Opa!” At first, Sheldon fought valiantly to go with the flow, and tore into the lamb kabob Leonard ordered for him, resulting in this small aria of discomfort from Sheldon as he ate:
“If you think about it, Greek food isn’t that far from Italian food. [chew chew] They share a spice palate. [chew chew chew chew] And what civilization is the Greeks! [chew chew chew] They gave us science, democracy [chew] and little cubes of charred meat that taste like sweat.”
Driven out of his own apartment, Sheldon found himself roped into accompanying Penny on her girl’s night out with Amy and Bernadette (who are apparently the only lasting female friends Penny’s made in four years). And that’s when the real fun began, because as Amy warned Sheldon, these ladies can get “ca-ray-zay.”
NEXT: The ladies get ca-ray-zay, and Sheldon shows off his dance moves
Despite Sheldon’s admonition to Amy that “not a lot of scientific discoveries were made by people having a good time,” she and her female compatriots got themselves good and drunk on fruity cocktails. They then proceeded to pick at Sheldon’s patience with abandon, teasing out of him that he’s never really kissed a girl before, but has no interest in it since he already knows all the physiological requirements for doing so. “Oh blah blah blah,” retorted Amy, who then turned to Penny and planted one on her: “Give me some sugar, bestie!” All Sheldon could do is sigh. “I’m certainly glad no one said they were curious about Aztec human sacrifice.”
It turns out, however, the Sheldon is not completely devoid of experience when it comes to contact with another woman; the Southern tradition of cotillion has made him proficient in “all the social graces and dance skills needed to function in 18th-century Vienna.” Naturally, the girls forced Sheldon to go dancing with them, and en route, Sheldon vocalized the thought that had been running through my head from pretty much the moment Amy said the word “ca-ray-zay”: As Amy sang the words to Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl,” Sheldon fixed her with a befuddled gaze and said, “What happened to you?” Unlike Sheldon, I love what has happened to Amy this season, but it is quite a stark contrast from the dispassionate, monotone scientist we met last May.
That Amy would have never danced the cha-cha (right? my SYTYCD skills are rusty!) with Sheldon in what appeared to be a dance hall in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Koreatown. How to describe the pair’s dancing? Like two androids in the midst of a well-choreographed meltdown? Like the mating ritual of arthritic waterfowl? Like a daddy long-legs spider and a lady bug dancing on a hot plate? That’s all I’ve got for now — you’ll have to do better in the comments — but it was certainly more entertaining that the sight of a random old pervy guy yanking Penny around the dance floor with his hand on her bum. (Although I gotta give the girl credit for taking it in stride, so to speak.)
After dancing, Sheldon and Amy retired to Amy’s apartment, home to Amy’s smoking monkey Ricky, who I’m going to skip right over so we can discuss the kiss between Amy and Sheldon. First of all, I gotta say, I’m kinda proud of the Big Bang studio audience for not erupting an a chorus of raucous Woooooooooooos when Amy and Sheldon locked lips. And second of all, I’m really proud of Mayim Bialik and Jim Parsons for handling the kiss so deftly. For a long while, I felt quite protective of Sheldon’s my-only-true-love-is-science celibacy, but both these actors have made Amy and Sheldon’s friendship so delightful to watch blossom (pun intended) that I was genuinely excited by this turn of events — and also perfectly happy when they agreed the next morning to reboot and go back to the status quo. Baby steps are best when it comes to Sheldon and emotional growth.
Amy also helped Sheldon resolve his conflict with Priya and Leonard by encouraging Sheldon to play dirty. And boy did he ever. The next morning, Sheldon threatened via a “self-descruct” countdown on his laptop to email Priya’s parents back in India about her relationship with Leonard if he did not sign a far more stringent roommate agreement. I think we were supposed to hate Priya in this scene, or at least disapprove of her panicked ultimatum to Leonard that he had to sign the agreement or they were through. But for the first time this season, really, I kinda liked Priya last night, especially how Aarti Mann portrayed her taking apart Sheldon’s roommate agreement less out of spite for Sheldon and more out of deep and growing affection for Leonard. The real jerk in the “self-destruct” scene wasn’t Priya, it was Sheldon for forcing the issue. If I were Leonard, in fact, I would be so pissed at him, I would seriously consider just moving out. (Ooo! Foreshadowing!)
NEXT: Sheldon’s odd Trek reference, and the best lines of the night
I’d have to say I’m particular of the scene at the bar after the Big Bang gals had tipped back a few and we learned of Sheldon’s lack of experience at canoodling and surprising experience at choreography. Plus, Bernadette did the entire scene from a bar stool a good two feet lower than anyone else’s.
Given my feelings regarding Ricky the smoking monkey — and the nicotine addiction study of Amy’s that somehow justified his presence — I’m going to pivot instead to Priya’s use of the law to dissolve Sheldon’s roommate agreement. The law is a kind of science, sorta, kinda, not really, right?
BEST (OR MAYBE STRANGEST) GEEKERY
Sheldon’s “self-destruct” plan was inspired by the Star Trek episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” in which Captain Kirk gets the better of a half-black, half-white alien named Bele (Frank Gorshin) by playing chicken using the self-destruct mechanism on the Enterprise — a plot device never ever ever employed in any Trek TV show or movie ever again. The irony of using this Trek episode — which carries a rather heavy-handed message about the dangers of enmity over skin color — to exploit the ethnic and cultural tension of an Indian woman dating a white man appeared to be lost on Sheldon. Also odd: While the inspiration was from the 1960s original series, the readout on Sheldon’s laptop was clearly of the Star Trek: The Next Generation era. Still, however fuzzily it was employed, the reference did allow Sheldon to use this priceless rejoinder to Priya: “You may have gone to Cambridge, but I’m an honorary graduate of Starfleet Academy.”
BEST LINES & EXCHANGES
“The right to bathroom privacy is suspended in the event of force majeure, and believe me, I am experiencing a very majeure force.” —Sheldon, to Leonard, while desperate to pee
Amy [drunk, to Sheldon]: You smell like baby powder
Sheldon: It’s talc. But as that’s the primary ingredient of baby powder, I understand your confusion.
Amy: Oh, I’m not confused at all. You’re like a sexy toddler.
Sheldon: I don’t know how to process that.
[Is it me, or were these two thisclose to breaking in that exchange?]
“Oh, I totally want to see Sheldon dance. I bet he looks like a spider on a hot plate!” —Bernadette
Amy: Would you like to come in for a night cap?
Sheldon: If you’re referring to the beverage, you know I don’t drink. And if you’re referring to the hat you don while wearing a nightshirt and holding a candle, I have one.
What did you make of “The Agreement Dissection,” fellow Big Bang theorists? Were you fans of the smoking monkey, or did you think maybe Chuck Lorre included it just so he could write this seemingly pointed vanity card? Did you miss Raj and Howard, who were absent from most of the episode? What else do you think the guys (and Priya) did with their Sheldon-free evening? Are you happy Sheldon and Amy took their relationship to the next level? Do you think Priya and Leonard are doomed? And, show of hands: Who else has fixed the oven clock in a friend’s apartment just because it was driving them ca-ray-zay? [Raises hand.]
UPDATE: Thanks to some sharp-minded Big Bang fans in the comments, it’s been pointed out that Sheldon’s first kiss was, in fact, with Leonard’s mother. Perhaps it was so traumatic, Sheldon blocked it out? Perhaps Sheldon just doesn’t think roommates’ mothers count? Perhaps Sheldon really did remember it but secretly knew he was going to kiss Amy that night and wanted her to think she was his first? Or perhaps the show’s writers just kinda forgot? What say you?
UPDATE NO. 2: Big Bang exec producer Bill Prady was asked about this seeming continuity error last night on Twitter. His response: “We felt that Sheldon wouldn’t have counted that. It wasn’t mutual — Beverly kind of attacked him.” Satisfactory?