On Big Bang Theory season six, episode two, "Decoupling Fluctuation," Howard (Simon Helberg) is still in space being taunted by his fellow astronauts, while his wife Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) is opening wedding gifts and starting conversations about relationships.
The short story is: Amy (Mayim Bialik) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) are in very different places in their lives. Amy knows she's going to get married in four years, but, she says, "Don't tell Sheldon. He's still a flight risk."
Meanwhile, Penny admits she's in a "new better, boring kind of love" with Leonard (Johnny Galecki) -- and she's not sure that's what she wants.
The long version of this story is that Amy, of course, tells Sheldon (Jim Parsons) that Penny is thinking about breaking up with Leonard. And fans all know that Sheldon isn't good at keeping secrets, particularly when they involve his friends.
This storyline seems to be a bit familiar. Remember the "Big Bang Theory" season two premiere? Back then, Leonard and Penny went on their first date, and Penny told Sheldon a secret: that she felt intellectually inadequate.
But Penny's problem is now the exact opposite. She doesn't even care anymore about not understanding the things Sheldon or Leonard sometime say, like when Sheldon demands she keep the homeostasis and stay with Leonard, no matter what her feelings. In other words, he doesn't like change.
It's more than that too. Sheldon, as he's proved more and more often in recent episodes, actually does have a heart. "Penny, please don't hurt my friend," he says.
"That's the last thing I want to do," she says, which is exactly why when Leonard gives her big puppy dog eyes, she doesn't break up with him. Instead, she sleeps with him. And she's leading poor Leonard on, and becoming more unlikable by the second. Especially when Leonard texts her, "Last night was amazing. You're amazing. I'm so lucky to have you in my life." And she still wants to break up with him.
Oh, Penny. Either keep the sweet, sweet Leonard, or cut him loose so he can find his Hulk, or Mark Ruffalo, in his life, or so that's what Sheldon likens a new girlfriend to.
While Penny and Leonard are the main focus of "Decoupling Fluctuation," there was also some other moments that made this episode pretty pitch perfect.
For one, Raj (Kunal Nayyar) and Stuart (Kevin Sussman) are still hanging out, despite Sheldon trying to turn Stuart into the new Wolowitz, even forcing him to eat Raisinets in the movie theater. And when Sheldon insists to Leonard that he should find a back-up woman and Leonard insists that you can't replace someone you care about with some random person, Stuart begs, "Please don't ruin this for me."
Then of course there's the exchange between Amy and Sheldon in the movie theater, when she insists he hold her hand. Sheldon doesn't get why Penny doesn't know if she loves Leonard, because he knows exactly what he loves and what he doesn't. "Trains, I love. Swordfish, I love." Handholding? Not so much.
But the heart of this episode still belongs to Sheldon's struggle with Penny's secret. And it's one of the sweetest and funniest moments when he tries to clue Leonard into Penny's feelings with a Transformers analogy.
As Sheldon says, in Transformers, things are not always what they appear to be. "A semi-truck might be an alien robot. Someone in a romantic relationship might feel differently than they appear to," he says. "A conversation about the Transformers might be about someone in the room."
Leonard thinks he gets it. He thinks the emotionless robot is Sheldon, but his relationship with Amy is making him into a "red-blooded man with sexual desires."
To which Sheldon can only say, "That is literally the stupidest thing I've ever heard."
Or is it? Penny and Leonard's relationship may be coming to an end, but that doesn't mean Sheldon and Amy's is.
Big Bang Theory airs on CBS Thursdays at 8 p.m. Eastern.
Photo credit: Michael Yarish/Warner Bros.
Â© 2012 Elizabeth SanFilippo