The Big Bang Theory

The Engagement Reaction

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The Engagement Reaction
The Big Bang Theory episode
Season 4, Episode 23
May 12, 2011
Guest star(s)
Aarti Mann as
Carol Ann Susi as
Mrs Wolowitz (Voice Only),
Phil Abrams as
Dr. Bernstein &
Sharon Omi as Nurse
Episode guide

"The Wildebeest Implementation"

"The Roommate Transmogrification"
Season guide

Season 3

Season 5

"The Engagement Reaction" is the twenty-third and penultimate episode of the fourth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Thursday, May 12, 2011.[1]


Howard tells his mother about his engagement to Bernadette, then she ends up in the hospital. Penny starts bonding with Priya over Leonard's idiosyncrasies.

Extended PlotEdit

Sheldon drinks raj water

Sheldon drinks Raj's water.

The gang (except Amy) is at The Cheesecake Factory. Penny asks Bernadette to take their table for her, because she doesn't want to speak to Priya. At the table Sheldon is drinking water, only to be informed that it was already drunk by Leonard, causing him to worry about germs.

Bernadette comes back with everyone's order; Priya asks if she and Howard have started planning their wedding, and if they have told Howard's mother. Bernadette says he is waiting for the right time, which Howard clarifies to be some time after his mother's funeral. Sheldon returns to the table after accidentally swallowing tequila in an attempt to gargle it to kill the germs from Leonard drinking from his water glass.

Back at the apartment, the boys are playing Mystic Warlords of Ka'a and Raj is annoyingly commenting on every card played, during which Howard gets a text informing him that his mother has arrived at the deli for a "get to know" lunch with Bernadette. After Sheldon drinks some water Raj tells him is his, Sheldon panics and dashes to the bathroom to search for the mouthwash (to kill the germs) which Raj has hidden. Leonard points out that the drink Raj claimed was his is actually Sheldon's, but Raj knew that.

Howard arrives home and searches for his mother, who is in the bathroom. He asks, through the door, how the lunch went, and is told that Bernadette is "a lovely girl, cute as a button". He then announces to her that he is getting married to Bernadette. His mother doesn't respond and suddenly he hears a thud as if she has fallen off the seat.

Penny and Sheldon are chatting in the laundry room; she is amused by his "jibber jabber" because she's been keeping her distance from the gang because of Priya. Leonard bursts in with news that Howard's mother has been taken to the hospital, and asks them both to go there with him. Sheldon is reluctant, but then agrees to after Penny points out that he has no characteristics of a hero despite him liking them.

Doctor comes and announces the diagnosis

The doctor announces the diagnosis

At the hospital waiting room, Howard explains that he carried his mother out of the bathroom after breaking down the door (injuring his shoulder), put her in his car, and drove like a mad man to the emergency room. He suspects it is heart-related and explains that his family has a deep heart disease history. Bernadette figures out that Mrs. Wolowitz may have had a heart attack after hearing that Howard is getting married to her.

Priya praises Penny for being there for Howard, and Penny acknowledges Howard as a friend, which Priya finds weird when Penny tells her about breaking Howard's nose in the The Killer Robot Instability. Priya also tells her that Raj has a bunch of friends in New Delhi who dress up in leotards and call themselves the New Delhi Power Rangers. They strike up a friendly conversation, which worries Leonard a little.

Sheldon is on his way back from the toilet when he sees a man coughing severely. In order to escape the coughing, he ducks into a room. Suddenly, he realizes it is a biohazard isolation room, and he cannot leave because he has been exposed to an unknown contagion. Penny and Priya pass the room, having a good time discussing how Leonard performs in the bedroom, and don't even notice Sheldon yelling from the biohazard room.


Playing cards with Sheldon in isolation.

A doctor comes in and announces it wasn't a heart attack, and says that Mrs. Wolowitz would like to see "the little Catholic girl" first. Bernadette returns to the waiting room and the first thing she does is scold Howard. She explains that his mother got food poisoning from the restaurant where they had lunch, and the reason she wanted to see Bernadette first was because she was worried she might have got it too. As for the engagement reaction (See Title), Mrs. Wolowitz thinks Bernadette is a wonderful girl and Howard is lucky to have her. This revelation comes as a shock and undermines everything Howard believes about his mother (whom he's always seen as an angry, unpleasant crone). Bernadette screams at him with a voice similar to his mother and storms off. Howard thinks her new voice is sexy.

In the final scene, Leonard, Howard, and Raj are wearing hazmat suits and are playing Mystic Warlords of Ka'a with Sheldon, who is under quarantine because he was exposed to a deadly virus, and Raj giving annoying comments about every card.


  • The TV Critic: "The irony of Sheldon walking into a bio-hazard room after spending the whole episode avoiding germs was good. I particularly liked the way Penny shamed him into coming to the hospital (using his superhero t-shirt). It suits her character to cut through his motives and push his buttons in a way that Leonard's whining can't do...This [episode] felt lightweight. It felt like an older episode when the show had less momentum. It felt a bit like "the gang go to the hospital this week. Laugh at Sheldon's fear of germs and Raj's lack of a life." There's nothing especially wrong with having a quiet episode but the plot felt like it came to a halt and then practically went backwards."[2]
  • The A.V. Club gives this episode a B.[3]
  • IMDb user reviews


  • Title Reference: Mrs. Wolowitz faints right after Howard announces his engagement to Bernadette.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
  • This episode was watched by 10.78 million people with a rating of 3.4 (adults 18-49).[4]
  • This episode aired in Canada on May 12, 2011 with 2.936 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #2.[5]
  • In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on September 8, 2011 with 1.312 million total viewers and a weekly ranking of #4.[6]
  • Episode transcript [1]


  • Amy doesn't feature in this episode (whether mention or appearance) and there is no regular appearance by Mayim Bialik in the opening credits.
  • Sheldon has a fear of steak knives that can be plunged into his thorax.
  • Leonard dubs himself the "King of Foreplay" because he likes to perform lengthy foreplay.
  • Howard claims if a cross touches his mother, it will burn her, because she is Jewish.
  • Penny mentions to Priya the time that she once broke Howard's nose after he tried to slip his tongue down her throat. That was in season 2's "The Killer Robot Instability".
  • During this episode, Penny and Priya finally start to get along. 
  • Last time Bernadette is shown working at The Cheesecake Factory. She would later receive her doctorate in "The Roommate Transmogrification".
    • Although in "The Cooper Extraction" (S7E11), in the gang's imagination, Bernadette is shown working there.
  • Sheldon's Aunt Ruth died after catching something while visiting his Uncle Roger in the hospital. She died a week later and now shares a coffee can with his Uncle on his mother's mantlepiece, as they were cremated.
  • The writers goofed with Sheldon's fear of germs because, in season 3, he went to the hospital with Penny when she broke her arm and, in season 2 when Leonard was with Stephanie, Sheldon went to the hospital twice (once to accompany Leonard after his stitches and again when Sheldon was being a hypochondriac and he visits Stephanie), he doesn't even complain or worry. He later again visited the hospital in "The Werewolf Transformation". To be fair, Sheldon in this episode had already had mishaps with germs when he drank from Leonard's glass. He marches into hospitals in other episodes.
  • Howard hasn't met Bernadette's parents yet, but he has already nicknamed them, "Adolf" and "Eva", which is a reference towards Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, his mistress and later wife.
  • Sheldon pronounces the plural of cocci incorrectly.
  • In future seasons, Bernadette proved that she wasn't the weakest member of the group as postulated by Amy by asserting herself and pushing other members around. 


Penny: Oh, my God! You're about to jibber-jabber about jibber-jabber.

Sheldon: To a hospital? Full of sick people?

Sheldon: I gargled some tequila and may have swallowed a teeny bit.
Leonard: You all right?
Sheldon: I'm fine, thank you for asking. I love you so much!

(Sheldon has just left the bathroom with his hands trying to avoid touching stuff.)
Sheldon: Finally.
(Soon, a patient on a stretcher, who is coughing terribly, moves past Sheldon and he freaks out. He seeks refuge into a room, which, unbeknown to him is a biohazard room. When he turns around, he sees a patient surrounded by doctors in Hazmat suits and he knows where he is.)
Sheldon: Oh, what fresh hell is this? (turns to leave immediately)
Nurse in hazmat suit: Wait, you can't leave here, you've been exposed!
(Sheldon panics and covers his mouth with his shirt.)
Sheldon: No, I haven't. It's all good.
(Meanwhile, Penny and Priya have returned from the cafeteria with their coffees. They were talking about Priya's mother.)
Penny: You wanna talk about crazy mothers? Leonard's mom wouldn't give him any sort of approval growing up.
Priya: Oh, the poor thing.
Penny: It makes him desperate to please women. That's where the foreplay goes on and on.
Priya: It does, doesn't it?
Penny: It's like he's trying to win a prize. Oh, word of advice, do not dose off, you'll never hear the end of it.
( They walk right past the bio-hazard room, where Sheldon is yelling and struggling to get out of there, but the doctors won't let him.)
Sheldon: Help me! Come back! Penny!

(Bernadette comes back looking unhappy from visiting Mrs. Wolowitz)
Howard: Hey, Bernadette. How did it go?
Bernadette: Howard!
Howard: What?
Bernadette: You're a putz!
(Howard looks a little shocked)
Bernadette: Do you have any idea what that means?!
Howard: Yeah, do you?
Bernadette: Your mother just taught it to me. She says she thinks she got food poisoning from that deli and she just wanted to make sure that I was OK!
Howard: Well, are you?
Bernadette: No! Because I'm engaged to a putz! You let me believe I was the reason she had a heart attack!
Howard: Well, sweetie, with the timing...
Bernadette: Shut up! She says that I'm a wonderful girl and you're lucky to have me!
(Bernadette starts to storm off)
Howard: Hey, sweetheart, where're you going?
Bernadette: (sounding like Mrs. Wolowitz) TO THE TOILET! IS THAT OK WITH YOU?!
(All the others are completely surprised)
Howard: Is it just me, or does she sound sexy when she's angry?
(Everyone looks at Howard as if he is a sick man for not seeing the irony)


  • Sheldon walking into a contamination ward.
  • Howard's mother is in the hospital.
  • Waiting for news on his mother.
  • Playing cards in the isolation ward.
  • You're a putz!
  • In the isolation ward.
  • Sheldon trapped in the isolation ward.
  • Coming back from the cafeteria.
  • Bernie realizing that the engagement announcement may have made her ill.
  • In the laundry room.
  • Penny and Sheldon.
  • Mrs. Wolowitz's doctor.
  • Howard.
  • Penny bonding with Priya.
  • Playing cards while in the isolation ward.
  • Leonard and Raj.
  • Raj getting mean.
  • We are going to go to the hospital for our friend Howard.
  • Bernie and Howard waiting for word on his mother.
  • Chuck Lorre Productions, #345.


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