Everyone’s favorite group of nerds have returned with a big bang after a long summer hiatus. Season 10 of The Big Bang Theory kicked off with its premiere episode, “The Conjugal Conjecture” Monday night. With it brought the arrival of some much-anticipated characters. Perhaps it was because of the relatively mild season 9 finale, but Monday’s premiere was refreshing and top-notch in terms of laugh-out-loud hilarity.
The episode picks up just a few hours from where the finale left off. The main worry on everybody’s mind is whether or not Leonard’s father, Alfred, and Sheldon’s mother, Mary, slept together after they left dinner the previous night. The next morning, they insist that they did nothing but talk (even though Sheldon believes otherwise). Still, it makes for a tense mood with Leonard’s mother, Beverly, in the room.
It is nice to see that Alfred and Mary truly enjoy each other’s company. However, this situation helped to kick-start this season’s humor on the right foot. For one, Penny telling the boys not to say anything to Beverly when she arrived while the older woman stood behind her and heard everything, followed by Penny’s failed attempt to leave quickly, earned some priceless reactions from this writer. Then, Sheldon’s attempts to shame his mother culminated in the hilarious line, “You made God sad today, Mom.” This was followed by a stare-down between them.
The B-story of this episode is also quite funny, albeit rather brief. At the Wolowitz house, Raj answers the front door to find Colonel Richard Williams. The Colonel is interested in talking to Howard, though Raj acts as if Howard’s not home. Later, Howard calls Colonel Williams back and sets up a meeting with him. The Colonel refuses to reveal any details (like he did with Raj). The best part is when Howard pretends that he doesn’t know Raj’s immigration status when he’s on the phone, only to reveal that he’s still on hold. Howard and Raj’s friendship, comedic timing, and on-screen chemistry really shine here.
The most anticipated moment comes when Penny picks up her family from the airport and the fans finally get to meet her mother, Susan (played by Katey Sagal) and brother, Randall (played by Jack McBrayer). We get to see Penny and her family interact, and we’re immediately hit with their dynamic. Randall, who’s fresh out of jail, smiles a lot and tries to make light of his record. Her mother is rather harsh and anxious about being embarrassed by their family situation. Meanwhile, Penny’s father, Wyatt (Keith Carradine), seems more carefree and tries diverting the conversation away from his son’s drug problems.
Back at Penny’s apartment, everyone settles in as they wait to meet Leonard’s side of the family. It was really nice to see Penny and Wyatt interact here for some father-daughter bonding, particularly when Susan nags her for drinking too much and Penny says that she “learned from the best” as she clinks beer bottles with her dad. It’s sweet that they’re so close.
Sagal and McBrayer’s acting did seem a little forced and stiff at times. For the most part, it fit their characters well, with Randall’s involvement with drugs and Susan stressed from wanting to impress Leonard’s academic-driven family. This motive comes to a climax when they finally meet Beverly, and Randall announces, “We are not white trash!” It’s worth noting that Randall and Susan seem to have a very structured relationship so as to keep his drug problems under wraps, but this slips up several times.
The climax of the episode is Penny and Leonard’s vow renewal ceremony, which friends and family attend. It’s a very touching, yet slightly awkward affair. Bernadette was a perfect choice for the officiant, with her sassily strict attitude to keep things in line. Plus, it was sweet to see Amy play her harp on the show again when Penny walks down the aisle.
Things get tense once Bernadette starts the ceremony. Beverly and Alfred bicker, and there’s some chatter that Bernadette quickly stops in its tracks. Howard notes that it’s nice to see her yell at others for a change, until she chides him, too. The most heartfelt moment was Penny and Leonard’s wedding vows. They were shorter than their original ones, but nearly brought a tear to the eye. If there was ever any doubt before that they were meant for each other, this scene should have fixed that. Even Alfred points out to Beverly that the best thing to have come out of their relationship was Leonard.
However, it wouldn’t be a Big Bang Theory wedding if Sheldon didn’t interfere somehow. Most fans probably had a near heart-attack as Sheldon stood to announce that he has something to say to a special person. Both Amy and fans everywhere shared the same thought: “It’s happening!” But unfortunately, instead of proposing, Sheldon takes the time to say that he considers Leonard’s family and Penny are very important to him. He joins them in a hug as the “weird other husband.” While heartbreaking for Shamy fans, it was nice to see Mary comfort Amy after she sat back down.
Overall, the premiere was a little awkward, but adorable and hilarious nevertheless. It wrapped up the events of the season 9 finale nicely, yet still leaves room to continue major plot lines. When will Sheldon propose to Amy? What will happen next with the boys’ guidance system and the military? With the opening under its belt, season 10 promises to be one of the best seasons yet.