First impressions are everything.

How did Scott Speedman make such a great one in "Graduation", Felicity's pilot episode? No need to question miracles when divinity knocks on your door. Gotta love JJ and Matt for scouting this young talent who grabbed our hearts from the moment we saw him float across the stage to accept his high school diploma.

The pilot episode begins with Felicity and Ben graduating, in visibly separate realms yet Felicity remains awestruck of Ben Covington. Figuring she'd never see him again, she works up the energy to speak to him, asking him to sign her yearbook. He writes an incredibly sweet message about how he always wondered what she was like, how he admires her, and how he wishes he would have asked her what she was thinking.

That yearbook entry is enough to sway Felicity to drop all her college plans and follow Ben to New York. She's gutsy enough to tell him exactly that--she followed him to New York but wanted to make sure he was OK with it. Later she reads Ben's college application essay that stated his brother died. Surprised but intimidated by Felicity's stalker-esque tendencies, Ben reacts by attempting a date with Felicity's new friend, Julie. Felicity sees Julie at Ben's loft and is fuming. "You made me fall in love with you!" she exclaims, and Ben tells her she's crazy. He is right, but the truth is painful. She tells him she knows all about his life and about his brother. She exits his apartment and decides to leave New York.

The next day, Ben comes to her dorm to talk to her, needing to tell her what was on his mind before she left the city. And so begins the scene that captivated us forever ...

"Can we just go up on the roof and talk? Please?"

Ben didn't have to come back to talk to Felicity after his first week of college was only one boiled bunny short of a '98 Fatal Attraction remake. But he did--he did because he cared about her; if we weren't sure of this at first, his knock on her dorm door sealed the deal.

"What I wanted to say to you. What I've been thinking about since you came to see me the other night...is the truth. And the fact is, Felicity, the thing that I wanted to share with you is that I never had a brother. Ever. I mean I had to write something right? So I wrote all this...well you read what I wrote. And I wanted to tell you because..."

Whaaa? What do we have here? Some of us thought a popular man rejecting a geeky woman comprises a cocky jerk! Could it be? Great Scott, a vulnerable soul has emerged. Someone help him, please! Somehow he manages to make us feel sorry for him, which is difficult for an actor to do given the context of this story. Ben continues to speak and we get insight as to why this woman followed him across country.

"Because you provoke me, you know? You make me think about things I never think about. Without even saying anything, just by the way you look at me. You want the absolute truth? One of the main reasons why I wanted to come to New York? It was a pretty good chance that I would get as far away as possible from everything: My parents, my family...all that crap. And yeah on top of it I lied to get in so basically I'm a shallow loser. But I'm also very sorry because I'm not who you thought I was: A guy that you came so far to get to know because you thought he was great but I'm not."

Rewind. Damn, can't do that yet. Did he just say what I thought he
did? Ladies and gentlemen, we have a connection. A-ha! This is why Felicity followed him across country. He's gone and made us love him, even though he was rejecting the advances of the main character who we were all rooting for. How does he do it? Questions begin oozing from viewers' romantic yet conflicted feelings for the duo. What kind of domestic problems is he averting? How does Felicity manage to "provoke" Ben if they never even spoke in high school? Is there such a thing as a spiritual connection between strangers? Will we find out or will the show get cancelled?

"I can't wait to see this place when it snows."

Nor can we wait to see you see the city, my dear boy. In a matter of about 50-something minutes, we have nothing but genuine fondness for this lost, honest soul. We want to protect him, to see him smiling and carefully dodging all mistakes with snow-clotted hair and bright eyes. We recognize our concerns for Ben's future are corny and overprotective, but it doesn't matter. If you didn't feel any eagerness for him initially, it has surfaced by the end of this scene. You're a heartless robot if you didn't feel anything, by the way. Redeem yourself. Watch the scene again.

So much was revealed of Ben's character in this scene, many elements that intrigue us: vulnerability, sensitivity, and insecurity: basically the antithesis of what one might expect from a seemingly shallow, popular high school jock. If viewers hadn't seen some real depth to Ben, the whole premise of Felicity following him to college would have failed. This scene was integral for Speedman. Bravo, bravo.

--Dyslexia

 


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