By Julie Hammerle and Emma Fraser
Season 1, Episode 14 & 15: “Love and Marriage” & “The Fugue”
Original airdates: Feb. 23 & Mar. 2, 1999
Julie: Aaah! So, I’m sorry about the end of “The Fugue.” Left you on a bit of a cliff there, didn’t it?
But first, let’s talk about “Love and Marriage.”
It’s kind of interesting to watch this episode fifteen years after the fact and see both how much has changed and how much has stayed the same in regards to society’s thoughts on homosexuality and marriage equality. Save for a few things (including the fact that we’ve made some decent strides in the same-sex marriage arena), this episode doesn’t feel dated. I mean, we’re right in the middle of an Olympics where LGBT athletes are not exactly welcomed by the host country.
The crux of the story is that Javier is being sent back to Spain because his visa has expired (I found it shocking that Ian Gomez is supposed to be Spanish in this show. I’m so used to him being Cuban on Cougar Town). He needs to get married quick or he’ll be sent packing. His partner, Samuel, can’t get a job transfer from New York to Spain, so it looks like the two of them will have to break up. So Javier asks his star employee, Felicity (after giving her a raise), if she’ll green card marry him so he can stay in the country.
She goes through many emotions in this episode. Yes, she’ll marry Javier because it feels like a really grownup thing to do. No, she won’t marry him because it entails a lot more commitment than she was prepared to take on. Yes, she’ll marry him because TRUE LOVE. No, she won’t marry him because jail. In the end, the decision is Samuel’s, not hers. Samuel gives his office an ultimatum and they decide, “Sure, we’ll send you to Spain!” And everyone lives happily, unweddedly ever after.
The other part of the big gay storyline is that Noel’s big brother has come to visit, and he has news. He’s marrying Javier, too! Not really, but he has broken up with his long-term girlfriend and he’s planning a commitment ceremony with some guy no one in Noel’s family has ever heard of, named Alex.
I’m conflicted about Noel’s dealings with his brother. I don’t think Noel balked at his brother coming out because of any anti-gay sentiment on Noel’s part. He’s an enlightened guy, an artist, an R.A., for goodness’s sake. I don’t think he’d ever truly stop caring about or speaking to one of his relatives because of their sexual orientation. I’m thinking that Noel’s less-than-accepting reaction was more about shock and sadness over seeing his brother in a new way and, oddly, about losing the brother’s girlfriend (he seemed a little hung up on this). Noel had seen his brother in one way for nineteen years. Now he has to see him in another. He has gotten used to having Amy around, and now she was gone all of a sudden, and replaced by this “Alex” character. For his part, Noel got over the shock pretty quickly and realized he was being a dumbass, and now he and his brother are best friends again. Love.
What did you think about Felicity and Javier and Noel and his brother?
Emma: A very timely episode and as you mentioned already it shows how much has changed and how far we’ve still got to come. It also made me realise that teen TV is quite the bastion of dealing with LGBT storylines and I checked to see if Felicity had been nominated for any GLAAD awards and it was for 2000 and 2001. Yay Felicity!
I think my favorite reaction to Felicity getting green card married is from Meghan, who continues to be a joy for the 5 minutes of screen time she gets each episode and she describes Felicity as “bit chin.” Nice Marilyn Manson poster Meghan, by the way.
I’m glad that in the end it wasn’t Felicity’s decision and she was only trying to do what she thought is the right thing to do. Not to sound corny, but love is love and if that was now in New York in 2014 Javier would be allowed to marry Samuel and he’d have a legit green card.
Is this the last we’ll see of Javier? Because *sob* if so. I love how they tried to look like a legitimate couple by talking about football. Oh and maybe tell Ben what is going on before he comes over wearing his hair net. Though that was all kinds of perfect, just wear the hat Ben.
With Noel, like you I’m conflicted. I didn’t see it as sadness at losing Amy – though I can also see the argument for that point – to me it’s because he thinks he knows his brother so well and he’s disappointed to find out that he knows nothing about this huge part of his brothers life. Using the term “it’s probably a phase” and telling Ryan that he’ll inevitably get back with Amy felt like knee jerk reactions, rather than anything homophobic. I know that my friends dad told him the phase thing when he first came out and he’s totally fine now. It’s just all so awkward and uncomfortable.
Noel mentions before the reveal that he’s always looked up to Ryan and he’s really close with him, but he hasn’t seen him in a year. This set off warning signs and for some reason I thought he was going to tell him he had cancer or something, or that he’s a spy – this is JJ Abrams after all. Noel clearly went into graphic design because of his brother and I think him being gay suddenly changes Noel’s perception of who Noel is. It shouldn’t, but as he mentions at dinner it’s a lot of information to get in one trip, he should react in such a childish manner but sometimes our impulses take over and we act like jerks. I think it’s really interesting to look at a coming out story in this manner, rather than opting for the clichéd ‘it’s not natural’ reaction this is definitely more nuanced.
In the end after an anvilicious discussion with Javier, Noel realises that he need go reach out to his brother as he feels like a fraud when Javier calls Noel supportive. Noel goes to reache out to Ryan on the phone but surprise he’s there at the graphic design show! Which by the way have some terrible posters with a huge 1999 on them, super tech looking. Noel’s not going to let Ryan lose his family over being honest and it ends on a happy note. I hope we get to see more of Ryan in the future, especially as Noel is such a bonehead in ‘The Fugue.’ This is the Noel is confused double bill.
Now we also have a less socially important story with Ben and yet it’s one that reveals more of who he is, his fears etc. And he wears some teeny tiny swimming shorts. Thoughts?
Julie: First of all, the Noel thing. With my whole fixation on the Amy thing, I think I was just trying to justify Noel’s reaction a little bit better in my head. Also, I think that’s kind of an interesting relationship that doesn’t get explored all that often — the ex and the siblings. When your brother or sister dates someone for a while, and they show up to family parties and start to become part of the fabric of the family, and then suddenly they’re gone, there’s a mourning that goes on there, I think. Especially when things didn’t end acrimoniously. I’m definitely reading more into this than there was, though Noel did mention Amy a lot.
Also, oh my god, were some of those designs awful. Hideous. No wonder Noel was so reluctant to invite his brother to the gallery.
As far as Javier goes — he does come back! Though I’m not sure when he comes back. It might not be until Season 2, so prepare yourself for more Ali Wentworth. She’s quite funny in the role as the new manager of Dean & Deluca, though, so I don’t mind her being there. Though she’s not as endearing as Javier.
Now to more important matters, namely Ben’s swimsuit. Boy shorts. Black. They’re working for him, I think we can all agree. Also, I’m concerned that the swim team will try to force him to shave his head for competition (this was a huge thing for swim teams back in high school; they’d have shaving parties). However, Ben’s reluctance to don a hat at Dean & Deluca speaks to his steadfastness when it comes to the issue of his hair. He will have to wear a swimming cap, though. That’s for sure.
I love the Ben swimming story, just because it gives him something to do beyond listen to Julie’s problems. We still don’t know what Ben wants, career-wise. Do we even know what his major is? We know he tried out for track and he found himself a bit during a theater class and he tries desperately to understand poetry, but that’s about it. At least the swimming is something concrete that is just for Ben. And for us (see: the previous paragraph re: the swimsuit).
This storyline also introduced us to two new characters, Lynn and his girlfriend Nicole. They’re already mixing it up within the Felicity crowd: getting them to go to a new bar (Epstein Bar, how cute), which in turn gets Julie to open mic for us, even though she’s not so sure about this new crowd Ben is running with.
What do you think about Ben’s new buddies?
Emma: So happy to hear that about Javier!
I think that’s a really interesting perspective with Noel and Amy, especially as Ryan has been dating her since Noel was 16ish (if it was for 4 years and I’m guessing Noel is 20). That’s Noel’s formative years and as he’s looked up to his brother for always it makes sense that he would have a strong attachment here too. Also I know they managed to sweet talk the waitress into getting them beers as Noel’s baby face gives away his age, but none of them seem to have any problems getting served. Especially now that Ben knows Lynn who works in his bar.
So I got excited when I saw Lynn because he’s Benvolio from Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet and he’s kinda giving me the Ryan Lochte dumb bro vibes. His three things better than everyone else thing seems like stoner logic which I’m all for, especially when he adds a forth in “The Fugue.” As you mention it’s good that they’re branching out with locations and have a local bar seems pretty realistic for college life. Here’s a UK/US college question – are there bars on campus? Like we have a Union bar and another one for post-grad students and drinks are cheaper than in regular pubs.
Giving Ben his own story is very welcome and one that links back to his track team failure makes sense. It’s humiliating to Ben that Lynn mentions this in front of both Julie and Nicole, I mean no wants their failure broadcast and I hadn’t really thought about Ben not telling anyone about this. Felicity only knows because she was there but it hasn’t been mentioned since. I like that Ben waivers between trying out or just swimming for leisure (though the shorts suggest more than a fleeting interest). Ben tries out because of male bravado and it was also this factor that was holding him back. In the end only Lynn and Ben qualify, so yay Ben. I’m not sure how steadfast Julie and Ben are even with his reaction to her singing at the end of “The Fugue,” to me they aren’t all that compatible and I wonder if they are only together because of what happened to Julie. There’s definitely an attraction and I don’t think couples have to share an interest in everything but they don’t really share an interest in anything similar. How do you feel about Ben and Julie?
Julie: No fair that you guys had bars on campus. We don’t, at least my school didn’t. I bet most don’t, though, because the drinking age is 21 here, and most college students don’t turn 21 until junior year. In fact, the bars closest to our campus in Indianapolis were about three miles away in the Broad Ripple neighborhood, so I don’t remember spending a ton of time there (at least not at the bars). We either had to drive or take the drunk bus. Ergo, we snuck a lot of alcohol into our dorm rooms and drank there.
The weird thing about Ben and Julie for me is that (at this point) he seems to kind of change depending on who is in his life at the time. He was very studious when he was hanging out with Felicity more. He was very sensitive with Julie. Now he’s turning into a swim team dude bro, and I would like the real Benjamin to please stand up. I think it speaks to how much growing up Ben still has to do. We talked last time about Felicity’s needing to choose between art and medicine, but at least she has some idea of who she wants to be. I don’t think Ben has a clue. Which is fine. He’s eighteen.
But yeah, I think you’re right and that Julie and Ben won’t go the distance. He’s been a decent boyfriend for her, but I don’t think they have enough in common. And they’re kind of depressing together, like it’s all sad all the time. (Whereas he and Felicity, I think, would be all serious all the time.) I liked seeing Ben have a little fun in this episode. Get your joy on, Ben Covington!
Speaking of people not going the distance, Hannah’s back! And she’s throwing all kinds of wrenches into the smooth running machine that has been Noelicity. I definitely think Hannah showed up at Dean & Deluca knowing full well Felicity worked there. She had been plotting for weeks, probably since she moved to New York, trying to figure out the best way to reinsert herself into Noel’s life. And she did it by surprising his girlfriend. Not cool, Hannah.
I do feel for her, though. I think her way of hijacking Felicity’s boyfriend was shady, but I get it. She and Noel have a history. She was lonely. She needed to tie up any loose ends with her ex. And, really, if things were so magically wonderful between Noel and Felicity, he wouldn’t have taken Hannah’s bait. He would’ve told her to take a hike. But he didn’t, and he ended up ruining things with Felicity, possibly irreparably.
What did you think of the Noel/Felicity/Hannah triangle (Oh, and Eli. It’s a bit of a rhombus.)
Emma: Ben is such a social chameleon! I hadn’t really thought about it before but he’s the guy who gets on with pretty much everyone and is pretty open to hanging out with most people. He was more than happy to play computer games with Zach, well prior to finding out what he did to Julie. With Felicity he didn’t really freak out too much when he found out why she came to college and he forgave her pretty quickly after the whole essay shenanigans. One reason why I think Ben is like this is because of his situation at home, he obviously had a pretty shitty time with his dad and he’s really good at a) faking it and b) he’s good at adapting to his surroundings. And yeah he’s 18 so he doesn’t have to know exactly who he is and yet I also worry that he spreads himself too thin when it comes to looking after himself.
I get flirty vibes from Ben and Nicole so I’m going to keep my eye on those two as this is what I took away from Felicity’s first interactions with art dude Eli and look how that turned out.
So Hannah *sigh* and it’s really hard to hate on Jennifer Garner. I was so excited to see her and then all of the mess that followed went down. Like you I think Hannah knew Felicity worked at Dean & Deluca (also super awkward time to pop in looking to ‘use a phone’ yeah right) and she orchestrated the whole thing to find out if Felicity and Noel are a thing. And they are and it’s great. Well it was and now it really, really isn’t.
Like you I also think that Hannah’s actions were shady, but at the same time I can also sympathize as her New York dream is far from what she expected. It’s the whole grass is greener cliche in that the guy that Hannah broke up with Noel for didn’t turn out to be who she thought he was and she has all these warm and fuzzy memories of Noel. There’s comfort here and when you’re alone in new place, familiarity is what you long for. I don’t think the initial kiss is contrived, but it definitely lingered far too long – what is it with this show and talking about how long a kiss is.
Noel spends a second episode in a confused state and after how long he pined for Felicity I was initially surprised to see how quickly he turned to Hannah. Once again I think it’s the familiarity aspect and there’s definitely something very powerful about first love. I think the real kicker is the tape – this show has a love affair with cassettes that I love – as music can be really powerful. Noel hasn’t heard this piece before, but he’s helped Hannah in the past and she will have a distinctive style that he is aware of. And it’s all about going back to the beginning. The other thing is that Noel and Hannah simply drifted apart and so there isn’t any animosity between them, they didn’t break up because of a BAD reason, just reasons. So Noel and Felicity kind of break up and this feels like it could head into Ross/Rachel ‘we were on a break’ territory and while Noel doesn’t sleep with Hannah, it looks like in an art room on campus Felicity won’t be stopping at just a kiss.
So I have a lot of thoughts about this and for most of the episode I yelled at the screen because of everything Noel is doing and I understand why Felicity is won over by the flirting and compliments from Eli. He’s cute even if it looks like he cut his hair himself and if he uses some Jack Dawson tactics of getting a girl to pose before pulling his big move. In Jack’s defense Rose was the one who asked to be drawn so Eli has adapted the big Titanic play. And Felicity starts off clothed. My old housemate actually used the line “Do you want to see my art” to get a girl to check out his room (and his art I guess). At the time I was sat watching Sex and the City in my pajamas in the front room acting like a full on 2004 cliche and rolling my eyes so hard.
This dorm is going to get hella messy with the fallout, what do you think about Felicity and Eli?
Oh and after seeing this episode and Dallas Buyers Club the day after each other I just want to point out how good Jennifer Garner is at doing the cry face where she stays on the verge of full tears, but they don’t quite fall. It’s something she did quite a lot in Alias and it’s mesmerizing. Speaking of Alias, I laughed when Felicity told Julie she was spying in part because of JJ Abrams’ next show and because of Keri Russell’s current TV gig.
Julie: Maybe that’s where he got the idea for Alias! J.J. was just kicking back, watching the little show he created, and the words “spy” and “college” just went off in his head like a fireworks display. Like Eddie Adams and the name “Dirk Diggler.”
I was really surprised that Noel was so quick to run to Hannah after he had been so hung up on Felicity. It would’ve made more sense if Felicity had been more ready to fish and cut bait after finding out that Eli was jonesing her (or Eli, for that matter). She was a big dork through all of high school. I don’t think she ever really had guys pining over her. It would make sense for her to want to cast her net and see what else might be out there. Also, as much as she seems to like Noel, he was the one who liked her first and maybe I’ve always kind of gotten the impression that he was more into her than she was into him. That first kiss in the bathroom notwithstanding.
You’re right to point out that this episode borrows from a lot of other ’90s pop culture. There’s Friends and “we were on a break.” And the painting in Titanic. To be fair, I’m sure art students are boning in art rooms all across the world. That just seems like a given.
As sad as the stuff between Noel and Felicity is at this point, there’s one thing I really like about the whole situation. First of all, I think Felicity went to the art room looking to score with Eli. I think she knew full well what she was getting into by going with him. Even if the whole thing was a bit impulsive, she was sick of being a virgin. She was sick of begin told (by Julie and Noel) that she “doesn’t understand” because she’s never had sex. This was her way of evening the score with Noel in some way, of digging herself out of that naive girl hole.
And the thing that I love is that it isn’t this big decision she hems and haws over. She doesn’t have sex with her “true love” (Spoiler alert: Eli is not her “true love”). I’ve been reading so many books lately that are about the “right” way to lose one’s virginity, and I respect this show for not making a huge moral deal of it, for treating this topic realistically and for not pushing the agenda of for sex to be good for a girl, there needs to be love and/or the promise of marriage.
What was your take on Felicity and Eli?
Emma: I will fully admit that up to this point I’m very much on Team Noel, but like you I’m glad that Felicity didn’t just sit in her room and record a tape for Sally – I think this is our first Sallyless episode and I didn’t miss this device at all, especially the end part where Sally harps on about whatever Felicity has reminded her of. I’m guessing this is going to become less frequent.
So yeah Felicity goes with Eli to the art room and once again I think she might earn some bitchin points from Meghan. She should enjoy the fact that someone finds her attractive and she’s clearly into Eli and his whole art boy look – sidenote but do you think Elena will be pissed as she kinda called dibs? Or will she be pro Felicity getting some? Settling down with Noel straight away has meant that she’s pretty much spent a good chunk of her freshman year in a couple and as she didn’t date in high school she shouldn’t necessarily choose ‘the one’ this quickly.
With the whole losing your virginity thing, you’re spot on with how this normally plays out and I think writers sometimes feel like they have a weird responsibility to promote the fantasy idea of it being true love. I am totally down with this especially as people keep pulling the virgin card on her. I just hope she doesn’t a) feel all the regret and shame, b) have a pregnancy scare and c) end up with Noel being an asshole and treating her like she’s done something wrong. All three are very possible.
This show really likes its dramatic rain, though Felicity somehow avoided super crazy wet hair. She is magic.
Julie: Totally! I loved the moment where Felicity was about to talk into her tape recorder and then Eli knocked. As sort of dumb and horribly coiffed Eli is, I think we can all agree that his timing is perfect. Maybe they can get rid of Sally once and for all. Maybe? Maybe? Please?
I honestly don’t remember Elena’s reaction to what happens, so it’s new to me. I’m guessing that she’ll be more happy for her friend (and supportive of Felicity considering what a Ross Noel was).
I also don’t quite remember what happens in the aftermath of the episode, other than the next episode is about an epic game of Assassins, and I remember it being quite fun and good.
And I want whatever hair serum Felicity is using.