Follow the whole rewatch here!
Last week, Sarah brought us to the cliffhanger of all cliffhangers, the big question of the Season 1 finale (and, well, of this entire show, really): Ben or Noel? Let’s not waste any more time answering that question, shall we?
But first! Let’s drink to Keri Russell’s honestly, legitimately fetching haircut (I don’t know what all you nerds were complaining about):
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.”
On to Season 2!
Felicity's a sophomore! And she's back in New York after a rousing summer of...something, with...someone? The episode opens with Felicity very slowly teasing out the results of last season's cliffhanger to...Javier! Who has returned! This is the biggest news of the S2 premiere, far bigger than which guy Felicity opted to spend her summer with, so let's take a moment to celebrate that Ian Gomez is back on the show, and Javier has secured his visa. Which means he's now free to grill Felicity on The Big Question, but Felicity interrupts her story to run off to her first RA meeting!
Because, right, she's an RA now! And so is Meghan, AND they're roommates again, because of an asbestos issue in another dorm, which means RAs have to double up this year. The former roomies are somewhat displeased, to say the least.
Also suffering from the roommate debacle is Julie, who's stuck with two twin cheerleaders who are so annoying as to be literally unbelievable. So Sean EXTREMELY STUPIDLY invites Julie to live with him and Ben, like that's not a terrible idea for at least three different reasons. But enough with the suspense! Let's get back to the good stuff. Felicity's sitting in a UNY hallway when she sees both Ben and Noel. This scene moves in painful slow-mo, as all three people look sort of ambiguously uncomfortable, and it's hard to tell who's happy and who's furious - until Noel glares at both of them and walks off, and Ben walks up to Felicity and kisses her!
So she's back to telling Javier the story. Turns out, in the cab, she actually first asked to go to the airport, meaning she chose Noel. But then she realized she'd never get over wondering what would have happened if she'd chosen Ben, so she went to the loft, and they had a wonderful cross-country trip together. He spent the rest of the summer in Mexico, so they haven't seen each other in a while, but it seems like things are great. With them, at least. Noel and Julie haaaaate Felicity, an indication we're given through several awkward interactions and two terrible ones.
The first awful interaction happens at Noel and Elena's apartment - oh yeah, Noel and Elena have an apartment now! (Elena checked with Felicity to make sure she was cool with this first, because Elena is the Literal Best.) Elena leaves Noel and Felicity to figure stuff out, and after some unsuccessful attempts at small talk on Felicity's part, she VERY UNWISELY asks about a girl who answered once when she tried calling Noel in Berlin. He tells her it was someone named Beth, and they had phenomenal sex, and by the way he never, ever wants to see Felicity again. The way he's speaking to her is so cruel and pointed and hateful. Don't get me wrong, I think Noel has plenty of reason to be mad at Felicity, but the way he's speaking makes it clear that there's a very cruel streak inside of Noel Crane. I don't think Ben could be this cruel if he tried. Ugh, Noel sucks right now.
The second awful interaction happens later, when Ben and Felicity show up at Epstein Bar and see Noel, Julie and Elena. Noel and Julie pick a huge fight with them, and Ben keeps trying to leave, but Felicity stubbornly stays. It escalates to the point where everyone's yelling at each other, and it's dreadful and not at all fun to watch, so I think poor Elena speaks for all of us when she says, "Is this what the rest of the year's gonna be like?"
Let's see, what else. Oh yeah - Elena and Noel have a nice talk and it's clear they're going to be good roommates, and she tells him about McGrath and says he broke up with her three weeks ago. Ugh, so glad that's over (although he broke up with her? What an idiot!). And Sean does another stupid thing and starts hard-core trying to convince Ben to dump Felicity, because he thinks Ben isn't ready for a Felicity-level relationship. He may be right, but he's moving far beyond "advice" into straight-up "sabotage." So after a wonderful episode of Ben kissing Felicity and eye-smiling at her like he can't believe she's real and she's his, Ben decides to listen to relationship advice from his most perpetually single friend. He's left alone in Felicity and Meghan's room, and he sees one of Felicity's Sally tapes, so he listens to it (gahhhh Bennnn!). When he hears her posit to Sally that "this might be love," his face falls, and he looks like he's about to make a getaway so fast we'll be left with a little Ben-shaped puff of smoke.
How many times do I have to take a drink?
Until the very end, he is soooooo dreamy in this episode. And Noel is kind of a hateful monster, so it's an easy choice, even with Ben's unforgivable breach of privacy.
Javier Is All Of Us When Felicity's Telling Her Story
One of Felicity and Meghan's new freshman residents is an adorable little dope named Brian Burke, and he's played by the very great Michael Peña.
Season 2 Meghan
Meghan and Felicity are exactly the type of RAs you'd expect: Felicity is overly earnest and compassionate, and Meghan is scary and weird. But after she reveals Felicity's sexual history to a room full of freshmen, she actually apologizes to Felicity! Turns out, she grew up some at Wicca Camp, and she even tells Felicity to confide in her about the whole Ben/Noel/Julie disaster. Of course, as soon as Felicity starts ardently spilling her guts, Meghan stops her because she doesn't want to say something sarcastic in return, but hey, this is progress!
Season 2 Julie
I have a lot of trouble describing exactly how much Julie sucks all of a sudden. I mean, obviously she's being a total asshole to Felicity and Ben, which is somewhat understandable. But she just sucks in every scene, whether or not Felicity and Ben are there. She's got this odd, uncomfortably jovial bravado going on, and it makes her very unlikable, as does her COMPLETE disregard for the fact that Sean's clearly in love with her. She's also very smug about living in the loft, and it makes me dislike her extra. (Maybe because deep down, I've always wanted to live in the loft and I'm jealous. But also just because Julie sucks.)
2.2 “The List”
Welcome to the first of many episodes in which Felicity has a resident with a dilemma that mirrors Felicity's own. This time, it's sweet lil Gretchen, whose boyfriend Ian used to write her love notes, but then one day he got a "funny look" on his face, and she never got another love note. Gretchen is considering executing the items off a list called "10 Steps To Getting Him Back" from the clearly garbage magazine "Girl's World." The list includes such incisive tips as "putting blush on your nipples," a suggestion I frankly cannot wrap my mind around. Felicity tells Gretchen to give up the list, because "I wouldn't want to be in a relationship where I couldn’t be myself," which is great advice that Felicity very soon will not take.
See, since listening to her Sally tape, Ben's been a big ol' pile of Funny Looks. Every time Felicity seems warm and happy, he gets nervous, and she picks up on it pretty quickly, because she's not dumb. So she asks him if he's happy, and he tells her he's not, and breaks up with her without an explanation. Ugh, Ben!! She's devastated, and he seems to regret it almost immediately, staring moonily at a picture of Felicity from their trip. He goes to her and admits he listened to her tape, and she correctly tells him off for it - but rather than feeling chagrined, Ben just acts defensive.
Meanwhile, Julie's still being a bizarrely over-confident butthead, and she strong-arms poor Sean into having a giant party at his loft so she can invite some cute boy from class. This is so thoughtless and tacky, obviously, but she at least does him the favor of charging cover so they can make some money, which is the only thing Sean loves more than Julie. At the party, Julie makes SEAN work the door, ugh, and then when she gets tired of the cute boy from her class, she makes Sean kick him out! wtf, Julie. Worse - later, Sean asks her if they can celebrate the big bucks they made with the party, and she blows him off for another date. God, their dynamic depresses me.
Felicity runs into Gretchen wearing an insanely "sexy" outfit, and Gretchen tells her the list is actually working! So Felicity decides to try two items from the titular List: she invites poor Burke to the party so Ben will see her with another guy (she apologizes for using Burke later, which is nice), and she tries a "high voltage" look. And please allow me to say that this look is DANGER! DANGER! HIGH VOLTAGE! Keri Russell has literally never looked more fire emoji. Nor has anyone.
Obviously, this works Like Whoa, because Ben Covington is just a man, and how is a man supposed to resist THIS?!
He begs her to talk to him, and they start making out, and Felicity tells him she doesn’t need a commitment – she just wants to have some fun. Oh, Felicity. Girl, you know that’s not true! You are many things, but fun has never been one of them! They have another week or so of casual dating, in which Felicity makes all of the compromises, because that’s how these things go, but we can tell she’s not happy, even if she doesn’t realize it yet. He stands her up on a date (to see a movie in Bryant Park, his second time flaking on this one thing she really wants to do), and then she runs into Gretchen, who tells her that Ian dumped her anyway, and Gretchen wishes she'd listened to Felicity's advice and never compromised. Felicity realizes she also wishes she'd listened to that advice, so she goes to Ben and breaks up with him. Powerfully so! She's so righteous and amazing in this scene, and it makes me love her so, so much. Ben barely says a word, just standing there looking stunned, and it's awesome.
She takes off the necklace Ben gave her, and in voice-over, tells Sally that she's truly ready to move on. And she's going to make this symbolic declaration the way women have for hundreds of years: with a haircut! The episode ends with Felicity sitting in a stylist's chair, and as her hair starts falling around her face, we close-up on her eyes, because Felicity wasn't ready to reveal that rockin' new cut just yet.
How many times do I have to take a drink?
Meghan's Box Update
Before Felicity realizes Ben listened to her tape, she accuses Meghan, and Meghan suggests that Felicity play her tape and in turn she'll show what's in her box...
(Naturally, after Felicity plays her tape, Meghan refuses to reveal what's in the box.)
I like that Gretchen looks like an actual college freshman, instead of the elegant, luminous angel Keri Russell looked like when Felicity first got to college.
Give It Up, Sean
Well, definitely not Team Ben. But also Noel and Elena have several cute exchanges throughout the episode. Elena's trying to help Noel get over Felicity by honing his asking-out-girls technique. He's adorably bad at it - and when he finally gets a number at the party, the moment is ruined when he sees Felicity (looking like THAT) leave with Ben. The naked heartbreak in his eyes almost makes me forgive him for how he acted in the last episode. (Almost.)
Say Goodbye To These Luscious Locks!
That's it for this week! Readers, I have some Qs: how do you feel about Felicity's decision to spend the summer with Ben rather than Noel? Do you think Noel and Julie's responses are proportionate? HOW did you react to this haircut situation the first time you saw it? Where can I find Felicity's backless dress and also the body to wear such a dress?
Meet Sarah here next Wednesday morning as she dives into "Ancient History" and "The Depths."
Shameless Self-Promotion: Check out our Felicity-inspired merch in the FYA Store!