The Big Bang Theory, which has been renewed for two more seasons, wrapped season 11 tonight with the ShAmy wedding we’ve all been waiting for in “The Bow Tie Asymmetry.” Maybe my emotions were running high after seeing that Brooklyn Nine-Nine has CRIMINALLY been canceled, or maybe it’s just that this was a sincerely touching episode, but I’m still teary as I sit down to give you this recap.
The big day is drawing near, and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) is at peak Matron of Honor. She has tasks for everyone to do, and Amy (Mayim Bialik) helps by using Lord of the Rings to illustrate how each member of their team will do something unique that plays a critical role. When Sheldon (Jim Parsons) compliments her on choosing such a perfect metaphor, because he’ll also be bound into servitude by a ring forever, Amy focuses on his use of the word “forever,” charmingly setting the tone for their perfect wedding.
When family start arriving, Penny collects Amy’s parents from the airport. Mrs. Fowler (Kathy Bates) can’t believe her daughter isn’t making the time to get them herself, and henpecked Mr. Fowler (Teller) can’t get a word out to save his life. By the time they get back to Leonard (Johnny Galecki) Penny’s apartment, where everyone is meeting up, Penny is desperate for wine.
Raj (Kunal Nayyar) picks up Sheldon’s mom, Mary (Laurie Metcalf), and heavily pregnant (and separated) twin sister, Missy (Courtney Henggeler). After leaving Mrs. Cooper at her hotel to freshen up and call her pastor to pray for her daughter’s soul, Raj and Missy join brother George (Jerry O’Connell) and the rest of the gang at the Hofstadters’.
Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) aren’t on airport duty, but thanks to Howard finding a lost dog in their yard, they’re able to make a significant contribution to the wedding. Howard calls the owner to say he has the pup, and it’s Mark Hamill who shows up to claim little Bark Hamill. He insists on offering Howard a reward, and Howard replies that he’ll live to regret that.
Meanwhile, Stuart (Kevin Sussman) is exchanging akward chitchat with his new assistant manager, Denise (Lauren Lapkus), trying hard not to be a creeper while obviously crushing on his employee. He invites her to attend the wedding with him, and before she can turn him down, Howard bursts into the comic book store to crow about how he’s just secured Mark Hamill as the surprise officiant for the wedding. Denise turns to Stuart and says, “You’ll need to buy me a dress.”
When, at last, the big day arrives, everyone gathers at the Athenaeum to celebrate the unlikely union of two truly kindred spirits. Bert (Brian Posehn) is there, Kripke (John Ross Bowie) is present to extract his end of the deal that secured ShAmy the venue (singing their recessional song) and Wil Wheaton is on hand to officiate, until he is superseded by a more important sci-fi actor with a beard.
Before they got to this point, Amy found Sheldon tying and re-tying his bow tie in an effort to make it symmetrical. She told him that it’s OK for it to be a little asymmetrical– that that’s even how it’s supposed to be. She asked him if he was having any pre-wedding jitters, and he told her that there was nothing in the world that could stop him from marrying her, even his future self coming back in time to warn him against going through with the wedding.
She replied that she understood that this meant that he would still have gone through with the wedding because he believes that time travel would happen on a closed loop, and he told her he loves her so much.
At the Athenaeum, Sheldon has accordingly embraced asymmetry in his bow tie. His mother comes in to tell him how proud his father would be of him and how proud she is of him, and he, inspired by his healing conversation with his brother in last week’s episode, thanks her for everything in his whole life. They embrace, and she comments that he’s right about the asymmetry, because sometimes it’s the little imperfections that make things perfect.
A lightbulb goes on in his head, and he rushes to Amy’s dressing room. After pausing to exclaim over how beautiful she looks, he tells her that he’s been trying to apply perfect math to an imperfect world, and that maybe the key to his next level of string theory is asymmetry. She asks if he means that instead of super-symmetry he would now apply super-assymetry, and another lightbulb goes on for him. He demands a lipstick and commandeers her full-length mirror to begin working out new, asymmetrical equations.
Their distraction means a delay in the wedding ceremony, so Howard asks Mark Hamill to stall by answering Star Wars questions for the crowd. It turns out that Stuart knows more than he does about the Star Wars universe, which catches Denise’s attention and ultimately and earns Stuart a woman calling him hot for likely the first time ever.
Leonard ducks into the dressing room to see what the hold-up is, and as soon as he sees the math he gets sucked in, too. He learns from Google that nobody else has written about super-asymmetry, so Sheldon really is inventing something new.
Leonard joining the impromptu discovery session leaves Penny alone to manage the guests, and Amy’s mother proves to be the guest who requires the most active management. She decides that the wait indicates that Sheldon has backed out of the wedding and Amy needs rescuing. Penny puts her in her place in front of the rest of the guests, earning a slow clap from Sheldon’s mom (which Penny shuts down) and a verbal “thank you” from Amy’s dad (the first time I’ve ever heard Teller speak).
Penny finally goes to see where everyone has disappeared to and isn’t surprised to find out they’ve been delayed by science. She tells them to come out, and Sheldon acknowledges that he and Amy have their whole lives to do science together.
Penny leads the way into the ceremony space, followed by Leonard and Sheldon. When Sheldon catches sight of Mark Hamill behind the officiant’s podium, he is struck nearly dumb.
Amy, escorted by her father, follows them closely. Mark Hamill claims that he’s going to skip ahead to the vows, because he’s spent 45 minutes answering questions at this point, and Amy goes first. She says: “Sheldon, when I was a little girl, I used to dream about my wedding, but eventually I stopped, because I thought that day would never come. And then I met you. From the first moment in that coffee shop, I knew that there was something special between us, even though I did work on a study that disproved love at first sight…
“Clearly, it was wrong, because I felt something that day, and those feelings have only gotten stronger with time. I can’t imagine loving you more than I do right now, but I felt that way yesterday, and the day before yesterday and the day before that… Sheldon, I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that I’ve never been happier than I am in this moment, marrying you.”
Mark Hamill, the wedding guests and I are all in tears at this point, and Sheldon is at a loss for words, but he promises to spend the rest of his life showing Amy how much he loves her.
See you next fall for season 12!
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