The episode opens with Sheldon coming to Leonard’s lab to inform him that a team of Swedish physicists were performing an experiment identical to theirs, thus scooping them (of course he first attempts to soften the blow by complimenting Leonard’s facial symmetry). They guys realize they need to perform the experiment first, but they need liquid helium, which at the moment is on back order.
They head over to Kripke’s office to see if the department has any extra, but Kripke needs his helium for his own experiments, and to blow up balloons later. Fortunately, Howard knows a guy, and as long as they do not ask too many questions (Sheldon discovers 4 is the max), he might be able to get them some black market helium.
As always, Sheldon is nervous about doing anything underhanded, especially as it might be against University policy, but Leonard manages to convince him to go along with it, with the help of a few well-timed blow-softening comments. They go to meet the helium dealer, who turns out to be a much more amicable guy than they had thought. (Sheldon even dropped his amazing disguise of being Skippy the wedding planner who cannot find love himself). After discussing the nomenclature of stalemate, impasse, and Mexican standoffs, they eventually make the transaction and the guys get the helium, but not without learning the dealer can also send guys to deal with the Swedish scientists trying to rip off their idea (Sheldon immediately asks for a business card in case needed). They take the helium to the university (the tank disguised as Sheldon’s Uncle Harvey), but before they begin the experiment, Sheldon notices a removed tag that says “Property of U…” He freaks out that it might be stolen US government helium, reminds Leonard that he cannot survive in prison (frequently making references to events from ‘Ernest Goes to Prison’ )and they decide to return to the tank to the dealer, who charges them an exorbitant restocking fee. Dejected, they return to the lab, just as Kripke enters, offering them his helium. However, he wants to deal, and says he will give them his helium if they add his name to their paper. Leonard and Sheldon review their options, and find themselves back in the parking garage paying the dealer once more to get the helium they need.
Meanwhile, at the Wolowitz house, we learn Stuart has joined a dating website and gone on 2 dates with women, one of which would have ended with sex had she not said “no.” Penny and Bernie decide to get Amy on the site, where you click thumbs up or thumbs down depending on whether or not you like the person, and Amy has her phone hijacked as the gang installs the app and starting looking for her match. Eventually, they hook up her phone to the TV so everyone can see, with Bernie, Penny, Raj, Howard and Stuart all chiming in their thoughts, eventually making a drinking game of the activity (one drink if he’s shirtless, 2 is he’s posing with pet, chug if both). Amy feels slightly uncomfortable how mean everyone is toward the prospective men, and Raj points out is a little cruel that they would never say these things to these guys if they were in the room. Then Stuart’s face pops up, and everyone laughs, with Raj asking Stuart to leave the room so they can talk about him. In the end, Amy gets a text from a guy named Dave, and the gang learns she has already been out on a few dates (Stuart dismayed to learn she had 3 dates sans the app, while he only had 2). She says she is just putting herself out there, and that things are going relatively well. I’m sure Sheldon’s reveal last week about hitting on girls at the bar was the catalyst that spurred her to get out there.
In the episode close, we see Sheldon and Leonard reviewing the Wikipedia entry for “Mexican standoff” with Sheldon berating the site for using the word “between” when referring to three people, and the shot pulls back to reveal they invited the helium dealer over as well, and he and Sheldon share their thoughts on the word “among.” Apparently the dealer was invited over to watch ‘Ernest Goes to Jail,’ which Sheldon warns might be a wake-up call to the shady dealer.
QUOTES OF THE NIGHT:
PENNY: (on Stuart’s date) So was she homeless or framing him for a crime?
BERNADETTE: What would make you give a girl a thumbs down?
STUART: First time it happens I will let you know.
SHELDON: Is this one of those times where I’ve won the battle but lost the war?
LEONARD: ‘Fraid so Skippy.
PENNY: (after setting up Amy’s phone so they can all see it on the TV). Ok, now where do we stand on cross-eyed Mike?
RAJ: Well we know he won’t be looking at other girls.
HOWARD: Unless they’re sitting on the end of his nose.
HELIUM DEALER: (after apparently having been invited to the apartment by Sheldon and Leonard) Enough with the chit-chat, are we going to watch ‘Ernest Goest to Jail’ or what?
SHELDON: Absolutely. But don’t be surprised if this movie puts you back on the straight and narrow.
HELIUM DEALER: (after a beat) I am open to change.
Not the best episode of the season, but it definitely had its moments, and it was interesting to see the continuation of the research paper storyline from last season. I am curious to see how Sheldon will react to Amy putting herself out there, as we know he still has that engagement ring, and is waiting for her to come around. My guess is we will not be seeing much movement on the Amy/Sheldon front till around the mid-season finale, but hopefully there will be some developments in the coming episodes. See you next week!