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TV Rewind: Felicity, “The Declaration” & “My Best Friend’s Wedding”

21 Jan

Felicity, Episodes 4.1 & 4.2
“The Declaration” & “My Best Friend’s Wedding”
Original Air Dates: Oct. 10 & 17, 2001

Felicity 4.01 Dear SallyEmma: We return for one final time for the start of the fall semester and Felicity is untethered. Actually when the episode starts she’s in the midst of “Dear Sallying” it while talking about what an excellent summer she has experienced. A summer without Ben and with no responsibilities besides making sure she’s put enough sunscreen on. The kind of summer you should be having at this age and the lack of drama is compounded by everything that follows.

Ben returns from EMT training looking hotter than ever and with this new buzzier cut comes a new found ambition, not to become an EMT. Nope, Ben wants to be a doctor and this only complicates things further with Felicity as her overbearing douche of a dad keeps sending her clippings about high achieving students and endless phone calls where he berates her for her lack of decisions. Felicity’s dad is the worst (this point is emphasised in my notes through my use of all caps).

It’s great that Ben has this new found direction, but I can’t help but wonder if this is just a phase. A job helping people makes so much sense but we’ve been told for the past three seasons that his academic skills are lacking. Maybe I’m being a bit too hard on him and this is really his calling. Is Dr Covington going to be a thing we will hear at some point?

Ben tells Felicity this news while they are in the lovely post “I haven’t seen you for months” sex slumber and just as she’s told him that his directionless feelings make her feel better for her own lack of future ideas. Awkward. It’s made even more awkward by Noel knocking on the door with a call from her dad. How to kill the sex buzz in a quick fashion.

The big culmination of Felicity feeling so lost comes at the end of the episode and I suspect we’ve both got a lot to say about what happens on the roof. The big Felicity/Noel action doesn’t happen while Ben is away, nope it takes place after Felicity and Ben have had a huge fight – over a printer, printers are the worst – and he runs off to play basketball (of course) and she takes sanctuary in a place where she’s been having fun. Felicity runs into a despondent Noel (he’s having a hard time finding a job) and the THINGS HAPPEN. What did you make of this development?

Felicity 4.02 BenJulie: Felicity’s dad is so bad he should hook up with Avery.

I still remain sort of on Team Noel. Actually I’m on Team Felicity-Get-Yourself-Together-Girl. She needs to take a moment and breathe, but that doesn’t seem to be on the horizon.

The cute buzz cut was the only thing Ben really had going for him this week. The “I want to be a doctor revelation” reeks of being another Ben misstep. He can’t commit. His grades are abysmal. He’s constantly talking about being on academic probation. It’s a slap in the face to people like Elena and Tracy if this guy just wanders in at the eleventh hour and decides to be a doctor. Unless he wants to pull a Nick Riviera and attend the Hollywood Upstairs Medical School.

It’s also kind of a slap in the face to Felicity, whether Ben realizes that or not. Medicine is a loaded topic for her, as her conversations with her father prove in this episode. Ben deciding out of nowhere that he’s going to follow the path her dad laid out for her so long ago while she bumbles around trying to figure out her life feels a little shitty to me. Even though I’m sure Ben didn’t mean it that way.

To top it all off, Ben is now a complete basket case about getting his life together, and while I don’t blame him for being mad at Felicity for showing up late to work, and thus making him late for his first pre-med class, I don’t blame her for not taking his new “life decision” seriously. Ben has never cared about being on time for class before. Why should Felicity think he’d start caring now that he’s a pre-med student?

He blows up at her about the printer, because, indirectly, it’s her fault that he can’t get the notes for the class he missed, and she runs into the welcoming arms of Noel.

I think it’s a little (maybe) farfetched that they’d go All The Way in that moment. No one was drunk. Yes, there was a lot of lingering tension from the summer, but Felicity has been through the cheating ringer with Ben before — on both sides. Plus she’s very calculating in her life and doesn’t take risks. But maybe that’s the point, right? She needs to let loose, and she’s letting loose with Noel.

I remember the roof scene being hotter when I watched it the first time around, but this time it felt sad, desperate. Felicity is not in a good place right now, and boning Noel is not going to help things.

How did you feel about Felicity’s venture onto Team Noel.

Felicity 4.01 Felicity and Noel on the roofEmma: I too am on Team Felicity-Get-Yourself-Together-Girl and seeing her fumble this much is hard to watch. I also think it’s important to see her go through this because no one wants their lead character to have it together all the time and this feels like a very real reaction to senior year fears.

Giving Ben a goal makes sense for a couple of reasons – first it flips Felicity and Ben’s state of mind and it might get a bit tiresome if both of them are having the same existential crisis and it also drives the wedge between them that opens Felicity up to a Noel liaison, which the show has been edging towards for half a season now. But it does make him come across as insensitive even if that’s not his intention. This accurately describes a lot of Ben’s decision making process. A lack of thought.

The fight about Felicity being late is painful to watch because she’s clearly been crying or is on the verge of tears even before they start talking and he doesn’t even notice. This is mostly due to being wrapped up in his own problems and as I already mentioned printers are the worst and they turn us into the biggest jerks when they go wrong (at least that’s my experience). Later on Ben realises that something is up, but Felicity has already slept with Noel at this point. Too late for caring Ben. I am still Team Ben not that you would be able to tell from this paragraph.

The going all the way thing was such a surprise and I just figured that episode two would open on awkward post kiss fumbling, not holy shit where are my clothes fumbling. I like that this show never makes it easy to figure out whether characters are going to have sex or not (like when I just assumed Julie and Ben had slept together). This was unexpected and yeah it just made me sad too. There’s clearly an attraction between them and a connection on several levels but urgh is this going to get complicated.

Noel does get points for a) not pressurizing Felicity to define their relationship, b) not telling Ben and c) stepping back where he needs to. I mean he lives with Ben making it extra complicated and he must he expecting at least a punch to the face if/when Ben finds out.

The second episode saw the return of Dr Pavone, who at this point is here to be Felicity’s real life Sally and tell her what’s what. And she’s smoking again! And is now using a cigarette holder which doesn’t get mentioned at all. What did you make of the return of Dr Pavone? And did Felicity do the right thing by not telling Ben about Noel?

Felicity 4.02 turtleneck 1Julie: Yeah, as far as Ben’s goal goes, even for the show’s purposes, I wish they had gone in another direction besides “doctor.” It feels too unrealistic. I mean, if he had come home fully integrated into the cult of becoming an EMT, it would’ve had nearly the same impact. Ben knows what he wants to do, and Felicity doesn’t. It still would’ve flipped the script (even though, I guess, the doctor thing gives the whole situation a little more heft because of Felicity’s dad; but I think even Felicity’s dad would’ve been OK with whatever Felicity chose to do as long as she had a plan for how to do it. I think he’s more concerned with the fact that she’s going to graduate without any real plan. The doctor thing is secondary.)

The questions you ask at the bottom of your email are tough ones. And no, I can’t believe no one mentioned the cigarette holder. It seems like Dr. Pavone was urging Felicity to tell Ben and/or realize that she’s got it bad for Noel. None of this seems like great therapist advice. Maybe she wants Felicity to blow up her whole life just because she’s been sitting there in limbo for so long. Felicity does need to make some decisions. And the Noel secret is kind of killing her.

That said, what good can come from her telling Ben? It would make things bad for both Noel and her, not to mention Ben. I think things are already over between her and Ben at this point, so why rub salt in the wound?

What do you think? Are will Felicity go after Noel now, or will she finally take some time for herself?

Felicity 4.01 Felicity and NoelEmma: As you’ve mentioned already Elena and Tracy both put in so much work and it is hard to picture Ben doing the same, plus with all the extra credits. Maybe the break up will give him a renewed focus or he will end up spending more time out on the basketball court. Is this going to be another case of Felicity and Ben working opposite shifts at Dean & DeLuca again?

It is quite hard to figure out exactly where Dr Pavone is coming from and in a way she is just a stand in as Felicity’s get a grip friend as everyone else who she is close to is also friends with both Ben and Noel. Plus Elena is busy planning a wedding and after she compliments Felicity on her attitude towards love it makes it impossible for Felicity to tell her what’s going on and that it was actually Noel who gave her that love bite. And seriously Noel, I know it was the heat of the moment but this is far from subtle and also you’re in your 20s, hickeys should be done by now Good job Felicity has every turtleneck ever – see below – but in this heat they are far from practical. Even that sleeveless one is causing problems in the heat. Ben is oblivious to Felicity’s sudden summer knitwear obsession and to him Felicity’s breakup is all down to feeling confused. There’s that word again and it is normally Ben citing confusion to mask the truth.

Felicity 4.02 turtleneck 3 Felicity 4.02 turtleneck 2Ben doesn’t even entertain the notion that Felicity and Noel have done anything together even when Noel acts slightly skittish when Ben asks him about Felicity’s erratic behavior. I also don’t see what will be achieved by Felicity telling Ben at this point other than to relieve her guilt or finally get her to address Noel as the drawer. To use Dr Pavone’s metaphor I don’t think Noel is what is necessarily in Felicity’s drawer and while yes there are feelings here I also don’t think it would be wise to bounce from Ben to Noel while she is feeling this way. I’m hoping she takes time to figure things out and I desperately want her to spend some time with Elena as she is also reeling from her own breakup.

Ah yes the big wedding and when Donald Faison didn’t show up in the premiere I figured the breakup would happen off camera. This was not the case as the wedding was the center point of the second episode and in not surprising news they didn’t go through with it in the end. They got close and it was only when they were at the venue did they have the big chat that ended it. Once again sex came into play and after Meghan planted the seeds of doubt it led to feelings of doubt from both sides. To me this feels like the right choice and not just because Scrubs had stole Faison full time. I really like Elena and Tracy as a couple but the sex stuff has cast its shadow over the relationship since the start.

And what of the other pairing? I am still bored of the Meghan/Sean break up/make up side show and I’m not sure how much them getting married is going to change how they are with each other. What did you make of this big step and how Meghan has a tendency to push someone as far as she can?

Felicity 4.02 tracy and elenaJulie: Yes! Elena and Felicity need another girls’ night out — preferably with Meghan and Earl.

Oh, but Meghan’s an old married lady now, so.

I really did not like how they handled either of these storylines. On the one hand, I get Elena saying yes to Tracy and going through with all the wedding planning. I do not buy her and Tracy ending things at the altar. They had their time apart. They had time to think and miss each other. Elena went through a lot of soul searching while Tracy was gone. I think they would’ve gone through with it, if they were actual 22-year-olds in college. That’s not to say it would’ve been the best idea ever, or that they’d never end up resenting each other and regretting the wedding, I just think it would’ve been more realistic if they’d gone through with it.

They could’ve made it work, too. Maybe Tracy could’ve popped up once in a while for guest spots. He’s not terribly integral to the rest of the story.

Even less realistic is Meghan and Sean jumping into marriage after Tracy and Elena call off the wedding. First of all, bad timing much? What jerk BRIDESMAID goes up to the would-be bride after she calls off the wedding and asks to borrow her wedding? Ugh. It’s not about you, Meghan. Of course, though, Elena is fine with it, though if this were real life, she might say she’s fine with it and then spend the next year talking about that bitch who stole her wedding.

Secondly, there’s more to getting married than just standing up on an altar and having your best roommate tell you you’re married. You need a license. There’s a waiting period (except in, like, Vegas). So, she and Sean are not technically married. We’ll see if the show deals with this in future episodes.

Both of these events really cheesed me off. Obviously. The engagement thing was pointless because it went nowhere and now Meghan and Sean are jumping into marriage like this will solve all their problems.

But at least Molly wasn’t there.

What did you think of the weddings?

Felicity 4.02 weddingEmma: I would be super pissed off if I was Elena and my bridesmaid decided to make it all about her and use the chance to get married instead. This is a big nope in my book even without the glaring plot holes you mention regarding the marriage license. Also aren’t all the guests going to be a little miffed about this change in bride and groom. The Meghan/Sean relationship continues to spiral into WTF territory and I continue not to care, which is disappointing as it started so well.

The wedding did give plenty of pensive stares between Felicity and her two dudes and really she needs a break from both of them so this was pretty bad timing for her as well.

Like you, I also think that Elena and Tracy would never have got this far or they would have gone through with it. I think I would have been happier with an off screen break up and Elena returning after the summer single. However this would have denied us super snarky wedding planner Javier and this version of him might be my new favorite as it gives him a no BS edge.

One character who bugged far more than usual was Richard and his behavior regarding the whole Noel/Felicity hook up was insane. Yes I get that he is meant to be a jokey antagonist with his sensitivity chip missing but this was bizarre even for him to find it all so amusing. Especially as he even points out that Ben will most likely kick Noel’s ass if he finds out. Were you annoyed at Richard or is it just me?

And Molly! Have they even mentioned her? Or are they pretending she was never even there (I am fine with this)?

Felicity 4.02 sad BenJulie: Good point about the wedding guests. I’m sure Tracy’s entire family is totally up for celebrating the wedding of two people they’ve never met. Also, how pissed would Meghan’s parents have been, not to mention Sean’s family. This whole thing was just dumb.

I think we’ve decided that everyone on this show is acting stupid right now, except for Javier, and maybe Noel (who seems to be handling things well, or maybe he just looks good because he’s not currently stalking Tyra Banks). Everyone else is a mess. Even Dr. Pavone is giving suspect advice.

I hope they can right the ship in the next few episodes. I’m pretty sure JJ Abrams was long gone at this point, what with Alias starting, and I wonder if he’ll pop up to write an episode or two. This show could use his character-building smarts at this point.

Maybe they’re all high on smart powder. That has to be it.

Do you have anything to add?

Felicity 4.01 phone callEmma: The only thing I have to add is that I was very surprised to see that JJ Abrams wrote the first episode because I thought he’d jump ship by now (as he did with other shows). But maybe this is his only really big contribution to the season. I’ll be keeping my eye out at the credits along the bottom of the screen.

Julie: Oh, and yeah! This aired in October of 2001 and no mention of 9/11 at this point. Maybe these episodes were already in the can. Maybe they live in an alternate New York universe where none of that happened. Maybe we’ll need to discuss this next time.

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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10 Responses to “TV Rewind: Felicity, “The Declaration” & “My Best Friend’s Wedding””

  1. Steff January 22, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    I had so much love for this show, and weirdly I didn’t see the final season in its entirety(I left the country, chasing a boy, like Felicity) so I still don’t exactly know how it ends. I know there was time travel and stuff. I love how your recaps capture the unpredictable nature of this show’s drama,it was all so complicated! Both Noel and Ben had their merits, though I know it divided everybody.And god I miss Keri Russell with curly hair! And the sweaters. The importance of sweaters and hair in this show cannot be underestimated! 🙂

    • Emma Fraser January 22, 2015 at 10:30 am #

      This is my first time watching so I’m enjoying all the random twists and turns. I have heard the time travel stuff mentioned and I am so intrigued as to how that will take place. I love that both Ben and Noel are flawed choices and it has been fun switching sides and debating this love triangle. Keri Russell has magnificent hair still, but yeah I miss her curls too. I’m so glad there are still plenty of turtlenecks for her to wear on The Americans to keep the sweater thing going. And you can finally find out what happens too! (Love your very good reason for not catching the end of the show)

  2. jane from paris October 5, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    I am currently watching the whole series for the first time, and your recaps are making my days. I was a bit pissed at season 3 but that’s how much I like this show: I want it to be the best it can and should be (a bit like Felicity with Ben). Avery was so awful she made Molly great in comparison and as you so rightly pointed out, she IS the poor’s man version of Gwyneth. What was Tag doing there? he should have been interning at Ralph Lauren with Rachel. And speaking of Friends, Meghan and Sean should have been made into the Monica and Chandler of the show, the odd couple that makes it work, not this bickering duo. They are better than that. Stalker Noel was hard to recover from. And I so wanted the season to be about Ben and Felicity finally overcoming their need to be good samaritans to whatever random person comes along, not to mention their awful parents. Elena, I feel, got shortchanged the whole season with her storyline, though that condom story with Tracy was a good nod to the health conscious strain of the show.The one good thing about Avery was she forced Felicity show her badass side (and I kinda liked that purple turtleneck she gave her, it looked good on Felicity though she was right to return it of course). I hope Season 4 lives up to my hope. Another hope: that you will do a recap of Felicity’s evolution of style and clothes over the 4 seasons, I think the costume designer(s?) did a good job of showing her evolution via her style, from the enormous sweaters of season 1 to the glittery top in season 3…

    • Emma Fraser October 5, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

      This is lovely to hear! And I definitely agree about Sean/Meghan as they bicker far too much. This season does make some missteps as does the next one, but you’ve got a lot of fun stuff coming. And this show is definitely one of the best when dealing with sexual health and like you I felt Elena didn’t get the screen time she deserves.

      And I do have a style recap in the works and hopefully it is something that will be posted soon. Especially as we are entering ideal sweater wearing weather.

      • jane from maris October 5, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

        Yes poor poor Elena, and De Forrest- I thought he was an original and interesting character and their whole arc was handled so poorly. Is perhaps JJ Abrams being whisked away to do Alias at fault for the handling of characters in season 3? Still Felicity’s sparkly outfit from the Christmas shooting episode probably redeemed everything, as did Ben whenever he showed up in his wonderful 3 Days of the Condor style peacoat calling everyone a dick. I am looking forward to that style recap (and since we are on wish lists, both of you doing Alias recaps would be fantastic).

      • Emma Fraser October 5, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

        Yeah I think Alias has something to do with it in the same way Lost took over for him around the same time on Alias. I don’t think we can chalk it up to a coincidence that both shows suffered creatively when he started working on something else.

        That sparkly top is a fave and Felicity was always pretty good at bringing it style wise to the big party moments (see also that red dress from season 2). And all the swoony sighs at Scott Speedman in a pea coat.

        We’re currently discussing what we’re going to cover next so I will definitely throw the Alias suggestion into that hat.

      • jane from maris October 5, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

        Thank you for throwing my random suggestion into the hat and catering to the need of this viewer to obsess about this show.
        Very interesting point you make about the creative force and impact of JJ Abrams on all those shows.
        Having been in university at roughly the same time as the series (I’m old), it’s very interesting to witness this moment that the wonderful thing that 90s fashion is folded into this more awkward (swoon-inducing pea coats aside) early 00s fashion. Generally, the way Felicity & co dress feel rather realistic for college- and is actually jarring in its simplicity and “no-logo” approach compared to today’s TV landscape.

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