It’s been a rough couple of weeks for “The Big Bang Theory,” so there was a big need for some kind of boost; they got it from a pair of returning guest stars. Christine Baranski and Laurie Metcalf returned to reprise their roles as Leonard and Sheldon’s mothers. It was the first time that the two appeared on the show together in its eight season run and “The Maternal Combustion” relied entirely on their two mothers butting heads with their different ideologies.
Coming into town to see Leonard and Sheldon receive an award for their paper they wrote earlier in the season, the episode builds the potential conflict between Mrs. Hofstadter and Mrs. Cooper. It may not be Mayweather v. Pacquaio, but the matchup did live up to expectations. Mrs. Cooper was on the offensive when it came to religion, and she had the best zingers, but Baranski’s cold and stoic performance was a great foil. She also had her own moment in the final minutes when she decided to finally show Leonard some unconditional love, but clearly struggles mightily with it.
Leonard and Sheldon also had their own competition for the affection of their mothers, as Sheldon unconsciously dominates both Mrs Cooper and Mrs. Hofstadter. The issue of Leonard’s and Penny impending marriage was also finally mentioned, as was a gaff about the legitimacy of Penny’s engagement ring, after being essentially a non-factor all season. Also on the relationship side, where has Amy been the last few weeks? One scene in two episodes, that’s a little ridiculous for a fan favorite.
As for the remaining cast was a boring scenario that saw Howard, Raj and Stuart forced to clean the kitchen by Bernadette. The only good thing to come from it was a rendition of “Annie’s” “It’s a Hard Knock Life” from Howard and company.
This season has been clear evidence that after eight years “The Big Bang Theory” relies heavy on its guest stars or inclusion of nerd culture more than its main group for laughs and interesting scenarios, and the combination of Baranski and Metcalf delivered once again.
Here are some of the best jokes from this week:
- Leonard: (on his mother) As soon as she flies into California air space I’ll feel a disturbance in the force.
- Cooper: You can believe that, but God filling an ark with animals two by two is impossible? Sheldon: What did they feed the lions, mother? Mrs. Cooper: The floating bodies of drowned sinners.
- Mrs. Hofstadter: Are you and Penny having satisfactory intercourse? Leonard: Yes. Mrs. Hofstadter: So only satisfactory?
- Mrs. Cooper: You must be very proud of your son. Mrs. Hofstadter: I am, he recently argued a case before the Supreme Court. Mrs. Cooper: He did? Mrs. Hofstadter: Oh, you mean this one, sure he’s okay.
- Bernadette: In the time since I left I got the car washed, picked up groceries and went to the bank. Stuart: I put on pants. Howard: Kiss ass.
- Sheldon: It’s not my fault your mother likes me better than she likes you. Leonard: Don’t flatter yourself, she likes everyone better than me.
- Mrs. Cooper: A good Christian would have turned the other cheek. But a good Texan would have shot her. So I split the difference.