The Great Dawson’s Creek Rewatch: Season 1, Episodes 7-9

We’re rewatching all of Dawson’s Creek in honor of its twentieth anniversary. Will require some mind-numbing. Drinking game rules can be found here.

Season One, Episode 7 “Detention”

By Nerdy Spice

In one of my favorite episodes, the gang-plus-Abby get stuck in an all-day Saturday detention, Breakfast Club-style. Joey, in true Early-Joey style, gets in trouble for beating up an obnoxious jock who suggests that he’s a shogun and she’s his concubine (yay feminism!); Dawson gets in trouble for attacking Pacey with a basketball because Pacey’s ability to talk to Jen with some level of charisma made him feel emasculated; Jen says the word “bitch” in class, and Abby and Pacey aren’t talkin’. (By the end of the episode it turns out they’re there for tardiness and semi-public masturbation, respectively.)

Naturally when they’re left alone in the library Abby feels the need to Start Shit, so they all end up playing Truth or Dare. Abby, who like any good sociopath has a really quite exquisite sense for people’s sore spots, dares Jen and Pacey to kiss, which only reminds Dawson that Pacey is way better with the ladies than he is. Joey drives in the knife by asking Jen if she’s hot for Dawson, and even the dead-tree books in the library can tell Jen’s lying. So then Pacey, wanting to ruin Dawson’s life as much as possible apparently, dares Dawson and Joey to kiss, which gets a little steamy. Finally, Joey, suffering from her unrequited love, breaks down crying and tells Dawson how lonely she is in a heartbreaking scene.

Pacey acts like a big asshole in his first post-Tamara episode. Not as big an asshole as Dawson, obviously, but pretty big. He reveals Dawson’s embarrassing childhood nickname (Oompa Loompa) to Jen, and then tousles her hair just to show off that he’s charming and girls like him. [OF COURSE Dawson is using the only-slightly-embarrassing nickname “Oompa Loompa” as an excuse for actual violence. Oh, the traumas of privileged white boys. –Janes] I ALMOST felt bad for Dawson after Pacey pulled that shit. This conflict is probably the one time when Dawson and Pacey are about equally sympathetic. Dawson says some shit things to Pacey about how he’ll do anything for sex (hi, Dawson, you are talking to someone who is a RAPE VICTIM) and Pacey pretends he doesn’t know how hurtful it is to call Dawson Oompa Loompa, even though that’s clearly why he did it. But it’s all wrapped up in this whole gross competition about who’s sexier to women. Dawson is objectifying Jen so hard, not even as an object of Dawson’s own lust but as someone whose desire for him is a yardstick of his manhood. It is so dehumanizing. But meanwhile Pacey is being a total ass, not just to Dawson but to Joey (who he poses a “Truth” question, obviously knowing the answer: “Who do you like?”) and to Jen (who obviously hates watching Dawson and Joey kiss right in front of her).

  • Dawson has a creepy AF stuffed ET, which sits between Joey and Dawson like a furry symbol of the erection-killer that is their relationship.
  • Two minutes in and this episode is already PRICELESS. Dawson declares that it’s emotionally unrealistic for two guys to race over a girl. Can you say “famous last words”? This is the EXACT description of the plot line for season 3, episode 21. And no, I did not have to look up that number on the internet. I just knew. 
  • “You have a low IQ” is an amazingly literal burn. –Janes
  • I love that in the span of two episodes Dawson has gone from shaming Jen for being too sexual to whining that she won’t have sex with him. I know it’s super realistic, but still, has he no shame??
  • Joey calls penises “joysticks”? Ewww. 1 shot!
  • “I don’t talk trash. I recycle.” I probably only think this is funny because Pacey is saying it, but hee! Puns!
  • There are some REALLY bad teachers at Capeside. Like here’s this guy who wants to have a “discussion” on euthanasia but basically just wants to tell people his opinions. I guess I had a teacher like that too, but it was in private school, and his name was Pater because he was a Catholic priest, so… it was somewhat to be expected.
  • The girls call Jen out for name-dropping Ally Sheedy. Shot for the meta-reference to one of the stars of the movie this episode is ripping off! Also, gotta admit I enjoyed watching Abby and Joey take Jen down a peg or two after she gets all snotty about everyone else’s “small-town mentality.”
  • In case you didn’t know what movie this episode was inspired by, Dawson’s here to remind you that it’s a ripoff of The Breakfast Club. Another shot!
  • Then Pacey makes a VERY clever meta-joke about how the Mighty Ducks franchise was soooo awesome. You know. Because Joshua Jackson was in it. Third shot!
  • The librarian is named Mrs. Tringle, a meta-reference to a Kevin Williamson movie starring Katie Holmes, Teaching Ms. Tingle, that was slated to come out a few months later. TEN shots for the writer of the show referencing his own movie!
  • Everyone keeps complaining about how bored they are. They are in a GIANT ROOM FILLED WITH BOOKS.
  • Joey’s gleeful face as she watches Jen and Pacey make out is priceless.
    Joey smirks at Pacey as he goes in for a kiss with Jen.
  • Buckle your seatbelts, kids, this is the only good kiss Joey and Dawson will ever share. My theory is that Katie Holmes hadn’t yet grasped at this point what a pill Young James was. (Adult James seems like a total champ and I would love to be his best friend, but Young James was definitely, 100%, a pill.)
  • Jen saying she lusts for Dawson is about as convincing as when Donald Trump says he hates white nationalists.
  • Jen goes on and on about how “romantic” and “caring” Dawson is. Take a shot for unwarranted praise of the main character!
  • I love how Abby finally says the truth no one wants to say: Joey’s in love with Dawson. Luckily Dawson the Oblivious isn’t there to hear it, since he and Pacey are having yet another masculinity contest disguised as a sports competition. Dawson totally cheats at basketball because somehow that makes him feel like he’s more of a man than Pacey. Whatever works for ya, dude.
  • Proving once again that first season Dawson was much better than later Dawsons, he actually apologizes to Pacey.

Highlight: I love the scene where Joey breaks down crying and tells Dawson she can’t tell him what’s wrong. She’s so sad, so vulnerable and confused, and it’s just a really emotional scene. I still remember crying over it when I first saw it, on this oh-so-modern portable DVD player I got for Christmas my freshman year of college (a year after the show had already ended). It’s a great scene, and Katie Holmes acts the hell out of it.
Joey cries as Dawson looks on.


Most Cringeworthy Moment: Dawson says that his animal instincts control him whenever he’s with Jen… and then plants a sexless smooch on her lips. VOM. (Tamara’s gone, so Dawson has no real competition left on the cringe-worthiness front.)

Most wrongly used five-dollar word: Who on God’s green earth uses the archaic term “wench” as a catty Mean Girl insult?

Most 90s soundtrack moment: Definitely “Stupid” by Chickenpox, a  ridiculous song by a ridiculous Swedish ska band that disbanded right after the turn of the century.

Drunkenness level: Fifteen shots. Excellent.

Season One, Episode 8 “Boyfriend”

By Janes

Jen stares at Dawson from behind, crying.

Why is his face so dumb??

I love that this episode opens with a none-too-subtle reminder in the form of exposition that Jen and Dawson are officially a couple. They’ve literally taken like, five breaks from their relationship since it started about five episodes ago, and you can just imagine the writers scrambling to remind the audience, “No, wait, we’re serious this time–they’re really together now.” But of course, they’re not serious this time, because by the end of the episode, this couple that no one really cared about will call it quits–again.

Just to recap: Jen’s ex-boyfriend shows up, and she tells him to go away, but then also decides to skip school with him. She asks Dawson–her boyfriend–to let her ex stay with him for the night, which is–okay I guess, but pretty damn ballsy. Said ex-boyfriend tells Dawson that he’s still in love with Jen, and Dawson proceeds to blame her, because why not. Dawson says passive-aggressive, controlling bullshit to Jen like, “I don’t think he’s getting the message, and frankly, I don’t think you want him to.” Shut UP, Dawson.

Of course, my feminist rage dissipates slightly when Jen proceeds to prove Dawson absolutely right. It’s fine if she still has some sort of feeling for this guy, but she can’t even give Dawson a straight answer when he asks if she wants to get back with him? WTF?! I’m not a particularly jealous person, and I would still be pretty pissed if my significant other so obviously waffled about getting back together with their ex.

In the end, Jen officially decides that she loves Dawson, but agrees to kiss Billy, ostensibly just to say goodbye. We kind of hate Jen for a minute, but then Dawson whines so much about how Jen had sex with everyone and their mother in NYC, and how niceness “stopped being a character trait about half a century ago,” that it’s impossible to feel bad for him.

Then Billy and Dawson fight over her, so she pulls a Kelly Taylor and chooses herself. Whatever.

In other news, Joey straight-up almost gets date-raped this episode (by a guy who, in true 90s fashion, looks like the Hanson brothers’ pervy uncle). For a minute, it seems like this might be a Very Special Episode, but the writers clearly don’t care about social issues, so instead it’s just used as fodder for the burgeoning Joey/Pacey/Dawson love triangle. So it goes.

  • Dawson is whining AGAIN about nice guys finishing last. If we took a shot every time Dawson complained about this, we would be even drunker than we already are. (Is a rule addition in order?) [I think this falls under the umbrella of Dawson receiving unwarranted praise, even if it’s from himself. Take a shot! –Nerdy Spice]
  • And while we’re on the subject: “Where are the modern Gary Cooper types?” Gee, I don’t know, every Tom Hanks role ever, maybe? Jerry Maguire, which came out only two years before Dawson’s? I could go on.
  • Billy calls a random man in a cap “Captain Ahab” for seemingly no reason. That’s five shots!
  • Joey is wearing a scrunchie!! So cute and 90s.
    Joey looks towards the camera, wearing a scrunchie.
  • Not that I really care, but I don’t understand Jen and Billy’s relationship. If he was “nothing but good” to Jen, and then Jen left without even saying goodbye, then why is she immediately hostile towards him? Is it just because he’s very obviously a raging douche? But in that case, why does she consider getting back together with him? My head hurts.
  • Mitch tortures Gail about her infidelity, taunting her that “swinging would be more in line with [her] recreational tastes,” and that he still pictures “[his] naked wife playing hide the…” (He doesn’t finish the burn, likely to get past the censors. Shot!). At least now we know where Dawson inherited the passive-aggressive, slut-shamey genes from. [The men in this family do not handle their madonna-whore complexes very well at all. –Nerdy Spice]
  • “I hate to break it to you, Dawson, but your problems really aren’t that original.” AMEN.
  • Pacey and Joey are adorable when they bicker:
    Animated gif of Pacey teasing Joey and Joey saying
  • Pacey saves Joey from a date rapist, and Joey is very drunk, so she thinks Dawson saved her and calls him her “hero.” And as far as we can tell, Dawson never corrects her false assumption. I can just imagine Dawson being like, “It’s about time I got credit for showing up and doing basically nothing. After all, I’m a NICE GUY, if you haven’t heard.” [On that note, notice that Dawson, the Nice Guy, promises to get Joey a drink and then asks her to go to the video store… and then forgets all about Joey and goes off with Jen. Meanwhile, Pacey tries to get Joey to stop hitting on him when she’s drunk, and then saves her from getting molested on the beach. THEN, she kisses Dawson while she’s even more drunk and Dawson is like, Bring it on, girl who’s def too wasted to consent! And yet somehow Dawson is the nice one? –Nerdy Spice]
  • It’s funny that Joey and Dawson kiss twice before they have their first “real” kiss in the season finale, especially since that kiss is so mythologized. It might have been just as cute if, in the future, they had obsessively recalled their first kiss during a game of Truth or Dare. 
  • Pacey acting out The English Patient is so much better than watching The English Patient.
  • For maybe the first time ever, Dawson informs Pacey that his relationship with Joey is “complicated.” What a momentous occasion! Take a shot!
  • I love that Pacey “reveals” that Joey is in love with Dawson when she basically admitted as much in “Detention.” Like, did Dawson just forget Joey’s entire speech? It was very moving!!
  • “You know, for someone who views himself as a tragically nice guy [shot!], I spend an awful lot of time apologizing.” YUP.
  • As Billy leaves, he says, “Looks like the nice guy’s gonna get the girl after all.” I mean, he’s right, in the end. It’s just that the girl’s not Jen. And the guy’s definitely not Dawson. 🙂 –Nerdy Spice

Highlight: Definitely when Joey piles plates on Pacey while he playfully cajoles her to come out and have some fun. They only have like, three scenes together this season, but their relationship already feels so much more authentic.

Animated gif of Pacey pulling Joey by the hand.

Most cringeworthy moment: Aside from the casual date rape situation, Dawson says he “treats Jen with nothing but respect” (shot!), and then literally in the same sentence calls Billy “the guy who’s had you everywhere from Battery Park to your parents’ bed.” It’s almost too easy.

Most 90s soundtrack moment: This episode’s soundtrack is a veritable 90s time capsule. There’s “Green Apples” by Chantal Kreviazuk, who would also record that classic cover of “Feels Like Home” for the second season’s soundtrack, and the Blink-182 song “Dammit” playing at the beach party. But the winner is “Evaporated” by Ben Folds Five, that classic 90s “alternative rock” (read: “emo”) band before Ben Folds went solo in 2000.

Drunkenness level: Nine: respectable.

Season One, Episode Nine “Roadtrip”

By Nerdy Spice

Joey stares at a sleeping Dawson in his bed.

This intensely boring episode easily could have just… not existed, but for some reason it does and Janes and I are here to rewatch it so you don’t have to.

For some reason Dawson, who’s heartbroken over losing Jen, decides to go on a road trip with Billy in order to pick up college women. They both end up fighting over a woman named Nina who looks like she’s about forty. (On another note, the fact that this Nina person looks like a middle-aged woman means that even the 23-year-old James van der Beek still looks like a little kid in comparison.) Dawson’s entire nice-guys-finish-last complaint is invalidated when Nina sees right through Billy’s jerk act and ditches the scene with Dawson because, compared to Billy, he actually is nice. They don’t end up actually hooking up, though, because Dawson’s still hung up on Jen. And that’s pretty much all you need to know about this utterly inconsequential A-plot.

Much more interesting is what goes on with the women back at home. Warren, the self-styled “shogun” jock who Joey beat up in the detention episode [Nope, different guy. It’s just that all white guys look the same. – Janes], gives Joey a ride to school–then claims to everyone that they slept together. Jen helps Joey concoct an evil scheme for revenge: Joey claims that they did have sex and she’s pregnant and Warren won’t have anything to do with her. This plan seems both s cliched and somewhat ill-advised (when the baby doesn’t show up, aren’t people just going to think she had an abortion? And I don’t think this town is likely to be cool with that) but I love seeing Jen and Joey team up in female solidarity. And Joey uses Abby to spread the news, which leads to a funny and sweet scene where Joey gives a very convincing performance and Abby finds it in her shriveled little heart to be completely indignant on Joey’s behalf. People are actually sympathetic to Joey after that, but the weird ending to this whole thing is that Abby finds out that Warren has erectile dysfunction. Joey is very gleeful about this even though it makes her look like a big liar, which she is, and then she rather cruelly blackmails Warren into retracting his story.

  • OMG, they totally used a different take of Dawson and Jen’s break-up for the “Previously”s! If you thought their acting couldn’t possibly be worse in that scene, you are very wrong. –Janes
  • Joey wins my eternal gratefulness by telling Dawson to stop moping over Jen—and then pointing out that he’s been creepily stalking Jen at school. Dawson declares that by rejecting him, she rejected romance, honesty, and respect. Can you even handle the ego on this kid? He literally equated himself to the literal embodiment of all that is good. Take a shot!
  • This awkward sex euphemism comes to you courtesy of some old-fashioned Grease plagiarism: “Which answer means that we get friendly down in the sand together?” –Janes
  • Billy is the kind of person who refers to female college students as “coeds.” I HATE that with a passion. He’s not even old enough to remember the days when coeducational schools were a new thing!
  • When he agrees to the road trip, Dawson is convinced that Jen’s going to freak out when he doesn’t show up for school. He really does have his own special little relationship with reality. [I’ll echo Joey and say… “You do know that she broke up with you, right?” – Janes]
  • After picking Joey up in his car, Warren immediately makes a joke about her nips even though they are encased in an oversized shirt and an even more oversized jacket. Joey holds her own for a bit against this creep, but loses ground when he pulls that move beloved of sexists: telling her she talks too much. [I would say that the dialogue where Warren straight-out says to Joey that she’s “obviously a virgin” is unrealistic, but the exact same thing happened to me when I was her age. With a guy who looked a little bit like Warren. Teenage boys are the worst. –Janes]
  • Warren spreads a rumor that Joey slept with him, and her first words to him are, “It wasn’t very memorable, Warren.” I love saucy Joey!
  • Jen actually follows Joey out of the cafeteria when she sees she’s upset. This girl is so NICE. Joey’s been a total assface to her (I mean not as much of an assface as Dawson, but who is?) and Jen still cares about her.
  • Jen’s hair is CRAZY flipped. That’s one 90s trend that definitely has not come back. –Janes
    Jen has a hair flip.
  • Pacey gets in a decent joke: “Youthful indiscretion? What am I, running for the Senate?”
  • Forget Grease: “I’m the drummer from Pearl Jam” takes the cake for most nineties pick-up line of all time. –Janes
  • Jen finally loses patience with Joey’s bullshit and tells her that now that Dawson is single but is going to treat her like one of the guys, Joey won’t have Jen to hate/blame anymore. Excellent point, Jen.
  • Warren pulls a diabolically clever move: “I never said I’d be your boyfriend.” Way too diabolical for a dumb jock, now that I think about it. –Janes
  • At one point the boys take revenge on some guys who were being mean to an old lady (don’t ask). Dawson criticizes Billy for having “no imagination,” and then proposes a prank ripped off from American Graffiti. Classic. –Janes [And, shot for ripping off a movie! –Nerdy Spice]
  • I feel so bad for this ancient-looking “college student” Nina that Dawson chats up in the bar: she gets picked up by a guy who claims to be a film buff and then has to listen to him natter on about Spielberg. It’s like if some dude came up to me in a bar and was like “Oh so you like books? I myself am a book expert. My favorite book is The Da Vinci Code. Let me explain to you for ten uninterrupted minutes why Dan Brown is actually the best writer in the world.” 
    Dawson hits on a college student who's old enough to have teenaged kids herself.
  • If this episode weren’t surreal enough, Nina is actually Carol from The Walking Dead! — Janes
  • [Dawson also actually says to this girl that he thought about “saying something clever” such as “What’s your sign?” I’m sorry… WHAT?? HOW DID WE NOT CATCH HOW BASIC THAT WAS?? –Janes]
  • Dawson exhibits a little personal growth when he declines to go home with Nina in order to not use her while he’s still hung up on Jen, and then doesn’t brag about how a grown woman invited him back to her place.
  • Savage Garden croons us out of the episode as Joey says to herself that she can wait for Dawson. God, I love the nineties.
    Joey stares at a sleeping Dawson in his bed.

Highlight:  Near the end of the episode we wind up with two great friendship scenes: Pacey and Dawson sharing a cute little giggle over the fact that Pacey can see lipstick on Dawson’s face; and Joey visits Jen with ice cream as a peace offering. [I love this friendship so much! What happened after season one? Did the show lose all of its writers who were aware of the Bechdel test? –Janes]

Most Cringeworthy Moment: Barely-pubescent Pacey and Dawson calmly discussing which woman they’re going to select from the crowd as if they have only to choose. Close second is when the two learn techniques to “seal the deal” from Billy.

Total drunkenness level: 4; one for Dawson’s nice-guy act, one for ripping off American Graffiti, one for getting friendly down in the sand, and one for some really unfortunate erectile dysfunction-related puns.

Most wrongly used five-dollar word: Nina says she’s “not looking to be the sexual facilitator for young men with something to prove.” “Sexual facilitator”?? That is nonsensical and sounds a little like a euphemism for a dildo.

Most 90s soundtrack moment: “Truly Madly Deeply” plays at the beginning AND the end!! Double whammy!!


Next installment here.

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