Tag Archives: Greg Grunberg

‘Felicity’ Reunion Interview is an Off-the-Rails Delight

19 Jun

At the ATX TV Festival there was a big Felicity reunion panel. That discussion is not available yet (but will be), in the meantime, Today has gifted us with this extended cast interview, which took place before the panel. It is a wonderful mess that falls apart many times, in the best possible way.

Scott Speedman delivers some very Ben like moments and the chemistry between the actors is evident. The dynamics between the IRL actors very much reads like a lot of their onscreen versions way back when on The WB. The main difference here is that Amanda Foreman never had it in for Keri Russell.

I was late to this show (you can find all those conversations over at This Was TV and here at TV Ate My Wardrobe), but as they note during this conversation there is a reason why Felicity resonates to viewers old and new.

“Also I was mumbling and whispering” might be my favorite Scott Speedman moment since he called any number of other characters dicks on Felicity. As expected there is hair chat, including Amy Jo Johnson asking Keri Russell about her curls.

This interview is exactly what I needed to see today.

TV Rewind: Felicity, “The Paper Chase” & “Ben Don’t Leave”

30 Apr

Felicity, Episodes 4.15 & 4.16
“The Paper Chase” & “Ben Don’t Leave”
Original Air Dates: Apr. 10 & Apr. 17, 2002

Felicity 4.15 Felicity paisleyJulie: My eye muscles hurt from all the rolling they had to do during these two episodes. The DRAMA. Everything that happened would’ve been right at home in an after school special, or in Season 2 of Felicity where many of these things already happened. And most of the characters were acting like crazy people/idiots. This show is spinning its wheels. Again, I think it would’ve benefited from a shorter episode order, but networks weren’t doing that back then.

Where to start…Probably with Felicity and how her life is imploding. Her story is basically the same (or a continuation of the same) in both episodes. She is BUSY. She is busy and she’s distracted. She has the architecture thing that Noel set her up with. She has Ben and his baby mama drama. And she has schoolwork, which seems to have been placed on the back burner.

She realizes WAY too late (after she sees Meghan typing up a paper for their art history class), that she still hasn’t started her 25-page final paper. Whoops. Meghan, who’s interesting here because she’s actually doing her paper and working hard at it, suggests the opposite to Felicity — Go to the library and copy someone’s thesis.

Felicity balks because a) it’s a dumb idea and b) SHE’S DEFINITELY BEEN IN TROUBLE FOR CHEATING BEFORE. This show can’t come up with a new storyline to save its life. We’ve seen cheating before and unplanned pregnancy and Noel dating someone who looks like Amy Smart. But, when she finds herself staring down the deadline, Felicity does the stupid thing and copies the work.

Instead of getting in trouble with her teacher, the professor (played by Jane Lynch) wants to publish this magnificent paper in the school magazine or whatever. Felicity hopes this will just blow over, but it doesn’t. And I just kept feeling sorry for the Jane Lynch character the whole time. This poor woman. She doesn’t deserve this kind of nonsense from Felicity. The professor even told Felicity how much it was going to mean for her career to have one of her undergrad’s papers published, and Felicity kept doubling down on the lie until — finally — she spilled the truth on the day she was going to have to defend her work.

I’m sorry, but this whole storyline made me stabby. It made me mad at Felicity, and I do hope she gets into trouble, big trouble, because this was such a moronic thing to do. Also, what did you think of Meghan’s hunting and pecking typing style? Does anyone type like that anymore? The internet is quite prevalent in 2001. I’m surprised Meghan is not more computer savvy. Also, she’s a senior in college and will have had to write many papers by this point. Did she write them all this way? How annoying.

Were you as bothered by this storyline as I was?

Felicity 4.15 FelicityEmma: This cheating story is the dumbest. So, so dumb. And like you I was annoyed by the whole thing and while it plays into Felicity’s tendency to be impulsive I don’t think she would be this stupid to do it again. As you mentioned she has got into trouble with this before (she rewrote one of Ben’s papers without telling him) and I find it hard to believe that even in this desperate state she would be this reckless. Especially this close to graduation. This is the time when you go to talk to your professor and ask for an extension and considering how lovely Jane Lynch’s character is I’m pretty sure she would be more than understanding.

Another one of Felicity’s traits which tends to get her into more strife is that she tries to deal with things alone. Here she asks Meghan for some advice and learns this is a terrible idea – side note I realized Meghan and Sean are perfect for each other as they give equally bad advice – as Meghan’s solution involves copying someone else’s dissertation. Of course this is a terrible plan. And of course this is cheating. Felicity is frazzled because of everything that has been happening and sees this as a last ditch solution. There is another way out and that’s talk to Jane Lynch, but nope.

Instead Felicity goes to the library and is the least subtle ever about her dissertation copying (Elizabeth Jennings would be so disappointed). She looks so guilty the entire time she’s pretty much letting everyone know what she is doing. And of course she cheats too well as it’s the best piece of work ever or something like that.

I have a couple of quick academic questions – firstly, the page limit is confusing to me as we did ours to a word count rather than pages. And secondly wouldn’t she have had to out her sources in the paper via footnotes and a bibliography so why are they asking for her sources at the review?

One thing I will say about both episodes and particularly this one is that pretty much everyone is leaning on their bad habits to an extreme. So Felicity’s is impulsive in the worst possible way, sometimes this part of personality works in her favour like coming to New York but on this occasion it most definitely doesn’t. Ben who likes to help people and also has a habit of being a bit of a social chameleon is helping Lauren so much that it is not only putting a strain on his relationship with Felicity, but is also just putting a strain on Felicity. It’s not just this pair as Sean is at his worst, most over bearing self and Noel is too nice to tell Sean to shut the fuck up and lay off the really terrible business speak he thinks works so well (it doesn’t). This doesn’t make it all that enjoyable, but this is definitely a theme.

As you mention they are at this point regurgitating storylines and it’s all got so melodramatic as everyone is having such a hard time at the moment. I just want some silliness again and no I don’t mean whatever the fuck Richard was doing.

What I did like was how much time Meghan and Felicity spend together even if we are subjected to Meghan’s bad typing style – I’m trying to remember when I started typing properly, I didn’t have a computer until my third year of university but I was definitely better than this – and terrible advice. They have moved far from frenemy into total BFFs and I just wish we had more of this pairing this season rather than all the Sean/Meghan bickering. If only there was more Elena.

Were you as glad as I was to see this friendship come back into focus?

Felicity 4.15 laughingJulie: Amen! Why did it never occur to Felicity to talk to her teacher (who seems quite cool and understanding) about her predicament and ask for a brief extension? So much ridiculousness.

And, yes, she would’ve had to include her sources within the paper, so this whole “What are your sources?” thing is nuts. And the 25 page paper thing is how we do it here. Usually it means that the font has to be 12 point Times or something similar and double spaced, but most papers have to be a certain number of pages (which is how it was back when I was in college during Felicity time, anyway). Now that I write novels and everything is word count, it’s so frustrating when people ask how many pages something is. I don’t know. I no longer think in pages.

I love that you point out that everyone here is exhibiting their bad traits to the extreme. That is dead on. Also, I’d point out that Noel is being very Noel by jumping headfirst into this relationship with Zoe and Richard is being a giant boob. Elena is being herself to the extreme by basically not being here at all.

Yes, the straight up friendships were the shining moments of these episodes. I’ve always liked the Meghan/Felicity pairing, I just wish it could’ve come with different circumstances this time. The other friendship that worked for me was Javier and the girl from A League of Their Own. They have such a sweet relationship, and I love how age-appropriate they are for each other. Javier needs a mature lady in his life, especially since the other ladies are busy stealing papers and being stupid. (Also, their relationship reminded me of the mature person version of a book I just finished — Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens’ Agenda. SO GOOD.)

Also being stupid here is Ben. Or really, maybe he’s not being stupid, but he’s definitely being Ben to the nth degree. This highlights the reason why I have CONCERNS about Ben and Felicity’s relationship. He’s too standoffish. He does his own thing regardless of who gets hurt in the process. He really doesn’t seem to worry about how all of this baby/Arizona stuff is hurting Felicity. I don’t think he’s thinking about Felicity at all. But all she’s thinking about is Ben. That’s why this relationship is a bit toxic.

However, I don’t really blame him for being all caught up in the baby stuff. It’s his baby. That’s a big deal. Also, yeah, it makes sense that a dude with daddy issues is going to want to be there for his kid. I just think it would’ve been a kindness if he had ended things with Felicity, at least for the time being. That would’ve forced her to get her academic life on track before graduation, then she could’ve either followed him to Arizona or not. As it is, he’s keeping her in limbo and that’s sucky. She has a 25-page paper due!

I’ve written a lot. What do you think about the Ben/Felicity situation?

Felicity 4.16 Felicity and MeghanEmma: What I’ve found with a lot of the conflict this season is most of it could have been avoided and the contrivance levels are super high. If characters actually spoke to each other then a lot of this could be avoided and maybe then the writer would have come up with new and interesting ways to mess with these characters. Instead we just get a repeat of certain storylines.

I don’t know why but to me 25 pages sounds far more daunting that 5000 words and far more abstract. Also I love it when we find differences between academic practices.

One thing I really liked about Meghan and Felicity is how far they have come and that it is Meghan who is worried that they won’t be friends when college is over. Slightly vulnerable Meghan is always a delight to see and Felicity’s ‘of course’ reaction followed by laughter is a moment of levity that was very much appreciated. And really out of all the friendships this one does seem like it will stick. And it is one that has done so in real life too, which you know makes me rather happy. I’m still giddy that Sharon was Angela Chase’s bridesmaid IRL. Such a sucker for this.

If only Elena got to be involved in this storyline too. I have a feeling she would tell Felicity just how stupid all of this is. In fact if Elena was more of presence I doubt this would have even happened, bringing me back to plot contrivance.

With Javier and Rita I really like what they’re doing here too although I wish the Michael stuff hadn’t played out quite how it did as it made Rita look a little silly falling for a gay guy again. Also I don’t really get what Michael’s motivations were and no one even considered that he might be bi.

It really bums me out that after the whole magical getting back together in the airport moment everything that has followed for Ben and Felicity has been such a chore.  Like you I think his concerns and reaction makes sense but Felicity is very much out on her own and the way the episode ends with her responding to Ben’s millionth assertion that they’re going to get through this with a not so confidence building “I’m not so sure” is worrying. But then SOMETHING HAPPENS: Ben finds out that Lauren is moving to Arizona and I can’t blame her, to be honest, although her situation with her ex sounds super sketchy, so I get why Ben really doesn’t want her to move. Ben has also changed his mind about moving to Arizona even though his lawyer suggested it, instead he decided to help Lauren move her stuff and that’s when SOMETHING HAPPENS. (repeating to be extra dramatic)

Meghan is making jokes about Lauren being drunk (this is about to get awkward) when Felicity complains about Ben being late and then a phone call out of nowhere has Felicity running to the hospital. Ben and Lauren have been involved in a car accident – Lauren and the baby are fine, Ben is in surgery with never mentioned injuries (just that he lost a lot of blood). Meghan’s jokes don’t sound all that funny when Felicity overhears the doctor telling Lauren her alcohol level is over the legal limit and I love it when doctors draw attention to the pulling the curtain around for confidentiality and then you can totally hear everything anyway. Felicity is really angry for totally legitimate reasons and they’ve turned Lauren into a bit of a villain by having her act like an asshole to Felicity on several occasions before the crash.

How did you find this whole setup? They sure are getting a lot of use out of the hospital set this season first with Trevor, then with Ben’s dad and now Ben.

Felicity 4.15 Ben and Felicity in bedJulie: When you put the difference that way — 5000 words sounds like nothing these days. It probably would’ve seemed like a lot in college, but after blogging for ten years, I can vomit out 1000 words in a half hour.

Yes, I also love when these TV friendships wind up lasting, like Busy Phillips and Michelle Williams. And the whole cast of Full House. You, as a viewer, spend so much time enjoying these relationships, you really root for them to work in real life. It’s so sad to find out that your favorite TV friends hate each other in real life.

Again, yeah, why wasn’t Elena also in that scene? It would’ve been easy. Elena could’ve been on her laptop working on another homework assignment or something. Something must have been going on with Tangi Miller during this season, either she was busy working on something else or she really ticked somebody in the writers’ room off. It’d be one thing if she was off having her own storylines, but nothing. She’s nowhere.

Rita really does have a type, doesn’t she? And good call that Michael could be bisexual. Look at Javier, trying to put people in a box.

Onto the SOMETHING HAPPENS. A car accident! Has Felicity ever done a car accident before? Oh yeah, Todd Mulcahy. He was hit by a bus. I feel like maybe there was another car accident at some point, but no matter. Ben is in the hospital! He has a head injury! (With both this show and Grey’s Anatomy this week, I saw a lot of people hit by cars.)

What we find out is that Lauren was driving. The baby is fine, but Lauren was drunk. So that’s terrible. Not only was she drunk driving, she was drunk pregnant driving. And she’s having Ben’s baby. How do you think this is going to play out? I mean, she’s walking around the hospital all not arrested, but the cops came to talk to her and she was over the alcohol legal limit. Does she have Ben’s baby in prison?

Felicity 4.16 hospitalEmma: I have no idea why Elena has not been in the second half of the season except for the odd moment to remind us she is still on the show and then when they do give her story it’s with Richard and he becomes the worst of himself when he asks her to be his date to impress another girl with how PC he is. Which urgh times one million. He deserved to be punched and so much more – the sound effect on that moment was pretty full on and the shiner he had to match is equally as impressive.

Elena should not apologize under any circumstance and Richard is lucky she even wants to talk to him. Suddenly there is this whole question of who Elena hangs out with and I’m hoping this is here to point out that the show could be a little better on the diversity front. The whole Richard/Star Wars analogy didn’t make much sense to me and while I’m glad they are dealing with issues relating to race to me this comes across as a little too much on the “isn’t Richard an asshole?!” without really going into it in any depth. What did you make of this pairing/moment?

I was wondering what kind of charges Lauren might face and it is the kind of case where a judge could be lenient because she is pregnant or go the opposite way because she endangered her unborn child as well as Ben and others on the road. She ends the episode with a note saying she is going to get herself sorted out whatever that means. Maybe she will end up in rehab instead.

What this second episode does is put Ben out of the picture while he is in surgery and while his life never feels like it is in danger it gives Felicity that something else to worry about while she is dealing with the cheating drama. Also I don’t get why they couldn’t reschedule the panel when Felicity’s boyfriend has just been involved in a major car accident. This seems like something they would do or not. Anyway I wish Felicity had just interrupted Jane Lynch earlier when she was talking about her ex rather than waiting until right before the panel. Felicity has been reckless but she is the kind of person who was always going to spill. It is another case of dragging out to create tension but instead just leaves me frustrated.

Felicity ends up taking Lauren in even though Lauren has not only been an asshole to her by being generally hostile but by getting behind the wheel even though she was drunk. Felicity does yell at Lauren after she finds out about the DUI and rightfully so after all the shit she has given her and I think she is rather restrained considering. When Lauren comes back to the hospital to find out how Ben is Felicity is friendly and civil even taking her back and letting her stay in her room. In this moment Lauren realizes the impact on Felicity and it is nice to see her acknowledge this. So they made her the villain but not in an out and out way as if they had it would have been too extreme. For however irritating I am finding a lot of these storylines I am glad they allow Felicity to make mistakes but also acknowledge that with something like this it is far from her fault.

I don’t think there have been any other car accidents but it has been a while since everyone was at the hospital together, the true staple of a teen show, but we never got to see them with Ben because of those pesky rules. If only everyone had a cell phone by this point then Felicity would have known they were there.

Felicity 4.16 ElenaJulie: I googled Tangi Miller and the last season of Felicity, and the results were inconclusive. Until we get the unauthorized Lifetime Felicity TV movie, I guess we’ll never know.

Everything with Richard in these episodes was completely terrible. He started out as a semi-lovable goofball/evil mastermind, but has become completely unlikable. And 2015 me is appalled that he would compare his being a Star Wars nerd to being black. An honest exploration, however, of Elena wanting to become more in touch with why she hangs out with who she hangs out with would be interesting. Because right now I have no idea why she’s still with most of these people.

As frustrating as Felicity’s cheating actions were during these episodes, the way she dealt with Lauren was spot on. She expressed her anger, but she also showed Lauren some compassion, which is good because it gives Lauren no fodder to hate Felicity. For Felicity, being nice is a way of life. I can’t imagine Felicity not taking Lauren in. Sometimes it feels like she’s being a pushover, though. She does so many things that she doesn’t actually want to do, and then regrets it later. She’s a giant ball of doing-the-right-thing stress. So, maybe she hasn’t changed that much since freshman year.

Other people did things in these episodes, including the part where Noel and Zoe’s relationship kept being really dumb and Sean kept proving that he is completely unemployable. What did you think about the escapades of Crane and Blumburg? Also,  Sean kept talking about his sex life, or lack thereof. Will we see any actual evidence of this?

Felicity 4.16 Noel and ZoeEmma: A mystery! I can add this to the behind the scenes questions I need answered like ‘Why have Julianna Margulies and Archie Panjabi have not shared a scene on The Good Wife for 50 episodes?’

I would like to see more of the Elena exploration but I fear that is not the agenda. If we get more of Richard being a dick then I’m going to be so mad.

The Zoe/Noel pairing is a big ball of not interesting and I also don’t understand why Noel thinks Sean is a good person to taking dating advice from but I guess Noel doesn’t have that many friends, which is depressing in itself. I get that things are probably still a little weird with Felicity and Ben, but they are better than Sean at this. Or if they remembered Noel used to be very tight with Elena and she would be ideal.

I get why Zoe didn’t want to mention her medication to Noel because it’s awkward and she’s embarrassed/doesn’t want to scare him away and yet by what she is doing she’s pushing him away regardless. And we know Noel’s not a bad guy either and is far from the kind to put the pressure on. Did you think his late night visit was cute or creepy?

And ugh I would be happy if we don’t have to deal with Sean’s sex life because it will probably entail bickering with Meghan and there has already been far, far too much of that.

Felicity 4.15 NoelJulie: Is that true about The Good Wife? I can’t wait to watch the E! Behind the Scenes on that show. (Do they still do E! Behind the Scenes? I only watch that channel during awards season.)

Yes! Noel and Elena. I was trying to think of who Elena has shared scenes with this season, and it’s mostly been Richard (Halloween and this one) and Ben (with the tutoring). Did she have a falling out with the girls or something? Hopefully someone will find this post and give us the skinny. What happened to you, Tangi Miller? We are jonesing for some more Elena in Season Four!

As far as Noel and Zoe go, maybe these weirdos deserve each other. It was a little presumptuous of him to show up late at night with not one, but two bottles of wine. I completely understand her not wanting to disclose her medical history to him on the first couple of dates, but then I think maybe she should’ve waited to start dating him. Leading him on, as she has, was also kind of cruel — not that she can’t go at her own pace, but she could’ve dodged his advances more artfully/been more upfront. How hard is it to say, “I like you, but can we take things slow, physically?”

And on the Sean thing — I get that Noel feels loyal to Sean at work, but dude needs to start pulling his own weight.

What did we miss?

Felicity 4.15 MeghanEmma: Yeah they haven’t been on screen together since season 4 and the only scenes they’ve shared have been over the phone. It is all rather suspect/conspiracy theory generating. I am the same on the E! front so sadly I have no idea, but they totally should if they don’t.

With Noel and Zoe I think the reason why it is so confusing to Noel is because of how hot and heavy they were when they fooled around in the office way back when. She isn’t obliged to recreate this moment but Noel does deserve an explanation or as you mentioned a better excuse than the one she gives at first. And once again never listen to Sean.

Sean is both incredibly confident with a huge side order of insecurity which is why he is so hard to take at work. I’m glad he listened to Noel eventually with his constructive criticism but there is no reason for him to be such a brat about it in the first place. If Noel wasn’t so patient/loyal he would be back at the loft coming up with more terrible inventions.

One quick aughts fashion report and this year was not kind including Meghan’s sweater that is part turtleneck/part throw and Felicity’s very pleather looking oxblood jacket. Felicity’s purple paisley shirt is very cute and so this can stay. How did the start of this decade get it so wrong with style?

Felicity 4.16 Elena and MeghanJulie: Fashion-wise, I wanted to point out Meghan’s velour Juicy hoodie. She was probably the last character I’d expect to be wearing one of those. Way more Paris Hilton than Jackie O.

Emma: They’ve definitely ditched the whole ’60s Meghan theme. Ah, Juicy, how early 00s you were.

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.


TV Rewind: Felicity, “A Perfect Match” & “Future Shock”

2 Apr

Felicity, Episodes 4.11 & 4.12
“A Perfect Match” & “Future Shock”
Original Air Dates: Dec. 19, 2001 & Mar. 20, 2002

FelicityEmma: Big things happen this week on Felicity and by big things it seems like this episode could have been the series finale as everything wraps up in a big way. It is the Christmas break and Felicity is going home for the holidays and when she leaves for the airport within the first 10 minutes of the episode it is clear that something or someone will stop her getting on the plane or there will be some kind of time jump.

Since their breakup and after the initial animosity Ben and Felicity have been pretty civil with each other and even though he reacted to seeing her going on a date in a very obvious way by leaving her maybe misleading answer machine messages something lingers between them. Felicity did a bad thing and it is understandable as to the why of the breakup but Ben’s late night visit is indicative of how he really feels. Felicity is right to call him out on why he is doing this explaining that every time he ends up pulling away and it hurts all over again. She tells him that she wants to be with him but she also doesn’t think this is what he is saying except it totally is and he just needs a gentle reminder of this. Like I said I get why they broke up and why Ben is reticent to make a move as he’s just protecting himself, but other than maybe a slight moment after Noel rescued Felicity there has been zero hint that Felicity feels romantically towards Noel.

The push Ben needs comes from his parents and in part his reaction to Felicity’s error is informed by his desire to not repeat his mom’s mistakes, but Felicity is not John Ritter and Ben is not his mom. Ben’s dad hasn’t always been there for him and yes he has been pretty shitty, however he does have some advice to impart about matters of the heart (let’s pretend that he didn’t try to kiss Felicity that one time) and when Ben says that he still loves Felicity his dad uses his near death bed situation to emphasize how love is the only thing that matters. Also a new liver would be nice and one is coming from Philadelphia!

Felicity loves the snow and snow in New York and so does Ben, maybe because they are from somewhere where it doesn’t snow. I have a feeling they might not like the snow so much in New York if it was as much as they (and you in Chicago) had this year. In the pilot when she had her big rooftop chat and first heart to heart with Ben he mentions how he can’t wait to see it snow and this came to mind as Ben looks up and notices it has started snowing. What follows is the ultimate cheesy romantic moment and I am all in. First he runs to her apartment only to find she has already left for the airport – I enjoyed Javier’s reaction and Ben flat out telling him no he can’t come with him to the airport. Now we didn’t get to see the classic buying a ticket to get through to the departure lounge moment but I’m going to pretend that definitely happened and luckily for Ben the snow delayed Felicity’s plane (not so luckily it also means his dad can’t get that liver) and he got to make the big declaration followed by all the smooching. Yes there was flailing on my end and yes I have watched this moment several times.

I had seen a photo from this scene (the one above) and I just figured it was from the series finale so I didn’t expect them to get back together as soon as this. I am very happy they did though. Speaking of finales there is so much wrapping up especially towards the end that it felt very final, but before we get to that what did you make of this reunion?

Felicity 4.11 Ben and FelicityJulie: Even though I apparently watched this season/episode before, I was also surprised that they got together this soon. Also, I remember there being more Team Noel vs. Team Ben mischief leading up to the series finale; so it will be interesting to see how that plays out, because right now Noel doesn’t appear to be in the picture at all. He’s moving on. Felicity’s moving on. Even Ben is willing to move on. I loved the bygones moment between him and Noel at the dance. Because obviously Ben is not that innocent in this reunion, but we’ll get to that in the second episode.

The reunion was very cute (though I was wondering, since this happened post-9/11, which flight Ben bought a decoy ticket for. Was he heading to Yemen?). The kiss was everything I wanted it to be, and I’m assuming Keri Russell and Scott Speedman were together at this point, because there’s a lot of familiar touching in these two episodes — especially when he puts his hand on her stomach.

Your assessment that this feels like a series finale is on point. It totally does. The very last scene where they’re all walking home (in fancy clothes), talking about the future, feels very final, but it also feels final in a way that would have fans up in arms screaming, “What?!?”

I really thought that the show would do a Parks & Rec jump at that point, taking us post graduation, to some point in the future. Or that we’d get a “What if?” episode, like Friends and the one where Monica was still fat (that’s probably not the title, but it sounds like a Friends title). But, while we get the three-month time jump, not much has changed. Remembering what I do about the finale, I think we will get one of those episodes in the second half of the season. I think.

Also in this episode, we see Noel moving on (again), this time with Sean. Sean, the ideas guy, the one who has the big enough ball (ha) to approach potential business clients, is trying to drum up graphics business for Noel. What do you think of this business pairing? Do you see Noel as a pushover? I do. Really, what is Sean bringing to this venture besides headaches?

Felicity 4.11 snowEmma: Love triangle politics on TV shows which last for more than a season fascinate me, especially when one coupling becomes the one which makes sense. And then you’ve got to think about keeping the audience happy so when a side gets chosen if you will, you also don’t want to alienate the other fans. Where it becomes extra sticky is if there is too much back and forth then they risk pissing off just about everyone else and this is something I have found with The Vampire Diaries at times. I figured there would be more Felicity and Noel shenanigans but where we are currently I don’t know how they can do it in a way that will make sense and not just as an empty gesture towards the Team Noel fans. But I am certainly intrigued even if right now I am happy with the outcome.

The Ben/Noel dance moment was nice and yet at the same time I can’t believe that Ben would be this chilled out about it. Maybe this shows personal growth and I guess after a super shitty time stressing about his parents he really is fine with Noel. And it’s nice to lose the tension in the loft even if I find it implausible. Felicity’s ‘what are you guys talking about?’ was super awkward but also played into the everyone has moved on notion.

I am so with you on the reunion kiss and how natural it seems between Keri Russell and Scott Speedman; the theory is that couples lose their on screen chemistry when they start sleeping together and yet there are many cases where this is clearly not true. Case in point right here and these hugs look full of genuine emotion (I’ve noticed this on The Americans, maybe Keri Russell gives good hug acting or the connection also helps). Going back to The Vampire Diaries there was a moment where Stefan and Elena hugged and it looked like their groins were repelling each other there was that much space between them. It’s super distracting and really takes you out of a moment that is meant to mean something.

Felicity 4.11 hugTime travel is something I have heard mentioned in relation to Felicity so I was expecting the second episode to be this one because it’s called “Future Shock” and sadly this was not the case. If I don’t get random time travel at some point I will be disappointed.

So yes Sean has somehow wormed his way into Noel’s new business and while he is eager he is also far too precious and sensitive about his ideas. In that meeting he acted like a spoiled brat and it’s no wonder Noel went back without him. Noel is far too nice and must be lying when he mentions how much he enjoys working with him. Although I did think the snowboarder wasn’t a terrible idea. The sports store owner was also kind of an ungrateful dick really. But Sean should also shut the fuck up.

So not only do Felicity and Ben get back together in this episode – how great is Meghan’s reaction when she sees them together?! – but Ben also has some super heavy shit to deal with to do with his dad’s health condition and his role as power of attorney. It’s a good thing he has Felicity as this would be super awful by himself. It’s also worth noting that at two different points Ben asks if she’s going to leave and it’s like he can’t quite believe this is a reality again. He’s pretty adorable when he’s super vulnerable.

And the plinky plonky super sad music is back! This combined with parental drama meant a whole lot of sad posturing – how well do you think Ben dealt with it all?

Felicity 4.11 MeghanJulie: I also think the Ben-Noel forgiveness tour seems a tad unreal, but at the same time…everybody’s moving on. I like that they’re not dragging this out. (Unless they’re only going to complicate things further by letting Felicity and Noel be at thing again). Also, maybe things aren’t super perfect at this point. When the group was walking in the snow, Noel was apart from everyone else. He was kind of in the street.

I haven’t seen much of The Americans, but it seems that Keri Russell has a tendency toward dating her costars. Maybe she confuses her character’s connection with real connection? Maybe she just acts against really hot guys and why not? It would be interesting to do a study of real-life couples who didn’t lose their chemistry on screen. Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise would not be included. (I just watched Going Clear last night.)

The plinky-plonk! I really want to take that music and put it over, like, a Fast and Furious 6 action scene or something. Ben did have a lot going on in this episode (both episodes, really) and I think, for all his vast experience with the ladies, he has somewhat immature thoughts when it comes to real grown-up love. He realizes (thanks to John Ritter and Dee Wallace Stone) that love is not perfect, that even though you trust someone and think you know them, you don’t. You can’t. He realizes too, through his mom, that you can’t always help who you fall in love with. We don’t get to see a lot of Ben’s parents together, but I find their relationship really interesting. He has hurt her in a lot of ways, but she stands by him. I can’t decide whether that’s noble or sad or a little of both.

Ultimately, Ben goes against his dad’s wishes and lets his mom give up part of her liver. The whole time I was like, “Livers regenerate, Ben! She’ll be okay!” But then his mom almost died, and how sad would that have been? It would’ve been like the time everyone died on Scrubs after the rabies transplants. (I’m hoping you’ve seen that episode.)

But Ben’s parents are fine. His dad is doing better. Everything is great for Ben now! Oh, except for that one thing… What did you think of the big bombshell in episode two?

Felicity 4.12 BenEmma: It makes me sad that Noel is always kind of on the outside, but in the second episode it is good to see him attempting to prioritize and not repeat the same mistakes even if it doesn’t quite go according to plan (more on that later).

I am so up for a study like that and we can throw in couples who have broken up IRL but are still together on the show (see The Vampire Diaries once again – it’s weirdly not awkward at all). Chemistry between actors is so interesting because it isn’t something that isn’t really quantifiable so rules like if they’re sleeping together then they will have no chemistry doesn’t always play out. But in the case of Nicole and Tom, well yeah that’s not good. And I guess some actors are naturally charming and have chemistry with pretty much whoever plays opposite them (Ruffalo and Tucci spring to mind and I would consider Keri Russell in this category as well).

Now I really want to hear the plinky-plonk theme over Fast and Furious 6.

This year has not been kind to Ben what with family drama, girlfriend drama and his sudden decision to become a doctor. And I very much agree with you about his parents and considering his decision to go to college in New York was mostly to get away from his family, this city has brought them back together. I find this dynamic far more interesting than Felicity’s constant battles with her parents as they try to curtail her artistic dreams (ugh the whole real estate stuff).

I was concerned they were going to kill off Ben’s mom for a moment but that would have been far too bleak I think, especially if they didn’t know if this was the series finale. It’s like yay Ben and Felicity are back together but now his mom is dead. I liked how awkward Felicity was in the hospital at first because it made a lot of sense after her last encounter with his dad and the fact they are only just back together. Her chat with Ben gave further insight into his outlook and his childhood experience does sound pretty shitty. It reminded me of The Mindy Project finale and Danny’s chat with his mom about why he doesn’t want to marry Mindy.

And because this show doesn’t like to give Ben a break this season it turns out that Lauren is pregnant from that one time they slept together because of course she is. TV really loves this storyline far too much and there have been a whole lot of pregnancy dramas on Felicity over four seasons. As you know I have strong positive feelings about the way this show deals with sexual health storylines but I have to admit I rolled my eyes at this. I maybe also laughed at Ben’s incredulous reaction that it can’t be his and doesn’t he remember he’s got a girl pregnant before. I guess he doesn’t want to admit it is a reality because everything is finally back on track and this is a huge setback.

So Ben is a bit shitty in how he reacts, but I also can’t blame him as this is not part of his big plan. The Lauren incident happened while they were broken up and so it shouldn’t impact his relationship with Felicity, however he doesn’t tell her until he has confirmation. This I also get and I even understand why he tells Laurent that he can’t be part of their child’s life as she has given him that option. The whole thing is so messy and this is far from the end of it because it is one thing saying you don’t want to be involved and it is another matter when the child is born. How do you feel Ben dealt with this news?

Felicity 4.12 Ben resultsJulie: First of all, I’m going to say it — I think Lauren got pregnant on purpose. Or at least, didn’t try not to get pregnant on purpose. She’s of a certain age. She recently got out of a serious relationship. I think she rolled the dice on this one, figuring, if it worked, she’d have a baby who was half Scott Speedman, and that’s not half bad. Also she probably figured that she wouldn’t have to deal with him wanting to co-parent, since he’s a kid who’s not even out of college yet. Otherwise, that’s just too many unplanned pregnancies for one show. Whenever I hear about an “unplanned” pregnancy these days I do question it. Was it unplanned? Really? On everyone’s part? There are just too many ways to not get pregnant. Even in 2001.

I don’t really blame Ben for how he reacted. It was a gut reaction, really. He’s finally getting his life back on track — he’s with Felicity again, his parents are doing well, his douchebag professor is giving him big jobs — and now this. Of course he doesn’t want anything to do with the kid. Of course he’s perfectly reasonable to request a paternity test.

You’re exactly right, though, that things change when there’s an actual baby involved. I don’t see him writing this kid off. He’s had such a fraught relationship with his dad, he’s naturally going to want to be in the kid’s life in some capacity. I don’t see Ben Covington being able to walk away from his spawn. Of course, when this inevitably happens (a few months from now, right around graduation/sweeps), that will be a pretty big thing Felicity will have to deal with. What if you’re 22-years-old and your boyfriend suddenly has a kid? That’s having to grow up pretty fast.

Speaking of growing up, let’s talk about the stupid real estate thing. This was driving me crazy. I studied music in school. Many of my college friends were in fine arts — mostly music, dance, and theatre. None of them were morons about the reality of trying to make a living doing these things. Everyone knew that if they wanted to pursue acting or singing or whatever, they’d probably have to get a day job of some kind (or a night job, like bartending). Yes, Felicity’s mom was annoying for suggesting real estate (which is, like, the antithesis of being an artist), but Felicity was just as annoying for how myopic she is about her art career. “Look at me, I took a few art classes. Love my work, galleries! Make me a star.” Felicity, you need to pay your dues. You’ll probably have to get your masters and PhD to advance in this career. Or you’re going to have to toil away as an artist-for-hire until someone recognizes your brilliance.

This was also something that drove me crazy on Girls this season, with Hannah’s writing. Maybe it’s wrong of me, as a thirty-something old, to expect these young women to just get that they need to work HARD and listen to criticism if they’re ever going to make it as artists, but here we are. I want to shake both of them. You can do both. You have to do both. You are going to have to be a substitute teacher or a barista at Dean & Deluca for a few years while you establish yourself. Taking a job outside of art and writing isn’t settling, it’s being realistic.

Did this annoy you as much as it annoyed me?

Felicity 4.12 Felicity and BenEmma: Ooh I hadn’t thought that it was maybe a planned unplanned pregnancy and she really doesn’t seem too fussed about Ben being involved so that all adds up.

Ben spaces pretty hard which is also totally understandable and he was always going to fuck up that experiment but douchebag professor has a soft spot for Ben not only letting him have his spot back, but also asking if he needed to talk. This was pretty sweet from the prickly dude. I’ve got to think that there are people in this class who can’t understand why a Ben and Trevor are his favorites and that’s got to drive them crazy.

The way Ben breaks the news to Felicity is similar to how Noel told her that he’d let their rooftop escapade out of the bag – by announcing that he has something to tell her and then leaving a dramatic pause as he musters up the courage to tell her. She is understandably surprised, not that he slept with Lauren which I think she had to have known happened but that’s she’s pregnant with his kid. She gets a little teary eyed and I think that’s more shock combined with the shitty time she’s had with her mom. I don’t think this will break them up but it’s not going to help matters either. And good call on when the baby is due.

Felicity’s reaction to the whole real estate suggestion didn’t bug me as much, but I do get what you mean about both this and Girls with levels of expectations (thankfully Hannah has now found an alternative path with teaching though I expect her writing to come up again next year). Felicity and her parents have butted heads since the pilot about her path and you’d think by now they would have found a way to work around this but they are firmly in their corners and I think this is what I find slightly irritating about this plot as it’s so repetitive. And really Felicity and her mom have to stop making theatre plans as it always ends in someone not going. I’m just glad Felicity’s dad wasn’t there as well to lay it on even thicker.

I get why she’s freaking out because as with the premiere everyone has their shit together mostly. Elena got into med school (yay!), Ben’s studies are going well until he fucks up momentarily and Noel’s business with Sean is going places. I’m glad she goes and does something in the end even if nothing comes of it because as you point out there’s a lot of graft that goes with working in the arts and you can’t expect to get somewhere straight away.

Felicity as an artist in New York is something I can’t quite picture but I guess that’s because she doesn’t fit the artist picture I have in my head of characters like Mimi-Rose and Ace. Can you see Felicity making it?

Felicity 4.12 Felicity's momJulie: Such a good point about the professor favoring Ben and Trevor. I’d love to see the other students’ reactions to him always giving them a leg up. I have to think it’s still due to the whole Trevor hospital thing.

I would’ve been less annoyed by the real estate thing if someone (Felicity or her mom) had mentioned that, hey, real estate doesn’t need to be your ultimate career, but as it’s fairly flexible and allows you to make your own hours, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad day job while you’re trying to be an artist. It’s not all or nothing. This also could’ve been explained by her mom who could’ve said, “You know, yeah, I want to be a writer. But I’m single now and I need to support myself so I’m doing this too. I’ll write at night and on the weekends.” Real, grown up stuff.

In everyone’s moving on news, Javier is also making a new more age-appropriate friend. I love his relationship with the lady from A League of Their Own. He may be just as delusional as Felicity when it comes to his acting career, but at least he’s found someone to share his misery and keep things real.

I love the question of “Will Felicity make it?” and my answer is NO. Art has always just seemed like an alternative to medicine in some ways and not completely her true passion. I don’t think she takes it as seriously as she needs to. You talk about everyone else getting their shit together, and it’s because they’ve done the legwork to figure out what they need to do to advance in their careers. Felicity is living in a dream world. I don’t think she has the temperament for this right now. Maybe she will eventually, but honestly I see her as more of an early-Girls Marnie, working in a gallery, not creating the art.

Felicity 4.12 ElenaEmma: They are far too focused on the conflict between Felicity and her parents rather than sorting through it and as you point out this doesn’t have to be her big career path. Just a way to get some cash for now. I did enjoy seeing Owen as he is pretty good at getting Felicity to see what’s right in front of her and they come across as friends rather than anything else. I’m glad he doesn’t harbor some bs friendzoned mentality toward her because I so don’t have time for that (cue a story in the next few episodes where this happens and I yell at the screen).

Javier’s story has been expanded thankfully and I really liked his stuff with Meghan because it also gave her the chance to be in another non-Sean bickering plot. This can only be a good thing and even though this All About Eve story featured arguing it was refreshing in comparison. They’ve also toned down the overt 60s Meghan costuming and that’s fine too; I like this more subtle nod.

Yes early Marnie is who I was thinking of too, but far less annoying and I can’t see her as an artist either. She seems much better at discussing it than doing it. I do feel for Felicity though as someone who procrastinates and frets about the future. It’s worrying seeing someone so similar on screen, but comforting at the same time.

The only thing I don’t think we have touched on is the return of Zoe – the woman Noel almost boned on his first day at work. Felicity, Ben and Noel all have returning maybe love interests that the previously on was quick to remind us of (I guess a three month gap between these gaps requires these reminders). Noel wants to get his ducks in a row which is wise and he does until Zoe tells him that she has dumped her boyfriend and it complicates things again as he’s sorta working for her dad. Is Noel really into Zoe as much as he thinks she is or does he just like the idea of being with someone again?

felicity 4.12 Meghan and JavierJulie: The Meghan thing — I’m not sure what the point of the All About Eve stuff was. Is she going to pursue acting? Is she going to try and be less like Margot from now on? Where will that go? I’m guessing probably nowhere. It’s like the time Ben had to take a theater class and we never revisited that again.

Ugh. Zoe. I nearly punched my screen when he said something to the effect of, “I finally found someone I can really see myself with.” Really, Noel? You met her twice. You kissed once late at night when passions are high. Slow your roll, sir. This does not seem to jibe with new-style Noel who’s trying to get his shit together. This seems like old, borderline-crazy, bad decisions Noel. I don’t like it.

Felicity 4.11 Noel and SeanEmma: I had totally forgot about Ben in acting class. Got to love the brief how do we get our point across (even if that point isn’t very clear) random storyline.

With you on that one and it’s a shame if he’s going to fall down this hole so quickly. Dude thinks he falls in love so quickly when he’s just mistaking feelings in his pants for feelings in his heart.

Julie: Ew, the Noel pants visual.

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.

TV Rewind: Felicity, “The Storm” & “The Last Thanksgiving”

4 Mar

Felicity, Episodes 4.7 & 4.8
“The Storm” & “The Last Thanksgiving”
Original Air Dates: Nov. 21 & 28, 2001

Felicity 4.08 FelicityEmma: Ben knows about Felicity and Noel thanks to Noel spilling (which we discussed in detail last time) and he reacts exactly how I expected. Except for the part where he didn’t hit Noel, that was unexpected. He doesn’t want to talk to Felicity and this plays up to his putting up all the barriers that we have seen so many times. The episode also starts with Ben playing basketball and this is the most Ben reaction. Felicity tries to talk to him and I can’t blame him when he tells her to go as this is a very shitty thing that she has done.

There’s a divide with how all their friends feel but the overall tone is a lot calmer considering what has gone on. I dunno I was expecting more shouting and screaming, although this isn’t really Ben or Felicity’s style so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. Instead he comes to get his stuff and returns her key and it’s all just really sad. Ben can’t find his favorite tatty green hoodie and the sadness lingers. It turns out the new awful roommates like to wear clothes that aren’t theirs and this includes Ben’s hoodie and really want is the point of them? Comic relief? Because eh they’re just really annoying and clearly have toilet issues. And why is the only bathroom through Felicity’s room? Surely that’s not the only one. Thankfully Meghan threatens one of them and in the next episode they are absent. I am already bored of their shenanigans.

Meghan is mad at both the guys and I’m glad we finally get a story that isn’t just bickering with Sean even if I think she went too hard on Ben. Yes he should talk to Felicity at some point rather than just ignoring her, however he also has the right to be pissed off as the person who has been cheated on. And it’s not like Felicity slept with a random guy, there is so much history here that it’s got to burn even more that it was with Noel. Elena does a good job of straddling the demands of being bestie and also as Ben’s friend/tutor, ending up in her own romantic entanglement after debating gender sexual politics with Trevor. What did you make of this subplot? Are you into this hookup?

I’m glad Elena pointed out that sex for women is sometimes just that, which it is but in this case I think it was maybe more than that because of the HISTORY. I dunno was it just sexy between Noel and Felicity? Maybe more in Felicity’s end that was the case. Nothing has happened since and it’s Ben she’s in love with and as she tries to explain to Ben there was so much going on. Does this excuse the cheating? Probably not and yet I completely understand Felicity’s point of view and ugh it’s just all so messy.

The storm itself is not actually that dramatic but it does punctuate certain emotionally charged scenes prompting letter writing and a rain soaked discussion. Were you disappointed there wasn’t another blackout or are you glad they went in this direction instead?

Felicity 4.07 BenJulie: I’m with you that everyone’s reactions to Felicity cheating on Ben were kind of weird. There wasn’t a lot of sympathy for him from Meghan or Elena, but that was to be expected. They’re Felicity’s friends, not Ben’s. That said, Meghan lives with Ben now and I expected her to be a bit more sympathetic. She’s very cavalier about the whole cheating thing, and I’d like to see her reaction if Sean ever cheats on her (not really because that would probably just lead to more fighting). I suspect she’d be a little less all, “It happens.”

Elena’s point about men and women was right on…except in this situation. For neither Felicity nor Noel was what they did on the rooftop “just sex.” That said, Ben was way harsh in how poorly he took the news. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume it had more to do with the stress of school and his father than it did with Felicity herself. I just don’t think he wants to deal with the headiness of ONE MORE THING. Making up with Felicity would require a lot of soul searching and talking, and I don’t think he’s ready to deal with that. Also, Felicity is the one person who has never let him down, and now she has.

Which I think is unfair to her. Ben has been a boob to Felicity many times (a-hem, AVERY), and she’s owed a slip-up, a freebee. Though maybe using that freebee on Noel was a bridge too far.

I was surprised that “The Storm” wasn’t a bottle episode. I kept waiting for it to happen, Ben and Felicity stuck together in an apartment or an elevator or a subway car (callback) with no electricity, but it never happened. I think this added to the tension, actually. They weren’t going to be given the easy way out. They weren’t going to be provided with an outlet.

I actually kept thinking of Friends and Ross and Rachel during these episodes, what with Felicity’s letter to Ben and the make up and break up sex and friends standing just outside the door during all of this.

What did you think of Ben and Felicity’s brief reconciliation?

Felicity 4.08 Felicity and BenEmma: With Meghan look how insanely jealous she was about the hot rabbi. She is definitely all mouth sometimes and while Ben needed someone to point out he should talk to Felicity it could have maybe been handled a little less callously. This is Meghan’s style and yes at least it gets them talking even if that ends without a reconciliation of any kind. I get where Ben is coming from with his trust issues and why he is concerned about his mom taking his dad back even with his dad’s condition. He has heard the same apology and excuses time and time again; for him the love explanation is not enough and I don’t know what will be. It is heartbreaking because you know Felicity means it when she says she wishes she could take it back, but it isn’t enough. You’re right that Felicity is the only one who has never let him down and the pressure of being put on this pedestal is too much.

Felicity definitely falls into my favorite kind of lady character on TV – the flawed and conflicted – and by allowing her to make mistakes they have been able to explore a range of very real topics particularly in the arena of guys and sex, which as you know I love it when this show tackles these things. So the brief Thanksgiving Ben and Felicity union makes sense and is devastating all at once because you know that he isn’t going to be able to forgive her as simply as that. Ben is a bit of dick in this episode and while it is painful to watch I can also sympathize with him through his dickishness. Using Lauren as a jealous prop is gross and I find it a little weird that Lauren is okay with it and is even the one who suggests going over there despite the ex factor. Okay Lauren also is the one who tells Ben to call Felicity, but I am still narrowing my eyes at her over this one. Maybe Meghan should put a hex on her.

So Ben comes back to the apartment to say sorry – after getting a barrage of abuse from Meghan and once again I dig how protective over Felicity she is – and they go into her bedroom (once again I want to know more about the bathroom situation in this house as I’m sure there is another one) and Ben explains that yes he was trying to hurt Felicity. Oh and here is one of the many places where the sad piano music theme of the Ben and Felicity breakup kicks in, it gets a lot of airtime in these two episodes. Felicity asks Ben to stay for a moment and he sits next to her on the bed, he holds her hand, they kiss and then they get horizontal. And despite how lovely this all is and how much they love each other Ben just can’t forget about what has happened. I like his explanation that he could understand it a year ago (or really earlier in the year when the Avery stuff went down, Ben) but he doesn’t deserve to be cheated on now and she knows this is a fair assessment of the situation. Both Keri Russell and Scott Speedman nail the pain of this kind of breakup and I wonder if they were still together in real life at this point? Not that their real relationship ended badly if interviews with either actor suggest and I love it when actors on shows are still besties in real life.

When Ben says he will call her I believe him and even though I think it is going to be tough for the next few episodes I also think Ben and Felicity are not going to be how they were when they broke up at the start of season 2 not being able to be in the same room. And I totally agree with you about the Friends comparison – do people write handwritten letters on shows anymore? – and Meghan with her love spells is definitely the Phoebe of the group. Remember when she did that spell on Felicity at the end of season 1?

While Ben and Felicity are dealing with the repercussions of the roof hookup Noel is messing up in a whole bunch of other ways. What do you make of his escapades in both episodes?

Felicity 4.07 Elena and TrevorJulie: Regarding the sleeping arrangements in Felicity’s apartment — does she share a room with Elena? I’ve never been able to figure that out. What’s their hooking up system? Also, their apartment is giving me all the nostalgia, but not really for having a bunch of roommates and everyone being privy to everyone else’s sexual habits.

Many years ago, Conan O’Brien did a segment about the NBA on NBC theme song (one of the greatest theme songs of all time, which was written by John Tesh), where he’d insert the music into inappropriate movie scenes. (This will give you an idea of the conceit.) I want to do the same thing with the sad Felicity piano music.

We do need to talk about Noel. He’s a mess. He’s been a mess for a very long time, and nobody has really called him on it. Nobody’s sat him down and made a list of all the ridiculous stuff he’s done (getting married, getting cool guy tips, staying married, STALKING TYRA, making a play for his roommate’s girlfriend, etc.), but at least, I think, he himself sees it now. He has hit bottom. Stalking Tyra, shockingly, was not bottom. Hooking up with his new boss’s daughter and getting robbed a la George Costanza in a hotel is his bottom.

I was really pissed at him in these episodes. You know I’ve been cheering for Noel, trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he has become such a far cry from freshman year, sweet, smart, driven Noel that I don’t even know him anymore. Old Noel would think things through. Old Noel was not a cliched horn dog. Old Noel would’ve seen the danger in taking a barfly back to some hotel room. I guess it speaks to him “needing” a grounded figure like Felicity in his life, or it speaks to him going through some quarter-life crisis after being the good guy for most of his life. But this has been going on for too long. With Meghan and Sean, they’re always fighting and making up. With Noel, it’s him getting his life back on track before dragging it back into the crapper. Good thing he put in a call to Dr. Pavone.

What are your Noel-based thoughts?

Felicity 4.08 Naked noelEmma: I am so on board with the Felicity sad piano music idea because it really did scream YOU MUST FEEL SAD NOW in scenes where we don’t really need to be told how to feel. It’s pretty obvious.

Noel is spiraling big time and it’s not pretty, which as the designated nice guy he’s breaking with the teen show norms. For this reason I actually don’t mind him going off the rails because it messes with this archetype but as you mentioned he’s done it far, far too much and no one really seems too concerned well until his brother comes to town. First he loses his dream new job, which considering it took so long for him to find one he fucked up pretty quickly. I know he tries to explain that he knows when he’s doing something stupid but can’t stop himself and yet this seems like something he wouldn’t risk this early on in the job. Also that girl looked a whole lot like Ruby.

At first I thought the girl in the bar was a hooker, but nope Noel just gets robbed instead. It would have been a farcical step too far if he had turned up to dinner at Felicity’s and I’m pretty sure Ben would have definitely punched him in the face. I’m repeating myself but I still can’t believe Noel has not been punched yet. Maybe it would help Noel if he widened his circle of friends because having Richard as your bestie is definitely not helping. Am I alone in finding him more annoying than funny this season?

Noel claims that his rock bottom face planting is not just due to Felicity and I actually believe him as other than when he told Ben he hasn’t really been pining after her. This is something deeper and therapy is a very good idea. Going back to the counselor position is surely going to bum him out even further. Do you think he’s still hung up on Felicity?

Felicity 4.07 Ben and NoelJulie: I think I did mention it on Twitter that most of Noel’s girlfriends tend to be some variation on Amy Smart. Or, well, this girl was and so was Avery. That’s two. I’ll consider that a pattern.

That’s a good question: Is Noel actually hung upon on Felicity? I want to say no. I think the Felicity thing was a symptom of him trying to get his shit together. He’s his best self when he’s with her, but he needs to figure out a way to do that without her. That’s where I think Dr. Pavone will help, unless she continues her streak of giving dubious advice, and he winds up back at Felicity’s door.

Really, both Noel and Felicity need to figure out how to be great without each other. Felicity was just starting to be happy when she was deep in her friendship with Noel. She’s always put her own needs on the back burner while she’s dated Ben, but Noel always encouraged her. Now that she’s without both of them, I hope she can truly figure out her own life and take that MUCH NEEDED break from men. More girl times, thanks, especially since Elena is also single now.

Because she is, right? The thing with Ugly Betty‘s boyfriend is over? I kind of forgot to pay attention to how that whole thing ended. They had a fling, he thinks she’s beautiful, she’s pretty sure he’s a moron. And, of course, she took Meghan’s (bad) advice to quiz him on stupid facts in order to decide whether or not he’s smart enough to be with. While I think the writers did make him a little TOO dumb, he was still a decent guy who seemed to really like Elena, and I wasn’t pleased with how he was discarded. What did you think of Elena’s new boyfriend?

And, yeah, Richard is the worst this season. I was just thinking the other day how Hannah on Girls really needs to surround herself with new, better people (my god, I want to kick Jessa in the head), but the same kind of goes for all these people on Felicity. It goes for a lot of people on a lot of TV shows. These folks are all stuck with each other for the duration of the show, but are they really the best people for one another?

Felicity 4.08 MeghanEmma: Did Dr Pavone give Ben bad advice too? I can’t remember clearly but I have a hazy belief that she was better with Ben than she was with Felicity, maybe she will be the same with Noel. I wonder if there are any psychiatrists/consellors/psychologists who have had to deal with a love triangle like this isn real life. I feel like this would be pretty hard to stay completely impartial if that was the case.

Yes, yes, yes to Felicity being without a guy for awhile, but as this is TV I sense the break from dudes won’t be sustained. There’s a whole array of dudes in her art class but they all seem pretty terrible so hopefully she will steer clear and just hangout with her friends.

I think Elena and Trevor are still a thing as she went to the bar after he stormed out to tell him she needed more fun in her life rather than just being about the books. Her argument was that she has spent her college experience doing nothing but studying and yet I seem to recall her doing far more than just this. Yes the work has been her focus but she has still had an active social and love life so this doesn’t ring all that true to me. And she’s still going to tutor him so it looks like Ugly Betty’s boyfriend is sticking around for now. But I still vote they go out on girls night. Felicity and Elena should steer clear of any advice Meghan attempts to give them.

Ooh I really like this idea of looking at friendship groups on TV and working out who would actually still be friends if they weren’t on a TV show as I’m sure we’ve all had a Richard or Jessa in our life – Jessa is ultimate awful and they’re going to have to go a long way to justify why anyone would still answer her calls/texts – and sometimes something as simple as finishing college is a way to eek out the people you no longer want to see. On TV people are stuck with each other for way longer and I liked how New Girl addressed the ‘would we be friends if we met each other now?” dilemma with Cece/Jess and Nick/Schmidt. History counts for a lot but that can only take it so far. I figure after they are done with college none of them are seeing Richard ever again.

Felicity and Ben aren’t the only ones who are dunzo as Javier leaves Samuel and I’m not entirely sure how to feel about this. Javier is generally the comic relief story and while he is also often there for Feliicty in her time of crisis I’m not sure if the show treats his issues in his relationship with the same gravitas. We saw Javier get married and then go through the surrogacy process before that failed but now he’s broken up with Samuel it doesn’t seem that important to the show. First there was the Lionel mission which was definitely played for laughs and now there is this fight about Javier’s cat. I’m guessing Noel and Javier get a place together now and narratively at least it will include him in the overall story more but I still think the writers have handled this in a clunky manner. What are your thoughts on this?

Felicity 4.07 Meghan and FelicityJulie: I think that can’t be too ethical, counseling three branches of a love triangle. Of course it’s TV, so anything goes. In real life, she probably would’ve referred at least one person to another doctor. As far as the bad advice goes, maybe she’s better with guys? Maybe she sees herself in the mistakes Felicity’s making? And now I’m counseling the counselor.

Oh, that’s right about her med school exam. I forgot that she went back to Trevor (obviously I’m very invested in this storyline). I would like to see Elena do something outside of pre-med again. She did take that self-defense course, so there was that. Maybe she could meet a guy in one of her new endeavors, someone outside of medicine for once. She’s stuck with doctors for her past three “relationships,” and she needs to give some other guys a shot, guys with whom she won’t be competing/comparing herself.

Now that I’m thinking about it, even I have friends where it’s like, “Why?” Sometimes it’s history, sometimes it’s circumstance and geography I guess that makes sense, as it would be boring to befriend only those people who are just like you. And as time goes on, and as you have less and less time to spend with all the different people in your life, some friendships naturally fade away and some stick.

(I have one friend who actually broke up with some of her peripheral college friends, instead of letting nature take its course. She told them she no longer wanted to hang out with them, which, yeah, way harsh, but also very honest.)

We brought this up with Julie a lot. Would she and Felicity really be friends? And now she’s gone, so I guess the answer is no. I do see Meghan and Felicity remaining friends after college, but maybe Sean doesn’t get invited to their reunions. And Richard lifts right out. They’ll keep tabs on him on Facebook, but that’s about it.

I was very whatever about Javier and Samuel breaking up, because I’m guessing it won’t take. Those two have a very volatile relationship. Also, we haven’t seen Samuel for a while, so it’s not like I’ve missed him.

The show really does not give a lot of emotional heft to any of the relationships outside of the Ben/Noel/Felicity triangle. Meghan and Sean are constantly breaking up and getting back together. We hardly saw the Elena/Tracy reunion. Even Ruby was just a place holder for Noel and Felicity. I’m not surprised that the show gave Javier and Samuel the short end of the stick, but the should could’ve been much richer if the other characters had been given more to do on screen.

Felicity 4.07 FelicityEmma: It is pretty much Felicity centric stories > everyone else and as the show has her name in the title I guess that’s to be expected, but it is a shame that other characters don’t get to be more than just players in the Felicity sphere at times.

The breaking up with friends thing can be hard and woah that your friend went the honest route. I’ve definitely always been a ‘let nature take its course.’ At least with the honest way you don’t up doing the ‘sure we’ll meet up soon’ fakeries.

Oh one other thing and the Felicity Emmy snub video I posted on Twitter a few days ago which is super fun and poking fun at the lack of nominations for the show after what looks like its first season (Keri Russell still has the hair). Russell won at the Golden Globes which tend to recognize new talent from shows that are just ‘prestige’ such as Gina Rodriguez this year. I can’t imagine the Emmys nominating Jane the Virgin for the same reason they didn’t nominate Felicity as they don’t look to teen TV in this way because of snobbery and the like. But it does lead to videos like this and I loved seeing the various ways they inserted Felicity into popular shows of the 90s. I was especially fond of the ER one just so we could see what Ben might look like in his now dream job.

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.

TV Rewind: Felicity, “Boooz” and “Oops…Noel Did It Again”

19 Feb

Felicity, Episodes 4.5 & 4.6
“Boooz” & “Oops…Noel Did It Again”
Original Air Dates: Nov. 7 & 14, 2001

felicity 4.05 wigJulie: The first episode is the Halloween episode, which feels very off-season to be watching right now in the middle of February (and the show aired the week after Halloween, as well, which seems weird). The girls are hosting a party for all of the friends we never see, which really worked out well the last time they hosted an event, i.e. when Tag from Friends showed up with a gun, i.e. when Ben met Avery.

This party is similarly fraught with peril. Ben shows up (not in costume) with his bio-chem friend, Trevor, after the two of them have been kicked out of class…for good. They failed an exam, because they didn’t study the information they were told wouldn’t be on the exam, and complained about it. Dick teacher (Ben actually calls him a dick because Ben loves that word) tells them they’re out. The boys go out drinking together and are over served. They show up drunk to Felicity’s party, and Trevor keeps drinking.

He drinks so much that he ends up passing out from alcohol poisoning. Ben performs CPR and takes him to the hospital. He goes to see dick teacher to tell him that Trevor is in the ICU. Dick teacher feels bad and lets them back in the class. Their pre-med journeys are saved!

And I wish they weren’t. As I watched this play out, I kept hoping that Ben would realize that being an EMT is really what he should be doing. He’s great in a crisis and, come on, he’s not cut out for med school. He’s not. He should be a paramedic. He’d be great at it. I think he’d be happy doing it. But, ugh, now he’s back floundering as a pre-med student.

It seemed like a waste of a Very Special Episode just to get us back to square one.

What did you think of Ben and the alcohol poisoning?

Felicity 4.06 Ben and FelicityEmma: They haven’t really done a booze is bad episode and the shows attitude towards alcohol has been pretty eh everyone does it. The only bad thing that happened involving alcohol is when Felicity woke up in that frat bro’s bed (which nicely links into the fact that Felicity has the worst birthdays). I didn’t get the sense that this was a beer is bad sermon, more that it was being used to show how good Ben is under pressure and so he could prove a point. Which he did. Dick teacher was a dick, but Ben was also pretty petulant as well. It also served to remind us that Ben has a difficult relationship with his dad. I wonder why they brought that up again?

Like you I think he is better suited as an EMT, he’s good in those kind of situations and I worry that he’s going to sink even further now that certain things have come out. Or it could make him more determined. I do think he needs a new lab partner. Drunk Ben is kinda adorbs though.

The Halloween party reminded me of whenever Friends did one, those characters do not know that many people. I guess at least on Felicity they’re at college so there’s potential for many friends of friends attending.

And the costumes while cute, a witch is a lazy lazy choice. I did enjoy Keri Russell in a wig pre Americans. Richard made a ton of effort but his costume ended up getting the attention of a Princess Leia but then his Darth helmet sabotaged it. Oh and Sean and Meghan went as JFK and Jackie, they argued a lot (surprise). What did you make of their continuing bickering and Meghan’s style change?

Felicity 4.05 halloweenJulie: That wig on Felicity was adorable. I always think of Keri Russell looking one way, but her features lend themselves to other styles really well. The sleek bob was very cute. Richard’s mask triggered claustrophobia feels for me. I yelled at the screen, “Just cut it off!” Also, he was blowing it with that cute girl. Get it together, Richard!

I thought Meghan as Jackie was pretty great, and really works for the character. The whole thing about her “individual” style not being for sale felt very Meghan. I thought this was going to create another big rift between Meghan and Sean, but instead she woke up to the fact that she’s not a unique flower. Girls all over New York are dressing like her, and her look has become ubiquitous. So she decides to revert back to ’60s style, which makes total sense, going back in time to primmer clothing to be edgier. And, since this was 2001, pre-Mad Men and all that, she’s right on the cutting edge. I’m sad that we’ll never see a Norm Core Meghan.

Also, I hope these T-shirts make Meghan and Sean a ton of money so that we never have to hear about their money problems again.

The other situation during this episode was Felicity serving as TA for an art class she never took. This all feels like a bit of a retread, too, and it’s a pretty boring storyline. The students don’t respect her, they chastise her for entering a beauty pageant, and she tries to poke fun at herself by wearing that great evening gown again. I was mostly put off by the poor behavior of the students. Like they’ve never done anything embarrassing in their lives. And they kept piling on her. Do you watch Downton Abbey? They reminded me of terrible Sarah Bunting at the Downton dinner parties. Who taught these people social skills?

What did you think of the jackass art students?

Felicity 4.05 richardEmma: If their company makes money I will be so happy, alas it would seem that they still have plenty of bickering to do as Sean mentions a disagreement over their company name. Thankfully most of this happens off screen and the word blend version comes into play. I’m pretty sure this was prior to Bennifer making word blends a big thing again so kudos Felicity with this one. I can understand why Meghan was pissed off at first with Sean trying to make money off her look especially as he repeatedly ignored her request for him to quit it. It did lead to this new style for Meghan and I love the moment when she realized that she isn’t as unique as she perhaps thought she is with her clothing choices. I’m still pretty eh about their relationship and I don’t think it helps that they aren’t involved with a lot of the other storylines and by isolating them like this is means we get a repeated cycle of Meghan/Sean plot points. Maybe now the big secret is out they will be featured in these other stories.

Felicity’s students are completely unreasonable and the dude who tells everyone is the worst. He worked the pageant for money so why isn’t he getting shit for selling out? Oh I know it’s because he is a dude. Felicity takes a lot of shit from her class and while the evening gown is a cute move I kinda wish she had gone for a more fuck you response, but I guess that isn’t her way. Elena’s pep talk was much needed and Felicity really shouldn’t have to apologize to these students who believe their own hype far too quickly. It does lead to another awkward encounter with Professor Cavallo who will take the creepster teacher supreme title in the second episode. What is it with the male teachers on this show? They’re either dicks or creeps.

One thing I really enjoyed about “Boooz” (other than the title of course) is that it took the focus off the relationship dramaz with the love triangle and considering what happened in the next episode I think it is going to be a while before that happens again. Yeah Javier discussed in passing the Felicity thing with Noel but overall this was a triangle light episode. And then there was also Lionel Richie in one of the most bizarre and unexpected celebrity cameos I can remember. Javier loves Lionel and wants to go see him to make up for a huge fight he has had with Samuel. The set up is incredibly contrived but it still manages to be fun by pairing Noel and Javier together. Lionel isn’t too bad when it comes to his bathroom scene (!) and he offers some love advice that isn’t too enlightening but it does solve the Javier/Samuel situation with “Honey, you’re right.”

Were you surprised to see Lionel?

Felicity 4.05 Javier and LionelJulie: I wish we had heard Javier mention Lionel Richie before, that would’ve made this cameo much more satisfying. As it stood, it was just Lionel Richie in a bathroom, randomly.

I suppose the trip to Atlantic City gave Noel something to do besides stew about his future and Felicity, so there was that. I do love when Scott Foley has to play awkward, and his face during the bathroom encounter was perfect.

As you said, “Boooz” gave us a nice reprieve from the love triangle for a second, but after the second episode, things are out in the open. It appears that for the next few episodes at least, Ben and Felicity’s relationship will take center stage.

I suppose the big thing about the second episode, cheekily called “Oops…Noel Did it Again,” thank you 2001, is how Ben eventually finds out about Felicity sleeping with Noel. We go through a red herring here, where Elena is leaving Noel a message on the apartment answering machine (remember answering machines?) and Richard accidentally on purpose drops the bombshell about Felicity and Noel’s rooftop bang. This was a big “oh, crap” moment and it seemed like this was how the info would reach Ben, but Elena and Richard, using a bit of secret agent trickery, fool Sean and Meghan into letting them into the loft so they can erase the tape.

And then I kind of forgot about it. I forgot about Noel sleeping with Felicity, because the rest of the episode is so fraught with STUFF. It seems like there are too many things going on here, too much that Ben, specifically, is dealing with. The writers wouldn’t pile THIS on him, on top of everything else, would they? I mean, his lab partner almost died, he nearly got kicked out of class, and now his dad’s back in town and suffering from liver failure.

But no. They do it. They drop that bombshell right on Ben’s lap. And, of course, Noel does it. And it’s hard to blame him, honestly. It’s easy to think, “Noel, you dick,” but from his perspective, he was in the right. All he knew was that Ben was seeing his dad that night, Felicity’s birthday, and Noel saw him with another woman. It was the moment he had probably been waiting for, on some level, and when Ben belittled Noel’s relationship with Felicity, he’s completely justified in snapping.

It’s really a sad situation. Ben’s dealing with so much stuff, and probably really needs friends at this moment, but his girlfriend has cheated on him with his basketball-buddy roommate, whom he was just starting to like again. And Noel has to feel horrible, even though, really, I can’t blame him.

What about you? Can you blame Noel?

Felicity 4.05 NoelEmma: The second episode involved a lot of me shouting at my screen and from the ‘previously on’ where it reminded us that Richard knew it was clear that this was going to be the episode where Ben found out. Plus it’s Felicity’s birthday which means a bad thing must happen to her, she’s like Buffy Summers but with fewer demons. It’s a really cute intro and everything is good between Ben and Felicity. He did the age old TV tradition of giving a present a day early – why do they do this? – but then he gets a call about his dad and their weekend in the snow is out on hold.

Ben is not a sharer so I can maybe forgive the show for including the clunky ‘don’t tell anyone’ line to Felicity which provides the contrivance as to why Felicity is super vague about why Ben has bailed on her birthday. Does anyone else even know about his difficult relationship with his dad?

I have to admit and I know you’re already aware of this because of some of the tweets I sent you but I was super pissed at Noel for how it came out. And yet after reading your take on the situation I have to admit that maybe I was a little harsh when I called him a selfish prick. I have the Team Ben blinders on. You’re right Noel doesn’t know the whole story and Ben does poke, plus I bristled at the general concept of ‘having her’ like she’s an object or something. Ben is in crisis but he doesn’t want to share that with anyone, he doesn’t even want Felicity at the hospital. In part I think that’s because he doesn’t want to ruin her birthday but mostly because he hates this whole aspect of his life and how it makes him feel. So while I don’t blame Noel necessarily, I am still a touch mad at him (and the writers) for all the shit they’re putting him through.

The answer machine message scenario was how I pictured it playing out but I guess they’d already done the accidental reveal with the frat photo. That was a bit of stressful hijinks and showed off Elena’s best look of horror when Richard blurted out the secret. And yeah really it had to come from one of the doers of the deed to really make it hurt. That whole conversation between Ben and Noel had me pulling my best Home Alone face, it was pretty gut wrenching. Instead of going fists of fury Ben instead leaves and instead deals with the more pressing situation. I somehow feel like Noel might meet the end of Ben’s fists soon though. Ugh this is SO messy.

And what about Noel and Felicity? I’m not sure their relationship friends or something else will be okay for the time being. I think there will be part of her that will be relieved that it’s finally out in the open, but I also think she’s going to be furious that he told Ben. And all for macho reasons. The way she asks “Why would you do that?” slayed me. It’s worth repeating that it is all about to get messy up in here.

Felicity 4.06 ElenaJulie: I think I may have been more sympathetic to Noel, because I actually watched this all go down twice (I fell asleep during the first go around). If I’d watched it only once, I probably would’ve thought Noel was being petty; but on second viewing, he really had no clue. Also, it’s not like Ben has been an perfect faithful angel in the past.

Ooh, and yeah, “having her” was a problematic phrase for me. And it felt weird coming from Ben, because I feel like the two of them have a pretty equitable, balanced relationship. I don’t think he actually sees his relationship with her that way, so it was odd to hear him say it.

I don’t see this working out well for Noel and Felicity, and I think he knows that. It’s probably what he regrets most of all in this situation. During his convo with Ben, he seemed content to walk away without things getting too messy, but then Ben had to bring up the “having her” thing, and it felt personal, so Noel just went there. I don’t blame him, in the heat of the moment. And I think he’d take it back if he could.

The Ben secrecy thing seems like classic Ben to me. He never wants help to deal with any of his problems, and a dying dad is probably the kind of situation where supportive friends could be a good thing. At least he has his dad’s mentee/friend, who really knows Mr. Covington and gets the gravity of the situation. Now that he and Felicity are a bust, do you see the two of them hooking up?

Felicity 4.06 LaurenEmma: I went back and rewatched the scene where Noel told Felicity and I think you’re right that he would take it back if he could. He finds it super hard to tell her what he did and the scene is so well done for how quiet it is – she doesn’t yell at him, she’s incredibly measured I think in part due to shock that it has come out and because she knows her relationship with both guys is fucked. She’s just lost a boyfriend and a best friend effectively.

We’ve dealt with a Felicity/Ben breakup in the past, which divided the groupings on the show and this time it is so much worse and because they’ve been sitting on the Noel/Felicity hookup since the premiere I’ve sort of been waiting to find out how this will impact the overall dynamic of the show especially now Noel has landed himself a non college job – after his brief/terrible sting as a counselor – which will surely isolate him even more now.

With Ben I can see him throwing himself into school, which he needs to do anyway. The obvious thing would be for him to spiral but as was the case in this episode he responded to Noel’s revelation by going back to the hospital to make hard decisions about his dad rather than going on a bender and getting into a fight. Maybe this will be the making of Ben. With Lauren I got a very sibling vibe, but that doesn’t mean it won’t turn into something reboundy now that this has happened. Also Lisa Edelstein sure gets around (in a guest starring sense). Ben decides to go against his dad’s wishes which is a ballsy move but he still has a chance to get better, or at least live a little longer (and maybe get back on the transplant list) so I totally understand why he did it. Ugh seeing John Ritter with all those tubes in him was hard.

Oh and they got super annoying new roommates and Felicity has a creepy professor situation (not with her but he’s definitely ‘romancing’ another student). That’s a lot of crap to put up with. Both of these stories have been done before – are these the same girls who drove Julie up the wall? – but I appreciate the slight change in direction with the perv professor and that Elena gets to use her past experience to help Felicity. If this breakup does anything (they aren’t officially broken up but I think I’m good to call it a breakup) I hope it means more Elena screen time.

Felicity 4.06 FelicityJulie: I thought Ben putting his dad on life support was a really poignant, interesting choice for the writers. Ben has given up on his dad so often in the past, and this decision is fraught with so much emotion. He’s giving his dad another chance, and he’s going against his wishes, which may, in a perverse way, make it sweeter for Ben. He’s the captain now. Also, he’s already lost Felicity in this episode and maybe he’s not ready to lose his dad as well.

The rest of the episode is nonsense, and I am pretty sure those are the same girls that drove Julie bonkers? But are these girls supposed to be freshmen? I don’t know. Either way, they’re obnoxious. Though I did love the dancing with Richard and the random “Girl from Ipanema”-type music they chose to dance to. So ’60s.

Are all male college professors pervs and/or jerks? It would seem so, based on what we’ve seen. The “good” teachers all want to sleep with the coeds, and the “bad” teachers are sociopaths and kleptomaniacs, apparently. How does the University of New York continue to exist with all these horrible instructors?

Like you, I’m hoping this break up finally gives Felicity some much-needed alone time and some gal time with Elena. It’s time for everybody to get their lives on track.

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.

TV Rewind: Felicity, “Your Money or Your Wife” & “Miss Conception”

5 Feb

Felicity, Episodes 4.3 & 4.4
“Your Money or Your Wife” & “Miss Conception”
Original Air Dates: Oct. 24 & 31, 2001

Felicity 4.04 cowboyEmma: So the Ben and Felicity break up lasts all of five seconds as they get back together at the start of the first of our double bill. Ben thinks breaking up is crazy and of course he does because he has no idea what happened between Felicity and Noel on the roof. Felicity doesn’t tell him either and agrees about getting back together. I have to wonder how long it is going to be before Ben finds out because there is no way this one is going to remain a secret. For starters there are more people that know about it now and that automatically opens up the potential for secret spillage. Felicity tells Javier and it makes sense that the person she confides in is the person who is on the most outside of the group. Yes Ben is his employee but he doesn’t live with any of them and that is why he is ideal. Elena finds out in the second episode and she infers what has taken place thanks to both Noel and Felicity’s reactions to the maybe being pregnant thing and not telling Ben. But before we jump to that classic teen episode trope I want to talk about the relationship stuff from “Your Money or Your Wife.”

Ben is still pursuing his new dream of being a doctor and he is struggling with one of his tough classes. It doesn’t help that Henry from Ugly Betty is Ben’s lab partner and a total bro about everything. Ben manages to crack down and he really is applying himself (aside from making one or two stupidly loud comments about the teacher). He wants to do it by himself, but he also understands he might need help and when he is about to ask Elena he overhears her talking to Felicity about Ben is likely to be a six-weeker. Felicity to her credit disagrees with her friend and this doesn’t even feel like a ‘I have to say this because he is my boyfriend’ thing and I was really expecting Felicity to agree with Elena. I guess what they are doing here is not putting any obstacles or negativity in the way of Felicity and Ben so when the truth comes out it is all the more devastating. The new more applied Ben is working for me and one thing that Scott Speedman delivers in both these episodes (and particularly the second one) is amazing facial reactions. No one does a dopey smile quite like him. And I am also enjoying the style direction with Ben this season – more hoodies and plaid shirts please. Also I don’t think we saw Ben two strapping before he started pre-med and I like this little touch to show he probably has enough books in his bag to warrant using both straps. My Team Ben feelings are strong right now.

So Felicity is still fretting about what happened with Noel and how she can’t get what happened out of her head and well that is totally understandable. Plus she has financial issues on top of the relationship dramaz and I’m impressed she doesn’t spiral in a major way. The money situation and lack of tuition funds is something that could have had a quick fix like either calling her father and apologizing or taking Noel’s money as a loan, but she doesn’t want to do either of these things and while it would be the easy route I’m glad she said no to Noel’s offer. In part I think it is because they slept together, but also because it has become about doing it by herself. Money issues don’t always come up on TV shows or if they do it is part of a sensational storyline and you rarely see a character dealing with something that is probably relatively common for a college student. Money or lack of was always a thing when I was at university and while I never had to enter a pageant as a potential source for tuition I did live in my overdraft and have money worries on a regular basis.

Felicity isn’t the only one with money related woes and it is a theme that runs throughout both episodes, what did you make of this direction and do you care anymore about what is going on with Sean and Meghan?

Felicity 4.04 Meghan Julie: In some ways, the money stuff feels somewhat too-little/too-late, especially in Sean’s case. How does he manage to live? Has he actually sold any patents or products? It’s a little like Friends in that way. We all know how much it costs to live in a nice Manhattan apartment, so how are these kids managing it, especially when you see that Sean really comes from a background not far from how he’s living now.

And Felicity. This whole situation is kind of ridiculous. She’s begging for scholarships during the fall, when most of them are probably gone. There’s no government aid left. She could get a private loan, but she’d need someone to co-sign (I don’t know why she doesn’t call her mom about this. Or ask Javier. Or Noel for that matter, now that he’s got so much coin. Not sure if any of these folks are viable co-signing options. I’m not a banker).

Anyway, she winds up paying $35 to scour a book full of scholarship possibilities, and the only one available is the beauty pageant. This storyline is simply all kinds of ridiculous. A) That the timing would be so perfect and B) that Felicity would even entertain this as a real option. It’s basically an excuse to get Keri Russell in a fancy dress and big hair.

The way this pageant ties into her relationship with Ben is that it doesn’t. She doesn’t tell him about it until basically the last possible moment. He’s living his life over here in medical land and she’s signing up for pageants. I know you mentioned that they’re not setting up many obstacles for their relationship at this point, but the two of them are living separate lives. She’s hiding a huge secret from him. She’s telling Noel she’s possibly pregnant before she tells Ben. And he’s kind of too focused on his own stuff to notice that Felicity is floundering.

I have concerns for where all of this is going.

I know I kind of jumped into the second episode here a little bit, but these are really good companion stories. They feed right into each other and are linked by the pageant and by Sean and Meghan’s parent-woes.

What did you think of the pageant and why wasn’t Richard the MC?

Felicity 4.04 big hairEmma: Oh yeah the Sean financial stuff is so tacked on and because they’ve always been really vague about his family other than he doesn’t go home for Thanksgiving. Sean has to a certain extent been a bit of a device rather than a fully formed character. He’s the comic relief, the goofy friend and his relationship with Meghan has mostly been a back and forth of ugh. Now he has parents and a brother – Greg Grunberg’s real brother I think – and a family he is embarrassed by. Meghan is from money and it turns out that she revealed her true self a couple of years ago hence why we don’t see her ditch her usual clothes for something more prim.

And now after a quickie wedding and an awkward family dinner they’re threatening to cut her off which just feels like a way to create another thing to get between Sean and Meghan. I like that Meghan ultimately chooses love over money but I still find this constant back and forth to be rather tiring and I don’t think it serves either character. Also Ben and Noel are way too chill about Sean’s finances considering if Sean gets kicked out so do they. Okay Noel has all that money but Ben tends to be financially strapped a lot of the time.

You’re right about Felicity’s situation being kind of ridiculous so while they do seem like real issues it does have the TV spin with throwing the lead out of their comfort zone. I’m just glad she didn’t win (other than for evening wear – the dress looked good on her) as that would have been far too easy and even less likely because she really didn’t overly sell herself as a pageant queen.

I think because I have got used to seeing Keri Russell in different wig/costumes on a weekly basis thanks to The Americans this just made me think of that and how it’s a shame she never turned up on Alias as a spy pal of Sydney’s. The cowboy dancing getup was A+ early ’00s and why didn’t we get to see her talent? Her dancing around the apartment last season now makes sense after seeing her dancing around her room (awkwardly interrupted by Noel).

In the time Felicity was at the pageant she not only got a new bestie, but also a new nemesis. Girl works quick. While I don’t think we will ever see Sarah again I liked how quickly she bonded with Felicity showing that not everyone is a mean girl at these things (though I wonder how accurate that is). All of this pageant stuff definitely made me want to watch Drop Dead Gorgeous again.

What did you make of Felicity’s explanation about why she didn’t want to invite Ben? The whole high school comparison and how Ben was the most popular would seem like a legitimate concern if everything else wasn’t going on. At this point she thinks she might be pregnant (WHAT?!) and maybe Noel’s the dad (DOUBLE WHAT?!) and I also think she is just a bit embarrassed. Everything is rather fraught and this second episode was extra tense thanks to the maybe baby revelation. So while I’m on that subject what did you think about this pregnancy scare?

And yeah where was Richard? He is another who knows about Felicity and Noel (not that he knows specifics).

Felicity 4.04 new bffJulie: Maybe Felicity will ditch her art major for DANCE!

And, yeah, why didn’t we get to see her talent? Or her swimsuit moment? Did she go with stringy over the strapless one piece? Don’t tease us with a beauty pageant and then give us nothing, show. The only drama came from her and her new friend putting muscle cream in that evil girl’s bikini. The new friend didn’t even get back-stabby or jealous. I thought that’s where the show was going with Javier’s warning. I wanted more hair pulling and more drama!

Felicity’s concern about Ben as Mr. Popular seems misplaced. They’ve been together for so long by now and have gotten to know each other so intimately, I can’t believe Felicity really has these thoughts. I think it’s more about her being embarrassed, as well as the fact that the two of them do seem to be growing apart (Noel sexing aside). Things are not all well and good in Ben and Felicity’s relationship.

Ugh with the pregnancy scare. This may be a possible spoiler, but I don’t know. I thought it was going to be Meghan who gets knocked up. I don’t know if this actually happens on Felicity, or if I’m combining pregnant Amanda Foreman on Alias with every other teen show trope ever, but I seem to remember something about Sean slipping one past the goalie because they used one of his defective wedding condoms. I suppose there’s still time for that story, but it seems like a LOT of unwanted pregnancy for one show, what with Ruby and now Felicity.

I kind of wish the show did have the balls to let Felicity be pregnant (though, again, that’s a lot of unwanted pregnancy). It would’ve been the worst possible thing that could happen to Felicity at the worst possible time and would’ve really complicated things with the potential fathers, regardless of whose baby the kid was. I’m imagining an abortion storyline where Noel wants her to have one, but Ben wants her to keep the baby and Felicity wondering if she stays with Ben and goes along with it, what if the kid comes out with Noel’s nose?

But that’s just spitballing.

What was your take on the pregnancy scare? And how about what everyone else was up to — Noel’s new job, Elena’s…sweatshirt?

Felicity 4.04 Ben shocked faceEmma: So we’ve been talking about how this show has been good at dealing with sexual health storylines so it’s a tad disappointing that they cycle back to one of the most obvious and in a way this feels like a punishment for Felicity’s cheating. No she’s not actually pregnant – I inured the test was a false positive as I figured I would have heard about it if she has an abortion because it’s so rare for a show to go through with it now – but the whole thing made me super stomach churny as I kept thinking Noel was going to crack and tell Ben.

Back when Noel and Ben barely spoke they bonded over unwanted pregnancy stories when Noel first thought Ruby’s baby was his and she was going to have an abortion. This is when Ben shared a story I probably shouldn’t find as funny as I did (and still do) when he went snowboarding instead of going to the clinic. Oh, Ben. His face when he saw the piece of paper from the doctor followed by the relief when Felicity told him she got her period makes me think he definitely doesn’t want a kid at the moment, even if it is Felicity’s so I wonder if the scenario would have been the other way with Noel wanting her to go through with it instead after how he fucked up with Ruby. But now we will never know.

TV does love to do the getting pregnant that one time you sleep with that person (ahem Mad Men) or don’t use protection so it wouldn’t surprise me if we had another case of the babies before the end of the show.

Speaking of spoilers did you see Broad City this week? I am hoping that was just a gag and nothing bad is going to happen to Elena because I will get as mad as Ilana did. Also show please give Elena something to do beyond moping halfheartedly, helping Ben with his labs and popping in to give Felicity concerned face. And while I really didn’t like Molly it is weird they haven’t mentioned her at all. Is it just Elena and Felicity living in their very spacious apartment now?

As we guessed Noel has got a job at the university and it’s one he is woefully under qualified to do except he was an RA and knows how to read a university manual. This loops back into both Ben and Felicity as the first student he sees is Ben and he’s going to help him drop the classes he forgot to do before the deadline and then Ben decides to spill about the Felicity situation. Noel is already caught up on this and when they started playing basketball together all I could do was mutter “oh no” at the screen multiple times as I feared Noel would break. The only thing a Ben guessed was that Felicity had told Noel first and he couldn’t understand why. Oh, Benjamin.

Speaking of the things I said out loud while watching the second episode – when the doctor mentioned bringing her boyfriend along next time I maybe yelled PRESUMPTUOUS at the screen as that is far too much judgment at a moment like this. Bad doctor.

Noel has found Felicity a TA position which she is reluctant to take for obvious reasons and Noel mentions how it’s just down the hall from him, which for some reason made me think of their S1 set up. Is this going to bring them closer together?

Felicity 4.04 NoelJulie: The pregnancy scare definitely feels like a recycle after the Ruby pregnancy and the morning after pill thing. It even recycles the “Ben and Noel talk about knocked up girlfriends on the basketball court” canard. That sums up my feelings about Felicity so far this season. Everything feels like a retread (parent issues, Elena and Tracy breaking up again, Meghan and Sean having problems, etc.), which sucks because this is only the fourth season. The writers should be able to find new situations to mine, especially when most of their characters are facing imminent college graduation.

I did see the Broad City spoiler. NO COMMENT.

I do have to say, despite his weirdness over the inheritance money (JUST TAKE IT!!!), Noel has been acquitting himself well so far this season. He’s playing the Felicity/Ben thing just right, and when Ben finally finds out, I’m pretty sure it won’t be at Noel’s hand. Team Noel, even if he doesn’t end up with Felicity. He has redeemed himself. Tyra, just like Molly, has been forgotten.

That doctor was presumptuous, but so was Sean’s dad in asking Mr. Rotundi to invest in his company at the brunch table. Ugh. That made me cringe. It makes me cringe when Sean does it too, but even Sean knows not to badger the in-laws at breakfast.

The Felicity/Noel job stuff is hilarious and ridiculous. Noel is now a “guidance counselor” after Tom from Cougar Town hands him a job, with no instruction whatsoever. But Noel was an RA, so he’s prepared for anything.

I’m not sure why it’s so problematic for Felicity and Noel to be in the same vicinity. He lives with her boyfriend. He’s constantly showing up at her apartment (I guess it’s to help Elena with her computer, but whatever). They seem to be getting along well and I’m not sensing a lot of residual FEELINGS on either part. Maybe they just needed to bone once and get it out of their systems and now they can go back to being friends.

But here go hell come once Ben finds out about what happened.

Felicity 4.03 Felicity and ElenaEmma: I agree with you about Noel as they could have gone so wrong with him after this whole Felicity thing mirroring how he was at the end of last season. I think maybe they realized they took it too far last year with the whole Tyra stalking and pining after Felicity and this mature approach is much better. And yeah I don’t know why the proximity thing would be so bad as neither of them have been too lusty at this point.

One pairing that did come across as feeling fresh in a season of retreads is Elena and Ben as they’ve never had a crazy amount of stuff to do with each other despite their closeness to Felicity. I wonder if when it all comes out Elena will end up being there for Ben even though she is definitely better friends with Noel. And then maybe Elena can have something to do. Oh and now I’m really worried for Elena after that Broad City episode – a big week for Felicity references on comedy shows as Craig mentioned Keri Russell’s hair on Parks and Rec too.

From what I have briefly read about the final season it was initially intended to be the final year, but really it makes sense for this to have been a four season show and as you mentioned they are recycling a lot of storylines already.

And if I had to guess Ben is going to find out in our next batch of episodes as I can’t see it being strung out for much longer and I will definitely be pulling my best Home Alone face when he does as I have a feeling it will be in a very public setting much like the email of topless Felicity.

One more thing that I forgot to mention – so yes most of Sean’s ideas are not good at all but the Before/After restaurant is something I could see working especially with Brooklyn not being the super hip location it is now. Get in there earlier Sean!

Julie: I think I completely missed that idea. Make it happen, Sean!

Also, I loved how awkward Scott Foley looked while chewing that pen cap.

Emma: Yes! He is so good at physical comedy. More of that please Shonda!

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.


TV Rewind: Felicity, “Senioritis,” “It’s Raining Men,” & “The Last Summer Ever”

8 Jan

Felicity, Episodes 3.15, 3.16 & 3.17
“Senioritis,” “It’s Raining Men,” & “The Break-Up Kit”
Original Air Dates: May 9, 16, & 23

Felicity 3.17 wistful FelicityJulie: I thought these episodes were kind of interesting tonally. There’s nothing really “wrong” with Felicity and Ben’s relationship by the end of the season, but obviously not all is well. Maybe there has been too much hurt all season, too many Noels and Averies and that frat dude Ben punched. But it kind of feels like (spoiler alert) when the two of them say goodbye at the end of the season, there’s a bit of relief there. They’ve spent too much time worrying about the other’s intentions all season, Felicity and Ben are ready to have the summer to themselves, though I don’t think they (or at least Felicity; we don’t get to see Ben’s reaction) realized it until they found themselves on their own.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The trio of episodes kicked off with “Senioritis,” a reminder that Noel is a year older than everyone and he’s getting graduated this year. He’s taken a job in Seattle, doing…something, and he and Felicity are really going to miss each other’s…friendship. He offers her a job working under him for the summer. She’s interested, but she balks. She and Ben want to spend the summer together and Ben’s not sure he wants his girlfriend spending the summer with Noel (which, really, is kind of fair; she barred him from seeing any more of Avery).

Speaking of Avery, she did what I thought she’d do — she “accidentally” OD-ed on some pills in order to get Ben’s attention. It worked. And Felicity saw the two of them together again…a couple of times…and Ben really can’t get a clue about how to extricate Avery from his life. So Felicity tells him how: STOP TAKING HER CALLS AND INVITING HER TO STAY AT YOUR APARTMENT, YOU MORON. Ben finally gives Avery the official heave-ho at Dean & Deluca, and it seems to take. She’s gone, after too many episodes and too much of her trying to weasel herself between Ben and Felicity, it appears she has finally left the show. Thank goodness.

But, of course, Avery wasn’t the only ghost of relationships past to make an appearance during the final three hours of junior year. There are so many things to talk about with these episodes. Aaah! How sad are you to see Avery go?

Felicity 3.15 FelicityEmma: I am super sad to see Avery go… Okay maybe that is the biggest lie I’m going to tell all year because FINALLY this story has been put to bed but not before one almost rift causing hurrah! My problem with this plot and with the overall Ben and Felicity friction from this second half of the season is that it feels so contrived, it’s like they needed to find a reason to cause uncertainty and this was it. For me it hasn’t worked at all because I can’t see Ben being this dumb even when he has shared this huge experience with Avery. Girl is definitely persistent and the pills move is a sign that she definitely needs to be talking to someone. Her poor little rich girl “I am so alone” schtick doesn’t wash with me and she strikes me as someone who always gets her way and this is something she can’t buy.

I wonder if I’m being to harsh on her, but nope I don’t think I am. Take the way she dangles that ‘something’ happened at the Hamptons with Ben. Noel infers this as they slept together because that is the kind of thing you infer from this phrasing and while Ben doesn’t own up that he did kiss her back, it sounds way worse than it was. I’m surprised Noel showed such restraint and didn’t straight up tell Felicity about it and I’ve got to give him some kind of credit here, although I still think he has been petty at times with how he has dealt with his this is more than friendship feelings.

Avery is a temporary Felicity/Ben obstacle whereas Noel is more permanent even if he is meant to be moving to Seattle soon. Finishing college is causing this rush of aaaargh feelings and in this respect I understand why Noel is suddenly admitting how he feels and this has been a long time coming. Plus the S3 DVD cove might only be Felicity and Ben but this triangle is far from over. I’m glad they acknowledged the state of Ben and Noel’s friendship because they’ve never been BFFs and they shouldn’t have to be. In fact I think it would be pretty unhealthy if they were, living together is borderline huh. Don’t get me wrong I love Ben and Noel’s attempt at being friends because of Felicity but they really have nothing in common except her. Also Ben calls Noel a dick in two of these episodes which I also appreciated because he was being one.

What do you make of Noel’s big Felicity overtures?

Felicity 3.17 Felicity and NoelJulie: I’d like to be able to not buy the Ben/Avery thing, but I actually do. Ben is that big an idiot when it comes to beautiful, damaged girls. Noel hit the nail on the head. So, yeah. I’m fine with being hard on Avery (she deserves all the venom we and Felicity spew at her), but Ben is also a damn fool in this situation and he keeps making the same mistake over and over again until FINALLY he gets a clue and shows her the door.

Stop being your own biggest obstacle to happiness, Benjamin!

As far as Noel goes, his Felicity feelings definitely do stem from his being about to leave. Maybe there’s a bit of panic about wanting to hold on to some part of college. Maybe he realizes (just as I’ve realized) that Noel is at his best when his relationship with Felicity is in good shape. Even Felicity is at her best with Noel. She’s proactive (in a very business-like way) about her art. She’s FUN. She seems centered. When she’s with Ben, her whole being centers around the status of her relationship with Ben. There’s no fun. She tends to get lost and frets too much about making sure he’s happy. I don’t think that’s lost on Noel either.

Despite his dubious actions earlier this season — getting quickie married and stalking Tyra — I don’t think Noel’s initial actions are impure. I think asking her to work with him on Loser Pet Shop and giving her the break-up kit were totally “I care about you and think you’re talented as more than a friend, even though I realize you don’t see me that way” actions. I think Noel, at the beginning of this whole arc, was fine with friendship.

But THEN he was witness to how straight up shitty Ben was being, letting things happen with Avery and still seeing her despite Felicity’s feelings. Noel saw an opening, and I don’t blame him for that. He was leaving for Seattle. He had to take a shot. And so what if Ben got hurt, they were never friends anyway and Ben was constantly eating Noel’s food without asking (though, I’m on Team Ben here about putting peanut butter on a bagel).

I also buy Noel getting a little butt hurt that Felicity chooses Ben over him, because her past few months with Noel have been fun and easy, while her last few months with Ben have been torture. And I buy him deciding to cut her out so he can start fresh. And I completely buy all of that driving Felicity crazy because she needs everyone to like her.

So now we have Ben gone for the summer, and Noel (who has really been occupying more of Felicity’s mind space than Ben for the past few episodes) sharing an apartment together and “getting ice cream.” What do you think of this development? Where do you think Felicity’s head is at, and should Ben be worried?

Felicity 3.17 Felicity and BenEmma: Ben does have a saviour complex and I’m glad you brought that up as it had slipped my mind. It’s why he first connected with Julie and maybe Teri Polo too. Felicity is different and has never really needed saving, though if I recall correctly their night of breaking into the swimming pool came when she was feeling super low about her parents so it even works here a little bit.

For me Tracy’s speech to Elena works for the whole Felicity/Ben/Noel thing in that Felicity and Noel make the most sense for all the reasons you lay out, but it’s actually Ben who seems like the right choice despite their differences. This might be because I’ve been firmly in the Team Ben camp for a whole now and because I still can’t get over the Tyra thing. I might even at this moment suggest that Felicity goes for the “I choose me path” and I have a feeling that after this summer she might opt for that because something is definitely going to happen or almost happen while Ben is away.

It’s the joy and woes of having a love triangle is there needs to be conflict and harmony; Felicity has been with Ben all season and I think that’s been good at times but they’ve also had to create tension for other places so Avery, Noel, Felicity’s mom, Ben’s dad and I for one need a break from this so I hope they do break up, which sounds weird as I’m on this ship.

The most interesting thing to come out of the Avery situation was seeing Felicity have a strong negative reaction to someone because it’s so rare and as you point out she wants everyone to like her and like each other. It’s also why I’m glad to see Dr Pavone back (and chain smoking once again) because she doesn’t make things easy for Felicity even if I don’t always think she gives the most sound advice.

The panic of leaving college and how this structured life you’ve had for 3/4 years is suddenly going to be gone rang so true and I can understand why Noel’s departure makes them both question what their relationship means. It is scary and everything does change. It’s why the idea of the last summer for Ben and Felicity is a big deal. Realistically it isn’t necessarily their last summer but it is the last one before the real world. Also this show makes the decision of summer plans seem so fraught and stressful. I pretty much did the same thing every summer while I was at university and not once did I have a huge choice to make between dudes or taking a job or going camping. Maybe I missed out? Also if Noel does hookup with Felicity while Ben is away it’s the perfect revenge for Felicity picking Ben at the end of season 1

Felicity 3.15 tpJulie: Felicity does need a Kelly Taylor moment, doesn’t she? Has she really been single at all since freshman year? She’s either been pining after someone or outright dating them for the past three years. What do you want for you, Felicity? Which is why I actually think Noel (minus the Tyra stuff) is the better choice for her. He lets her be her. Ben keeps her mind too focused on Ben. Team Noel for me. Let’s just pretend the Tyra stalking never happened. shall we?

Thank you for mentioning the weirdness of the summer plans. Mine were always basically come home and get a job. There was no flitting around the country. (Maybe there should’ve been.)

I was going to ask you how you’d feel if Felicity hooked up with Noel during the summer. Would it be a little evening the Avery score? Or is hooking up with Noel kind of mean and unforgivable? This isn’t 90210 where everyone is constantly changing partners. This show does tend to have consequences. What consequences will arise from this pairing?

Maybe we’ve said a lot about the central trio and should move on to someone else…Like the WTF-ness that was Elena’s story? So, she started hanging out with DeForest when she was blind, then she saw him and still kept hanging out with him (both because she enjoyed his company and felt bad for being shallow about his looks), then he made a move and she rebuffed him, then she tried to backtrack and he told her to stop pitying him, then she genuinely wanted to jump his bones kind of, and now she’s all of a sudden dumping him because Tracy’s back? Poor DeForest is what this amounts to, and he’s so genial about the whole thing.

So, yeah. Tracy’s back. And he never had sex with Africa Rose. And that condom was meant for Elena, not for Rose. And now he has a ring and he wants to marry Elena. What do you make of all this? And what will Elena say?

Felicity 3.17 Tracy and ElenaEmma: I love that we’re going into this final season with each of us on the opposing team, but I think ultimately we are both Team Felicity. And if anything does happen in the loft while Ben is away then yes that will be very bad and much worse than the whole Avery situation because of all the history and the location.

Ben’s decision to become an EMT actually makes sense even if downplays it at every opportunity as he’s shown not only with the ladies he’s tried to save but with that kid he played basketball with. Yes that kid ended up with a broken finger but he did take him to a doctor so there’s that. For everything that has been said about Ben’s temper he did keep his cool when James threatened them (the first time) and this is a skill that will come in handy if he does become an EMT.

I think Ben’s fretting about careers is a little preempted but he see Noel as someone to be envied when it comes to this and so it’s not surprising to see him get nervous about his lack of direction. Noel knows what he wants to do, but alas his job in Seattle is no longer available. What a neat coincidence, eh? I did wonder how they were going to ehg Noel back to New York and this is it.

But on to other couples and I think they’ve had an issue with finding Elena a decent storyline after the gun incident and you’re right about DeForest being this kind of prop. Yeah Elena didn’t mean for this turn of events to take place, but still pretty shitty. And yes Tracy wrote her a long looking letter (I don’t think it is quite 18 pages front and back) and has said all the right things but this proposal still doesn’t seem like a good choice. It’s the romantic/impulsive choice and yet I don’t think it’s enough. And considering we know Scrubs started around the same time as Felicity S4 I think this might end in tears.

We’ve also got Sean and Meghan doing their merry breakup routine and the whole rabbi thing was beyond tedious. The couples counselling and vacation chat were a little better but I’m still a bit fed up of them. What did you make of their relationship woes?

Felicity 3.16 Sean and MeghanJulie: I also love the idea of Ben becoming an EMT. It just feels right for him. He doesn’t strike me as a 9-5 suit and tie kind of guy, so riding in an ambulance at all hours of the day sounds perfect. Though, his swoonyness might cause more heart attacks than it prevents.

Ugh, with Meghan and Sean again. I thought we were over the whole break up every week thing, but no. And I get Meghan not liking the rabbi, but calling her a Hooters girl? Not cool coming from someone who seems generally more openminded about other women’s looks and choices. The vacation thing was also dumb, because come on, Sean. Get over the money thing. Luckily he does by the end of the episode and the two of them are off to Switzerland for the summer (leaving Felicity and Noel alone in the loft).

This is probably a good time to start talking about our hopes and dreams for next season. Molly wasn’t even in the final episode, so could that be her death knell? Javier’s back, which is a good thing. I think you’re right about Elena and Tracy. Despite her (happy?) fainting, the two of them will not get engaged because he’ll be with JD Dorian instead (Whose father is also a bad dad John Ritter! Do Scrubs and Felicity take place in the same universe? Are JD and Ben secret brothers with different last names??? Discuss.)

Obviously things will get rocky for Felicity and Ben. How do you see it playing out? How do you want it to play out?

Felicity 3.17 groupEmma: The only aspect of the Meghan/Sean stuff I liked was when Meghan showed her softer side but yeah I’m done with them if this cycle continues and as Alias is a Sepetember 2001 show I think they will be going the same way as Tracy and Elena. Or maybe he will pull double duty as I don’t remember Weiss being around that much at the start. Which brings me to something else regarding season 4 and considering the location I was wondering how they’re going to address 9/11. I suspect there will be a subtle nod with maybe just a title card rather than a direct reference, but it is definitely something that crossed my mind.

I want everything good for Felicity and I have a feeling she has a whole lot of DRAMA heading her way. I do wonder how Noel will fit it now that he’s graduated – by the way I adore how his mom responded to Felicity – will he get a job at the bar, Dean & DeLuca or at NYU? One of those will be awkward no doubt. I do want her to end up with Ben, but I don’t want the whole season to be about this.

As you mentioned with Molly I think her days might be numbered as she’s pretty much just been there to make a comment about whatever story is going on so laying it on thick about Felicity’s amazing friendship with Noel. Javier has been rather absent considering he now goes to college (they seem to have forgotten that), but hopefully there will be more for him to do.

Season three has been a bit of a mess and that time jump was part of the problem so I hope the focus is stronger in the last season. Oh and you know how much I love the sexual health stories so more of those please.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention the Ruby reappearance and do you think this is the last we’ve seen of her? It seemed pretty final to me and you can tell Avery and Molly were bad because I really didn’t mind seeing her again. Also why was she wearing a red sleeveless turtleneck with a red sweater draped over her shoulders? That was confusing. Any other faces from the past you want to see for one last time?

Felicity 3.17 RubyJulie: That’s a good point about 9/11. I know most shows didn’t mention the attacks, but I also think that a college student in Manhattan at the time would’ve been deeply affected, so it would be weird for them not to mention it, really. If it had happened a year earlier, for sure Noel would’ve been the one freaking out about his mortality and whatnot, because that’s what Noel does.

This show desperately lacked sexual health stories this season. I’m hoping season four is nothing but Felicity dealing with the herp.

I think Ruby’s gone and probably Molly too, possibly without mention. I’m wondering if Julie comes back in the final season, for closure. I could do without seeing any of Felicity’s ex-boyfriends or her parents ever again.

I’ll leave you with two words: Ruby’s choker.

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.

Masters of Sex 2.01 “Parallax” Review: Going off Book

14 Jul

The big rain soaked grand gesture that ended season 1 of Masters of Sex is revisited in the form of flashback from both Bill and Virginia’s perspective throughout this premiere – the different points of view give the episode its title – and it is even followed by an equally rom-com like “What do we do now?” This question is incredibly loaded and neither Bill nor Virginia is very good at saying what they really mean; there is no scientific instrument than can speak for the (metaphorical) heart. Everything has been displaced and in this excellent first outing back we see pretty much every character clinging to the past while being deluded about the present. As with last year these reviews will be looking at Masters of Sex through the prism of costume design and how this plays a part in the overall narrative, as well as exploring other broader themes this show is addressing. Masters of Sex 2.01 no eye contactStarting at the end of the episode, which in a sense is the beginning of this seasons time line as Bill and Virginia discuss the finer points of Freud’s “there are no accidents” philosophy – this is one occasion where they agree with Freud after debunking his female orgasm theory – and end up in their standard stalemate relationship position. Bill and Virginia work incredibly well together and are both rather intuitive when it comes to the work, not so much with saying how they really feel as one of them is always erecting walls to protect their heart. Bill was the one to lay it all out this time and then pulled the classic “oh you misunderstood what was saying” after Virginia use word “affair” and how amazing he is for getting that she choose work over love. They can barely look at each other in this scene and they’re wearing their standard armor; Virginia’s high neckline/dark palette is her serious person wear and Bill’s immaculate suit and bow tie reflects his stiff exterior. Masters of Sex 2.01 Bill and Virginia suspendersTheir versions of armor do get stripped away in the bedroom and this is the first time they have been intimate outside of a controlled environment and it is jarring seeing them engaging like this outside of blue robes and medical instruments. The quick cuts as they go from doorstep to bedroom and finally a longer sequence of them naked enhances how impulsive this moment is and they are both laid out bare both physically and emotionally. Bill’s inquisitive side comes into play as he checks Virginia’s pulse and the first mention of no medical equipment is uttered; it’s impossible for this pair to separate the study from intimacy. This is the barrier they have used in the past to justify what they are doing as science. Now comes the psychological side of sex and Virginia ponders how they will measure this kind of data. Ah the study and its ability to provide an excuse for ignoring what is really going on while confronting these feelings in equal measures; Virginia even refers to it as “like nuclear rain falling on us all.” That is some stark imagery. Masters of Sex 2.01 kimonoVirginia barely wears any color in this episode and the ones she does are relatively muted aside from the celadon scarf that gets commented on at the hotel (“you can call it green”) and this incredible floral kimono. Again this is a much different look to the blue robes worn during Virginia’s previous sexual encounters with Bill and while they have of course been intimate with each other prior to this, the different setting and personal details like this kimono show how this relationship enters a new phase only to be back where they started by the end of the premiere. The different versions of the phone call, one in which we see Bill with a post-sex hopeful glow as Virginia turns down Ethan and the other as we hear Ethan’s side and see Virginia choosing work over love (even if she was never really in love with Ethan) earn an “it’s complicated” relationship status update. Masters of Sex 2.01 AustinIf this episode had a sponsor it would be denial and the result of what denial can do is helpfully demonstrated by Dr. Austin Langham as he hides from his scorned wife in Dr. Lillian DePaul’s office – he interrupts Lillian and Virginia having their own conversation about denial – as she roams the halls with her kids in tow yelling about her unfaithful husband. I have to admit that I totally bought into Austin’s sincere sounding declaration that he was a changed man and was no longer the cheating hound dog he was last season. Instead he has actually been sleeping with his sister-in-law and his fear of the study being like a mummy’s curse wasn’t his downfall, his inability to keep it in his pants did that just fine. Virginia getting to hold yet another baby reluctantly combined with Lillian’s admonishing of Austin made this the comic relief this episode craved. It also raised the question of whether Virginia should have ratted out where Austin was as a sign of solidarity even though Austin is the one who is her friend, not his wife and this situation is even more problematic as Virginia is also currently sleeping with the husband of a friend (no I am never buying the “it’s for science” defense which is why the Bill/Libby/Virginia love triangle is so fascinating). In one other moment of hilarity Lizzy Caplan did get to show off her fantastic comic timing as she attempts to use the script given to her to sell the diet pills, improv is definitely more Virginia’s speed. Masters of Sex 2.01 Libby and VirginiaWhile I’m on the subject of the Libby/Virginia friendship it is a good time to point out the stunning outfit Libby wears while on her trip to the hospital – inspired by Dior’s New Look – and there’s a couple of things that stand out to me here. First there’s light and dark; Virginia is in her standard dark tones and it’s not surprising considering the reaction from hospital employees that Virginia is doing all she can to not stand out. Libby is facing similar stares when out at functions and I’m not sure if she is aware of these disapproving looks or is she is using standard WASP protocol and pretending everything is fine, I suspect the latter. The color of this dress matches her son’s attire and it instantly made me think of how the Virgin Mary is often depicted wearing light blue and white. Masters of Sex 2.01 baby johnnyThis is reflected later when Bill scoffs that their baby isn’t Jesus despite being a ‘miracle,’ no to Bill he is like a crying monster to be drowned out by records and thoughts of Virginia. If only he could see the above shot to make things even more jumbled in Bill’s mind. Masters of Sex 2.01 horror povPure horror movie POV as Bill contemplates entering dear, sweet Johnny’s room before opting for the record player. Libby later calls Bill a “baby magician” before realizing that his mother is the one with the baby skills beyond the hospital. Bill’s baby fear stems from his own troubled family history and he banishes his mother back to Ohio after spitting at her how he is sleeping with Virginia and that he has become both his father and her. Bill really needs therapy as these issues are not going away and it is unfortunate that Libby has to deal with both their crying child and her repressive husband. Masters of Sex 2.01 LibbyLibby asks for advice from Virginia with how to deal with Bill’s work situation and Virginia’s words of wisdom focus on Libby “most of all I would take care of myself, it’s all you can do” as Bill is not great when being pushed in a certain direction. Libby does some of the former, but really more of the latter and this calls for more stunning vintage garments including this blue alpaca coat. Masters of Sex 2.01 poisedLibby is all poise at this event showing off what is under the above alpaca coat – a spectacular necklace and pale blue dress -as she tries to make things work, all while Bill is polishing off multiple martinis and snarking about her attempts to talk to Greathouse. Bill has his own chance meeting that helps him secure a new job and outlet for the study (more on that below). Masters of Sex 2.01 Libby floralTying Virginia and Libby together through floral print is not something I would have necessarily expected; Libby wears hers to maintain her social standing and to help Bill’s career through the only way she knows how and Virginia’s comes as personal and professional intersect in a new location. Libby and Virginia are of course linked through Bill and as their friendship developed prior to any Bill/Virginia sexy times it makes everything even more complicated. Libby is a sympathetic figure – which a lot of other shows with a difficult/brilliant man storyline have struggled with – and at the same time she isn’t painted as a weak 1950s housewife. There is real steely determination here and I worried when Masters of Sex first started that Libby would end up as nothing more than a pretty face with a nagging disposition so that you would will Bill and Virginia to be together. Instead we have a character who has strength and isn’t afraid to go against her husband’s wishes if she thinks it will help her family. That Bill has two women like this in his life who want to go to bat for him, despite his prickly and difficult nature is pretty astounding.

We know that when Bill lets his guard down there is a very caring side as he shows when he accompanies Barton to his electroshock therapy. When Barton pukes on him he barely blinks “it’s just a suit.” Bill can’t hide his disgust at this barbaric course of treatment and he uses science to try and convince Barton that he shouldn’t continue down this path.

Masters of Sex 2.01 Scully womenI’ve talked about how the theme of this episode is denial and Barton has this is droves as he tries to convince himself and Margaret that he can be ‘cured.’ Margaret sees through his sexual advances as soon as he wants to do it from behind pleading with him “there’s only a shred of me left that feels like a woman.” Margaret and Barton break my heart on every level in this episode – and have all but guaranteed repeat Emmy nominations for this time next year – as they both struggle with the reality of Barton’s sexuality. He so desperately wants to feel another way that his last resort is suicide and he is saved by his wife and daughter who have just returned from a shopping spree. Mother and daughter discuss the color of Vivian’s new top – she’s moving away from the pinks of last season as she has grown up and is talking about moving away – when they hear what they think is a thud from the basement window. Instead it is Barton’s hanging attempt and thankfully they reach him in time to save his life. Where the Scullys go from here is unclear, but they aren’t letting even those nearest to them in as Margaret makes excuses to Bill; a long distance phone call is the 50s version of a video call I guess. Masters of Sex 2.01 LillianWhat dish of denial is Lillian cooking up with her medicine cabinet story? Am I wrong in inferring that alcohol might be behind this shiner? One thing that I love about Masters of Sex is that it doesn’t have just one great lady friendship, there are currently three – though Jane will be departing soon sadly – and each brings out a different richness. Lillian and Virginia call each other out on their BS, Lillian disapproves of the diet pills Virginia is hawking and Virginia quickly flips the tables when Lillian blames her black eye on an object and not a person. Lillian has trouble getting her words out which might add to my booze theory or it could be down to her illness which I fear will take this incredible character away from us. It’s all about being careful and not reckless, a position that sends Virginia down Bill Masters memory lane for the final time in “Parallax” (this title also sounds like a diet pill to be honest) as their guarded nature could be seen as being careful, but it is probably going to be far more detrimental in the long run. Lillian as ever is buttoned up and muted in her costuming. Masters of Sex 2.01 Jane yellowYellow bag, coat, dress and jewelry is what I wanted from Jane’s brief appearance this season (Heléne Yorke is switching with Annaleigh Ashford as the actress with Broadway commitments this year) and I’m really going to miss this character’s ability to be honest without being hurtful. Jane wants Virginia to move to California as she thinks Virginia is deluding herself with the study and Bill. It’s colorful versus muted tones once again (Virginia’s collar is making me think of vicars and how she is trying to reject the sexual image people associate with her after the presentation) and Virginia also uses this opportunity to convince her friend that maybe she isn’t making the right choice either. Jane is following her dream and in a way Virginia is doing the same by putting her faith in Bill and their work. Masters of Sex 2.01 BettyBetty is back! Welcome to another installment of denial as she still hasn’t told her husband that a) she is gay and b) she can’t have kids. Masters knows about both of these things and is pissed that he has been drawn into this mess again, but hey he also gets to restart the study and get a new job out of this association so let’s play nice Bill. Betty is also not thrilled to see Bill and the Pretzel King is oblivious to all of this. Oh, Greg Grunberg (and another Felicity alum getting discussed on both his former and current show). Betty wears red, which was a staple color during her brief, but memorable stint last season and her relationship with Bill is one of the many conflicts I am looking forward to them exploring this year. An excellent first episode back propelling the story forward while characters try to adjust to big changes while denying that anything is different despite the obvious shifts and upheavals. Incredible work from Ane Crabtree and her costume design team as they add another layer to the text through what the characters wear and how they wear it.

Julie Hammerle

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