|The Benefactor Factor|
Season 4, Episode 15
February 10, 2011
"The Thespian Catalyst"
"The Cohabitation Formulation"
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The university is in needs of funds and, as a result, the gang is invited to a fundraiser. At the fundraiser, Leonard meets one of the leading donors, Mrs. Latham, and their relationship later takes an intimate turn.
The gang is eating and chatting at the cafeteria, and, unexpectedly, the president of the university, President Siebert, approaches them and asks them to attend a fundraiser for the university. Sheldon refuses to go. On the night of the fundraiser, the gang is ready to go, except Sheldon, who still refuses to go. At the fundraiser, President Siebert approaches the trio and introduces them to Mrs. Latham. Mrs. Latham's condescending attitude terrifies the trio. While Sheldon is video chatting with Amy, she alerts him that if he is not at the fundraiser, the others may fail and the funds will go to other departments including the geology and the liberal arts. Later, Mrs. Latham explains to Leonard that she actually comes to the fundraiser to make smart people feel uncomfortable. Meanwhile, Sheldon is terrorizing the people at the fundraiser.
The following morning, Sheldon gets a phone call from President Siebert telling him to stay away from fundraisers. Next, a phone call comes in for Leonard from Mrs. Latham inviting him out for dinner. After the dinner, Leonard explains how Mrs. Latham is similar to his mother before she suddenly kisses him. After Leonard had arrived home, he explained to the gang what happened at dinner. Since they need money for the equipment, Sheldon asks Leonard to proceed with "trading sexual favor for material gain".
The next night, Sheldon gives Leonard a box containing condoms, Viagra, baby oil, and a picture of Mrs. Latham as a 25 year old. Leonard says he won't prostitute himself. On the date, Mrs. Latham expressed her apology for the night before as she made him feel the relationship had taken a Quid Pro Quo turn. She also reassures him that she will be donating the money no matter how this date goes, and after she claims that Leonard would have a night he would not forget with her, he kisses her and presumably, the desperate Leonard hops on the rare opportunity to have sexual intercourse. The next morning, Penny catches Leonard walking the "walk of shame". She enters the apartment and along with Sheldon, she bashes him with a lot of jokes, although Sheldon is serious and tells Leonard he has a knack for gigolo work and should sell himself for more equipment.
At the university, Leonard is showered with applause by the President Siebert and his colleagues as he "took one for the team".
"I also liked the story being structured to reward Leonard for being agreeable and pleasant. He was rewarded for his social exploits with a big round of applause from his colleagues whereas Sheldon's cold indifference got him banned from future fundraising...Penny laughs at him for it which kind of missed the opportunity to shine a light on their feelings for one another but it was nice just to get an actual ending to a plot for once...This was a good story and the conclusion was passable. Lots of room for improvement but isn't there always?" - The TV Critic's Review
- Raj: Here's what I wonder about zombies. What happens if they can't get any human flesh to eat? They can't starve to death, they're already dead.
- Howard: You take this one. I spent an hour last night on do how vampires shave when they can't see themselves in the mirror.
- Sheldon: Well-groomed vampires meet in pairs and shave each other: Case closed!
- Title Reference: The title refers to the factor that makes Mrs. Latham donate money to the university.
- Chuck Lorre's vanity card 
- This episode was watched by 12.79 million people for a 3.9 rating.
- Leonard received a Dissertation of the Year award for experimental particle physics .
- As senior research fellows in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology, Sheldon, Leonard and Raj have to seek funding for their work, as does Howard, albeit he holds a similar position in the Department of Applied Physics. Other responsibilities for their careers, aside from publishing in peer-reviewed journals, were highlighted in "The Cooper-Nowitzki Theorem", with Sheldon and Leonard having to represent the theoretical and experimental physics divisions for the graduate student research seminar; "The Irish Pub Formulation", wherein Sheldon has to give a thermodynamic fluctuations seminar; "The Thespian Catalyst", in which Sheldon lectures on topological insulators for a graduate course; and "The Contractual Obligation Implementation", at which point Sheldon, Leonard, and Howard serve on a university committee for encouraging more women to pursue a career in the sciences.
- It is revealed that Mrs. Wolowitz picks out Howard's clothes.
- This is first time that we see President Siebert (he is mentioned in "The Monopolar Expedition").
- Mrs. Latham is played by Jessica Walter .
- Sheldon gives Leonard a bag of items for sex, the prominent coming from the pharmaceutical department, they tell Sheldon it is "to Viagra, what Viagra is to green M&Ms".
- Sheldon, on multiple occasions, refers to Penny as selling her body for favors, while Penny is insulted, Sheldon says he is complimenting her.