Team-Up Review: Felicity, “Drawing the Line, Part 2” and “Thanksgiving”

By Julie Hammerle and Emma Fraser

Felicity
Season 1, Episodes 8 and 9: “Drawing the Line, Part 2” and “Thanksgiving”
Original airdates: Nov. 17 & 24, 1998

Emma: So, the last time we spoke we had just watched the first part of “Drawing the Line” and Zach had done a very bad thing. Part 2 deals with the immediate repercussions and the various responses to this heinous act. I’m going to start with this episode and leave the really fun “Thanksgiving” until later, but once again this is a really strong pair of episodes that moves the story forward and develops the relationships. It also adds more to the theory that Felicity and Ben are much better at this point as friends.

The first thing Felicity does is go and talk to Noel, as both one of her closest friends and the RA this is the best option for Felicity as she deals with a situation she has no previous experience with. Noel automatically flips his RA switch on and references his trusty handbook, as this is a situation he really hasn’t dealt with outside of his training. Noel knows the depressing stats – he remarks that 95% of rape victims don’t report their attack – but he’s not equipped with the knowledge of what to do next. This is why he talks to the RA on Zach’s floor and while this does betray a confidence, I think he justifies this decision as he doesn’t want another girl to become a victim. As with the cheating episode Noel looks to outside counsel to help backup his own knowledge and this is one of Noel’s strengths – he doesn’t try and handle things alone.

The one person who they are trying to help is of course Julie, Julie who has convinced herself that she ‘asked for it’ or that it wasn’t really rape. As she recounts what happened at the hospital at first I thought the doctor was going to take a very negative stance towards Julie, especially when alcohol is mentioned. Thankfully the doctor doesn’t demonize Julie and informs her that yes this very much sounds like rape. Julie makes my heart hurt throughout the episode as she tries to come to terms with what happened and with Zach’s presence as he tries to act like nothing has happened.

It’s an incredibly hard subject to ‘do right’ but I think they do a good job of conveying the pain and confusion of everyone both directly and indirectly involved. Felicity steps up her very Felicity like way of tackling a difficult subject with leaflets and seeking help from the professionals at health services. Julie yells at Felicity for being a buttinsky and this is where Julie reveals this isn’t the first time something like this has happened and my heart breaks all over again.

Like everyone else I assumed that Julie had slept with Ben, this isn’t the case and while I definitely want to talk about Ben’s “It’s not your fault” Good Will Hunting moment I also want to pass it over to you. What did you think of the second part of “Drawing the Line?”

Felicity 1.08 Felicity and Noel

Julie: “Drawing the Line, Part 2” was a really powerful hour full of gray areas. Yes, I think Felicity was right to talk to Noel, even if she was being a buttinsky. She saw that her friend was hurting (and not really dealing with things in the best way) and she went to the one person she knew would have some answers — her R.A. And what’s an R.A. for if not do dispense post-rape advice?

Though, like you said, Noel himself wasn’t even all that equipped to deal with this situation. This was him getting thrust into the big game, and his first instinct was to apply a tourniquet to the problem and tell Zach’s R.A. about the rape to keep it from happening again. Trial by fire for Mr. Noel. He did well, as Zach’s actions really shouldn’t have been kept quiet.

Every person of authority treated Julie with great patience and respect, which I thought was nice. The doctor and the police officers and the school counselor were very kind and understanding about everything she was going through. They believed her, and they didn’t try to change her mind about what happened. If there were girls watching this episode and going through the same situation as Julie and weighing weather or not to go to the authorities, this show made it sound like a good idea to report the crime.

Two moments in this episode stood out for me. Ben’s speech to Julie was wonderful, and really made him seem like a caring, deep person. (I also liked the scene where he kicked the crap out of Zach and said, “The difference is, when you told me to stop, I did.” Get it, Ben).

The other moment that stuck out was when Julie and Felicity were talking and Julie called her out for being a virgin and not being able to understand what she (Julie) was going through. This is textbook Felicity, i.e. using a textbook (ha) to figure out what she’s supposed to do. Felicity really hasn’t had much life experience by this point in the show. She’s kissed Noel once, but was that the first guy she ever kissed? Perhaps. Julie’s absolutely right that Felicity doesn’t quite get it. She gets it intellectually, but she can’t comprehend the feelings and uncertainties that go along with really living. You’ll get there, Felicity. I have faith.

And now poor Zach is gone. I can’t help but feel a little sorry for him. He’s screwed. He made one dumb mistake and now he’s going back home where his dad is going to kick his ass. Hopefully he’ll get the help he needs.

Anything else to add about the rape storyline? Oh, and we haven’t even talked about Felicity’s high school shadow. Of course Felicity signed up to let high school kids shadow her in college. That’s so her.

Felicity 1.08 Ben and Julie

Emma: This is the most I have liked Ben and it feels like they are finally figuring out who is as a character. He has alluded to the bad blood with his father in the past and this is the most explicit he has been so far. While he clearly doesn’t like to share too much of himself in this moment he knows that it will be incredibly beneficial to Julie to do so. It totally made me teary and I’m definitely warming to him beyond just his killer smile. I think he really cares about her which is why he does this and also starts something with Zach in the cafeteria. At first Ben thinks it’s a different guy that has assaulted Julie as I don’t think he would even consider that one of the guys he has been hanging out with could do such a thing.

The episode does wrap the Zach side of the story up in a neat bow as he is going home. They don’t paint Zach to be an evil guy and I do also feel for him in a way but ugh the scene where he reveals that this was his first time, it doesn’t excuse it but it shows just how messy these things can be. Zach is definitely in the wrong and it’s good he’s facing the consequences of his actions.

Ah yes, Story the 16 year old who is obsessed with clubbing provided some of the episode’s light relief and initially pairing her with Elena was pretty funny. It weirdly reminded me of True Blood when Bill makes Eric take Jessica for a while (I don’t know if you ever watched it so sorry for the random tangent) and she pissed him off with her incessant chatter about doing grown up things. While I probably wouldn’t be that enthusiastic I can imagine that I would have wanted to do fun stuff if I went on a program like that at 16 and not just sit around while other people do work. The best thing about Story was how Meghan responded to her because of their shared love of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Meghan is also being super precious about her box and I’m guessing this might be a recurring theme. JJ does love boxes.

The real comedy highlight of the episode is Noel’s attempt at growing a goatee despite everyone telling him what a terrible idea it is. And it really is terrible. There’s a nice rhythm between Noel and Felicity at this point and it’s got to the point where Felicity will hold his mirror while he shaves even though there are perfectly good ones in the bathroom. What say you about Noel’s facial hair?

Felicity 1.08 Noel's goatee

Julie: I vaguely remember that True Blood storyline. I think I wiped most of that show from memory.

Silly aside about Story the 16-year-old. She was played by Riley Weston, who was about 32-years-old when this episode was filmed. Because she looked so young, she started telling people she was born in 1979 instead of 1966. She was featured on Entertainment Weekly and other magazines for being this hot, up-and-coming 19-year-old writer/actress (she actually wrote this Felicity episode). And then she was exposed and I, frankly, find her rather annoying for even attempting this.

But anyway. Story was totally within her rights to expect Elena or Felicity to take her to a club, or at least to a party, or at least out for pizza. Those girls behaved like the most boring college students in the history of college students. Thank goodness for Meghan and her box (and, yes, the box is a recurring theme; and, yes, the box gets its own episode, about which I’m sure we’ll have much to discuss).

I absolutely loved Noel’s goatee growing. The writers were really figuring out how to use the guys at this point. They knew to make Ben the hot, sensitive guy who will stick up for you and just be generally awesome. And they knew to make Noel do and say funny things to make us like him. At this point, both guys are kind of equal for me in their attractiveness, for all those different reasons.

But obviously (shunting things over to the Thanksgiving episode) the guys are currently NOT of equal attractiveness in Felicity’s mind. She now has a favorite. And all it took for her to realize it was an appearance by Jennifer Garner. What say you about “Thanksgiving?”

Felicity 1.09 Hannah and Felicity

Emma: That is so bizarre! Why would you even bother? She does look very young and played the annoying part well.

The box gets its own episode?!?! Amazing, though I think I might have seen a mention of a Twilight Zone type of episode so I’m guessing this is that one. I pretty much adore Meghan and her petty intolerance to almost everything (except substitute butter products).

Ah the boys, and, yes, you’re right that they’ve done a good job with making them seen equally attractive while also giving them both something to put in the Con list – Noel with his girlfriend and Ben with coming across as cool/aloof at times.

Moving on to the girlfriend in question and I definitely used some all caps on Twitter when it was revealed that Jennifer Garner is Hannah. Thanks to Alias, Garner will always be in favour with me and I have a feeling you share this notion. I knew she turned up at some point but I didn’t realise it would be this soon or this character. Also she belongs in the Paul Rudd club of not aging because she pretty much looks the same.

So it’s Thanksgiving and Hannah has come to stay and about time we get to meet the girl that Noel has been dating for so long. Felicity decides to stay to keep Julie company as she can’t face going home (more on this later) and this leads to a super awkward first meeting where Noel babbles like an idiot and refers to Felicity and Julie as kids. Oh, Noel.

One thing that has been consistent so far is not painting characters as simply good or bad, they’re interested in the grey areas. Now I don’t know if it’s my preconceived feelings towards Garner but Hannah seems like a lovely character. She’s smart, beautiful and happy to chat with anyone. She’s also thinking of moving to New York for school and this creates tension with Noel.

The whole Mac vs PC debate is hilarious and totally 1998 and Noel’s reaction to her new purchase is a funny way to show they have both moved on. Do people still have these debates or has it moved on to iPhone vs Android?

There’s still a brief spark as they rip each other’s clothes off when they get into Noel’s room but it stops at the bra and pants stage. Something has fizzled for both of them and Hannah has her own Felicity back in Chicago. We talked about long distance college relationships when Hannah was first mentioned and I think while ending this relationship is sad it makes complete sense. This way it looks like they will still be friends too. Future Sydney Bristow appearances maybe? Thinking of their real life relationship I’m going to speculate that down the road life imitated art.

We have a HUGE bathroom scene to discuss but first of all what did you think of Hannah?

Felicity 1.09 Jennifer Garner
Julie: I watched this episode on the plane coming home from Florida and when the frantic shirt baring scene came on I was hiding the screen like, “It doesn’t go much further than this, promise.” I did love that moment because it was so indicative of the fact that each of them was thinking about another person, and they just couldn’t seal the deal.

And the writers (and J-Gar) did a lovely job with Hannah’s character. They could’ve easily made her the bad guy, who’s been cheating on Noel or who is super overbearing, but she’s simply her own person, and someone who knows Noel like the back of her hand (and that’s part of the problem in their relationship). It does feel a little voyeuristic to watch Jennifer Garner make out with Scott Foley, knowing that her guest starring on this show sparked their relationship. I find myself wondering when they knew they liked each other. Was their on-set kiss their first kiss? Dorky stuff like that. It’s sad that their marriage didn’t last, but I read an interview with her recently and she still speaks highly of Scott. They were just too young when they got together (plus, she got really famous really fast over the first few years of their marriage).

Also, yes, it’s amazing how little she has aged in 15 years.

I loved the Mac vs. PC debate. I don’t think I really have that debate with anyone anymore because most people I know are Mac people (except my parents, whom I do keep trying to change). I enjoyed Noel fawning all over the colorful iMacs. I remember when those showed up on campus in, like, sophomore or junior year and people just plotzed.

But now on to the actual Thanksgiving dinner. Basically, everyone ends up staying (and this, I believe, becomes a recurring theme on Felicity, spending Thanksgiving in New York). Julie can’t deal with her parents. Ben’s mom forgot to buy him a ticket home. Elena’s dad ignores her wishes on her visit home. Felicity decides to stay with Noel, under the guise of staying with Julie. Sean’s cousin didn’t invite him to his big party on Long Island. And Javier was not prepared to spend the holiday with …ugh, I forget his name.

So Julie and Felicity take it upon themselves to do all the cooking. Felicity is flustered the whole time by the existence of Hannah. She and Noel are actively avoiding each other. But when Felicity goes into the boys’ bathroom to wash a bowl (because Julie knows the sinks are bigger, don’t ask), Noel follows her in there and — oh my god — the kissing.

What did you think of the kissing? Did you gasp? I gasped. I knew it was coming and I totally gasped. This is one of my favorite on-screen kisses of all time.

Felicity 1.09 Ben

Emma: I totally gasped! It was so unexpected even though there was plenty of tension. Scott Foley does this amazing half smirk/oh shit reaction after the first kiss and I half expected Felicity to storm out, or for someone to walk in or even something silly like the sink would start overflowing with water. But no, instead Felicity goes in for a second, even more awesome kiss. Yes Ben walks in, but instead of saying anything he smiles and walks out. This reaction was also a surprise but it indicates that Ben definitely doesn’t have those kinds of feelings for Felicity… yet.

Felicity’s post make out tangled hair is my favorite thing (as my new Twitter cover photo can testify) and I love how she’s in this sort of manic daze. Her high pitched “What should we do?” response to Julie mentioning their lack of plates is so perfect as is Ben’s face when he gets introduced to Hannah.

Ben’s family situation continues to blow and Julie doesn’t want to tell her parents what happened because it will change everything. This is completely understandable and I can’t imagine any parent would feel comfortable with their child so far away from home experiencing something like this. She talks about hugging her parents so it’s especially poignant when Elena’s father turns up and embraces her. With Elena, she obviously doesn’t have all that much in common with her father and it seems like they’re both struggling with connecting with each other. Elena wants it to be just the two of them while her father wants it to be a bigger more social affair and they end up in a comprise; together but with others. I did wonder if it is a pain to travel home for Thanksgiving when the Christmas break starts a few weeks later, did you tend to go home for both?

I wrote something recently about the Dawson’s Creek Thanksgiving episode and how in general terms these holiday themed episodes tend to convey the notion of friends as family. Felicity definitely fits this mold. I’m so glad to see Javier included and his presence is welcome, I can see why you’re a fan.

It’s a welcome relief to have a warm and fuzzy episode with not too much drama, for both Julie and us. They can be cheesy but I love holiday themed episodes because they tend to end happily and with everyone celebrating together. Yes I am totally soppy and I’m more than happy to admit it. Do you get like this too?

Felicity 1.09 Thanksgiving dinner

Julie: Yeah, they don’t normally do a big downer episode for the holidays, do they? That would be an interesting thing for This Was Television to explore. Is there a Thanksgiving or Christmas episode where everything falls apart and stays that way?

I did travel home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas in college, but I only went to school about three hours away from home, so it wasn’t that big a deal. I’m trying to remember what my friends who lived farther away, like Florida, did. I think they went home too, or they piggybacked on other people’s Thanksgivings. I know my friend Brian ended up at our Thanksgiving one tragic year where my grandmother acted out childbirth during an unfortunate game of Taboo, but I think that may have been post-college.

Elena and her dad’s story is really heartbreaking. They are in such different places. I know Elena wants a relationship with him, but what do they really have in common, besides genetics?

My other favorite things (besides Felicity’s hair) in this is episode: The look on Ben’s face when he learns that Hannah is Noel’s girlfriend right after he catches Felicity and Noel kissing. And Javier’s comment about Julie’s Thanksgiving outfit, “You look nice, but for basketball.”

I am looking forward to seeing the aftermath of the kiss in the upcoming episodes. Felicity is really starting to heat up.

Do you have anything to add?

Felicity 1.09 happy
Emma: Ooh that would be a good thing to research, I’m thinking maybe Mad Men as cheer is not often overflowing and their one Christmas party had an abundance of Lee Garner Jr. being super skeezy.

That game of Taboo sounds incredible and VERY awkward. We don’t really have any other super family centric holidays over here other than Christmas.

The show has definitely found its rhythm and it’s playing a good a balancing act at the moment between serious and lighthearted stories. I’m also impressed with how all of the relationships are developing and I can’t wait to watch the next one – I might jump the gun and stick it on today.

I don’t think I have anything to add other than this might be one of my favorite Thanksgiving episodes of all time.

Julie Hammerle is, according to Klout, an expert in the areas of both Morgan Freeman and glasses. Her writing can be found atchicagonow.com/hammervision and you can holler at her on Twitter as well.

Emma Fraser wanted to be Angela Chase when she grew up, but is sadly not a CIA Agent now. Her writing can be found at TV Ate My Wardrobeand you will find her on both Twitter and Tumblr.

3 Responses to “Team-Up Review: Felicity, “Drawing the Line, Part 2” and “Thanksgiving””

  1. Amanda @ amanda elsewhere

    I LOVE THESE RECAPS! I too am watching these for the first time since middle school and have so many thoughts about outdated technology and great moments (why didn’t more people LOVE this show!) Keep them coming, looking forward to reading!

    Reply
    • Emma Fraser

      Thanks! This is my first time I’m watching and I am loving this show, sad I didn’t see it when it was first on. There will most definitely be more Felicity discussion posts (a week on Thursday will be our next one) and everything that is super late 90s is a highlight.

      Reply

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