|Writers||Chuck Lorre (Story), Bill Prady (Story), Richard Rosenstock (Teleplay), Steven Molaro (Teleplay)|
|Starring||Christine Baranski as Dr. Beverly Hofstadter|
|Air Date||9 February 2009|
Season 2, Episode 15 (0215)
A visit from Leonard's mother, Dr. Beverly Hofstadter, leads to distress among all of the friends except Sheldon. Penny bumps into Leonard's mom heading up the stairs. By the time they reach Leonard's apartment, Penny is in tears, talking about her childhood and the fact that she felt rejected by her father because she was a girl. Leonard is the target of constant put-downs and rejection from his mother, who seems unaware of how badly she's hurting him. In the cafeteria at work, Howard thoroughly enjoys asking Leonard's mom about her other two, more successful children until Leonard informs his mother that Howard lives with his mom and about Raj's selective mutism. At this she matter-of-factly decides they are in an ersatz homosexual relationship. She walks off, leaving the two of them bickering like a married couple.
Sheldon, on the other hand, instantly develops a comfortable relationship with the elder Dr. Hofstadter. They are much alike, both obsessive and demanding and unable to empathise with the people around them. They go off together to do a scan of Sheldon's brain because, as Leonard puts it, "Mother likes to look at brains and Sheldon likes to have his brain scanned."
Meanwhile, Leonard and Penny seek comfort in each other's company and discuss Leonard's mother first over white wine, then tequila. Leonard tells Penny that he built a hugging machine when he was ten so he could get physical affection (his dad used to borrow it). As they get more drunk, Penny suggests that Leonard lick salt off her neck, then drink a shot of tequila and follow it with a bit of a lime wedge. He does this and is delighted to discover that the lime wedge is in Penny's mouth. They wildly and passionately attack each other in bed, but Leonard foolishly blathers on about how his mother would say that they were really using sex as a substitute for missing parental affection -- in other words, they he was psychologically having sex with his mother and she with her father. Penny immediately throws Leonard out.
Leonard returns to their apartment, half-dressed, to discover Sheldon and his mother in an "intimate" moment: singing together with reckless abandon in a shared session of Rock Band.
I. Living room
Titles and opening theme
II. first floor of the building
III. Stairway and hallway in front of apartments
V. Living room
- The guys talk to Leonard's mother.
VII. Penny's apartment
VIII. hallway in front of apartments
IX. Living room
XI. Living room
XII. Penny's bedroom
XIII. hallway in front of apartments
XIV. Living room
XV. hallway in front of apartments
[Still to come: IMDb page for this episode]
When the episode starts, the guys are playing Rock Band and it is so far not clear which day they're doing this. Leonard's mom arrives a few days later and stays for two nights, probably over a weekend.
Review and Comments
Review by Steve
This episode was just astounding.
Hilariously funny (by far the best Howard and Raj scene ever) and poignant (oh, Leonard, a hugging machine?). Leonard's mom was a silly cartoon in a way ("I have to urinate"), but that cartoonishness was very neatly balanced by her connection with Sheldon.
And the salt on the neck ... then the lime in Penny's mouth ...
The only bit that felt a little bit off for me was the way Penny's mood changed so abruptly in bed. One moment she was completely bombed and horny, the next she was sober and just plain mean. I would have expected her bad reaction to still have a little tequila in it, if you know what I mean. On the other hand, this does match the comments from Killer Robot Instability, when they suggested that they might enter her in the competition because she gets extremely angry very quickly.
(Also, it seems unlikely that they'd still have that many clothes on at that point, but okay, it's network television ...)
This episode earns a full five stars, ranking as one of the very best of the series so far. Hearty congratulations and thanks to actors, writers, director, and everyone else who made this one such a joy to watch. (Steve Vander Ark)
The title refers to the pent-up frustration evoked in Leonard during a visit by with his mother.
- maternal = relating to a mother, in this case Leonard's
- capacitance = referring to a stored-up charge of electricity