Episode two of FRIENDS rarely stands out as one of my favorites. It has a lot of filler, though watching it again reminds me how funny the early filler was. I laughed repeatedly during this episode even though I knew what was coming, knew what the jokes were, knew the big reveals. The first scene in the episode is one of the funniest examples of The Friends just sitting around talking. They’re at Central Perk discussing the difference between how men and women view sex. The women are explaining the importance of kissing while the men are explaining that it’s really all about the actual sex. They do this entirely with a concert metaphor that is actually really impressive. It ends, as so many of these conversations do, with Joey being confused. “Are we still talking about sex?” Yes, Joey.
Overall, though, “The One With the Sonogram at the End” serves mostly to move plot along and give us some character backstory. Let’s list what we find out.
- Ross is having a baby with his lesbian ex-wife and her partner
This is probably the biggest storyline in this episode. The “A” storyline, if you will. We learned in “The Pilot” that Ross is recently divorced from his wife because she realized she was not heterosexual. Ross is (understandably) distraught and still trying to handle his array of emotions over this major life event. While we will poke fun at Ross’s love life and his penchant for tying the not and then untying it again, it’s a very real heartbreak he is experiencing complicated only more by the fact that his wife is now pregnant. There are some continuity issues that come up regarding this later on, but for now we’ll accept it as making perfect sense.Ross talks through the surprise announcement from his ex-wife (played by an entirely different actress. The new Carol, who shows up in a few episodes, is definitely much preferred) with the Friends and explains that Carol and Susan (her partner) are giving him the choice for how involved he wants to be.We get lots of humor from Joey and Chandler on this topic - “What does she mean by involved? Presumably the most important part of your job is done,” was Joey’s input into the situation – and we learn that Ross isn’t sure how involved he wants to be at all. He decides, at least, to join them at their sonogram the next day, which turns into its own form of hilarity. The three parents-to-be get into an argument over first names (Susan and Carol want Marlin or Minnie, because apparently they live in a Disney movie), the order and use of last names (Gheller-Willick-Bunch borders on child abuse), and other major decisions that might have to be made. Susan asserts herself as a strong, protective personality from the start, but we see the love and compassion as well and it endears us to her very quickly. It’s too much for Ross, though, and he goes to leave (both literally and figuratively) when he hears the baby’s heartbeat. That sound was all he needed to sign him up for the long haul. All together now: AWWWWWWWWW.
- Barry has moved on (to Rachel’s maid-of-honor Mindy)
Rachel’s love life continues its front-and-center roll here, continuing on with the consequences of Rachel leaving Barry at the alter. She’s set to give Barry his ring back the next day and is all together a nervous reck about it. This manifests itself first in her loosing the ring. Everyone stops to look around the apartment for it (a sign of just how much Monica cares for her since she was just in the middle of a major Monica Cleaning Spree) and, to the horror of her roommate and her friends, she realizes it fell into the lasagna that Monica prepared for her parents. We get some great character interaction here from Phoebe, Chandler, and Joey. Chandler makes so many jokes in these few minutes that I actually lost count and Joey dives into the ruined lasagna as soon as no one is paying attention.On the more serious side of dealing with the nerves, Ross, as a recently “dumped” man himself, gives Rachel the advice to be sure to not look too happy or anything because he’ll probably be a shell of a man and she basically shouldn’t rub it in. Turns out that the jokes on her, though, because she shows up to his job to find out that not only is Barry happy looking, he’s now moved on to a relationship with Rachel (ex) best friend, Mindy. This unexpected turn of events confuses Rachel in all of the ways, and mostly serves to push her even further into her new group of friends. Her old life is truly that now – old.
- Monica has a difficult time with her parents
I struggled over whether to put this into back story or plot points, because it’s really a mix of both. But considering how much this particular issue not only comes up, but also develops over the course of the ten seasons, it felt better here. Monica feels like the “lesser” child to Ross. Her mother nit-picks every little thing she does or says, doesn’t approve of the direction of her life, and generally is pain in the butt. Her father is a bit softer, and attempts to show is affection and acceptance, but ends up insulting her just as much. Ross, on the other hand, is the glorified child, the one with all the awards and success. Both Monica and Ross are aware of their parents’ actions and both don’t like it. The dinner experience doesn’t go well for Monica, even though Ross gives all his big relationship news.It’s always been my theory that much of Monica’s “neuroses” – her need for everything to be perfectly clean, her constant desire to be in control, her obsession with being right – is due to her relationship with her parents, particularly her mom. She never felt good enough for them and so she needs to be perfect in every way she does have control over. She definitely develops and lets go of some of that over the course of the show, but it’s ingrained her pretty deeply and is therefore a major part of her character. Whether she was born with it or it was a learned behavior is entirely up to interpretation.
- Siblings: Rachel has sisters (though we don’t learn until another time how many); Monica and Ross are the only two in their family; Phoebe has an identical twin sister who she doesn’t speak with; Chandler is an only child (and definitely has issues with his own parents that are only lightly alluded to here). Joey doesn’t mention it in this episode, but he is the only son in a family of many, many daughters.
- Ugly Naked Guy makes his first appearance: The neighbor across the alley who becomes a Friends inside joke for nearly half the show is known as Ugly Naked Guy because he is always entirely naked in his apartment and is not wholly attractive. While the cruelness of the joke is apparent (and may be part of why they got rid of it eventually) it’s nice to have a consistent inside throwaway joke, especially that’s meant to have been around for a while, that eventually get a slight plot point of its own.
And that, in a nutshell, is the second episode of FRIENDS. We’ll move on to “The One With the Thumb” next week where the main storyline is around Phoebe, which is always a good thing. In the meantime, you can watch all of the funniest bits of this episode below. Enjoy!