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Big Bang Theory recap: The Helium Insufficiency

Sheldon gives Sweden a thumbs down, while Amy gives a guy named Dave a big thumbs up.

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Monty Brinton/CBS

The Big Bang Theory

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Scott Halberstadt, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Frank Pacheco
Chuck Lorre

Watch out, Sweden. Sheldon Cooper is about to boycott your tiny meatballs, thanks to a few of your country’s physicists who are attempting to scoop his superfluid vortex experiment. Don’t worry. I have no idea what any of that means either, but Leonard soon fills in the blanks to help the non-scientists watching the show. In a nutshell, Leonard and Sheldon need a bunch of helium to conduct their superfluid experiment before the Swedes beat them to the punch.

The guys rush to Barry Kripke’s office to borrow a few dozen gallons of helium. Kripke gently answers, “Hell no.” Never fear. As luck would have it, Wolowitz knows a guy. Leonard reaches out to the contact and is able to secure a tank big enough for their experiment. Sheldon pushes through his aversion to buying things at night, but continues to balk at the unethical way they are about to conduct business. Leonard convinces him that everything will be okay. No one will ever find out.

A man in a white paneled van, the kind you hide dead bodies in, is waiting for Leonard and Sheldon when they pull into a seedy garage. Sheldon introduces himself as Skippy Cavanaugh, a wedding planner who can’t find love. He settles into the role of “‘70s television crime drama man” and battles back and forth with the helium guy. Both are unwilling to make the first exchange. What if Leonard gives the guy the money and he drives away? What if the guy gives them the helium and they dive away? The helium guy notes that they have reached a stalemate.

Sheldon schools the helium guy on the proper use of the word “stalemate.” This morphs into a dazzling conversation dissecting the difference between “reaching an impasse” and a Mexican standoff. Sheldon uses vivid examples of their current situation to make his point, by providing the helium guy’s real name that Sheldon decoded from his email. Meet Kenneth Fitzgerald (played by the wonderful Michael Rapaport). Skippy demands that Kenneth give them the helium, or he will turn Kenneth into the authorities. See? It’s a perfect example of how a Mexican standoff works. This, of course, spooks the guy and he threatens to report Sheldon and Leonard to Caltech before pounding their faces. Sheldon congratulates him on another great example.  

Kenneth softens when Leonard explains that the Swedes are going to prove a hypothesis they’ve been working on for over a year. Kenneth is annoyed that the Swedes will beat Leonard and Skippy to their own discovery. He offers to bump the Swedes off for a small fee, but Leonard assures him the helium is helpful enough. Leonard and Sheldon roll the big helium tank into the lab, dressed as Sheldon’s fictional Uncle Harvey. Sheldon begins to panic, wondering if Kenneth will turn them in. Or worse, if Kripke will ask questions about where they got the helium. Leonard is strong until Sheldon notices a sticker that has been halfway pulled off the tank. It reads, “Property of U…” If that “U” stands for U.S. Government, our boys are an accessory to a crime. Leonard wears glasses and Sheldon is a know-it-all. They will never make it in prison. Back to the seedy garage!  

After returning the helium, Sheldon and Leonard sulk in the lab. Kripke walks in with a compromise. He will give them the helium they need, as long as they include his name on the experiment. Sheldon and Leonard look at each other and consider this deal. Hell no. Back to the seedy garage again! The fear of going to jail will trump sharing a byline with Barry Kripke every time.

In other news, Stuart has discovered a new dating app. With a simple thumbs up or thumbs down, he can hook up with any girl within a five-mile-radius. Bernadette and Penny think this would be perfect for Amy. Stuart loads the app on Amy’s phone and Penny gets lost in a sea of potential suitors. Raj and Howard join the fun and “Find Amy a Date” becomes an official drinking game. Penny hooks the phone up to the TV so everyone can see. Shirtless dudes are worth one sip. Guys with animals are worth two. The entire group must chug their beers if a guy is shirtless WITH an animal. Just as cross-eyed Mike is being evaluated, Amy receives a text from a guy named Dave, thanking her for meeting him earlier.

The entire group cheers in excitement. It turns out Amy doesn’t need Fake Tinder to help her find a man. She’s found three on her own and one wants to take her out again! Who is this Dave and will we eventually get to meet him? Will Sheldon infiltrate the relationship? Will Skippy offer to plan their wedding? I can’t decide if I want Dave to be a thumbs up or down. I’m still rooting for The Shamy.

Theoretical Laughter

So was she homeless or framing him for a crime? —Penny asking about Stuart’s date

Sheldon: You’re taking advantage of us? We clarified nomenclature together.

Kenneth: I enjoy semantics digressions a much as the next guy, but this is business.