Episode 18 of season one of Friends is The One Where the Monkey Gets Away. At the beginning of the show, Rachel and Ross are talking about relationships. Rachel compares her two most recent relationships: Barry, the one she almost… but didn’t because there was no spice, and Paolo, her flaming fling that ended in heart break. Rachel asks Ross:
Do you think you can ever have both? You know? Someone who’s like, who’s like your best friend, but then also can make your toes curl?
Ross: Yes. Yes. Yes! Yes, I really do! In fact, it’s funny, very often, someone who you wouldn’t think could — could curl your toes, might just be the one who…
Insert Marcel the monkey and we put Ross’s friendship with Rachel to the test. Can he really be that person who is both Rachel’s best friend and passionate romance? Ross lets Rachel monkey sit. She’s doing a great job until Marcel poops in Monica’s shoe. Rachel goes to dispose of the feces, and Marcel sneaks out. Panicked, she calls everyone in to help, including animal control.
Ross: I- I- I ca- I can’t believe this. I mean, all I asked you to do was keep him in the apartment.
Rachel: I know, I know, I’m sorry-
Ross: No, you know what, I guess it’s partially my fault. You know, I shouldn’t have asked you to start off with a monkey. I should’ve started you off with like a pen or a pencil.
Rachel: Ross, I’m doing everything that I can, I’ve got everybody looking for him, and I- (Door buzzer; she runs to get it) Who is it?
Intercom: Animal Control.
Rachel: See? I’ve even called Animal Control!
Ross: You called Animal Control?
Rachel: Uh-huh… why… do you not like them?
Ross: Marcel is an illegal exotic animal. I’m not allowed to have him in the city. If they find him, they’ll take him away from me.
Incomes animal control along with Monica and Pheebs. Things turn into a bit of a one-sided reunion when Luisa, the animal control worker, recognizes Monica and Rachel from homeroom back in high school—only they don’t remember her. They beg for her to give them a break with Marcel, but she refuses. She is still bitter about how they ignored her in high school.
The friends break up and scour the building and surrounding neighborhood trying to find Marcel before Luisa does. Monica and Pheebs end up tracking him to the basement, only Luisa is right behind them and armed with tranquilizer darts.
Luisa: Step aside, ladies! (Loads dart gun)
Monica: What’re you gonna do?
Luisa: Just a small tranquilizer.
(Phoebe jumps toward Marcel as Luisa fires the gun. The dart hits her in the butt.)
Monica: Run, Marcel, run! Run, Marcel!
Meanwhile, Rachel and Ross are scouring the city. Rachel still begging Ross for forgiveness; Ross still spewing every mean thing he can at Rachel.
Ross: Oh, no no no. This is just vintage Rachel. I mean, things just sort of happen around you. You’re off in Rachel-land, doing your Rachel-thing, totally oblivious to people’s monkeys, or to people’s feelings…
That’s when Rachel spots a man delivering a crate of bananas to their building and tracks them down to Mr. Heckles apartment, where they find Marcel. Only, Luisa is right behind them and manages to cage the monkey. Despite all the mean things Ross has said about her, Rachel steps up to the plate and goes to bat for her friend’s illegal pet (Ross would have gotten along well with Hagrid).
Rachel: All right. In high school I was the prom queen and I was the homecoming queen and the class president and you… were also there! But this isn’t high school anymore, this is real life. Okay, and we are all adults here…. For the most part. But if you take this monkey, I will lose one of the most important people in my life. You can hate me if you want, but please do not punish him. C’mon, Luisa, you have a chance to be the bigger person here! Take it!
Luisa: (Pauses to consider.) Nope.
Rachel: All right. Well then how about I call your supervisor, and I tell her that you shot my friend in the ass with a dart?
Rachel goes to bat for Ross and gets him his monkey back despite the bitter girl from high school.
Ross: Listen, I’m- I’m sorry I was so hard on you before; it’s just I…
Rachel: Oh, Ross, c’mon. It’s my fault, I almost lost your…
Ross: Yeah, but you were the one who got him back, you know? You, you were great.
Three biblical lessons I see in this episode:
1. Bitterness destroys us and turns us into the bad guys. Luisa could have taken the nobel route and let Marcel go, but she chose to hold onto a grudge from adolescence and allow it to turn her into a bitter, rule monger.
Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. ~ Romans 12:17-18 NLT
2. Sometimes we are going to hurt our friends and they are not going to forgive us right away — stick by them anyway. And sometimes we are going to be that hurt friend spewing mean words at the one who hurt us, in this case, be quick to apologize, even if it costs you your pride. Pride is for chumps anyway. Humility is for winners and for really great friends.
…Love is not jealous or boastful or proud… ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4 NLT
3. Though the question is not specifically answered in this episode, it is answered in the series and I’ve experienced it in my own life — you can have both. Ross will be Rachel’s best friend and greatest romance. Chandler and Monica will be both as well. And, I found that same kind of love with the Hubby.
For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. ~ Ephesians 5:22-26 NLT
This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. ~ John 15:12-15 NLT
When we do marriage right, we should be loving each other as Christ loved us, making us his friends.