We’ve reached the final episode in season one of Friends, The One Where Rachel Finds Out. Ross is off to China. It’s Rachel’s birthday, and she opens her third (biblical symbol for the Trinity, days before Jesus resurrected, etc.) present, which is from Ross…
Rachel: Oh… (opens it)… (sees it is a pin) Oh my Go
dsh. He remembered.
Phoebe: Remembered what?
Rachel: It was like months ago. We were walking by this antique store, and I saw this pin in the window, and I told him it was just like one my grandmother had when I was a little girl. Oh! I can’t believe he remembered!
Chandler: Well, sure, but can you play it on a plane? (pats his Travel Scrabble game)
Phoebe: Oh, it’s so pretty. This must have cost him a fortune.
Monica: I can’t believe he did this.
Chandler: Come on, Ross? Remember back in college, when he fell in love with Carol and bought her that ridiculously expensive crystal duck?
At this moment, Rachel realizes for the first time that Ross loves her. The present he gave her, that she so cherished, was way more than just a birthday gift from a friend.
Rachel: This is unbelievable. I mean, this is unbelievable.
Phoebe: I know. This is really, really huge.
Chandler: No it’s not. It’s small. It’s tiny. It’s petite. It’s wee.
Phoebe: Nuh-uh. I don’t think any of our lives are ever gonna be the same ever again.
Chandler: OK, is there a mute button on this woman?
Monica: I think this is so great! I mean, you and Ross! D-did you have any idea?
Rachel: No! None! I mean, my first night in the city, he mentioned something about asking me out, but nothing ever happened, so I just… (to Joey): W-well, what else did he say? I mean, does he, like, want to go out with me?
Joey: Well, given that he’s desperately in love with you, he probably wouldn’t mind getting a cup of coffee or something.
Rachel: Ross? All this time? Well, I’ve got to talk to him. (gets up to leave)
Chandler: (quickly) H-He’s in China!
Joey: The country. (Rachel gives him a blank stare)
Rachel: Well did his flight leave yet?
Chandler: Are you kidding? He’s at a seat watching a woman do this. (waves arms like a stewardess)
Monica: No, no, wait. (checks Ross’s itinerary) His flight doesn’t leave for another forty-five more minutes.
Chandler: What about the time difference?
Monica: From here to the airport?
Chandler: Yes! (Rachel walks towards door) You’re never gonna make it!
Monica: Rachel, what’re you gonna say to him?
Rachel: I-I-I don’t know.
Chandler: Well then maybe you shouldn’t go.
Joey: He’s right, cause if you’re just gonna, like, break his heart, that’s the kind of thing that can wait.
Monica: Yeah, but if it’s good news, you should tell him now.
Rachel: I don’t know. Maybe I’ll know when I see him.
Phoebe: Here, look, all right, does this help?
(Phoebe gets up, holds the picture of Ross up to her face.)
Rachel: Noooo… look, all I know is that I cannot wait a week until I see him. I mean, this is just too big. Y’know, I just, I’ve just gotta talk to him. I… I gotta… OK, I’ll see you later. (opens door)
Let’s talk symbols for a few lines. Ross leaves a gift behind for Rachel that he knows will mean the world to her. Then he gets on a plane and leaves. Symbolically we’ve already found the number three, which is reminiscent of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection after having overcome death. Ross leaving on the plane having given Monica the message to not let his son forget him, and having left his gift back for his hoped-for bride, is symbolic of Jesus’s resurrection leaving behind a gift (his spirit/salvation) for his hoped-for bride (the church) and bestowing his instructions to his closest friends (disciples).
Ross-the-Christ-figure goes away, leaving behind his profound gesture of love for Rachel to figure out what to do with and how to respond. Will she love him back? Is that even something she wants? One thing is for certain, and Phoebe spots it, nothing will ever be the same again.
Okay, at this point you’re either nodding your head with me or thinking I’m crazy. I’m currently reading John Granger’s Spotlight which discusses, among other things, how romance stories are used to symbolically convey the Christ story. It is a very interesting read, and he does a much better job explaining all this than I can in one blog post. So, I’ll ask that you just take my word for it for a moment, then go get the book and see if you agree later. 😉
Back to Rachel. She runs to the airport but misses Ross, so she spends the next few days trying to figure out what she is going to do. At one point, she decides that dating Ross is too big a risk. What if it doesn’t work out? So she has Carl, the guy she’s been seeing, over for another date, only things have changed. She can’t stop thinking about Ross and doesn’t see anything in Carl anymore. Leaving Carl to finish drinks by himself (or with Monica) Rachel runs off to the airport, flowers in hand.
Rachel is like the Bride of Christ anxiously awaiting the love of her life, Ross-the-Christ-figure to return and have the wedding banquet. She has decided she wants Ross, has left her old guy (way of life) behind, and is eagerly anticipating her reunion with him. Granted, Christ isn’t bringing a replacement bride back with him, but up until this moment we’ve had a powerful retelling of the love story of Christ and the Church.
You see, Christ is the one who made the gesture and gave the gift that meant the most to us. He’s the one who said, “Don’t let them forget me. Make sure they get this gift once I’m gone. It’s important. I love them.” And we are the ones slowly but surely being made aware of that love. Once we are aware, there is no going back. We must respond. We must choose, yes or now. Yes, I will risk everything and give my heart to Christ. Or no, I won’t.
For your Creator will be your husband;
the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!
He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
the God of all the earth. ~ Isaiah 54:5 NLT
Transcripts from: http://uncutfriendsepisodes.tripod.com/