Think your holidays were tough? Had to deal with all those family members who kept sharing their opinions about the election? Well, it still probably made for better entertainment than this clunker of a Big Bang Theory episode.
What had the potential to be a clever way to tie together the gang's separate holiday experiences — having them get together to share their tales via flashback in a post-holiday gathering — instead turned out to be just a very thin premise to collect one sorta funny plot (the Sheldon and Amy one, of course) with two meh plots (everyone else).
First, Shamy. They jetted off (okay, Amy drugged Sheldon to get him on a commercial flight) to Texas, where they spent Christmas with Sheldon's mom (guest star Laurie Metcalf, who is always perfection and who is the highlight of the episode). Against Sheldon's better judgment, Amy insists they tell Mary they're cohabitating. Sheldon is sure she's going to freak out and serve them some sort of Christian lecture, and is quite dismayed when she instead serves them sloppy joes and a sincere helping of happiness about their living arrangements. "By your third birthday, you had memorized over a thousand different kinds of trains," Mary explains. "And I never imagined a woman getting aboard any of them."
Sheldon is ticked off that she sees him as weirder and less likely to mate than his siblings, who he estimates couldn't power a potato clock with their joint intellect. He storms off to his room to sulk, emerging with underwear on his head and a pair of swim fins on his feet to mock his mother's view of him as an "unsocialized eccentric." It's another fine entry in the long tradition of TBBT prop comedy, but, as Mary tells him, "Sheldon, if you're trying to prove me wrong, the tighty-whiteys on your head ain't changing my mind." (Memo to producers developing that Sheldon prequel: Please come up with a costume/hair/makeup plan and a fat paycheck that might entice Metcalf to appear as Mary Cooper on a weekly basis.)
When Shamy takes a drive so Sheldon can calm down, he points out that his mother's opinion of his weirdness means she must think Amy is weird, too, since she has hopped aboard the Sheldon Express. Amy — the sweetest, most patient woman in the fictional world — reminds him that the takeaway should be that his mother was wrong about him being alone. She also tells him the news of their shared apartment wasn't a surprise; Amy had anticipated Mary could have a problem with it, so she told her about it before their visit. Sheldon's angry again, this time because his mother didn't think he could find a mate and because his mate doesn't think he can run his own life. Amy says she only did it because they're supposed to help each other with their shortcomings — like taking the emotional temperatures of those around him, which he, no surprise, immediately proves.
The whole saga ends as Sheldon decides that Mary still sees him as a child because he never went through a rebellious stage, so he gets his ear pierced (and screams loudly), but she makes him take it out (and he screams loudly) after which Amy wipes it with alcohol (and he screams loudly).
As I said, it's an amusing adventure, with the added benefit of stripping away another barrier to Sheldon and Amy making their relationship more permanent. Yes, Mama Cooper officially is #TeamShamy.
On to the rest: Penny and Leonard tell their friends they had a massive fight, the biggest one they've ever had, because Penny watched two episodes of Luke Cage on her own after they agreed to binge it together. When Bernadette insists that wasn't the real reason for the fight, Lenny comes clean. They went to a chop-your-own-Christmas-tree farm, where Leonard proved himself ignorant of chopping rules, particularly the one about not letting go of an ax after you've swung it. He defended that he was wearing mittens — which she says were unnecessary in a 70-degree setting — and another prop earns its expense as we see the giant tree slide off the roof and cover the car's windshield.
As for the new parents, Bernadette and Howard, their holidays were spent trying to get Baby Halley to stop crying. Stuart did the impossible by simply talking to her — many people have told him the sound of his voice puts them to sleep, he says — but when Bernie can't do the same, she deems herself a bad mommy, which sends her into a crying fit, which sends the also sleepless Howard into a crying fit.
Finally, Bernadette hits upon a solution: She climbs into Halley's crib — yes, she fits — and snuggles the baby until she falls asleep. Before this sparks some giant co-sleeping safety debate and a zillion Facebook tussles, let's just remember to breathe, that this is a fictional comedy, and not a TLC baby how-to series, m'kay? Besides, aren't your ears still ringing from all those post-election convos at Christmas?
You may note that there's no mention of how Raj spent his holiday. That's because poor, story-line-underserved Raj wasn't even asked what he did, though even Stuart got to mention he visited his grandmother in Bakersfield.
On the bright side, that's a story with the potential for a big payoff. Stuart has a family? I know I'd like to see the lineage from which he sprung.
- Howard's nicknames for the ever-present baby helpers, Stuart and Raj: Doubtfire and Poppins.
- Sheldon has a problem with the fact that his mother continues to dismiss evolution, but believes in "Noah and his amazing zoo boat."
- Sheldon had to have his feet buttered to get the swim fins off.
- "What about the woman who just buttered your big flat feet?" Amy to Sheldon, while he's naming the important people in his life in chronological order. (She fell between Raj's dad and Omar, the one-eyed Sparkletts guy.)
- During Penny and Leonard's Christmas tree trip, she's wearing reindeer antlers, and he cleverly dons a red and green hat and repurposes his Spock ears as elf ears.
- About that elevator in Shamy and Lenny's building: It's been a running gag throughout the series, and we even got the backstory on how it came to be out of order way back in season three's "The Staircase Implementation." But in a decade, in a building with many other residents (including several seniors), hasn't anyone made a big stink to have the elevator repaired? Surely Penny and Leonard are not the first tenants to experience the pain of lugging a Christmas tree up all those stairs, and thought, "Hey, maybe we should ask the landlord to fix the elevator?"