The Big Bang Theory Season 4-08 ‘The 21-Second Excitation’ Recap

After three straight mildly amusing episodes that failed to measure up to Bang’s typical standard, The 21-Second Excitation marks a return to form.  t’s no coincidence that “Excitation” also marks the full-time return of actress Kaley Cuoco from a broken leg. The writers waste no time in using Cuoco, either. There she is in the opening segment, gathered ‘round the TV with our four favorite ‘so-smart-they’re-dumb’ geeks as the theme from 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark plays.

Leonard and his fellow ‘geek-wits’ are smiling like proverbial kids in a candy store, while Penny wears a snarly, bemused looking frown. She has never seen “Raiders” and can’t understand how an archeologist can be so good with a whip; more than that, she can’t understand why anyone would pay to see this same 29-year-old geeky movie at a theater for a mere 21 seconds of extra footage—which Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Raj plan to do that Friday.

Apparently, Howard’s girlfriend Bernadette shares that opinion and she and Penny plan a girls’ night for the evening of the “Raiders” screening. Don’t look now, but obnoxious, ‘Sheldon-in-drag’ Amy Farrah Fowler makes her fourth season 4 appearance and crashes Penny and Bernadette’s party. On the evening of the “Raiders” screening, after learning of girls’ night, the socially stunted Miss Fowler asks Penny if she can join the girly fun. This, after rejecting Bernadette’s offer to ask Penny for her.

“No need,” Amy tells Bernadette.  “Penny and I are very close.”

“You are?” a partly surprised, partly skeptical Leonard asks as he and his friends share a pre-movie meal at The Cheesecake Factory.

“Yes. In fact, our menses are synchronized.”

Amy makes her way to the bar, where she’s oblivious to Penny’s lack of enthusiasm for her attendance.

“What’s the dress code?” Amy asks after confirming that she’ll be joining girls’ night.

“Just wear something comfortable,” Penny replies.

Amy glances robotically at her watch. “All right; I’ll have to go shopping.”

Thus while Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Raj endure a nightmare line only to be turned away from the screening when seating runs out, Penny, Bernadette and Amy share a night of crank phone calls, truth-or-dare playing, nail painting, pillow fighting, girl talk and—to Penny’s shock and chagrin—“harmless experimentation with lesbianism.” Amy, it turns out, has an unusually firm cervix and a tilted uterus—both of which she divulges during a spirited session of girl talk.

Despite a return guest appearance by Sheldon’s nemesis, Evil Wil Wheaton—who cuts in line at the Raiders screening, assuring that Leonard and company don’t get in—“Excitation’s” funniest moments belong to Penny, Bernadette and Amy. Cucuo and Mayim Bialik are a hoot together—every bit as funny as Parsons and Cucuo, but with a slightly different dynamic. Unlike with Sheldon, Penny doesn’t yet have a handle on how to counter Amy’s over-educated, machine-like inanities. Moreover, Bialik can’t seem to deliver a line in this episode without cracking me up. She’s certainly a scene stealer.

With each appearance by Wheaton, I keep hoping the writers will at last give Sheldon the upper hand and allow him some measure of vengeance against his ‘sixth worst all time enemy.’ Although Sheldon gets the slightest taste of vengeance here when he breaks into the projector room and steals the Raiders film reels—“If I can’t see it, no one else can see it”—Wheaton’s appearance is aggravatingly brief, leaving scant opportunity for verbal jousting or one-ups-man-ship. Instead, we get Wheaton leading a horde of angry fanboys as they storm from the theater in hot pursuit of Sheldon and the film reels.

Penny’s party is effectively ended when Bernadette and Amy press her—during a game of Truth or Dare—about why she still spends so much time with Leonard despite dumping him. Penny storms from the room, refusing to answer.

“Well, I’m not sure how this is scored,” Amy says afterward, robotic as ever “but I believe we may have won.”

The 21-Second Excitation is among season 4’s better episodes so far and also serves as a nice setup for week 9’s “The Boyfriend Complexity,” when Penny and Leonard’s relationship will take center stage during a visit by her parents.