Felicity, Episodes 4.21 & 4.22
“Felicity Interrupted” & “Back to the Future”
Original Air Date: May 22, 2002
Julie: Having watched the Felicity finale (again), I feel like I can say with much certainty that clip show finales stink. I am not a fan. I think back in the day when DVDs and then streaming weren’t available, when your only hope of seeing old episodes was if the show made it into syndication, clip shows were great. I remember actually liking them quite a bit in my younger days. But now, it’s just lazy. And to pull out the clip show trope in a series finale? A slap in the face to everyone who has stuck by your show for its entire run.
Maybe if the clips had come during the penultimate episode I wouldn’t have been so upset, but I don’t know. It’s all very cheap to me.
I guess at least we did have that second-to-last hour with all new stuff, and it was somewhat compelling. Felicity, having confessed that she’s from the future, gets committed by Noel and Ben who are (rightly) concerned about the state of her mental health. I love that they used Ben’s dad’s illness as the way to convince Ben that Felicity is for real. I was wondering if that HUGE plot line would make an appearance, and it did, in a really clever way.
The other plot line from the past that comes into play here is the fire in the building that for some reason housed both the career counselors and the art department. This time, Felicity isn’t trapped inside the art studio, but Noel is still there working in his office. He ends up dying, which is grim, and not the intended result of Felicity’s time travel. This spurs her to get back to the future, and she (with the help of Meghan) finds Dr. Korsakov, whom Felicity helps realize that his time travel spells do work.
I’m assuming that this is one of those time travel-y situations where Felicity came from the future to help him realize that he needed to publish his book, that it worked. It reminds me of the time travel stuff in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (right?) where Harry thinks he sees his dad conjuring a patronus, but really it’s himself doing it in the future or whatever. Anyway. This time travel talk is confusing.
Let’s talk about this: How the heck is Elena now alive in the future at Noel’s wedding and also how is she with Tracy?
And how nice was it that the show ended with a Sarah McLachlin song?
Emma: What the clip show?! Honestly I was so mad as soon as I realized what they were going for as this is not the kind of thing you use for the finale and in a way it would have been so much better if they had flipped the episodes because “Felicity Interrupted” was really great making this finale choice even more disappointing. I’d never considered that a clip show acts as a way for an audience to see best of moments before we had instant access to everything, but yeah don’t go all in on this for your finale. I’m trying to think when shows did away with this format. Part of it was to do with the amount of episodes they had to produce, right? As it gave the writers a chance to catch up/have a break. I feel like I have read that somewhere. But it did feel very dialled in and just a meh way to go out after the amount of fun from the 4 previous time travel episodes.
So I did a little research in that I watched this clip and it reveals just why they did this time travel arc. Long story short they were repeatedly told they would have 17 episodes for the final season which is why episode 17 feels like the series finale with Felicity graduating and then ending with Ben coming to her. Then they got a surprise 5 episode order so they pretty much went fuck it and went with the path untravelled with Felicity choosing Noel instead. So pretty much what we figured. They wanted her to end up with Ben but at the same time they needed a reason to explore the other version so time travel! This brings me back to my original issue with the whole thing because while I LOVE the whole time travel arc I still hate the catalyst because I still don’t think Ben would do that. Or if he did cheat he wouldn’t do it in the way it occurred and it just makes her final decision at the end to just forgive him seem a little hollow and a disservice to both Felicity and Ben. The Team Noel fans must have been fuming.
And yes the Elena thing because if Elena is alive then surely the whole reason Ben cheats disappears as well. Speaking of which YouTube also gives an explanation as to how she is alive and it will also make you mad about how much time they wasted on SCENES WE HAVE ALREADY SEEN and cut out an actual important plot point. Elena is alive because Felicity made her promise to go to Duke instead of Columbia and I’m shaking my head so hard that they cut this out and instead showed us a history of Felicity and her friends. We know all of this stuff so why get rid of something that might confuse/piss people off?! I figured something like this had probably happened but this was a case of show not make us guess what the fuck happened. I watched this episode a week ago and I’m still mad it would seem (the photo below is an accurate representation of my reaction).
It was nice seeing all these moments again, but not at the expense of a good finale. Instead it just comes across as super sentimental and empty all at once. I was going to rematch the pilot but it turns out I don’t need to do that.
I have more to say about the finale, but first I want to discuss the penultimate episode and in my internet hunt for a song that was used (this site has all the Felicity tracks – I love how early 00s it looks) I just noticed that they aired both these last two episodes back to back which would have maybe cushioned my clip show rage if I had been watching it live when it first aired. And you’re so spot on about how great a final track that is for this show.
The way they blend in the actual past with Felicity’s current predicament is great and it makes sense that out of the two Ben would be the one who ends up believing her. It also led to one final Ben and Noel team up and while these have been far and few between it still made me so happy to see them working together in this way. From the research on the computer – got to love internet diagnosis practices – to when they show up at Felicity’s with their broadest/fakest smiles. For all their animosity while these two will never be besties they do work well together even if Ben goes and ruins it by believing Felicity. A call from Lauren sparks this as Felicity has both mentioned her and his father’s illness; I really love the scene where Ben wakes Noel up to tell him he believes Felicity because Scott Foley does sleepy dopiness so well. And because I want them to snuggle. I did think it was interesting at no point did Felicity tell Ben about sleeping with Lauren or the son he now has. What did you make of this?
Did you enjoy the Ben/Noel team-up as much as I did? Also did you get Alias vibes when Ben broke Felicity out of the psychiatric hospital? Because I definitely did, from the way it was shot to the general look of it. I think you can tell the two shows shared offices.Julie: Wow. Good on you with the research. That’s all very interesting. It makes sense that episode seventeen was meant to be the finale. The stuff afterwards really does feel tacked on (even if it was, for the most part, very cool). Like you, I do wish they had shown the Elena scene because COME ON she’s alive in the final scene (with Tracy, no less) and they give no explanation for it. I guess we can also assume that before she tries to return to the future she tells Ben not to sleep with Lauren and tells Meghan and Sean to get back together?
I also loved the team-up of Ben and Noel. They do make a good, if odd, pair. Maybe now that everything has been figured out, that Ben and Felicity are now good (and, yeah, presumably he doesn’t cheat on her now that Elena’s alive?) and Noel is married, maybe now they can be friends?
Speaking of the Ben cheating thing, nothing’s really solved here, is it? I mean, he knows she was mad at him for cheating on her, but I feel like they could still run into the same issue again if Felicity finds herself sad or stressed about something again. She’s the one who learned the lessons here, not Ben. I also wonder about his reaction to her telling him about Lauren and the baby. Was any part of him like, wistful that if he doesn’t hook up with Lauren, his baby won’t be born? That’s a pretty big butterfly effect, and would’ve been a much more interesting thing to see, writers, instead of clips from freshman year.
Actually, yeah, that would’ve been great. They should’ve showed us what happened between the time where she decides to go back to the future and before the actually does. What does she tell people? What advice does she give? Does she set herself or her friends up with some good stock tips? Wasted opportunity.
What would you have told Felicity’s friends if you had been her?
Emma: This is the ultimate problem with time travel stories as we’re now left with all the ‘but if this happened then that wouldn’t have and then we wouldn’t be here in the first place.’ Or the time travel paradox in its more concise form. They do the whole it was just a dream thing because Felicity had a crazy fever and it looks like this is the case, except Elena is alive. And Ben utters the same declaration which is all full of flowery and meaningful words that won’t mean anything if he does it again. And I love that all it takes is for Ben to promise he won’t cheat for Felicity to be all okay with the whole getting back together thing. I mean I guess he did break her out of an asylum and believe her when no one else would, that’s got to earn some points.
I got a whole lot of Eternal Sunshine feelings from Felicity and Ben’s bedtime chat as they talk about whether she will remember any of this and that she will find a way to remember. I maybe whispered ‘Meet me in Montauk‘ at the screen. Because whatever Felicity does the end result is the same; Ben is who she ends up with.
The one clip that made the most sense to remind us of is the one where Ben refers to the movie canister as a time machine, but they could have done away with all the other ones. This one reinforces not only Ben and Felicity as a couple but is also a fortuitous piece of writing from season two that nicely links into this ‘oh shit we have five extra episodes so let’s do time travel’ thing they’ve got going on.
Also scoring on the ‘huh this ties in nicely’ is Zoe in the psychiatric hospital as they have already laid the groundwork for this and it not only gives Felicity hope that she isn’t going through some kind of psychosis but it also links back to the present day with Noel’s wedding. Felicity also tells Zoe about Noel and now I want to see the wedding toast to see if anyone mentions how Noel first met Zoe. Maybe this is why everyone is laughing so heartily during the final montage.
The lack of Lauren/baby mention feels very Friday Night Lights season 2 in that if they don’t acknowledge it this means it didn’t happen. Other advice I think Felicity needs to give people before coming back includes telling Julie to not be such a terrible friend and to quit it with the awful pink tops already. I also want her to tell Meghan not to get back with Sean because I just can’t with their bickering – her project presentation did make me laugh a lot mostly because of all the facial expressions.
Speaking of facial expressions this was another great Keri Russell showcase including all of her exasperated looks at the Ben/Noel brain trust. They are right to be concerned but could they get her committed like this? I know I’m questioning the validity of this whole thing in a time travel plot but it does seem far too easy in how she ends up in hospital. I guess she complies to it all and it isn’t entirely against her will. As soon as Ben asked to see her it was clear that she would end up with him because the trust level despite the whole cheating thing is much higher. Plus as Noel pointed out there is a connection between Ben and Felicity that runs far deeper than any of her other relationships.
I have been firmly on Team Ben for since season 2 (I’m such a team switcher) and I know you have been less sold on Mr Covington at times so do you think Felicity ended up with the right person? And would you feel differently if it had ended at episode 17? Also in the name of fairness here are Buzzfeed lists selling the merits of both Ben and Noel.
Julie: I feel like, in general, there wasn’t a lot of thought put into research for these episodes. They seemed to have winged it with the time travel conceit and with the logistics of getting someone committed. I mean, would they really go from girl on the street not hurting anyone to padded cell in, like, a minute? That seems quick. Also, it’s a little scary if someone can diagnose you from WebMD and then get you locked up in a psych ward like it’s nothing. But it works for the narrative, I guess, so whatever.
That kind of sums up all my feelings about this finale: Whatever.
I’ve been a bit wishy-washy about my team allegiances. I know I’ve been a Noel apologist, which angered some people I don’t know why. I do love Noel. He, specifically, first season Noel, is exactly my jam. He’s dorky, smart, and sweet. Ben is a little too aloof in the early goings, and, while he ends up being a decent guy, I still think he has growing up to do. As does Felicity. So, as far as who I think she should’ve ended up with, the answer is: Herself. She should’ve pulled a Kelly Taylor. She should’ve chosen “me.” It’s what she did basically back in the faux finale, and I like how that ended. She chose herself and then Ben came to her, which is right. I really could’ve done without the back-tracking, honestly. They could’ve ended it right there, with everyone still alive and in love and happy, and it would’ve been fine.
Though we would’ve missed out on all the good frantic Keri Russell acting. She (and Speedman) were great in these final episodes.
Now that the show is done, what were some of your favorite moments from the four seasons?
Season 1 Noel is also my jam which is why I was Team Noel in the early days and then things shifted for me maybe because Ben did sort of change, but yeah the dude does still have a lot to do in terms of growing up. He definitely needs to quit the hero act – I love that Meghan mentioned this quality when Julie looked all sad about Ben going after Felicity rather than sticking with her. It was bitchy but delicious. The graduation episode really was the perfect ending and I wonder if Scott Foley got to direct as a sort of second place prize for not getting the girl. But I did really enjoy the time travel episodes for the most part so I don’t mind the WB fucking them around too much.
Okay favorite moments time!
One relationship I really enjoyed seeing develop and grow is between Meghan and Felicity which went from pure animosity to full on BFFs. Those final moments in the last episode as they nuzzle into each other is just as important as any of the many Felicity/Ben hugs which I’ve mooned over. Lady friendships on teen shows are often contentious for obvious reasons like dudes but they started out disliking each other for the simple fact that they were so different to each other and they had been thrust into each other’s world through a simple room assignment. As you know I also really dig that they are besties in real life too. I would also like to see Amanda Foreman in more stuff please.
The sexual health stuff was generally a high point and Felicity’s contraceptive pill campaign is just as significant now as it was then. This was also the episode where Ben and Noel got drunk, played video games and hit each other so it was general all around good stuff (except for Felicity kissing that Greg dude, he sucked). The same goes for how they Julie rape storyline was handled, also still depressingly relevant even if certain actors involved with said storyline disagree. There were maybe a few too many pregnancy scares and actual pregnancies for my liking and it is a convenient way of adding extra drama.
I also appreciate that Felicity was far from perfect and that she fucked up on multiple occasions whether it was getting blackout drunk and not knowing if she had slept with that frat bro or the time she lost her virginity to the MPDG, she made mistakes and had regrets but they were still hers to have. She isn’t just this sweater wearing A grade perfect student. The time she copied that dissertation was not good storytelling. That was one fuck up too far in that there were no real consequences.
Holiday themed episodes were also pretty great from the first season Halloween where Felicity threw up in Noel’s lap to the first Thanksgiving where she frantically smooched Noel in the bathroom. It’s not holiday themed but the mid-term episode in season 1 which introduced us to Noel’s beets reaction is also a high point.
The randomness of the Twilight Zone inspired episode and attention to detail of the homage makes that one really special. Considering it was one of the only things I knew about the show before I came in it could have been a huge let down but instead it was what I hoped it would be and more.
I have more to add including costume favorites but I will pass it over to you before I write an entire essay entitled “What I Love about Felicity.
Julie: One thing that kept me from watching Felicity when it originally aired (aside from the fact that I was in college myself at the time), was that I assumed Felicity was going to be this perfect, no mistakes, cool girl. I was very wrong. She is not that. She’s awkward and confused and she sometimes makes horrible decisions (including sartorial ones). She’s very earnest and socially conscious, which could’ve gotten old, but the people around her bring her back down to Earth. I love how real and flawed she is, and the writers kept her that way for the duration of the show.
My top favorite moment is the Thanksgiving kiss with Noel during freshman year. For me, that is one of the top five kisses of all time on television. It’s just so…college. It happens in a women’s bathroom, for goodness’s sake. (This show could’ve used more bathroom drama, all told.)
Other things I loved were Ben getting in touch with his feelings on the basketball court, Dr. Pavone, the pre-rape Pink Guy, the MPDG (Even if he was a MPDG. Felicity deserves to have hot sex with hot people.)
I didn’t love almost every storyline involving Julie, what happened with Elena at the end, Javier jumping from being their cool uncle to being their classmate, Meghan and Sean’s breakups, whatever happened with Richard by the end of the run.
This show did have a tough time with character consistency, and the writers never really knew what to do with Felicity, career-wise. They never knew what to do with anyone, career-wise, unless that career was something straightforward like “doctor.” Actually “doctor” was the only career they ever really had a grasp on. What was Megan’s major? Psych? Education? I don’t even know. What about Richard or Javier? For a show about college, they never really explored the whole point of going to college — to learn and prep for a career.
Okay, now I want to hear about your costume highlights and lowlights.
Emma: That kiss is spectacular and the level of bathroom shenanigans particularly in the later seasons is depressingly low. All I can really remember is those random girls who moved in and Felicity’s bedroom/en suite sharing debacle. That is not the kind of bathroom action I want from my teen shows. Meghan and Felicity did manage to sneak some good stuff in when they were at the loft on the odd occasion I guess.
Another great kiss moment is Felicity and Ben’s first smooch as it is so playful and flirty. It’s not quite the heights of the Noel kiss but still really good nonetheless.
Yeah character consistency is definitely an issue the show had and while I don’t mind them not necessarily knowing what they want to be/do after college – and I think they nailed the anxiety this causes – it is a shame doctor is the one that sticks for three of these characters. I also would have liked more Felicity and her lady friends time as I don’t think they were terrible at this, but Elena and Meghan definitely got sidelined in favor of whatever boy drama was going on. Basically I wanted more girls’ nights out.
This nicely leads me to costume highlights as one of the worst outfits is also one of my favorites and I’m sure you know which one I’m going to say – yep the double red denim. The dream! Speaking of red and the super sexy dress she wore at the start of season 2 is a killer as is the really cute spaghetti straps super 90s dress at the start of season 1 which she pairs with some Cons and a cardigan. Felicity reminds me how much I still like 90s fashion and how bad the early 00s were for clothes. And she was generally good when it came to party attire that didn’t involve double denim as this sparkly top from the shooting episode (I still can’t believe that is a thing that happened) is very cool. Her sweater collection is like no other with more turtlenecks and chunky knits than any other characters. She even had a summer t-neck collection for when she needed to hide her Noel induced hickey.
What stands out to you clothes wise?
And we can’t talk about the legacy of Felicity without talking about the big hair chopping moment. This was one of the only things I knew about the show going into it and how it supposedly impacted the ratings. In terms of haircuts I think she looks cute with it short but she definitely experienced the awkward growing out stage. I did also enjoy the big wink reference to this haircut in the finale and it is funny how big the reaction was to it. But she was the girl with all the hair so I can understand why this was a BIG DEAL.
I’m bad at remembering specific outfits (I think you mentioned most of my favorites), but I really do love the nostalgia feelings that come with all these clothes. I was in college at the same time that Felicity aired and I definitely had a lot of sweaters in the late ’90s and sparkly tops in the early ’00s. Everything Noel wears feels like it could’ve been lifted from the closet of every guy I knew at the time. The only thing missing, boy-fashion-wise, was some dude with a giant, curly mop on his head. Ben and Noel’s hair situation was always quite attractive, unlike a lot of the guys I knew back in the day.
One of the only good things about the flashbacks in the finale was that it took us on the Felicity hair journey again. I still don’t get all the pearl clutching about the short ‘do. She looked so cute. The growing out phase, however, especially toward the end of season two and the beginning of three, was the real tragedy.
Maybe Felicity should’ve turned back time all the way to the beginning of the second season. Maybe all of her problems would’ve been solved if she had just not gotten that haircut.
Emma: I did wonder if it would have been better if she went right back to the end of season 1 when the first Ben vs. Noel choice was presented. It would save a lot of heartache although she ultimately would end up with Ben (or so the show would like us to believe and I agree with this).
This show made me super nostalgic too and I do wish I had watched it when it was on. I hate the phrase ‘role model’ in this context but I do think Felicity is a pretty great character for all the reasons we have written about. Keri Russell’s performance has been excellent throughout and I barely got any character whiplash when alternating between this and The Americans, which speaks to how she plays these characters. Speaking of which it is funny that she has gone from much talked about haircut to a show where the hair or rather the wigs are a big topic of conversation.
After watching and discussing this show with you for two years now I am feeling rather emotional that we are all done and there is no more. It has been very fun and now we’ve been through TV high school twice we’re now graduating from TV college too.