The question of “did they or didn’t they?” now becomes “will they or won’t they?”
When last we left The Big Bang Theory, Leonard and Penny’s second wedding was being overshadowed by the possibility that Mary, Sheldon’s “bible-thumping bumpkin” mom (as she is referred to by Leonard’s mom, Beverly), and Leonard’s divorced dad, Alfred (the “wrinkled old bastard,” per Beverly), had left the wedding rehearsal dinner to enjoy a nightcap back at their hotel — and maybe even more.
When “The Conjugal Conjecture” opens, Sheldon is still fretting about that idea, keeping Penny and Leonard awake by talking through the bedroom walls about the possibility that Alfred is doing “unspeakable things” to Mary. “Your parents are old. Anything unspeakable was finished by 9:30,” Penny assures him. “Go to sleep.”
Sheldon’s ultimate concern is that he and Leonard could become stepbrothers, because “a grown man living with his brother and his brother’s wife is weird.” What about a grown man living with his BFF and his BFF’s wife? The genius mind of Sheldon Cooper has weirdness blind spots.
But, as spoiled at the top of this recap, Mary and Alfred didn’t do it, which is definitively answered after Sheldon boldly, rudely, asks Alfred, “So, did you defile my mother or not?”
But the new friends did have such a lovely conversation that they’ve already decided Alfred may visit Mary in Texas, and she may visit him in New York. Fortunately, by the time Penny and Leonard’s ceremony concludes, Sheldon has realized he and Leonard already have a familial relationship, and it’s sealed when ceremony officiant Bernadette tells Penny, Leonard, and Sheldon, “I now pronounce you husband and wife … and weird other husband who came with the apartment.”
One family affair down, one more to go. It’s finally time to experience Penny’s whole family, the _____s of Omaha. Nope, despite the fact that we’re finally meeting her mother and brother, we still don’t learn Penny’s maiden name. But the official introduction of Penny’s kin to TBBT universe does promise to be a gift that keeps on giving.
Penny’s dad, Wyatt (Keith Carradine) traveled to Pasadena with her mama Susan (Katey Sagal, who also played Kaley Cuoco’s mom on 8 Simple Rules) and brother Randall (Jack McBrayer), he of the drug manufacturing and subsequent incarceration Penny has talked about so frequently.
The only downside to this embarrassment of guest-star riches (which also includes Breaking Bad alum Dean Norris) is that, with so many characters to service, some get shortchanged. It’s a shame, for example, that Sagal’s Susan is most notable for being the only member of her family who doesn’t seem to have a sense of humor. Her time is spent worrying that Leonard’s academic parents will look down on her family as “white trash,” prompting Randall to ask what color of trash she’d prefer they be perceived as.
McBrayer is excellent — and yes, I’m gonna go ahead and say it, spinoff-worthy — as Randall, who did jail time for being a meth cooker and seller, but who has the sweet smile and personality of — yes, I’m gonna go ahead and say it — Kenneth the page. The all-star episode is so packed with plot, talent, and clever lines that there isn’t even time for interaction between Randall and Sheldon, Raj, Howard, or Stuart, which means we really need to spend more time with Randall Whatshisname.
With Penny and Leonard officially married (again), it’s time for their families to head back to the airport, leading to a great trio of tag scenes. Leonard’s driving his parents, who made peace long enough to agree Leonard was the best consequence of their unhappy marriage, but now feel free to resume bickering, complete with the swapping of death wishes and insults about sour faces. Amy and Sheldon ferry Mary off to her flight home, giving Sheldon the opportunity to drop one more rude comment about her meeting a “geriatric boy toy.” She shuts him down, but when Amy tries to do the same thing, it doesn’t work. Mary tells her to put a little “zing” on it next time. And Penny’s got her ‘rents and Randall headed to the airport, and they’re having a good time — bonding on the eccentricities of Sheldon — until Randall spots a police car on the highway. “Cops! Cops! Be cool!” he says, scooching down in the seat.
As for Norris (who can’t get away from meth dealers, apparently), we will thankfully be spending more time with his Air Force colonel Richard Williams, who shows up on the doorstep of Casa Wolowitz. Presumably he wants to talk to Howard about the gyroscope invention, and that scares the bejesus out of Howard and Raj. Williams refuses to tell Raj why he’s looking for Howard, and when Howard calls his office and agrees to a meeting, Williams refuses to tell him, either. But with a multi-episode arc on tap for Norris, it’s a safe bet that the gruff Williams will get the chance to have the whole foursome of Cal Tech pals quaking in their sensible shoes soon enough.
- Susan’s one truly funny line comes when she tells Wyatt he is not a cool dad. Her evidence: “You have a shirt with our cat’s picture on it.”
- Bernadette to Howard, who’s freaking out about the fact that the Air Force knows where he lives: “If you wanna go off the grid, you have to move out of your mother’s house.”
- “Your genitals are a joy to behold” is apparently something Amy uttered to Sheldon during their birthday sex last season. Sheldon asks Alfred if that phrase was uttered during his evening with Mary. “I assure you neither I, nor anyone, has ever said that,” Alfred tells him. “You don’t know his girlfriend very well,” Leonard tells his dad. “Or what a joy it is to behold my genitals,” Sheldon adds.
- Sheldon, expressing disbelief that his mother could be interested in Alfred: “He’s a mediocre academic. And according to Beverly, his sexual prowess is subpar. He’s basically Leonard, with a bigger prostrate.”
Leonard: “Are you saying that my dad’s not good enough for your mom?”
Sheldon: “Yes, while also getting in a solid dig at you. Pretty efficient, huh?”
- Wyatt to Leonard: “Welcome to the family, Leonard. Don’t lend your new brother-in-law money.”
- When Beverly asks what Randall does for a living, Susan says he’s between jobs. “And court appearances,” he whispers.
- “She’s mine! Take a cold shower, grandpa!” Sheldon, to Alfred, after Alfred pats Amy’s arm and tells her she’s a patient woman.
- Susan: “Thank you for cleaning yourself up for your sister’s wedding.” Randall: “Thank you for my new teeth.”
- Wyatt, on Sheldon’s oddness: “He reminds me of that turkey we had who drowned looking up at the rain.”
- One last note on Penny’s family: We still haven’t quite met her entire family. Just as we’ve been hearing tales about Randall for years, Penny has also shared stories about an unnamed older sister (the one who once gave her a bikini wax using crayons and duct tape), her sister’s husband, and their son. What event could possibly bring them to the West Coast?