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The fallout form Raj (Kunal Nayyar) and Penny’s (Kaley Cuoco) apparent hook-up in the Season 4 finale of The Big Bang Theory will be something executive producers confront immediately when Season 5 of the CBS comedy premieres next month.
Executive producer Bill Prady teases that Leonard (Johnny Galecki) doesn’t handle the news of his ex-girlfriend’s drunken indiscretion well at first but will eventually deal with it “better later on.”
While both Cuoco and Galecki agree that Penny and Leonard should ultimately end up together – “They’re the love of one another’s lives,” Galecki says — how they get there won’t be easy with both characters taking turns sabotaging what they hope will be an ultimate reunion.
“We don’t know what really happened that night,” Cuoco says of Penny’s drunken exchange with Raj. “I know [Penny and Raj] woke up together but nobody knows [what really happened]. Deep down, [Penny and Leonard] have such heartfelt feelings for each other that she probably knows this is not good.”
Leonard will have his hands full in Season 5, not only dealing with Raj and Penny but also with the news that his girlfriend, Priya (Aarti Mann), is heading back to India and the duo will attempting a long-distance relationship.
“It’s an interesting gray area emotionally,” executive producer Steve Molaro says, noting that Leonard has to deal with his lingering feelings for Penny while still in a committed relationship with Priya. “His continuing to have a relationship with [Priya] makes it easier [for him to heal].”
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As for what Raj will do in terms of his relationship with Penny, Prady played it coy when asked if there would be a romantic pursuit: “That’s a hard question to answer,” he said.
“I’d be surprised if Leonard is speaking with Raj when we go back this season,” Galecki says, noting that he and co-star Simon Helberg (Howard) were both upset when they learned the news of the Penny and Raj scene.
Sheldon (Jim Parsons), meanwhile, will take his typical approach to dealing with the drama and focus on how the “incident” impacts him.
“I would imagine he would have some major things to say about how it affects this newfound relationship he has with Raj as a roommate,” Parsons says. “If Sheldon gets involved at all, it’s got to be through that way because honestly he could give a damn about Penny and Leonard, and if they have any troubles. It doesn’t bother him at all, unless it bothers him, which means it’s got to affect his life.”
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In the meantime, Howard and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) will have their own obstacles to navigate with wedding planning in full swing this season – including dealing with Mrs. Wolowitz.
“[Howard’s] mother is going to be an issue,” Helberg says, noting that religion and – gasp! – the idea of a bachelor party could also provide ample opportunity for disaster for the couple. “I think every single thing he’s going to face is going to be a complete disaster. I wouldn’t foresee Casanova-like qualities coming out at this time.”
Prady notes that Howard may have been so excited to be in love with someone who loves him back that the couple jumped right over some major – and necessary — conversations.
“They never talked about what kind of life they wanted to have together: Where they were going to live, what they were going to do, children,” he says. “Every one of [those conversations] will surprise the other. They don’t have the same ideas; they love each other very much and it will give them a lot of stuff to work through.”
Rauch notes that the wedding planning will continue all season, with Howard and Bernadette also contending with her career – and her sizable income – being factors for the couple. “It will definitely threaten his ego,” she teases. “It will definitely be an obstacle that they have to overcome.”
The Big Bang Theory’s fifth season premieres Thursday, Sept. 22 on CBS.
Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit
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