‘The Big Bang Theory’ closed out its twelve year run last night with a two-part finale, followed later in the night with a short retrospective on the series, all of which seemed very fitting for the “quirky” little comedy about the socially awkward scientists. Despite the failure of this final season to really deliver quality episodes, the finale seemed to really work hard to close out the series properly. I think any fan should come out of these final two episodes feeling satisfied with how it all ended, even if not entirely thrilled. I am in no way claiming this was one of the best finales of all time (far from it), but it definitely will not go down as one of the worst. And nowadays, that’s pretty good.
The episode opens with Sheldon, Amy, Leonard, and Penny staying up late at night, anxiously awaiting the call about whether or not they won the Nobel Prize. As Amy and Penny start making coffee, Sheldon says his excitement is enough to keep him awake, and of course falls asleep, which reminds everyone that he gave them permission to slap him awake should this occur, and Leonard has dibs. But right before he gets his chance, Sheldon’s phone wakes him up with a prank call from Kripke, followed by another call from the Wolowitz’s asking for updates.
Following that, Amy does get the call, and they get the big news: They won the Nobel Prize. And of course, Sheldon is so shocked he’s worried he’s dreaming, so to help his friend, Leonard slaps him in the face as hard as he can, making his own dream come true. It’s a moment that Leonard is so happy about he even tells Raj and Howard about it later in the cafeteria, and they listen awestruck to the story, imagining the moment and wishing they had gotten the opportunity.
The remainder of the episode revolves around Sheldon coming to terms with all of the changes winning the Nobel means, including a lot of recognition and press coverage, messages from family and friends congratulating him, and lots more attention at work, none of which sits well with him. Amy, meanwhile, after seeing all the pictures of herself on the internet, is upset about how she looks, so Raj takes her out for a make-over (meaning a hair-cut, make-up, and new clothes), which also makes Sheldon very unhappy, as it is yet more change that he is not ready for.
As he declares that he liked Amy better the way she was and storms out of the apartment, Leonard follows him out, telling Sheldon he is being rude, only for Penny to arrive on their floor, taking the newly repaired elevator (which had been broken since the Pilot episode, 12 years ago), which is the final straw for Sheldon, who flees down the stairs. Penny meets him in the lobby (beating him there using the elevator), and they go out to the Cheesecake Factory where she listens to him vent and plays a game where she drinks every time he uses the word “change.” Eventually, she reminds him how much he has changed over the years and tells him the only real constant in life is that everything changes.
Back at the apartment, Leonard commiserates with Raj and Amy, saying they should not always give in to every one of Sheldon’s demands, including his demand to leave the multicolored “atoms” artwork in the living room, but when he tries to move it, the whole thing falls apart. Penny and Sheldon arrive back at the building, and to show his openness to change, Sheldon agrees to take the elevator with Penny.
Two months later, Sheldon and Leonard finish rebuilding the atom artwork just as Amy and Penny arrive home with their dresses for the Nobel Prize Ceremony, with Amy ecstatic that her dress had to be taken in while Penny’s had to be taken out. After she and Sheldon leave, it is revealed that Penny is pregnant, as she and Leonard slept together without protection that night after she went drinking at the Cheesecake Factory, and she wants to have the kid, which makes Leonard extremely happy.
Later, Sheldon gathers the gang together to discuss the upcoming trip to the Nobel Ceremony, going over a rules package as the group are he and Amy’s “entourage,” which is part of why they paid for all their friends to join them. On the flight over, Raj becomes obsessed with the woman next to him on the plane, who he thinks is Sarah Michelle Gellar (spoiler alert, it actually is! And for some reason, she agrees to go with him to the Nobel Ceremony, though she asserts it is NOT A DATE).
Howard and Bernie are nervous about leaving their kids alone with Stuart and Denise, while Sheldon thinks Penny’s many trips to the bathroom mean she is sick and will get him sick, and he confronts Leonard about her. They choose to tell Sheldon about her pregnancy at that moment, but he is so relieved at Penny not being sick that he shows little excitement or joy at their news, which really angers Leonard, who tells off Sheldon for being so self-centered.
When they land, Howard and Bernadette learn Hallie lost a tooth back at home after falling down the stairs under Stuart’s watch and plan on heading home, as Leonard’s anger at Sheldon encourages him to go home with Penny as well, even after Amy makes Sheldon apologize. Sheldon is hurt that everyone is leaving, but Amy points out to him that he is very self-centered, and the reason why his friends tolerate him is that they are all aware that he does not mean to hurt their feelings, but that doesn’t mean he does not do it. He asks if that is the case with her as well, and Amy says yes before exiting the room.
Of course, Penny and Leonard realize they cannot leave, as they want to see Amy and Sheldon get their award, and Bernie and Howard agree, especially since Bernie’s parents are now watching their kids.
At the ceremony, Amy and Sheldon accept their award, and Sheldon is touched to see all of his friends in the crowd, cheering and clapping for him. After Amy’s speech, which Sheldon does not notice as he is staring at his friends, he throws out his massive speech, which we had learned earlier included the names of all the people who thought he would fail and who he told would “rue the day.” Sheldon instead speaks from the heart, thanking his family for all their support, and then proceeding to thank his other family, his friends, for all their love and support over the years, and asking them to stand up and be announced by him, ending on Penny and Leonard, who he calls his two dearest friends. It is a cheesy, yet touching moment, it even has a joke in there as Sheldon realizes Raj is sitting next to Sarah Michelle Gellar and seems a fitting end for the series, which has really been all about the gang and how they have all supported each other in one way or another, especially helping Sheldon to become the man he is now.
The final moments of the show has everyone back in the apartment eating take-out on the couch, laughing and talking while an acoustic version of the main theme is played, and the camera slowly pans out.
QUOTES OF THE NIGHT:
LEONARD: He did say if he fell asleep we’re allowed to slap him awake…
PENNY: Oh boy!!!
RAJ: (getting the details on slapping Sheldon) Was it your left hand or your right hand?
LEONARD: Right. Spit, actually flew out of his mouth. (Raj and Howard imagine the scene in awe)
AMY: Raj, please not now.
RAJ: Amy, what’s wrong?
AMY: My picture is all over the internet and I look terrible!
RAJ: No let me see… Well that is an unfortunate angle.
SHELDON: I need to be alone right now, don’t try to follow me.
PENNY: Alright, you need a ride?
SHELDON: That’d be great, thank you.
LEONARD: Pick up your dresses?
AMY: Yep, the tailor had to take mine in and let Penny’s out. Best day of my life.
SHELDON: What about the day you met me?
AMY: (thinks for a split second) I stand by my statement.
Well, it does seem like they saved the best for last after all as the finale felt the closest this season to ‘The Big Bang Theory’ of old. The jokes landed, the emotions were real, the characters felt right, and while not every character got story closure (poor alone Raj), at least we got some fitting endings. And I was very happy to see Leonard and Penny having a kid, as it was something Leonard had wanted for the entire series, and it was bittersweet back when it seemed like it was not going to happen. Plus, some great callbacks, they finally went to the Cheesecake Factory one last time, plus we saw Kripke again. All in all, almost everything I was hoping for from the finale (except a cameo from Sheldon’s mom, who is always a favorite). At the end of the day, I was pleasantly surprised to see the series go out, pun intended, with a Bang.
Thank you for checking in every week for these recaps, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the good and the bad of the series as much as I have.