At first, I wasn't so sure about the "Leonard goes away for a few months and therefore he and Penny might break up" storyline; it felt like a slightly updated rehash of Season 2's "The Monopolar Expedition." But then it grew on me. Despite not being the most suspenseful (like Season 4's "The Roommate Transmogrification") or exciting (like "Monopolar") or even particularly happy finale (like last season's "The Countdown Reflection"), "The Bon Voyage Reaction" is an important episode in The Big Bang Theory's extensive canon, because while Leonard and Penny rather effortlessly managed to not break up for once, unfortunately, Raj and Lucy did. I think we all saw that one coming.
I'd say poor Raj, but it was pretty much his fault and even he realized that, in his eager-beaver drive to make Lucy better NOW, he inadvertently drove her away.
Leonard snagged a sweet job working on a boat for (but not with) Stephen Hawking that would take him away for a few months, and Raj invited Lucy to the going-away party—which she very quickly shot down as the worst idea ever because OMG PEOPLE TOO MANY PEOPLE.
Raj suggested that Lucy meet each of his friends one-on-one, and Amy stepped up first—because Lucy would be the newest member to the group, just like Amy had been, not because Amy was the least conventionally attractive and therefore the least threatening. But that really only exacerbated the problem; Both Raj and Amy fell into an unfortunately abelist mindset and did more talking about Lucy and her "condition" than talking to Lucy or letting Lucy talk at all, and it was all in the name of "fixing" her and helping her act "normal." At worst, they insulted her and at best they overwhelmed her; ultimately, Lucy decided not only that she couldn't attend Leonard's party, but that she couldn't date Raj. The break-up was justified because honestly, most women are reluctant to pair off with a guy who thinks of them as "broken."
Even the break-up via text message... look, I was once dumped via AIM and I thought the guy was a huge coward at the time, but once I heard the whole story from him and from others, I realized there was a lot more going on that lead to both the split and the unfortunate method of communicating it. Just the act of formally ending things with Raj was a huge step outside Lucy's comfort zone.
I'm not entirely convinced we've seen the last of her, though.
On the plus side, Raj can talk to women without getting drunk now! Yeah Raj! It was bound to happen someday and of course, now that he's got the hang of talking to women, Raj isn't going to shut up. Once the novelty wears off, this could very well translate to dates with women who aren't Lucy in Season 7. Saying "hi" is half the battle!
Raj's new skill is the latest development in a season that has made some real leaps and bounds in terms of charging forward with character development and then maintaining said development. Among the most noticeable growth is Sheldon's burgeoning understanding of emotion and what it means to have consideration for others, and one of the best aspects of "The Bon Voyage Reaction" was Sheldon using his new powers for evil.
Sheldon was jealous of Leonard's shiny new job because that's how Sheldon rolls and when pointing out the obvious Leonard deterrents, like seasickness and sharks, Sheldon pulled out the big guns: "Things between you and Penny have never been better. I hope four months apart doesn't change that." OH SNAP. That was good, Sheldon. That was some fine manipulation there. See? Understanding emotion can be greatly beneficial!
Ultimately, Sheldon's mission to convince Leonard to stay home didn't work because when Leonard told Penny about the opportunity, she enthusiastically supported it—and was she wearing the clearance-rack locket he bought her in those last scenes with Raj? Aww! More relatively stable Penny/Leonard moving forward, please.
On to the Season 7 wishlist! It's fairly simple: Aside from a few duds, Season 6 was generally one of the strongest seasons of The Big Bang Theory's run so far, so if anything, I'd just like to see more of what we saw this season: the occasional emotional episode, a Leonard/Penny relationship that isn't a trainwreck, a Sheldon/Amy relationship that continues to work in its own unique way. And Stu, because he seemed to just disappear halfway through this season and I miss him. Comic Store Stu—WHERE R U?
THE STRAY OBSERVATION ADDENDUM
– One-liner of the night: "It did not kill me when you went to space. Monkeys went to space." Sheldon has a point.
– "My friends are like my family. Unless you don't like them, in which case they're dead to me." It's a shame that Raj has never been able to start and maintain a meaningful relationship, because he clearly knows how they work.
– What do you hope to see in Season 7?