By Julie Hammerle and Emma Fraser
Season 1, Episode 11: “Friends”
Original airdate: Jan. 26, 1999
Julie: This episode (as the title suggests) was all about friendship and being a friend, even when times get tough. This was a quieter episode than the past few (which is good because Todd Mulcahy is next and OMG, I need to stop overselling), but I think “Friends” also had a lot of layers to it.
On the surface, the episode had two main story lines (and a Noel C-story about buying vending machines from Sensa’s family). In the Felicity story, she saw Blair (Elena’s boyfriend) kissing another girl in the library and she has to decide whether or not to tell Elena about it. In the Julie story, Julie finds her birth mom and has to decide whether or not she wants to meet her.
Before really getting into the “what happened,” I’d like to point out the shift that occurred with this episode. Since the pilot, Julie has been Felicity’s “best friend.” Really, she was Felicity’s first friend, and, by default, “best.” But during the time they’ve known each other, Julie has put Felicity down for being a virgin and started seeing her Super Crush, Ben, on the sly. Julie, frankly, has not been the best friend to Felicity.
In this episode, Julie finds her mom and doesn’t even consider telling Felicity about it. And when Felicity catches Blair cheating on Elena, she doesn’t go to Julie for advice, she goes to Noel.
Conversely, Felicity shows real concern about potentially hurting Elena. And when Elena finally decides to confront the truth about Blair, she wants Felicity by her side. These two seem to have a much deeper, stronger relationship that whatever Julie and Felicity have going on.
What say you?
Emma: As we’ve talked about before, the lack of any kind of friends beyond Sally pretty much defined Felicity’s high school experience and the default first friend leading to best friend is totally understandable. The drifting apart is natural because really they don’t have that much in common and from the start of their relationship there has been friction and withholding of information.
Felicity has also learned from her past endeavors to not be such a butinsky, on this occasion I think it’s hard but it’s also her place as a friend to say something. Noel doesn’t agree, he thinks she should stay out of it and while Noel is generally great at advice on this occasion I think he’s concerned more with Felicity than what is best for Elena.
Now there’s a small piece of casting convenience as Elena’s BFF from home has transferred to NYU and she’s known Elena forever. She was there when Elena’s mother died and there’s a synchronicity that Felicity fascinating – when she watches them dance together her reaction is one of joy and I think it’s because she’s never really experienced it. This also means she comes to the decision to not say anything to Elena, but it’s too late as she’s already confronted Blair and he confesses to Elena.
Blair has gone from a super sweet Tin Man, to a lying jerk. First he tries to make Felicity doubt herself and pretty much calls her a racist. He then claims it was an accidental cheek to lip kiss (hey it happened to Noel with his mom once) and later hooks up with Tara again. Tara can’t be let off the hook either, she’s know Elena longer than everyone else and yet she has no qualms with what she is doing.
The Elena/Felicity friendship is one that I really want to see more of – Elena comes across as experienced and Felicity can be pretty naive, but they’re pretty much on a level playing field.
So before I get to the point where Felicity tells Elena that the kiss was no accident, what did you think of the super awkward scene where Felicity (of Fellatio Porter) gets summoned to Elena’s room?
Julie: Did you notice that Elena called Tara “Tare-ah” and then “Tah-ra” later in the episode? How good a friend could she be that Elena didn’t even know how to pronounce the girl’s name?
I agree with you that the convenience of Tara showing up in this episode just to gank her best friend’s boyfriend was a little too much and too easy. I would’ve liked to have seen Tara earlier in the season. Or for Blair to just be macking on some random skank. But then we wouldn’t have had the juxtaposition of Tara being a shitty friend to Elena and Felicity being a good bud.
Diane Keaton said (sang) at the Golden Globes: “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” But in this case, Elena’s golden oldie of a friend is more like pyrite. To quote Rushmore, “With friends like these, who needs friends?”
I think my coffee hasn’t kicked in yet.
As far as Blair goes, just like with the Pink Guy, they turned another decent guy into a total dirtbag. The Felicity writers need to find a better way to write male characters off this show. They’ll probably turn Sean into an axe murderer next.
That scene in Elena’s room where everyone confronts Felicity about what she saw is just mean. I mean, first of all, Blair is obviously lying. She and he both know it. Secondly, he’s already accused her of being a racist, so now I’m sure that’s in her head while he’s asking her to ID what she saw in the library that day. And she knows that Elena and Tara have a very strong bond and she’s just the new friend. It’s icky. And I think Felicity made the right call being evasive. There was no way for her to win in that scene.
And then, poor Felicity, when she finally does tell Elena the truth (after asking Donal Logue, the Rain Man-like library man, how many times he had seen Blair and Tara in the stacks), Elena refuses to believe it. But still Felicity planted the seed of doubt and left the door open for Elena to discover the truth for herself, which is really what needed to happen.
Fellatio Porter is an amazing nickname.
What did you think about Felicity using this episode’s other convenience casting (Donal Logue) to prove her point to Elena? And, speaking of convenience casting, how about Julie’s mother?
Emma: With the guys they’ve been much better at developing the two central figures, which makes sense I guess but it’s also disappointing that the two sweet love interests have turned out to be a rapist and a cheat. Noel’s been pretty consistent throughout, well aside from not mentioning Hannah to Felicity and Ben has been a revelation. At first I thought he was going to be the typical good looking bad boy, instead they have subverted this notion and he’s one of the most thoughtful characters, particularly with how much support he has given to Julie.
So Julie and her Malcolm in the Middle mother – this is the second old show I’ve watched this week where Jane Kaczmarek has popped up, the other being The Comeback – and Julie’s excitement/reticence is completely understandable. Julie explains to Ben that she has always felt that something has been missing and even if it’s just once she wants to see herself reflected in someone else. Everything happens so quickly and Julie gets caught in a push/pull with herself. Ben thinks it’s too soon after everything else and is worried what rejection might do and in the end Julie gets to see what her birth mom looks like without revealing who she really is. Ben’s turned into a real stand-up guy and yet I’m still expecting him to screw up somehow.
Using Felicity’s tape recorder after attempts at writing a letter have ended with multiple screwed up pieces of paper is actually a really good idea, if nothing else she gets to verbalize her thoughts even if she doesn’t give it to her mom in the end. I’ve also realized that I like how Felicity’s tapes help with the structure and allow Felicity to be the narrator without going full Angela Chase. The aspect I don’t like is Sally’s replies because I really don’t care about the time she cheated on John. Sorry Janeane Garofalo, it’s not you.
Donal Logue’s appearance at the start of the episode is innocuous enough and yet it was clear that his ability to recall who was making out in his study spot was going to be Blair’s downfall. I also like that one of the things he remembers about Felicity is her big hair, which as we know when she makes out grows in size. Felicity of course knows that what she saw was more than an accidental lingering smooch and really Blair and Tara are the dumbest for being so public with their displays of affection. Really guys if you didn’t want to get caught then you’d be able to keep your hands off each other in public.
The final scene is of course heartbreaking and while Elena tried to put on a happy face about it all there’s only so much denial before the truth sinks in. Now I’m wondering if Elena will be a scorched earth kind of woman or if she will retreat into her studies. What say you?
Julie: That’s a good question about Elena, and honestly I don’t remember what happens with her after this (too much Todd Mulcahy!), so I’ll be surprised like you. I’m also not sure if this is the last we see of Blair or Tara. Do they just fade off into the ether now that Elena knows how sucky they are?
Let’s talk about Sensa and her family a little bit. Again, Felicity is expanding its universe by fleshing out some of the other residents under Noel’s charge. Sensa is played by Bond girl, Ivana Milicevic, and her family trades in everything, it seems. They got Noel food for the first residence hall party. They can get vending machines. The can sell Felicity’s hair, if she feels like it. (Maybe Sensa’s remark sticks with her and is the spark that sends her to the hair dresser’s during the first episode of Season 2.)
I’m kind of shipping Noel and Sensa right now. They’d be cute together. Her family obviously loves him. He can tame her wild side, while she can make him more of a badass. Obviously he and Felicity are very happy right now, but really…Sensa’s way cooler (and I keep wanting to type that name as “Sansa,” Game of Thrones freak that I am).
The daughter is waking up from her nap. What else do you have to add?
Emma: Noel was so delightfully over his head this week, but he handled it like a total pro. Well he are as much sausage (phrasing) and drank as much vodka as he could handle. Slightly drunk Noel is super cute and smoochy, he also pulls the best uh-oh face when Elena summons Felicity. I know we’ve mentioned it before but Scott Foley has great comic timing, please do something with that Shonda. Preferably while he is wearing a suit.
I love that Felicity finds the whole thing hilarious rather than getting jealous because it really is utterly ridiculous. And all so folks like Richard (who I adore) get off his back.
We also got another excellent Ben/Noel scene and of course the vending machine works for Ben and not Noel.
I was happy to see the return of Sensa, even if she gave me hair flashbacks to when I had a super zigzag parting. Speaking of hair, Julie’s freak out about her butterfly clips and Ben’s pro clip stance was pretty damn adorable. This show is making me want to dig out my old clips and that’s pretty much the worst idea.
I’m very excited about the next episodes and it’s been pretty tough to not stick them on. But soon.
Any other thoughts?
Julie: I don’t have much to add, but I did just put all of my butterfly clips away for Baby Cookies to wear someday. Hopefully ’90s fashion will still be somewhat in style when we get to that point.
Next time…Todd Mulcahy!