Dear Emmy voters: If the Big Bang Theory powers that be have any sense whatsoever, they will be sending you a copy of last night's episode for awards consideration (along with this one, and this one). And if you have any sense whatsoever, based on the empirical evidence of hilarity presented in the aforementioned submissions, you will nominate the show for best comedy. Proving once more that Big Bang is at its best when its making the most out of all its characters — and that Amy Farrah Fowler has become the best thing to happen to Sheldon since the coinage of his catchphrase "Bazinga!" — the ep also managed to squeeze in a game-changing plot twist and a good-sport cameo by best-selling string theorist Brian Greene.
It all started when Amy and Sheldon attended a book store appearance by Greene — to mock his dumbing down of complex science for a general audience, naturally — and Amy proffered this nugget of gossip: Bernadette was considering breaking up with Howard. At first, Sheldon was mildly aghast by Amy stooping to such a common mode of communication. But over a game of Wii archery, Sheldon succumbed to the allure of good scuttlebutt and shared Amy's gossip with Leonard. Then Leonard told Priya, who told Leonard that her brother Raj would be secretly happy about the breakup since he has a big crush on Bernadette. When Leonard later ran into Penny — who, it turns out, was the one who told Amy about Bernadette in the first place — he spilled to her about Raj's crush. Priya, meanwhile, let slip to Raj about Bernadette and Howard's relationship troubles. Finally, Sheldon, Leonard, and Raj noticed a distracted Howard at lunch; it didn't take much prodding for Howard to reveal his mind was on Bernadette, but not because they were in trouble: He was planning to propose. Oddly, the character at the center of this whole roundelay of tittle-tattle, Bernadette, was barely seen last night, which is a shame given how rapaciously we all know Bernadette would've gobbled up what happened next. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Another sitcom would have spent the rest of the episode following the characters comically agonizing over whether to warn Howard about Bernadette's plan to nix their relationship. Sheldon and Amy, however, had a better idea: Fascinated by the speedy way good gossip spreads among their friends, they decided to do an experiment to see how quickly fake juicy gossip would work its way through the crew, with a mundane false rumor tacked on as a control. Which led to my absolute favorite Amy Farrah Fowler moment yet: Amy knocks on Penny's door, Penny answers, and Amy says in one hilarious breath, "Sheldon and I engaged in sexual intercourse in other news I’m thinking of starting an herb garden mum’s the word gotta go!" Not only will that line have me chuckling all weekend, I will think of it any time my mind wanders into recalling the unpleasantness unfolding elsewhere last night. (Hey Emmy voters: How 'bout a Best Supporting Actress nod for Mayim Bialik while you're at it?)
Naturally, the news of Sheldon and Amy's false sexual relations spread like wildfire, making its way through the entire group of friends in less than 24 hours, though we only really saw the first two steps. Step one: Penny discovered an inebriated Raj attempting to make a preemptive move on Bernadette, and she distracted him thusly:
Penny: Try thinking about this: Sheldon and Amy had sex.
Raj: Shut your ass!
I repeat: "Shut your ass!" Kunal Nayyar has already taken to Twitter to implore people to "stop telling me to shut my ass!" I hope he's joking about being upset, because he should be nothing but proud of how well he pulled off that line. If he is upset, well, I'm sorry, dude, it's too late: That's gonna be a T-shirt in no time.
NEXT: Step two of Sheldon and Amy's experiment, and Priya's none-too-subtle foreshadowing