The split between Raj and Emily which occurred in episode 15 “The Valentino Submergence” is one of the most contrived storylines the show has ever had. Raj chose to break up with girlfriend Emily for no more reason than they had been dating for a while and he was wondering if he could “do better” with a girl who specifically told him that she had no interest in dating him. While Raj’s storyline is one of the weaker ones, the story about Howard, Leonard, and Sheldon is actually pretty strong.
The episode opens with recap of the events surrounding Raj’s breakup with Emily and with Leonard and Howard’s idea for a GPS system based on Leonard and Sheldon’s research. While it doesn’t add anything new, it does give viewers a chance to see the cameo by Ben Bernanke as his wife as a couple in the restaurant (they appear in a booth behind Howard. In the original episode, they don’t speak, but Sheldon says something to them as he went to the bathroom/kitchen).
The episode proper starts with Howard, Leonard, and Sheldon in a waiting room, about to meet with a patent attorney. Sheldon is dressed for the occasion with a jacket and bowtie. Upon entering the room, the attorney tells them that everything is set up for the patent once the legal team does their own search to discover if there is any overlap. Since the boys have already done a search, they scoff at the need, but the attorney tells them his search is likely to be more thorough. Realizing that they might be able to make some money off the patent, they start discussing what they’ll spend their money on. Their dreams explode when they learn that the university will own 75% of the patent, a state of affairs typical not only of academia, but also in the commercial world, where corporation can claim ownership of inventions even if they were created on the inventor’s personal time. The situation is made worse when Howard is told that as a federal employee on loan to the university, he doesn’t even get a claim to the 25% of the earnings that will be split between Sheldon and Leonard. Rather than sign over the rights, the three decide to file for the patent on their own.
In Penny’s apartment, Bernadette is complaining about morning sickness and other side effects of pregnancy, like a heightened sense of smell. In this case, she was able to sniff out where Howard has been hiding the last boxes of Girl Scout cookies (Tagalongs). Penny makes a reasonably tasteless observation that Bernadette can make her own milk to go with the cookies. Before Bernadette or Amy can respond, Raj enters carrying a large gift box that Emily dropped off at his doorstep. Before opening it, Penny suggests that heightened sense Bernadette smell the package, although why would Emily, who has been depicted as someone dark in her outlook, want to send something gross or dangerous to Raj is beyond them. Bernadette announces that the package smells of machine oil . Raj opens it to reveal an antique sextant, which Amy looks up on line to discover start at around $500. The girls begin to debate whether or not Emily is trying to manipulate Raj and get him back. It should be remembered that after Raj broke up with Emily, he did try to get her back and she slammed the door in his face, although the writers seem to have decided to ignore that. While they are discussing the gift and what it means, Emily calls Raj, who puts her on speakerphone so he can more easily get advice from Penny, Amy, and Bernadette. Raj tries to take their advice, but Penny and Bernadette disagree on everything and Amy doesn’t have a clue. When Emily asks if they can grab a cup of coffee, a series of whispers are exchanged without giving Raj a clue about whether he should go out with her. The one thing the girls agree on is that Raj shouldn’t go over to Emily’s apartment. He tells her he can’t and then leaves the apartment, telling the girls he just needs to be alone. Penny tells him to say “hi” to Emily and he says he will, indicating his plan.
Across the hall, Leonard suggests that they file themselves, but Howard has researched the agreement and learns that the university does retain a controlling interest as long as they work for the university. Realizing they have to go through the university means that Howard won’t get any money. Leonard suggests that Leonard and Sheldon could voluntarily split their shares with Howard to give them all equal shares. Of course, this means that Sheldon gets to write up another one of his contracts, which he does with glee. Howard and Leonard look over the contract, but before they can sign, Bernadette expresses concern that it is a real contract and he should have a lawyer look over it. Howard asks to speak to her in the hall and Bernadette points out that he’s about to enter into a legal partnership with Sheldon. Howard admits that all of her points are logical. She points out that Howard and Sheldon have never had a partnership which didn’t result in a lot of anxiety for Howard over his having to deal with Sheldon’s lunacy.
In the car on his way to Emily’s, Raj takes a call from Claire, the bartender-screenwriter who told him she had no interest in him for whom he broke up with Emily initially. Raj fumbles over his tongue and Claire eventually tells him that she and her boyfriend have broken up, so if Raj is still interested in getting together. When Claire suggests they get together that evening, Raj admits he’s heading over to Emily’s. Claire repeats what Emily said to him on the phone and when Raj called her on it, she explains that Emily is working from the standard “girls’ playbook.”
Howard and Bernadette re-enter the apartment and Howard admits to being concerned about forming a partnership. Sheldon asks if he would be more comfortable with a Limited Liability Corporation. Howard explains that his concern is over his treatment by Sheldon. Penny suggests that they codify Sheldon’s behavior in the contract, noting that he would be bound by his code of ethics, and, as Amy points out, his OCD. Howard agrees and Sheldon goes to addend the contract.
In the car, Raj calls to tell Emily he has decided against coming over, leaving Emily in tears before he calls Claire to tell her he’s going over to see Emily. Raj bounces back and forth a couple more times.
Sheldon’s revisions look good to Howard and Bernadette and are very detailed as to what Sheldon is not allowed to insult. Leonard asks for a no-insult clause for himself and Sheldon refuses due to Leonard’s taste for cilantro. Howard is about to sign when Penny notices an additional clause, which takes 25% of what Sheldon is due and places it into a college account for Howard and Bernadette’s first born. Sheldon points out that he has always valued education over money. He also explained that the fact the Howard felt he needed a written guarantee of respect showed him how dismissive he has been over Howard’s contributions. Sheldon gets in a final zinger about Howard, telling Amy that he hasn’t signed the contract yet, so he’s allowed.
And the kicker scene shows that Claire was right about Emily and she and Raj are lying tangled in bed together.