'The Big Bang Theory' recap: The gang imagines life without Sheldon in 'The Cooper Extraction'

big-bang-theory-fall-finale-recap-the-cooper-extraction-cbs.jpgWhat would life be without Sheldon Cooper? That was the question at hand for the gang during Thursday's (Dec. 12) episode of "The Big Bang Theory," prompted by the awkward one's trip home to Texas to witness the home birth of his sister's baby.

And as Amy ( Mayim Bialik) points out -- several relationships important to the series would've never been possible without Sheldon ( Jim Parsons) around as the annoying link. So, embracing an "It's A Wonderful Life" homage for Season 7's Christmas episode, the show allows the group to imagine their lives sans Sheldon while decorating for the holiday without him.

While Leonard ( Johnny Galecki), Howard ( Simon Helberg) and Raj ( Kunal Nayyar) would've still known each other because of work, Penny's ( Kaley Cuoco) certain her boyfriend would've never been able to ask her out during one of their many encounters as the Cheesecake Factory. She imagines him stumbling over his words trying to talk to her, but takes it a bit too far. "Come on, I would not have peed my pants!" Leonard protests.

As for Howard and his love, Bernadette ( Melissa Rauch)? He argues that they'd still have met at the restaurant, but she's a bit more on point in her fantasy, getting the wrong (right?) idea over the intensely close relationship between Howard and Raj. Howard's fantasy, wherein he never leaves his mom's house, takes a morbidly funny turn when he imagines them in full-on "Psycho" mode -- which sounds about right.

Leonard imagines Penny would still be with dunce ex-husband Zach (remember that from a few weeks ago), but Amy presents a scenario where, imagining the two still live across the hall from one another, the bubbly blonde throws herself at Sheldon in the laundry room, to hilarious result.

And what of Amy? Her prediction is a gloomy image wherein she's singing herself "Happy Birthday" while crying into the frosting on her cupcake. She's spent the half-hour making the point that her beloved has changed all their lives, but everyone tells her that she's the one who has prompted the most change -- in Sheldon.

It's a clever moment that allows the show to explicitly point out how, since adding Amy, Sheldon has grown (as much as a character with his social tics can be expected to, realistically), while also giving Amy a touching win. When Leonard shows her that she's made it to screensaver status for Sheldon, it's touching, while still being remarkably funny, as she quickly morphs into a comic book character. "I am in the mix. And I'm the hottest one!" she exclaims.

What could've been a light holiday episode full of what-ifs nimbly became a meaningful episode to Season 7's trajectory. By continuing to focus on Sheldon's growth within his relationships, the series makes clear that this season is a bit higher-minded than those that have proceeded it. That it still manages to be wickedly funny as well? Well, that's just the icing on the Christmas cookie.

Spare Parts:

- ‪"I hope it's just a sprain. I can not walk into that ER with another video game injury. " - Leonard‬

‪- "Someone sick?" - Penny‬
‪"Yes, my sister's uterus came down with a baby." - Sheldon‬

‪- Of course Sheldon has developed an ornament spacing template, whose Kickstarter campaign is still at $0.‬

‪- "No, she chose to have a home birth because she wants to live in the stone age and a cave wasn't available." - Sheldon‬

- "I've seen things. Lady things." - Sheldon
"Listen to me, that is not the way they usually look." - Amy
"It doesn't matter. That is no way to make new humans -- people coming out of people. Like a dirty magic show." - Sheldon

- "My father's a gynecologist, I think I can handle it ... And now I'm gay." - Raj, after looking at the photos Sheldon sent of his sister during birth. Gross.

"A tad asymmetrical, but nothing to be concerned about." - Sheldon after Penny asks what he thinks of her in her bra, in Amy's fantasy.

"It's hard to say. My life would be so different." - Amy on where she'd be without Sheldon
"You can say better. Sheldon can't hear you." - Howard

- "I just thought to myself, 'Sheldon, if you can make it through the 'Green Lantern' movie, you can make it through this.'"

- "If that were true I wouldn't still be living alone. Well, not alone. I have a 50-pound sack of rice with one of Sheldon's pictures on it." - Amy
Photo/Video credit: CBS