Contributed by Mo Walker
If Leonard and Sheldon were laypeople instead of scientists, the Series Nine opener of The Big Bang Theory would have been titled Be Careful What You Wish For instead of The Matrimonial Momentum. How could two world-renowned physicists from Caltech forget about Newton’s Third Law of Motion, for every action there is a reaction.
Based on Leonard and Sheldon’s actions in this episode they do not believe Newton’s Third Law applies to their relationships. Given how the episode ends, I believe they are reevaluating their notions.
The Matrimonial Momentum begins only a few hours after the Series 8 cliffhanger. Two-thirds of TBBT’s power couples are on the verge of making dramatic changes to their respective relationships. Leonard and Penny are eloping to Las Vegas, while Amy decides to end her relationship with Sheldon.
The Matrimonial Momentum was lite on laugh-out-loud moments and heavy on the angst. I typically expect one or two laugh-out-loud moments throughout an episode, and a good chuckle during the final scene. Instead, I experienced some chuckles throughout and a good laugh at the end. Initially I was a bit perplexed after watching the episode. Have my comedy taste buds mutated? Am I now immune to Sheldon and company’s antics? Have I seen one to many tacky Las Vegas weddings?
After running a diagnostic check on my comedy tastes I realized it was combination of things. One, this episode was not supposed to be overly funny. Second, my internal comedy radar is probably now immune to elopements and some of the overused jokes. At this stage in TBBT’s lifespan that is okay. I am not going to completely resonate with every episode, but that does not mean I do not enjoy spending time with these characters.
Not only was the lack of comedy a little jarring (in my opinion) but also the dramatic shift in interpersonal dynamics. Sheldon is now chasing Amy! For the vast majority of Shamy’s relationship, Amy pursued Sheldon and was force that propelled their relationship forward. One notable exception to this dynamic was the Series Five episode, The Flaming Spittoon Acquisition, in which Amy went on a date with Stuart. This resulted in Sheldon drawing-up ‘The Relationship Agreement’, which amazingly held up for nearly four series. However Sheldon’s complacency and his inability to appreciate Amy ultimately destroyed their relationship. Shamy’s new status quo was perfectly encapsulated in a scene in which Sheldon is lurking in front of Bernadette and Howard’s house longing to be inside with Amy. In Leonard and Penny’s rush to reach the altar someone forgot to inform them that marriage can cause changes to a relationship. Also, couples should not get married when they have unresolved issues. Penny tries suppressing her true feelings about Leonard’s artic lip-lock. However those feelings ooze out once Leonard reveals the woman in question, Mandy Chow, is a co-worker.
It is all fun and games until you attempt to elope, or push your significant other away one to many times. The Matrimonial Momentum was a competent and memorable episode because of the plot and character developments, not the jokes. Clearly every action there is a reaction, and those reactions may have unintended side-affects. Sheldon’s comments finally drove Amy away. So far I am enjoying ‘Assertive Amy’. Amy is finally given agency and her desires are not the punchline of a joke, especially one of Sheldon’s. She also quickly put the kibosh on Stuart’s not so subtle advances. Though Leonard and Penny made it to the chapel, they are far from living ‘happily ever after’. I am glad the writers opted for Leonard and Penny to get married. I am curious to see how Leonard’s workplace infidelity is going to be handled. Several sites (included Variety and TVLine.com) have reported that Mandy Chow has been cast. Overall, this was a decent start to Series Nine. I hope the status quo changes, especially Sheldon and Amy, are given the proper space to be thoroughly examined.