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The Helium Insufficiency

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"The Helium Insufficiency" is the sixth episode of the ninth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. The episode aired on Monday, October 26, 2015.

Summary

Sheldon and Leonard find out that some Swedish scientists are trying to prove their Superfluid Helium theory. They need to get some liquid helium through one of Howard's shady contacts to beat them. The rest of the gang decide it is time to set Amy up on some dates and want to enter her info into a dating app, only they find out Amy has been already out on the dating scene without their help.

Extended Plot

HE10

Your face is like a Picasso painting.

Sheldon enters Leonard's laboratory with some bad news, though he first softens the blow by telling Leonard his face is pleasingly symmetrical. Leonard just wants Sheldon to tell him the news. A team of Swedish physicists are trying to scoop their Superfluid Vortex theory. Leonard feels that that stinks while Sheldon thinks that Leonard should be more upset. He takes backs his first comment by saying that Leonard's face looks like a Picasso painting. To beat the Swedes, they have to perform their experiment to demonstrate the theory's viability immediately, but the liquid helium they need won't be available for a month. Sheldon thinks that Leonard should have softened the blow. Leonard quips that the blue in his shirt brings out the color in his eyes. Sheldon replies: "Why thank you. Aren't you sweet?"
HE9

Honestly would you give me the helium if you were in my place?

The guys visit Barry Kripke to see if the university had any liquid helium in reserve. Barry explains that there is a shortage and he needs it for his quantum excitation experiment. Though he doesn't need that much, if his experiment is successful he'll throw a party, which will include helium balloon. Leonard mentions the urgency due to the Swede's work, but Barry asks him that honestly whether they would do the same for him. Sheldon is honest and says no. His mother told him that honesty was the best policy. Leonard asks Barry if he'll help them out. "Hell no!" is his response. Sheldon comments as they leave that Barry could have softened the blow.

HE8

I know a guy.

As all the guys return to Leonard's laboratory, Raj suggests that they go to Party City, but they would have to visit every store in California. Sheldon laments that if the Swedes beat them, he'll never enjoy anything from Sweden again and he loves their meatballs. Howard knows a guy who can help them as long as they don't ask too many questions. Both Leonard and Sheldon start inquiring about who, where and how many questions they can ask. Howard backs off and feels that he might not be the right choice. Four announces Sheldon. Four is too many questions, taking Howard literally.

Penny and Bernadette are having coffee in her living room and she says that Stuart went out on a date. Penny wants to know if she's homeless or framing him for a crime. He found her using an app that identifies the women within a five mile radius that are also looking, and that it's sort of like a game. And the loser goes out with Stuart? He comes in and explains that he has met two girls using it. One checks out the photos and you "thumbs up" the ones you like.

Sheldon and Leonard are in Sheldon's apartment and Leonard has heard from their helium source. Sheldon doesn't want to go out because he doesn't like to go shopping at night. He had a bad experience in 2009 going out for Oat Bran. Leonard is going to reply to him, but Sheldon remarks that it is highly unethical. Leonard just wants to bend the rules to get it done especially since they have the grant money specifically for this experiment. Dr. Goldfarb had used his grant money for his electron microscope to support his Russian girlfriend in Van Nuys. Sheldon is still skeptical so Leonard quotes Albert Einstein, "The pursuit of science calls us to ignore the rules set by man." Sheldon agrees, so Leonard sets up the meeting. Sheldon can't find that quote on the Internet. Before Leonard answers he decides to soften the blow to Sheldon telling him that his skin never looked better. Sheldon replies, "Aren't you just made of sugar."

HE7

I going to find the love of your life who is going to be the father of your children.

Stuart downloads the app onto Amy’s phone. She isn't sure about doing this. Penny takes the phone from him and quickly swipes thumbs down to three different guys. Raj and Howard return because Bernadette hadn't given Howard much spending money. They explain to them that they were using the app to find an ideal match for Amy. Then Raj takes the phone and swipes no to every guy he see’s on it too including the Indian guy because their Social Group already has one. He wants to find her a nice Latino guy to complement their ethnicity. After Howard takes it, Amy wants her phone back. Howard brushes her off saying that they will find her the next great love of her life, the man that will father her children.  They find a white guy with dreadlocks.
HE6

If this was a Mexican standoff . . .

Leonard and Sheldon pull up in a rented truck in a parking garage and see a guy next to a nondescript white-panelled van. Sheldon asks Leonard if he has heard the expression that the bodies were found in a nondescript white-panelled van. The guys approach him. Leonard introduces himself and Sheldon claims to be Skippy Cavanaugh. Leonard has the cash, but Sheldon is worried that he'll take the cash and drive off like in a 1970's television crime drama. He wants the helium first. The guy says that they could do the same thing. Leonard tells him that they are respected scientists and wouldn't do that to him. Sheldon claims to be a wedding planner who can't find love. They both agree that they appear to be sketchy characters in a parking garage. Leonard agrees with Sheldon about the money. The guy says that they appear to be at a stalemate. Sheldon disagrees about his term. A stalemate implies no more moves. He could steal their money, kill them, et cetera. Leonard is feeling uncomfortable. The guy feels foolish since what he meant was an impasse. Leonard calls it a Mexican stand-off creating another semantic debate. Sheldon gives him a hypothetical situation, noting he found the guy's name (Kenneth Fitzgerald) and address and if he reneged on his agreement he could report him to the authorities. Is Sheldon making a threat? Actually no, just an example, but Sheldon doesn't realize that. The guy wants to back out. Sheldon asks Leonard if again he has won the battle, but lost the war.

HS39

Do you have a business card?

Next Leonard wants everyone to calm down even though this guy wants out of the deal. Leonard explains that they had been working on a theory for over a year. The guy wants to hear about it. Space-time can be interpreted as being on the surface of an n-dimensional super fluid. He says that that is possible. Leonard continues and tells him about the Swedes. Their supplier was expecting a higher ethical standard from the Swedes as he illegally sells them the helium. Leonard laments that stealing other's work is rather common in their field and there's not much he can do about it. The guy replies that for the right amount of money, there are things you can do about it. Sheldon then asks him for his business card.

The other guys are hanging around Howard/Bernadette’s house. They set up a system where they can look at the men through the television and can choose which guys they want to pick for Amy, though Amy is not enjoying their explorations. The first guy that appears is crossed-eyed. Penny claims that at least he won't be looking at other girls. The next guy has small eye teeth and looks like a dolphin. When Amy is in bed with him, she can throw him a fish. Amy thinks they are being mean to these guys. Raj agrees as Stuart pops up on the screen and they ask him to leave the room.

HE5

Could be US Air Force, US Navy . . .

Returning to Leonard's laboratory, they are wheeling in the helium tank which is dressed in a coat and hat and Sheldon calls him "Uncle Harvey". Sheldon want him to be inconspicuous, even though he did tip his hat to the cleaning lady. He still has problems with what they're doing. Will the supplier rat on them? Will Kripke wonder where we got the helium? What if they check his family tree and find no "Uncle Harvey"? They find a torn sticker on the metal container that says "Property of U....". Leonard figures its USC or UCLA. Sheldon is worried that it belongs to the United States' government, which means federal prison time. Leonard just wants to conduct their experiment so they can beat the Swedes or watch their dream die. Next they are seen taking Uncle Harvey back down the corridor and out the building. As they pass the cleaning lady, Leonard tips his hat.
HS40

Turning looking at the guys into a drinking game.

Penny has now set up a drinking game while checking out the guys on the app. One drink if he is shirtless, two if he poses with his pet, chug if both. Guy with no shirt and pet comes up. Bottoms up. Amy then gets a text, which also appears on the television screen. Some guy named Dave enjoyed their date. Is Amy seeing someone? First she claims that it is not like that, then she confesses when the next text says Dave wants to see her again.

Sheldon and Leonard are back in the garage. Ken doesn't mind returning because his daughter is having a sleepover and he can take only so much Katy Perry. He's willing to take the helium off their hands, but won't return their money even though they did have "semantic digressions". This is business. And there is a restocking fee. Sheldon asks how much since he only has $1000. That's the fee exactly. Sheldon now thinks he is getting a break.

Penny tells Amy that she can't believe she started dating without telling her. Amy finds the whole situation new and weird and she figured they would get too excited about it. She has met three guys for coffee. She is inexperienced at dating so she is taking it slow.

Again back in Leonard's lab, Sheldon figured that the Swedes will beat them, but at least they will not get "gang-noogied" in prison. "Ernest Goes to Jail" is the only prison movie he's seen and it scared Sheldon straight. Barry Kripke joins them and he is willing to give them his helium as long as they add his name to their paper.
HS1

I am open to change.

Sheldon thinks that is preposterous, but they can't do it without him. They don't like being extorted especially by Barry Kripke, but what other choice do they have? They go back and repurchase the black market helium.

Finally they are back in the apartment still debating what a "Mexican standoff" is and watching "Ernest Goes to Jail" with Ken. Sheldon insists that this will change the guy's life course. He admits that he is open to change.

Credits

Notes

  • Title Reference: The title refers to the unavailability of the helium gas Sheldon and Leonard need to fight the Swedes who are claiming credit for their theory.  
  • Taping date: October 6, 2015
  • This episode was watched by 16.32 million people with a rating of 4.4 (adults 18-49).
  • Total viewers including DVR users 21.18 million.
  • This episode aired in Canada on October 26, 2015.
  • In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on Thursday, November 2, 2015 on E4.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card [1]
  • Episode transcript [2]

Critics

  • Jesse Schedeen at IGN - That's where this week's big guest star came in. Michael Rapaport (Boston Public, Justified, Public Morals) stopped by to play a shady helium dealer. Rapaport was an inspired choice for the role. He has a vague tough guy aura about him, but also enough goofy charm to fit into the squeaky clean world of The Big Bang Theory...The dynamic between Leonard and Sheldon and their new helium dealer friend was a lot of fun to watch. Each side was pretty wary of the other, escalating what should have been a quick, simple transaction into one that could easily have gone bad for all involved...the gang (even Stuart) as they all discovered the joys of a Tinder-like dating app. The show is a little behind the times here, as it's a little strange to see a group of reasonably hip 30-somethings marveling at a dating app in late 2015... But it did build to a nice moment as Amy asserted herself and revealed that she had taken it upon herself to start dating. The writers seem intent on using this breakup to help Amy escape her perpetual Charlie Brown-like existence, and it's already paying off.
  • IMDB user reviews [3]

Trivia

  • John Ross Bowie makes a second appearance this season as Barry Kripke.
  • Sheldon and Leonard's super fluid theory (first mentioned in "The Troll Manifestation" - S8E14) will attempt to be stolen by Swedish scientists.
  • Amy has signed up to a new dating app and gone on three different coffee dates, including Dave (next episode's guest star Stephen Merchant) - she is reacting after the comments made by Sheldon in the previous episode.
  • The guys again contact one of Howard's shady underbelly connections like when they tried to get scalped Comic Con tickets in "The Convention Conundrum" (S7E14). Howard also knows "a guy" who deals with "hot" items in the black market, mentioned in "The Precious Fragmentation" (S3E17).
  • The second episode where Barry Kripke controlled the university resource the guys wanted. In "The Friendship Algorithm" (S2E13) he controlled the available computer time that Sheldon wanted so he decided to become his friend, though in the end, Kripke did not control it.
  • Sheldon again is expressing the opinions and idioms of his parents from his East Texas upbringing: "Why thank you. Aren't you sweet?"  "Aren't you just made of sugar."
  • Raj again mentions his party planning skills.
  • Beginning of Amy's arc about her dating of Dave, a British scientist.
  • Elena Campbell-Martinez made her third appearance as a Caltech cleaning woman.
  • Sheldon calls his imaginary Uncle "Harvey" like the invisible rabbit in the play Harvey which Jim Parsons did on Broadway. 
  • Raj and Howard only share one scene with Leonard and Sheldon in this episode.
  • All three girls (Penny, Bernadette, Amy) and Stuart do not share a scene with Sheldon and Leonard during this episode to which is why those four people (the female posse and Stuart) are only seen at Howard and Bernadette's house in this episode.
  • This is the only episode in Season 9 where Penny and Leonard do not share a scene together.
  • The first time in this episode that Amy does something away from Sheldon and it also might be the first time that Amy doesn't tell anyone about her breakup with Sheldon.
  • Sheldon gives his phony occupation as a wedding planner that can't find love himself, sounding like "The Wedding Planner" movie. 
  • Now, if Leonard, Sheldon and Kenny were to look up a Mexican standoff, they would find they use amongst instead. 

Quotes

Sheldon: Your face is pleasingly symmetrical.

Barry: Be honest. If the shoe were on the other foot would you do this for me?
Sheldon/Leonard: Not a chance/Of course.

(The scene of Bernadette and Penny with mugs of coffee in the Wolowitz sitting room)
Bernadette: Hey, you know who went out on a date the other night? Stuart.
Penny: Oh, good for him.
Bernadette: (she grumbles) I thought so too.
Penny: So is she like homeless or framing him for a crime?
Bernadette: (she explains to Penny crossly) He's using some kind of dating app on his phone.
Penny: Oh, which one? Maybe we can get Amy to try it.
Bernadette: (she is unamused) I don't know. (she calls for Stuart crossly) Stuart, can you come in here? (she speaks a plan to Penny crossly) He tried to explain it to me. It shows you pictures of people nearby, you swipe them around, it looks kind of like a game.
Penny: Oh, and if you lose the game, you have to go out with Stuart.
(Bernadette giggles at the meanest thing that Penny has said. Stuart now enters the sitting room)
Stuart: What's up?
Bernadette: Can you show us that dating app?
Stuart: Oh, yeah, sure. This thing has changed my life.
Penny: Wow. So how many girls have you met?
Stuart: Two. I probably don't need to mention there's an entire number between that and zero.
Penny: Well, so how does it work?
Stuart: Uh, well, it-it shows me all the single women in a five-mile radius who are using the app. If I like the way they look, I hit “thumbs up.” If I don't, “thumbs down.”
Bernadette: (she's asking Stuart crossly) Oh, what would make you give a girl a thumbs down?
Stuart: First time it happens I will let you know.

Leonard: If I may quote Einstein: The pursuit of science calls us to ignore the rules set by man.

Amy: I'm not sure how I feel about this.
Penny: Oh, come on, just let him put the app on your phone.
Bernadette: Yeah, Stuart got two dates with it.
Stuart: One of which would've ended in s*x had she not said no. Okay, all set.
Penny: Okay, let me see. (clears her throat) Nope, nope, nope... Oh, he's cute!
Bernadette: (she obviously isn't very happy) Doesn't a teardrop tattoo mean he murdered someone?
Penny: And he's sad about it.
(Bernadette and Stuart think to themselves. Enter Raj and Howard)
Howard: Hey.
Raj: Hello.
Penny: Hey.
Bernadette: Hey, I thought you were gonna be out late?
Howard: If you wanted me to stay out later, you should've given me more spending money.
Raj: What are you guys up to?
Bernadette: We put Amy on a dating app, (scene of the grumpy Amy) and we're seeing what's out there.
Raj: Oh, fun! Let me see. Uh, no... no, uh, definitely not.
Howard: What was wrong with that guy?
Raj: Uh, he's Indian. We've already got one of those.
(Scene of the Wolowitz' living room.)
Raj: Ooh, we should find a nice Latino. It really round us out.
Howard: (snatching the phone) Hey, I want to try.
Amy: Uh, excuse me. Can I have my phone back?.
Howard: Hang on, I’m trying to find the next great love of your life. The man who will father your children. Okay, yes or no on white guy with dreadlocks?
(Stuart, Bernadette, Raj, Penny and Howard all clamor at once whilst Amy gets more indignant)

Leonard: That must be him.
Sheldon: Of course. A nondescript white panel van. . You may familiar with it in the sentence: They found the bodies in a nondescript white panel van.

Ken: It seems were at a, uh, stalemate.
Sheldon: Not technically. In chess a stalemate refers to a situation in which there are no remaining moves. Uh, you have plenty of moves available to you. You could beat us up and steal our money. You could kill us, you know. Really you’re only limited by your imagination.
Ken: Huh, all these years I’ve been using stalemate when I really mean impasse. I feel foolish.
Leonard: I don’t think it matters if this is a stalemate or an impasse or a Mexican standoff. What are we gonna do here?
Ken: Oh, whoa, whoa? How can it be a Mexican standoff? Everyone knows you need three sides for that.
Sheldon: Not necessarily. Many argue the essence of a Mexican standoff is that no one can walk away from the conflict without incurring harm.
Ken: Hmm, I don’t follow.
Sheldon: Let me give you an example. Earlier today I decoded the headers on your email and I know that your name is Kenneth Fitzgerald. From that I figured out where you live and where you worked. Now to make this a Mexican standoff I would say something like: You give us that helium or I'll turn you in to the authorities.
Ken: Is that a threat?
Sheldon: Yeah, exactly. See, you’re getting it.
Ken: yeah, well, I know where you work. All right? And if you mess with me I’ll report you and then pound you into the ground.
Sheldon: Perfect. Now we really are in a Mexican standoff. Is this one of those times where I won the battle, but we lost the war?

(The scene in the Wolowitz sitting room where Bernadette, Howard, Penny and Raj are on the couch together eating popcorn. Amy and Stuart are on separate chairs. Penny has Amy's phone in her hands)
Penny: Okay, here we go. Now everyone can see. (Amy still frowns) All right. (Penny clears her throat) Where do we stand on cross-eyed Mike?
Raj: You know he won't be looking at other girls.
Howard: Unless they're sitting on the end of his nose.
Penny: Okay, okay, okay. Thumbs down. Next.
Bernadette: Ew! check out his tiny eye teeth. He looks like a man-dolphin.
Penny: Wait, if he’s good in bed, she can throw him a fish.
Howard: (Squeaking) I love you, Amy.
(squeaking)
Amy: Okay, I'm starting to feel guilty. Aren't we being a little mean?
Raj: That's a fair point. We wouldn't make fun of someone like this to their face.
Penny: (popping her eyes out) Look, it's Stuart!
Raj: You may want to leave the room.
(Stuart now thinks for a minute)

Penny: Okay, does everyone remember the rules? If he's shirtless, one sip. Posing with a pet, two sips. Pet and shirtless, chug like it's your job. And pull!
(Scene of TV screen still image of a brunette mustached/goateed man in tight leopard-print briefs with a black and white cat under his arm on a bed. Amy does not the slightest bit impressed by the image)
Raj: I have that same underwear!
Penny: Chug! (The five folks sip their beer just as Amy's phone chimes) Mm, Amy, you're getting a text.
Amy: Oh, um, give me that.
Raj's voice: (out of vision) “I had a great time last night”"
Amy: No, no, st-stop reading that.
Howard: Who's Dave?
Amy: I...
Penny: You went on a date last night? Are you seeing someone?
Amy: No, it-it's not like that. (Amy's phone chimes again)
Bernadette: (she's reading the screen message) “And I'd love to take you out again”?
Raj, Bernadette, Howard and Penny: Amy! What? Can't believe it. Oh, my God.
Amy: Okay it's like that.
(Bernadette, Howard, Penny, Raj and Stuart now exchange glances at each other)

Penny: (she's stroppy with Amy) I can't believe you're seeing someone and we don't even know about it.
Bernadette: (she's asking Amy crossly) Yeah, why wouldn't you tell us?
Amy: Because it's new and weird and I'm just trying to figure it all out.
(Bernadette glares crossly at Amy)
Amy: And I knew if I told you guys I had been out with a few people that you'd get way too excited about it.
Stuart: A few people?
Raj: What?!
Bernadette: Amy!
Penny: Amy!
Stuart: So, are we allowed to ask how it's going?
Amy: It's going fine. It's mostly just been meeting people for coffee.
Raj: Wha...?! I thought we were all... Never mind.
Bernadette: (she's slightly too cross) I-I thought you weren't ready to start seeing people.
Amy: Well, I don't have much experience dating, so I decided it would be good for me to, you know, get out there a little.
Penny: (she grumbles) Well, good for you.
Amy: Thank you.
Bernadette: And how many guys have you gone out with?
Stuart: Please be less than two.
Amy: Three.
Stuart: Damn it.

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