This year, I began rewatching Friends (thank you Netflix!). I don’t have many memories of the show coming to an end in 2004; I was 16 years old at the time and remember liking it and not much else. So how does the finale stack up 14 years later and after I’ve reviewed quite a few series finales? Well let me tell you, it’s just PERFECT.
A Decade of Love
Ross and Rachel have always been an integral part of the show’s DNA, so it’s only natural that The Last One would circle back to the iconic duo. The manner in which it tackles the relationship is actually inspired. The two have one last night of passion and Ross soon realizes (with Phoebe’s help) that he must stop his one true love from leaving the country. Now Friends hasn’t always known what to do with Phoebe Buffay; she was a standout character in the early years with her unique personality and kooky behavior, but there were times (much like Joey and his increased idiocy over the years), where she started to turn into a caricature. This finale is actually an awesome showcase for the character because she’s instrumental in getting Ross to the airport in her death cab. Whether she’s screaming at Ross to grab his nonexistent coat, or almost running over old ladies on the highway, Lisa Kudrow is an absolute hoot the whole way through. And the cherry on top? The show wisely pays off Phoebe’s alter-ego Regina Phalange with the plane-Phalange fiasco. Epic!
And well, Jennifer Anniston’s delivery of “I got off the plane” when she finally appears behind Ross is just unforgettable isn’t it? Say what you will about the show’s handling of Ross and Rachel across ten seasons, the writer sure knew how to stick the landing. This is a truly satisfying conclusion to their crazy story.
A Double Surprise
Although Monica and Chandler aren’t the primary focus of the finale, I often enjoyed their unique relationship even more than Ross and Rachel’s. In fact, the duo hiding their relationship from the rest of the gang was probably peak Friends quality, so it’s extremely gratifying to see them finally become parents. The twist with the twins is also a fantastic way to bring out Monica’s neurotic tendencies and Chandler’s insecurities one last time.
It’s worth mentioning that Courtney Cox was severely underrated throughout the show’s run. Out of the six stars, she’s the only one who was never nominated for an Emmy Award – which even Cox herself found hurtful. As far as I’m concerned, she deserved the recognition as much as anybody else. What a shame!
One Depressing Goodbye
And then there’s that final scene. There’s a genuine feeling of hollowness watching the gang leave the apartment one last time after getting so invested in their adventures over the course of decade. Even the comedy that contrasts the misery (each of the friends reveals that they have a key to the apartment) is bittersweet. Although I dread rewatching it, it’s a flawless closer to the story.
Bits & Buddies
– Courtney Cox’s face when she finds out another baby is on the way? Priceless.
– Gunther finally professes his love to Rachel. Ross’s reaction in the background is a hoot.
– With everything this finale has to accomplish, it still manages to drop an insanely effective twist: Ross and Phoebe went to the wrong airport! I still remember how shocked I was the first time I watched this bombshell unfold.
– Obviously, Courtney Cox was pregnant throughout filming as evidenced by all the loose clothes. It’s especially evident in part two when she breaks down the foosball table (another iconic piece of the show’s history).
– Joey thinks the chick and the duck are in a farm somewhere far away that he can’t visit (as per Phoebe’s “rules”). Shocking.
– Joey and Chandler’s goodbye hug and handshake is really moving isn’t it?
– Anna Farris does a good job as Erica. She’s not one of the all-time great guest-stars (think Christina Applegate who was hysterical as Rachel’s sister or Maggie Wheeler’s legendary Janice), but she does a fine job with what she’s given.
– The final joke of the series is on-point: Rachel asks the gang if they want to have one last coffee and Chandler asks “Where?”. Ouch!
Monica: I can’t believe it’s three weeks early. I love that our baby is prompt!
Chandler: Did you see the size of the thing that was coming out of that woman? I couldn’t tell who was giving birth to who!
Monica: You’re gonna be fine.
Chandler: Tell that to the lady in 702 with the toddler coming out of her.
Chandler: Next time, can I say breathe?
Monica: No, last time you said it like Dracula, and it scared her!
Chandler: So, you ever wonder which is worse, you know; going through labor or getting kicked in the nuts?
Chandler: Well, it’s just interesting. You know, because no one will ever know, because no one can experience both. One of life’s great, unanswerable questions. I mean, who knows? Maybe there’s something even more painful than those things? Like this.
Phoebe: I have a definite feeling it’s gonna be a girl.
Ross: Phoebe, you were sure Ben was gonna be a girl.
Phoebe: Have you seen him throw a ball?
Chandler: It’s a baby! A beautiful little baby! And some other stuff I’m gonna pretend I don’t see.
Monica: (to her baby) I’m gonna love you so much that no woman is ever gonna be good enough for you!
Doctor: (to Erica) Well, you don’t have that much time to relax. The other one will be along in a minute.
Monica: I’m sorry, the who should be along in a what now?
Doctor: The next baby should be along in a minute.
Monica: We only ordered one!
Monica: Chandler, you’re panicking!
Chandler: Ah-ha join me, won’t you?
Monica: Okay, what if the person who adopts the other one is horrible?
Chandler: What if they’re not? What if it’s adopted by a king?
Monica: Yeah, because I hear the king is looking to adopt.
Joey: You can’t just give up! Is that what a dinosaur would do?
Joey: Dude, I’m just trying to speak your language.
Phoebe: Do you know how many hot guys there are in Paris? It’s a city of Gunthers!
Mike: Wanna make one of those?
Phoebe: One? How about a whole bunch?
Phoebe: Yeah! Ooh, we could teach them to sing, and we can be like the Von Trapp family! Only without the Nazis. Although that sounds kinda dull.
Ross; There’s no seatbelt!
Phoebe: That’s okay. If we hit anything, the engine will explode, so you know, it’s better if you’re thrown from the car.
Monica: Oh great, just what you want for a new house with infants… bird feces.
Monica: Oh God! What did I just step on?
Chandler: It’s okay, it’s just an egg roll.
Joey: You stepped on my egg roll?
Monica: I’m sorry, I didn’t know to look for Chinese food on the floor!
Joey: Just put it on a plate and leave!
Phoebe: Have you never chased anyone through the airport before?
Ross: Not since my cop-show got cancelled.
Rachel: Okay, I can’t find it, but I remember that I was in seat 32C, because that’s my bra-size.
Employee: Madame, you must have your boarding pass.
Rachel: Okay, fine but you know what if I was in 36D, we would not be having this problem.
Joey: I could get a goose!
Chandler: You know, I think you’re set with the poultry.
Employee: Ma’am, I assure you, the plane is fine.
Woman: And you fixed the phalange?
Employee: Yes, the phalange is fixed. As a matter of fact, we put a whole lot of extra phalanges onboard, just in case.
Joey: (about the apartment) Has it always been purple?
Rachel: Okay, should we get some coffee?
Chandler: Sure. Where?
Not only is The Last One a very funny episode of television, it’s a very clever hour packed with callbacks to the show’s iconic past and an extremely emotional ending. A perfect series finale in every way.