The Big Bang Theory Season 4-16 ‘The Cohabitation Formulation’ Recap

Raj’s sister Priya returns in The Cohabitation Formulation. That’s good news for Leonard and good news for Raj, too—until Leonard finds out she’s visiting, that is. That, of course, owes to Leonard’s on again/off again romance with Priya, which was rekindled in week 6’s The Irish Pub Formulation.

Although the two had engaged in numerous sexual liaisons over the years, they’d managed to keep it secret until Formulation. Raj didn’t take the news well, but ultimately forgave Leonard upon learning that Priya broke his heart before leaving town. Still, although he and Leonard remained friends, Raj hates the idea of Leonard sleeping with his sister.

Raj does an admirable job hiding Priya’s visit, but then Howard throws a monkey in the wrench: he and his mother fight over him and girlfriend Bernadette moving in together and Howard’s forced to ask Leonard to crash on Leonard’s couch for the night.

Why can’t he stay with his “primary” friend Raj, Sheldon inquires. Because Priya’s visiting, of course—she’s been in town for two days, in fact.

Leonard can’t get himself to Raj’s apartment fast enough. Once he and Priya see each other, their romance—contrary to Raj’s “strict” forbiddance—is very intensely on again.  It’s so on, in fact, that by the episode’s conclusion they leave for a weekend trip to Catalina Island.

Amy Farrah Fowler drops by Penny’s apartment to offer comfort over Leonard’s new love interest.  Priya, after all—according to Amy—is a “smart, beautiful woman with the smoldering sexuality of a crouched Bengal tiger.”  Besides, Penny’s broken heart and subsequent tears will provide Amy a chance to gather data for her research on emotions and brain activity.  She plans to hook Penny into a portable electroencephalogram and thereby monitor her brainwave activity to see which brain regions are activated when she cries. Ever the hopeless romantic, Amy will then stimulate the same brain regions in a rhesus monkey to see if he cries.

Penny, though, at first insists she isn’t bothered by Leonard’s newfound love interest. Amy doesn’t buy that and continues pressing in that special, sensitive Amy Farrah Fowler way. And finally, near the episode’s conclusion, Penny has a minor breakdown, confessing her love for Leonard and giving Amy the data she needs to make a rhesus monkey “cry like a disgraced televangelist.”

Meanwhile, Bernadette convinces Howard to move out of his mother’s house and in with her.  Then, when she quickly realizes how unnaturally attached Howard is to his mother, the honeymoon period’s over—the new living arrangement is over, in fact, and Howard moves back home.  There he has a caring mother to wash his laundry and take him to the dentist (lots of kids go to the dentist with their moms according to Howard).  No word on whether Howard and Bernadette’s relationship will survive this little tiff. Stay tuned.

The Cohabitation Formulation wasn’t among season 4’s funniest episodes, but it nonetheless had a number of good laughs and it was, overall, easily more entertaining than week 15’s The Benefactor Factor.

For me, Amy and Penny’s scenes together were easily the most entertaining aspect of “Formulation.” That’s due in no small measure to the fact that, contrary to my own dislike of the soap opera vibe between Leonard and Penny this season (I don’t care for sitcom mixed with soap opera), Bang’s writers have managed to pull me into the Penny/Leonard melodrama  and make me care about whether these two get back together—all while keeping me laughing.  I suspect that we’ll see some serious/sidesplitting drama between these two before season’s end and I’m looking forward to it.

Kaley Cuoco and Mayim Bialik are always entertaining together, too—almost as entertaining as Cuoco and Parsons, in fact.  If ever there’s a spinoff series with Sheldon and Amy Farrah Fowler (a show I’d instantly add to my DVR queue), it probably wouldn’t work without Penny.  Thankfully, though, with The Big Bang Theory renewed through season 7, we likely won’t be seeing a Sheldon/Amy spinoff anytime soon.  And that’s just fine by me.