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TV Rewind: Felicity, “Blackout” & “The Break-Up Kit”

18 Dec

Felicity, Episodes 3.13 & 3.14
“Blackout” & “The Break-Up Kit”
Original Air Dates: Apr. 25, 2001 & May, 2, 2001

Felicity 3.14 sad FelicityJulie: I wish I had watched these episodes immediately following the previous two, because my feelings about Noel and Ben have flip-flopped. Suddenly Noel is the perfect guy, and Ben is a stupid moron who can’t say no to Avery.

Maybe I have selective memory or maybe the TV writers expect us to only remember what’s happening right in front of us, but Noel was a complete dill weed for most of this season. He eloped. He tried to get an annulment. He STALKED TYRA BANKS. He has been a complete creeper. But now, he’s the sweet guy who kissed Felicity over a game of Boggle back in Season One.

My feelings are very messy here. I have distinct Team Noel feelings right now. He honestly cares about Felicity. They work well together. They fit on an emotional and intellectual level. Perhaps Noel was being so crazy during the beginning of the season (and a little bit of last season) because he felt lost. Now that he and Felicity are back on sold friendship ground, he’s finally able to recapture the Noel we fell in love with three years ago.

But I can’t forget the fact that he STALKED TYRA BANKS.

Of course, maybe Noel is looking so appealing because Ben is being such a boob. This whole thing was so gut-wrenching to watch, and Keri Russell did a fabulous job (and I really liked her low pony throughout these two episodes; much better than the topknot). I just felt for her. She did the “mature” thing and let him go, let him try to figure it out; and then, when she realized that he was figuring it out in the Hamptons with Avery. she ran to him to tell him that she loves him and she wants to figure things out together.

All of this would’ve been completely tragic, if not for her good friend Noel, and his break-up kit. Every step of his was perfect, until he almost told her his feelings and Ben walked in to reclaim his woman. And Noel was left alone again. Hopefully he won’t go full STALKING TYRA BANKS crazy Noel.

Which team are you on after these episodes?

Felicity 3.14 cry faceEmma: No other show has tested my shipper feelings as much as this one and while I am still Team Ben (even though he is being the biggest dumb dumb) the show is doing a very good job of reminding us why Noel was who I was championing in season 1. And yeah it’s funny that last time both of us wondered how they could make Noel a viable option after a) the stalking of Tyra Banks (which I’m still confused was a thing as it hasn’t been mentioned since) and b) how good Felicity and Ben are together. It turns out all it takes is an Avery.

Ben has played the overwhelmed card before and here is what Julie said to him back in S1 just before they broke up and this is “where you act all confused but you actually know what you’re thinking.” Ben does confused face well and this is definitely a very different situation to the Julie breakup, which was a long time coming. It is still just as frustrating and I also find it hard to believe that with everything we know about Ben and Felicity as a couple that he would end up in the Hamptons with Avery knowing full well how Felicity feels about her, but whatever the writers clearly do.

The groundwork has been laid, particularly in the Christmas episode with Ben feeling inferior to Felicity when it comes to ambition/academic ability. She has helped him in the past with essays, but I guess this is a whole new level of shame for Ben and while it is far from Felicity’s fault he clearly has a bit of a chip on how shoulder about her brain smarts.

With Avery, her persistence only adds to this frustration and because they shared something profound (I’m rolling my eyes at this because Avery is the worst) Ben is turning to her instead of Felicity with his test problems. Avery just also happens to be everywhere Ben is taking over Noel’s stalker mantle and this girl is not subtle. What I want to know is how long was she going to hang outside Felicity’s apartment waiting for Ben to leave? She’s also the kind of person who mentions something so much the other person ends up thinking it is a smart idea. See Ben with the Hamptons, the watch, the test.

Back to the Noel of it all and yeah at the moment he is doing everything right, but I have one reservation and that is his overall motivation. Yes I think he is being a good friend, however when he was about to tell Felicity something important I can’t be alone in thinking that he was about to declare his love for her and this is the worst timing for this; don’t tell someone you love them when they have only maybe been broken up for one hot minute. Noel has been mostly supportive including finding the video of Ben – when Noel mentions the whole Hannah thing this was another case when a guy was confused – and sticking to friend like behavior and yet he was about to cross the line. Luckily Ben comes in and stops Noel from making this mistake. What did you make of this?

Felicity 3.13 Felicity and NoelJulie: Noel declaring his feelings would’ve been quite tragic, so thank goodness Ben came in at that moment. It fits Noel’s schtick, though, doesn’t it? He’s impulsive. He’s the guy that seems so level-headed and responsible on the surface, but he’s a quick mover. He jumps into things. He gets married on a whim. He falls head-over-heels in love with Tyra Banks after seeing her one time. Of course he’d want to pounce on Felicity the second she found herself single again. Noel needs to slow his roll.

Besides, even though Noel didn’t get the chance to say it, I think Felicity got the message loud and clear.

I’m wondering where they’ll go with Avery now, if they’ll go anywhere. Ben finally seems to get it. She’s not the girl for him. She doesn’t get “him.” She doesn’t understand who he is and what’s important to him. Felicity gets him. Felicity sees him for who he is. Now that Ben is hip to Avery’s shallowness and lack of understanding him, will she make one more desperate attempt to win him over? Will she try to recreate the extreme situation that brought them together? My mind keeps jumping to a suicide attempt, but I’m not sure if that’s really where the show goes or if I’m writing my own Felicity fan fiction. You know that’s not even a spoiler because I have very little recollection of this season.

I love that you brought up that Julie quote. That is SO Ben and I think it completely applies to him in this situation. He’s not a moron. He knows that going to the Hamptons is wrong, but he does it anyway. And he expects that his cute confused face is going to get him out of it, because that’s what his cute confused face does best. It’s his secret weapon. He knows, I think deep down, that Felicity will forgive him for being stupid, and they’ll get back together, easy-peasy. He’s so frustrating, and I still really want him to make a decision about what to do with his live, even just in the interim.

As far as these two episodes go, the first one centered around a blackout in New York during a storm. I couldn’t help but think about the time NBC did blackout themes in all of their Thursday night comedies (except Seinfeld) back in the day. This is a trope that’s used in a lot of shows to create tension. What did you think of the blackout revelations (Elena wants boobs! Meghan kissed a girl! Avery loves Ben — duh doy!)? And is it believable that the girls would have that may candles on hand?

Felicity 3.13 blackout v2Emma: Noel is not the most subtle when it comes to his puppy dog eyes and Felicity gazing. It remains unspoken for now, but as you mention Felicity clearly knows this is more than platonic feelings and I think this is why she goes to tell Noel how important and special he is. Not because she is trying to be a tease or oblivious to it all, instead she wants him to know what his friendship – particularly over the past few days – means to her. Noel has had a lot of self doubt this season and I also think she wants to ensure that he doesn’t sink back into whatever crazy led to the Tyra stalking. This show might be able to ignore that ever happened, I don’t think either of us can. And Noel’s impulsiveness matches Felicity’s in this respect and it is why they are both perfect and terrible for each other.

I think Avery is going to cause a whole heap of problems all because of that kiss as there is no way she is going to let that go. If she was more than happy to pursue a dude who seemed to be in a happy relationship then she is not going to give up now they have smooched. Ugh and the way it happened was so awful and casual, plus her comment about how she wanted to kiss him at the party before she was shot. So she wanted to kiss a guy who was barely at the party while she was there and was with his girlfriend dancing for the brief moment before Tag came in. Avery, you are the worst. I think Felicity sums up all my Avery feelings in that one curled lip disgusted expression when Noel is talking about her in the blackout episode (sadly there is no screeencap as it happens so fast). She is clearly someone who has got everything she wants her entire life, even if some of those things have been bought and Ben is not going to get away that easily. I wouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t elaborate on what actually happened either.

In the same way Felicity should have told Ben about the frat party before he found out via an email, I think Ben should have confessed all to Felicity about what happened in the Hamptons. Instead he spins it into something which is probably true – how it made him realize how much he missed her – but misses out the vital info. I don’t know if she would be able to forgive him for the kiss, however I think they are more likely to get through it if he did tell her rather than if/when she finds out in the future. She is definitely going to find out.

Avery’s white turtle neck is like the over the top opulent version of every sweater Felicity owns and this outfit perfectly encapsulates everything I dislike about Avery. I love that Felicity points out that Avery looks like Ruby, which she does but she is so much worse.

The excessive amount of candles is a constant TV peeve of mine, but on this occasion I just shrugged and figured they were Meghan’s. And yeah all I could think about with the blackout theme was Chandler stuck in the ATM vestibule. It is one of those heightened situations which allows for any potential conflict/hookup to become more fraught/tense as seen by Ben/Avery and Meghan/Chris. Also a quick IMDb check to see where I know the actress who plays Chris from tells me that she is Catherine Keener’s younger sister and that is definitely why she is familiar to me.

The Chris/Meghan story was interesting on the one hand as it gave Meghan something more to do beyond just being the comic relief and it was good to hear about her past. I’m still bored of the Sean/Meghan fighting/breaking up/getting back together cycle and so this aspect made me roll my eyes. Plus Sean’s reaction to finding out that Meghan had been involved with a woman was as piggish as I might expect. In true Sean and Meghan fashion it is all fine and jokey by the end. I don’t even know what to make of the seance shenanigans in the second episode except I guess it was a way to lighten the tense mood of the Felicity/Ben drama.

What I did like about this story was seeing Felicity and Meghan’s friendship in action as Felicity knows all about Chris thanks to a previous drunken confession from Meghan – I am picturing many night when Meghan gets in wasted where she spills everything to Felicity. The evolution of Meghan and Felicity’s relationship is one of my favorites on this show and I also appreciated Meghan’s “if you hurt her, I will kill you” speech to Ben.

And someone returned! And you can tell how much I dislike Avery because I wasn’t even that bothered that Molly is back. Molly straight away gets involved in a big plot contrivance by temporarily blinding Elena. What do you make of the breakup causing Elena to focus on looks as a reason why they split?

Felicity 3.14 AveryJulie: Oh, Felicity will find out. You just know Avery is dying to tell her about the kiss, that strumpet.

I’m not sure what it is, but everything Avery wears reminds me of an early aughts Gwyneth Paltrow, which is sacrilege, probably. Goop would never be so gauche as to pursue an under-achieving barista, no matter how cute his smile may be.

As far as the other folks go, I’m with you on wanting to break up with Meghan and Sean breaking up. It’s like the writers have no idea where to go their storyline anymore. I feel like Meghan’s dalliance with Chris wasn’t given the weight it deserved. It would’ve been interesting to explore Meghan’s potential bisexuality, but she brushed off the whole thing pretty quickly, without seeming too conflicted. And Sean’s gross reaction to catching Meghan and Chris together seemed lazy. Maybe it was because this was a B plot that the writers kept everything on the surface, which is kind of a shame. This was something that could’ve feasibly been dragged out for a few episodes. And it would’ve kept the writers away from the perpetual break-up/reunion cycle, for a few weeks anyway.

Molly’s back in town! Goody. And she’s brought with her a terrible face mask that blinds people. She’s a walking disaster, with her bindis and her drugs and her dangerous cosmetics. She really only existed to pop up here and there in other people’s stories this week. She was present for the seance and, yes, she blinded Elena, who is obsessed with her looks all of a sudden.

I’m not a fan of this development. I mean, I get it, and maybe the writers are trying to say, “Hey look! A gorgeous, successful, intelligent women can also become an insecure basket case when her boyfriend dumps her,” but I just feel like Elena’s better than that. She’s better than us mere mortals. She took self-defense classes after she was shot. She knows her worth as a student.

Or maybe she doesn’t? She did feel insecure about her grades after the whole Dr. Chris Sarandon thing. Maybe this is carrying over into other aspects of her life. She’s always been so self-assured, but now she’s having to examine where she’s lacking — and she landed on boobs. Richard and Noel both proved her point when they couldn’t stop looking at her Kleenex enhanced chest. She’s looking so hard for answers to why Tracy left her, and it’s easier to blame small boobs than to look deeper.

Hopefully whatever’s happening with her and DeForest (Kenan Thompson) will help. He seems very sweet. And though she didn’t seem too jazzed when she finally got a look at him and realized he wasn’t Tracy meets Tyson Beckford, she did still take him up on dinner and the two of them looked like they were having a great time.

What did you think of Elena’s looks crisis?

Felicity 3.13 ElenaEmma: The Elena thing is so random but also makes sense in how she is dealing with the Tracy breakup as it is a pretty much out of the blue thing. Even though I doubt that Elena really believes that it was her boobs that let her down, by fixating on something that she can change (by very drastic means) it gives her something to focus all her energy on to. It’s partially ridiculous because it all starts with a joke by Noel as he tries to get her out of her funk, but quite often it is this things that people joke about that we worry about.

I weirdly got the sense that there was some Richard flirtation before she kicked him the face for touching her boobs (I gotta say he deserved it for stepping over the line) and one other thing that has not been mentioned since Tyra’s last appearance is his relationship with her. It is like Tyra was never on the show.

In the second episode we get more from Elena’s sudden obsession with looks and when Molly temporarily blinds her it goes from worrying about her own looks to trying to get away from being superficial in how she sees other people. I’m not sure if this thing with DeForest will go anywhere but it sure was nice to see Elena in this happier frame of mind. And also these guys forgive Molly way to easily. Okay maybe the James gun thing wasn’t her fault but I’d definitely be pissed off about the temporary blindness. Elena likes a challenge so I guess this is a way for her to experience something that might come in useful for when she is a doctor. Plus this way she doesn’t have to look at Felicity’s angsty art. And she gets to make fun of Noel, which is always fun.

What did you make of Noel’s potential Seattle job that we know he definitely won’t be taking and if he does take it he will definitely be back in New York for season 4?

Felicity 3.14 NoelJulie: I thought about Tyra as well when Richard popped up during the blackout. Where is she? Was it all a dream? Is that why no one mentions the stalking or deflowering?

Haha! Don’t you love the “character might move to another city” schtick? It’s a very good way to suck all the tension out of a storyline. Ross was never moving to London. Kramer wasn’t going to stay in LA. And Noel isn’t going to Seattle. Or, yeah, he’s not staying there. I guess it serves to make the people around the potential leaver (in this case, Felicity) see what she’ll be missing if he goes. What do you think is the primary motive behind Noel leaving? Is it that he really wants the job or is it to escape having to watch Felicity’s lovey-dovey-ness with Ben or is it all a ploy to force Felicity to imagine life without him? That last scenario seems to fit the Noel of late. Shifty.

How much did you love Felicity’s art, which is so edgy because of the splatter paint and the WORDS. (Random words on art or clothing is one of my pet peeves. Story time: Back when I was a kid, there were splatter paint T-shirt stores. I went to a birthday party at one once, and picked out a black T-shirt, splattered it with neon paint, and wrote the word “Rap.” So much edge.)

Felicity 3.14 Felicity and BenEmma: The whole Seattle thing definitely felt like a bit of a fishing expedition on Noel’s behalf and while I’m sure there’s a tiny part of him that might consider going, I don’t think he actually believes his time in New York is over and part of this is Felicity related.

You’ve already mentioned Keri Russell’s performance but I want to talk about it briefly again because she is SO good at showing her sadness over these two episodes. There’s hope and rage at times and it is entirely believable that she is also lost and confused, without being as lame as Ben. The moment where she comes up and just puts her head against the wall is heartbreaking and I don’t talk about it enough but she possesses the same Claire Danes chin quiver/glassy eyes power. While I think the plot points that have got us to this fractured Ben/Felicity relationship are somewhat forced, everything that Russell and Scott Speedman do in these scenes nails these difficult moments. Scott Foley should also get a shout-out for playing sad and pining while also doing the friend thing so well. And for not mentioning the sun.

I want to go to a splatter paint store.

Julie Hammerle is, according to Klout, an expert in the areas of both Morgan Freeman and glasses. Her writing can be found at chicagonow.com/hammervision and you can holler at her on Twitter as well.

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