The Big Bang Theory recap: Razing the Bar
After Leonard sleeps with Raj's sister (again), our geeky foursome stumble into a knee-slapping swamp of betrayals
One of my favorite TV episodes of all time is “The One with the Embryos” from the fourth season of Friends. You know, it’s the one where Monica, Rachel, Chandler, and Joey partake in a personal trivia contest officiated by Ross, and we learn some deliciously silly factoids about our beloved characters: Chandler first touched a girl’s breast at 19, Monica’s biggest pet peeve is animals dressed as humans, Joey’s imaginary friend was/is a space cowboy named Maurice. The simple fact that these people had lives outside the 22 minutes we spent with them each week — and that those lives were as, well, trivial as our own — was outrageously funny and endearing in equal measure.
I felt much the same way about tonight’s episode of The Big Bang Theory. It isn’t quite my top episode of the series — that honor is still safely held by season 2’s “The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis,” and besides, without Penny around (or, for the second time, even mentioned) it just doesn’t quite feel like The Big Bang Theory to me. But “The Irish Pub Formulation” was chock full of tasty bits of trivia about our characters; the penultimate scene with our fearsome foursome was especially scrumptious, easily one of my favorites. The roundelay of revelations — not just that Leonard betrayed Howard, who betrayed Raj, who betrayed Sheldon, who betrayed Leonard, but how all this betrayal went down — was all kinds of rib-tickling fun, and helped make plain just how nerdily entwined these four friends are with each other. That last sentence maybe came off a bit more coital than I meant it to, but you get the idea.
The episode’s ultimate success is even more impressive considering how shaky its opening moments were: A groaner from Howard about bad cobbler (“it tastes like it’s made up of actual ground-up shoemaker”) that was compounded by Sheldon explaining the humor, killing something that was already kinda dead and maggoty. But then Raj’s sister Priya (Aarti Mann) showed up from India for a day-long layover; Raj told Howard to not lay over, under or anywhere near her; Howard explained he’d already made a pact with Leonard to do just that; which was right about the time Priya laid a big one on Leonard outside the ladies’ restroom, a kiss that Leonard happily reciprocated once he knew the coast was clear. As Rachel said in “The One with the Embryos”: Oooo, that’s interesting.
After Sheldon’s failed in his effort to get anyone interested in a “train day” in Los Angeles (for our non-Angeleno readers, let me assure you right now that there is, in fact, a Carney’s in Studio City and Hollywood that serve up hot dogs in converted train cars, and that Griffith Park does play home to the Travel Town Museum), we pivoted to Leonard’s efforts to secret Priya into his bedroom for some layover nookie without Sheldon ever being the wiser. Usually this wouldn’t be a problem, but Sheldon’s discovery of an emulator of old 1980s text-based RPGs videogames (i.e. Zork and its ilk) meant he was up way past his bedtime. Leonard’s solution: You better get to bed, Sheldon, because you don’t want to be yawning at your big presentation. Sheldon’s golden response: “Everyone will see my oddly shaped uvula!”
NEXT: A theory about the cancellation of Caprica emerges.
The next morning, Leonard’s efforts to get Priya safely out of his bedroom proved more taxing; his lie about a lipstick mark being a rash prompted Sheldon to bust out his collection of topical creams and ointments, including “a nice AnaMantle HC — it’s usually indicated for acutely inflamed hemorrhoids, but it also goes nicely with non mucosal body parts.” How the writers are able to make hemorrhoid jokes sound intelligent is one of the many wonders of this show.
Now, you’d think Sheldon catching Priya just as she was leaving would’ve meant the jig was up — “And to think! I was ready to waste the last of my good hemorrhoid cream on you!” But the notion of successfully perpetrating a subterfuge on Raj and Howard proved too enticing for Sheldon. He crafted an elaborate alibi for Leonard involving him coming upon “the fun-loving and morally loose Miss Maggie McGarry” at an Irish pub called Lucky Baldwins (yet again an actual establishment, which is too bad, as I had fun imagining its sign featuring a smiling Alec and Billy each tossing back a pint while Daniel and Stephen sulked in the background).
The alibi and its unconvincing back-up evidence — including a cocktail napkin with the message “Leonard, call me if you’re interested in coitus. Sincerely, Maggie McGarry” — proved unnecessary, as all it took to break Leonard was the unfortunate discovery that he did not, in fact, watch this week’s episode of Caprica. (Jeez, Leonard; not only do you betray your friends, but you’re clearly singlehandedly responsible for the untimely demise of one of your favorite shows!) Leonard couldn’t go through with Sheldon’s ruse, and confessed his sins to Raj and Howard. And that’s when the revelations came a tumblin’:
Leonard told Raj that Howard dropped his iPhone in a urinal. And Sheldon told Raj that Howard tricked him into thinking that foreigners give Americans presents on Thanksgiving (although, given Sheldon’s inability to keep secrets, I’m not quite sure how Sheldon kept that one so long — perhaps its because he wanted to keep ahold of his Snoopy Sno-Cone maker).
Then Howard told Leonard that Sheldon put ground up insects into his food. Sheldon’s equivocation: “That was an experiment to determine at what concentration does food start tasting moth-y.”
Then Leonard told Sheldon that Raj used his toothbrush — “not the brush part,” Raj explained “just the little rubber thing to pick food from my teeth and massage my gums.” Sheldon still madly blinked with outrage.
Then everyone apologized to everyone else (Howard also confessed to tricking Raj into doing everyone’s laundry on the Fourth of July); well, except for Sheldon, who never actually admitted to any real betrayal let alone apologize for it, and instead had to be bribed with a Talking Thomas the Tank Engine with real puffing smoke just to stay at the table. Which is just about right.
What did you make of “The Irish Pub Formulation,” fellow Big Bang theorists? Were you as startled (and delighted) by Leonard’s sudden rage at being fed a mango-caterpillar Snoopy sno-cone by Sheldon? Did you know “ta-dah” is short for “ta-dah-dah-DAHHH”? And don’t you wish Penny had been there to witness that cascade of lunch table revelations, and offer some of her own?
DO YOU AUDIBLY GASP WHEN YOU MEET SOMEONE AT A COCKTAIL PARTY WHO CLAIMS NOT TO OWN A TELEVISION? (WE’RE GASPING JUST THINKING ABOUT IT.) Then don’t miss this week’s TV Insiders podcast! Annie Barrett, Dalton Ross, Michael Ausiello, Michael Slezak, and Clark Collis talk about their favorite Halloween episodes, plus the creepy new series Dead Set and The Walking Dead. Plus, our EW couch potatoes dish the latest happenings on Survivor and Dancing With the Stars. Click here to download the TV Insiders podcast to your MP3 player, or listen to an embedded version below!