The Great Dawson’s Creek Rewatch Project: Season 2, Episodes 1-3

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 2, Episode 1 “The Kiss”

By Nerdy Spice

Joey and Dawson stare at each other, immediately post-kiss.

In this episode, as you may guess from the title, Dawson and Joey are NOT READY to be cool about the fact that they’ve kissed. [In the first scene alone, they go back and forth about whether to treat the kiss like a thing a total of three times. – Janes] They spend most of the episode completely freaking out, under the theory that second kisses are even more important than first kisses. And whenever they’re not freaking out, they’re indulging in their new favorite activity: coming up with cheesy yet disgusting ways to declare that they’re sexually attracted to each other–while exhibiting a complete lack of actual chemistry. The double entendres (well, they’re really just single entendres accompanied by leering and eyebrow wiggles) fly as thick as the polysyllabic words.

Jen’s grandpa dies, so she horns in on Joey and Dawson’s first date, claiming to be devastated even though she essentially didn’t know him. But when Dawson and Joey finally escape Jen’s wily clutches, they finally get their second kiss. And, naturally, Joey doesn’t end up going to France on her exchange program, claiming that it’s to avoid taking the “easy way out,” even though we all know it’s that she just wants to stay and make out with her new boyfriend.

Meanwhile, this episode introduces two important new characters: Andie McPhee, a preternaturally perky girl who’s new to town, and Pacey’s Frosted Tips, who should really get their own credits because they’re by far the most memorable thing about this season. Pacey and Andie begin bickering almost immediately, which is the inevitable prelude to their hooking up later this season, but meanwhile, Pacey goes on a date with a hot cheerleader who thinks he has a fatal disease.

  • Am I crazy or is Dawson’s hair looking slightly better just because it’s a little fluffier, which is not usually an adjective I’d associate with “better”? The perky helmet head was really getting old.
  • Right off the bat, the soundtrack gives us a very nineties moment with Fastball’s “Out of My Head,” which was apparently also featured in Coyote Ugly, playing as Joey and Dawson wake up in their (luckily) separate beds, smiling in the aftermath of their big kiss. There are a few great little moments sprinkled through this episode where you really feel the post-first-kiss glow just emanating off these two–pardon the mixed metaphors.
  • So Mitch and Gail wake up in their Marital Bed Of Betrayal and Estrangement and Gail tries to go right for the blowjob. Why are Dawson’s parents so gross? Even watching Mitch turn Gail down for sex is gross. I honestly hate cheaters, but I can’t enjoy watching  this woman turn into a pathetic shell of herself who desperately offers sexual favors in the hope of forgiveness.
  • Bessie, puzzled by Joey’s good mood on the morning after The Kiss, calls Joey “Miss Permascowl,” which… is fair.
  • What is up with 90s TV teenagers getting up early and having entire plotlines before school? Pacey exclaims after learning of the kiss, “I knew that’s why you got me up for the morning trim!” as if going to the hairdresser at 6:30am is a thing that 15-year-old boys have ever done. – Janes
  • The editing intercuts between Joey and Bessie dissecting the kiss, and Dawson and Pacey doing so. Joey refers to Dawson’s “probing tongue” (gahhh!) and Pacey asks him about his “thingamajig” (shoot me!).  Take a shot for weird euphemisms!
  • Pacey refers to Dawson and Joey as Sam and Diane and Mulder and Scully and marvels that they didn’t draw out their “will-they won’t-they” thing for longer. Two shots for meta movie references!
  • “Mulder and Scully, they haven’t even kissed.” OMG THIS IS SO OLD. – Janes
  • Pacey gets frosted tips so that he can “score some high-quality chicks.” I will let this stand without comment.
  • The meet-cute between Pacey and Andie is that she rams into his brother’s cop car and apologizes profusely, thinking he’s a cop. He doesn’t set her straight, so she gets all mad later. Basically, she’s too stupid to tell the difference between a fifteen-year-old kid (we know he hasn’t turned sixteen yet because that happens later this season) and a cop, and he’s too much of a jerk to set her straight.  Clearly, a romance for the ages.
  • Andie says she’s been having “anxiety attacks to the point of medication” as a result of Pacey’s trick. At this point, the joke just seems to be in poor taste, but considering Andie’s overall arc, it’s pretty fucking dark. – Janes
  • Andie sweetly offers to introduce Pacey to Kristy Livingstone (played by the immortal Ali Larter) shortly after calling him a sewer rat, and yet poor Pacey doesn’t see a trick coming. Obviously he never reads TV Tropes.
  • Joey says for the 100th time out of 1000, “things between us have always been so complicated.” Take a shot! – Janes
  • Grams gives Gramps’s clothes to charity, showing that Grams’s Christianity isn’t all slut-shaming and weird racism towards interracial couples.
  • Gail shows up at one point with this EPIC bouffant halfback hairdo and it’s like, well… I see where Dawson’s hair got its voluminous lift.
    Gail stands at a doorway with many flowers behind her and a giant bouffant half-back on her head.

  • A shot for Dawson declaring that he and Joey will always be Dawson and Joey.
  • Joey sits and thinks about her upcoming date with Dawson out by the creek, in a gorgeous shot. And I love how her hair gets a little bit of frizz in it when she’s by the water. She’s so real in these early seasons.
  • In the pilot, Joey put on red lipstick to dress up for playing third wheel on Dawson’s date; this time, she’s putting it on knowing Dawson will actually notice it. The song that plays while she does so is “London Rain (Nothing Heals Me Like You Do)” by Heather Nova and it’s so perfectly poppy and folksy and feminine, just like many of the songs on this show.
  • There’s a thing the kids on this show do where they talk about things that “always” happen on dates or after breakups or whatever, even though they’re all virgins who’ve had like two dates in their life. Like, Dawson says, “I’m really glad we’ve bypassed the ‘Will she kiss me?’ end of the evening drama” like he’s some kind of expert. Shut up, Dawson!
  • Jen shows up to interrupt Joey and Dawson’s date at the very place where Joey once obnoxiously third-wheeled on Jen and Dawson’s first date. The fact that she did almost the exact same thing in the pilot (and had way too much fun doing it) doesn’t prevent Joey from acting very put out over the whole thing.
  • Jen takes a page from Dawson’s abusive-stalker playbook by threatening “razor blades” if he goes out with Joey. This show really taught us some not-great stuff about love and boundaries. Wow.
  • Love Joey’s leaving-the-flower-on-the-seat move. It’s like, so melodramatic that it’s kind of bad-ass. – Janes
    Yellow flower in empty movie theater chair
  • Nineties moment: Kristy says her boyfriend “wasn’t too stoked” about her plans with Pacey.
  • Usually it seems clear that Pacey is a smart guy who just doesn’t really have a studious bone in his body. But Andie finds him at the store contemplating putting hydrogen peroxide in his hair to dye it back to brunette, and has to set him straight, which… why would you just buy a random highly acidic solution and put it in your hair without reading the label to figure out what color it was going to turn your precious tips?
  • In this scene, Pacey actually calls himself a “black sheep”!!! They make it too easy for us. (Shot!) – Janes
  • Joey calls her and Dawson the “will-they, won’t-they couple of the century,” but they’re not even the “will-they, won’t they couple” of this TV show. (It wasn’t D/J that made Wikipedia’s entry for supercouples, let’s just put it that way.) – Janes
  • Dawson says he and Joey are going to be “scorching.” While wearing a sweater vest, a polo shirt that would fit him and Pacey and Jack in it at the same time, the eternal necklace, and a giant fluffy coif. If that look doesn’t say scorching romance, I don’t know what does.
    Joey and Dawson walk down a pier strewn with twinkle lights. Joey wears a pink tank top and a camo-green skirt, Dawson wears a giant shirt, a sweater vest, large white chinos, and a necklace.

  • Dawson and Joey sit on the swings to finally have their second kiss, and it’s a little cute, except that their lip noises are so loud that the “Have A Little Faith In Me” cover playing in the background can’t drown them out.
  • It is pointed out that just like Joey’s cancelled semester abroad, their kiss was French. Ew. Take a shot!
    Joey and Dawson sit facing opposite ways on the swings and smile at each other.

Most cringeworthy moment: When Joey asks how Dawson feels about her not going to France, he says, “I’m relieved, I’m ecstatic, I’m psyched, I’m aroused,” like, um, THAT escalated quickly. Don’t just say you’re aroused in the middle of a regular conversation. This isn’t an OKCupid message thread! (Joey refers to this as them “talking dirty in the halls,” which… I thought talking dirty was supposed to be sexy in some way, not just a weird overshare about the state of your thingamajig, but OK.)

Highlight: After Andie convinces Kristy the Hot Cheerleader that Pacey has a made-up condition called “heart stripe,” the kind-hearted but soft-minded Kristy tells Pacey she admires his bravery for not wanting to be treated differently, and then declares that she really relates because, “I suffer from asthma.” Ha!! I laughed. I admit it.

Most wrongly used five-dollar word: Andie, who will later go to Harvard, thinks that the singular of “homo sapiens” is “homo sapien.” Really, Andie?

Drunkenness rating: Eight, including a completely gratuitous mention of “going at it like porn stars.”

Season 2, Episode 2 “Crossroads”

By Janes

Image: Joey looking at Dawson

This episode is a weird egg. It has all of our least favorite things: D/J lip smacking, inexplicable hair, and vintage Dawson entitlement behaviors that range from terrible to downright abusive.

But damn it if Joey isn’t a BAMF in this episode.

“Crossroads” is a unicorn, not because Dawson is awful, but because he’s so completely awful that people actually call him out on it. First, he forgets Pacey’s 16th birthday, which is generally shitty, and even shittier considering that he and Pacey had an epic plan–by Capeside standards, anyway–to take a road trip to Maine. (That sounds hopelessly boring now that I say it, but it’s still really sad!!)

And somehow, that’s not the worst thing he does this episode. Within just a few minutes of being a jerk to Pacey, Dawson makes the transition from whiny, inconsiderate asshole to genuinely controlling and scary asshole when he reads Joey’s diary without her permission.

Of course, the best-case scenario is that Joey immediately breaks up with him and never speaks to him again. But right underneath that is what actually happens: Joey viciously takes him down. While he says all the wrong things, she says literally all the right things. When she finds out he read the diary, she says “That is a huge violation of privacy. I could sue you for this!” (Yes.) When he complains that she called his movie “stupid and putrid” (hee), she says, “What I think about your quest to be Spielberg Jr. is not the point. You violated me, you betrayed me.” (YES.) When he whines that he already apologized (he didn’t) and that her opinion of his filmmaking abilities is a “big deal” to him, she refuses to back down: “The big deal isn’t what you read, the big deal is that you read it.” (YES!)

And finally, when he whinges that she was dishonest with him and that she should tell him “what else she’s hiding,” she snarks, “Why bother? I thought I’d just write it down in my journal and ask you over to study.” Burn.

Even when she eventually (ugh) forgives him, she never lets him off the hook. She tells him that she owes him no explanation for what she wrote, she only owes him the revelatory truth (read: obvious common sense) that journals are not completely accurate historical records, they’re just garbage cans for your feelings at that particular moment. Dawson responds like, “Huh, that makes sense, I never thought of that,” and we’re all like, “Yeah dude, that’s why they’re NOT MEANT TO BE READ.”

  • Joey and Dawson smack SO MUCH when they kiss. Gross!
  • [And, a TV commercial about sausages is playing over Dawson and Joey making out. WE GET IT, and also, gross. –Nerdy Spice]
  • Mitch’s ridiculous sex talk was met with cheers from health teachers everywhere: “You know, I recently saw a report on a statistical portrait of adolescent sex and contraception, and the sexually active teen who doesn’t use contraception stands a 90% chance of becoming pregnant within one year. And of that group less than half carry to term…” Brought to you by the good people at religious watchdog group Parents Television Council. (Shots!)
  • The “Reproduction and Repercussions” scene has some pretty corny parents-just-don’t-understand humor, but it’s actually a moment of stealth pathos for Joey’s character, since she doesn’t have a mom to go over these things with her (or a dad, for that matter).
  • In this shot, I know they’re going for “melancholy portrait of marital dissolution” but they land somewhere around “Jesus Christ Gail’s hair is big.”Image: Mitch looking at Gail on the porch
  • Jen makes a very clever meta joke about saying the word “hell” on network television: “Hell isn’t a swearword anymore, you can say it on network television.” Take a shot!
  • Mary Beth Peil beautifully sings “Rise, Shine, Give God the Glory” (yes, that’s the actual name of the song). Nerdy Spice and Keets saw her in Anastasia on Broadway, and she’s still, to this day, a gorgeous singer.
  • I love that Dawson is supposed to be newly self-centered because he’s so wrapped up in Joey. Have they ever talked about Pacey’s life for more than two minutes without Dawson bringing it back to himself?
  • (He is especially insufferable this episode, though. It’s his best friend’s birthday, for Christ’s sake!)
  • Dawson tells Joey she looked great in the movie: “Pretty and vulnerable.” Why do (creepy) men always seem to think “you look vulnerable” is a compliment? –Nerdy Spice
  • Pacey: “I’m sick and tired of being Dawson Leery’s sidekick. I’m going to get my own plotline!” I mean, thank God the writers have finally realized Pacey is infinitely more charming than Dawson and should get more screentime. But really, these meta-references are about as subtle as Gail’s hair. (Shot!)
  • Pacey compares himself to Molly Ringwald in 16 Candles. Yes, take a shot, but also–he’s seriously the perfect boy. They should teach him in anti-toxic masculinity classes.
  • I would say it’s sexist that Jen and Abby are both lying to get out of gym, but I definitely told my eighth-grade gym teacher that I had my period every single week without shame.
  • Oh hello, Joey’s diary that we’ve never seen before and never will again.
  • [I hate how Dawson has the nerve to assume that Joey snoops in his room too, because if he has no integrity, why would she? –Nerdy Spice]
  • Dawson smarms, “I already know everything there is to know about you.” Run, Joey, run.
  • Dawson tries to stealthily ask Joey about what she said in the journal… by repeating what she said in the journal word-for-word. And Pacey is supposed to be the dumb one?
  • Gale talks to Grams, who just a few months ago couldn’t hear the word “penis” without collapsing into paroxysms, about her attempts to seduce her husband.
  • “I’ve cleaned out the entire Marital Aid section at the Pleasure Palace and my Victoria’s Secret credit card..is maxed.” Why are they so gross??
  • Meanwhile, Mitch’s annoying and evangelical friend claims, “Statistically you’ve got an 85% chance of infidelity.” Oh my God, the bullshit.
  • Said annoying friend explains the concept of open marriage like he’s the first person to think of it–“You take the antiquated notion of fidelity and monogamy out of marriage”–and Mitch acts all shocked and appalled. Didn’t he grow up in the 70s??
  • We finally meet Jack for the first time! Remember when Jack was super dweeby and artsy (but still kind of comfortable with himself)? I miss those days. How much you wanna bet they gave up on that because the network (or Kerr Smith, for that matter) didn’t want him to be “too gay”?
  • Jen is now relegated to the role of perpetually drunk “slutty girl” who occasionally sexually harasses Dawson. I never thought I would miss the self-righteous atheist soapbox version of Jen, but here we are.
    Image: Jen kissing Dawson against his will
  • In a show that talks about how “a kiss always means something” literally 1000 times ad nauseam, Dawson and Jen totally kiss in this episode, and absolutely nothing comes of it. Not that it should–Jen was clearly kissing Dawson against his will–but it just goes to show how much the show considers Jen a non-entity, zero threat to the pure, transcendent, asexual love between Dawson and Joey.
  • Pacey finally lets Dawson have it and growls, “Your life? Is not that interesting.” SAY IT LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK.
  • The increased focus on Pacey means this episode is a veritable gold mine of black sheep references (each of which call for a shot): Pacey says his family “never makes a big deal of his birthday anyhow” (aw), that everybody in Capeside has “written [him] off as a man unworthy of their time or their concern” (aw!) and that Dawson has no idea “why his father really hates [him]” (AW!).
  • Jack asks Joey if she and Dawson have ever had a fight, and you think they’re going to pull a Lorelai and Rory circa season 2 and pretend they’ve never fought before, but instead Joey freely admits, “No, we fight literally all the time.” Respect.
  • Do Mitch and Gail smack even more than Dawson and Joey?? These are older, seasoned actors, there is no excuse for that.
  • We cut directly from Dawson’s parents discussing an open marriage (worst transition I’ve ever seen) to a super dramatic, ultra-sappy scene of Dawson and Joey slow-motion walking toward each other in the rain. No build-up, no context, no nothing. It looks like the trailer for a Nicholas Sparks movie.
  • Also, in true Edward-and-Bella-kissing fashion, it takes them literally three years to get to each other. With different lighting, it would be like a horror movie, where every time you look away Dawson gets a little bit closer until you can see all of his pores and every strand of greasy hair. RIDIC.

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  • Andie cements herself as Pacey’s new love interest by giving him a crappy birthday present (a magic 8 ball meant for Jack, who is at least ten years too old for it), and then losing it. It’s not cute.
  • Jen: “I want [Dawson] back.” Abby: “God, why?”

    Image: Abby looking aghast at Jen

    Her face is all of us

  • Dawson says to Pacey, “Everything is changing, but nothing will ever change so much that you won’t be my best friend.” Lol. Famous last words.

Highlight: Dawson: “You practically left [your diary] out for me to see.”

Joey: “Not unless it blew open or you suddenly developed X-ray vision!” Perfect.

Most cringeworthy moment: Dawson is such an asshat this episode that it’s difficult to pick, but it would probably be the moment when Joey is kind enough to forgive him for violating her privacy, and he still has the nerve to sulk about what she wrote: “Maybe all my dreams are bogus and maybe there will be people lined up from here to Hollywood someday to tell me that. I just never thought you’d be one of them.” Shut UP, Dawson.

Most wrongly used five-dollar word: Dawson calls the interaction with his parents “momentously awkward.” You’re looking for “monumentally awkward” there, bro. Or better yet, just “very” works sometimes, too.

Most 90s soundtrack moment: Definitely “Save Tonight” by Eagle-Eyed Cherry. Did that really only come out in 1997??

[There’s also a very cute song on in the background as Abby and Jen bond, and its lyrics only turn up ONE result on Google. ONE. How crazy is that? It’s Brooke Ramel’s “Make Tomorrow Up,” by the way. –Nerdy Spice]

Drunkenness level: 7. Respectable, but not as many as we needed.

Season 2, Episode 3 “Alternative Lifestyles”

By Nerdy Spice

Jen lies on the bed and stares at Dawson longingly while he sits on the ground nearby and stares down at something.
In this episode, everyone gets paired up in one of those school assignments that only happen on TV, the ones that are completely ineffective at teaching the material but are great at causing and highlighting conflicts between the characters. This one involves building a budget while role-playing being different types of families.

Everyone learns something: Two jocks overcome their homophobia enough to learn that it’s fun to plan a gay wedding, Pacey and Andie come to a truce after fighting over Andie’s absurdly high expectations over everything, Abby screws over her partner and then tries to make amends at the last minute, Jen tries to use the assignment to seduce Dawson and learns that it doesn’t pay to be creepy, and Joey learns how hard it is to be a single mother like Bessie. Everyone wins! Except Gail and Mitch, who try an open relationship and aren’t very good at it.

  • We open with Mitch taking the ladder down from outside Dawson’s room. It is super cute that he thinks that will stop Joey and Dawson from continuing to have their weird sexless sleepovers. Determined to skeeve his father (and us) out as much as possible, Dawson announces to his father that he’s in denial that Dawson is a “sexual being” now. “Sexual… being…?” Mitch repeats with a hilariously dubious tone. I feel ya, Mitch. I prefer to remain in denial that Dawson is a sexual being, too.
  • Do you think it would comfort Mitch to know that he’ll be dead by the time Dawson actually loses his precious flower, three long virginal years from now? Hmm, maybe not.
  • Of course, in the way of clueless TV parents trying to prevent sex, Mitch eventually catches Joey hiding in the closet. “Joey! What are you doing here?” Dawson says with fake surprise and laughs, in what is actually a very charming, funny little moment.
    Joey and Dawson give each other rueful smiles as Mitch stands in the doorway of Dawson's room.

  • Joey has to clean the Ice House in advance of an inspection, which Bessie only tells her when she’s already on her way to school. It actually does give you a sense of what it’s like to be in a somewhat struggling family, even if Joey now seems kind of whiny to our grown-up ears. Like, I never had to do stuff like that. If my parents got me to put away my laundry they would have like thrown a party. And Bessie’s just trying to keep her shit together and couldn’t remember to ask Joey ahead of time about this chore, and Joey feels all put-upon that Bessie can’t be perfectly organized and self-sufficient all the time, and it’s all just very hard and real for them for a minute there.
  • I literally thought Dawson might be on his way to a karate lesson when he leaves for school and passes his mom and dad, but he’s actually just wearing a white shirt that is the size of a robe:
    DC 203 karate

  • Dawson once again mentions his sex life in a total nonsequitur (shot!), and his mother asks, “What sex life?” Hee, burn!
  • Dawson crunches an apple as he leaves for school, which clearly represents Joey Potter’s Feminine Wiles of Temptation.
  • Once the ‘rents are left alone, Gail makes bitter mention of Mitch’s sexual impulses. She says she’ll do the open marriage thing if Mitch really needs to get even with her. Uh, I wouldn’t get too judgmental about this, cheater cheater pumpkin eater. [I mean, yeah, but also Mitch has been the worst. It’s never been more difficult to feel sorry for the injured party. – Janes]
  • Jen and Abby, reunited in friendship and deviltry, are walking around openly evaluating the hotness of their classmates like a couple frat brothers. “They’re so disgusting it’s almost erotic,” Abby says of some jocks. Could also be said of Abby herself, no? Then she says she can’t believe she’s friends with someone who “only has eyes for Dawson Leery.” Word.
  • Ugh, I’m sorry–since WHEN is Jen in love with Dawson? They literally just decided she was going to be the instigator, and from now on that determines her every motivation. (Don’t they have Abby for that?) My theory is that they’re punishing Michelle Williams this season for pulling a Felicity without their permission. –Janes
  • Andie catches up to Pacey and asks for his “notes” from the reading from last night because she forgot her book at school and then is SHOCKED when it turns out he didn’t do the reading. Pacey then shoots back by telling her she’s too rich to worry about ending up on the street. Why is the bickering so cute when Joey and Pacey do it and so weird and forced when Andie and Pacey do it? [Seriously, their so-called “witty banter” is even more boring than the difference between micro and macro economics. –Janes]
  • Time for the assignments to be handed out, which true to TV form involve pairing people up who have Shit To Work Out: Andie and Pacey are assigned to be a lower-middle-class couple who are a sales clerk and a bus driver. The jocks have to be a well-to-do same-sex couple planning their gay wedding and they are NOT stoked about this. Jen and Dawson are assigned to be a couple, too. Jen doesn’t even try to hide her glee at this wonderful opportunity to steal Dawson back. And Joey is a single mom. Just like Bessie!
  • While Dawson and Joey chat, Dawson tells her she has nothing to worry about from Jen, whose cleavage is out to HERE in this episode. About two seconds later, Abby and Jen start plotting how Jen will in fact give Joey something to worry about.
  • Abby urges Jen to grab Dawson by the dipstick. Gross. Then she refers to said dipstick as a “gherkin,” which is somewhat amusing and original. Also, two shots!
  • Over at the Ice House, Jack is solidly in character in his first iteration as the Endearingly Sensitive Klutz, as opposed to the later incarnation of Guy Who Takes Up Football And Internalized Homophobia And Becomes A Giant Tool: he thinks that the way to mop the floor is to dump the bucket of water onto the floor and then rub the mop in it. Hee.
  • Bessie offers to help Joey make her fake budget for a successful career woman and single mother, and Joey brutally turns it down, saying that Bessie must not know anything about finance since she can barely pay her bills (you know, because Bessie’s supporting her younger sister as well, maybe?). Ouch, that’s cold. Not out of character for a self-absorbed kid, but cold.
  • Gail gets a ride home from work from a guy, and Mitch immediately starts giving them the stinkeye. Then Gail proves his unreasonable reaction entirely correct when she emerges wearing a miniskirt Ally McBeal would find too short and she KISSES THE GUY ON THE LIPS when she hugs him good-bye, like, what? Mitch is clearly pissed, and like, he’s a Neanderthal and he sucks, but why is Gail kissing other men on the lips while wearing a suit that looks like she got it as a “slutty businesswoman” Halloween costume? I don’t know who to even feel sorry for in this shitshow of a marriage.
    Gail kisses a dude on the lips just outside his car in her backyard, wearing a skirt that hits about an inch and a half below her butt cheeks.

  • Mitch has obviously never read Dan Savage: he tells Gail that an open marriage means that they’re “taking away the rules” and that’s how he’ll trust Gail again. They agree that Thursday nights will be their open nights. Sounds like a rule to me, Mitch.
  • Watching Jen try to seduce Dawson is pretty funny and sad and sweet when she slides up next to him and pushes her boobs against his arm “accidentally” and bats her eyes at his non-jokes. But then it rapidly gets creepy, and Dawson extracts himself from the situation while Jen tries desperately to get him to make out with her.
  • While Pacey and Andie visit apartment listings trying to find one in their budget, Pacey goes on his weekly rant about how his family thinks he’s a black sheep and no one believes in him. Shot! They bicker over Pacey wanting a viper instead of getting an apartment big enough for their family, and then Pacey accuses Andie of being a rich kid who’s fascinated by living with an actual budget, and then Andie gets mad.
  • Joey visits a successful interior designer (who also happens to be a black woman, somewhat of a rarity on this show), and she helps Joey with the assignment, while Joey helps her by sharing her perspective on the design of a restaurant.
  • Abby is making her nerdy partner Kenny do the whole assignment while she keeps giving Jen advice on her quest to seduce Dawson whether he likes it or not. When she’s mean to the nerd, Jen just laughs because she’s become a big jerk. Abby says Joey is pretty in a fresh-faced, “J. Crew catalogue” kind of way. Shot for the meta joke! Anyway, since Jen’s first attempt didn’t work, Abby’s new, even worse idea is for Jen to spray perfume on her ladybits and show up to Dawson’s place naked.
  • Gail cooks dinner for Mitch on Thursday night, but he has a date. Awkward. But like, why does Gail make these choices? Gail leaves herself, but not before making a passive-aggressive comment to Dawson to tell Mitch that “Since it’s Thursday night, I’ve gone out.” Way to go, Gail. Always good to drag your kid into the middle of the bumpy beginnings of your experiment in non-monogamy.
  • Everyone learns a lesson, even the jocks: The ones who were paired up as a same-sex couple start fighting over planning their honeymoon and learn that they care about their gay marriage.
  • Joey arrives at the Ice House all psyched about all the advice she got from Laura, the successful career woman, and gushes about her to poor Bessie. Then Joey complains that all she ever does is run Bessie’s errands, so Bessie sends her home in well-earned irritation.
  • Pacey shows up to the Ice House and asks Jack if Andie’s on any medication, because she just blew up on him. Pacey protests that all he said was that Andie was a spoiled princess. Such classic male response. “She got angry at me for a completely deserved reason! She must be mentally ill!” (I mean, yeah, we all know it’s going to turn out to be true, but I still call sexism.) And the best part is, he’s saying all this to Jack WHILE JACK SCRUBS THE COUNTER at the restaurant where he works. Jack explains briefly that they’ve fallen on hard times.
  • Gail tragically spends her wild Thursday night going to a coffee shop and drinking coffee alone. She doesn’t even bring a book, because she’s Gail and she is only interested in flirting with men. Meanwhile, Mitch shows up at a bar alone and gives hopeful looks to women much too young for him, who rightfully ignore him. I can’t decide who’s more pathetic.
  • Jen’s final attempt at seducing Dawson is almost too uncomfortable to watch: she starts out by leaning over to him and squeezing her boobs, while Dawson tries manfully to look away from her perfume-drenched cleave. Then she offers him a massage, then invites herself to crash at his place, then derides his reasonable attempt to set boundaries with classic negs, like, “So we can’t hang out anymore, is that it?” Finally he calls her out, but she refuses to be embarrassed and just purses her lips at him and tells him he’s got options. Ew. She puts a good face on it but you can tell once she leaves that she’s sad (though not, I think, as ashamed as she really should be).
  • Meanwhile, both Mitch and Gail go to bed and act like they had so much fun on their date night. He claims he met some new people; she says she met a friend. She’s wearing one of her silk negligees, as usual. Omg, get some normal pajamas, Gail. This can’t be comfortable, and it’s obviously not working.
  • Bessie spends all night cleaning and comes home to tell Joey that she’s fired from the Ice House. But Joey, who seems to have spent the night doing some self-reflection, says she feels horrible about the things she said. Bessie says her problems aren’t Joey’s and she doesn’t want to rob Joey of her childhood. Joey says they’re a team and that she loves Bessie. It’s really sweet. Yay sisters!
    Joey and Bessie smile at each other on the porch.

  • In the conclusion of the assignment, Abby gets called out for not doing any of the work, and Andie hands in half the project but Pacey turns out to have completed the whole thing on his own, surprising her.
  • When he learns of Joey’s obsessive crush on the interior designer, Dawson teases her about wanting to climb the ladder of corporate America, which I know I should think is condescending, but … realistically, I’m an asshole who would make exactly that joke in exactly that tone, especially if I was too young to imagine anyone my age climbing a corporate anything. So I’m giving Dawson a pass. Once.
  • Pacey apologizes to Andie that he doesn’t know anything about her. She fobs him off, and he admits that he put their five-person family in a one-bedroom apartment so he could get a Viper: “The family that lays together stays together.” Hee!
  • As Pacey and Andie bicker cutely, Tamara stares at them creepily from her red convertible, because as everyone knows, if you’re fired for sexual harassment, it’s a great idea to come back to the school and loiter in full view of the students in an ostentatiously sexy car and giant sunglasses.
    Tamara is reflected in her car's side mirror, sitting in a red convertible.

Highlight:

Joey scores major points on her would-be rival, Jen, when Jen shows up uninvited to Dawson’s place just as he and Joey are making out on the porch. Jen has the nerve to act insulted and say, “If I’ve interrupted something, I can come back later.” Like, yes, you have, duh? Joey plays this EXCELLENTLY; she plants one more kiss on Dawson, leaves with total insouciance to remind Jen that she’s not enough of a threat to make Joey jealous, and then compliments her dress. Jen: “Thanks, I borrowed it.” Joey, cuttingly: “I bet.” BURN. It was so good I immediately scanned backwards to watch it again.

Most cringeworthy moment:

Oh god, it’s SO hard to pick. I cringe so hard when Jen tries to seduce Dawson by fake-laughing at his non-jokes and pursing her lips at him like she’s Tamara or something. But then again, Dawson proudly insisting to his parents that he’s a sexual being over and over again is gross in an incestuous kind of way, so I think that wins.

Most 90s soundtrack moment: Another ditty from our favorite random 90s Swedish ska band, Chickenpox: “Anything You Say,” which plays at the beginning.

Drunkenness score:

Five. It would have been more, except instead of using euphemisms Dawson just kept saying “sexual being” out loud.


Previous installment here.

Next installment here.

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