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TV Rewind: Felicity, “Moving On” & “Fire”

19 Mar

Felicity, Episodes 4.9 & 4.10
“Moving On” & “Fire”
Original Air Dates: Dec. 5 & 12, 2001

Felicity 4.09 date nightJulie: This week in Felicity, everyone is moving on from the Felicity/Ben/Noel triangle. Noel is getting help from a professional to deal with his (diagnosed) depression, Felicity is talking to adorable guys in her art studio, and Ben is putting his foot down and telling Felicity that it’s time they stop even pretending that they’re friends.

This episode (aptly titled “Moving On”) had me getting actually angry at Ben. For all intents and purposes, he’s been the “good” one in this triangle. He wasn’t the one who cheated. He’s trying to get his life in order. He’s had it rough, too, with his dad being sick. But he can’t just let Felicity go and have fun for once. He sees her having fun with someone else (another guy) and he can’t take it. He has to call her late at night to get back under her skin, and that’s kind of a shitty thing to do. And the whole thing gets even shittier, when he’s hooking up with Lisa Edelstein on his couch when Felicity calls him back.

How long does she have to pay for boning Noel?

Let me back up. Toward the beginning of the episode, Felicity asks Ben to hang out. He almost says yes, but changes his mind and, like an adult, tells Felicity they need to move on. It’s sad, but it’s the right thing to do. He (basically immediately) goes out and asks Lauren to dinner. On a date. They kiss, then her ex calls, but by the end of the episode, they’re in flagrante delicto on Ben’s couch.

Felicity, meanwhile, has a harder time. There’s a cute (really cute and nice) guy in her art studio, named Owen. He kind of reminds me of De Forest, in that super sweet, goofy, obviously romantic cannon-fodder kind of way. He was never going to last, which is too bad. He wants Felicity to have fun. He obviously likes her and Elena pushes them to start talking. She agrees to go out with him, finally, and he picks her up at her apartment, where he meets Ben.

Felicity and Owen have a good time, but she’s not ready to move on, and he’s cool with that. When Felicity returns to her apartment, there’s a message waiting for her from Ben. Jerk. He saw her with another guy, and he called. And now Felicity’s sitting there, trying to decide whether to call him back.

Meanwhile, he’s done waiting and he’s hooking up with Lauren. Ugh. So messy. Such a dick move.

What did you think of Ben this episode?

Felicity 4.10 BenEmma: This is a very different break up to the last time Felicity and Ben split; they’re still working together and engaging in the awkward how do we behave around each other dance rather than the strict I’m not going to see you route. This way is much harder because there are residual feelings and as you mention Ben is the “good” one in the triangle and to a certain degree he should get to dictate the boundaries of the breakup as the wronged party, but there are also boundaries to his boundaries and that answer machine message is a step too far.

The timing is super awkward with Owen and Ben showing up at the same time and Felicity does of course look super cute; she’s dressed up a little and she wearing her hair down – a move I strongly support. In fact her hair while it hasn’t gone back to the big mass of curls is like a slightly more grown up version of her S1 do. Whereas before she reacted to the Ben breakup by chopping it all off now she is embracing the length with cute little braids giving her a boho quality. She’s looking a whole lot more art student this season but not in an extreme way.

So yeah Ben reacts to seeing Felicity having fun by leaving her a message he is sure to know will cause her stomach to flip in a good way. When we see him leaving it we don’t know if it is for Felicity or Lauren and I don’t think he intentionally does it to mess with her. Yes there is probably an element of jealously/not wanting her to move on but I also think he just wants to talk to her, but as he is the one who has drawn this line in the sand he also shouldn’t go against his own boundary setting at any whim.

Elena has it nailed with her assessment of why Ben is calling and she urges Felicity not to ring him back, but she does because there is this faint glimmer of hope. Instead Ben is hooking up with Lauren (who has a world of complicated relationship issues) and its frustrating. Although in a way I do think Ben is okay to have this ‘one night’ as Lauren describes, it’s just shitty that he reached out to Felicity just prior.

What I did enjoy was how answer machines played a part in dictating hookup interruptions and impacting feelings because the communal answer machine is a thing of the past. I’m wondering what the 2015 equivalent would be – a public message on your FB wall? Voicemail on a cell phone doesn’t have the same initial impact where his hear it in such a public context and it’s a lost plot device really. Even the Elena/Richard plot from a few episodes ago wouldn’t work like this anymore.

So Javier tried to play cupid with terrible results and Felicity blew up at him – what did you make of everyone’s attempts to deal with this breakup and her subsequent reaction?

Felicity 4.09 answermachine messageJulie: Everyone trying to help Felicity get over the break up was so college, where your friends’ business is always your own business. I know Javier and Elena were only trying to help, and maybe Elena actually did kind of help, but Javier setting them up to meet at the theater was simply misguided. He’s old enough to know better. There was no way that was going to end well. And, in fact, it ended here horribly because Ben showed up, not alone, but with Lauren.

It probably was a good thing for Felicity to see him with Lauren, as far as moving on goes, and maybe she would’ve been able to stay “moved on” if he hadn’t left her that stupid voicemail for everyone to hear.

I’m also with you on the voicemail thing. We say that there’s no more privacy in the world, but with everyone having their own phone, there kind of is. Phones are protected with pass codes and finger prints. I remember having the answering machine at my parents’ house and it being a huge, blush-inducing deal if a guy called and left a message on the family machine. Kids today don’t have to deal with that or with parents answering the phone when you call a friend or boyfriend’s house. They have it so easy.

The other piece of “Moving On” is that Noel’s moving on. He’s seeing a psychiatrist who is not Dr. Pavone. It’s some guy, who thinks Noel has depression, just like his brother. Noel is reluctant to take the drugs, which seems reasonable. This is his first meeting with the doctor and already he’s being prescribed drugs that he may have to take for the rest of his life. I thought they did a good job of representing/not sensationalizing depression, and I think it’s a good explanation for some of Noel’s behaviors as of late. What did you think of the depression storyline?

Felicity 4.09 Noel in therapyEmma: I wish I knew the exact time frame of Ben finding out to where we are now as it all seems too soon for dating and moving on, which is what Felicity finds out. I’m assuming this is before Christmas but a few weeks after Thanksgiving and that last hookup. I still want Felicity to embrace singledom and hangout with her friends but everyone either wants her to start dating or get back together with Ben. Her friends mean well and I think Elena is the one who is most in tune with her even if the date doesn’t lead to anything else, it was just good to see Felicity laughing. And the yep the very public voicemail occurred.

When the last episode hinted at Noel’s family history with depression I did wonder how well this show would deal with it and I’m quite happy with how measured it has been so far. Noel doesn’t think he has depression because he’s the guy who helps people, but as his psychiatrist points out this doesn’t make him weak. I’m also glad that Noel went about the whole process of looking up what the medication would mean and reaching back into his past with his brother and assessing it in a rational way. He doesn’t outright dismiss medication but it’s very responsible of the show to present the different options even if his doctor is quite quick to suggest this course of action.

Noel’s not been in a good place for a long time even if on the surface he is the guy who everyone else goes to and the implosion of the triangle is the jolt he needs to address everything from the summer of Leon, his marriage and his current trend of hitting the self destruct button. It can’t be good for him that he still lives in the loft with the guy who’s girlfriend he slept with and at least another hostile roommate. I don’t kind understand why he hasn’t found anywhere to live other than story contrivance. It’s lucky that Noel and Ben don’t run into each other more – how many bathrooms does their place have? Yes this is a running obsession.

One thing that doesn’t quite ring entirely true is in the next episode where Noel is told to sever all ties with Felicity as it’s not like they’ve been spending any time together as it is post reveal. I get that Felicity is linked to his state of mind, but maybe not quite so overtly as this suggests. What did you make of this?

Felicity 4.10 FelicityJulie: The psychiatrist’s assertion that Noel should stop seeing Felicity does seem like putting a bandaid on the situation and it kind of belittles the strides the show had taken with depression. Like if Noel stops seeing her, he’ll be cured. The goofy thing is, other than the unfortunate point where they slept together, Noel and Felicity have always seemed to be pretty positive influences on each other. I know the doctor pointed out that Noel spent all summer with her not looking for a job, but it wasn’t in a bad way, really. It was in a “this is my last summer being a kid” kind of way.

If anything, I think Ben is a bad influence on Felicity. She spends too much time obsessing over him and not enough time worrying about her own life. But that’s just me.

The Noel and Felicity thing really comes to a head in the second episode “Fire,” where there literally is a fire. Felicity is in the art studio working on her new project, and Noel is doing his counselor thing. There’s a fire, but no alarms, and Noel (naturally) takes it upon himself to save everyone, including Felicity. Afterwards, she invites him to hang out, but he says no.

What do you make of this? Was Felicity’s invite truly friendly, or was she angling for more? I couldn’t tell.

Felicity 4.10 tneck extremeEmma: Laying it all at the feet of Felicity does come across as simplifying the situation and while I do think he definitely needs to focus on his own shit completely exorcising her from his life as if he is addicted to her or something is just misguided. The advice on this show from professionals leans towards questionable at times.

That isn’t to say that I think Noel was in the wrong for going home instead of hanging out because I got vibes that something might happen between them and at this point that really isn’t the best move. It was played with ambiguity but I got the sense that Felicity was feeling the after effects of this near death experience and that this could lead to another hookup. The hug definitely had some heat (boom boom). They also experience pink snow together (thanks to the flashing lights from the fire engine/ambulance) and it’s romantic in a weird way.

Instead Noel goes home covered in soot and we get our first Ben/Noel encounter since that brief Thanksgiving super awkward and cold exchange. It is still awkward and it interrupts a cute cooking celebration but Ben and Sean are both concerned about what has happened. When Ben hears that Felicity was involved he does the right thing and finally rings her with no other agenda except to find out how she is. It is a tad stilted and she changes the subject pretty quickly, but overall there is still a tenderness between them and I get the sense that this is not the end of Felicity and Ben in this capacity.

You mention that Ben is a bad influence on Felicity and the same could be said for Felicity on Ben as since the breakup his academic work has thoroughly improved and I can’t believe how invested I am in his grades as I was so happy when he found out he got an A. Maybe he needed all the drama to knuckle down with college work. Felicity also had a moment of clarity when it comes to her work and I like seeing her with a renewed sense of self when it comes to her work and it is super cheesy of me to say this but it was kind of inspiring. Apparently I need TV characters to remind me to go and do things rather than my usual procrastination routine. Did you like seeing Felicity getting her groove back (even if it did all burn down)?

Felicity 4.10 Felicity and NoelJulie: I think it just proves that what really needs to burn to the ground here are all the relationships between these people. Felicity is better without Ben. Ben is better without Felicity. They had a lovely a lovely romance, but now it’s time to move on. (I’m still bitter about her ditching Owen so quickly. He was so cute! Though he reminded me a bit of Pink Guy from season 1, which means things could’ve still ended very badly.)

Ever since our last conversation, I’ve been thinking about whether or not these people should still be friends. And I don’t know what the answer is. I guess the show does follow the way things are in college — you start out freshman year with a million best friends and then, as time goes on, you’re left with the people who really matter to you. I don’t know who those people are for Felicity. Noel seems to be the one who cares most about her, but Javier worships her and Elena pushes her to be better. I still think she and Meghan are the most suited because they’re such foils for each other.

Speaking of Meghan, in the second episode, she finds out that her heretofore unseen little sister is knocked up. This storyline had nothing to do with anything, but did get a chance to show us Felicity’s progressive stance on women’s health once again, when little sister seeks out an abortion and Meghan is very supportive about everything.

I suppose the “big” impact of this storyline, potentially, is that Mrs. Rotundi shows up to claim her younger daughter and sees how much Sean loves Meghan and what a good team they make. Maybe Meghan will be back in the will?

Felicity 4.09 MeghanEmma: Maybe we’re going to get a series of flirty cute rebound boys for Felicity and I really hope we’re not going to get a creepy profess retread. It’s hard to read Cavallo’s intentions but at the moment they read as platonic even if he’s sleeping with other students. And I don’t think you will be surprised to hear that even though they might not always be the best for each other I am still firmly on Team Ben in the Felicity heart stakes.

I think you’re spot on in your assessment of the friendship group and it was interesting in the first episode to see Javier step outside the circle for once  even as he stumbled reading the situation. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if someone is being friendly or flirty and one of my closest friendships started life as a very awkward, misheard drunken remark that I thought was a creepy come on but was instead a question about where I worked. Yep.

What we do need is more Meghan/Felicity time because as you rightly point out they are the most suited and ever since Meghan and Sean got married there has been a distinct lack of this pairing.

Ah yes the really close family member who has never been mentioned before and then turns up with a major life changing event. Despite Lila being a total Dawn in the not existing prior to this episode stakes, this relationship didn’t feel forced and along with showcasing the strong sexual health storyline record it also meant that we had a Meghan plot that didn’t involve fighting with Sean. Hallefuckinglujah to that.

Meghan continues with her 60s styling including baby pink nightwear Trudy Campbell would be so proud of. In other style news Felicity wore a sweater that looked like a cross between a turtleneck and shawl collar blowing my mind in the process. Felicity also insisted on keeping her smoky fire wears as some kind of symbol or something, plus it was a very cute striped top. Felicity is finding her style groove I think.

Felicity 4.10 paintingJulie: Yes! I loved Javier making a new friend outside this group of college students. Good for him for meeting someone his own age. I had Kimmy Schmidt/Titus feelings watching their budding friendship. They’re both dealing with Very Serious Life Issues that go far beyond “my college girlfriend slept with my roommate.” Evelyn from A League of Their Own has lost her husband, and Javier is in the process of losing his. I hope they have many a fun night bonding over wine and film versions of Broadway musicals.

And, yes, prayze Jeebus that we didn’t have to sit through another Meghan/Sean fight.

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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