Friends Central

"The One With The Flashback" is the sixth episode of the third season of Friends, which aired on NBC on October 31, 1996. After the friends reminisce about a time 3 years ago where the original cast; Monica, Ross and Phoebe, meet poster boy Joey for the first time as Chandler's new roommate. At this point, the friends hang out at a bar that will later be turned into Central Perk. The news of the conversion of the bar is revealed during the episode. 


The episode begins with the friends sitting in the coffeehouse talking to Janice. Janice asks whether any of the group have slept together and if so, with who. When they deny that any of them have, she asks if any of them have "almost...", leading to the flashback.

The flashback takes place 3 years ago, exactly 1 year before the premierePhoebe has just moved out of Monica's apartment, but has not told her cause of how she might feel. She has been sneaking out every night and sneaking back in every morning, spending the past week at her grandmother's apartment. Chandler is trying to find a new roommate with little luck. Ross and Carol are having problems in their marriage. Ross thinks that this is cause Carol does not have any other friends, but he is optimistic because she just met a woman at the gym, Susan Bunch, and they bonded well.

In 1993, when Central Perk was a bar.

The gang discovers that the bar is being converted into a coffee house. Rachel enters the bar for drinks with her friends. They celebrate the fact that in a year she will marry Barry. Rachel feels hesitant, saying that she wants one last fling with the next guy that she sees. Chandler overhears this and immediately interrupts her conversation by dropping a pool ball next to her table but Rachel shows no interest in him. Monica and Rachel briefly catch up, and make vague plans to get together in the future.

Chandler interviews Eric, a fashion photographer who informs Chandler that models would be at the apartment from time to time if he was to move in, and that his sister is a porn star. Chandler decides that Eric will be his new roommate and rushes through his interview with Joey after the latter believed him to be gay until Chandler tells him otherwise. Mr. Heckles shows up and when Eric informs Heckles that he is moving in with Chandler, Heckles claims that he is Chandler's roommate and sends Eric away. Chandler thinks he just never showed up, being angry with him and reluctantly accepts Joey as his new roommate, which Monica approves of. They bond over Baywatch and beers.

Monica is attracted to Joey and invites him into her apartment for some lemonade. Joey misinterprets her invitation, and strips naked.

Monica notices that Phoebe's bed is missing from her bedroom. After a poor attempt to cover her tracks, Phoebe admits that she has moved out. She says that Monica is too uptight about being neat and that she needs to "live in a land where people can spill". Phoebe says that she loves Monica and wants the two of them to stay friends, but she does not think it will be possible if they continue living together.

Chandler goes to Monica's apartment to get beer when he sees a slightly depressed Monica wearing nothing but a towel wrapped around her body. He asks if everything's doing okay, and she responds that Phoebe moved out. She then asks Chandler if she is so hard to live with and if that's the reason why she doesn't have a boyfriend. Chandler says he doesn't know why and that she should have a boyfriend. Chandler then comforts Monica by hugging her, which is only interrupted when he asks Monica if her towel's a 100% cotton.

Ross meets up with Phoebe at the bar. Ross reveals to Phoebe that Carol is a lesbian. Phoebe consoles him, and they start kissing which leads to them attempting to have sex on the pool table. After a few obstacles, they realize that it would be a bad idea and laugh about it. The gang then walks in and they act like nothing had gone on.

Ross tells the rest of the group that Carol is a lesbian. Having never met Ross before, Joey responds with, "Cool!". Chandler then introduces Ross and Joey.

The episode ends with Rachel driving a car with her friends in the back seats. She is fantasizing about going back to the closed bar and having sex with Chandler. After missing the exit, one of her friends asks her what she was thinking about, and she responds with, "Barry."

Cast and Crew

Main Cast

Jennifer Aniston - Rachel Greene
Courteney Cox - Monica Geller
Lisa Kudrow - Phoebe Buffay
Matt LeBlanc - Joey Tribbiani
Matthew Perry - Chandler Bing
David Schwimmer - Ross Geller

Supporting Cast

Michele Maika - Kiki
Leslie Grantham - Chris
Marissa Ribisi - Betsy
John Lehr - Eric
Christy L. Medrano - Waitress
Maggie Wheeler - Janice Litman-Goralnik


Directed By:
Peter Bonerz

Written By:
Marta Kauffman & David Crane


Phoebe: No, no, Mr Heckles, no one is making noise up here.
Mr Heckles: You're disturbing my oboe practice.
Phoebe: You don't play the oboe.
Mr Heckles: I could play the oboe.
Phoebe: Then I'm gonna have to ask you to keep it down.


  • The dress Monica wears at the end of the episode is also worn by her in "The One With The Ick Factor" (S1E22) and "The One With The Birth" (S1E23).
  • Ross says he and Carol have been together for 7 years meaning they met in 1986 but in "The One With All The Thanksgivings" he says they've just started dating in the thanksgiving in 1988. The only explanation is that, as with him and Rachel, they started off as friends before dating.
  • Phoebe states that Cute Naked Guy has been starting to put on weight, thus becoming Ugly Naked Guy.
  • Monica points out that Ross is keeping his feet on the table and tells him not to do it anymore. However in "The One With The Evil Orthodontist" she, as well as Chandler and Phoebe are doing the same thing and she doesn't notice it.
  • It is revealed that the coffee shop used to be a bar where the gang used to hang out.
  • Rachel is sending back drinks and makes a joke that it can't be that hard to get a couple drinks right (ironically she wasn't the best waitress herself). However she said in "The One With The East German Laundry Detergent" that she isn't able to send back soup.
    • It's possible Rachel was showing off in front of her friends or she lost confidence after jilting Barry.
  • Chandler and Rachel don't recognize each other but Monica and Rachel do. This is not surprising as Rachel and Monica were best friends at high school while Chandler and Rachel only met on a few occasions.
    • This is further evident in the pilot, when Monica introduces Rachel to Chandler as if she's meeting him for the first time.
  • When he is introducing himself to Chandler, Joey says that he is fairly neat; which is later proved to be untrue, as his lack of hygiene becomes a running gag in the series.
  • In this episode, we find out why Chandler and Joey live together. Mr. Heckles told the roommate Chandler chose that he is Chandler's new roommate.
  • John Lehr later appeared in the first season (1998) of the sitcom Jesse with Christina Applegate who later appears as Amy Greene in "The One With Rachel's Other Sister" (S9E8).
  • In this episode, we see that Monica had a crush on Joey when he was first moving in, something Phoebe had mentioned in "The One With The Blackout" (S1E7).
  • Rachel's friend Kiki, played by Michele Maika, also appeared in "The One With George Stephanopoulos" (S1E4).
  • This is the final appearance of Larry Hankin as Mr. Heckles in the series. This is the only character whose last appearance takes place posthumously.
  • Marissa Ribisi is the sister of Giovanni Ribisi, who plays Phoebe's half-brother Frank Buffay Jr.
  • Its unknown why Mindy was not shown in this episode since she was Rachel's oldest friend, which she said in "The One With The Evil Orthodontist".
    • She may have been with Barry as they were having an affair behind Rachel's back (as was Rachel's sister Amy).
  • Rachel hitting the jukebox to make it play is a reference to Fonzie from Happy Days.
    • The song that plays when Rachel hits the jukebox is "Time Of The Season" by The Zombies.
    • In "The One Hundredth", Phoebe's doctor asks for the TV to be switched on which plays an episode of Happy Days.
  • This episode was used as a testing ground for potential couples who had not previously been romantically linked (Monica and Joey, Rachel and Chandler, Phoebe and Ross) however none of these pairings gained a positive reaction from audiences and as a result none went any further than this episode - except of course Chandler and Monica and their moment of heart to heart talk.
  • This is the second time we see Chandler with a mustache, after "The One Where Old Yeller Dies" (S2E20), when Chandler grows it to emulate Richard Burke.
  • This is also the second time an erotic dream of Rachel with Chandler is addressed, as it was one of the storylines in "The One With The Ick Factor". However, in this case it acts only as the post-credits scene without major relevance. It also happens chronologically one year before the other.
  • Friends of Rachel say that she will have a wedding one year from today. The same day Ross find out that Carol is lesbian. In the Pilot it is told that Carol moved out that day. It's hard to believe that between those two events a year came by.
    • It's possible Ross and Carol tried to continue their marriage as they sleep together before their divorce which is when Ben was conceived.
  • Rachel's hair is in the pre-Rachel haircut style.
  • The Guinness poster seen in the bar was seen in Chandler's apartment in Season 1.
  • Rachel comments that she wants just "one more night of meaningless sex". When she talks to Ross about who she's slept with, Rachel says "that Paolo thing was just meaningless animal sex".
  • The waitress who serves Rachel's table later works at the Central Perk coffeehouse.
  • Phoebe makes Ross realize that Susan is Carol's lover. This scene is similar to the scene in The One That Could Have Been, Part 2 when Rachel makes Ross realize that Carol is a lesbian.


  • Although it is seen in this episode that Joey moved in with Chandler in 1993, a year before the show began, in "The One With All The Thanksgivings" (S5E08), it is shown that Joey was with the rest of the gang back in 1992.
  • The photo of Ross and Monica's parents shows them as they are three years later.
  • When Rachel comes back into the bar at the end of the episode, although he's in shadow you can see that Chandler has shaved his beard. Although technically as it's a day dream it could be what Rachel prefers.
  • In this episode, Joey says that he's "okay with the whole gay thing" when he meets Chandler. However, in "The One Where Nana Dies Twice" (S1E8) Joey says he didn't think Chandler was gay when they first met. This is not necessarily a continuity error, as Joey could have been lying to Chandler when he told him he'd never thought he might be gay.
  • Ross is not wearing a wedding ring in any of the flashback scenes despite being married to Carol at the time.
  • Rachel and Chandler had met several times in the past before this episode's story, such as shown in "The One With All The Thanksgivings" and "The One Where The Stripper Cries". Except since they live very different lives and haven't seen each other in a very long time it is reasonable that they don't remember each other.
  • When Joey is supposed to be naked when Monica has invited him in for lemonade, you can clearly see that he is wearing underwear. In "The One With The Boobies", which is set after the events in this episode, Monica acts as if she's never seen Joey naked.
  • In this episode Ross finds out that Carol is a lesbian a year before the show technically starts. However in The Pilot, Ross is incredibly bummed because Carol had just moved her stuff out. If their marriage was over a year before the show started, it says something about them being together for 7 years.
    • Adding further on to this, this would also mean that Ross and Carol maintained a sexual relationship after Carol discovered her homosexuality, otherwise she could not have become pregnant with Ben Geller. Ross says in one episode that he and Carol had sex once after she discovered she was a lesbian.
  • Ross tells Janice at the beginning that none of them have ever slept together, but he and Rachel have been dating for 9 months at this point and have had sex on numerous occasions. Ross presumably meant apart from him and Rachel.
    • In a line that was cut out of the broadcast episode Rachel also says she'll change him for someone who "puts out if the situation doesn't change". This can only be meant as a joke by Rachel as she and Ross had sex 298 times while they're dating as revealed by Ross when they're moving a couch to his new apartment later in the series.
  • In the scene where Ross goes behind the bar and reaches some glasses out, he only reaches four glasses out but there are six when the angle changes.
  • The engagement ring on Rachel's finger is different to the one she returned to Barry in "The One With The Sonogram At The End".
  • Right before Chandler enters the bar, in the wide-screen version of the episode, the waitress can be seen standing still with the drinks she will bring to Rachel and her friends. The waitress is waiting in a spot outside of the TV frame but revealed in the DVD version.
  • In the tag scene, the view through the rear window of the car shows it rounding a bend but Rachel doesn't turn the steering wheel.
  • In shots of the hallway, the radiator is under the little window but it should be by the step where it was in season one.
  • A transition shot shows a yellow taxi passing by but this model wasn't available in 1993.


External links

Episode Navigation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
Preceded by
"The One With Frank Jr."
"The One With The Flashback" Followed by
"The One With The Race Car Bed"