One thing that is seriously consistent about Quaranthings the Series is my love for the opening sequence and how the production weaves the current and previous episode throughout the entire intro. Long-drawn out introductions that interrupt story flow has always been off-putting for me, but Quaranthings avoids that in a very creative way.
—Edited by TheFNGee
Oh, but here we go. Tighten your seat belt. The ride gets bumpy from here. Episode 4 ended with a beautiful flash-cut love scene, which perfectly set up Episode 5 for the thing I dread most in dramas: the morning after. Post love scenes are either good or bad for the heart. There is generally never an in-between.
The episode opens with Judah and Rocky, their limbs entangled after their night of making love. There is a sense of overwhelming comfort to the entire first minute of the episode. Judah is all smiles when he wakes up, and the comfort and contentment this gave me immediately made me worry that the happy glow surrounding Judah as he greets the day would be dampened by reality. His ‘happy’ was just too happy.
I’ll admit that I was scared of Rocky waking up because I felt he would present the biggest obstacle to their newfound love. Instead, as soon as his eyes fluttered open, he smiles, and all was right in my happy heart world.
Until it wasn’t…
I don’t think I will ever quit bragging about how good the two lead actors are in this series. Their ability to express complex emotions is incredible. For this reason alone, this show deserves to be highly rated.
Royce’s portrayal of Rocky the morning after is a perfect example. One moment, he’s smiling; the next, his expression changes, a subtle shift from happiness to worry, the lines deepening in his face. The worry I’d felt before came rushing back, planting fear into my heart. The deeper the wrinkles in Rocky’s face became trenches, the deeper I dug ditches inside myself in preparation for emotional war.
It’s no secret at this point that I’ve managed to fall in serious love with Judah over the last four episodes, and the thought of his heartbreaking does horrible things to my own heart.
Rocky’s phone rings, and it’s a harbinger of things to come.
Worry is a crazy emotion. It’s like a cloying relative nobody wants to have in their family, the one that calls relentlessly when things seem to be going well. No matter how beautiful making love to Judah had been, no matter how satisfying it was to get lost in that pleasure, Rocky wasn’t going shake this cloying relative ‘worry’ that had become a permanent feature in his life.
Being poor sucks. It just does. Trying to figure out how to pay for everything that needs paying while at the same time assuring the family around you is healthy and happy while you bear the brunt of the pain in silence is a burden no one should have to bear.
I wanted to hold Rocky. He went from basking in the pleasure of Judah’s love for his dad needing medicine and his sister possibly not enrolling in school due to a lack of needed devices. This Pandemic’s pain is real in this drama, a relatable backdrop to this complicated love story.
But, oh, if you’re reading this, I had one serious jubilant moment when Rocky’s sister, Den, in a rush of excitement, told him about her crush on her female classmate, Jessica. Their father supported her in this crush and told her to use those feelings to encourage her own success. Can I gush about this a moment? As a bisexual, I have been degraded on countless occasions for being attracted to the same gender. Hell, even when I was congratulated for it, there were moments when I felt like something was lacking from the people around me. Support when coming out is beautiful. Even more beautiful is when that same support also lifts a person up. I love that Quaranthings took this moment to express not only Rocky’s sister’s excitement over her crush but to utilize her feelings in an encouraging, positive way to light the path before her. Bravo, Quaranthings, bravo.
But, oh, Quaranthings, why did you lift me up so high with Jessica’s parental approved bliss only to drop me so hard afterward?
Remember how I said I was pretty sure I couldn’t bear Judah’s heart being broken? Yeah, well, I went from wanting to hold Rocky during his phone conversation with his sister to gently strangling him. Gently, because I still love him, but strangling because Judah’s face when Rocky tells his sister he is alone destroyed me.
Actually, I have a whole list of reasons I wanted to strangle Rocky gently, and they go a little like this:
- Avoidance of the night before
- Complete mutilation of the smiley face Judah made on the egg he cooked for Rocky’s breakfast.
- Avoidance of the night before
- Avoidance of the night before, and finally,
- Avoidance of the night before.
Did I mention the avoidance of the night before? Pretending something didn’t happen doesn’t erase the fact it did.
I cried for Judah. As much as I empathized with Rocky’s financial and emotional state, I cried for Judah. Falling in love with someone for the first time, especially someone of the same gender when you’ve been told it’s a sin and that no one will ever love you, is a huge step. To lose your virginity to said person is an even bigger emotional leap. I wept for Judah.
Kyo’s portrayal of Judah’s heartbreaking moment was epic. I felt it in my toes.
Now, let’s talk about character growth. For being a member of a well off family, Judah is surprisingly mature. Many people believe that maturity comes from struggle. I’m a testament to the fact that this isn’t always the case. As a matter of fact, sometimes it’s the opposite. When people are forced to mature too quickly because of circumstances, they lose the chance to be young. They lose their childhoods. Later, that loss can sometimes surface in childish outbursts, in fits of temper they always had to suppress growing up. Rocky is a prime example of that, and Judah calls him out on it.
“You’re the one who’s acting childish! How am I the brat?”
I felt that, Judah. Really.
Then came the moment that had me doing a standing ovation on my living room couch.
“It’s 2020! Gender is fluid. Homophobia is so outdated.”
To the writers and producers of Quaranthings, thank you even if I did end up sobbing a minute later because of Judah and his continually crushed heart.
I mean, can we give his heart a little break, please? Just a small one?
Weirdly, the phone calls in episode five provided the moments I wanted to celebrate the most. First, the phone call with Rocky’s sister and the phone call Judah has with his best friend. Clingyness is a pet peeve of mine, especially in dramas where the main character is so desperate he/she/they doesn’t give the other character a chance to breathe, to figure things out. In his phone conversation with his best friend, Judah asks for advice, and “don’t be clingy” is the immediate response he gets. The best friend gets serious bonus points for this. All previous grievances are forgiven.
Production-wise, this show has only gotten better and better with each new episode. The music, the transitions, and the surrounding environment’s use to augment emotion have steadily improved. Judah’s heartbreak and loneliness are symbolically amplified by the Pandemic, canceled food, and incoming rain. Judah wants to strike out on his own, to prove to his family that he can succeed without their help and judgment, but this journey doesn’t come without obstacles.
In an ironic twist, Judah seems to be embracing his problems while Rocky is running away from them.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sadder goodbye than that one word.
Episode 5 ends on an emotional low. Judah coughs, his face flushed, as Rocky gets ready to leave for home. It’s obvious Judah is falling ill, probably brought on by all of the tears, the rain, and lack of food.
Oddly, Judah getting sick may be my only complaint about this episode. For a series that has been largely trope free, the onset of sudden illness is somewhat typical of romantic dramas when two lovers are about to separate. With Judah, it feels more believable than it does in other dramas I’ve seen. Mainly because the acting is above par, but I have yet to get seriously sick in my life over a breakup, even after days of continuous sobbing. Unless you count a swollen face, red nose, and the loss of a few pounds, I’ve never gotten genuinely sick in a twenty-four hour period from a broken heart. Days later, maybe, but not in a single day.
However, considering this show is taking place during the Pandemic, which adds a heightened element of fear to this drama that didn’t exist before the Coronavirus, there is always that niggling thought, “Could it be COVID?” That alone changes the game. Illnesses, in a COVID-saturated world, may no longer be simple illnesses, and that’s alarming.
Quaranthings: the Series is doing it all right. From the acting to the topics to the selection of the main leads. With only a few episodes left to go, I am becoming increasingly confident this will be a top favorite.
Judah’s vision is distorted; the room blurring, and the flashback voice-overs are coupled with a round of ringing in his ears. It feels like the beginning of a nightmare, and in many ways, it is. It’s a “heart devouring” nightmare.
Episode 6 of Quaranthing the Series presents a very sick Judah lost in a sea of tinnitus-embedded thoughts and fever-ridden memories.
A future questioned.
It’s a sobering beginning, made even more powerful by the way it weaves it into the intro. I know I keep mentioning the whole “scene weaving into intro” thing in my reviews, but it really is a creative and super engaging way to start an episode. It is one of the things I am going to remember the most about this series and something I hope the show’s creators consider for other series moving forward.
As if it’s happening in a dream, Rocky cradles Judah in his lap, nursing him through his high fevers.
While I am happy to see Rocky hasn’t left and that this episode opens with him taking care of Judah, I admit I still find it lacks something for me when a script uses a sudden illness to fix a bigger problem. Rocky is leaving, so let’s make Judah ill so that he’s forced to stay. However, this is a picky personal preference and does not diminish this show’s quality in the least. If anything, the quality continuously gets better. The actors in this series have long since become comfortable with their characters, wearing their personas like finely fitted gloves. Every emotion and piece of dialogue is delivered in a believable and impactful way, and I will now watch anything in which Royce and Kyo are playing.
The way Rocky smiles at Judah when he wakes up from his fevers healed a piece of my broken heart. Sickness, however, doesn’t erase the problems the two of them need to face, and the fact that Rocky returned because he felt guilty is a clear sign things are not where they need to be for conciliation.
While I generally don’t like when an illness is used to move a relationship forward, I do like that, in this particular case, it makes sense in a way it wouldn’t in some dramas. Since this show is airing during a Pandemic, I feel like the illness helps bring attention to the virus. It gets people talking about COVID and how millions will eventually die from it. Too many people are not taking the virus seriously enough, especially in the U.S., where I live, and I am always pleased when I see it’s not being covered up but instead explored. Quaranthings explores it, embedding the fear that the illness Judah may have battled is COVID-19.
The dynamics and chemistry between Rocky and Judah are seriously tense and strong. From the very beginning of this drama, when Judah practically choked on his pooling drool over the sight of Rocky’s exposed abs in Episode 1, the chemistry has never faltered. Even at this point in the series, as they continuously avoid what has happened between them, the heat is intense. It makes every scene so much more emotionally enticing. I thought Judah’s heart being broken would be what hurt me the most in this episode, but I found watching Judah attempt to protect his heart a lot more painful than the actual heartbreak.
The pain gets worse.
In an emotional way, not in a bad drama kind of way. This drama is amazing. It is ripping me to pieces, but that is what I love the most about it.
Rocky accepting money and food from Lolly, Judah’s grandmother, was the nail in my heart’s coffin. By all intents and purposes, it appears early on in this episode that Judah is a job Rocky is getting paid to do, and while I understand Rocky’s financial need, it simply hurt to see him accept the basket Lolly sent. However, he does redeem himself later when he uses the money to buy things for Judah instead.
Episode 6 focuses a little more on Rocky and his confusion. The apparent pain he is dealing with closing the divide that Episode 5 created for us with his erratic, hurtful behavior. His father’s phone call gives us yet another peek into the encouraging, loving parent he has despite their financial problems. No parent likes having to depend on their children for support, especially when they feel that support is hurting the child.
In Episode 5, Rocky’s father is visibly trying to loosen the noose of burden wrapped around Rocky’s heart, and it really hit way too close to home for me.
Judah has already broken my heart, and I feel like Rocky will break what’s left of it. Just when Judah has built a fortress around his developing emotions, it seems Rocky is willing to step out of the safety of his own stubborn walls. Only Judah is now rebounding, turning to Glenn.
I may or may not have thrown my tablet onto my bed at the end of this episode. The frustration is real. I understand both Rocky and Judah’s pain, which is why seeing them seesaw and hurt each other cuts even deeper. However, I still have this odd feeling that Glenn doesn’t fit the story somehow. He felt unnecessary before, and in a small way, he still does. I feel like it would make more sense for Judah to reach out to a stranger than someone he knows he could hurt later. It also seemed wrong to have Glenn face-to-face with Judah in the middle of a pandemic when all of them have been, up until this point, quarantining alone, with family, or with roommates. Not to mention, we still aren’t sure what illness Judah fought. Was there a two week “I am no longer contagious if it was COVID” time jump I missed somewhere?
And oh, how I now hurt for Rocky.
Like the previous episode, Episode 6 ended on an emotional low with Rocky’s startled eyes looking on a scene with Glenn holding Judah. With only a couple of episodes left, I fear the explosion I feel is coming won’t be far away.
Rocky and Judah have completely captured my heart, their struggles, and the chemistry between them, igniting a fire inside me. For those still considering watching, don’t hesitate. Quaranthings the Series is worth every single second, even the frustrating ones.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. [See our Review Guide]