Getting into the holiday spirit, Sheldon, Penny and Leonard are watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” When the movie ends, Penny is almost in tears from the moving tale of good cheer, but Sheldon’s heart is not melted at all. He expresses that at first he very much enjoyed the movie because The Grinch was a totally relatable character, but soon was disappointed in The Grinch for returning the Christmas presents and “giving into social convention.” If Jim Parsons (who plays Sheldon) weren’t so terribly cute, I’d say I wouldn’t touch him, with a “thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole.”
While Penny and Leonard are putting up and decorating a Christmas tree in the boy’s apartment, Leonard is enjoying himself thoroughly since his family did not celebrate Christmas when he was a child. He explains that instead of exchanging gifts, each individual presented a paper then all broke into discussion groups to review… [Sheldon envies Leonard's holiday-free childhood, and it is at this point that I notice an inconsistency of background information. In "The Peanut Reaction," we learn that Leonard has never celebrated his birthday. "I envy Leonard for growing up without that anguish," Sheldon says. When Penny retorts and claims all children should have birthday parties, Sheldon of course disagrees, stating, "Leonard grew up to be an experimental physicist, perhaps if she'd denied him Christmas, he'd be a little better at it."] After recognizing that the couple intends to continue decorating the “spider-infested fire hazard,” Sheldon insists that his Bust of Sir Issac Newton ornament hang on the tree. (Thankfully, Penny simply will not allow him to use it as the tree topper.) Sheldon mentions that Leonard’s mother is coming to visit and it is soon revealed that Leonard has not even shared with her that he and Penny are dating.
On the drive back from the airport, Sheldon and Leonard’s mother, Dr. Beverly Hofstadter (portrayed perfectly by Christine Baranski in her second guest appearance on the show), exchange intelligent commentary with one another, slowly revealing that the two have stayed “in touch due to mutual interest and respect” since her first visit/appearance in S02E15 “The Maternal Capacitance.” Apparently, Sheldon and Beverly even video chat, and in their last session Sheldon learned that Leonard’s brother was recently engaged to a very successful woman (effectively diminishing any slight credibility Penny held), but neither Sheldon nor Beverly share this information with Leonard until now.
Not long after the fun, fun group gets home does even more shattering news come out. Beverly tells her son, almost in passing, that she and his father are getting a divorce because he was cheating on her, sleeping with a waitress (another unintentional stab at Penny). Leonard also finds out that his dog died. Sheldon knows even the dates these events occurred, causing Leonard to be very upset with his mother. She explains that she is the one getting a divorce and the dog is the one that died, so why should he feel bad?!
Because Leonard is too distressed to “operate heavy machinery,” Penny gets the delightful honor of driving Dr. Beverly Hofstadter back to her hotel that night. Penny tries to relate with Leonard’s mother, asking if she feels upset about the divorce. Beverly says that yes, at first she did have natural reactions such as anger or grief that one might experience when “betrayed by a loathsome son-of-a-bitch.” She proceeds to tell penny that she and her husband have not had intercourse in eight years. It is at this awkward point that Penny decides she wants a drink and drags Dr. Hofstadter along to the Cheesecake Factory Bar.
Penny then teaches Leonard’s mother (who portrays a series of hilarious faces and actions) how to take shots, and the pair slam a few down. At this point, Beverly strays far from her usual character and becomes oddly sexual, saying to Penny that she is seriously thinking of asking “that busboy to ravish me in the alleyway while I eat cheesecake.” Penny then reveals her and Leonard’s relationship by blatantly saying that she is sleeping with Beverly’s son. Both ladies continue to drink and begin to ponder why Leonard has not shared his and Penny’s relationship status with his mother.
The drunken duo get a cab back to Leonard’s place and walk in the door completely “wasted.” Leonard stumbles into the living room, completely confused of their presence in the apartment. Drunken Dr. Beverly Hofstadter looks at her son and exclaims, “Why didn’t you tell me you were tapping my homegirl?!” After taking a second to absorb the insanity he just heard, Leonard of course mentions all the recent family issues that she neglected to tell him. She hugs him (though human physical contact is not in her nature) and agrees to have a more intimate mother/son relationship. As Leonard is leaving the room, Beverly mentions a warm feeling coming into her heart. Now, a confused Sheldon enters the living room and, upon seeing him, Beverly purrs, “speaking of warm feelings… come here,” grabs his face in her hands and presses her lips hard against his. [Sheldon has never, that the viewer is aware of, had any sort of romantic relationship. This kiss is a first for the Sheldon character, and an insane, hilarious, surprising one at that!!] While Beverly kisses him, Penny stares in disbelief, and Sheldon is squirmy, perplexed, and wide-eyed. When she finally pulls away, she declares, “…no, I’d rather have the busboy.”
The final scene depicts Leonard, Penny, Sheldon and Beverly all riding in the car on the way to the airport. When Leonard’s mom apologizes for her foolish actions from the previous night, Sheldon, accepting, says “I don’t blame you, you were intoxicated… I blame Penny.” Leonard has no idea what his mother is talking about, and the three witnesses are all in agreeance to keep it that way. Proving that the ladies truly bonded, the episode ends with Dr. Beverly Hofstadter telling her son to take very good care of Penny.
*Fantastic performance once again by Christine Baranski, I just can’t wait for her to come back! Plus, there’s “talk” of another guest star to appear soon!
Copyright Jo Beth French 2009