The Big Bang Theory

The Skank Reflex Analysis

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The Skank Reflex Analysis
S5Ep01 - Amy questions Penny
The Big Bang Theory episode
Season 5, Episode 1
September 22, 2011
Guest star(s)
Episode guide

"The Roommate Transmogrification"

"The Infestation Hypothesis"
Season guide

Season 4

Season 6

"The Skank Reflex Analysis" is the first episode of the fifth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Thursday, September 22, 2011 as a back-to-back episode with The Infestation Hypothesis.[1]


Penny worries that her behavior has screwed things up permanently with her friends, while Sheldon takes command of their paintball team.

Extended PlotEdit


"What does it look like?"

The episode starts just a couple of hours after the previous season 4 episode, with Sheldon trying to solve a "puzzle" presented by what Penny said in the last episode ("It's not what it looks like.").

Howard and an embarrassed Raj arrive and Sheldon informs them about the University's interdepartmental Paintball Tournament. Sheldon begins to ponder about his rank within his team, and ultimately decides that he will be a captain.

Later, Penny grabs some wine and can't find a glass, so she improvises and uses a measuring cup instead.
Leonard video chatting with his mother

Leonard video chatting with his mother

Amy arrives saying that she knows that Penny had relations with Raj. Just as they are about to exit the apartment they bump into Leonard and Sheldon. Penny asks Amy if she can sleep at her apartment for a while and Amy delightfully welcomes her, exclaiming about how she can finally experience a traditional girls' sleepover.

At their apartment, Leonard is showing Sheldon his camouflage suit for the Paintball Tournament which he cites as unnecessary, while Sheldon pretends the camouflage is extremely effective. Sheldon has called up Leonard's mother, Beverly Hofstadter, to console Leonard. After Leonard tells her his troubles, her sole piece of advice is "Buck up, sissy-pants."

Later, Raj is seen drinking beer in his apartment, just as an angry Bernadette bursts in knowing that he told Howard about his love for her. Raj asks her if he has a shot with Penny, to which Bernadette reassures him that he does.

Back at Amy's apartment, Amy is combing Penny's hair, following girl's sleepover tradition. Raj enters, and Amy leaves them alone. Raj then asks Penny to go on a date. Penny says that she had intercourse with Raj purely because she was drunk.

She tells him that she wants to go back the way they were - as friends, which Raj accepts. Before they end the discussion, he tells her that they didn't have sex in the "conventional sense."


"Koothrapenny" is revealed to have been merely an unconsummated one-night stand.

Penny gets the wrong idea and angrily asks him if he didn't pull some weird "Indian crap" on her. Raj explains that when they got undressed, and when Raj was having hard time putting on the condom, he had an "early" start when Penny helped putting it on, and they both fell asleep naked, but had no memory because they were drunk. Penny is both shocked and relieved by this admission, but agrees to not tell the others. 

"Geology is not a real science!"

As the boys are discussing strategies in a paintball shack, Sheldon shows an overhead display of the paintball field via Google Earth and explains his plan to take out the Geology Department. Leonard, Howard, and Raj are not in the mood to play paintball. Sheldon blames himself for his team's lack of motivation and tries to rip off the Captain insignia he had sewn on, but he is unable to do so.

Sheldon begins to exit the shack, and when Leonard asks him where is he going, Sheldon replies that he is "following the footsteps of Kirk, Crunch and Kangaroo." Sheldon leaves the shack, stands in the open and provokes the enemy by saying "Geology is not a real science!", in turn sacrificing himself, and is shot at least 20 times. Angered, Sheldon's team attacks the enemy and emerges victorious.

Back at the apartment, the boys are celebrating their victory and toast their Captain, who has, with his last breath, awarded himself a battlefield promotion to Major Sheldon Cooper. Penny enters the apartment, proclaiming that she is going back to Nebraska because her acting career is failing - at that exact moment, her agent calls her, telling her that she got a part in a commercial for hemorrhoid cream. In the final scene, the gang watches the poorly acted commercial in which Penny stars. 


  • The TV Critic: "We don't really understand how Penny and Leonard see one another with much depth. We don't really understand Raj's feelings beyond him being a bit sad and lonely but with an edge of jerk to make him funny. That story has so little emotional resonance because we spent our time on the cameos. Similarly, I don't know if Sheldon really had a master plan to win the paintball game...That story has so little emotional resonance because we spent our time on the cameos... A new season, but very much the same show." [2]
  • The A.V. Club gave this episode a B+[3]
  • IMDB user reviews


  • Title Reference: Amy refers to Penny's incident with Raj as "The Skank Reflex," which is, according to her, what neurobiologists call promiscuous behavior.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card. However, the joke was originally written by Kevin L. Schwartz in 2002[4]
  • This episode was watched by 14.30 million people with a rating of 4.9 (adults 18-49).[5]
  • This episode aired in Canada on September 22, 2011 with 3.718 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #3.[6]
  • In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on on November 3, 2011 with 1.339 million total viewers and a weekly ranking of #13[7]
  • In Australia, it aired on October 10, 2011 with 1.505 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #11.[8]
  • Episode transcript [1]

Costume NotesEdit

  • Leonard is seen in a "Lunar Cycles" t-shirt from Urban Outfitters (discontinued) and a Little Timmy Robot t-shirt from Karl Addison (discontinued).


  • This show is the third of five episodes to have a "Previously on The Big Bang Theory" review of past events. It includes clips from "The Herb Garden Germination" and "The Roommate Transmogrification", and it is narrated by Johnny Galecki.
  • In this episode, ironically, it is Leonard who reveals Raj's "love" to Bernadette to Howard, causing a turmoil among Howard, Bernadette and Raj, since previously in "The Herb Garden Germination" (S4E20) Leonard told Penny, "Well, the point is, if this got out, it would destroy Howard and Raj's friendship." Leonard also cites Raj's poem "O Bernadette, please play my clarinet", which was also first referred in that episode.
  • Sheldon and Beverly Hofstadter think Leonard likes to point out the obvious since he was a toddler.
  • Beverly has written books about parenting, which are (not in real life) available on
  • Sheldon thinks he follows in the footsteps of Captains Kirk, Crunch and Kangaroo.
  • Amy has a secret language, which she dubs "Op." In the language she spells out every word (except for the first in a sentence) and adds 'op' to the end of each consonant. For example, instead of "sounds great," it's "sounds gop rop e a top!" It is probably a tribute to Pig Latin.
  • Sheldon still takes things literally. For example, when Penny tells the guys in the season 4 final that her sleeping with Raj is "not what it looks like," he spends the rest of the day trying to figure out what she meant. He comes to the conclusion that Penny was checking Raj's anal region for pinworms because of what it looked like to him and because Raj is from India; a third-world country. Leonard then clarifies that they did have sex and she lied.
  • Howard claims Penny would've slept with him before Raj if he wasn't engaged to Bernadette. Leonard believes Sheldon would have a better chance with Penny than him.
  • Penny is willing to drink wine out of anything. She thinks that after drinking wine from a measuring cup, that wine glasses should have handles. Amy mentions that is good that she is now measuring her alcoholic intake.
  • When Penny is about to go out with Amy, she says she wants to go "somewhere where no one's seen me naked", and then they open the door to see Sheldon and Leonard, who both have seen her naked - Leonard in various episodes of Season 3 (when they have sex), and Sheldon in "The Adhesive Duck Deficiency" (S3E08).
  • Raj is always "packing" condoms.
  • This episode is the first of a three-episode whiteboard arc continued in "The Infestation Hypothesis" and "The Pulled Groin Extrapolation". The calculations on the whiteboards refer to attempts to create axions in an artificial Sun generated by focusing 192 lasers onto a small pellet at the National Ignition Facility of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. As shown on the whiteboards’ Feynman diagrams, electrons in the Sun's core could produce a detectable number of axions. Axions are particles originally conceived in the late 1970′s to give a natural explanation in quantum chromodynamics of why the strong nuclear force obeys certain symmetries.
  • When Sheldon falls to his knees after being shot numerous times in the paintball match he strikes the same pose as Sgt. Elias from the movie "Platoon".
  • Penny lets Raj tell other people that their love burned too brightly, but not that he ruined her for white guys.
  • This season premiere takes place immediately after the last episode of the previous season.
  • Penny is steadily becoming an alcoholic from her guilt over the loss of Leonard. 
  • Leonard called Sheldon's mother twice, so Sheldon called Leonard's Mother when he thought he needed help.
  • Sheldon wears the army rank of captain and at the end of the episode he promotes himself to major.
  • This show is the second episode where Sheldon puts on imaginary safety equipment. The first episode was "The Euclid Alternative".
  • Leonard calls Sheldon 'Sherlock'. Both Sheldon and Sherlock Holmes are believed to have Asperger's Syndrome.
  • During Penny and Amy's sleepover, Penny says that she "hasn't gotten a single acting job since [she] moved out [to L.A.]". In The Hofstadter Insufficiency, we learn that this is actually not true. Shortly after she moved to L.A., she had a part in Serial Ape-ist.


Leonard: (After Howard claims Penny would've slept with him instead of Raj) Please! Sheldon would've been before you, and he might not even have genitals!
(One minute later, after much conversation)
Sheldon: For the record, I do have genitals. They’re functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Penny: You heard, what I did?
Amy: Well, I heard who you did.

Bernadette: (Furious with Raj for confessing his fleeting feelings for her to Howard) What the hell is wrong with you?!
Raj: You were always so nice to me; I thought maybe you liked me.

Penny: You know I've done this before. In kindergarten, I was supposed to marry Jason Saridson at recess, by the time my class got out there, he was already engaged to Chelsea Himmelfarb. What did I do? Hung upside down from the monkey bars, let all the boys see my underpants.
Amy: You can't blame yourself. When your prefrontal cortex fails to make you happy, promiscuity rewards you with the needed flood of dopamine. We neurobiologists refer to this as the "skank reflex."

Amy: (After finding Raj at her door while Penny staying with her) A guest in my trundle bed and a boy at my door? I wish I could tell 13-year-old me, it does get better!

Penny: We should have never slept together. It's what ruins friendships.
Raj: You can't ruin a friendship with sex. That's like trying to ruin ice cream with chocolate sprinkles.

Raj: (To Penny, after confessing that they didn't have sex) Can I say I ruined you for white men?

Sheldon: (During a paintball game against the Geology Department) Geology isn't a real science!

Sheldon: Penny’s brain teaser this morning. She and Koothrappali emerge from your bedroom. She is disheveled, and Raj is dressed only in a sheet. The sole clue, it’s not what it looks like.
Leonard: Just let it go, Sheldon.
Sheldon: If I could, I would, but I can’t, so I shan't. Now, knowing Penny, the obvious answer is, they engaged in coitus. But, since that’s what it looked like, we can rule that out. Let’s put on our thinking cap, shall we? (Mimes doing so) Raj is from India, a tropical country. Third World hygiene. Parasitic infections are common, such as pinworms. Mm-hmm. The procedure for diagnosing pinworms is to wait until the subject is asleep, and the worms crawl out of the rectum for air. (Leonard spits out food) Yes, just like that. Penny could have been inspecting Raj’s anal region for parasites. Oh, boy. That’s a true blue friend.

Sheldon: If there's ever a church of Sheldon, this will be when it started.

Sandy: (Penny's commercial) How are you doing?
Penny: Sittin' pretty.


The Big Bang Theory Season 5 Peek Premiering with 00:38

The Big Bang Theory Season 5 Peek Premiering with "The Skank Reflex Analysis"

The Skank Reflex Analysis Sneak Peek

The Big Bang Theory - Penny's Commercial00:42

The Big Bang Theory - Penny's Commercial

Penny's hemorrhoid commercial.


  • Paintball.
  • Penny.
  • Amy heard about who she slept with.
  • The gang watching Penny's commercial.
  • Penny eating.
  • Bernadette yelling at Raj.
  • Let's just be friends.
  • Amy questions Penny.
  • Leonard looking miserable.
  • Leonard in the Caltech cafeteria.
  • Raj with Penny, explaining to the guys how they "had a crazy night".
  • Raj in the cafeteria.
  • Sheldon in the paintball shack.
  • Penny and the rest of the guys.
  • Buck up, sissy pants!
  • Leonard video chatting with his mother
  • Chuck Lorre Productions, #349.


  1. The Big Bang Theory - The Skank Reflex Analysis (TV Episode 2011) - IMDb
  2. The TV Critic's Review
  3. The Big Bang Theory: “The Skank Reflex Analysis”/“The Infestation Hypothesis” - TV Club - The A.V. Club
  4. Kevin L. Schwartz's livejournal
  5. Thursday Finals: 'Big Bang Theory,' 'The X Factor,' 'Parks & Recreation' and 'Whitney' Adjusted Up - Zap2it
  6. Top Programs – Total Canada (English) September 19 – September 25, 2011 - BBM Canada
  7. BARB via wikipedia
  8. ABC's Doc Martin beats Nine, TEN's best all week. - TV Tonight

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