'The Big Bang Theory' Season 4, Episode 15 Recap
What a difference a week makes. The previous episode of 'The Big Bang Theory' was probably the weakest of the season, and it certainly had the skimpiest plot. Tonight's episode was much better, and it hit all the right comedic beats. Once again, the plot was pretty thin. But then again, 'The Big Bang Theory' has never been known for the complexity of its plots. And hey, when the show's funny, then that doesn't matter.
The show was divided into two sections. In the first, the boys met President Siebert, the head of their university. In the grand tradition of, well, every college movie and TV show ever, Sheldon has a rivalry going on with the president. But Siebert isn't a stuffy old dean in the style of, say, 'Animal House.' In fact, in a nice twist on the usual dean-vs.-students battle, the feud seems to be mostly Sheldon's fault.
Siebert convinced Leonard, Raj and Howard to go to a Saturday night fund-raiser, in order to have them suck up to some wealthy donors. But Sheldon hates the president so refused to go; he compared parading in front of donors to being "a prize hog at the Texas State Fair." Worse, Siebert made the mistake of actually touching Sheldon on the shoulder, which prompted Captain Germ Hater to decide he'd rather spend Saturday night at home doing laundry.
As usual, it fell to Amy to be the voice of reason, via Skype video chat (also, as usual). She told Sheldon that if he didn't go to the party, then all of that sweet, sweet donor money would go to the Geology Department. "Or worse, it could go to the Liberal Arts ... millions of dollars being showered on poets."
The thought of poets actually receiving money was enough to rouse Sheldon from his laundry-induced stupor, and he headed off to the fund-raiser. Meanwhile, Raj, Howard and Leonard were already there -- and were experiencing problems of their own. They met Ms. Latham, a quasi-terrifying "Cougar." Ms. Latham was played by Jessica Walters, of 'Arrested Development' and 'Archer' fame, and Walters gave all of her lines an awesome sarcastic zing -- frightening the boys with the sheer archness of her words.
Then, Sheldon entered the party, confident in his ability to win tons of donor funding for the Physics Department. "I'm just here for your money, I don't want to shake anyone's germy hands!" he announced. But once the party was over, we learned that Ms. Latham is really, really rich -- and she's really into Leonard. As in, wanting to have sex with Leonard level of "into" him.
In the second and funniest section of the show, Sheldon promoted the whole Leonard-having-sex-with-an-older-woman-bit, lured on by the prospect of her donating massive amounts of funds to their department. In a nice twist, there was no rivalry between Sheldon and Leonard here, and even Penny seemed cautiously into Leo getting down with a cougar.
The best part about 'The Big Bang Theory' is how the show casually defies standard sitcom expectations. You'd think that Leonard would back out of the sex thing, or that Ms. Latham would turn out to be mean, or crazy, or there'd be some twist where he wouldn't get the money after all.
But, in the end, everything works out pleasantly, which is ... surprisingly pleasant. Ms. Latham made a pass at Leonard, he gave in and slept with her, and it turned out that she actually just likes him; no strings attached. She was always going to give the department money, no matter what. The set-up for this episode couldn't have been more traditional -- an "evil" college president, a "conniving" older woman. But the president isn't evil, and the cougar turned out to be a pussycat. And the show pulled it all off with a sweet, gentle humor, reminding us of why we like 'The Big Bang Theory' in the first place.
"Here's what I wonder about zombies ... they can't starve to death, they're already dead."
"I think we were misled about the cute girls."
"Prepare to be minimized."
"If there's simply no talking to me, then why did you call?"
"We have potatoes, I can make you vodka." "That'd take two weeks."
"Penny, you're an expert on trading sexual favors for material gain."
Sheldon, to Leonard: "I'm so proud of you, you sold yourself out like a common streetwalker!" Penny to Leonard: "Good morning, slut!"
'The Big Bang Theory' airs Thursdays, 8PM ET on CBS.