Episode 4 was perfect because it showed exactly why Sousuke confronted Haru before the relay at the Splash Fest.
Sousuke was Rin’s best friend. in fact, he was more than that, as Rin himself explained. he was more like family. and then Rin moved to a different school because he met some random guy he wanted to swim relays with. he chose to leave behind his childhood best friend for some kid he barely knew. that’s the first blow.
then, he leaves to australia and stops writing to Sousuke. this episode showed us that Sousuke waited for a letter or anything from Rin. i personally think that Sousuke didn’t stay in touch with Gou because she reminded him too much of Rin and so reminded him that his best friend apparently didn’t care enough about him.
then Sousuke is watching the prefecturals and sees Rin completely fucking up his race. first of all, Rin returned to Iwatobi and didn’t even bother to contact Sousuke to tell him and express any desire for a reunion. thenRin swims with the guy he initially left Sousuke behind for and fucking cries tears of joy.
imagine that was you. imagine you saw someone who you considered your best friend do that. imagine how insignificant you would feel. but he doesn’t blame Rin. he doesn’t view this as a weakness in Rin, he sees it as a weakness in himself and he obviously re-evaluates everything he did when they were friends and decides to grow from that to try and become closer to what Haru is for Rin. his whole life he swam for results and only for himself, but in episode 4 he tells Rin he also wants to see that sight and feel the excitement of swimming with friends. Sousuke blames himself for his best friend leaving. of course he fucking confronts Haru the first time he sees him, Haru stands for everything Sousuke feels insecure about and everything he thinks he’s supposed to be!
i will fight a million wars for my baby Sousuke don’t even start with me
also just to clarify i love all the characters in Free! and i do not in any way wish to put all the blame on Rin or Haru - i simply am tired of seeing people bash Sousuke for the vending machine scene because Sousuke is a big baby that needs to protected at all costs