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'Felicity' nostalgia recap: Confessions, obsessions, and repressions

Season 1 | Episode 13 | “Todd Mulcahy (Part 1)” | Aired Feb 9, 1999

Remember just 12 episodes ago when Felicity abandoned her life plan in California and journeyed to New York in pursuit of an unrequited crush? Well, she’s about to be served a dose of her own stalker medicine.

Todd Mulcahy, a blast from Felicity’s past, washes up at her dorm room unannounced and unprompted. He doesn’t catch Felicity, but he does help Meghan pierce her own nose (normal) and spook Noel with his intent to kiss Felicity. See, Felicity and Todd almost kissed at summer school when they were 12 and 14. He’s held a torch for her ever since, and after bumping into each other during winter break, Todd’s convinced it was a stroke of fate. Felicity, on the other hand …

She’s preoccupied with getting into a high-stakes seminar with a big-wig geneticist, who can make or break your career. Only 10 out of 200 applicants score a coveted slot in the seminar, and Felicity’s determined to work overtime to secure her seat. But her focus and drive take a hit when Todd’s arrival and aggressive persistence interfere with nearly every aspect of her life — especially Noel. Noel? Jealous? What a change of pace!

ABC/The WB/screengrab

ABC/The WB/screengrab

You have to hand it to good ol’ Todd Mulcahy: He’s upfront, and he doesn’t give up. Even when Felicity tries to send him packing, he’s endearingly unfaltering. He wants that kiss, that chance to prove to Felicity that they’re soulmates, and damn it, he’s going to get it if it kills him. And it just might.

The gifts start pouring in after Felicity’s initial, “Nah, I’m good.” Remembering that she could never find her name on souvenir vanity license plates, he had one specially made for her. She’s touched, but uses the tender moment to end the chase once and for all. Just when it appeared as though Todd was accepting defeat, he leaves her more phone messages than Dean in that one episode of Gilmore Girls and sends her a box full of relics from 1992. As if it couldn’t get more annoying (creepy?), he’s enclosed a note that claims Felicity has lost her childlike sense of wonder. This gets into her head. Has she lost her will for whimsy?

Felicity turns to the one person who understands the stress of being the object of obsession: Ben. He’s been there, dealt with that, and vows to march on over to Todd’s hotel and take care of it. His definition of “taking care of it”? Hanging out with an old friend, telling Felicity to kiss the “good guy,” and asking Felicity for a job at Dean & DeLuca. Some help, Ben.

ABC/The WB/screengrab

ABC/The WB/screengrab

I’d be remiss if I didn’t note how ironic it is that everyone slowly begins to accept Todd’s crazed pursuit of Felicity as charming. Considering that she hadn’t been given the same lenience when she pined after Ben, it’s psychotic that Ben would tell her to deign to Todd’s advances. It’s also hypocritical that Noel, who openly opposed Felicity’s infatuation with Ben, would fall under Todd’s spell.

Considering Julie’s rape, it’s frightening that any of Felicity’s friends would dismiss Todd’s obsession as a schoolboy crush. He could have been dangerous, and they made her feel guilty for turning him down. Sure, he’s not dangerous. He’s simply lost in the idea of love. Still, the inconsistency remains. Felicity, too, surrenders to his powers of persuasion when he asks her out during her exam. Bless his lovesick soul.

While Felicity’s hesitations with Todd weren’t met with resounding support, Julie’s idea to accept the internship at her birth mother’s architecture firm without copping to the truth receives unanimous question marks. From Ben to Felicity to Elena (who appropriately calls Julie’s game plan “wack”), no one’s on board with Julie essentially duping her birth mother. In Julie’s defense, Carol didn’t give Julie a choice. Why does Julie owe Carol?

ABC/The WB/screengrab

ABC/The WB/screengrab

Julie brings Carol her lunch and accepts Carol’s invitation to eat with her. Ever since Julie revealed in the second episode that she wanted to find her birth mother, it’s only been a matter of when. Finally, she sits before her birth mother, but Carol doesn’t know who she is. The scene carries a one-sided emotional rawness as Julie discovers Carol played guitar and has two more children. Julie’s crushed, but is she crushed by her birth mother’s happiness or the weight of her buried confession?

Todd can’t relate to Julie for obvious reasons. He’s not repressing anything when it comes to Felicity. He tells her the surprisingly touching story of running into her during Christmas and falling for her in their tween years. (I have to hand it to him, he knows how to work his words. He should get into politics.) As Felicity starts to wear down, he brings up the art set he gave her and pushes for her to draw again. There’s that childlike sense of wonder. She’s shook.

The mere mention of art kicks some dust up. She gave up the life her parents planned for her at Stanford, but did she uphold the skeleton of the plan in New York? It’s in this scene that Todd reveals his purpose to the narrative: He’s a mirror through which Felicity gains perspective. And when her mirror walks backward into a New York City street and gets hit by a bus, her life will never be the same.

NOTES FROM THE TAPE RECORDER:

  • Richard declares war on Noel after Noel failed to approve Richard’s satellite dish (#tbt). Armed with Revenge-level blackmail on Noel, Richard does as he pleases knowing Noel can’t report him. He uses welding equipment and throws cigar parties, as one does. Something tells me Noel will win this war.
  • Blair tries to crawl back to Elena, the imperative word being “tries.” As if Elena’s right hook meant nothing to him, he asks for a second chance, but Elena’s fresh out of those. Here’s to hoping she doesn’t back down. That would be wack.
  • Ben’s dad cuts him off the money tree, and he can’t make ends meet. Without any experience in the service industry (or anywhere, really), Javier gives him a job. Now, where do we all get Ben’s mesmerizing smile and eyes to score us life-saving jobs?

All four seasons of Felicity are available to stream on Hulu Plus.