After weeks of dysfunction, backstabbing, and betrayal, it looks like our gang of friends and frenemies are starting to mature. There’s healthy communication, sticking up for yourself, acknowledging you’re engaging in destructive behavior, and recognizing that you need to let someone go for both your sakes. Considering there are still three episodes left, I’m honestly lowkey terrified of what’s going to happen next.
We’re going to start with Ray and Sand because I literally died due to their scenes. I am writing this from beyond the grave. (There is wi-fi, so I’ve got that going for me.) It’s probably because it was First and Khaotung, but I’ve been on the SandRay train since the beginning. Ray’s behavior over the past few episodes have soured the pairing for me, but episode 9 goes a long way into making things better.
He’s still not entirely off the hook, though.
Their first scene, once again in the music room (mirroring episode 8), could either be controlling or romantic depending on context. Ray’s line of, “You walked into my life, I’m not letting you walk out”, paired with his behavior in the previous episode, definitely smacks of possession. But I don’t think Ray meant it that way; I think Ray doesn’t have that many people who are really on his side anymore. He’s an addict, and I think his friends’ actions are meant to indicate that they’re tired of his behavior, but we haven’t seen this for ourselves. We just see someone with a problem and friends who are dismissive and sometimes hostile about it. Sand genuinely cares about Ray, to the point that even when they were fighting, he did his best to make sure Ray didn’t get arrested.
Sand keeps sticking up for himself and then immediately undermining his own declarations. I do appreciate that he’s able to articulate his issues, though. When Ray calls and says he’s coming over, Sand hangs up on him. He tells Ray that while he may like Sand, and Sand may like him, he doesn’t intend to wait around for him. (And then he immediately waits for him; I know it’s different circumstances but I feel like that’s so indicative of their relationship.) He has firmly stated, on more than one occasion, that he has feelings and Ray needs to treat him better.
I loved all of their scenes, ok. Like a ridiculous amount. That kiss in the music room was fire; there was so much tension in that scene. Ray showing up at the camper and inserting himself into Sand and Nick’s sleepover, throwing a leg over Sand and just telling them both to go to sleep? Comedic genius. Two dudes chilling in a river two feet apart, fully clothed, because they are gay? Perfection. That scene in the camper? Ray tenderly kissing Sand on the cheek not once but twice? Yes, thank you, this is how I died.
What I have wanted for a while is for Ray to make a conscious effort to choose Sand over Mew. Way back in episode 3, when Ray took Mew’s call while with Sand, it obviously bothered Sand, even though he brushed it off. With Ray now “dating” Mew, it feels to Sand like Ray made his choice… Yet he keeps coming back to Sand. I think this is because, subconsciously, Ray knew that he and Mew weren’t really together, and he, on some level, knew that he wanted to be with Sand. We also learn later that Mew called Ray while he was with Sand and Ray didn’t answer; this is something I would have liked to have seen, if only to have the definite proof that Ray was choosing Sand. Mew does affirm this himself (“I’m glad you chose Sand”) but I still wanted to see it. And I wanted to see Sand seeing it.
Speaking of Mew and Ray, I loved their conversation at the end of the episode. Most of the fandom, I feel, understood that Mew was using Ray to get back at Top. It’s nice to hear him acknowledge that. There have definitely been times over this series where I wonder how and why these people are friends, but that scene made me understand. These are two people who genuinely care for each other, but a romantic relationship is just not going to work. (It might have, before Ray met Sand and Mew met Top, but we’ll never know now.) Ray being able to joke about Mew missing out was a nice touch, considering his extreme reaction to being shut down earlier in the episode.
I also appreciate that Mew admitted to Cheum that he was questioning himself after what happened with Top, so he wanted to try being a different person for a while. After everyone blamed Ray for Mew’s behavior in the previous episode, I like that Mew took the time to be like, “No, that was a conscious choice I made.”
I actually started liking Top this episode. I know, I’m surprised, too, but he’s really growing as a character. After the way he took care of Mew in the previous episode, he even stuck around to clean up after the party – something that none of the actual owners of the hostel bothered to do. And I appreciate the conundrum he was in after walking in on Ray and Sand kissing; he knows how Mew feels about that, but at the same time, if he tries to bring it up, it’s going to look like he’s doing it out of spite or revenge. In the end, he doesn’t go to Mew with it, he just tries to be there for Mew.
However, just when Mew is going to give Top a second chance, in comes the ex! Fans have been waiting for Boeing to make an appearance since he was mentioned. The prevailing theory was that Boeing is the ex that Top stole from Sand, however, there seems to be no indication (so far) that this is anything more than fan theory. So far there’s nothing that implies any wrongdoing on Top’s part. We saw earlier in the episode that he didn’t want to rely on his sleeping pills, and he called someone for help. He certainly didn’t call Mew, so it’s likely that he called Boeing. I’d like to say that they are still on friendly terms, but pre-Mew Top does not seem like someone who would have stayed friends with an ex.
On the subject of exes, Nick’s “breakup” speech to Boston felt really awkward to me. I know a lot of people liked it, because it showed that Nick truly did understand what kind of person Boston was and was ok with it (which I was not expecting based on his behavior in the first couple of episodes). But I still think it’s weird that he followed him to a bathroom so he could interrupt a hookup rather than trying to talk to him in a more organic situation. I also disagree with some of his points, namely that his friends love him the way he is. (I’m sure they did, before Boston slept with Mew’s pseudo-boyfriend just because he felt like it and then didn’t see the issue when confronted.) Boston’s response, however, does show that he still has feelings for Nick, even as he tries to push them down. Neo’s acting was very impressive here; you could almost literally see him thawing.
I’ve seen some people suggest that Boston knows what a good thing he had with Nick after having to deal with Atom, who is like Nick turned up to 11. And Atom, honestly, got on my nerves right away. As Cheum’s brother, he should know full well the type of person Boston is, yet he still expected Boston to fall in love with him after having sex once? Also, he’s acting like he’s in love with Boston, which I would feel more sympathy for if we saw any hint of that the other times we’ve met Atom, which have been very few. Is Boston really that good in bed that everyone falls all over themselves to be with him?
- Sand and Nick as Team Second Option was just the best. I kind of loved the fakeout kiss because I’ve seen a lot of people suggest that they should be endgame and I disagree. I love their friendship and I think it’s important, when your relationships are so messed up, to have friends that you can count on. I also love that they apparently had to get out of town because they knew they couldn’t resist Ray and Boston if they were in the same vicinity.
- That’s the third time Ray has suggested a threesome. I’ve seen a lot of people going, “Give the man his threesome!” But I also saw someone comment that they think Ray does that as a way to drive off anyone potentially interested in Sand. I bet if someone actually accepts, he’ll be annoyed that he has to share. Just look at how he cuddled up to Sand and turned his back on Nick; he had no interest in a threesome.
- Not going to lie, lowkey bummed that Boeing isn’t Mix. We were trying to manifest that and it didn’t work. (That said, if Boeing isn’t also Sand’s ex, we could still get another ex and that ex could still be Mix…)
As I said, there are still three episodes left, so there is still plenty of time for things to go pear-shaped. But this may genuinely be my favorite episode of this show (so far). As fun as it’s been watching everything get messy, I do so enjoy some healthy communication.
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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