After a four-month winter break, Felicity — the WB's little college dramedy that could — returns in exactly one week with the first of six new episodes and an answer to the loaded question: Who was gunned down at the title heroine's holiday mixer? Unfortunately, it's a puzzle some fans have already solved.

"We were shooting a scene the other day at the library, and there were a lot of extras [on the set] and our new prop guy was explaining to them who the [victim(s)] was," groans leading lady Keri Russell. "I was like, 'Oh great.' Every single one of those 20 kids are going on the Internet right now, saying, 'I know who it is.'"

Well, the fact that anyone actually cares who got shot is a marked improvement over a year ago, when Felicity — still on the mend after a disastrous move to Sunday nights — was itself knocking at death's door. "I was 100 percent sure we were cancelled," sighs executive producer J.J. Abrams. But faster than a speeding bullet, the series bounced back from its sophomore slump this fall with record ratings and the kind of favorable buzz that it hadn't enjoyed since its Ph.D. (Pre-haircut Days). "We're at the best place we've ever been," remarks Greg Grunberg, who plays the show's errant documentarian Sean.

"It's a testament to what can happen with a show if it's given the right environment and the opportunity to be nurtured," suggests Stacey Lynn Koerner of ad-buying firm TN Media, lauding not only Felicity's move from Sundays to the post-Dawson's Creek slot on Wednesdays, but also its no-reruns strategy.

However, because it aired only original installments this year — and networks rely on repeats to recoup costs — Felicity is hardly a big moneymaker for the WB. As a result, the show may not graduate to a fourth year. "Financially, it's a big burden," acknowledges WB co-president Jordan Levin. "It's going to be tough to continue to take that hit." Yet, perhaps in response to the abysmal performance of Felicity's 13-week replacement, Jack & Jill (which wraps its second, and likely final, season tonight), he adds that if the overachieving underdog performs "as well in the spring as it did in the fall, I'm confident that we'll find a way to bring it back."

Not leaving their destiny to chance, Russell and company are pulling out all the stops as they head into what could be their final finals. For starters, Noel's old flame Ruby (Road Trip's Amy Smart) returns with new baby in tow, and Oscar nominee Teri Garr (Tootsie) checks in as Meghan and Sean's eccentric relationship counselor. Plus, the polarizing Ben/Felicity/Noel triangle — or as resident heartthrob Scott Speedman calls it, "our go-to story" — again takes center stage. "And there's an added element to it," teases Russell. "It gets even trickier."