This review contains spoilers.
12.4 The Tam Turbulence
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? Probably. It’d probably also be the correct assumption, but the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
The link is Sheldon’s ex-best friend Tam, who Young Sheldon viewers will know as Sheldon’s current, and only, friend in childhood. If you happen to be watching both shows, then, the tease is a great one. What could have happened between them that would cause a twenty-year rift that Tam isn’t even aware of?
We first learn about Tam when he gets in contact with Sheldon after two decades, and the group are perplexed at what happened between them all those years ago. Sheldon’s digitised enemies list (which also includes Jim Henson for Big Bird-related crimes) isn’t much help, listing him against “he knows what he did”.
Of course, as with many of Sheldon’s grudges, Tam does not, in fact, know what he did. This frustrates Leonard, Howard and Raj even further, but Sheldon soon turns up to reveal all. Tam had promised to move with Sheldon to California for grad school, but instead chose to stay in Texas with his girlfriend at the time. Sheldon took this as a huge betrayal, and it took years for him to find new friends.
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 realised what brings true happiness earlier than he did.
Had The Big Bang Theory continued for another year, might be have had a kid sidekick for the gang in the form of Tam’s son – attending CalTech as a possible college option?
All of this leads to a half-baked clip show demonstrating how Sheldon’s life would likely have been the same had Tam moved in with him rather than Leonard, right down to his iconic Christmas hug with Penny. Why these moments were chosen is a mystery, but perhaps these were just the ones easiest to insert Tam into.
Meanwhile, Penny and Bernadette get to have some fun acquainting themselves with Anu. Under the guise of welcoming her into the group, the two of them really just want to grill her. Anu sees through this immediately, of course, and eventually turns the tables and gets them to spill their guts about some of Raj’s less attractive qualities.
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.
I’m as curious about Anu as they are, so it’s hard to complain about a no-drama storyline featuring her away from Raj, even if he’s none too pleased at the end about his secrets being revealed.
This season is still benefitting from its choice to focus on current characters instead of introducing new ones – which is what almost all bad final seasons do – and, transparent crossover attempt aside, The Tam Turbulence was another entertaining instalment.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Procreation Calculation, here.