Only Friends 1×05 Review: Episode 5

I suspected that Only Friends episode 5 would be the calm before the storm, the last episode before everything goes to hell. But I had no idea they wouldn’t even let us get through the entire episode before deciding to torpedo everything! I have been emotionally damaged.

Episode 5 focuses mainly on Sand. He has both the opening and ending narration, and much of the first part of the episode centers around him, his daily routine, and how much Ray has thrown a spanner into the works. It’s been obvious from the beginning that Sand is fully aware of how he feels about Ray and is actively trying to put distance between the two of them. But he just can’t seem to push him away. After episode 4, I thought they were making serious strides.

This episode, even with its ending, was like Christmas come early for me. I love Sand and Ray’s relationship and this episode was candy for my sugar addiction. From the mini makeover montage in the thrift store (even though we didn’t get the tattoo bit) to them completely in their own world at the concert to Sand mooning over Ray’s karaoke (Ray’s song choice, that is 100% intentional, this man knows what he’s doing). It’s not even just those little cute moments; these two actually had serious conversations about important topics, which is something none of the other couples on this show seem to be doing.

My assumption was that the biggest roadblock to Sand and Ray being happy would be Ray himself; he has extremely self-destructive behavior, which is based on the fact that he has spent his entire life believing himself to be a burden. And that still may cause issues for them down the road. But apparently, their biggest hurdle is going to be Boston determined to make everyone miserable.

Seriously, though, what is Boston’s deal? I’m having trouble nailing down his motivation. I could understand him wanting Top, and that’s why he persuaded Ray to confess to Mew. But why bring Ray down? I can’t figure out if he just doesn’t like seeing anyone happy when he isn’t or if he’s somehow punishing Ray for not managing to steal Mew away from Top. (Or he just likes to watch the world burn.)

Whatever the reason, Boston decided to cook with fireworks. Sand was already uncomfortable with the situation because Ray once again reiterated that they were just friends, and Boston continued to needle him. Pressuring Sand into admitting his feelings was bad enough (and I loved the way Sand handled that – “Ask me when I’m sober”), but bringing up Ray’s feelings for Mew… bringing up something that happened two years ago as though it should still be relevant today… I honestly don’t know what’s going on in Boston’s brain.

Unfortunately, what this manages to do is shatter the illusion for Sand. As much as I loved every minute of their scenes in episode 5, every single moment only served to highlight the wealth disparity between Sand and Ray. This is Sand’s life, and Ray is just a tourist, a rich person playing poor for a day because it’s fun. They’re having a nice day, but Ray can’t help making comments that indicate he considers these activities to be beneath him.

And Sand is able to let this slide because their relationship has always been lightly antagonistic anyway, until Boston comes along and tells him that Ray is in love with someone else. Ray’s extreme reaction, devolving immediately to violence, coupled with his repeated insistence that they are not dating, is the last straw. Because for Sand, their relationship was a legitimate possibility. But now he knows that Ray isn’t seriously pursuing him.

On his birthday. Damn, son. And I have to wonder if he isn’t letting Ray explain himself because he worries that Ray will be able to talk his way out of it. After all, Sand can’t say no to Ray.

(Do we think that Sand is actually half-brothers with one of the other guys, yes or no?)

Let’s slide over to Boston and Nick while we’re in the vicinity. The montage of Nick working out contrasted with Top’s morning routine couldn’t make it more obvious that Nick is trying to emulate Top because he thinks that’s what Boston wants. And Boston’s later reaction to Nick’s new wardrobe (slacks and a button-down, like a certain someone), seems to confirm this.

Everything that Boston does feels calculated in retrospect. His sweet moment with Nick in the pool at the hostel just felt like another way to string Nick along. This isn’t the first time that Boston has implied that he may want to elevate Nick’s status, and I couldn’t help but notice that what he describes sounds a lot like dating but he specifically doesn’t use that word.

And once Top and Mew showed up, it came across like Boston was being all flirty with Nick to make Top jealous. (Which, honestly, seemed to work.) Then he finds out that Mew and Top finally slept together, and decides he wants to sleep over at Nick’s for the first time. (Although Nick says that Boston usually bolts as soon as they’re done, which is odd to me because so far all of their encounters looked like they were at Boston’s place.)

Boston seems, in that moment in the pool with Nick, to realize that he’s unhappy. He talks about not wanting to sleep around anymore, and one would think that means he’s ready to leave behind whatever this thing is with Top. But I can’t help but think it’s more about telling Nick what he wants to hear. Especially considering how he acts after Top shows up, and then later after Mew calls him.

As I said before, I’m not entirely sure what Boston thinks he’s doing. At first, he seemed to have a pretty clear motivation, but now it looks like he’s just someone who likes to cause drama for the hell of it. The destruction is not the method of achieving what he wants, it’s the goal.

That little tidbit about one of Boston’s hookups secretly recording them, coupled with his mention last week that his father is running for office, added to the fact that Nick has audio of him having sex with his friend’s boyfriends, all means that something is coming. There’s no way they keep dropping pieces like that without expecting us to put everything together.

Meanwhile, we have Top and Mew in the world’s most confusing relationship. I still can’t get a handle on the timeline, but it’s so odd to me that Top posting a photo on social media makes them official. Were they not official before, even though it’s allegedly been months? Or is there a difference between “official” and “social media official”? (I’m lowkey genuinely asking; I don’t date, so I don’t know these things.)

I saw someone mention that they found Top and Mew performative, and yes, that’s the little thing that’s been niggling me about them. After last week’s episode, I don’t believe that Mew is intentionally manipulating the situation. However, I find myself struggling to view either of them as being 100% genuine in their words and behavior.

This may be because Top isn’t someone who dates, and Mew is wary of Top’s reputation. (When he calls Boston, he says that he feels like if he doesn’t sleep with Top, Top will get bored of him.) If you contrast their dinner date with any of Sand and Ray’s scenes from episode 5 (or even Boston and Nick), Top and Mew seem so stilted and awkward.

Even their first time felt lackluster. This isn’t just their first time as a couple; Mew is supposed to be a virgin, and I don’t think this scene got the emotional weight it deserved. For a series that so far hasn’t shied away from showing us the more intimate scenes, it really strikes me as odd that what should be a really pivotal moment in a character’s life isn’t shown on screen. It’s not that Mew seems to have given that much importance to his virginity, but there was a lot of emphasis on how he was waiting to take that step with Top.

There was a Tumblr post talking about how so far, the only sex scenes that we’ve seen are the ones without any real feelings behind them (Boston’s various hookups, Top and Boston’s revenge sex in the car). In all of the ones that might have some emotion to them (Ray and Sand, Top and Mew), they do a camera pan fade to black. We see the leadup but not the actual act. I don’t know what point I’m trying to make here; I just thought that was interesting.

Why of all people did Mew call Boston before sleeping with Top? It didn’t seem like he was calling for advice or anything. I understand that he couldn’t call Ray, that would make him an ass. But for the love of all that is holy, in that situation, you call the lesbian.

One thing I want to point out is the little moments where Mew notices people flirting with Top. Some people think that these are past lovers of Top’s, but I think these are just people brazenly flirting with him. The focus is on Mew spotting these, and then Top’s reactions. I think these are meant to highlight that, regardless of how he acts, Mew is insecure about the relationship. He absolutely has a reason to be, and I hope this is something that comes back later.

Things are spiraling, and I’m actually starting to get a little worried about how bad things are going to get, considering we still have seven episodes left. (Also, Cheum wasn’t even in this episode! She needs to have a side series where it’s just her and April off being normal and well-adjusted while her friends are being train wrecks.)

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.

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