This week’s Big Bang Theory divides itself neatly in two, but only the lighter half of the equation really works. For the heavy lifting, we get Leonard (Johnny Galecki) forced to cut Penny (Kaley Cuoco) out of his life if he wants to keep seeing Priya (Aarti Mann). Naturally he waffles, causing all manner of wacky confusion. Though Penny’s comparatively maturity and understanding about the situation ring true, the comedy rarely works and the subplot lacks any understanding about how romantic entanglements can complicate otherwise platonic friendships.
Thank God the rest of the gang decides to fuck with Sheldon (Jim Parsons), whose smug backhanded compliments finally reach a breaking point. Howard (Simon Helberg) displays a simple magic trick of the “is this your card” school, and Sheldon can’t figure it out. The anxiety drives him around the bend, resulting in some truly priceless moments and a much-needed bit of karmic comeuppance. It rescues the episode from its emotional miscues and sends us to bed cackling with schadenfreude-laden glee.