There’s a lot of magic in “The Consummation Deviation,” and not all of it is because Teller is back. The hits just keep on coming from The Big Bang Theory, which is both a fitting send-off for the show in its last season and bittersweetly making me wish it were coming back for a 13th. 

The episode’s title relates to Anu (Rati Gupta) suggesting to Raj (Kunal Nayyar) that they have sex, so that they’ll know before they’re married whether or not they’re compatible. They’re planning a Valentine’s Day wedding in India, and they’ve invited all the friends. It makes sense to see if they click physically before they go through with it. They decide to book a room at Anu’s hotel during the weekend, and instead of getting excited, Raj gets completely frazzled.

The pressure of connecting with his future bride in this important way sends him first to Howard (Simon Helberg) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) for advice. There’s a satisfying callback to Howard’s creepy origins when he reacts to Raj’s upcoming coitus with an over-interested “yeeeeeaaaaaaahhhhh,” and the guys call him out on it. The show seems to have finally grown all the way beyond that kind of sleaze, and it’s a relief. 

Leonard has no real advice to offer, and Howard’s only contribution is that he was super worried his mom would walk in on him and Bernie the first time they did it… and she did.

Raj tries again with the girls, and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) advises him to lock the door. Penny (Kaley Cuoco), who actually slept with Raj once, suggests that he pull out his Kama Sutra moves. He admits that he doesn’t know any real ones, and that Anu will recognize fakes because she’s Indian. 

When the fateful night finally arrives, Raj is in a state of panic waiting for Anu to join him in the hotel room. She walks in, and his voice completely disappears. His old social anxiety issue has resurfaced after years of lying dormant, and he is literally unable to speak in front of her. He silently excuses himself, grabs the bottle of champagne that’s chilling near the bed and disappears into the restroom to drink half of it. When he returns, he can speak, but Anu isn’t having it. 

Anu demands that he stop talking like a suave stranger and tell her the truth about what’s happening with him. He finally does, admitting how anxious he’s been and that he has a “talking problem with an alcohol solution.” She reassures him that they both have eccentricities, and when he presses her to share one she admits that she doesn’t see the point of music. Raj teases her about not appreciating Beyoncé, and they kiss. 

The next morning, they wake up fully clothed together. Anu orders coffee from room service and tells Raj how wonderful the night was for her. He’s confused, because all they did was talk. That’s what was so wonderful. He asks if she wants to find another night for the other thing, and she suggests that instead he join her in the shower immediately. (I love Anu!)

RELATED: Raj is right about Beyoncé. She is a goddess. 

Meanwhile, Sheldon (Jim Parsons) is shocked to learn that most of their friends are involved with their in-laws. When Raj asks everyone to plan on coming to India for his wedding, he mentions how much time he’s spending getting to know Anu’s family, and everyone else acknowledges that they have active relationships with their in-laws. Sheldon decides he ought to make an effort to bond with his. 

He starts with Mr. Fowler (Teller), planning a day of bonding at all of Sheldon’s favorite spots. Mr. Fowler goes along through the train store, but by the time they arrive at the comic book shop, it’s clear that he isn’t enjoying himself as much as Sheldon is. They run into Howard there, who impresses Mr. Fowler so much with some impromptu magic that the day of fun makes a detour to the Wolowitz household for magic lessons. 

Mr. Fowler loves all of Howard’s tricks, but he isn’t very good at replicating them. (Funny because it isn’t true!) Sheldon, on the other hand, is fed up with being upstaged by Howard. He decides to ditch Mr. Fowler and bond with Mrs. Fowler (Kathy Bates) instead. 

Sheldon shows up at her door, knocking his trademark knock, and she invites him in for tea and cookies. At first it’s a chilly affair, with her refusing to play his version of 20 questions or to engage in discussing medical procedures she’s undergone. When Amy (Mayim Bialik) finds out what he’s doing, though, she inadvertently provides the icebreaker Sheldon needs. 

It turns out that Amy has been using Sheldon as an excuse to avoid her mother for years. Sheldon spending time with her is bound to mess that up. Amy calls him, frantic to convince him to come home by pretending that all of his action figures are on fire and Harrison Ford is in their lobby. While Amy’s on the line, Mrs. Fowler shares that she doesn’t appreciate that her daughter can’t come to Sunday dinners or spend Thanksgiving with her parents because of Sheldon’s different commitments. Sheldon makes it clear that he has no conflicts, and Mrs. Fowler takes his phone and confronts her daughter. 

After the call, Sheldon and Mrs. Fowler bond over their mutual anger at Amy, and Sheldon wins his mother-in-law over by both forgiving Amy immediately because he loves her and expressing how crazy Amy is to want to avoid anyone as delightful as her mother. 

RELATED: Contrast Kathy Bates’ Mrs. Fowler with Ms. Miriam Mead on this season of AHS: Apocalypse!

A little while later, the Fowlers are dining at the Coopers’ apartment on an evening when Amy couldn’t think of any reasons at all for them not to come. After dinner, Mr. Fowler wants to perform a trick Howard taught him: making a steak knife disappear. He succeeds in performing the trick, but he inadvertently gives away where the knife is concealed when his hands begin bleeding profusely on the carpet. He skedaddles off to the bathroom, providing Sheldon and Mrs. Fowler with another bonding moment when she says she doesn’t care for magic. 

RELATED: Follow my Season 12 recaps here!

 

Leona Laurie