By Julie Hammerle and Emma Fraser
Season 1, Episode 5: “Spooked”
Original airdate: Oct. 27, 1998
Julie: So, I think I need to learn how to use a calendar, because I thought I had figured out that we’d be talking bout the Halloween episode of Felicity on Halloween. Apparently, I was wrong, because here I am, sick of candy and pumpkins, watching all the kids at the University of New York dressed up as Subway employees and Catwoman.
The episode is not just about Halloween though; so if you’re all jack-o-lanterned out, we have other things to discuss. The Big Event of this hour was that Ben’s apartment was robbed, and Felicity and Ben arrived home in the middle of it. Felicity lost her beloved necklace, Sean lost his notebook full of ideas, and Ben lost, I think, nothing. Because Ben has nothing.
The robbery was a good metaphor for how Ben and Felicity deal with life. Felicity hits it head-on, offering to come down to the precinct building right away to look at mug shots. Felicity has been taught to do “the right thing,” and she’s doing it. Ben is all about avoidance. He doesn’t want to talk about it. He pretends it doesn’t bother him. But at the same time, he’s showing up at Felicity’s building in the middle of the night “to talk.” He does this twice. And then he invites her to Sean’s Halloween party and makes a soft commitment to dress as Frankenstein’s monster to her bride of said monster. He completely blows this off and ends up in a suit as a member of the Rat Pack — he doesn’t remember which one.
He also ends up making out with the Pink Power Ranger, which is hilarious because Amy Jo Johnson used to play the Pink Power Ranger on the TV. Or maybe it’s just confusing, since Julie was dressed as Catwoman.
So, what did you think of Felicity and Ben’s brush with death? Have you ever been the victim of a crime?
Emma: What’s one more Halloween episode in November?! Especially when there’s this much going on.
Luckily my only experience with having something stolen involved a simple diversion scam in Leicester Square in London and my phone got pinched. I felt very stupid and annoyed at the same time. So a little worse than Noel’s birthday cake example but nowhere near as bad as Felicity and Ben’s (or Elena and Zach’s examples). I’m going to touch all the wood right now (yes phrasing). How about you?
The way it flips from the casual chat between Felicity and Ben to the robbery is really well done and it throws you into this super scary moment. Seeing flashes of shoes, their clothes and guns gives the scene a chaotic feel and a realistic edge as this small details rather than an overall picture of the event is more likely. It makes ID’ing the guys who did this even harder and while Felicity looks at the mugshots and sees something that could be helpful, Ben pretends it is a waste of time.
You’re totally spot on with how the robbery is used to represent Ben and Felicity’s natural reactions, though I would say this version of Felicity that deals with things head on has only really developed since she came to New York. At high school she hung back and Ben probably was more of the do everything kind of guy but now they are away from home things are very different. Ben talks about his dad again, that he is like a ticking time bomb with an alcohol problem and this is another attempt to give Ben layers. I’m getting flashbacks to a Jordan Catalano discussion we had, where his character comes across as undeveloped because we’re seeing him through Angela’s eyes and I’m feeling the same way about Ben. At the moment he is this guy that is Felicity’s ideal and what Felicity knows about Ben is what we do and there’s nothing more than that.
It’s hard to live up to an ideal like this which is why Ben ends up disappointing Felicity after they shared such an emotionally charged experience and the problem with Ben and Felicity is she has so many expectations. I don’t think he helps matters and there is a sense that he enjoys the attention. It’s hard to believe that someone could be that vacant when it comes to reading the signs; do you think Ben is intentionally leading Felicity on?
Felicity is ready to get off the Ben merry go round and tells Sally that she is going to move on. It’s not that easy though as Ben tracks her down at her new job (after a conversation with Noel that involved a lot of posturing) and he gives her a necklace to replace the one she had taken and she’s probably going to fall even harder after this. Ben, Ben, Ben this is only going to make Felicity see a huge meaning even with your earlier “Not everything has big meaning” tirade.
Brief thoughts on costumes and I love the meta Pink Power Ranger moment even if it was very wink wink as Ben has already kissed this Power Ranger. Felicity’s hair is perfect for her costume and I love the late 90s of this all as she gets mistaken for Courtney Love. Julie’s Cat Woman costume is perfectly Michelle Pfeiffer and thankfully pre the Halle Berry version of this outfit. And Noel, I’ll get two you later but that is a TERRIBLE choice of Halloween attire, though is I applaud the makers of this show if this was their way of featuring product placement.
What did you think about the first big Ben and Noel interaction? Also it doesn’t seem like their are any post Noel and Felicity kiss repercussions – were these episodes aired out of order?
Julie: I’ve had a few brushes with crime, but then I live in Chicago. (Actually, none of said crimes have happened within the Chicago city limits. Take that lame stream media! Also, knocking on wood.) In college, two things happened not to me, but to people around me. So I was like the Noel of the situation. Junior year a bunch of us were living off campus in an apartment complex (this was in Indianapolis), and there was a MURDER in the building next to where John (my now-husband) lived. That was a tad bit freaky. And sophomore year, my roommate was accosted by a guy on campus. She was fine, but it was pretty scary.
I think Ben must be leading Felicity on. Or he’s the dumbest person on the planet. Either or. Or maybe he actually does have deep seeded feelings for her that he’s having trouble reconciling. That’s a lot of “ors.” Ben is just that much of an enigma. Why do you do what you do, Benjamin?
I thought the Sandwich Artist costumes, worn by Noel and Elena, were kind of hilarious. When you’ve got so many women scrounging for sexy costumes, the anti-sexy Subway uniform really stands out. And it totally turned on the Tin Man, so it’s got that going for it.
I was going to mention the missing kiss situation. I wonder if these episodes were out of order or if the writers just decided not to bring it up. This was a pretty packed episode, all told. I brought my own subtext into it, but I would’ve liked just one mention of, “Hey, remember we kissed and you have a Hannah?” I’m thinking they must have flip-flopped an episode or two just to be able to air this episode near Halloween.
The other big thing that happened this episode — sorry, Julie and Pink Guy, not your date — was the introduction of Javier, the Dean & Deluca manager, played by Cougar Town‘s Ian Gomez. He had only a brief scene this episode, but he brings a dash of humor and realness. He’s like Felicity’s portly, gay conscience.
Oh, yeah. We also officially met Sean, Ben’s roommate, played by J.J. Abrams workhorse Greg Grunberg. He’s a struggling entrepreneur who just had his ideas notebook stolen. And that’s about all we know so far.
What did you think of these new guys? Oh, yeah and Julie’s date with Brian Krakow?
Emma: As far as college goes it was crime free for me personally, but there was an incident at a club night on campus where a guy punched someone and it killed him – I wasn’t there as dance music really wasn’t/isn’t my thing but a lot of my friends were and they came back to the dorm at 5am totally freaked out and woke up all up. It was just one of those very unfortunate freak incidences.
Back to Felicity and you’re right that the Subway costume is the anti-sexy choice and yet Elena still hooks up with a cute guy. I figured Noel picked something like this as a way to show the audience that this is a purely platonic pairing and I’m pleased about this development. Elena confronting Noel in the bathroom (drink) is a really funny scene and shows that boundaries slip when you are at college. I like how in his stride Noel takes the whole thing and Elena has a perfectly valid reason for disliking Halloween but after this one I think she might be a fan.
The funniest thing about their Subway costume is the plastic gloves which came in useful for Noel when Felicity threw up on him. This is a very good episode for showcasing Noel’s humorous delivery from his birthday cake story to his emergency RA meeting that is about “bulimia or something.” The real highlight is his “that really changes my whole attitude about you” post Felicity vomit reaction and Scott Foley shows that he can bring the funny (and now in Scandal he is showing he can bring the hotness, but I digress). It must be true love if he is still into her post vom. Drunk Felicity is also a big ball of funny.
Javier! I’m looking forward to more from him and I hope he can give Felicity some good advice regarding her double boy problems. Also between two jobs and school work Felicity is going to have no free time. I guess Sydney Bristow managed grad school and all her spy duties, JJ likes to give his leading ladies all the work to do.
Yes speaking of which Greg Grunberg! And he came across as a bit of an ass when he asked Ben why he didn’t try to stop the robbers, I think the guns are a big enough clue. His ideas notebook gave me Nick Miller flashes and he should be happy they didn’t take the Playstation (and why didn’t they?). I am so far not that into Sean, despite my Agent Weiss love and Nick Miller comparison.
On the other hand I think Zach is pretty adorable and this is why Julie is unsure at first as she’s only dated jerks before him. When she tells him that he talks to her “like an actual person” it breaks my heart a little because she clearly undervalues herself. This explains her initial hesitation but she does take a leap and kisses him later in the episode. Random pairing alert is Zach playing computer games with Ben and it involves an awkward conversation about Julie’s romantic interaction with Ben. It doesn’t feel like he is doing this from a place of jealousy and I think he is trying to figure out why Julie ran off after he kissed her. I’m also impressed with the pink clothes continuity.
Julie’s small butterfly clips are giving me all the late 90s hair flashbacks as I did the twisted look with clips like this all of the time.
What are your thoughts on Zach and Julie? Oh and what of Noel’s big “you’re amazing Felicity” speech.
Julie: Zach is pretty much adorable (but could you expect any less from Brian Krakow?). I loved his moment of complete devastation after he kissed Julie and she brushed him off. I was very “what the hell?” about it myself.
Yeah, Sean is an interesting character. He’s very self-involved, and a bit immature. He reminds me of people I knew in college, like those older guys who hung around because they had nothing better to do. I think he gets more likable as time goes on, but we’ll see. Agent Weiss + Nick Miller should equal Deep Love.
Back to Noel. He was a moron in the “Boggled” episode, but this one really showed what a great guy Noel can be. He’s funny. He’s laid back. He’s good with vomit. He grows up to be a really built B-613 agent. There’s only upside with this guy. Except for the whole girlfriend thing, but that’s just a minor detail. She lifts right out.
He and Ben did have their first real meet and greet in the hallway outside Felicity’s door. I think Noel shooed Ben away out of genuine concern for Felicity, but also as a sort of pissing contest with Ben. “See, Benjamin, I know where she is. She trusts me. I’m her friend. Eat a butt.”
And the butterfly clips are also giving me the ’90s chills. I’ve been watching some Friends episodes from that era as well, and I think my #1 hair inspiration back then was Phoebe Buffay (who’s also on Scandal this season. It all comes back to Scandal.)
Emma: I don’t have that much to add but I just wanted to address the overall direction that the show is going in. So we’re not at episode 5 and I think they’ve done a good job so far of establishing the core relationships and they’ve covered quite a lot of ground in these first few episodes. I would like to see a step back from Felicity’s pining after Ben as I’m worried that it will become repetitive and the Noel stuff felt refreshingly light this week.
One thing that still feels unclear to me is how the closing tapes from Sally are meant to relate to the overall story, like I get that they’re responding to Felicity’s earlier musings but to me it doesn’t feel all that connected to anything else. It’s harsh but I don’t really care about Sally’s dating life, though I am always happy to hear Janeane Garofalo’s voice. I like the device as a way to hear Felicity’s musings and I think it sidesteps awkward voiceover issues that might occur as it has a conversational tone. What do you think of the Sally tapes?
The other moment I want to briefly mention is the gathering of everyone in Felicity’s room as they share what they know about the robbery before Felicity gets home. There’s not a great deal to the scene but it shows just how quick incorrect rumours can spread and it also gives us a brief moment of Megan caring about Felicity while also sizing up Felicity’s side of the room. I am sad that we didn’t get to see Megan’s Halloween attire.