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"The Tam Turbulence" is the fourth episode of the twelfth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. The episode aired on Thursday, October 11, 2018.

Summary

When Sheldon won’t tell anyone why he's never mentioned Tam, his childhood best friend, Leonard takes matters into his own hands. Also, Bernadette and Penny take out Raj's fiancée, Anu, for dinner to get the 411 on her. [1]

Extended Plot

Amy enters her living room to find Sheldon improving their wedding photographs by adding guests who did not attend like the Wright Brothers. Amy then receives an email from "Tam" telling Sheldon that he was visiting Caltech with his son and wanted to get together with his old friend Sheldon. Amy wonders why Sheldon never mentioned his childhood best friend so Sheldon yells at her, “Tam! Tam! Tam! Tam! Tam!” and runs into the bedroom.
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Sheldon hears from his boyhood friend Tam.

In Apartment 4A having dinner, the gang wonders how Raj could be engaged to a woman that he just met. Raj asks for advice on an engagement ring. Bernadette wants to know if she has fingers. Amy enters asking the guys about Tam. No one knows about him. He seems to have betrayed Sheldon and Amy doesn’t want to pry into why.

In Bernadette’s office, she is playing a video game when Penny enters and is worried about Raj and his new fiancée. Penny can’t find anything on the internet so Bernie wants her Dad to check with his police buddies. She calls him, but he won’t do it because it is illegal.

At lunch, Leonard can’t believe that Sheldon has another friend that Leonard has never heard about. Since Leonard knows Sheldon’s bathroom schedule, he thought he knew who his friends are. They all wonder what Tam could have done so Howard suggests that they call Sheldon’s brother George.
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Skpying with Sheldon's brother George.

Later Skyping with George in his office at Dr. Tire, he remembers Sheldon’s “little Vietnam buddy”. Leonard mentions that he was not even at the wedding, and George is embarrassed at realizing that he had a long conversation with a guest he thought was Tam. George wonders if he still has his enemies list (and bathroom schedule) and suggests looking it up. Then he changes his mind on asking them to do something about his name on the list for urinating in Sheldon's shampoo bottle before signing off. Howard downloads the enemies list from the Internet and finds Tam Nguyen. Sheldon only lists that Tam "knows what he did". The guys decide to meet Tam and ask him. Howard next finds that Jim Henson made the enemies list for inventing that big yellow bird that scared Sheldon and gave him nightmares.

Penny and Bernadette walk into Anu’s hotel lobby. They walk up to the concierge’s desk and introduce themselves. She replies that they were there to check her out. Bernadette immediately likes her because she is smart. She is invited out to dinner and then suggests the restaurant Bavel. Penny thinks it’s impossible to get reservations as Anu picks up the phone and gets them. Doing impossible things is her superpower. When leaving, Bernadette wonders that if she can get into any restaurant, was Raj the best husband she could find?
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Penny and Bernadette drop in on Anu.

The guys wander around a university gathering and find Sheldon’s former best friend. He is happy to meet Sheldon’s friends since Sheldon hasn’t gotten back to him. Leonard says that Sheldon didn’t come because he was still upset about …you know, hoping that Tam knew. He didn’t. Tam thinks that Sheldon just moved to California and they drifted apart. Sheldon comes out and Tam is very happy to see him. Sheldon still thinks that Tam betrayed him. Why? When Sheldon moved to California, Tam didn’t come with him. Sheldon then storms off leaving Tam in a state of shock.

Leonard finds Sheldon in his office and wants to explain to him that Tam has done nothing. Sheldon yells at him that he never does anything that is stupid and that Leonard could end up on his enemies list. Leonard leaves disgusted and warns him that Sheldon can’t afford to lose another best friend.

At dinner, Penny thinks that the restaurant is amazing. Anu adds that she usually gets tipped for doing the impossible. Penny sees LeBron James over at another table. Bernadette then asks why a smart successful woman would want to marry someone she just met. She had tried finding someone herself in her 20’s and it didn’t work out. Her parents had an arranged marriage and are happy together. Bernadette replies that she married for love and it turned out …(pause)… fine. Penny adds a "Me, too".

Amy comes home and finds Sheldon on the phone with Howard whom he congregates as his new best friend. Neither of them are happy about it. Amy can guess what happened. Sheldon tells her that she knows him so well. Amy offers to be his best friend, but he wants a wife that he can complain to. Sheldon is very angry that Leonard took Tam’s side. It seems when Sheldon was accepted at Caltech, he was afraid to move away from home and Tam offered to move out with him and then he didn’t do it. Tam found a girlfriend and stayed in Texas. Amy explained that if Tam had moved out there with him, he wouldn’t have the great friends he has now. Sheldon thinks about what would have happened and figures that things would be the same.
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Tam: Sheldon!

The girls ask Anu about her craziest request ever. Brittany Spears wanted to blow bubbles and she had to go to Kmart at 3 AM. She then asks about Raj. First they insist that he is great and then that he is fun to hang out with just like another girlfriend. The good part and the bad part. He also bathes with his dog and cries when Hugh Jackman sings. Anu looks a little worried.

Tam enters Sheldon’s office at his request. Sheldon forgives him even though Tam insists that he did nothing. Tam had met Beth, loved her and stayed in Texas. Sheldon was meant to move to California and to do amazing things that he (Tam) was very proud of. Sheldon is sorry that things didn’t work out for him, but Tam insists that he is very happy.

In the cafeteria, the guys first mention about the girls' meeting. Bernadette was pretty drunk and tried to go to sleep in the dryer. Sheldon walks in with Tam. He had been showing Tam and his son around Caltech. Sheldon decided that it was silly to hold his grudge. Sheldon wants them to go do something, but Tam has to get a cab and head to the airport. Sheldon then insists that Leonard can drive them. He then tells his old friend a quick goodbye and leaves.

At work Bernadette is showing an Instagram picture of her and LeBron James. All Penny sees is a smudge three tables back. Raj then calls her and wonders what they told Anu. She now knows he wears ladies’ deodorant. Raj asks them to stay away from her. Penny prefers to have them meet again to do some damage control. Bernadette wonders if she could get them into the SoHo House. They “owe” that to Raj.

Credits

Notes

  • Title Reference: Sheldon still has his grudge against his high school friend, Tam and the consequences when he visits California.
  • Taping date: September 18, 2018
  • This episode was watched by 12.94 million people with a rating of 2.3 (adults 18-49).
  • Total viewers including DVR users 17.32 million.
  • This episode aired in Canada on October 11, 2018.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card. [http://www.chucklorre.com/index-bbt.php?p=596]

Critics

  • Caroline Preece at Den of Geek! - Would it be cynical to say that The Tam Turbulence was a last-ditch effort from the writers to link The Big Bang Theory with its spin-off Young Sheldon before it's over?..Tam’s life appears to be a glimpse into what Sheldon’s might have been like had he not been born with all his troubles - a wife, a grown-up son and happy life back in his hometown. Sheldon sees this as a failure compared to his own career triumphs, but it’s possible that he knows deep down that Tam simply realized what brings true happiness earlier than he did...Meanwhile, Penny and Bernadette get to have some fun acquainting themselves with Anu...It’s all low-stakes stuff, but the episode has a great time showing the more immature and shallow sides of Penny and Bernadette. Anu lives a completely different life from their more modest existences, full of exclusive restaurants, and the girls are going to milk that for all its worth. [1]
  • IMDb user reviews [2]

Trivia

Quotes

Amy: I didn't just drink the crazy milk. I bought the crazy cow.

Penny: I thought you were pumping.
Bernadette: I thought you were my boss.

Amy: Let me guess; this thing with Tam escalated and now you're mad at Leonard and looking for a new best friend?
Sheldon: You know me so well. It's too bad you can't be my best friend.
Amy: I can be.
Sheldon: You can't be my wife and my best friend. Who would I complain about you to?
Amy: Just tell me what happened.
Sheldon: Leonard talked to Tam behind my back and took his side. After what he did to be, can you believe it?
Amy: No, I'm shocked and outraged. Now tell me why I'm shocked and outraged.
Sheldon: Fine. When I got accepted to Grad school at Caltech, I was afraid to move so far away from home, so Tam said he'd move out here with me and be my roommate. Then, over the summer he got a girlfriend, even after reading all the pamphlets I gave him about social diseases.
Amy: Awe, I remember when you gave me those pamphlets.
Sheldon: Anyway, Tam stayed with her in Texas and I had to move out here all by myself.
Amy: That must've been scary.
Sheldon: It was.

Tam Nguyen: Sheldon, I needed to stay in Texas. And you needed to come here. I knew you were gonna do amazing things and meet amazing people who were gonna respect you, because you're brilliant. And because they never had to fish you out of a dumpster.
Sheldon: Well, they have, but it was during my short-lived parkour phase.

Tam Nguyen: Sheldon, so good to see you.
Sheldon: [impersonally] Tam.
Tam Nguyen: It's been a long time.
Sheldon: Hm, not long enough to erase the sting of betrayal.
Tam Nguyen: How did I betray you?
Sheldon: You know what you did.
Raj: Uh, let me catch you up. He does not.

Gallery

References

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