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Young Sheldon - Four Hundred Cartons of Undeclared Cigarettes and a Niblingo - Review

The sixth season of the highly popular prequel to the hit comedy the Big Bang Theory debuted tonight, and with it came answers to some of the questions left lingering after last season’s finale. Before we dive into the premiere, let’s recap where we left off. George Sr. and Mary lost their jobs, which placed the family in huge financial strain. Mary immediately felt compelled to find a new job, but quickly learned that the job world is more competitive than ever. Desperate, she begged Brenda for a job at the bowling alley. Despite her lingering attraction to Mary’s husband, Brenda decided to hire Mary which seems to set fans up for the ultimate downfall of the Cooper marriage in season 6. Meanwhile, George Sr. begins to morph into the self-centered, unmotivated dad as described by Sheldon and Mary in the Big Bang Theory. George Sr. turns down a grocery job that Mary secured for him out of pride, opting instead to lounge on the couch all day, waiting for his shift at Ballard. Meanwhile, Sheldon spent the finale panicking about puberty and his future, leaving Missy to provide the calm voice of reason, quelling Sheldon’s fears and comforting him as the ongoing tension between Mary and George Sr. escalated. The finale also showcased Sheldon maturing by having him ditch the suit and bowtie and don his first Flash shirt, the way fans are accustomed to seeing grown Sheldon wear in the Big Bang Theory. The biggest shocker of the finale was Georgie and Meemaw getting arrested at the border for smuggling illegal cigarettes. The season five finale was arguably tamer than previous seasons, serving more as a launchpad for the events to come in the series as foreshadowed by the Big Bang Theory. 

I am always blown away at the impeccable calibre of writing on this show and this episode was no exception. Good writing is one thing, but it takes a great actor to pull off the comedic timing that makes people laugh out loud and every single actor on this show manages to find it every time. The premiere picked up where the finale left off, with George and Mary figuring out how to bail Georgie and Connie out of jail at the border. Clearly the Coopers do not have access to large amounts of money, so George Sr. turns to Dale for a loan. Dale is more than happy to lend George Sr. the money, because it means that he can have a good laugh at Connie’s expense and use it as leverage and he accompanies George Sr. to the border. Meanwhile, Connie and Georgie are meeting with the judge to determine their fate. They are provided with two options: Plead innocent, pay a $2500 fine and return for a court date during which they will be found guilty, or plead guilty, pay the fine and go home. Meemaw uses her wit and charm to try and negotiate a deal, but when that doesn’t work, they agree to plead guilty and await George Sr.’s to arrive with the bond money. The banter between Meemaw and Georgie as they sit in their jail cell is top notch. Georgie states how this will be a good story to tell his child one day and true to character, throws out the idea of naming his child after the cigarettes they were attempting to smuggle. There is also a tender moment between the pair when Georgie makes the claim that he is a terrible father and Meemaw reassures him by telling him that a deadbeat father would have left. Could this be foreshadowing what we know is coming with George Sr.? The moments between Dale and George Sr. as they drive the 8 hours to the border is comedic gold. My favourite moment was George Sr. having to listen to Dale go on about how great his mother-in-law is in bed, to which he delivers a sarcastic quip, “hey there’s a hitchhiker, let’s pick them up and maybe they’ll kill me.” When they arrive at the border, Dale doesn’t waste a moment digging into Connie about the situation and how he has the upper hand. Their personalities are so well-matched that a reunion between the two almost seems inevitable, despite their ultimate fate already being sealed.

Back at home, Mary is struggling with the loss of her job and her church community. Mary has devoted her life to the church and cannot comprehend why God continues to throw challenges at her and her family. Mary references the Old Testament by asking God if she is “Mrs. Job,” referring to the man whom Satan provokes in an attempt to get Job to turn his back on God, but Job never withers. This leads to Mary’s first encounter with Pastor Jeff since the firing, where he attempts to make small talk which is undoubtedly awkward. Pastor Jeff asks Mary if she plans on attending church the next day, and she tells him she will think about it. Mary is rooted to her faith and missing church was never really an option for her, and the next day we see her preparing to go. Missy asks her mother how she can go despite what the church did to her, and Mary explains that she needs the lord. Missy once again demonstrates her emotional maturity by telling Mary that she will go to church with her. The duo coaxes Sheldon to come along. At the church, Mary chooses a pew in the back which throws Sheldon off, citing that the seats with the best acoustics are at the front. Upon seeing Mary and the kids, a mother and child who were already sitting in the pew immediately move. During the sermon, Pastor Jeff states that people should love one another as God loved everyone. He asks the congregation to join hands and pray and as Mary reaches her hand out to the same woman who moved, she refuses to take Mary’s hand. This is the last straw for Mary who tells Sheldon and Missy they are leaving and they walk out. Sheldon re-enters the church and points out the hypocrisy of the sermon, but in true Sheldon fashion he distractedly begins pointing out the Pastor’s pronunciation errors instead and his message is ultimately lost. The final scene is Pastor Jeff at Mary’s door, attempting to smooth the situation over and he asks her not to turn her back on God but Mary has finally seen the dark side of the church and tells Pastor Jeff that she feels as though God has turned his back on her. 

The episode also brings the long-awaited meeting between Sheldon, Missy and Mandy as they find Mandy lurking outside their Meemaw’s home. Missy immediately has her back up and tries not to give Mandy too much information about Georgie and Meemaw’s whereabouts, but ultimately Sheldon spills the beans leaving Missy to defend her big brother. Missy also enlightens Mandy about the situation at the Cooper home, placing the blame for her mother losing her job and church community on Mandy’s shoulders. 

This episode continued the transition in storytelling that began in season five, showcasing the storylines of all the Coopers rather than just focusing on the many personal dilemmas that embattle Sheldon. The Cooper kids are growing up, which calls for more mature storylines and the writer’s are showcasing their ability to manage these heavier issues while still maintaining the comedic element that fans have come to love. The adults on the show are also dealing with heavy challenges as George tries to find his place in life and in the family, and Mary tries to find herself outside of the church and her faith upon which she has based her entire life. Overall, this episode set up the new season quite seamlessly and fans can look forward to seeing how the story unravels as the season plays out.

What did you think of the premiere? What are your thoughts on what's to come for the Cooper clan? Share your comments below and engage with me on Twitter @ms_c_almeida.

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