"Stay in New York or perish." -Noel
Aired September 29, 1998
In a nutshell: Felicity asks her long time crush, Ben, to sign her yearbook, and follows him to New York after she misinterprets what he writes in her yearbook. At UNY (that's UNY, NOT to be mistaken with NYU, as one angry NYU student pointed out to me), she meets Noel, her annoying but earnest dorm counselor, and Julie, a girl who could use a good hairstylist. Unfortunately, Ben takes a liking to Julie, and Felicity considers leaving, but decides to stay on her own terms after realizing that it's the first major decision she's ever made.
People who thought this up: J.J. Abrams (the writer), Todd Holland (the director)
Supporting cast: Erich Anderson (Edward Porter), Eve Gordon (Barbara Porter), Amanda Foreman (Meghan), William Monaghan (Professor Rogalsky), Darnell Williams (Papaleo), Norma Maldonado (Principal), Jean St. James (Mrs. Covington)
Tunes: Sarah McLachlan ("Angel"--Surfacing), Madonna ("Power of Goodbye"--Ray of Light), Ivy ("I've Got A Feeling"--Apartment Life), Peter Gabriel ("In Your Eyes"--So)
Felicity starts thinking about her high school graduation day, the day that Ben signed her yearbook. She remembers feeling unhappy and dreadful. Somehow crash victims and phantom pains are involved in all this (sorry, I wasn't completely paying attention). When she finally works up the nerve to ask Ben The Question, he writes this personal note that she misinterprets, and ends up following the boy across the country. And New York City Palo Alto ain't.
Many people who have not seen this particular episode wonder, What could Ben have written that would make this obsessive curly haired girl follow him to another state? So here it is, by popular demand. (and remember, I didn't write it)
Here it goes. I've watched you for four years. Always wondered what you were like...what was going in on your mind all the time that you were so quiet, just thinking, drawing in your notebook. I should've just asked you, but I never asked you. So, now, four years later, I don't even know you, but I admire you. Well, this makes me sound crazy, but I'm okay with that. So take care of yourself.
P.S. I would've said 'keep in touch,' but unfortunately we never were in touch.
This written, obsessive curly haired girl starts thinking that New York is looking very good indeedy (as Chandler Bing would say). Her dad of course gets very upset, since his plans included Stanford and pre-med, not some unshaven boy (more on that later) and a grungy dorm where the seasons actually change. They argue, and Felicity lets Pops know that she's going. Period.
Back at school, Felicity prepares to have her picture ID taken, when she bumps into Ben. Only there's a girl named Susan attached to his arm, then his lips. As Felicity watches haplessly, Ben can't even remember her name, and the picture that Felicity desperately wanted to turn out good ends up mirroring her general confusion.
A counselor session later, Felicity is still upset over the Ben incident. A girl sitting next to her in class notices her misery, and passes her a note that makes Felicity laugh. Seems that their teacher's hair is on backwards (funny that Julie should point that out). In typical television style, they bond instantly.
Julie and Felicity end up exchanging roommate horror stories over lunch: Felicity's roommate has bone sculptures. Julie's is a neat freak. That's when Felicity spots Ben, and decides to take matters into her own hands. She tells him that he's the reason she came to New York, and that she used to have these sort of intense feelings for him back in high school. He's flattered. They agree to do the friends thing.
Somehow, Felicity decides that it's okay to read Ben's application essay, which is not about her (even though hers is about him, which is kind of creepy if you think about it). She meets Noel, the wide eyed dorm counselor and floor shrink, then goes to him for advice when she finds out, via Ben's essay, that he once had a brother who died of brain cancer (brain cancer?). She asks Noel if it's possible to be friends with someone for whom she has "immoderate feelings" for. Unfortunately for Noel, she's not talking about him.
Slowly, Felicity and Ben become friends. Noel is a tad jealous to find Felicity and Ben studying in her room one afternoon, which he displays by interrupting their study session three (count 'em) times. But, she gets a really cool pocket guide to the subway out of it. Ben and Felicity make future plans to study.
Julie is at first reluctant to join in on their study sessions because she thinks there's something going on between Felicity and Ben. But when she finds out that Ben is just a friend from high school, they agree to go out to some bar in New York ("sbNY" for short). As they socialize, Felicity watches the spirited interaction between her two friends with some unease. Ben callously admits that he's interested in Julie (this, to the girl who not only followed him across the country, but risked her only source of income just to read about his dead brother). Being the good sport that she is, Felicity tries hard not to reveal her true feelings.
When she can't seem to bond with her mysterious punk rocker roommate, Felicity again takes matters into her own hands. She marches over to Ben's, demanding that they talk. What she doesn't know is that what's-her-name is in his apartment, listening, while she and Ben have a heated exchange about physics ("nothing happens without an effect"). Ben, who did not take physics, doesn't understand what her fuss is about. He makes it clear that she doesn't even know him. That's when Julie comes out of his room.
Back at the counselor's, Felicity announces her plans to head home. He tells her that she's already an artist (okay, I'm jumping around, but this scene bored me). While she's packing her things, Ben stops by. They go up to some roof and Ben admits that he never had a brother, that he made up the whole "Jonathan died of cancer" story just to get into UNY and as far from his abusive dad as possible. Felicity acknowledges that he is the reason she came to New York. But she also admits that she's never made a substantial choice in her life, until now.
Noel tries to convince Felicity to stay by giving her a long speech about perishing, and fundamental disregard. Basically, it boils down to the fact that the "shrink" has a crush on his advisee. He makes one final attempt to change Felicity's mind.
Julie apologizes to Felicity about Ben, and tells her that she's never going to see him again. But Felicity has already decided: she's going home. Her parents come, and her dad announces over dinner how he pulled a few strings to get her into Stanford the first time around. Felicity is shocked. She decides to give up a new car, an apartment (rent free, of course) and full tuition to Stanford for the grungy dorms of UNY.
In the final scene, Julie and Felicity are shown walking down the street, hugging. Sally, the French tutor that Felicity tapes her letters to, tells Felicity in a voiceover that the goal of tragedy is to harden us. "Our mission," she intones, "is never to let it."
Fade to credits.
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