The season finale of The Big Bang Theory is a direct continuation of the previous episode, “The Line Substitution Solution.” Leonard enters his bedroom and Penny asks him about the Joss Whedon screening that Leonard attended in the previous episode. When he asks Penny about her evening with Beverly, Penny explains that it went well and that she had promised a second wedding ceremony so Beverly could attend and they could invite their friends and family. Leonard pointed out that the reason they didn’t invite Beverly to their first wedding was that it was a spur of the moment thing and “we don’t like her,” a statement his in emphatic about. A new wedding would mean Penny’s family and Leonard’s father could attend. Penny comments that she never thought her second marriage would be to Leonard, although, of course, Leonard is already her second husband, since it was revealed that she married Zack Johnson in season 7, episode 9 “The Thanksgiving Decoupling,” so this would be her third wedding (and still second marriage).
Penny explains that the ceremony is just a party so people can be part of it. Amy is disappointed that she won’t get to be a maid of honor, but figures she can dress in a maid of honor dress and stand near Penny, which makes her happy until she learns that Penny wants Bernadette to officiate. They are interrupted by Sheldon announcing that he has invited his mother, Mary, to the wedding, despite not having clearance from Penny or Leonard. He points out that he also inviting Stephen Hawking, Robert Downey, Jr. and Erno Rubik. Penny figures the wedding will help Leonard’s relationship with Beverly.
And yet, Beverly is in the car with Leonard complaining that he invited his father, Alfred, without consulting her. Beverly feels that since their marriage ended over Alfred having an affair, she is the wronged party and has a say in his role in the subsequent family. Leonard admits that there is no excuse for the affair and when Beverly told Leonard that Alfred said she was cold, emasculating, and physically distant, Leonard comments that there were legitimate excuses for the affair, although the joke tends to play into the Big Bang Theory’s misogynistic tendencies.
In the lab, Howard manages to get the GPS device to work. No sooner than he points out to Raj that they have a workable guidance system that he receives an e-mail from the Air Force asking for a meeting. Howard and Raj decide they must be spying on them (although the fact that they’ve filed for a provisional patent as the reason the Air Force is contacting them seems to elude them). The patent number doesn’t seem to follow the pattern for actual patent numbers, either. Raj loudly announces how much he loves America for any listening spies.
Amy is driving Mary from the airport and Mary demonstrates an affection for Amy far above any affection Beverly has ever shown Leonard or Penny. When Sheldon is about to mention that her invitation to the wedding came from him instead of Leonard and Penny, Amy loudly shuts him down. Mary asks who else will be there, and loses her cheery disposition when Beverly’s name is mentioned. Sheldon points out she’s merely an atheist, not a vampire and Mary decides that to be on the safe side they should pick up some garlic.
Beverly and Mary are sitting in the boy’s apartment, silently, causing an awkward situation for Penny, Amy, and Sheldon, who are at the kitchen island. When the two begin talking, Penny and Amy comment about how cold the two of them are until Beverly quite reasonably points out that she and Mary can hear them.
In the Wolowitz’s kitchen, Howard is worried about the fact that the military is going to come in and take over his project, since any refusal on his part will lead to his disappearance, like any American Idol winner after season four. Bernadette points out that Howard is just letting his overactive imagination apply the scenario from movies to his real life.
Leonard shows up at the apartment with Alfred (Judd Hirsch), who asks when the elevator will be fixed (“Any day now.”). Taking the stairs will delay any reunion with Beverly and might also give him the chance to have a heart attack and avoid her altogether. As they climb the stairs, Alfred notes that Penny is sweet and wonders how Leonard wound up with her, although it comes across as gentle ribbing from Alfred as opposed to dismissiveness when Beverly says the same sort of thing.
The situation in the apartment has gotten even more tense when Alfred shows up and is introduced to everyone. When Alfred greets Beverly with their nicknames, “hateful shrew” and “wrinkled old bastard,” Sheldon announces that he also sees the tension everyone else felt. Returning from the commercial, Penny breaks the tension by suggesting that it is time to head out to dinner.
Howard is still freaking out about the e-mail and whether or not he should respond since response means they’ll know he received it. A very unhelpful Raj points out that they probably knew Howard received it as soon as he opened it up and are probably watching Howard through the laptop camera. Howard slams the laptop close and Raj opens it to again proclaim his love for America until Howard comments it could be a black flag operation by America’s enemies, so Raj announces his love for America’s enemies, too, just to be on the safe side.
Leonard, Penny, and Beverly are driving to dinner in one car, while Amy, Sheldon, Mary, and Alfred are going together in the other car. Beverly is her usual charming self. When Mary discovers that Alfred is an anthropologist she assumes that he studies cultures “all the way back to the Flood.” Sheldon tells Alfred that his mother isn’t joking. Alfred begins to explain that many mythologies have legends of floods. Mary tells him that she doesn’t have a mythology, but rather the unerring word of God. He admits to being an agnostic and mentions he admires Mary’s faith. The two begin to bond over their dislike of Beverly. The third car has an increasingly paranoid Howard, Bernadette, and Raj who notice that a car appears to be following them. They are right, but rather than being followed by the government, they are being followed by Leonard’s car. Howard manages to lose them.
At the restaurant, Alfred and Mary continue to talk to each other and Amy realizes that they are bonding. Eventually Leonard’s car shows up and joins them. Penny calls Bernadette to find out where they are and learn that they’ll be late since Howard was pulled over for driving down a one way street the wrong way and was trying to convince the police that he isn’t on drugs, just persecuted by the government. Alfred begins to make a toast, which is interrupted by sarcastic comments from Beverly. When Mary tries to make peace by quoting the Bible, Beverly turns on her, suggesting she try reading a different book. Mary retorts that she will when God writes another one. Rather than ordering dinner, Alfred decides to head back to the hotel. When Mary realizes they are staying at the same hotel, she offers to share a cab with him. As the two of them leave, they make plans to have a drink at the hotel, leaving Leonard, Penny, and Amy to wonder if the two will hook up.
In the kicker scene, Leonard and Sheldon are both trying to reach their respective parents who are not answering the phone. Both are concerned, but Penny find the whole situation hilarious. The episode ends on a did-they-or-didn’t-they cliffhanger, to be resolved (?) next season.
The season finale, as with most of the season, focuses mostly on the characters’ relationships and personality quirks. That said, it is good to see that the Guidance system Howard, Leonard, and Sheldon have been working on all season has paid dividends. Previous projects, like the app they tried to develop in season 4, episode 12 “The Bus Pants Utilization” seemed more like a lark rather than a serious project, but this season actually showed them working from the initial theoretical concept through to a working prototype. There was a feeling that they were actually working scientists rather than simply menchildren who played at science in between their pop cultural references.