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