April 26, 2012 9:30am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'The Big Bang Theory's' Out of This World Finale: EP Teases Funny, Emotional Wedding-Centric Episode
Just because there are photos of a wedding between Howard and Bernadette doesn't necessarily mean there will be a marriage on CBS' The Big Bang Theory.
With three remaining episodes in the Thursday comedy's fifth season, the clock is ticking for Howard (Simon Helberg) both personally and professionally as his season-long quest to go into space inches dangerously close to his big day with Bernadette (Melissa Rauch).
"We are heading toward a wedding and the gang will get involved and attempt to stage a wedding," executive producer Steve Molaro tells The Hollywood Reporter. "It will be a bit of a rough road along the way."
Following a whirlwind engagement, the duo has spent the bulk of the fifth season getting to know one another and dealing with larger questions that a couple typically addresses prior to a proposal, including having children, living arrangements and the like. Now they'll be tasked with pulling off the near-impossible: exchange vows before liftoff.
In Thursday's episode, Howard's inner circle -- Leonard (Johnny Galecki), Raj (Kunal Nayyar) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) -- will stage a stag party in which guests including Stuart (Kevin Sussman), Kripke (John Ross Bowie) and Wil Wheaton all attend that clues Bernadette in on Howard's less-than-ideal sexual history.
After Bernadette questions how much she knows her partner, another obstacle will present itself in the May 3 installment when NASA reschedules Howard's mission to space and puts their wedding plans in jeopardy before the gang rallies to put the wedding together before the last-minute launch.
"These are two huge milestones in this one character's life happening roughly at the same time and they both affect him in different ways," Molaro says, noting Howard's struggles with the physicality of space travel training is emblematic of his mixed feelings about being part of the mission.
"He's proud and excited at this opportunity and at the same time it presents some challenges that has him concerned," he notes, adding that there is "some form of resolution on the way" whether nor not Howard goes ultimately makes it into space. "There is a continuing relationship with NASA and, as Howard would point out, whether he goes or not he is technically an astronaut."
Elsewhere, Sheldon will have his hands (naturally!) full with Amy (Mayim Bialik), with Bernadette's harp-playing maid of honor equally excited and thinking that it's her special day as well. "There's a bit of wedding fever floating around and it does impact her," Molaro says, noting that Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard will experience "some friction."
As for the status of the nuptials, Molaro was tight-lipped on whether Howard and Bernadette would officially tie the knot and if the NASA engineer could head into space and teased a May 10 finale that's both funny and emotional and impacts everyone in a "different" fashion than last season when Raj and Penny's night together left viewers stunned.
"There is some element of cliffhanging that goes on in a different way," he says. "It actually touches everybody in a different way. It's not something we do a whole lot of but I think it's really funny and there are spots that are quite emotional. I hope everyone likes the blending of the two as much as I do. I've not managed to watch the final scene of the final episode of Season 5 without getting choked up -- and I've seen it six times."
Regardless of what happens, Molaro says Howard's growth is worth celebrating. "You look at his transformation from Season 1 to Season 5 and it's pretty remarkable and organic the way he want from this hound dog to who he is today," he notes. "We're fascinated by that and these episodes reflect that."
The Big Bang Theory airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBS.