The ladies take over when Bernadette tries to gather intelligence on Priya — while Raj cures his shyness around women a bit too well

By Adam B. Vary
Updated May 06, 2011 at 09:20 AM EDT
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Credit: Matt Kennedy/CBS
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I gotta say, The Big Bang Theory looks pretty great in high heels. For the first time ever, the women dominated the main story line from the word go — you can’t get much more feminine than an opening scene in a women’s restroom in a women’s shoe store — and the result opened the show up to a refreshingly funny new set of comic possibilities. The episode also ended up driving home once more just how smart the decision was to make Amy Farrah Fowler and Bernadette full-time characters — and, ironically, just how dangerously little Penny has had to do since they’ve shown up.

Take, for example, Amy’s scheme to take advantage of Priya’s invitation to Bernadette and Howard for a double date with her and Leonard as an opportunity for Bernadette to spy on Penny’s rival for Leonard’s affections. (Get all that?) Penny pretty much washed her hands of the operation before the opening credits had even rolled, choosing instead to spend most of the half-hour fixated on a pair of shoes so expensive, “if I buy them, I’ll have to rent my womb out to a gay couple.” She eventually did decide to play along, and suggested via text that Bernadette tell her dinner party her acting career is doing so well, she’s about to shoot a movie in Prague with Angelina Jolie — in 3-D, added Amy, to show that the studio really believes in it (which only proves Amy’s never heard of The Last Airbender). But Penny only got really involved after hearing that Priya and Leonard would be traveling to India that summer to meet Ma and Pa Koothrappali (so last week’s semi-cliffhanger about Priya hiding her boyfriend from her parents has been neatly resolved?), and even then, Amy was the one truly calling all the shots.

Mostly, Operation Priya Wouldn’t Want To Be Ya was a terrific showcase for Melissa Rauch as Bernadette. Self-diagnosed as a bad liar, it turns out it’s not so much the actual lying that gets Bernadette into trouble as the fact that she becomes righteously angry whenever anyone begins to question her story. And as we witnessed nine episodes ago in “The Love Car Displacement,” Bernadette is at her gut-busting funniest when she’s really pissed off. While the foursome played a game of Jenga (a sly metaphor for their dismantling of Bernadette’s story), the adorable microbiologist became increasingly irritated by Howard, Leonard, and Priya’s questions about how Penny came to be dating an astronaut, until she finally had to retreat to the bathroom to consult with Amy. Turns out, Amy had meant to text that Penny was (fake) dating an architect, not an astronaut (darn auto-correct), prompting a fabulously funny explosion of frustration from Bernadette: “IT WAS AN ARCHITECT?!” Bernadette eventually crumbled completely under the pressure and abruptly stormed off, but not before learning Priya and Leonard aren’t planning on getting engaged — “yet.”

Two quick thoughts before moving on to Raj’s attempt to cure his selective mutism: I suspect some of you may have noticed that the aforementioned escapades all felt a bit too Friends-like — Penny as the whimsical and materialistic Rachel, Amy as the wily and controlling Monica, Bernadette as the daffy and forthright Phoebe. I don’t disagree, but by the same token, you can’t really argue with a sure-fire formula for comedy, and Monica never quite had a scene like the one of Amy walking on high heels for the very first time. I also couldn’t help but wonder if the first Big Bang female-driven story line could have been about something other than a group of women hatching a plan to tear down another beautiful, successful woman. Then again, it’s not like the men on the show have ever suffered from a surfeit of nobility, so why should the ladies?

NEXT: Raj’s profound new comfort around the opposite sex

The episode’s B story was also, in a way, all about the female of the species. Despairing that he’s about to turn 30 and still cannot speak to a woman while sober, Raj turned to Sheldon for comfort (pretty much by default, since Howard and Leonard were otherwise occupied), and experimental pharmacology developed from an enzyme found in cow urine (naturally) for a cure. Fortunately for us and unfortunately for Raj, it turns out cow urine is some powerfully potent stuff. Sheldon and Raj went to the local coffee shop to test out the affects of the medication, and Raj found he could indeed speak forthrightly to a lovely woman named Angela who was nonetheless unexpectedly okay with two men whose behavior would have caused most every woman I know in real life to run screaming for the exit. And that’s before Raj’s chemically induced lack of inhibitions led him to disrobe down to his skivvies, and beyond. Yep, Rajesh debuted his birthday suit, and you gotta admire Kunal Nayyar for how fearlessly he ventured in the altogether, especially since the scene itself was altogether bizarre, no more so than Sheldon’s strange behavior throughout. I don’t know why, but Sheldon blankly stating, “This money is earmarked for scones” seemed somehow unwholesome to me.

BEST SCENE

I think the climactic scene at Priya and Leonard’s dinner party is my personal favorite, between Bernadette’s escalating consternation with Priya’s perfectly reasonable questions, her outburst about being “a good Catholic girl,” and Howard’s well-I-guess-that-means-I’m-out-too shrug before quickly knocking over the Jenga tower on his way out by way of apologizing for leaving.

BEST SCIENCE

While Googling “cow urine benefits” turns up a surprising number of medically dubious cures attributed to the naturally occurring liquid, a cursory reading reveals nothing about its ability to denude a Ph.D. in roughly two minutes. So instead, I’m going to go with Amy’s contention that Priya’s double-date invite to Bernadette was her attempt to single out the weakest wildebeest from the herd, Bernadette being the weakest due to her trusting nature coupled with her teeny, tiny body.

BEST GEEKERY

Obviously, Sheldon’s invention of three-person chess. Yes, there are other versions out there, but clearly none have resolved the balance-center-combat-area problem with transitional quadrilateral to triangular tessellation, or have brand new pieces like the “serpent” (which poisons enemy pieces that die two turns later), the “old woman” (which can suck said poison out of the infected piece, thereby transforming it into the “grand empress,” with the power of the knight, queen, and serpent combined), or the “prince Joey” (the king’s feeble-minded-but-well-meaning cousin who holds a one-in-five chance of committing suicide every time he moves). If I don’t see at least three separate groups of people playing this game at Comic-Con this summer, I am going to be sorely disappointed in humanity. (Although I also hope they’ll be playing the earlier version, and not the later one with the pope, catapult, beekeeper, and queen’s gorilla pieces — that’s just silly.)

BEST LINES & EXCHANGES

“I did two years of Cub Scouts before they found out I was a girl.” —Amy Farrah Fowler, reassuring Bernadette that she could teach her how to lie.

Raj: I’m feeling blue.

Sheldon: Blue, as in depressed?

Raj: Not so much depressed, as lonely.

Sheldon: I don’t know what color lonely is.

Raj: What?

Sheldon: Red is angry. Yellow is frightened. Green is jealous. And blue is depressed. Perhaps we can assign a color to lonely.

Raj: Nothing rhymes with orange. It’s probably lonely.

Sheldon: All right. Come in. You look positively orange with loneliness.

Leonard: Beekeeper to King 12. I capture your pope and release the swarm. Checkmate on Sheldon!

Sheldon: I knew I should’ve given my pope the jetpack!

What did you make of “The Wildebeest Implementation,” fellow Big Bang theorists? Were you satisfied with the female-oritented storytelling? Did you expect Raj to begin his striptease, and did you think he’d be going all the way when he started? Do you think Penny has enough to do on the show? If you were going to cast her in a 3-D movie set in Prague and starring Angelina Jolie, do you think an animated Easter bunny would be involved? And did anyone notice that when Raj and Sheldon designated “orange” as the color for loneliness, Sheldon was himself wearing a bright orange Flash T-shirt?

Episode Recaps

The Big Bang Theory

Sheldon, Leonard, Penny, Raj, and Wolowitz, Amy, Bernadette—the gang keeps growing. Bazinga!

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