Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Felicity: Boggled (1.4)

I don't know anything about Felicity's future. I don't know who Felicity herself chooses, I don't know what roads the show will ultimately go down, or if the series' general quality will be easily maintained over its four seasons. But Boggled brought to mind how, regardless of where his shows end up going, J.J. Abrams can develop incredible opening years. Like Alias later on, there's an undeniable focus that's evident from this early into the show's existence, every plot detour meticulously thought out and pre-planned, every character stinging with relatable angst and drive. There's little drifting, and while the pacing is glacial at times, it's clear that you're watching a show that's arrived fully-formed. Growing pains don't exist in the Abrams universe. Things have a tendency to fall apart eventually, but those debut seasons are things of beauty.

Boggled sees the world of Felicity becoming even richer, the ensemble growing tighter, and relationships developing that seem even further removed from generic TV tropes. Julie is better off as a character now that she doesn't entirely exist within the Felicity/Ben triangle, getting some cute material with a film student, while Meghan is being exploited for all of her comedic potential at the same time. Elena is also a fun character, her friendship with Felicity tricky and unpredictable, but the script having fun with their dynamic ("You think I'm dating Noel for an appliance?"; "That Halloween costume you live with!")

For Felicity herself, she's still stuck between her past and present. Watching Ben run track, she can't help but remember being in the exact same position years prior -- watching him in high school, desperately eager to cheer him on but uncomfortable with the idea of him actually noticing her. So while the two of them are in entirely different positions now, they still maintain a potentially unhealthy high school dynamic, Felicity still the voyeur, Ben once again the object of desire.

Noel, too, represents an adulthood that Felicity hasn't yet hit. He's impulsive and more rational than she is, interested in talking about their kiss instead of running away from it like Felicity. There's also his pre-existing relationship with his high school sweetheart. Felicity reacts in a volatile manner, understandably, but calms a little when he explains his circumstances: they're a couple, but geographically distant due to their respective colleges, and both have accepted that their relationship is fragile at this point. He should have mentioned this Hannah girl sooner, but it's also a sign of his age. Felicity is still wrapped up in high school romance, everything being finite and swoony, while Noel is at the point where he's become aware of how challenging love can be, how fidelity and trust can be flexible and deeply removed from the fairytale version of things that Felicity seems to perpetually exists in.

Boggled is a fantastic hour, capped by a Sally monologue that goes a long way in almost defining Felicity as a series -- you never know where things will end up, or how relationships are going to form, and the fun and the pain is in the discovery of it all and that is what makes you who you are. Like Felicity's own journey, I'm in a position where I don't know how this show itself will resolve, or where the story and its protagonists are headed, but it sure is exciting to watch it all get there. A

Guest stars
Devon Gummersall (Zach); John Billingsley (Delivery Guy); Amanda Foreman (Meghan Rotundi)
Writers Mimi Schmir, J.J. Abrams Director Todd Holland

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