Clues indicate a romance for Phoebe and Ross. And, you heard it here: Ken Tucker predicts three marriages by next season

By Ken Tucker
Updated March 08, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST
Friends: Warner Bros.

Clues indicate a romance for Phoebe and Ross

I have an obvious theory but I’m stickin’ with it: By the time ”Friends” ends after its next season, it’ll be ”Marrieds”– that is, in addition to Monica and Chandler, Joey will marry Rachel, and Ross will marry Phoebe. I was shy about mentioning this theory until last night’s episode, which planted what I think is a clue. The premise of the scene was that Lisa Kudrow’s Phoebe was reading tea-leaves at the coffee shop, and when she read her own, the fortune foretold that she would soon meet the man of her dreams. Who was the next guy to walk in the door? Ross. Oh, sure, they swerved away from this fact to turn the moment into a subplot between Phoebe and another guy giving her the eye (James LeGros, who with scraggly hair looked much more le-grosser than he did on ”Ally McBeal”), but I think it’s a portent of things to come. Mark it down: Ross and Phoebe.

Otherwise, this was a typically swift-moving episode, one that used last week’s tension-builder — Matt LeBlanc’s Joey telling Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel he loved her, and her not responding in kind — to build a nice, ”Seinfeld”-esquely absurd sub-plot. At a loss for conversation with Joey, Rachel says the first thing that pops into her head: that her boss wants to buy her baby. And Joey reacts just as we’d hope our sweet Joey would react: with dumb outrage, confronting the boss, with a nice twist at the end.

Speaking of twists, what was up with that Alec Baldwin cameo near the conclusion? As a set-up for a flirtation arc with Phoebe, the writing was unusually flat, and Baldwin (unnamed in the episode, but dubbed ”Parker” in the credits) just doesn’t seem the kind of guy — middle-aged-bulky — who would so immediately send Phoebe’s heart fluttering, as he apparently did.

The best thing about last night was the welcome return of Ross’ recent but ex-girlfriend, Mona (the charming Bonnie Somerville, an actress who really would have made a better lead in the new post-”Friends” comedy ”Leap of Faith”). Her brief scenes with a happily slapsticky David Schwimmer had a crackle that Ross’ character needs these days. More Mona, please.