The Collaboration Fluctuation Season 10, Episode 19 -  Aired March 30, 2017

The Collaboration Fluctuation

When Penny and Raj start spending more time together now that Raj has moved into the apartment, Leonard starts to feel like a third wheel.

Meanwhile, Sheldon's interest in Amy's work leads them to collaborate, but they soon find they can only work well together when they're at each other's throats.

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Guest Stars: Pamela Adlon as Halley (O.S.)

Writers: Chuck Lorre (Story), Tara Hernandez (Story), Giuseppe Graziano (Story), Steven Molaro (Teleplay), Steve Holland (Teleplay), Dave Goetsch (Teleplay)

Director: Mark Cendrowski

Viewers: 12.78 million Households Rating: 8.7/15 Adults 18-49 Rating: 2.6/11

Available on iTunes

Episode Notes

  • The title refers to Sheldon and Amy teaming up on a project, and the fluctuations between them happily and unhappily working together.

Episode Quotes

Leonard: Oh, it's just nice to be with people who are happy to have me around. Isn't that right, Halley?
*Halley starts crying*
Howard: Well, at least someone had the courage to say it.

Amy: Why don't you ask me what I'm working on?
Sheldon: Oh, very well. What have you been working on? And feel free to honk during the boring parts.

Amy: Wait, are you saying if we combine my experiment with your calculations, we can determine the precise moment in time when the wave function collapses?
Sheldon: It could be the most inspired combination since I mixed red Icee into my blue Icee. It was like drinking 2/7ths of the rainbow.
Amy: Sheldon, this is really interesting.
Sheldon: Yeah and this one won't stain my teeth purple.

Raj: It's nice to see you taking an interest in Amy's work.
Sheldon: Well, don't get me wrong. Neurobiology's nothing more than the science of gray squishy stuff. But, you know, when it connects to physics, gas up the Ford, Martha, we're going for a drive.

Bernadette: Look, Raj just gets along with women.
Leonard: I know, but he was my friend first. It's like she's stealing him and they're just having the best time doing all their dumb girly stuff together.
Howard: You sure you don't fit in? You sound like a catty bitch to me.

News Stories

Title Date Posted
1019 'The Collaboration Fluctuation' Press Release March 17, 2017

CBS has released the synopsis for the next episode of The Big Bang Theory, "The Collaboration Fluctuation", which airs Thursday, March 30. The Big Bang Theory is off next week as CBS airs the NCAA College Basketball Championships.  Full story


As Raj and Penny do yoga in the apartment, Leonard comes out of the bedroom to say he thought he and Penny were going to get breakfast before work. When Leonard tells Penny not to worry about it, Raj asks Leonard if he could take Cinnamon for a walk. Almost as soon as Leonard leaves the apartment, he returns to say Cinnamon’s “done”. 

In Amy’s car, Sheldon is telling her about how well things are going with the guys’ gyroscope project. When Amy asks Sheldon to elaborate, Sheldon realizes he can’t say as it’s classified. So, he “redacts” the classified parts by honking her horn. After Amy asks Sheldon to ask her what she’s working on, she tells him she’s working to pinpoint where consciousness resides in the brain. She hypothesizes that the signal to move a muscle occurs before you even know you made the decision to move it. 

In the university cafeteria, Sheldon joins the guys at their table and tells them how he just picked up a spoon without thinking about it. Sheldon suggests this raises a neurological-scientific question: When did he decide to pick the spoon up? Sheldon goes on to explain how Amy is studying the time lag between intent and awareness, conceding that Amy has got him interested in neurobiology.

Back in the apartment, Raj and Penny discuss the office drama at her workplace, as a puzzled Leonard tries to keep up with the different colleagues Penny mentions that he insists he’s never heard of. Meanwhile, when Amy returns to the apartment lugging her harp after a lesson, Sheldon is working at a whiteboard. He explains he’s been thinking about Amy’s experiment on the neuroscience of decision making. Sheldon suggests that by bringing together neuroscience and the measurement problem in quantum mechanics, they could disprove the role of consciousness in the Copenhagen interpretation. Amy is interested by Sheldon’s proposition, but she’s worried that working together professionally might affect their relationship. Sheldon admits it’s a valid point and thinks they should set out some ground rules for their collaboration. 

Back in the apartment, Leonard is watching uncomfortably as Penny and Raj wear moisturizing face masks. Sensing Leonard is uncomfortable, Penny suggests that after the face masks, they all go out and do something together. Leonard is grateful that she wants to spend some time with him, but then Raj suggests they should go shopping, which Penny thinks would be fun. Leonard wants to play a board game, but Raj and Penny show no interest in that at all. Later, Raj and Penny sample make-up at a beauty store and shop for clothes, as a sullen Leonard stands by holding Penny’s bag. Raj and Penny end up matching shirts. 

In Apartment 4B, Sheldon goes to tell Amy he’s made some progress on their ground rules. Sheldon’s ground rules all favor him, which prompts an annoyed Amy to throw his notebook out the window. Sheldon is not bothered as the notebook has his name inside, while Amy says she’ll make the ground rules. Meanwhile, Leonard joins Howard, Bernadette and baby Halley as they drive the store for diapers. Leonard explains how he has been feeling like a third wheel with Penny and Raj.

Back at their apartment, Sheldon thanks a good citizen who dropped off his notebook. Amy explains the new set of ground rules to Sheldon, but he’s more bothered by the phallic symbol drawn in his notebook. When Sheldon is happy with the rules, they get to work. Sheldon and Amy work happily together, but when they come to review their work, they agree it’s complete garbage. 

At a supermarket, Leonard tells Howard and Bernadette how Raj’s closeness with Penny is starting to make him uncomfortable. Bernadette asks Leonard if he’s talked to them about it, but he’s not sure what can he say without seeming like he wants to stop them having fun. Bernadette points out that Raj just gets along with women, but Leonard is jealous that Penny is stealing Raj, who was his friend first. 

In their apartment, Sheldon and Amy are staring at their boards, trying to figure out where they went wrong. After they get irritable and start insulting each other, Amy says Sheldon is exhausting and working together was a bad idea. Sheldon instantly sees what’s wrong with one of their equations. Elsewhere, Raj pours wine for Penny back in the apartment. Raj admits that last few weeks have been rough, but he says staying there with them has helped take his mind off it. Penny tells him they’ve loved having them around, but when she wants Leonard to agree with her, they realize Leonard has left and they didn’t even notice. 

As Howard drives Bernadette, Halley and Leonard back from the store, Leonard says it’s good to be around people who don’t talk about work like it’s a soap opera. Howard tells Leonard that he should be happy to have someone to do the stuff with Penny that he doesn’t want to do. When Leonard says he’s probably overreacting, Bernadette insists he’s entitled to feel how he feels and should talk to her; although it will make him sound like a jealous baby. 

In their apartment, Sheldon and Amy argue over their work. In the middle of the bickering, Amy has a good idea. Sheldon is impressed by her idea, but Amy wishes they could make progress without fighting. Sheldon wonders if the fighting is why they’re making progress. After Sheldon insults Amy, she has another good idea. Sheldon says they have a choice to make: abandon all ground rules in the name of science or give up collaborating for the sake of their relationship. When Sheldon comes down on the side of science, an angry Amy calls him a bonehead. Sheldon takes the name calling positively and gets back to work. 

Over in Apartment 4A, Leonard tells Raj and Penny that he’s been feeling left out lately. Raj and Penny take over the discussion over what Leonard’s feeling, leaving him out once again. When they ask him what he wants to say, Leonard admits that Raj and Penny pretty much covered it. Meanwhile, as Sheldon makes tea, he gets Amy to read back their new ground rules which encourage competition and antagonism in the name of scientific progress.