05/17/2013 10:33 am ET Updated May 17, 2013

Behind Raj's 'Big Bang Theory' Breakthrough


Heartbreak is never easy ... unless it leads to bigger and better things. And on last night's "Big Bang Theory" season finale, that's exactly what happened to Raj (Kunal Nayyar).

On Thursday night, the very socially awkward Lucy (Kate Micucci) broke things off with Raj because she'd been pushed too far out of her comfort zone. Raj ran to Penny (Kaley Cuoco), and was finally able speak to a girl without having consumed any alcohol -- an amazing feat!

"It's really wonderful because after playing this character for six years, you see him slowly let his guard down," Nayyar told The Hollywood Reporter. "In sitcoms, you can sometimes get stuck in two-dimensional characters or one trick ponies. This has been really wonderful because this season, we get to see Raj really let go of his armor and evolve as a human being and be vulnerable -- which is rare for him."

Raj wasn't the only character experiencing romantic turmoil on Thursday's finale. Leonard (Johnny Galecki) told Penny he was headed to sea for four months. And while a jealous Sheldon (Jim Parsons) muttered, "Things between you and Penny have never been better. I hope four months apart doesn't change that," Penny was wholly supportive of his decision.

Penny's attitude shows how much she loves Leonard, as she expressed earlier this season. And while Penny got by with only a few tears, Cuoco insists she was a mess when Penny confessed her feelings for Leonard.

"I cried at the table read. I cried in the rehearsal. I cried in run-throughs," Cuoco told TVLine in November. "That’s why I had to take such a long beat, because I thought, 'If I close my eyes, tears are just going to come streaming down my face,' and I wanted it to look more pent-up. I thought, 'Oh, they’ll tighten that [in editing],' but they left it all in there. I guess they liked it."

CORRECTION: This post as been edited to reflect that Leonard was headed to sea, not space.

'The Big Bang Theory'