By Julie Hammerle and Emma Fraser
Season 1, Episode 21 & 22: “The Force” & “Felicity Was Here”
Original airdates: May 18 & May 25, 1999
Emma: It’s the final two episodes of Felicity Season 1 which is the only explanation for how quickly the love triangle (or quadrangle really) is amped up. Or it was down to Meghan’s spell. Suddenly Ben is into Felicity and maybe it was partly down to his late night post beat down visit to her room or maybe it’s because they’ve been spending more time together at work and he’s got to know who she is better without her crush hanging over them. I dunno, I kind of wish it hadn’t been so accelerated as it does feel very fast, like they suddenly remembered that the season was ending and they needed to end with a ‘who does Felicity choose?’ setup.
One thing that is clear is Ben and Julie really wasn’t working for all the reasons we’ve mentioned whenever we talk about Ben and Julie; it’s just way to serious. The really shitty thing is the way Ben addresses it, Julie totally calls him out on his BS and she nails it when she tells him he’s doing that guy thing “where you act all confused but you actually know what your thinking.”
This is after they’re planning the big road trip across country so Ben can get paid and make it home (seems like a pretty great deal) and what starts as a foursome, quickly loses Julie (because breakups) and then Noel (because Berlin). So it’s just going to be Ben and Felicity, plus all the feelings. Felicity might not go either, but more on that later.
Also Lynn’s girlfriend Nicole suddenly realizes how much she wants to sleep with Ben, even though Lynn is his friend and Ben’s still with Julie. This leads to naked declarations and I don’t think Ben was going to do anything but Sean walking in definitely halts anything – quick sidenote in their apartment they have a fridge stocked to the rafters with drinks and the screenshot I have of a topless Nicole was purely so I could get a shot of that, their loft is ridiculous. And amazing.
What did you think of Nicole’s strong moves and all the relationship changes in “The Force?”
Julie: You’re right on about the love triangle being amped up all of a sudden. I don’t remember it feeling so sudden when I watched it the first time, but maybe since we’ve been discussing it and it’s been all Noel Noel Noel for the past several episodes, it seems like the Ben stuff comes out of nowhere.
Yeah, Ben and Julie were never going to last. That was obvious, and I totally hate that guy-thing-where-you-know-what-you’re-thinking-but-you-act-all-confused. So dumb. Ben’s kind of the worst in these past few episodes. He kisses Lynn’s girlfriend, dumps Julie, and reinserts himself into Felicity’s life for…some reason. I really don’t know. Why does he like her all of a sudden?
The road trip idea would’ve made a great summer season for this show. Follow Ben, Julie, Noel, and Felicity cross country! But alas, the party of four has become a party of one (or two).
I am going to start using “naked declarations” in my daily life. I think we all knew Nicole was trouble from the get go, though I did feel like her coming on to Ben in this episode also felt out of left field (again, I didn’t feel that way the first time I watched the show). We hadn’t seen Nicole for a while. She just hasn’t been around. And now she’s back and she’s all of a sudden making naked declarations. I don’t know. These final two episodes just feel forced.
Also, I’m pissed at Ben for even kissing Nicole. He became such cliche in that moment. You have a girlfriend. This girl’s boyfriend is your good buddy. Think with your head brain, Ben. Think with your head brain.
Are you as pissed at Ben as I apparently am?
Emma: I am mostly pissed at Ben because of what they did to his hair in the final episode – why cut it all off? Is this to ease us into the big haircut that’s going to happen in season 2? Anyway back to Ben and his decisions in romance and yeah I don’t know what he kissed Nicole, she was coming on heavy but the clue here is don’t invite her inside. Points to Nicole for calling herself a “nympho” as it’s at least five years since I’ve heard that word.
The one thing I’m not sure how much we’re meant to buy into is Meghan’s spells and what impact they have if any on the outcome. I think Felicity’s clumsiness and forgetfulness are psychosomatic; she’s reacting to what Meghan has told her. The third spell is undisclosed to Felicity and yet there is something in the atmosphere when the clove is dropped at D&D during their late night stock take (real stock takes are never this alluring). Felicity knows that clove is an ingredient that Meghan missed out, but it doesn’t explain Ben’s sudden attraction to Felicity. Or maybe Meghan has skills and this suddenly became The Craft or something. What did you make of the whole spell plot? Oh and the tarot cards that were littered throughout was a nice way to chapter the whole thing and add to this witchy theme, but I don’t really get what the point of them was in the long run.
In the final episode it suddenly comes down to a choice; the boy she followed to college or the one she is sorta dating and claims she loves. It’s the classic teen love triangle set up but as we’ve mentioned already it happens so fast and if the pacing wasn’t so rushed I could totally buy this dilemma. Everything is pointing to the road trip being the romantic option – have you ever driven from coast to coast? – and it does have a hedonistic quality to it. Berlin, even though it is overseas is the safe choice as is Noel and Felicity’s hesitation makes it seem clear to me that at this point Noel is not who she wants to be with. She’s 18 so there’s a whole lot of life/relationship choices still out there and at this point I think she’s probably going to opt for Ben. I would say magical option C) with neither of them but her VO implied that it was one or the other with no surprise neither choice.
With the Ben or Noel decision, I’ve been decidedly team Noel for most of the season until the whole Hannah of it all and “The Fugue.” Now it’s more complicated than that and this is the first time (that I can think of) where I haven’t been to clear in my shipping choice; I can totally see the appeal of both guys and I was happy when Ben and Felicity kissed. Where do you currently stand on Ben vs Noel? Has it changed since you first watched the show (in terms of season 1)?
Julie: As far as Meghan goes, I kind of felt like they were just trying to shoehorn this whole witch/magic thing into the story because they were out of ideas (and probably they wanted to give Meghan more to do, because she’s great). I also felt like the tarot cards were a nice idea that didn’t amount to much. I mean, she wasn’t even using tarot cards, was she? Whatever. It was still kind of a nice way to break up the episode’s segments.
Like you, I was really disappointed in how this love triangle developed, especially because A) Ben had made it clear early in the season that he was not interested in Felicity and B) he was just coming off a breakup and kissing his best buddy’s girl and was basically looking like kind of a douche at this point. Yes, he’s the hot guy she came to New York to get to know better, but he was also dating her best friend and Felicity has been trying to work things out with Noel, who seems way more stable (which, maybe stable isn’t what you want at 18).
I have never driven coast to coast. I’ve driven from the midwest to, like, Florida and Washington, DC, but that’s it. It would be fun to take a leisurely trip through all the little tourist traps across the country. And, of course, staying in flea bag motels with only one bed. As much as Ben tries to convince Felicity otherwise, I’m afraid he’s full of shit. There will be sexy shenanigans.
As far as where I stand, I used to be staunchly Team Noel, but right now I think I’d like to see Felicity choose herself. These guys have both dicked her around in their own ways, and I think she needs some distance from both of them.
You know who else needs some distance from a certain someone? Elena.
Emma: The Elena story made me so sad and once again I want to implore her to run, especially after McGrath nonchalantly mentions he has had a relationship with a student in the past. Not cool. Elena sees that she has a terrible grade because she’s looking through the papers on his bedroom desk and she sees that she has a B-. She’s pretty devastated of course, then that B- somehow becomes an A and she looks concerned – better grades for sex is how this comes across to both Elena and me. In “The Force” McGrath is a dick to her in class as he attempts to deflect his feelings for her by humiliating her in front of everyone. Basically this guy is the worst and all I can see is more heartbreak in Elena’s future.
When it comes to Felicity’s dilemma she is pure Team Ben, even when factoring in Julie and his is kinda harsh. Like I know Noel made his mistakes but Julie is their friend and Elena is not concerned with how this will impact her. Which brings me to Julie and I really hope they find a happier path for her next season and no wonder she is miserable. While I couldn’t see her and Ben going the distance it really sucked to see her go from road trip planning happiness to heartbreak in under 60 seconds. Of course she doesn’t suspect that Ben and Felicity could be a thing, though it was a little on the nose when she tells Felicity that now Ben has broken both of their hearts. The awkward clump clump of her boots down the stairs at Ben’s apartment as she overhears Ben and Felicity discussing their feelings killed me inside and the timing was very convenient. Julie is always at his apartment and they’d already laid the groundwork with her missing disc (90s alert), so convenient but setup to make sense. What Julie does next by telling Noel is pretty shitty; neither Felicity or Julie stand up well in the talking to each other first department. I understand why Julie does it though as she feels betrayed by the one person she thought she could trust and she’s also pretty embarrassed after revealing so many of her Ben feelings to Felicity.
Now the other main question is can their friendship survive and while the Noel or Ben of it all is the dominating story, it’s Felicity’s female friendships that I am more concerned with. She has a moment with Meghan where they discuss their plans for next year (they both want to be RAs) and while I can’t see them being BFFs, like you I adore Meghan. Meghan’s letter is kinda hilarious and mean at the same time, but Felicity takes it in good spirits and I’m intrigued as to what the living situation will be next season.
What do you think about how Julie reacted?
Julie: I think Julie reacted like a typical 18-year-old girl. She was hurt by two people she trusted and cared about, and she wanted to make (at least one of) them hurt. I don’t think it was very nice of her to tell Noel, but I wasn’t too surprised about it. Julie had a rough year, and this was her way of taking some control of the situation.
The funny thing is that while the writers threw Julie and Felicity together in the pilot episode, like these two were supposed to be BFFAEAE, they really don’t work that well together as friends. Like Ben and Julie together, Felicity and Julie together are too serious. There’s too much drama, and no fun. Felicity needs a friend who will help break her out of her shell, like Elena or Meghan. Julie needs…I don’t know who Julie needs, but what she needs is to grow a spine.
As far as Elena goes, I think you nailed it. She needs to get the heck out of there and fast. I understand why Elena is interested in her professor. She’s so much more mature than the other kids. But he’s just trouble. And as far as the grades go, this is not going to end well.
Emma: I agree with you about Julie’s motives and I really hope they give her something good to do in season 2, she’s the one part that doesn’t feel like it fits with everything else.
With Elena the story just fizzles out, but I don’t mind how open they’ve left it. In fact most of the storylines are left wide open. The main one being who does Felicity choose and I’ve used all my will power not to read the back of the season 2 DVD. If I had to guess who she chooses I’m going for Ben, she didn’t seem all that sold on Berlin and I think she might embrace the unknown with Ben.
In terms of what the season has done as whole, I’ve been very impressed. I already knew that Keri Russell is a good actress and that JJ Abrams has a gift for crafting character (before he gets antsy and moves on to the next project), but she has really impressed me with the depth she has given this character and she’s not just a wide eyed innocent girl following the boy of her dreams. There have been some misteps in the pacing, but that’s common with first year shows and they’ve covered a lot of important material without feeling too much like they’re dealing with an issue of the week. It’s actually pretty refreshing how it has covered sex and it hasn’t come across as preachy or judgmental at any point. I adore Felicity and her collection of sweaters and I can’t wait to see where it goes to next and to see who she picks.
How do you feel about this first season now that you’re watching it 10+ years later?
Julie: Watching Felicity all these years later, it still gives me the college feels, in the best way. I think the freshman season just hits the nail on the head, as far as all the emotions and changing relationships and drama. I am actually really looking forward to watching Season 2, because I think I’ve only seen it once. I only have vague recollections about what happens. I remember it being quite good, though Season 3 maybe starts to go a bit off the rails because that’s where JJ left to work on Alias. The thing that most surprised me about Season 1 was, yeah, the love triangle at the end, because it just felt like Ben had been out of Felicity’s orbit for so long. Also, Todd Mulcahy still gets me every time.