Follow the whole rewatch here!
Last week, Meredith had the difficult task of recapping some very serious and thought provoking episodes, and of course, she handled it with sensitivity and care. Now, the show returns to its even balance of humor and drama with the Thanksgiving episode, followed by the hilarious documentation of finals week. There is SO MUCH WONDERFUL INSANITY AHEAD. Like, I wish I could just do the entire "Finally" recap in gifs because it's that ridiculous.
In other words, I owe you, Meredith!
Don't forget to rewatch along with our drinking game rules (which will make finals even MORE fun).
The Felicity Drinking Game Rules
Drink once every time:
Felicity is endearingly earnest.
Ben smiles sheepishly.
Noel is adorkable.
Elena is a better friend than anyone deserves.
Meghan is mean and it's awesome.
Javier butchers a word or figure of speech.
Richard freaks out (in a good or bad way).
Drink twice every time:
Felicity stresses you out.
Felicity says, "Dear Sally."
Sean invents something.
Javier refers to Ben as “Benjamin.”
Now, on to the episodes!
Before we get into the recap, I want to applaud the writers for not abruptly moving past Julie's recovery from her rape. It's subtle but clear in this episode that she is still processing what happened, and Felicity is mindful of that as her friend. Though the show doesn't delve as deeply as perhaps would be realistic, the fact that it acknowledges the lingering effects of sexual assult is important.
Anyway! Let's talk turkey.
When Felicity finds out that Julie is staying in the dorm for Thanksgiving, she decides to cancel her plans to head back to Palo Alto (which is funny, considering the not-so-distant drama with her mom rescinding and then reissuing her invite to come home). It also might have a leeeetle something to do with the fact that Noel is also staying... and hosting his girlfriend, Hannah! (I can't think of her name without following it up with, "Her name is Hannah?!")
Before her arrival, Felicity and Noel are enjoying their typical flirtatious banter ("Can I just say one thing?" asks Felicity. "You never just say one thing," Noel replies) and consulting a Magic 8 ball for answers. But once Hannah enters the building, everything goes to shizz. Particularly Noel, who is a nervous mess. Dude CANNOT keep it together. He even forgets Felicity's name when he introduces her to Hannah, and his behavior is a world of weird.
Hannah tells Noel that she's been accepted to the New York Conservatory (she's a composer), which means she could be living in NYC the next semester. Noel isn't thrilled, because he's a terrible boyfriend, but eventually he reassures Hannah that he really does want her to transfer. Felicity isn't happy either, because Noel is treating her so differently--in a classic Felicity move, she expresses her anger by leaving a note on his door demanding the return her avocodo plant: "Give me back my pit!" Our girl is realizing that she's been spoiled by Noel's constant availability and hasn't necessarily appreciated it.
In spite of the tension between Hannah and Noel, there's obvious intimacy there--the way Hannah can tell that Noel's stressed because he's doing the thing with his hand on his face, her mention of his beet allergy (which we will all come to know and love). That's why it's all the more awkward when Felicity and Hannah are alone in the bathroom together, and Felicity has to play it off when Hannah mentions Noel's strange behavior.
Meanwhile, Elena is spending the holiday with her dad, and it's clear that they just don't connect. She's frustrated by his apparent disinterest in hanging out with her (he's never visted her, even though campus is only half an hour away), so she decides to return to the dorm. Ben actually never made it out of NYC, because his mom forgot to buy his plane ticket (heart. breaking.), and Sean keeps talking about going to his cousin's big shindig out on Long Island which is clearly a lie.
So now Julie and Felicity's little Thanksgiving has turned into a larger affair, which is a problem because... there's a turkey shortage. Julie brings back a "free range turkey" from Chinatown that is most definitely not a free range turkey.
So they head to Dean & Deluca to ask for help from Javier, who starts shelling out advice on how to prepare a turkey ("Remove the little gifts from inside") before agreeing to bring his turkey to their meal.
Noel and Hannah have plans at Ye Waverly Inn (emphasis on the "Ye"), but after getting frustrated with each other over apartment searches (it's obviously about more than that), they decide to stay and eat with the group. Felicity accosts Noel in the boys' bathroom about his recent attitude towards her and yells at him in the sweetest way: "I hate not being able to talk to you, you know that? It's one of the worst things I can think of." In the middle of her rant, he kisses her (!!!) and then they start furiously making out. There's a great moment when Ben walks in, and his eyebrows skyrocket when he sees what's happening.
Felicity emerges from the bathroom with the CRAZIEST HAIR and, clearly panicked by what just happened, proceeds to lose her mind about pretty much everything, It is awesome.
Ben swings by the loft to pick up plates and finds Sean eating a giant sub of depression, because while there is a family party on Long Island, he's not invited. Because he's a sweetie, Ben brings him back to the dorm, where Javier is trying to class up the place. ("We can't have dinner without candles.") This is the first time we're seeing him interact with the whole gang (he meets Benjamin!), and it makes my heart happy knowing the friendships to come.
Hannah and Noel finally have a heart-to-heart, where they both confess to having feelings for other people. There's a poignant parallel between their stories, with Hannah initially assuming that she's spending time with another guy because she missed Noel, when the truth is that she just really likes this guy. They admit to each other that her move to NYC just doesn't feel right, and while I agree, it's a bittersweet moment that is later amplified when Felicity finds Hannah crying in the bathroom. "He's a great guy," she says knowingly to Felicity. And for once, Felicity not only knows it, but appreciates it.
The episode draws to a close as a camera pans over the Thanksgiving dinner table, with Felicity and Ben sharing a laugh, Noel and Hannah exchanging a gentle glance and Elena's dad showing up (yay!) and giving her a hug. When this originally aired, the scene was paired by Aretha Franklin's version of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," and damn, I miss that.
How many times do I have to take a drink?
In spite of his complete inability to play it cool, Noel clearly won this episode. Sure, he kissed Felicity when his girlfriend was down the hall, but at the end of the day, he had a mature, honest convo with Hannah, and I'm proud of him for making the tough (joint) decision to end their relationship. Plus, nervousness is part of Noel's charm, so you could say this episode really played to his strengths.
College Nostalgia Moment
Watching Julie and Felicity try to prepare food using the one microwave reminded me of the unique challenge of trying to cook in a dorm. Like, why did we even try it? And then you had to wash the dishes in the bathroom, which GROSS. (I love that they include that detail, though.)
Y2K Nostalgia Moment
- Hannah's mom jeans
- Felicity's Birkenstocks
- Noel and Hannah's convo about modems: "This modem's pretty slow." "Not really, it's a V-90."
- Noel and Hannah's convo about iMacs: "Those things are so beautiful."
Also, when he tells Julie to change before Thanksgiving dinner: "You look nice, but for basketball."
Jennifer Garner makes her first appearance as Hannah, which eventually leads to Alias, not to mention her brief marriage to Scott Foley.
Greatest episode of the first season or greatest episode of the first season?
So, the semester is almost over, and Felicity and Noel are in the middle of trying to DTR when he gets a call that his uncle, who has narcolepsy (not necrophelia), is in a coma after an accident. Noel has to go home and take care of his family, so they decide to postpone their convo until he returns. Oh, and one more thing:
Three days later, he's back, and they can't keep their hands off of each other. This is a problem, because Noel hasn't even started studying for finals, and Felicity is a massive distraction. They make a pact to avoid each other for three days so they can both focus on exam prep, but when Noel discovers that he picked up the wrong bag at the airport and therefore has none of his textbooks, Felicity agrees to help him study. It's so cute that they think this is a good idea.
On campus, everyone is stressed AF, except for one blissfully chill guy whom Felicity corners in the cafeteria. It turns out, he's on antidepressants, which apparently make him an incredibly insightful judge of character. "You're always wearing sweaters," he tells Felicity. CHECK. "You seem a little intense." CHECK CHECK. "In general, I think you could lighten up." CHECK CHECK CHECK.
Things are so looney tunes that Noel has to bust a student cooking on a BBQ grill in his dorm room, and IT'S RICHARD!!!! We see his trademark scowl for the first time when Noel informs him that he will be reporting this to the student council. Looking back, I wonder if Rob Benedict (the actor who portrays Richard) pulled a Ryan Hansen/Dick Casablancas move, because there's no way the showrunners realized what an integral role he would play in the series. Right?
36 Hours to Finals
Felicity and Noel are making out in a private cubicle in the library. Way to cram in that knowledge, guys.
33 Hours and 42 Minutes to Finals
Julie and Ben are studying together in the reserve reading room, which has a strict quiet policy. So when they whisper to each other, everything is subtitled. It's a funny gag that's about to get even funnier.
33 Hours and 26 Minutes To Finals
Noel and Felicity have PDA-ed their way to the stacks, where Richard spots them! He knows that RAs aren't supposed to be kissing students, so now he's going to report Noel to the student council. Ruh-roh!
32 Hours and 45 Minutes to Finals
At the Card Catalog Junction, Ben begs Felicity to help him with their Lit final. She owes him after that whole cheating thing (boy does she!) so she agrees, even though it means less time to help Noel and help herself.
31 Hours and 32 Minutes to Finals
While Ben and Felicity are studying, a guy sitting behind them suddenly gets the hiccups, which he claims are a nervous reaction to stress. Ben and Felicity try to give him advice that culiminates with Felicity sharing her personal pro-tip, which is "holding a penny between my toes and thinking of three bald men." She immediately registers that he's bald, which cracks Ben up to no end.
Noel, on the search for Felicity, runs into Meghan, who is reading an Astrology textbook. Of course she is. "What's your problem?" she sneers, then immediately follows that up with, "Hey, if you're actually going to answer that question, could you not?" Noel still manages to share his studying predicament with her, so she sells him Smart Powder, which apparently gives you photographic memory. Among other things.
29 Hours and 54 Minutes to Finals
Sean has been trying to sell fruit to students at the library (UGH, SEAN) with little to no success, but he makes a deal with Julie. She'll help him unload the fruit with her feminine wiles and he'll reach her Econ. And so their effed up relationship begins!
28 Hours and 43 Minutes to Finals
Noel takes the Smart Powder!
Felicity and Ben have shifted to the (quiet) reserve reading room. Thanks to body language, it's clear that she's still into him, even though she's obviously super into Noel.
28 Hours and 22 minutes to Finals
Noel is FREAKING THE EFF OUT. Not to mention sweating profusely. He finds Meghan, who confirms that the Smart Powder does indeed contain beets, to which he's allergic.
Gif via northbndtrain.tumblr.com
Back in the reserve reading room, Ben admits to Felicity that he saw her kissing Noel in the bathroom at Thanksgiving. She starts telling him about how great Noel is, and lookey here, Ben is JEALOUS! I mean, slightly, but still.
In the middle of Felicity raving about Noel, the latter spots her with Ben and bursts into the room, completely contradicting all of the nice things she just said by acting like a TOTAL LUNATIC.
In case you haven't recently rewatched this episode, allow me the pleasure of reminding you that this entire scene is subtitled, because they're in the quiet reading room. Scott Foley has already shown a flair for comedy in previous episodes, but in this moment, he's turned those skills up to 11 and gone completely off the rails. Is there a Noel I love more than Beet Powder Noel? No, there is not.
Unfortunately for Mr. Bonkers, Richard just happens to be in the room:
Later in the cafeteria, Ben gets Noel to calm down by giving him food and telling him how much Felicity likes him. It's a really sweet moment, with Ben making a point to list all of the virtues that Felicity raved about. Clearly, the writers are being sneaky, because this scene is supposed to be about why Felicity likes Noel, but it only makes me love Ben more.
Noel's uncle ends up passing away, and before he leaves for the funeral, Noel gives Richard charcoal for his grill (awww) and tells Felicity that he's no longer stressed about having that DTR. "Whatever we are," he says, "I love what we are." He's confident they'll figure it out when they return in January.
Now that finals are over, everyone prepares to head out--except for Ben. Felicity calls him to see if he wants to share a cab, and he informs her that he'll be staying in NYC. He wants to see what the place looks like... "with snow," Felicity says, completing his sentence and thinking of that conversation they had on the roof at the beginning of the semester. There's still a lingering trace of her crush on him (as evidenced by the reserve reading room scene) which makes it all the more shocking when Ben hangs up the phone and the camera pans across his bed... TO JULIE. Whaaaaaa!!!
How many times do I have to take a drink?
College Nostalgia Moment
Sally wraps up the episode by reflecting on her first Christmas back from college. She realized she was homesick, but "home" no longer meant her parents' house, it meant her life on campus. Do you remember when you had that moment? And how epic it felt? Like the entire world had turned upside down.
Also, this episode so perfectly captures the roller coaster of finals week. The stress! The delirium! The comraderie of that stress and delirium! And the 100% total focus on finals because they were EVERYTHING.
Y2K Nostalgia Moment
- There's a card catalog! And it's in, like, a physical cabinet!
- Noel and Felicity can't find each other in the library, because they have no cell phones! So they just have to leave messages for each other on their answering machines. Adorbs.
- "Don't take the Clinton defense with me," - Richard, accusing Noel of worse behavior than his own.
Elena's M&M Strategy
This is the first episode in which we witness Elena's study method utilizing flash cards, M&Ms and a timer. It seems remarkably efficient, and at one point, Elena gives Felicity the secrets of her system, but WE NEVER HEAR THEM. Not in this episode, and not ever. To this day, it kills me that we don't know how it works, because I have the feeling it would solve EVERYTHING.
Did this episode give anyone PTSD about their own college finals? And for those of you watching the show for the first time, were you shocked by the Julie reveal at the end?
Also, am I the only one who loves Richard like whoa?
Tune in to the Rewatch next week when Meredith tackles "Gimme An O!" (oh man, such a good one) and "Friends."