'Big Bang Theory' Season-Finale Cliff-Hanger Will Feature Two "Life-Changing Decisions"

Showrunner Steven Molaro talks with THR about the remaining three episodes of season eight and what's in store for the show's central characters.
 Michael Yarish/CBS

CBS' The Big Bang Theory is headed for a cliff-hanger ending for season eight.

With just three episodes remaining in this season of the comedy about four lovable geeks and the ladies who love them, showrunner Steven Molaro tells The Hollywood Reporter that central couples Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), as well as Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Amy (Mayim Bialik), are in for two "huge" developments in the May 7 season finale — which will end with a cliff-hanger.

Elsewhere, Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) will continue to adjust to life without Mrs. Wolowitz — and with their seemingly new roommate, Stuart (Kevin Sussman) — while Raj (Kunal Nayyar), for the first time, has a decision to make about his love life.

Molaro talks with THR about what to expect from the three remaining episodes of season eight — and what might be on the radar for season nine.

Let's start with Penny. She recently had the acting bug again, but nothing became of it after she blew the audition. Is that an isolated event?

I think so. She's ready to buckle down and focus on the career that's been going pretty well for her [as a pharmaceutical sales rep]. I can't say that [her lost interest in acting] will be forever but at least certainly for the rest of the season.

We know Serial Ape-ist is a cult hit. Will that be something we see again?

I hope so, I love it! We haven't talked about season nine in depth yet, but I don't see why Penny couldn't be asked to attend a convention or do a panel with Wil Wheaton or any of those things. I don't think it'll be terribly big. It's this weird little thing that happens to certain actors, where they’re in something they’re not terribly proud of and it's not a hit, but it has a cult following who are very into it. It’s a small but loyal cult.

Leonard and Penny have been in no rush to plan the wedding. But Sheldon will push them to set a date in the season finale. What's driving that? You'd think he'd want to keep things status quo.

Sheldon is getting a face full of Amy. The finale episode is actually also the fifth anniversary of Sheldon and Amy's first date — or at least their meeting, which we call a date. It has been five years, and even though things have been progressing, for Amy, it’s still, for her, not quite at the speed she'd like, so she really starts pushing back, and he's got relationships on his mind because of that. He wants to know why he's getting grief about moving slowly, where if Leonard and Penny are an example of a couple moving forward, they’ve been engaged for over a year and can’t even pick a date. So he starts poking at that and making them ask themselves the same questions. Both of those couples — Sheldon and Amy and Leonard and Penny — make some huge, life-changing decisions.

For Penny and Leonard, what will that change look like? Setting a date? Deciding to elope and forgo a big wedding?

It could be any of those things. (Laughs.) But actual big moves are occurring.

Will that include a shift in their living arrangements beyond one night a week?

It's tough to say. I’m not quite sure how things are going to shake out with the living arrangements, but it’s something we’re obviously very conscious of.

Sheldon and Amy "spent the night" together. Where do they go from here?

They had the sleepover, and this was also the year they had their first “I love you.” There have been some pretty nice markers that they've crossed in their relationship, and things are going to continue to happen between the two of them in a large way.

Should fans be worried for them?

I think fans should watch and decide how they feel.

What's the next frontier for them?

It's hard to say. Sheldon would tell you that he's already so far out of his comfort zone and that he should be getting awards for this, instead of getting grief for it. You’re not in his brain, so, from the outside, it does look glacial. But if you're the tortoise and moving as fast as you think you can, in your head, you're running. That's what it's like for him. I'm not sure how far he can go before she breaks him.

What would break him?

You should really watch this one because it’s huge.

Sheldon and Leonard's theory will earn them an award. What's the next step for them professionally?

Their moms finally meet because they’re in town because they’re getting an award. For good or for bad — and, so far, mostly it’s been good — these two are cuffed together like a science marriage. We’re not done poking at the Leonard-Sheldon relationship of it all because of this paper.

Is there going to be more of that tension between them, or will the story be more of them struggling with success?

Both. I’ve been enjoying seeing them on the same page and on the same team for a lot of this journey, and it’s a nice dynamic between the two of them that we don't explore enough of. Usually they’re at odds, and there’s some kind of conflict. Obviously we need conflict, but it’s really refreshing to be reminded that these guys are friends, and you see them excitedly to get to go do a speech together or try to get into Skywalker Ranch together. This paper has really opened up a lot of fun storylines for the two of them.

How big will this paper be in the grand scheme of things?

It’s hard for me to say. It’s an interesting theory that Leonard has come up with. These things can go on for years and years. There may also be pressure on them in the future by the university to do something else down the line together as a team because this was successful. These are all open-ended possibilities for the next couple of seasons.

Raj has been financially cut off. Is that permanent? How will this change him?

He is working very hard to get un-cut off this Thursday’s episode. That's his main goal — to do and say whatever he can to make it stop happening. He’s great in it. He’s really funny.

Will Emily (Laura Spencer) return as Raj's love interest?

Emily is back in the finale, and Raj is continuing to be confronted with the fact that even though they're dating and even though she’s very pretty and is into him, they're not the best fit together, just as people sometimes aren't. But you’re talking about a guy that has never broken up with a girl in his life, especially a pretty one who’s sleeping with him. This is the problem that he's wrestling with and trying to confront in the finale.

Could Kate Micucci return as Lucy? Is she a better fit for Raj?

She might be. But who’s to say, in the grand scheme of things, that Emily isn't ultimately great for Raj as well? Maybe the fact that they’re so different is actually good for him, even if he's uncomfortable with it from time to time. Who knows?!

You've introduced Howard's brother (Matt Bennett). Will he be back?

If anything happens, it won’t be in season eight; it would be in season nine. But it’s a really interesting dynamic that Howard, who spent his whole life as an only child, finds out that now he does have a stepbrother. I do think there are more stories that can be mined from that, and we’ll be keeping it in mind as we move forward in season nine.

What about casting or potentially seeing Howard’s father?

None at the moment, but it’s always a possibility.

Howard and Bernadette have moved into Mrs. Wolowitz's house. Will this renew talk about having children?

Children are not on the table for them at the moment. Right now, the two big things for them are making this house feel like theirs and not his mother's. The bigger issue is that Stuart is still living in it with them, and that will be confronted head-on in the finale as well.

Stuart and Howard are getting along more now — almost like siblings. Where does their relationship go from here?

We'll see what season nine has in store for them. For now, their dynamics are great. Wolowitz is a co-owner of that comic book store, so no matter where Stuart goes, they are still tied together in this thing.

You're renewed for two more seasons. What else is on your bucket list for the show? Any guest stars or storylines you've always wanted to do?

Nothing as far as guest stars, but we're always open to it if we've got a good story and good way to do it and they’re willing, we’re always game for it. But nothing juicy I can give you at the moment, unfortunately.

How will this finale set up season nine?

It is a cliff-hanger, and, when you see it, I think it'll be pretty obvious where, in some way, season nine will be headed. As someone who is also a fan of the show, I'm experiencing a range of emotions. There are a lot of things that I have feelings about that go down in this episode.

Will season 10 be the final one for Big Bang?

It's way too soon for that. We’re just focusing on finishing up season eight strong and coming back hard out of the gate for season nine. I can’t think that far ahead.

The Big Bang Theory airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBS.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit

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