In my previous two episode reviews, I failed to mention how much I love the way Quaranthings the Series opens. The opener isn’t memorable because of its music. Nor is it remarkable because of complex animation. What is beautiful about the opening is how it interjects recapped scenes with actor introductions, making the opening feel more like a part of the drama than a drawn-out intro a viewer would normally fast-forward through to get to the story. This is even more striking in Episode 3 when the intro recaps the beautiful hug from the previous episode before opening with the line, “There are so many problems in the world that can be erased with a simple hug.”
—Edited by TheFNGee
Judah has earned my love. There’s always the possibility I’ll dislike him for some reason later, but for now, he’s earned my devotion with a single embrace. Because, in my home growing up, nothing healed woes better than hugs and tea. Side note: If Judah offers tea later, Rocky may need to worry about his place as my favorite.
This episode will remain forever immortalized in my memory because of the opening hug that ended in Judah standing in a stairwell, talking down his raging hard-on. I laughed out loud on this one, and I did find it so endearing, laughingly so. Only to be thrown straight into another emotional moment between the leads.
Hug→Hard-on. An emotional recounting of Rocky’s mother’s death. Why does this work so well? It’s like being caught in someone’s clenched fist, the grip tightening, loosening, and then tightening again.
Episode 3 marks the first time I cried while watching this series. In 2015, I lost my mother. She was my best friend – my Everything. Rocky’s memory of his mother’s peaceful corpse hit incredibly close to home, to the way I felt when I stared at my mother’s lifeless body. Why wouldn’t she get up? Why did she have to look so peaceful lying there? Didn’t she understand how much it hurt me?
Rocky’s tears became my tears, and just like in the drama, it was Judah who wiped them away, the inner understanding dialogue that followed comforting my broken heart. Oh, how my feelings for this drama have changed with each passing episode. I will admit that watching Quaranthings the Series was not high on my priority list because I’ve been disappointed so much lately by the mass BL content releasing. I was wrong to ignore it.
Production quality issues aside, the acting and storytelling grow stronger with each episode, as does the relationship between Rocky and Judah, their friendship full of quips and cute banter.
It’s worthy to note that the people behind the scenes are obviously paying attention to detail. In a Pandemic world, we’ve all gotten used to walking around in nothing except pajamas and underwear because there’s no reason to dress up to please anyone. Except maybe your pets, and they don’t care whether you’re clothed or naked as long as they’re fed. The scene where Judah is taking a picture of Rocky for Rocky’s resume is realistically endearing. From the waist up, Rocky is all business, while from the waist down, he’s ready for bed. Prime quarantine wardrobe.
The love is in the details.
From the slow-motion camera action to the longing stares and innocent smiles, Rocky and Judah are the epitomai of two people slowly falling for each other, but I fear it’s going to come with a lot of pain. Their social status doesn’t matter. Whether rich or poor, they have their own individual hurts.
The beauty is in the script.
I have complete respect for the screenwriter behind this drama. There is nothing more profound than a point being driven into a moment by repetition, especially if it’s done well. In this episode, it’s Rocky’s birthday. He and Judah have celebrated with alcohol, ending the night sitting next to each other when they suddenly start spouting off things they expected would happen in their lives but didn’t.
“I thought …” said Rocky
“I thought …” said Judah.
They continue on this way until the episode suddenly ends with Judah’s profound confession. While I admit, I have not been a fan of the music until this point, the song for this scene is perfection. The dialogue is perfection. The emotions and realistic acting is perfection.
Remember how I said Judah didn’t leave the best impression on me in the first episode. Forget I ever said it because Episode 3 left me with nothing except Judah feels. The use of his inner narrative and his careful understanding in this episode was a game-changer. Not to mention, Kyo’s acting in this episode is flawless. It’s like he found his stride, and I am excited to see what he does with it.
Quaranthings the Series is the perfect example of a drama where storytelling and acting can carry a series, no matter the production cost.
Thus far, however, this drama is fast working its way toward my favorites list.
Quaranthings the Series’s brilliance is how it transitions so smoothly between one human emotion to another without disconnecting the viewer. Episode 3 ended on an emotional high, filling my heart with adoration over Judah’s heartfelt confession. I was on cloud nine, my romantic soul soaring. But where Episode 3 left me flying, Episode 4 completely grounded me, opening with a scene that left me crying tears of laughter rather than emotional sniffles. And yet, something about how they shift the emotional atmosphere from one endearing feeling to another manages to connect me even more to the characters.
“I don’t know what it is about you, but I feel like you’re the right one,” Judah says.
I’m pretty sure my facial expression matched Rocky’s following that line. Kyo’s portrayal of Judah here is incredibly free and likable. Confession scenes, especially scenes centered around coming out to someone, can be hard to pull off. Especially when the character being confessed to is, by all appearances, straight. There’s a fine line between expressing feelings and coming off as pushy in this type of situation. The “I want to court you” scene isn’t new to BLs, but Judah’s confession makes it feel new, and that is a feat all its own. He is charming and funny, his smile friendly, and his demeanor hopeful without ever coming across as too much. Especially considering Judah and Rocky have just imbibed alcohol. There’s scary freedom to being tipsy because alcohol tends to take away inhibitions, but it can also leave room for aggressive behavior or taking things too far. With Judah, his friendly banter with Rocky is the perfect drunk confession, leaving no doubt to his feelings but ending with the two of them playfully wrestling with each other. Their friendship is beautiful, even with Judah’s obvious growing feelings.
Then Quaranthings the Series does it again, taking me from a scene full of affectionate banter to an emotional one. Judah is lying in bed, praying that God would make his grandmother, Lolly, see that it’s okay to be the way Judah is. Anyone who has ever come out to a family member who opposes their sexuality knows how helpless and devastated this makes them feel. I’ve been there, and Judah’s internal monologue is heartbreaking.
If you have read my review of Episode 3, you may remember me comparing Quaranthings the Series’ emotional transitions to a closed fist that tightens and loosens then tightens again. This series basically holds my heart in its fist. The prayer scene transitions so smoothly between Judah’s heart-rending plea to God to Rocky’s own prayer.
“Hi, Jesus. Is this your birthday gift to me, or is this a prank? I prayed for a friend. You might have gone a little overboard here,” Rocky prays.
I went from sniffling over Judah’s prayer to snorting my coffee over Rocky’s in one quick minute. This kind of transition is a clever and beautiful manipulation of human emotions.
“Are you courting me or mocking me?” Rocky asks the next morning. The two are in the kitchen, and their flirtatious teasing is as light as it has been since the beginning.
“Can’t I do both?” Judah replies.
I adore that Judah is attracted to Rocky but doesn’t turn into a simpering character too afraid to tease the person for whom he has feelings. It keeps their friendship strong, even though that line from friend to potential boyfriend has obviously been crossed. Even more refreshing is that Rocky takes it all in stride, completely mellow about spending the day on a “date” with Judah. Inside the house, of course. Thanks to the Pandemic.
Judah courted me in Episode 4 as much as he courted Rocky. Their interactions are light and playful but also deep and thought-provoking. Like the “I want to court you” confession scenes, date scenes are also not new to the BL genre, but again, Quaranthings makes it feel new. Let’s be honest; we express interest in the people we find ourselves attracted to. I personally believe in attraction at first sight, more than I do love at first sight. In Episode 1, when Judah visibly drools over Rocky’s abs (I was right there with him), we see his attraction. But it is friendship that carries a relationship. Friendship builds a strong foundation, and Quaranthings creates that foundation for the viewers. We get peeks into Judah and Rocky’s personal lives and struggles as they share them with each other and internally through their individual narratives, and it makes every stare and every playful, flirtatious comment that much more potent.
That fist, the one I keep referring to, tightens at unexpected moments, and I find myself forgetting to breathe. The “sardine” dinner scene left my heart a clenched mess, mainly because I feel I understand both of these characters so well. I’ve been where Rocky is – my family was poor growing up. Starting at sixteen, my twin sister and I lived on our own, sending the money we were able to spare to help with bills and school so that we could, hopefully, go to college. Too many sleepless nights were spent staring at the ceiling, worrying.
The same understanding I have for Rocky also goes for Judah. While Judah’s personal strife isn’t financial in nature like Rocky’s, his coming out to his grandmother is a painful reminder that there are people in our lives who see us as a sin that can be prayed away – that we need to be fixed. No one should ever have to feel that way simply because of Love. Love is Love. Who we love is a personal and beautiful thing that should be celebrated. But I’ve been where Judah is, and the pain leaves an imprint on the heart that never truly fades.
From emotional revelations to an enjoyable inside “beach party,” Judah and Rocky pulled me into their lives and then healed my heart with the kind of fun friends and potential lovers should have together.
Excuse me a moment, everyone. I have to speak with Judah … “Oh, Judah, how far the two of us have come together. You might even be my favorite character now. The overachiever in you may have been a little disconcerting in the beginning, but the PowerPoint boyfriend presentation you made put you on a whole new level.”
I apologize for my breach of protocol, asking the fictional Judah to break the fourth wall and converse with me; it’s very necessary. He creates a “Five Reasons Why I should be your Boyfriend” slide show, and I was dying. Dying, I tell you, but in a good way. He makes some valid points, too.
- We’re already living together.
- I can satisfy all your needs.
- I can give you professional services for free. 24/7.
- I don’t cheat.
- We’re alike – on the inside.
Rocky, however, isn’t as impressed by the slide show as I was. Maybe if Judah had left off the fifth point, things would have gone better, but I liked that Judah saw a bit of himself in Rocky despite their differences. Rocky pushes Judah away (I think more to protect himself than anything), and the scene transitions from the fun moments before to a crying Judah on the phone.
This is the first time I felt the conversation between Besh and Judah wasn’t awkward. It was real and touching. Judah sees something special in Rocky that Rocky himself doesn’t see, and it hurts Judah that Rocky doesn’t see it.
The camera pans out, and suddenly the viewer realizes Rocky is on the other side of the wall listening to Judah’s tearful conversation. Also, new revelations are revealed through past text messages Rocky exchanged with his mother before her death as he stares at his phone. It is this scene that caused me to question everything I thought I knew about Rocky. What secrets is he hiding? Does he feel the same way as Judah? Could he even be gay?
The episode closes with a poignant love scene that cuts in and out, creating an intimate moment between the two after their alcoholic revelations. I admit, as much as I love a good love scene, I have become worn out by the BLs that insert them simply for a steamy element they believe will sell well. With Quaranthings the Series, however, the love scene did not feel forced. It felt natural, and it served two important purposes. It was the perfect conclusion to the building tension in the first three episodes and becoming the opening tension to the turmoil I feel is coming.
“I like you,” Judah says as they embrace each other.
“I love you, too,” Rocky replies.
Two sentences by two different people. Two potent emotions. One startling realization for Judah.
Wait, did Rocky say love? Judah is not prepared for that word. Neither was I.
What does this mean? Does Rocky really have these types of feelings for Judah? When did they start? Have they been there for a while? Has he been watching Judah for quite some time, or does he just fall fast and hard? Or is drunkenness behind the reason for Rocky’s tongue slip?
Episode 4 left me with a lot of feels and a lot of questions. I am more invested in Rocky and Judah’s story now than ever. My favorites list is beckoning. Could Quaranthings the Series make it on that list? Bring it on, Episode 5; I have a lot of questions, and I need answers.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. [See our Review Guide]