Jesse Cowell/My Damn Channel
Maane Khatchatourian
October 25, 2012 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Image Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS[/caption]

Christmas came early for Big Bang Theory fans tonight with an epic Halloween special guest starring astronaut Buzz Aldrin. The episode didn’t pack as much comedic punch as last week’s laugh fest or past Halloween episodes, but was scattered with heartfelt moments that proved our favorite geeks have cardiae as big as their cerebra.

Howard may have returned from space, but he still yearns for the wide abyss that he was eager to escape not too long ago. As proven by Sheldon and Leonard’s quasi-scientific study, Howard circumvents every topic of discussion to his NASA mission. His obsessive conversation, coupled with his insistence on wearing a NASA shirt every day and passing out autographed glamour shots of himself in uniform gets old fast. Even sweet, little Bernadette, who was a riot tonight, has to put her foot down. Howard later does a spot-on impression of her squeaky, raised intonation. Bernadette’s attempt to deepen her voice and retort, “I don’t sound like that,” was ingenious.

We eventually find out that Howard feels insecure about losing the prestige and status associated with being an astronaut and regressing to “plain old Howard Wolowitz.” Bernadette insists that she loves him just the way he is. “I married him. On purpose,” she says. Despite the fact that Billy Joel or Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” didn’t play in the background, it was a perfectly sentimental moment for the Smurf and Smurfette.

The point that Howard’s ramblings about space are annoying is driven home when Raj sends him a video in the final scene. Buzz Aldrin, playing himself, is greeting trick-or-treaters with space candy (Milky Way, Mars bar, Moon Pie — of the non-Sheldon variety) and bragging about being an astronaut. “I’ve walked on the moon. What have you done with your life?” he asks a little kid. Let’s just say that Howard gets the point.

The theme of the characters growing as couples continued with Penny and Leonard. After taking relationship advice from Bernadette and Amy (what?), Penny decides to show interest in her boyfriend’s work, despite the fact that she doesn’t know what he actually does. A trip to his lab reminds her how intelligent Leonard is and just how attracted she is to that trait. My favorite scene from tonight was watching Penny light up after Leonard shows her several holograms. His description of string theory’s holographic principle that the universe can be seen a two-dimensional structure painted on the cosmos was actually quite moving: “Life is acting out a painting on the largest scale in the universe.” The only thing missing was a Tupac cameo. After several “big bangs” (including a tryst in the TARDIS at the comic book store’s Halloween party), their relationship grows stronger than ever.

Sheldon and Amy take smaller, but nevertheless significant, steps toward defining their relationship. Amy is shocked to hear Sheldon agree to wear a matching couples costume, only to realize that the duo he has in mind is R2-D2 and C-3PO. He then suggests Hewlett and Packard, and salt and pepper, which Amy turns down; while she suggests Raggedy Ann and Andy, which he scoffs at. The compromise? Raggedy Ann and Raggedy C-3PO. Sure, Sheldon later remarks that he should have given her a hickey instead to affirm their status as girlfriend/boyfriend, but the compromise was groundbreaking, regardless. That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for Sheldonkind (Howard and Buzz Aldrin would appreciate that lame reference).

Well, with three couples on a high, the fourth was bound to experience a low. Raj funds and single-handedly plans the comic book store’s annual Halloween party — a.k.a. Stuart’s ninth annual attempt to meet women — and Stuart takes all the credit. Raj finds a killin’ DJ, “Halloweeny” food, and a TARDIS — and that’s the thanks that he gets? It’s time to quit the bromance, Raj, and project those “latent homosexual tendencies” elsewhere. Leonard’s mom would be proud.

Here are tonight’s 10 funniest lines.

“Thanks, but I can’t afford je ne sais quoi. How much for just quoi?” –Stuart

“Ain’t no party like a Koothrapparty.” –Raj

“Question: Do you think your husband’s obsession with turtlenecks has anything to do with him longing for his foreskin?” –Amy

“Astronaut Wolowitz, reporting for booty. Preparing thrusters. And we have lift off.” –Howard

“A grad student forgot to take off one of his piercings and now he’s on a transplant list waiting for a nipple his size.” –Leonard

“I was thinking of dressing up as Indiana Jones’ mocha-skinned love child. Indian Jones.” –Raj

“There are three things that say to the world that my boyfriend isn’t made up: couples costumes, hickies, and sex tapes.” –Amy

“Come on Howie, that’s like the funniest thing I’ve ever said in my life.” –Bernadette

“I’m going to be washing paint out of my smurf for a month.” –Bernadette (My second favorite off-color joke of all time, with Tobias Fünke’s “I’m afraid that I just blue myself” on Arrested Development being the first.)

“Slutty cop?” –Bernadette

“No, sexy cop. Slutty cop only came with a skirt and two badges.” –Penny

Read more:

‘Big Bang Theory’ react: Girls vs. guys games will leave you exploding with laughter

‘Big Bang Theory’ behind the scenes: Sheldon’s taste in T-shirts explained — VIDEO

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin landing on ‘The Big Bang Theory

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