January 4, 2011
The Canon According To Me - Felicity, Todd Mulchay Part 1
Felicity - "Todd Mulcahy, Part 1"
Season 1, Ep. 13
It was so easy to decide on my first Canon entry on account of this being maybe my favorite television episode ever. I always thought Felicity was at its best when it was displaying its silly sense of humor and poking fun of itself while also embracing its college-girl melodrama. This isn't the first episode to really do that - "Finally" (ep. 9) had some great scenes thanks to the smart cookies - but this is the first time that I found the humor and melodrama to be so beautifully woven through the entire episode in equal measure.
The story revolves around this kid from Felicity's past who, after running into her at the supermarket back home over Christmas break, has decided that she may well have been the love of his life and the only way to know for sure is to kiss her. He shows up in New York and, without really trying, insinuates himself into her life in this, like, really charming and funny way.
He comes to her room asking for her and ends up helping Meghan pierce her nose. He turns out to be an old skater buddy of Ben's. He and Noel bond over graphic design and Mac nerdery. He makes delicious chicken for Sean and Julie.
First Noel freaks that someone is tryin' to move in on his woman, then Felicity freaks because Todd is exhibiting stalkery behavior. She decides to seek advice from someone who knows a little something about being stalked which leads to possibly my favorite Felicity/Ben scene of all time. It's the first scene in the video embedded above (sorry for the annoying subtitles, it's the only English version of this scene on YouTube, which is a tragedy for another time).
After multiple attempts to convince him to leave her alone, Felicity finally meets him at a restaurant to let him down hard. She tells him to go away and leave her alone. He amiably agrees, walking away from her into the street. He turns to her and continues slowly backing up, "Just know this - I am down," he says "but I am not, in any way," Felicity tries to stop him because he's about to be hit with the greatest "to be continued..." episode-ender of all time (pun intended, obviously) "out!" And then he gets hit by a bus.
I'll be honest with you, if all this episode had going for it were the Felicity/Ben scene and Todd getting hit by a bus, it might still be among my favorites. I laughed so hard at that final moment the first time I saw it. It was what you thought was going to happen but at the same time it was so horrific and insane that you were sure this show would never do such a thing so when they did, it took my breath away.
But the episode actually has all these other things to recommend it. All of the Felicity elements are here. We have our "Dear Sally," voice overs, and two classic Meghan scenes ("if someone named Bridget calls, tell her she can have 'em back when she pries them off my cold, dead feet! She'll know what it means."). Sean is trying to invent milk-less cereal he's calling Lact-Os. Elena breaks up with Blair who she caught cheating the previous episode and we all know that was the moment that cemented her friendship with Felicity. Julie gets a job working at Carol's office without mentioning that Carol is actually her bio-mom. Ben does not approve but tries to be supportive. He also gets cut off by his dad, drops his favorite word (dick) on us, and gets a job at Dean & Deluca. Noel gets blackmailed by Richard who wants to install a satelite dish in his dorm room and uses Noel's "fraternization" with Felicity to get his way. Even Javier gets a couple of scenes.
There's also a scene where Julie, Ben and Elena hang out and another with Julie, Noel and Felicity which brings up one of my biggest pet peeves with TV dramas in general which is that whenever the cast contains more than 3 people, they very rarely have scenes containing more than two of them at a time. Whole groups of friends rarely hang out together and so often they fall into these patters where, say, Ben will only ever have scenes with Felicity or Sean, Matt will only have scenes with Landry or Julie, Joey will only have scenes with Dawson or Pacey. In life, when whole groups of people know each other, they will, on occasion, gather in random groups larger than two and hang out. I like to see that happen on television too. And we get some of that here.
I love how they sort-of acknowledge how insane the entire premise of the show is by having Felicity yell at Todd in exasperation, "This is very rude - you coming here and making assumptions about me!" even after she's just admitted to Ben that everything Todd is doing now is exactly what she did to Ben a few months ago.
And there are several throw-away moments that tickle my funny bone - when Ben tries the Lact-Os for the first time the conversation goes like this:
Ben: What the hell is that?
Sean: Needs a little work, huh?
Ben: Whatever that is, don't pursue it.
Sean: Alright, I'm gonna go get some powdered sugar. Do you need anything from the market?
Anyway, the second part of this two parter introduces Eli (Simon Rex) and gibes us Taraji P. Henson as a hippy art student, and Maggie Lawson as Todd's fiance. It's a fine episode but it leans much more heavily on the drama, which is understandable given that it's a lot about Todd almost dying and all, but it just makes it less perfect than Part 1 for me.
This isn't the only Felicity ep that'll be making The Canon, just the first, but you'll have to stick around for a while to find out what my other favorites are. Although, now that you know some of my favorite things about the show, maybe you could guess.
So, what do you think? Is this your favorite episode too? Do you hate it the most and wonder if I've lost my mind? I'd genuinely like to know what your thoughts are on the subject so if you have any, let me know.