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TV Rewind: Felicity, “The Graduate” & “Time Will Tell”

14 May

Felicity, Episodes 4.17 & 4.18
“The Graduate” & “Time Will Tell”
Original Air Dates: Apr. 24 & May 1, 2002

Felicity 4.17 graduationEmma: The big mystery from these two episodes is not how Meghan can send Felicity back in time, but how she managed to get away with copy that dissertation and a one sentence ‘oh yeah that was fine and now we are graduating’ explainer. Some time has passed since the last episode as Ben is out of hospital and yep they are all graduating. A LOT happens over the course of both and while I have an itch to jump ahead to time travel there is also a lot to unpack in “The Graduate.”

We open with Noel and Felicity in a cab with Noel asking us if Felicity is okay, it isn’t blatantly blatantly obvious but it is using JJ’s favorite Alias in media res narrative device as I suspected and as we discover later in the episode this is just after Felicity and Ben have decided to part ways. Felicity tells Noel she is okay and there’s also a voiceover talking about how ‘this isn’t how it was suppose to end’ and the latter, it turns out, is part of a tape letter to Ben. The triangle even though it has leaned heavily one way for an age now is coming back into focus.

The scene cuts to Ben and Felicity in bed talking about graduation, how she managed to get a pass for that art class (not the essay of course, still huh) and that the safety net which has kept them together will be gone. Ben ends up proposing in a semi spontaneous way (he mentions how he’s been thinking about it since the hospital) and this very much feels like a way to reassure Felicity rather than something they should actually be doing. She doesn’t say yes straight away and for once she is thinking rationally about Ben but when Ben gets a call about Lauren going into labor, Felicity changes her unsure answer into a yes. Oh, Felicity.

Ben goes from super into this idea to being a little distant when he returns from the birth of Andrew (his dads name – I feel like this was not something I knew). This is classic Ben as he wants to please/save everyone. The Arizona debate returns and he somewhat assumes that Felicity will just come with him now that he put a ring on it. I mean he didn’t even do that part yet.

To make things even more stressful for Felicity her parents are being their usual overbearing selves but for once her dad makes a good point that she is always following Ben. Things get even more fraught when Richard (of course it is Richard) spills the details to Papa Porter that Ben is not only a baby daddy but that he is moving to Arizona and Felicity is going with him.

In this episode there is so much going on that it is hard to keep up with all the huge decisions/breakups that take place but one thing becomes very clear and that is without the safety net and with Ben’s new family responsibilities it means things are over for Ben and Felicity (well sort of). It is sad and they share one last night together, which felt like one of the most realistic things this show has done in a while.

What did you make of everything happening all at once and how graduation is suddenly thrust upon us?

Felicity 4.17 Ben and FelicityJulie: Yes, this show has completely lost base with reality. For me, watching these two episodes was basically just two hours of, “Huh?”

One of the more unrealistic things that happens in “The Graduate” is Felicity managing to pass that art history class without any sort of repercussions beyond failing the paper. However, I suppose it’s a blessing that this storyline is disposed of so quickly. Because I COULD NOT with it.

The quick proposal, while misguided, did feel pretty real to me. It’s so college — things are ending, you’re just jumping into adulthood, getting married seems like the next step, the right step. Ben and Felicity want to hold onto each other and their relationship and their NOW, though this seems like the (wrong) way to do it, especially considering all the reasons this is an awful idea (she has a job in New York, he has to move to Arizona to be with his kid, etc.)

This episode (and the next) confirmed for me why I think Ben is not great, Bob, for Felicity right now. And Mr. Porter does sum it up: She’s been following Ben for four years. I love that she actually does throw that knowledge at Ben. He needed to hear it, because of how true it is. I think he very much expected Felicity to accept his proposal and follow him to Arizona, because that’s what she does. I don’t think it was intentionally malicious on Ben’s part, but I also think it proves how little thought he gives to what Felicity herself actually wants.

Other things about “The Graduate,” before we get into the more WTF time travel episode, 1) Elena was basically nowhere. There was a scene where she and Javier say goodbye to Felicity, but I don’t think they’re ever in the same frame together, and I wonder if she was acting with a Keri Russell stand-in. I’m trying to make this into a whole Kalinda/Alicia thing. (And then considering what they do to her character in the next episodes…somebody on the Felicity writing staff hates Elena.) 2) The med school reset. We just spent two whole years with Felicity proclaiming art as her life and now, all of a sudden, she’s back on medicine. And Ben has followed her to Palo Alto for school, so I guess he’s finally the one following her, but at the same time it feels like him horning in on her life. Go be with your baby, Ben.

Anything to add on “The Graduate?”

Felicity 4.17 ElenaEmma: I mentioned this on Twitter particularly in the relation to the second episode but these episodes feel very OC season 4 – the writers are having fun because they know that it’s pretty much dunzo. I’m enjoying the pure what the fuck aspect while also raising my eye own at the same time (I’m not actual raising my eyebrow because I’m not so great at that).

One thing I did feel about the graduation was how much it tapped into the finality of it all and even though you’re going to stay in touch with some people, this is it for the no responsibility part of your life. It also made me a little teary because that’s how I get about these things and I still panic about all the things I haven’t done since college or what I should have done at college to improve my position now. Basically I had a lot of fun and could have done a bit more prep work for career. And unlike Ben I didn’t just decide to be a doctor in my third year.

The scene that got me the most teary was not between Ben and Felicity, instead it was between Meghan and Felicity and this is the one that felt the most real to me. But urgh with the lack of Elena, this along with The Good Wife debacle is the greatest mystery of our time. And then the thing that Broad City mentioned happens (more on that later).

This episode could easily be a series finale as everything is tied up so neatly in the final Dear Ben montage. This comes after what turns out to be an IMPORTANT conversation between Noel and Felicity at the airport and we join them in the cab scene that starts the episode. At the airport (is he in the departure lounge? It looks like 9/11 definitely didn’t happen in this universe) she asks him if he ever thinks about the two them ending up together and he clearly lies that he never has. Even without the confirmation in the following episode it is a certainty that Noel only thinks about them as a couple (even if he is good at pretending otherwise).

It’s all lovely and then some super twee version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” kicks in and I couldn’t stop laughing. We then cut to 6 months later and the montage of what everyone is up to followed by Ben making his grand declaration and joining Felicity in Palo Alto and yes it really is his turn. I am still very much Team Ben at this point and even though he makes the biggest fucking mistake in “Time will Tell” I still can’t help but want him and Felicity to end up together (I have thoughts on this storyline, many thoughts).

What they seem to be doing is manoeuvring characters and their motivations so that we can have one final love triangle situation. Do you agree that there are some shenanigans that go down that are rather contrived just so we can end up with one last Team Ben vs Team Noel hurrah?

Julie: The airport thing is ridiculous. What plane ticket did Noel buy in order to get past security? This show was filmed in 2002, immediately after 9/11. But, as you also suspect, I’m beginning to think 9/11 didn’t happen in Felicity World. Also, time travel is possible. Also no one has killed Richard yet.

I’m going to jump into “Time Will Tell” here because it’s hard not to. I’d LOVE to know what was going on in the writers’ heads when they came up with this concept. I’m guessing that it’s A) a who-the-fuck-cares OC move because the show is ending and B) a way to undo a lot of the negative character stuff they created during this season. I think they realized they had made MISTAKES and had done several of their characters a disservice and this is their way of taking a mulligan. Or maybe it’s a way to prove to the Team Noel people that Team Noel was always a bad idea, so shut up, whiners.

So, yeah. There is time travel. Felicity is in Palo Alto with Ben. Six months (or more, maybe a year?) have passed since graduation. Elena is DEAD. I repeat: Elena is DEAD. She got hit by a car outside of med school. (I see, time travel story-wise why they did that. It’s a way to prove to Felicity that she has really traveled through time. That said, what a shitty ending for Elena’s character.) Also, Noel is getting married and Ben is cheating on Felicity. She catches him kissing a study buddy in the med school library. What the actual fuck, Ben? I actively hate him for this. I have forgiven a lot, Ben-wise, but this is an out-and-out dick move. And Felicity blames herself, because of course she does. She says she’s been hard to live with because her BEST COLLEGE FRIEND JUST DIED. Ugh. Ben. So much anger right now. Talk to your girlfriend, Ben. Don’t just start kissing the first skank who seems like she’s more fun to be around.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest…Felicity breaks up with him and heads to New York solo for Noel’s wedding. He’s marrying Zoe, which, gross. Noel flirts with Felicity, she flirts with Noel. She starts to wonder if the two of them should’ve dated back when they hooked up the first time. And this is the writers’ way of exploring the thing that they didn’t do back in the beginning of the season. Meghan sends Felicity back in time and gives her a chance to try Noel on for size.

I’ve said many words. What is your reaction to this beginning of this episode?

Felicity 4.17 FelicityEmma: One quick thing to mention about “The Graduate” as it was directed by Scott Foley and I always like it when shows let their stars have a go at directing. For some reason he was very into shooting through half open doors. Which I’m sure is his slightly labored way of graduation being like opening a door or something like that.

From what I can tell this is six months after the six months and everything is terrible for Felicity – Elena is dead (what?) and Ben is a dirty cheater, plus Noel is getting married to Zoe. First up Elena got shafted so badly this season, but luckily for us it’s not all over for Tangi Miller as she’s still alive in the past. Now this is what prompted Felicity to pull away and I just don’t believe what happens next, even the time travel is more believable. Ben cheats on Felicity and while I guess this isn’t outside the realms of possibilities the very public smooch is ridiculous. Your reaction/feelings toward Ben is more than understandable, I’m just in denial and hope there’s some way out of this dumb as fuck move. Also the conversation where she finds out it has been going on for a month is such a gut punch for her.

What this does give us is a heartbroken Felicity crying on the phone to Meghan in double denim – not of the red variety – and Meghan getting to be the best get a grip friend Felicity needs right now. First she makes sure no one else knows about the breakup as Felicity insists she doesn’t want to overshadow the big day – why Noel? – and then she sets to some revenge spells. The first one is trip spell (and works) and Meghan’s mystical track record goes back to season 1 when she put the group photo back together wrong.

After Ben shows up and makes things awkward (of course he does) Felicity gets drunk with Meghan revealing how she thinks she made a mistake with who she chose after the big roof night and she would do everything differently. As I mentioned earlier there is stuff I would probably do differently during college but sadly I don’t have a friend with mystical powers. I love how Meghan comes across as a really confident and yet terrible witch; somehow she sends her drunk/heartbroken friend back through time so she can do just that.

This is where things really get fun and this is a storyline I’ve been waiting for since we started season 1; it’s even more ridiculous than I expected and I’m so glad it’s for more than one episode. First there is the slightly orangy hue to denote that we are in time travel land and then there is the whole Felicity is aware and everyone else thinks she’s insane. This gives Keri Russell a chance to flex her comedy chops as last time was so tortured whereas this time Felicity gives no fucks and it’s the best.

Even though she’s set on Noel this time and she is so mad at Ben she has a couple of moments where she feels pangs towards her now ex. This makes sense and it also pits Noel versus Ben in a way we have not seen before. It’s like the playing field has only been leveled for Felicity and everyone else is spinning around her orbit. Some things stay the same as Tracy and Elena still break up but this time it’s before they make it to the venue meaning Sean and Meghan probably won’t get married either. Ben gets wasted after he has failed his first test so it looks like his medical career might not progress all that far. Also Ben does not have his super hot short hair like he had at the start of the year, this makes me sad.

What did you make of this sort of more assertive Felicity and the whole time travel plot?

Felicity 4.18 Meghan and FelicityJulie: I think my biggest beef with the Ben cheating thing is that it’s just so blatantly cruel. They have been through so much, they’ve overcome so much, and this seems completely mean. It’s one thing to kiss someone while drunk in a drunk bar. It’s another thing COMPLETELY to make out with your study buddy in the middle of the afternoon in the library. For a month. That’s premeditated dickery, and that’s a deal breaker, ladies (I’ve been watching a lot of 30 Rock.)

Though, maybe it’s totally realistic, which, fine, (guys are dicks even when they promise not to be dicks), but I hold Ben Covington and his feelings for Felicity to a higher standard, especially if this is who she’s going to choose over Noel or herself.

Good call on Ben’s long hair! Felicity’s hair is back to being curlier again, but Scott Speedman wouldn’t get a haircut?

After all my ranting up there about Ben, you’d probably think I’m squarely on Team Noel here, but no. I think what this episode did highlight is that maybe Felicity and Noel are better as just friends. I don’t think she’s hot for Noel, nor he for her. I think she likes the idea of being with Noel, but I don’t see them working long-term.

That said, I don’t think she and Ben work long-term either. He’s the hot guy she’ll always remember fondly, but he’s not so great for her, life-wise.

I’m interested in the Butterfly Effect of this time travel. Tracy and Elena don’t end up married (and Donald Faison doesn’t even have to show up for a cameo). Meghan and Sean probably don’t end up married either. I wonder if Lauren will end up pregnant or if Noel will end up seeing a shrink. Or if Elena ends up dying. Or if Felicity will decide not to wear two denim pieces together.

Which do-overs do you hope to see?

Felicity 4.18 Felicity and MeghanEmma: The cruelty and their long history is why I don’t buy the cheating happening in this manner and for all the mistakes both of them have made in the past this feels completely out of character. And of course I really hate Claire because it is a huge dick move as a friend of Felicity’s to pull this level of shit.

One reason I guess they didn’t cut Ben’s hair is when they get back to the present it might be harder to explain his sudden buzz cut.

I agree with you about Felicity and Noel and if there is anything this show has taught us over the last few seasons is how good they are as friends. I did enjoy seeing her all super into them being in a relationship together whereas he was obviously freaking out over Ben finding out and Felicity being so open about everything. This is very out of character for Felicity but as she is the one reliving this time over again she knows how it will play out. The hickey came into play but this time she gave no shits about covering it up with an endless stream of turtlenecks and it was refreshing to not go through the same tortured feelings (even if they are the more realistic).

Felicity’s decision making process falls into two camps – impulsive and labored – so we are getting a whole lot of the Felicity who came to New York for a boy. This decision is still romance based and we never did get to see a great deal of single Felicity which is a shame. I guess they figure in this genre of TV it works better if there is a love interest at all times but I think plenty of us also enjoy the “I choose me”  option.

In this time of crisis Felicity turns to several other people for support; Meghan as the one who cast the spell and who has no idea what Felicity is going on about while scoffing at the very idea she would marry Sean, Dr Pavone who tells Felicity that she needs to forget about doing the right thing and asks her what she wants and then Sally via tape. The latter makes the most sense to me as Sally is who Felicity could spill her inner most thoughts to and as we near the end of the show I am glad this device makes a reappearance. I was never that fond of the responses (sorry Janeane Garofalo, I still heart you) but I liked how it avoided the standard inner thoughts voiceover.

One thing I wondered is if Ben’s dad is going to die in this new timeline? That’s one major rupture if it happens. And it would be nice if none of the Lauren stuff happens. What I am interested in is how they are going to proceed with this whole thing and if everything ends up being worse in this version what does that mean for Felicity? I don’t want her romantic decisions to be the burden of not just her life but everyone else’s. It is fun that we get to see both versions of who she chose and in a way I wish they had gone back even further to when she chose Ben over Noel at the end of season 1, but the logistics of doing that coupled with how much distance there is from any of those stories might not have made much sense.

I’m pretty sure Felicity would wear double denim in any universe, this is sadly a mistake she is doomed to repeat.

Is Felicity stuck here or is she going to end up waking up hungover on the day of Noel’s wedding?

Felicity 4.18 double denim Julie: If ever there was a girl who needed to step back and “choose me” for a minute, it’s Felicity. The best thing that could come from this time travel thing would be for her to realize at the end of it, after first choosing Ben and then Noel, that who she really needs to choose for a while is Felicity. This is a girl who has, in the blink of an eye, gone from one guy to the next and from one college major to the next. She was staying in New York one minute, going to Arizona the next, and Palo Alto a few seconds later. What does Felicity really want? Now’s the time to figure it out.

I guess Felicity “has” to be aware that she’s time traveled, but I would’ve liked to have seen everything in the Noel Storyline play out without her knowing what will happen, if that makes sense. There’s too much “Future Felicity” meddling here. She’s too aware of the whole situation. I, like you, wonder if Ben’s dad will end up dead in this timeline. Maybe Choosing Noel is the darkest timeline. It makes me want them to do a Community-style thing where they choose every possible choice — from choosing herself to choosing that cute art guy she blew off.

I’m thinking this is all a dream and she wakes up hungover in the apartment, very Dorothy Gale, with a new outlook on life. What do you think?

Felicity 4.18 rooftopEmma: If there was to be a fifth season it should definitely be a Wild kind of situation where she takes a big long hike to get away from the dudes in her life. Even when she moves coasts things still catch up with her so maybe the wilderness is the next step. One reason why I really love this character is because she has made mistakes and messed up on more than one occasion but you’re right when you mention her motivations and what drives her sometimes gets muddled.

Okay now I definitely want an every timeline kind of situation. I do think that we might end up in the darkest timeline and I’m guessing Elena is still going to die regardless (sob). I love the road not traveled trope or the It’s a Wonderful Life playbook if you will. It’s fun and gives us a look at how things could have been. The only thing better is the whole body swap thing (and I wish they had done this with Ben and Noel at some point).

I have a feeling she will also wake up with a raging hangover and a big case of WTF, but I can’t wait to see how it pans out and how it impacts the end of the series.

Another thing that pleased me greatly was seeing Meghan in her old attire. So much leopard print bedding! Oh and Felicity’s ruffled shirt from her graduation gave me so many early 00s bad fashion flashbacks. The start of this decade really is the worst for clothes. It was also a big reminder of how close Felicity graduated to when I did (I was two years later) which is perhaps another reason why it felt so real. College really was forever ago now.

Do you have anything else to add?

Felicity 4.17 bad shirtJulie: I don’t remember a lot about my first S4 Felicity viewing (I spent most of this season POSITIVE that Meghan was going to get pregnant. I guess there’s still time), but I have a vague memory of what actually happens at the end and I think you’re right about it not ending well for Elena. Which makes sense, considering how they’ve treated her so far this season.

And now you have me longing for a S5 where they go full Family Matters and do crazy things like body swapping and robots and all kinds of nonsense. Let’s kickstart it!

I shudder to think about early aughts’ fashion making a comeback, though you know it will. That’s how this works. Even ’70s hair came back. Kind of. I’m not sure Pete Campbell’s combover will ever be in style. But, you never know.

Emma: I am so happy the ’70s have come back, I will not say the same for the aughts. It’s funny how nostalgic I am for the ’90s, but everything from my early 20s conjures up less fond fashion memories.

I would definitely contribute/co-found that kickstarter.

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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One Response to “TV Rewind: Felicity, “The Graduate” & “Time Will Tell””

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  1. Out of the Box: Look of the Week | TV Ate My Wardrobe - May 15, 2015

    […] a brief pretty dress pause with Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Stephanie Beatriz and yes I bemoaned ruffled shirts just yesterday, but a girl is allowed to change her mind especially when it is paired with killer black pants and […]

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