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"The Classified Materials Turbulence" is the twenty-second and penultimate episode of the second season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Monday, May 4, 2009.


Howard has designed a special toilet for the International Space Station. He realizes that it is going to malfunction and asks the guys to help him fix it. Meanwhile, Stuart has another date with Penny.

Extended Plot[]

The Classified Materials Turbulence 33 - Number 1 and number 2

Howard's space toilet is important for two reasons. #1 and of course #2.

The gang is at the comic book store, when a specific new comic book came in. Howard announces that he will treat them with new comic books to celebrate his new invention, the "Wolowitz Zero-Gravity Waste Disposal System". Stuart approaches the gang and asks Leonard for some advice for his second date with Penny, Leonard says he will think on it. Howard tells Leonard if he doesn't want to jeopardize his relationship with Stuart nor does he want Stuart to progress with Penny, he should tell Stuart to do exactly what Leonard has been doing for the past two years.

Later, Leonard bumps into Penny when getting his mail, Penny seizes the opportunity to ask Leonard whether she dating Stuart bothers him. Leonard tells her it doesn't, although he was clearly lying, as Penny then proceeded to ask for advice on dating Stuart, but Leonard gave her useless advice (be aggressive).

In the Caltech cafeteria Leonard receives a phone call, but doesn't want to answer it because it is from Stuart, and he knew he would be asking for advice about Penny. The unanswered telephone ring annoys Sheldon who insists that Leonard answer the phone. Leonard refuses, Sheldon continues with an illustration that Stuart might be calling because the store is on fire. Leonard asks why Stuart would be calling him if the store was on fire. Sheldon continues that, we won't know until you answer the phone. Finally it goes to voice mail. Leonard says that the problem was solved, but Sheldon insists that he check his voice mail. Leonard again refuses. Sheldon instructs Leonard that leaving a message is one half of a social construct, the other half is listening to the message. Leonard comments that it must be hell inside your head. Sheldon replies that it is at times.

The Classified Materials Turbulence 28

The Wolowitz Zero-Gravity Waste Disposal System is repaired by Howard with assistance from Sheldon and Raj.

Meanwhile, a distressed Howard tells the gang that he made a fatal error in building his invention. In an effort to help Howard, the gang has agreed to fix the space toilet. They bring an exact replica back to the apartment.

Then, someone knocks on the door, and Leonard answers it. Howard reminds Leonard that the project they are working on is classified. Stuart is at the door asking Leonard for last minute advice since they haven't been able to contact each other, Leonard has been deliberately ignoring Stuart, although he tells Stuart that his phone is broken, his e-mail is broken, everything is broken. Leonard deliberately gives bad advice by drawing from what he has been trying on Penny. He tells Stuart to take it slow, hold her on a pedestal like your afraid to even touch her, and avoid eye contact with her. Stuart thanks him and says that it plays right into my wheelhouse. Stuart asks what is the item in the room. Howard says, "You don't know! Good!" and slams the door in Stuart's face. Raj comments about his advise to "Be afraid of Penny. Nice." Leonard admits that it wasn't bad advice, it just wasn't particularly helpful advice. Sheldon comments that his mother says that when we deceive for personal gain - Jesus cries, which of course makes Leonard, who is already feeling bad about what he told Stuart, feel even worse.

The gang continues to troubleshoot the space toilet. Howard brings up several possible fixes only to have them shot down by Sheldon who explains why they won't work. Finally Howard suggests that he change his name and go live with his cousin in Israel. Sheldon says that could work.

The Classified Materials Turbulence 10 - I dont want to talk

Leonard talking with Penny after her date with Stuart.

The next morning, Leonard was doing a coffee run for the gang and took the opportunity to stop by Penny's and ask about the date. When he asked Penny, she was very wound up and ended up slamming the door in Leonard's face. Leonard then leaves for the comic book store to meet Stuart, while the rest of the gang still fails to fix the toilet. Leonard asked Stuart about the date, he said the advice he gave him was great. Everything was going smoothly. Leonard surprisingly said "It did?" After two hours and a bottle of wine they were making out in his car. Leonard said that he didn't tell him to give her wine. Stuart said it didn't matter, that is were everything went wrong. They were kissing and he said "Oh Penny," and right where she was supposed to say "Oh Stuart," she said your name. Leonard asks, "She said Leonard?" Stuart said, "That is your name." Leonard, sympathizing, said it must have been the last thing you wanted to hear. Stuart said that it beats, "You know I'm a dude right." When Leonard leaves the store, he jumps with happiness.

Comic shop entrance

Leonard jumps for joy after hearing of Penny's feelings for him.

While Leonard has been running around talking to Penny and Stuart, the rest of the gang has continued to work on Howard's space toilet. They are ready to test the fix. Howard gets a Tupperware container with some of his mother's meatloaf, slices off a piece, and places it in the toilet. Raj asks if that is how you test a toilet. Howard assures him that his mother's meatloaf has been testing toilets for years. When he initiates the test the meatloaf slice flies out of the toilet and sticks to the ceiling. Raj asks what the problem could be. Howard replies, "Not enough bread crumbs."

The Classified Materials Turbulence 07

Fix tested with a slice of Howard's Mother's meatloaf.

It seems Howard has found a solution and called the responsible parties to deploy the solution, he just hopes it works.

The gang and Penny are all together in 4A eating while Howard is talking with a NASA official about the fix. He assures them that the fix was entirely confidential; nobody will know about it. Penny asks Leonard about the fix. Leonard says its Howard's space toilet - I'll tell you later. Penny then asks Leonard to pass the soy sauce. Pretending not to hear he asks if she was talking to him. She said I did say, "Leonard." Leonard replies, "Yes you did, didn't you." Penny of course did not understand. Just then, the meatloaf falls off the ceiling, startling Penny.

In the final scene, we see that Howard's solution clearly did not work as the crew of the space station had to take "an unscheduled EVA (Extra vehicular activity|spacewalk)". NASA asked who would be participating. The replay was that everyone wanted to step outside for a little while. NASA said they couldn't authorize the EVA. ISS, replied that this was more of an FYI call - they were already out the door.



  • "Saying the wrong name is a great sitcom plot. Television shows need unlikely events to stir the pot and keep tensions bubbling for a little while longer. Saying the wrong name doesn't necessarily mean anything. It obviously hints at someone’s true feelings, but it doesn't actually change anyone’s lives. So Penny saying Leonard’s name while with Stuart is a clever way of keeping the show’s major romance on the minds of its viewers...Leonard is the hero of the show and I don’t blame his performance as much as I blame the writing. He doesn't show enough good qualities, enough of a desire to grow and change and become the man Penny could fall for. A by-product of the bad writing is that he isn't funny." - The TV Critic's Review
  • IMDb user reviews


  • Title reference: The classified "space toilet" that Howard and the guys try to repair.

If Howard's toilet failed to Chuck Lorre's vanity card [1]

  • This episode was watched by 9.25 million people with a rating of 3.4 (adults 18–49).
  • Episode transcript [2]

Costume Notes[]

The Classified Materials Turbulence 23 - Triple Threat

Triple Threatg

The Classified Materials Turbulence 19 - ManBot


The Classified Materials Turbulence 18 - S02E22FlashBolt

Flash Bolt

Sheldon wear the Triple Threat plaid shirt, his ManBot t-shirt, arguably his favorite as it is the one he has worn in more episodes than any other - and in more colors (green, blue, and purple). He also wears his The Flash; Run Bolt shirt.
The Classified Materials Turbulence 20 - Red Alien

Unknown alien head

The Classified Materials Turbulence 22 - Blue Lion

Unknown blue lion

The Classified Materials Turbulence 24- White Unknown


Leonard wears a red shirt with an alien head, a blue shirt with a lion (animals, animal sanctuaries, and animal rescue groups being a theme with him), and an unknown design.

Set/Props notes[]

New on the set:

The Classified Materials Turbulence 25 - flash1

The Flash: Rebirth, Issue #1

The Classified Materials Turbulence 09 - Hellboy 4

Hellboy #4

The Classified Materials Turbulence 21 - Supergirl

DC Direct Supergirl

The Flash: Rebirth, Issue #1
"Lightning Strikes Twice"
June 2009.
Hellboy #4 The Wild Hunt
DC Direct figurine: Supergirl
On the kitchen shelves
above the Batman cookie jar



Leonard: (Phone rings) "Oh, it's Stuart"
Sheldon: (Phone continues to ring) "You're not going to answer it?"
Leonard: "He wants to talk about Penny. I don't want to talk about Penny."
Sheldon: "You're making an assumption. Perhaps the store is on fire and he is calling you for assistance."
Leonard: "Why would he call me?"
Sheldon: "We don't know. If you don't answer the phone, we can't know."
Leonard: "I'm not answering the phone, Sheldon."
Sheldon: (Phone continues to ring) "ANSWER THE PHONE, LEONARD!"
Leonard: "NO!" (phone stops ringing) "There. It went to voice mail."
Sheldon: "Aren't you going to check your message?"
Leonard: "No!"
Sheldon: "You have to check your messages, Leonard! The leaving of a message is one half of a social contract which is completed by the checking of the message. If that contract breaks down then all social contracts break down and we descend into anarchy!"
Leonard: "It must be hell inside your head."
Sheldon: [pause] "At times."

Leonard: No, no that’s the past. I’m really more of a right now kind of guy. You know, living in the moment. Although I do have to live a little in the future, ’cause, well, that’s my job. Of course, my fondness for classic science fiction does draw my attention backwards, but those stories often take place in the future. In conclusion, no, it doesn’t bother me.

Penny: Leonard, would you please pass the soy sauce.
Leonard: I'm sorry. Were you talking to me?
Penny: I did say "Leonard."
Leonard: Yes you did, didn't you.

ISS: Houston, International Space Station. We have a little situation up here. We’d like to make an unscheduled space walk.
Houston: ISS, Houston. Which crew members would be involved in this E.V.A.?
ISS: Houston, we’d all like to step outside for a few minutes.
Houston: ISS, I’m afraid we can’t authorize that.
ISS voice: Uh, Houston, this is more of an FYI call. We are basically out the door.