We've reached 200 episodes tonight. I'm sure it's no shock to anyone that I approach this with mixed feelings. For me, the show was at its peak in seasons 1-4 and had seriously gone off the rails in subsequent seasons with their focus on romantic relationships.
And yet, even though they were clearly in their relationships tonight, this episode hit a home run in terms of encompassing the series. There were the guys and Adam West geeking out over who was the best Bat-Man. Amy being sexually frustrated after another comment about wanting to bed Sheldon crashed and burned. Bernadette was insignificant.
But what's more important, is the homage to what the show was. Kripke hitting on a woman. Beverly putting down Leonard. Leslie calling Sheldon dumbass. Wil Wheaton acknowledging his tumultuous relationship with Sheldon. Even Leonard's speech expressed the gamut of their relationship from love to plotting murder.
While Leonard might be the show's official lead, in actuality it's Sheldon's dance. All of these characters came alive in his presence and it's their interactions with him that made the show inventive and an Anything Can Happen Thursday. Karaoke with Beverly. Rock climbing with Kripke. Mortal Enemy Wheaton. Not to mention Leonard's 'Want to catch me up?', Howard's love/hate relationship and Raj's working for him which means with him. Amy's meme theory. Bernadette sending the Toad of Truth to bed. Each of them are comedic moments that are responsible for the impressive body of work.
But what's at the heart and soul of the series isn't the party going on in the living room.
It's a bathroom with Sheldon and Penny.
It's a no-brainer that Penny is the one to talk to Sheldon. She is the one who is truly responsible for broadening his horizons. She brought him concepts like 'the Favor' and gift-giving. Got him the greatest gift he'd ever received in the Nimoy napkin. The hugging. Penny never backed down from Sheldon. She gave as good as she got, even garnering Sheldon's respect for a game well-played.
She's the one who sings him Soft Kitty while his friends hide at a movie theater. The neighbour who takes him in overnight. The first one to say that she loves having Sheldon in her life.
Sheldon and Penny are the central couple because their relationship is crucial to upholding the idea that two worlds can collide and be the better for it. Penny hates that the old Penny would have been in league with Missy and her friends in torturing Sheldon on his birthday. Now, he is one of her most favorite people.
A wunderkind and a cheerleader make a team that would kick everyone's ass. And they do. When you want intensity, you get a prank war. Chemistry? The hero always peeks. Kindred spirits? They're both dreamers.
I'm sure I don't have to elaborate when I say they know how to light up a kiss.
The episode ends with Penny doling out one of her vintage hugs. It's something Sheldon used to hate. Now he finds it irritating. The hug is Penny and Sheldon's relationship in a nutshell: Sheldon's intellectualizing even as he's relenting to Penny's affection—an affection that's reciprocated. It's made genuine by their chemistry. Their love and respect for each other. Without expectation or entitlement.
In a world where a cheerleader befriends a wunderkind, a sitcom becomes comedic gold.
I wish I could say that the rest of the run will be as entertaining as the first few seasons but that's not going to happen.
But seeing the Sheldon and Penny relationship getting the recognition it so rightly deserves in a milestone episode makes me smile. And fist pump.
It's sweet knowing that Shenny fans were right all along: Sheldon and Penny—for the win.