Warning: Spoilers ahead for the most recent episode of The Big Bang Theory. Be sure to catch up with the show before reading!
For a show that started out by being about a group of nerds who couldn't find success with women, The Big Bang Theory sure has turned things around for Leonard, Howard, Sheldon and Raj. And now that the comedy is nearing its finale, instead of having all those couples settle into familiar patters, two of the show's big couples are in the middle of some major, surprising changes. Raj and Anu have redefined their relationship, and Leonard and Penny might be on their way to something that could change things between them forever. Let's start with Raj and Anu, since they are the show's newest couple.
While Raj and Anu have pretty much been sailing along since they agreed to the arranged marriage their parents set up for them, last week's episode saw them have their first major fight. To refresh your memory, Raj realized that Anu was still friendly with and talking to her ex-boyfriend, and she told him he had nothing to worry about and she wasn't going to stop talking with her ex. We all know that Raj is sensitive, and when she told him to delete the app on his phone that (inadvertently) allowed him to spy on the comings and goings from her apartment because he should trust her, Raj yelled, "How can I trust you? I don't even know you!" So, yeah...they broke up.
This week, Raj is being teased by the guys during a Dungeons & Dragons session about being lonely and hopeless (mean), but Howard also tells him to just call Anu and see if he can clear things up with her. Raj says he doesn't want to talk about it, but later he does decide to stop by her apartment. She can see him with her video enabled doorbell, and yells for him to go away, but he's holding up cute signs, so she goes to the door the tell him to leave in person.
Raj is trying to woo Anu Love Actually style, but since she doesn't know what that means, he has to launch right into an apology. And, even though he does a good job, he then asks her if she'd like to apologize to him, which makes Anu ask why he even wants to marry her. When Raj replies, "you know, family and India and stuff," Anu is not impressed and makes Raj face a hard truth. She tells him that he only wants to marry because all his friends are married and he doesn't want to be left behind anymore. This makes him angry (because it's true), so he counters by telling Anu that she only wants to marry him because she's tired of constantly dating the wrong guys. Ouch, y'all.
Well, now the breakup is official. Raj has to field an angry video call from his dad, who demands to know what happened, because Anu's parents have called off the wedding. Even though Raj says that he messed up and Anu was right to break up with him, his dad tells him not to say that to her parents, because he still needs to get his wedding deposit back from them. Luckily for Raj, though, his dad also tells him that he's a good man, which Raj notes he's never told him before. Then his dad adds that he's also "a dope," and he just needs to figure out what he wants and says that Raj's family will stand by him either way.
By the end of the episode, it's clear that Raj has done a good job of thinking things over, because he goes to Anu and tells her that she deserves more than someone who only wants to marry her to catch up with his married friends. But, he adds, "I think I can be that man." When Anu says she's not going to marry him, he says he's not asking her to. Anu asks why he's there, and Raj tells her that he likes her and wants her to go on a date with him. When Raj holds up a tiny "PLEASE" sign, Anu smiles and agrees, warning him that she just got out of a weird relationship and might complain about her ex the whole time.
Now, let's move on to what could be considered the main couple of The Big Bang Theory: Penny and Leonard. While Leonard and the guys were playing D&D, Penny, Amy and Bernadette had a girls night at a local bar. While they're drinking and talking, a bartender comes over and tells them that they've been sent a bottle of champagne from a guy at the bar...and that guy is Penny's ex-boyfriend Zack. When he comes to talk to them, he reveals that he was able to sell his company for a ton of money, retire, get married and buy a fancy yacht. He then invites Penny and Leonard to come and have dinner with he and his wife on the boat. Penny says yes, but Bernadette notes that it might not be the best idea.
Well, it turns out that Bernadette was right. First of all, when Penny tells Leonard what Zack's been up to lately, he's gets jealous immediately. She manages to stop him from thinking about it too much in the moment by distracting him with sex, but the next day, when he's driving Sheldon around, Leonard tells him why Zack's new life bothers him so much. Leonard says that he's smart, works hard and contributes a lot to his field, but he's still working for a paycheck while Zack gets to retire really early and sit around being a rich guy, and feels like it's unfair. Sheldon clearly isn't convinced Leonard's reasons are valid, but he's grown lately so he doesn't say anything. Leonard then tells him that he doesn't want to seem immature and petty, so he's agreed to go to the dinner.
When they get there, they're having a nice time with Zack and Marissa, but it's clear that she isn't the brightest person in the world, either. The couple gets up to get drinks and Penny admits to Leonard that it's actually starting to bother her a bit now that those two managed to sort of luck into so much money, and they have a nice bonding moment. Which was cool, because when Zack and Marissa return things get real awkward, real quick.
Zack starts telling them how much they want to have a baby, but he's infertile (likely because of sharing frequent games of kick-each-other-in-the-balls with his frat brothers back in the day). Marissa adds that Zack has always admired Leonard because of how smart he is, with Penny clearly seeing where this is going and trying to stop them from saying anything else. But, the infertility ball is already rolling and she can't stop Zack from asking Leonard to be the father of their baby...and then making sure that Leonard knows he won't be allowed to have sex with Marissa for this, even though Zack used to have sex with Penny.
Now, we know that Leonard wanting kids and Penny vetoing that life choice has been a sticking point for the couple, but they actually haven't been arguing about it since that initial discussion. This, however changes that. Leonard tells Zack and Marissa that he's really flattered but he needs to talk it over with Penny. When they do, though, it turns into an argument. Later, when Penny is telling Amy and Bernadette how Leonard didn't turn them down and just kept staring at them grinning, she reveals that while they discussed it, he actually told her that since she doesn't want to have his baby someone else might as well. Oh...no, sir. Obviously, Leonard has been stewing over this since Penny shut down his baby talk months ago.
When she asks her friends if they can believe what Leonard said, though, they both get quiet. Eventually, Bernadette says that the "biological imperative" to reproduce is pretty strong, with Amy adding that it makes sense that this is something Leonard wants for his life. Then they both say that he's stupid and they're on Penny's side, just so she doesn't immediately take any additional potential anger out on them.
When the episode wraps up, though, we can see that Penny had time to think and made a realization. When she gets back to the apartment, Leonard is there and apologizes for arguing with her, saying that if she doesn't want him to do this, he won't, because they're a team and in this together. Penny leaves the room and comes back with a symbolic sample cup from the bathroom (it's really the cap off the NyQuil) and tells Leonard that she's still not really cool with the idea, but he didn't get a say in her not wanting kids, so maybe she doesn't get to have a say in whether or not he donates his sperm to Zack and Marissa.
That. Is. Huge. Unless Zack and Marissa move away, they will eventually run into the new family and Leonard is going to be intrigued by the sight of his biological child, probably the only one he'll have if he and Penny stay together. He might be OK, initially, about not being able to watch his kid grow up, but if he actually sees the little kid? What will happen if this sets off his "biological imperative" to actually raise a child again? Will he and Penny be able to get past that a second time?
Obviously, the show won't be around long enough for us to see what the long term effects of Leonard doing this will be on his marriage with Penny (barring a serious time jump in the finale, that is), so I feel like he's probably not going to do it. But, anything is possible right now. Meanwhile, Raj and Anu could, theoretically, end up dating enough to repair their relationship and turn their friendship into a real love story and get married.
I imagine that these two issues will be discussed much more as The Big Bang Theory continues on CBS, so you can check out all the relationship revelations every Thursday at 8 p.m. CST.