The Big Bang Theory Season 4-03 ‘The Zazzy Substitution’ Recap

Amy Farrah Fowler returns in week 3 and then departs, only to return once more in the episode’s final act. We’re reminded from the outset how obnoxious she is—and why we missed her so much in week 2.

She and Sheldon are playing “counterfactuals” as “The Zazzy Substitution” opens, a game they created in which they “postulate an alternate world that differs from ours in one key aspect and then pose questions to each other.” “It’s fun for ages 8-80,” Sheldon gleefully tells Leonard, “Join us.”

Leonard does so and, according to Sheldon, draws an easy question: “In a world where mankind is ruled by a giant, intelligent beaver, what food is no longer consumed?”  The answer?  Cheese Danish, of course. When Leonard gets it wrong, Sheldon calls him a sore loser and Leonard storms out, complaining how unfair and stupid the game is. As might be expected, Sheldon and Amy dismiss Leonard’s reaction to immaturity and inferior intelligence.

Throughout the course of the episode, Amy endears herself to the entire cast. From giving details about her buying and usage habits for feminine hygiene supplies, to insulting Howard for only having a Master’s Degree, to answering Penny’s innocuous “How’s your life?” with “Like everybody else’s: subject to entropy, decay and eventual death,” Amy manages to offend everybody equally.

Leonard, speaking on behalf of the group, asks Sheldon to socialize with Amy away from everyone else. “Frankly,” Leonard tells his roommate, “Amy’s judgmental, sanctimonious and obnoxious; we already have you for all that.” Sheldon won’t hear it, though, and advises Leonard to “buck up.”

Alas, even Sheldon isn’t immune from Amy’s sharp tongue. The following day in the university cafeteria, where the pair joins Leonard, Howard and Raj for lunch, Amy demeans Sheldon’s work as a theoretical physicist, describing it as “cute.” Neurobiology, she claims, is a much more important, hands-on scientific pursuit.

An intense quarrel ensues—intense by “Shamy” standards anyway (the gang’s “juvenile amalgamation” of the couple’s names), and ends with Sheldon motioning that the couple’s relationship terminate immediately. Amy seconds and Leonard, Howard and Raj gleefully offer no objections.

The two exchange formal, decidedly chilly “good days” and that’s that—or so it seems.  Sheldon seems fine at first—at least, fine by Sheldon standards; in reality, though, he’s anything but. Leonard realizes just how hard Sheldon’s taking the “breakup” when he comes home to find their apartment filled with cats; Sheldon’s filling his emotional void left with cats.

Sheldon, however, can’t be reasoned with. The cats, he claims, have no connection to Amy Farrah Fowler; in fact, Amy wasn’t his girlfriend.  With nowhere to turn, Leonard pulls out the big gun: he calls Sheldon’s mom, Mary (Laurie Metcalf).

Mary deals with the situation by inviting Amy for dinner. Sheldon’s at first mortified, but then Mary uses reverse psychology and forbids him from dating her. That does the trick; Sheldon and Amy decide to resolve their differences, with Sheldon agreeing—after some haggling—to stipulate that 65% of their difficulties were his fault. Amy Farrah Fowler, then, will survive to torment our favorite ‘so-smart-their-dumb’ geeks another day.

“The Zazzy Substitution” was an improvement on “The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification” and on par with the premiere. Mayim Bialik, playing Amy Farrah Fowler, once more made a case for herself as a regular guest; she may well be Jim Parson’s on-camera soul mate, too. Here’s hoping Chuck Lorre and company bring her back often. In the meantime, short of another appearance by Bialik, we’ll have to settle for “Star Trek’s” George Takai and “Battlestar Galactica’s” Katee Sackhoff, who are both scheduled to appear in week 4’s “The Hot Troll Deviation.”