Katee Sackhoff and George Takei help Howard reconnect with Bernadette. Also: Raj and Sheldon go to war!

By Adam B. Vary
Updated October 15, 2010 at 10:35 AM EDT
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Last May, when The Big Bang Theory so callously did away with Howard Wolowitz’s long-time girlfriend Bernadette — Howard mentioning they’d broken up as merely a throwaway punchline — I was incensed. I was outraged. I called shenanigans in italic type with an exclamation point. More to the point, so did many of you, and thank buh-jeebus the Big Bang writers apparently read TV recap comment boards, because Bernadette returned with a vengeance in tonight’s episode, accompanied by two sci-fi icon guest stars with an unexpectedly keen interest in managing her sex life. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

While he may have spoken of their break-up cavalierly, it was clear Howard wasn’t over Bernadette after he dove under the table when she showed up for her shift at the Cheesecake Factory — odd that it’s taken this long for the two to run into each other, since the Cheesecake Factory is apparently the only restaurant frequented by the Big Bang foursome. Anyhoo, Howard settled in for a swanky evening of self-geek-love starring his semi-regular fantasy/romantic conscience Katee Sackhoff, this time fully clothed in her Battlestar Galactica flightsuit. (Fellow BSG geeks, am I wrong, or did that flight-suit not look quite right to you? I don’t recall them being that shiny, for one thing.) (And yes, I am flying right by the eye-scalding sight of Howard in too-short silk boxer shorts, and I hope you will too.) But then Bernadette popped up, too, followed by Star Trek helmsman George Takei, entering with his trademark “Oh my!” The openly gay activist’s presence caused Sackhoff to profess confusion as to Howard’s latent homosexual tendencies, only proving that her function as a manifestation of Howard’s conscience does not extend to his relationship with Raj. Or his outrageously skin-tight wardrobe.

Howard thankfully bypassed dithering over whether this all meant he really wanted Bernadette back, and went straight to Penny for help. (He had to employ a recording of Sheldon saying her name to even get in her apartment; she hasn’t opened the door for him since discovering the teddy bear he gave her had a web-cam in it. Ha ha ew.) But Penny — who was in the middle of doing her laundry, as she’s contractually obligated at least once per episode — offered her advice and aid for a price: Fess up to why Howard and Bernadette broke up.

The answer was, in hindsight, obvious: Cyber-sex with a World of Warcraft troll named Glicinda. (Glacinda? Glycyndae? Does it matter?) But Bernadette, played with such sweet pluck by Melissa Rauch, still missed Howard, and agreed to a reunion over coffee. Yes, Bernadette was also still angry — “I was right there in the next room while you were clicking that troll’s brains out!” — but she was willing to see past Howard’s virtual indiscretion once he explained he was hard up (sorry) for some action while he waited for Bernadette to let him get to home base. Indeed, despite the fact that in the past Howard’s “joked” about just how many bases there are on Bernadette’s baseball field, apparently the lady in question believes she has just the usual four. “Howard,” she explained, “a girl doesn’t go out with a man like you with your looks, your fancy patter, and your tight hoochie pants if she’s not expecting him to eventually make the move.” Why did the show get rid of her character again?

NEXT: Raj outsmarts…Sheldon?!

So they got back together, and celebrated by making out in Bernadette’s car. Starbuck and Sulu Sackhoff and Takei reappeared to respectively egg Howard on and urge him to take it slow — a funny reversal of expectations, what with Takei’s inability to utter anything without soaking it in innuendo. (“A laaady wants to be woooooed, courted sllloowwwly.”) I’m not usually a big fan of stunt casting, especially of actors playing “themselves,” but since these two actors were supposed to provide a window into Howard’s warped psyche, the odd couple casting worked for me. Still, I could easily do without seeing Sackhoff waggle her tongue again on national television. (I’m likely in the minority on that, I realize.)

I could do with much, much more, however, of the newly sparked feud between Raj and Sheldon, borne of Sheldon’s refusal to pay for a desk for Raj as they continue their academic collaboration-cum-contretemps. Here’s why:

1. It finally gives Raj something to do: The look of supreme satisfaction on Raj’s face when Sheldon discovered his colleague had moved a brobdingnagian desk into his office was not only hilarious, it reminded me just how funny Kunal Nayyar can be when he’s given the chance to do something other than make blithely cheerful jokes that fill out the time between the main plots.

2. It finally proves Sheldon can be out-smarted: Was anyone else relieved to see Sheldon forced to deal with someone else’s comically outrageous behavior? “Why do you even want this here?!” Sheldon ranted of the desk. “Its size is completely disproportionate to its purpose!” Raj’s delicious reply: “Seeing as its purpose was to piss you off, I’d say it’s spot on.”

3. It finally widens the spotlight beyond just Sheldon: Many of you have criticized the series for too often feeling like The Sheldon Cooper Show, a sentiment I’ve long shared myself even as I’ve marveled at Jim Parsons’ comic genius.This episode gave Howard the “A story,” gave Raj equal footing with Sheldon in the “B story,” and still had room to give Penny and Leonard some choice lines as they observed all the action from the sidelines. (Leonard, to Sheldon: “Sometimes your movements are so lifelike, I forget you’re not a real boy.”) Now this is the ensemble I fell in love with in the first place.

What did you make of “The Hot Troll Deviation,” fellow Big Bang theorists? Are you as thrilled as I am by the return of Bernadette? Were you happy with Katee Sackhoff and George Takei’s cameos? Are you looking forward to the escalation of Raj and Sheldon’s ongoing battle? And how long do you think it’ll be before Penny, Bernadette, and Amy Farrah Fowler are in the same room together?

THINK OF YOUR TELEVISION AS A VITAL MEMBER OF THE FAMILY? Then don’t miss this week’s TV Insiders podcast! Michael Ausiello, Michael Slezak, Annie Barrett, Dalton Ross, and Jeff Jensen weigh in on the returning series that are hitting creative peaks this season, and dish the latest happenings on Mad Men, Survivor, and Dancing With the Stars. Click here to download the podcast to your MP3 player, or listen to a YouTube embed below!

Episode Recaps

The Big Bang Theory

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

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