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The Friendship Contraction

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"The Friendship Contraction" is the fifteenth episode of the fifth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Thursday,  February 2, 2012.[1]

Summary

Tired of the Roommate Agreement, Leonard activates Clause 209, which reduces his relationship with Sheldon to mere acquaintances. Meanwhile, Howard tries to get his astronaut nickname for when he joins NASA's upcoming spring ISS mission.

Extended Plot

S5EP15 - Sheldon and Amy

Sheldon asks his friends to give him a lift to certain places.

Sheldon sneaks into Leonard's room early in the morning, all dressed up for an emergency. He sets off a siren on his phone, waking Leonard up for the emergency preparedness drill. Leonard is not at all in the mood for Sheldon's antics, and wants to go back to sleep. Sheldon persists, saying he tried to make the drill fun that night. Leonard chooses a "catastrophe card", which turns out to be a 8.2 earthquake that hits Pasadena, which delights Sheldon. Leonard groggily puts on his hard hat and, afterwards, Sheldon pushes him into the wall, saying there's a hypothetical aftershock.

S5Ep15 - Howard and Raj - 1

Howard and Raj discuss his astronaut nickname.

In the Cal Tech cafeteria, Howard shows Raj and Leonard the NASA press release for the space expedition. Raj reads off the list of astronauts, and Howard's name is at the end. Raj suggests that Howard get himself a cool nickname, as all the other astronauts have one. Howard points out to Raj that the other astronauts have to pick it for him. Raj says that if he had to have a nickname, it should be "Brown Dynamite". The guys notice that Leonard puts six sugars into his coffee, and Howard figures out they must have had an emergency drill night. Sheldon enters the room, remarking on how poorly Leonard did on the test, saying that if it were a real situation, he would be dead. Leonard can't deal with Sheldon's incessant whining, and says that he's going home, asking one of the other guys to drive Sheldon back home later. Sheldon interjects, saying that he needs someone to take him to the dentist, and as per the rules of the Roommate Agreement, he has to comply. Fed up with being told what to do, Leonard says that he is sick of the Roommate Agreement, as he is a roommate and not a chauffeur. Sheldon asks whether or not he wants to activate Clause 209, which will nullify their friendship. Leonard immediately signs so that he can head home to sleep.

At apartment 4A, Howard announces that he has some interesting news: the following week, he will be going to NASA orientation and zero-gravity elimination drills. Sheldon enters, greeting everyone as his "friend", except for Leonard, whom he addresses as "Dr. Hofstadter". They both exchange their greeting, which is a head jerk and "'Sup!" Sheldon apologizes for being late, and goes to sit next to Amy, saying that she will be the one to take him to the dentist the next day. Amy explains that she can't, as they're in the middle of an experiment in her lab. Bernadette points out that Howard never makes her "do" stuff for him. Sheldon struggles to find someone to take him to various places, and in the end, no one wants to give him a lift.

S5EP15 - Sheldon enters the comic book store

Sheldon enters the comic book store.

Desperate for a friend and transport, Sheldon heads to Stuart at the comic book store. As a smokescreen before dropping the big question on him, he asks Stuart about his family. He confirms that his mom and dad are alive, but his grandparents are not. Sheldon gives his condolences, and then moves on to a "cheerier note", telling Stuart about the teeth cleaning, and asks for a lift. Stuart declines, saying that he can't and that he really doesn't want to. Hurt, Sheldon leaves the store.

S5EP15 - Leonard and Penny

Leonard shows off his light saber.

Back at the guys' apartment, Raj continues to try and get Howard to think of an astronaut nickname for himself. Howard declines most of Raj's suggestions, like "Buzz" and "Crash", and they finally find a suitable name: "Rocket Man". Leonard comments that it sounds pretty cool, but Howard persists that he can't choose his own nickname. They devise a plan to suggest the name to the astronauts. Howard has a Skype chat scheduled with astronaut Mike Massimino the following day, and during the chat, Raj will call Howard, who will set his ringtone to "Rocket Man" by Elton John, to plant the seed. Sheldon enters, and out of courtesy, Leonard asks him if he went to the dentist. Sheldon replies 'no', but says he found someone who can come over to his house to do it for him. Leonard offers to take him to different places, but he wants to do it as a friend, not because of a contract. Sheldon says that is not possible, and it would only work if the full Roommate Agreement is restored.

S5Ep15 - Leonard and Penny in the dark

Leonard and Penny in the dark.

Leonard is watching television when the power suddenly goes off. Penny enters their apartment to see if their power also went out, worrying that it might just be her apartment. Sheldon enters, implementing the power outage drill, fetching some equipment from the cupboard. Penny suggests that Leonard come to her apartment because she has candles, as Sheldon does not want to share his Bunsen burner with Leonard. Sheldon comments that that is a fire hazard, and that glow sticks are more appropriate. Leonard fetches his Star Wars lightsaber, mocking Sheldon with it. Before he goes to Penny's apartment, Sheldon tries one last time to persuade him to reinstate the Roommate Agreement. Penny easily convinces him otherwise, and they leave.

S5Ep15 - Mike Massimino

Astronaut Mike Massimino on videochat.

In Penny's apartment, Leonard and Penny share wine and pop bubble wrap. Penny suggests they make out, and Leonard quickly agrees. As they start, Sheldon bursts in, informing them that he'll be making s'mores, and that they should not be alerted if they smell marshmallows burning. Sheldon says that Leonard can join him, but only if he reinstates the Roommate Agreement. Leonard once again declines, and Sheldon leaves. Penny feels bad that Sheldon looks so sad, commenting that Sheldon misses his buddy, and suggests that Leonard go talk to him.

Leonard enters the room, commenting that he thought Sheldon believed that candles were dangerous. Sheldon informs him it's a Bunsen burner, and he knows how to use it, yet the marshmallow he's toasting is set on fire. Leonard goes on to say that he would be happy to help Sheldon, but at least wants some recognition and a "thank you". Sheldon counter-offers saying that there could be a "Leonard's Day" where they celebrate him. The agreement is restored. Penny enters, and explains how the power went out: Someone went down to the basement and pulled the main circuit breaker switch. All eyes are on Sheldon.

At the Wolowitz house, Howard and Raj test to make sure his ringtone is set to "Rocket Man". Mrs. Wolowitz yells and asks when Howard will eat his breakfast. Howard yells back, saying he doesn't have time for that, and that he has a video chat with NASA. When astronaut Mike appears on the screen, he says the guys on the base calls him "Mass", the shortened version of his last name. Howard's phone goes off and plays his ringtone. Mike recognizes the tune, and asks about it. Howard says that it's his favorite song. A second later, Mrs. Wolowitz yells to Howard that his Fruit Loops are getting soggy. Howard apologizes, and Mike then dubs him "Froot Loops".

Credits

Critics

  • The TV Critic: "If the writers really think Sheldon is better as a character by being callous that's fine. It really is. But if that's the case then he can't be the object of sympathy. And reflexively Leonard needs a backbone. Leonard continues to look like a wimp and a fool for constantly giving in to Sheldon's demands. If there really is no gratitude coming to him then he shouldn't settle for "Leonard's Day." If Sheldon isn't going to change then Leonard must or we are left to see him as a fool."[2]
  • The A.V. Club gave this episode a B+[3]
  • IMDb user reviews

Notes

  • Title Reference: Leonard and Sheldon, after a dispute over the safety drills and other rules Sheldon has in place, sign off on their friendship, using Clause 209 in The Roommate Agreement to do so reducing the relationship between them to mere acquaintances.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
  • This episode was watched by 16.54 million people with a rating of 5.5 (adults 18-49).[4]
  • This episode aired in Canada on February 2, 2012 with 3.754 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #4.[5]
  • In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on April 12, 2012 with 2.001 million total viewers and a weekly ranking of #2.[6]
  • In Australia, it aired on February 20, 2012 with 1.374 million viewers.[7]
  • Episode transcript [1]

Costume Notes

Trivia

  • The Han Solo and Chewbacca figures are still on Leonard's nightstand (see "The Roommate Transmogrification" Trivia).
  • Sheldon states that everything is about Leonard, proving that he's ignorant to the fact that it's actually always about him.
  • Bernadette and Amy only appear in one scene of this episode and each of them only have two lines in that same scene of this episode.
    • Bernadette's only two lines are "He's gonna learn to poop in space" and "Howard doesn’t make me do his shopping, or take him to the dentist, or pick up his dry cleaning, right?"
    • Amy's only two lines are "I saved you a dumpling" and "I’m sorry, Sheldon, I’m busy. I’m right in the middle of my addiction study. I’ve got a lab full of alcoholic monkeys, and tomorrow’s the day we switch them to O’Doul’s"
  • Leonard's Star Wars: Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi Luke Skywalker Force FX Green Lightsaber originally appeared in the second episode of the series, "The Big Bran Hypothesis", carried over from the unaired pilot.
  • The emergency preparedness drill occurs quarterly, or four times a year. The drill idea appeared in the Red Dwarf episode Emohawk.
  • The hardhats that Sheldon prepares for the emergency preparedness drill have miniature apartment flags (introduced in "The Staircase Implementation"-S3E22) on them.
  • Mike Massimino, a NASA astronaut, makes his first cameo appearance. He is the first real-life astronaut to make a cameo on the show, and appears again in "The Countdown Reflection" (S5E24).
  • In a NASA press release read aloud by Raj, it is revealed that Expedition 31 will launch this spring to the International Space Station and crew members will include Commander Tom "Tombo" Johnson, astronaut Mike "Supernova" Novachelic, and payload specialist Howard Wolowitz. But in "The Countdown Reflection", the astronauts that go into space are Mike Massimino, Howard, and Dimitri Rezinov.
  • Howard's astronaut nickname is "Froot Loops". "Fruit loop"/"frootloop" is a colloquialism for "a crazy or stupid person" and a pun on the breakfast cereal Froot Loops, which is the double entendre Massimino was going for, as an obnoxious exchange with Howard's mom about the cereal occurs while Massimino is on Skype with Howard. As dramatic irony (and adding insult to injury), the nom de guerre additionally refers to a "fruit" (slang for a homosexual person), in regards to his and Raj's odd and often commented-on relationship.
  • Sheldon's safety vest has the words "Apartment 4A Warden" on it.
  • "Leonard's Day" is established in this episode.
  • Stuart had a psychiatrist who committed suicide.
  • This episode is similar to "The Large Hadron Collision" (S3E15), as Leonard and Sheldon are temporarily not friends over an argument regarding the Roommate Agreement
  • Sheldon's claim of the Roommate Agreement having "mutual benefits" is completely false: it almost universally favors him while it reduces Leonard to being Sheldon's slave/chauffeur. The few benefits that Leonard receives are hardly noteworthy in comparison, especially after Sheldon rewrites the agreement to "benefit [him] greatly" in "The Agreement Dissection" (S4E21).
  • This episode became the most watched episode to date, surpassing "The Precious Fragmentation" (S3E17).
  • Sheldon doesn't have a problem riding the bus, aside from the anesthesia problem, but doesn't appear to have his bus pants ("The Bus Pants Utilization"-S4E12). He only complained about not being able to lash himself to the seat with bungee cords in "The Euclid Alternative" (S2E5).
  • Leonard puts a volume of the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity in his bag while in the cafeteria.
  • Second episode where a main character displays moon landing ignorance. First was "The Panty Piñata Polarization" (S2E7).
  • When Leonard and Sheldon break their friendship, Sheldon comments that he doesn't have a friend in me like in the song from "Toy Story. This song was the basis of Penny's wedding vows to Leonard at their wedding in Las Vegas in "The Matrimonial Momentum".

Goofs

  • In "The Russian Rocket Reaction" (S5E5), Sheldon revealed that he started his list of mortal enemies in the year 1989, when he was 9 years old. This means that he was born in 1980, between April and May according to "The Peanut Reaction" (S1E16), which would mean that in February 2012, he would be 31 years old. However, in this episode, Leonard described Sheldon as a "30-year-old man who can't survive on his own". Yet, this can be overlooked, as it appears that Leonard was just being imprecise.
  • Sheldon tries to persuade Leonard to stay with him during the power cut with "all 61 episodes of the BBC series Red Dwarf, even though the DVD pack he is holding only contains the first eight seasons, with a total of 52 episodes. (61 is the total number of episodes in seasons 1 through 10 of Red Dwarf, although season 10 did not appear on TV until several months after this episode was first broadcast. It can be assumed that the writers took the count from episode list that included episodes still in production.)
    RD classic

Quotes

Leonard: I am sick of The Roommate Agreement!

Sheldon: Are you saying that you want to invoke Clause 209? Clause 209 suspends our friendship.
Leonard: I don't know what that is, but if it means I can go home and sleep, then yes.
Sheldon: Think carefully here. Clause 209 suspends our friendship, and strips down the roommate agreement to its bare essentials. Our responsibilities toward each other would only be rent, utilities and a perfunctory chin jut of recognition as we pass in the hall. (Demonstrating) ‘Sup?

Raj: Are you not looking at me? I am Brown Dynamite!

Sheldon: Uh-oh! Hypothetical aftershock! (pushes Leonard on purpose) That's why we wear hard hats.

Sheldon: We are now merely acquaintances. To amend the words of Toy Story, you have [not] got a friend in me!

Sheldon: Put on your hard hat and safety vest.
Leonard: Oh, fun! I get to spend another night in front of our apartment dressed like one of the Village People.
Sheldon: Every 3 months, you make that joke, and I still don't get it.

Howard: This is going straight in my synagogue's newsletter.

Raj: Why did you put six sugars in your coffee?
Leonard: Because the cafeteria doesn't offer little packets of methamphetamine.
Howard: Emergency Drill Night last night, huh?
Leonard: Uh-huh!
Raj: Well, how did you do?
Sheldon: (coming in and sitting down at the table) I'll tell you exactly how he did. Readiness: unsatisfactory, follows direction: barely, attitude: a little too much. Overall, not only will he probably die in a fiery inferno, his incessant whining would most certainly spoil everyone else's day.

Scene: The apartment.
Howard: I got pretty exciting NASA news today. Next week I fly to Houston for orientation and zero-gravity elimination drills.
Penny: What does that mean?
Bernadette: (she's so sarcastically cross) He’s gonna learn to poop in space.
Howard: (he uses a deep American accent) Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
Raj: Maybe your nickname should be Brown Dynamite.
Sheldon: Hello, dear friends. (he's referring to Leonard) And Dr. Hofstadter.
Leonard: ‘Sup?
Sheldon: ‘Sup? My apologies. I would’ve been here sooner, but the bus kept stopping for other people to get on it.
Amy: I saved you a dumpling.
Sheldon: Oh, your concern for me is touching. It will serve you well when you take me to the dentist tomorrow.
Amy: I’m sorry, Sheldon, I’m busy. I’m right in the middle of my addiction study. I’ve got a lab full of alcoholic monkeys, and tomorrow’s the day we switch them to O’Doul’s.
Sheldon: You’re my girlfriend and you’re not going to cater to my every need? Oh, where’d the magic go?
Penny: (she's rather strict) Sheldon, that’s not what girlfriends are for. Although, you don’t use them for what they’re for, so what do I know?
Bernadette: (she's slightly too cross) Howard doesn’t make me do his shopping, or take him to the dentist, or pick up his dry cleaning, right?
Howard: (sarcastically) Absolutely. But when Ma’s hips give out, you’re up, kid.
Sheldon: Well, if Amy’s too busy, that gives the rest of you an opportunity to make my life easier, thus assuring yourselves a footnote in my memoirs, tentatively entitled You’re Welcome, Mankind. All right, then, just shout when you hear the task you want to undertake. Uh, dentist. Okay, we can circle back to that one. Um, well, who wants to take me Wednesday morning to get new heels put on my dress shoes? Anyone? Oh. That one had hoot written all over it. Um, all right, uh, dermatologist? Allergist? Podiatrist? Supercuts? Okay, okay, here’s a fun one. Um, I need a new picture frame and I have a hankering for Swedish meatballs. Who wants to spend the day with me at IKEA?
Raj: Their meatballs are pretty good.
Sheldon: What’s that?
Raj: Nothing, nothing.

Sheldon: (in a sing-song voice) Now, rise and shine, sleepyhead! Half the town is probably dead!

Leonard: I have to get a lock for that door.

Leonard: Sheldon, Canada is not going to invade California.
Sheldon: Yeah, really? You think those hippies in Washington and Oregon can stop them?

Sheldon: Alright. An 8.2-magnitude earthquake devastates Pasadena, reducing minor edifices to dust, engulfing the city in flames, the streets flow with blood and echo with the cries of the wounded. Oh, excellent choice!

Sheldon: Two years ago, after a deep gum cleaning, I thought I got on a bus, but somehow wound up on a booze cruise to Mexico.

Leonard: You call that a glow stick? (pulls out his lightsaber) THAT is a glow stick.

Sheldon: Counter-proposal. We reinstate the full roommate agreement with the following addendum, in the spirit of Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, once a year, we set aside day to celebrate all your contributions to my life, both actual and imagined by you. We could call it Leonard’s Day.
Leonard: I kind of like the sound of that.
Sheldon: Of course you do. It’s about you, like everything else.

Video

Big Bang Theory 500:33

Big Bang Theory 5.15 Promo The Friendship Contraction


Big Bang Theory 501:23

Big Bang Theory 5.15 (The Friendship Contraction) Sneak Peek NASA's Press Release


TBBT 5X15 The Friendship Contraction Promo (CTV) - Canadian Version00:31

TBBT 5X15 The Friendship Contraction Promo (CTV) - Canadian Version

Gallery

References

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