NOTE: The season 9 finale of the Big Bang Theory airs tonight.
EPISODE 22: The Fermentation Bifurcation
Penny invites everyone to a free wine tasting that she won at work, leading Leonard to wonder why scientists never win anything. Howard explains that he’s in science for the groupies (although Bernadette is a scientist, while Howard, as Sheldon frequently points out, is not). Rather than harp on Howard’s lack of being a scientist, Sheldon announces that he finds the pursuit of awards demeaning, a strong, stance undermined by Amy reminding him that he has often said he wants a Nobel Prize, which he seems to think is a secret despite talking about it frequently with all his friends. Raj jumps on board, as does Amy, although Sheldon refuses. Howard turns them down because Bernadette can’t drink, but Bernadette tells him he should go. Realizing that Bernadette is free, Sheldon immediately announces the two of them will spend the evening hanging out, which doesn’t thrill Bernadette, who eventually comes around.
Later, at the lab, Raj broaches the idea of bringing Claire to the wine tasting so she can meet all his friends. Sheldon points out that he won’t be there to meet her, which Raj views as a feature rather than a bug. Leonard is still completely amazed that Raj is able to date both Emily and Claire at the same time. Raj explains that they all know that they aren’t exclusive and just don’t ask any questions. Sheldon compares it to the fact that he plays Warlords of Ka’a with Leonard and Elder Signs with Frank and Alicia. Leonard’s response, much like the audience’s is “who are Frank and Alicia” and “when does he have the time?” Presumably this is not the same Alicia who moved in above Sheldon and Leonard in season 2, episode 19 “The Dead Hooker Juxtaposition.” Howard announces the initial prototype and Sheldon begins recording it, upset that Leonard’s voice isn’t right for such an auspicious moment. As their system begins to rotate it begins to mesmerize them, causing Sheldon to faint.
When Raj does invite Claire, she agrees to go, but is concerned that meeting Raj’s friends might get weird (she met Howard in episode 14, “The Meemaw Materialization”). Raj assures her that it won’t get weird by relating a rather strange story about when he met Bon Jovi.
Leonard prepares for the wine tasting with a scratch and sniff book, The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert, by Richard Betts (real book, not a prop). Unfortunately, for Leonard, it only has limited efficacy given his constant state of allergy. As they leave, Sheldon notes all the things that he and Bernadette won’t be doing that evening due to his dislike of them and her pregnancy. Leonard and Penny flee the apartment. The list of what Bernadette is not supposed to come into contact with does make one wonder how she’s able to do her job at the pharmaceutical company.
Amy is the first one to the winery, where she’s already well into her first glass of wine when Howard joins her. The realization that it is only the two of them makes them both feel awkward. Although Howard can’t remember the last time it was just them, Amy immediately responds that it was three years ago (Season 7, episode 3 “The Scavenger Vortex,” when they discovered a shared passion for Neil Diamond). Despite planning to get together alone, they haven’t until now. They begin to wonder what Sheldon and Bernadette will talk about, but are rescued by the arrival of Penny, Leonard, and Raj. Raj asks them to not ask too many questions about their relationship and when Leonard jokes about Raj’s harem, Raj warns Leonard about karma, instantly played out by the realization that Penny’s ex-husband, Zack, is also at the winery.
Bernadette brings some sparkling cider to Sheldon’s, and he immediately suggests opening it to let the carbonation have a chance to escape. Sheldon has the entire evening planned with a look at trains and toast. Realizing what she’s gotten herself into, Bernadette is less than thrilled.
While Amy, Penny, and Raj are all describing what they are smelling in their wine, Leonard is focusing on the strong scent of Afrin. Zack comes over and notices that Penny and Leonard have gotten married. Although Zack is dumb as a post, he’s good hearted and asks them what is happening in the world of science. When Howard mentions that they are working on a guidance system, Zack asks for details. Zack asks if it could be used for “missiles and war stuff.” They admit it could but doubt that the military would be interested in their invention, even though it is better than the current technology. Zack asks if they are sure they’re smart.
Sheldon is teaching Bernadette about trains, including the story of how he once accidentally swallowed a model locomotive. Bernadette asks Sheldon what it is about trains that he likes so much, which allows Sheldon to be more introspective about his passions. Generally, when the writers look into why Sheldon likes what he likes, they do provide a good, rational reason for his eccentricities and this is no exception.
Leonard and Howard discuss their concerns about the military purposes of invention, with raj pointing out that anything can be used for destructive purposes. They are interrupted by Claire’s arrival. Raj introduces her to everyone, specifying that they should not ask any questions, up to and including whether she wants anything to drink.
At the apartment, Sheldon has moved on to toast, showing Bernadette what he calls Star Wars toast. Rather than being made in a Darth Vader toaster, this toast is light on one side and dark on the other. It is interesting, though, that none of the toast sitting on the island was made using Sheldon’s Cylon toaster (as seen in season 3, episode 6 “The Cornhusker Vortex”). Finishing up the toast segment of the evening, Sheldon announces that it is time for Dungeons and Dragons. Bernadette agrees, reluctantly, saying that she’ll play for just a short time, but Sheldon tells her that she won’t want to (or be allowed to) stop playing. The game is designed specifically for her, playing on her insecurities and pregnancy. Bernadette quickly gets into the game.
At the bar, Amy mentions that they’ve heard great things about Claire, but when pressed Amy tries to get Penny to answer. Penny is saved by Zack’s arrival. Not warned to ask about Claire and Raj’s relationship, he quickly begins to try to figure out what’s happening between them. In the bathroom, Leonard continues their discussion about the military applications of their invention. Howard tries to dismiss Leonard’s concerns.
In a nice touch, Bernadette is eating a piece of toast as she continues to play Dungeons and Dragons with Sheldon. She admits it was more fun than she ever thought it would be. She thanks Sheldon for allowing her not to be Bernadette the Pregnant for an evening. Sheldon offers to do it again, but only until the third trimester.
Raj asks Zack to back off of Claire since next to Zack, Raj looks like Raj. He asks Zack to stop talking about how great Claire is. Claire, meanwhile asks if Raj brings any other girls around. Penny suggests that Amy could answer that, but Leonard and Howard jump in to talk about Raj’s loyalty.Raj and Zack return and Zack comments on how Claire isn’t that great. Raj dismisses Zack’s comment and Claire jokingly tells Raj that his friends were telling her about all the other girls he’s dating. Raj complains that he specifically asked them not to tell her about other girls and Penny and Amy inform him that they hadn’t said anything, but Raj had spilled the beans.
The next morning, Leonard is suffering from too much wine and Sheldon is eating more toast. Leonard asks Sheldon about the military aspect of their research and Sheldon explains that it bothered him at first, but eventually he talked it over with Frank and Alicia and he’s comfortable with it now. The concept of Frank and Alicia is actually a nice one and it would be fantastic if the writers follow up on it in future episodes, although again, how Sheldon works his time with them into a lifestyle which seems to include at least one of the other characters on the show all the time would be difficult.
Episode 23: The Line Substitution Solution
Penny and Sheldon have helped each other learn about each other’s worlds from thea earliest days of The Big Bang Theory and this week’s episode opens with them showing each other flash cards to reinforce their understanding, whether it is Sheldon holding up a Venn Diagram or Penny holding up a Kardashian (and requiring Sheldon to be specific in identifying which one it is). Leonard joins them successfully identifying an hydrogen atom and Adam Levine. Leonard asks Penny if she would be willing to join him on a trip to the airport to pick up Leonard’s mother. Penny agrees to go, so Leonard follows up by suggesting that since Penny is already going to the airport, there’s no real reason for Leonard to go (using logic similar to Arthur Dent’s argument to Mr. Prosser at the beginning of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). When Sheldon questions Leonard’s desire not to pick his mother up, Leonard points out that his mother will dissect every aspect of his life during the ride, which Sheldon deems unlikely since they’ll only have 45 minutes. Penny agrees to pick Beverly up in an attempt to build their relationship. The game continues to Bill Nye, or “Creepy Old Dude from Dancing with the Stars). Nye, of course, appeared as himself in season 7, episode 7 “The Proton Displacement,” and took out a restraining order against Sheldon.
In the comic book store, Raj mentions that Joss Whedon will be holding a screening of The Avengers with deleted scenes and a question and answer session. The screening is first-come, first-serve and Raj suggests they go stand in line. Howard and Leonard decide to go (despite Leonard’s mother being in town). Since Sheldon has to go shopping with Amy, he informs them that none of them can go, since he needs to be involved in everything. This, of course, is interesting considering that in the previous week’s episode we learned that Sheldon actually has other friends (Frank and Alicia) he hangs out with. Leonard and Howard inform him that they are going without him and will have fun, as Sheldonless and fun go quite well together. They offer to save a spot in line for him, but Sheldon insists that they don’t have that authority. As Howard explains that there are apps that will allow people to hire someone to wait in line for them, Stuart enters and immediately realizes that this could be a new source of income for him.
In the car, Beverly begins to psychoanalyze the absent Leonard, making Penny extremely uncomfortable. After a few false starts dealing with books and their relationships, Penny suggests that they have dinner together. When Beverly agrees, she realizes she’s made a mistake and expands the invitation to Bernadette and Amy, so she doesn’t have to have too much one-on-one time with Beverly.
Amy, meanwhile is surprised when Stuart, rather than Sheldon gets into her car. When Amy points out that he isn’t Sheldon, Stuart responds, “I thought that might come up,” which may be one of the best lines of the episode. Stuart explains that Sheldon hired him to go shopping with Amy. When Amy began to get upset that Sheldon would pay Stuart to get out of spending time with Amy, Stuart clarified that it was actually a matter of there being a long line that Sheldon would rather stand in.
At the theatre, the four boys are standing in line (in front of posters for the documentary The Music of Strangers and the forthcoming films The Legend of Tarzan and Ben-Hur, all real films), talking about other lines they’ve stood in. Stuart shows up and yells at Sheldon, explaining that Amy has hired him to give Sheldon a piece of her mind.
In Penny’s apartment (and the living arrange of them holding on to Penny’s apartment but sleeping and living in Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment is really weird and Beverly should really opine about that), Amy is venting about her relationship to Beverly. Beverly admires the way Amy puts up with Sheldon and Bernadette points out that Beverly views Sheldon as more of a son than she does Leonard. They are interrupted by Stuart, showing up to apologize on Sheldon’s behalf. Amy offers Bernadette $5 to slam the door in Stuart’s face and as it closes, Stuart points out that he would have done it for $3. Sad Sack Stuart is very much more entertaining than creepy Stuart, unfortunately, both versions tend to be more caricature than character.
Still standing in line, Raj decides to rest on a stick chair, which opens him up for a round of mockery from his buddies. Stuart returns and announces Amy is still angry. Leonard convinces Sheldon to go and apologize and Stuart offers to hold Sheldon’s place in line, for a fee. Sheldon heads out to apologize.
In the apartment, Bernadette is talking up the fact that Penny is one of the top ranked reps int heir company. Naturally, when Beverly learns that Bernadette is in research, she begins to bond with Bernadette (and continues to bond with Amy) while Penny remains out of the loop. Penny’s concerns just can’t compete with the others. Sheldon interrupts to apologize to Amy and say hello to Beverly, although he’s very concerned about getting back to the line before it starts moving. Sheldon’s by-the-book apology gets Amy’s forgiveness and Sheldon disappears
Howard and Leonard continue to mock Raj’s stick chair. Sheldon hurries back and as Howard regains his place in line just as someone else joins his friends in place in line in front of Sheldon. Sheldon can’t let the line cutter go and tries to make an issue out of it. Leonard gives him no support.
In the apartment, Beverly comments on Sheldon’s apology and also notes she’s about to write a book on high achieving couples, asking first Amy and then Bernadette if they would be interested in being interviewed in the book. Bernadette explains that Howard pretends to be interviewed sometimes when he’s in the bathroom. Beverly, of course has no desire to interview Penny and Leonard, given that Penny is not a high achiever and Beverly always belittles Leonard’s achievements. The latest snub makes Penny lash out at Beverly, who asks if she actually wants a connection of just some form of validation, neither of which Beverly is willing to offer. When Penny asks Beverly if she even knows what an insult is, Beverly offers a working definition of an insult as not being invited to her own son’s wedding, and Penny realizes that she and Leonard may have screwed up.
Sheldon continues to argue with the line-cutter about whether Joss Whedon would approve of line cutters. Sheldon points out that while the Avengers may break some rules, they also work for the government. The line-cutter also works for the government, at the DMV, and the writers managed to avoid tying his job into the whole line situation. Sheldon tries to poll the rest of the line, who ignore him. When he pushes his point, one of the other people in line point out that Sheldon also cut the line, although Sheldon claims he didn’t cut since he had Stuart standing in line for him, which doesn’t play particularly well. In mid-rant, the line begins moving. Leonard pleads with Sheldon to let it go, but the situation does not meet Sheldon’s need for rules and order, and he enters the theater whimpering about his lack of effectiveness.
Penny tells Beverly that she was surprised Beverly cares and Amy notes that none of them were invited either. Bernadette mentions that they saw a live stream of it on the internet (although by the time the wedding happened, Bernadette, Raj, Sheldon, and Amy had left the room, leaving only Howard and Raj to hear them exchange vows in the first episode of this season, “The Matrimonial Momentum.” Penny is surprised the Beverly would have come to Vegas to see them get married. Beverly admits that she wouldn’t have, thinking they were making a big mistake, but an invitation would still have been nice. She goes further to admit that Leonard seems genuinely happier with Penny than she has ever seen him before. Penny suggests another wedding while Beverly is in town, setting up the season finale, in which Penny and Leonard will renew their vows, thereby beginning and ending the season with their wedding.
The kicker shows Bernadette getting ready for bed and listening to Howard in the bathroom pretending to be interviewed.