It was a give and take for Kunal Nayyar on last week's The Big Bang Theory.
The guys (and later girls) played a hilarious and ultimately revealing game of Dungeons & Dragons, except Raj (Nayyar) wasn't part of it. Instead, he bailed for a date with his equally, if not more, socially awkward love interest Lucy (Kate Micucci), whom he ended up kissing through a chain-link fence.
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"When I knew they were writing a D&D episode, I was so excited. I was like, 'Yes, it's finally happening!' But then I didn't realize that I wasn't going to be part of it!" Nayyar tells TVGuide.com. "I was a little disappointed, but when I read the Lucy story line, I was excited again. It's so wonderful to see Raj explore that side of him, and you'll see more of that in the finale."
But Thursday's Season 6 closer (8/7c, CBS) won't find the two officially dating yet. Given Lucy's anxieties, Raj knows he must tread slowly. So the first order of business is merely having her meet one of the gang. "My friends are very interested in meeting her since I've been talking about her nonstop," Nayyar says. "But it's more intimidating to meet all of them at once, so we decide for her to just meet one and we have a way of deciding who that will be. You might be surprised at who it is."
What has definitely been surprising though is Raj's gusto in courting Lucy — a far cry from the guy who shirks interaction with girls and can only talk to them while he's drunk. Nayyar chalks up his newfound confidence to the fact that Raj can relate to Lucy. "Well, first of all, let's remember that for someone who doesn't talk to women, Raj has gotten a lot of action," he says with a laugh. "But here is someone who has more social anxiety than he does. He knows her struggles; he knows her pain. I think he knows she has a good heart and he wants to save her. In doing so, he's fallen in love with her. He's not threatened by Lucy, so it allows him to be himself as opposed to when he's chasing someone he's threatened by. This is going to sound so dramatic, but Raj is a wounded bird and now he's found another wounded bird. In their world of anxiety, they've found a safe haven in each other."
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But perhaps it's too soon to expand that haven. The meeting occurs, but, naturally, won't exactly go as planned. "She is pretty broken so there is a limit to how far and fast he can push her," executive producer Steve Molaro says. "But she agreed to dip her toe in ... which leads to a great discussion back in the apartment of, 'Who's the right one? Who should be The One? That's a really nice scene in the finale as well."
It is then that Raj is forced to confront his own anxiety around women not named Lucy. After all, if he wants her to overcome her insecurities, it's only fair that he face his own. "Things that have plagued him in the past come back right to the forefront," Nayyar says. "He's in love with this girl and if he wants it to go further, he has to tackle his own demons. And he meets all of them head-on."
So does that mean he'll actually be able to converse with a girl, again other than Lucy, sober? Nayyar remains coy, but promises that there will be a "big emotional transformation in Raj" by the end of the finale, which he describes as "feel-good." The episode also finds Leonard (Johnny Galecki) weighing a new job offer abroad, much to the chagrin of Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and most of all, Sheldon (Jim Parsons).
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"There's no big 'event' like the wedding [in last year's finale], but I don't think this is a lighter finale than any other finale," Nayyar says. "No, we're not launching a rocket into space, but it's a very amazing episode for everyone, one that hopefully will go down as a classic."
And with no cliff-hanger for him, anything's possible next season, but Nayyar just hopes that Raj continues to grow —and maybe play D&D, of course.
"He's seen his friends move on and I'd love to see him in a real relationship whether it's with Lucy or someone else," he says. "It's really fun to explore the vulnerable side of Raj when it comes to love as opposed to his defense mechanism. It's been great to watch these characters grow up, fall in love, get married, and see their priorities shift from vintage video game night to 'Hey, I need a life partner.' But I do still want to play D&D. If not on the show, then in real life!"
The Big Bang Theory airs Thursdays at 8/7c on CBS. Watch a sneak peek of the finale below.
(Additional reporting by Natalie Abrams)
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by a joint venture between Lionsgate and CBS.)
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