Tonight’s episode picks up right where last week left off, only it is now nighttime and Penny is telling Leonard about her adventures with his mother that day, explaining how they eventually got along so well that she managed to get a hug from Beverly, and not because the woman thought she was choking. Leonard fills in Penny on Sheldon trying to use Rosa Parks to rally the line around him, and Penny laments not buying Sheldon that Civil Rights coloring book. The conversation moves on to Penny letting Leonard know that she agreed to renew their vows the following weekend so Leonard’s mother could attend as Beverly was genuinely hurt she was not invited the first time around.
The next day, the group discusses who they are inviting to the big event, and Leonard says he is inviting his father to come, and Penny is inviting her family, including her brother who is finally out of jail due to prison overcrowding. Sheldon announces that he is invited his mother, Robert Downey Jr., Stephen Hawking and the man who invented the Rubix cube (Sheldon thinks the guy is lonely), and Penny is perplexed why Sheldon is invited people to the wedding. Fortunately, the only one to confirm on Sheldon’s list is his mother, Mary, who Amy and Sheldon pick up from the airport. Mary tells Amy she can call her by her first name now, but Sheldon is not comfortable with that and demands that Amy continues to call her Mrs. Cooper. Mary meanwhile, is not thrilled to hear that Leonard’s mother is also in town, and asks if they can stop by the store to get garlic, which apparently works just as well on Atheists as it does on vampires.
Raj and Howard meanwhile, are testing the guys’ new guidance system in the lab, and after a moment they realize the prototype is working, and they have proof of concept. Almost immediately Howard gets an email from the US Airforce asking for a meeting, which instantly spikes his suspicions about government conspiracies and being spied on. They head back to the Wolowitz house where Bernadette tells them they are being paranoid, but Howard cannot help but worry that if he refuses to meet with or sell the invention to the military he might be wiped out, just as they did to the scientists in ‘ET’ and ‘Jurassic World.’
At the apartment, Penny, Amy, and Sheldon watch the two mothers sit and glare at each other on the couches, making little to no small talk, their intense dislike making the room practically chilly, which the girls comment on, forgetting that the room is quiet enough for the mothers to hear them. Far too soon, Leonard arrives with his dad Alfred, who we earlier learned Beverly is NOT happy is coming, as the man cheated on her and claimed she was frigid and emasculating. He arrives and meets everyone, and then he and Beverly firing opening salvos of insults at each other, at which point Sheldon finally admits that he now feels the tension in the room. To end the awkwardness, Penny tells everyone they have made reservations at a fancy restaurant and they need to head out.
In Amy’s car rides Alfred, Mary, Sheldon, and Amy, with Alfred and Mary hitting it off despite his scientific background and her fervent religious beliefs. In fact, Alfred claims to admire that faith, and it is clear the two are becoming smitten. In the other car, Leonard drives Penny and his mother, and they happen to be right behind the Wolowitz car which is also heading to the restaurant. They decide to follow Howard, but Howard, in his paranoid state, does not recognize his friends in the car behind him and manages to freak out both Bernie and Raj enough that they encourage him to “lose” whoever is following them, making him drive recklessly around Pasadena.
At the restaurant, Mary and Alfred continue to flirt, while Sheldon and Amy watch, with Amy uncomfortable about the situation but Sheldon is completely clueless. Eventually, Leonard’s car arrives, apologizing for being late as they were following Howard thinking he had better directions. Howard’s car is nowhere to be seen, as apparently his wild driving got him pulled over by the police, and his talk about government conspiracies and being followed make the cops think he is on something. Bernie tells the gang to eat without them, and later during dinner, another fight ensues with the parents, with Beverly taking jabs at Mary’s religion this time around. Alfred excuses himself from dinner, saying he is tired, and Mary decides she is also ready to head back to the hotel and asks if she can share a cab with Alfred, both belatedly realizing they are staying at the same hotel. Right before they leave the restaurant the gang hears Alfred ask Mary if she would be interested in a nightcap, and everyone knows what might just be happening there.
Later that night, Sheldon, Penny and Leonard sit worriedly on the couch, both trying to call their respective parents, with Penny laughing that they probably turned their phones off, with everyone well aware that Leonard’s dad and Sheldon’s mom might be having coitus at that very moment.
QUOTES OF THE NIGHT:
PENNY: (to Leonard) So funny! I never thought my second marriage would be to you!
PENNY (following the exchange between Sheldon and Leonard’s mothers) Chilly.
AMY: I think I can see my breath.
MARY & BEVERLY: We can hear you!
ALFRED: (to his ex-wife) Hello my hateful shrew..
BEVERLY: Hello to you, you wrinkled old bastard.
MARY: So Alfred, what do you do for a living?
ALFRED: I’m an anthropologist. I study ancient peoples and cultures.
MARY: My goodness, so all the way back to the flood.
SHELDON (as Alfred chuckles): Don’t laugh, she wasn’t joking.
SHELDON: (to Amy, about a joke Alfred made to his mother) That’s funny because my father was not a clever man.
AMY (beat): I’d be lost without you.
A bit of an anti-climactic season finale, but still, pretty funny all in all. I love the parents coming into town and the very awkward dynamic that brings, and I appreciate the show did not actually center the whole finale around a wedding again, as that has been done quite a bit on TV. Loved the casting of Judd Hirsch as Leonard’s father and how nicely he played off both Beverly and Mary, and I cannot wait to find out how everyone is going to react to whatever shenanigans the parents got into when Season 10 starts. The season definitely had its up and downs, but for a long-running series that is to be expected. They definitely still have some good episodes left in them, as this one demonstrates, and I hope to see them continue to produce quality episodes like this one as they head into their 10th season. See you back here in the fall!
Nick is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, who belongs to the privileged few who enjoyed the ending to ‘Lost.’ For more of Nick’s thoughts and articles, follow him on Twitter.