Season 2, Episode 7: “The All-Nighter”
By Nerdy Spice
This is one of the more memorably fun episodes of season 2. The gang have a surprise test one day that’s worth much of their grade, and they spend all night cramming at the house of the latest Hunky Dude Who Is Going To Mistreat Jen (it’s a big club; already this season we’ve got Vincent the Sexually Aggressive Sailor, and now Chris the Study Group Scumbag, and later this season we’ll have Ty the Church-Going Creeper).
Instead of cramming, they mostly just waste their time taking an absurdly thorough purity test at Andie’s behest. Why is Andie so obsessed with this purity test? Isn’t Andie supposed to be, I don’t know… smart? Andie’s convinced that Pacey doesn’t want to take the test because he’s embarrassed that he’s not that experienced, so then they fight because Andie judges Pacey for being a statutory rape victim, like cool story, Andie, you’re still the worst. For their part, Dawson and Joey fight about how they were in love one time. Meanwhile, Jen sleeps with Chris only to get ditched the next day. Everyone falls asleep at Chris’s house—Pacey on the pool table, of course, and Jen in bed with Chris, of course—and wakes up at 6am, so they cram for a couple panicked hours and rush to the test only to find out that it’s been postponed. How very Beckettsian.
- We open on movie night, with Dawson in the middle of one of his tiresome enthusiasms. This time it’s the claim that Shakespeare has already “conquered” all storylines in existence. They’re watching a tragedy, which Dawson claims is the end-all be-all of everything. Take a shot, folks, for the first on-the-nose literary reference of the night.
- But, twist! It’s Gail hanging on his bed with him, not Joey. She’s stuffing her face with Twizzlers and weeping openly at the movie, which is cute.
- Gail encourages Dawson to wallow over his breakup with Joey, much as Lorelai would do just a few years later with Rory. She suggests country music and bitter, bad poetry; he suggests watching the last scene of Field of Dreams over and over. I just can’t believe he named a non-Spielberg movie. What progress!
- Speaking of progress, we as a society have definitely progressed from the late nineties, when Jen is absolutely charmed by receiving a crumpled paper airplane during class from Chris, instructing her to smile. [Yeah, Chris would not get away with this in 2018 –Janes]
- Joey claims it’s not fair that Dawson won’t talk to her after she asked for space. Personally, I think she should be grateful for the respite. And stop yelling at him for the ONE TIME he actually respected her boundaries.
- Chris finds Jen stretching before gym class, which is a sort of unusual place to find a Dawson’s character. They have some of that unnecessarily euphemism-strewn conversation that, on this show, and possibly also in real-life high schools but I wouldn’t know since no one ever tried it with me, passes for flirting. When Dawson comes up to creepily shame Jen for this, she says Chris was “just being cute.” Oh, ew. He definitely was not.
- Oh, Jason Behr. Roswell totally should have been my jam (aliens, teen drama, Shiri Appleby–what’s not to love?) but I couldn’t handle watching a leading man with even fewer facial expressions than James van der Beek. –Janes
- Jen sees Chris hitting on another blonde thirty seconds after parting from her. What a charmer.
- There’s a big official cram session, but when that’s cancelled, everyone ends up at Chris’s house, since he’s all rich and stuff. Or, in Pacey’s words, “His family is totally loaded. They’ve got a satellite dish!” SO nineties.
- I love that every assignment on every teen TV show is worth 30-50% of a student’s grade. In high school. That definitely never happens until college, if that. –Janes
- Andie and Pacey haven’t mastered their intra-couple communication, so they each invite their favorite half of the warring ex-couple, Dawson and Joey. Oops. This may be unfair, but I blame Andie.
- Chris gives everyone a ride to his fancy house and points them to the jacuzzi, sauna, TV, and kitchen. Andie, who is still under the impression that she’s in “mega-control,” as she puts it, asks for high-backed chairs and proper lighting. Everyone gives her the “shut up, nerd” look.
- She finds Pacey celebrating the “200 channels from all over the world” provided by Chris’s very impressive satellite dish. “It’s a couch potato’s dream,” he gloats. Andie says he’s “undermining” her, like they’re sitcom parents raising the four horny teenagers.
- Pacey says he “performs well under pressure” because he’s an expert at “cramming.” Double dirtiness! Take a shot! –Janes
- Andie comes up with a deranged study schedule to cover the entire courseload by midnight. She is much more excited than anyone else. Chris’s suggestion of pizza, though, meets with a much better reception. Jen and her oddly placed hairclips are also very impressed by Chris whipping out a bottle of wine and explaining that it’s from Napa.
- Jen’s trademark move is to do everything in her power to remind everyone to sexually objectify her while deep down hoping desperately that they’ll resist the temptation and view her as an actual human being. Here, she remarks in a complete non-sequitur that she likes getting to know Chris “without sexual overtones,” which is obviously going to have the sole effect of reminding him of sexual overtones. (One shot!) He says that reputation doesn’t mean anything—referring not only to hers but to his, which I gather we’re supposed to infer is spotty as well.
- Later that night, Andie is still trying desperately to maintain control of a study quiz while everyone sips wine, but Chris is just reciting Romantic poetry at Jen, Pacey devolves to Seuss (hee!), and Dawson shoots Joey the level, icy glares of the thwarted misogynist.
- Two shots, for a nonsensical literary reference! There’s some drama around Dawson reciting “Beauty is truth, truth beauty” AT Joey like it’s her fault he thinks she’s pretty.
- Someone finds the purity test, and everyone is pretty easy to convince, so Andie takes charge to try to make it go faster, turning the whole thing into a round-robin quiz.
- There is so much cringe-worthy stuff while they take the purity quiz that I won’t bother to repeat it all, but the first question is “Have you ever been intimately aroused by a relative,” like, is there a way to be non-intimately aroused by a relative?
- The last question is, “have you ever been in love?” Joey gets all squirrely over this one, while Dawson stares smugly at her. Gross. Then when he follows her into the kitchen, she gets all mad and lectures him that she asked for time.
- Joey storming off leaves poor Dawson alone with Chris’s much-younger sister, who corners Dawson and claims that “people like you and me can say everything with a look.” Poor Dawson looks around frantically hoping for rescue. It is pretty funny.
- Back in the main room, Pacey has refused to hand in his quiz, so Chris gets super jerky about it and claims it must be about question 16, “Have you ever had sex with someone twice your age.” Andie thinks that’s a joke until she sees Pacey’s face. “So it’s true,” Chris says, “Pacey laid the pipe with Miss Jacobs.” (Aaaand a shot for one of the most unpleasant sexual euphemisms this show has yet come up with, which is saying something.) Andie gets all mad at him for claiming he was “embarrassingly pure.” You know, maybe Andie and Dawson should’ve hooked up. They both like to take a lot of ownership over other people’s sexual choices.
- Dawson finds Chris outside pouring two glasses of wine, and Chris asks how well he’s doing “closing the deal” with Jen Lindley. Dawson protests that she’s all vulnerable now. Chris says they won’t do anything she’s not “looking forward to.” Gross.
- Um… so Google tells me Jason Behr is 6 feet and James van der Beek is 6’1–a one-inch difference. Someone’s lying. –Janes.
- Upstairs, Jen claims to be looking forward to “a little hot tub temptation,” sifting through bathing suits while Joey ostentatiously studies on the couch. She tries to console Joey over Dawson, and when Joey pushes her away, she says maybe Joey’s just a bitch. Fair question, Jen.
- [Although, to be fair, when Jen’s like, “Boo-hoo, why won’t Joey believe me that I’m genuinely sorry she broke up with Dawson?”, I’m like, I don’t know, dude, maybe because you were openly hitting on him like, four episodes ago? –Janes]
- Joey, for her part, claims she’s tired of talking. “Don’t you just want to have something left to just experience?” You’re on the wrong show for that, lady.
- Pacey, finding an angry Andie out on Chris’s swingset, has a genuine moment of insight when he points out that they are all constantly talking about sex and taking dumb purity tests because they are in fact sexual creatures. But Andie is being a total jerkwad, telling Pacey that what he did with Miss Jacobs wasn’t “an admirable event.” Pacey protests that he can’t change it, and that she’ll have to accept it. Andie, in her oh-so-nineties platform sneakers, just looks away.
- Dawson tries to stop Jen on her way to the hot tub to warn her about Chris’s intentions. “He’s a guy. He’s 16 and he seems to find me attractive, so yes, I would assume he’s got some sort of agenda,” she agrees. Dawson is a little shocked, and she points out that maybe she has a plan of her own. Hooray feminism. Kind of.
- Dawson doesn’t have long to be flummoxed by the revelation that Jen has a sex drive before he’s confronted by the little baby nerd, who’s stolen both his purity test and Joey’s. Apparently Joey “puts little smiley faces in her o’s.” Um, seriously?! That seems more like an Andie thing.
- Dawson has to pay to creep on Joey’s purity test with a kiss extorted by Baby Nerd. It’s a whole big circle of creepiness and boundary-crossing. Maybe this little girl really is Dawson’s future soulmate.
- Jen and Chris cuddle up in the hot tub, and she asks what if she doesn’t want to mess around. He takes it in stride, so she calls him … Christopher Robin? Two shots for nonsensical literary references.
- Dawson asks Pacey why didn’t lie on the test, (I mean, right? If only so that Tamara doesn’t go to jail?) and Pacey says he didn’t want to tell Andie a lie.
- Dawson, advised to “try harder” by Pacey, get on Joey’s case about how she apparently wrote that she’d been in love twice. She’s obviously pissed that he looked at her test, so he—this is really rich—claims that he’s “learned my lesson about invading your privacy” but it’s OK, because Chris’s sister told him. Joey gives this the massive eyeroll that it deserves.
- When Baby Nerd butts in, Dawson yells at the little girl not to be eager to fall in love, which just makes her and Joey look at him like he’s a monster. Poor, misunderstood Dawson. Later Joey finds Baby Nerd and tells her that growing up is hard, but sometimes it’s perfect. Take a shot! Joey loves talking about growing up!
- Jen said she had an agenda, but it obviously wasn’t quite the same as Chris’s; when they wake up, she’s ready to cuddle but he’s all unfriendly, telling Jen thank you for a fun night.
- Pacey takes charge in the morning, condensing Andie’s plan down to three hours and forty-five minutes. Andie starts whining and screeching, but Pacey promises that they’re “in the hands of a professional crammer.”
- They end up out at the pool with shades on, reciting Hamlet, which eventually leads to everyone jumping into the pool to relieve their tension.
- Andie finally apologizes to Pacey and says she was shocked by the idea that he has so much experience. They agree that they love to hate each other and kiss, still dripping from the jump in the pool. It’s almost cute, if only because Andie has an adorable sprinkling of freckles that I think they usually cover up with makeup.
- Dawson finds Joey doing the laundry in Chris’s laundry room that is the size of my bedroom. Dawson says, “Can we talk?” followed IMMEDIATELY by “Do me a favor and don’t say anything.” OK, then. He says that he wants to regret kissing her but he’s grateful for what that brought into his life. She explains that the two times she fell in love on the test were both with him, because he became a new person to her after they kissed, and that her feelings for him are still the same. Dawson promises her “No hostility, no underhanded comments, just space.” UM, I’M SO SURE.
- Everyone is all smiles getting into Chris’s fancy car to go to the test, only to find that their sick teacher has postponed the test. So, at Pacey’s behest, they take a nap out on the football field. It’s pretty cute.
Everyone jumping into the pool, obvs! A classic moment.
Most cringeworthy moment:
“Laid the pipe”. Ew.
Most wrongly used five-dollar word:
More meta-movie commentary (two shots!) occurs when Baby Nerd observes Dawson and Joey fighting about him peeking in her journal for the umpteenth time. She tells Dawson the scene she witnessed was “Very emotional. Oscar-nominating. Really.” (Uh… scenes can’t be Oscar-nominating. They can be Oscar-worthy. Or Oscar-bait. But only Academy members can be Oscar-nominating.)
Most 90s soundtrack moment:
“Who Needs Sleep?” by Barenaked Ladies is a great candidate, but the winner is most definitely “You” by Switchfoot, which is also featured on the A Walk to Remember soundtrack.
Season 2, Episode 8: “The Reluctant Hero”
Oh, god–there’s an episode called “The Reluctant Hero” referring to Dawson. I don’t even have to re-watch it to know that we’re going to take so, so many shots.
The title says it all. Dawson talks about how he’s a hero, talks about it some more, performs one act of kindness–saving Jen from a potential date rape (the show doesn’t treat it as such, but she’s clearly about to pass out, can barely walk, and then promptly throws up three seconds later)–and spends the rest of the episode whining about how he doesn’t want to take care of everyone anymore. (Which, yes, amounts to a grand total of five shots over the course of the episode–and I’m being somewhat conservative.) Like, simmer down, dude–you did one decent thing that literally any decent person would do, no one’s asking for a repeat performance.
And let’s unpack that “decent thing.” Because usually, I would be all too willing to give an obnoxious character snark-free credit for being a good bystander and saving his friend from sexual violence. But there are two problems with his “heroic” act: A) He doesn’t even understand that Jen was nearly raped, he just thinks he’s “saving” her from incipient sluttiness. [That might be a symptom of the less enlightened times, though. –Nerdy Spice] B) He takes the opportunity to very nastily slut-shame her and self-righteously proclaim that he’s superior to her because he doesn’t drink. [Yeahhh, that one can’t be blamed on the times. –Nerdy Spice] What a hero.
For the record, it was a common (and pretty awful) trope in 90s teen melodramas to write a main character’s attempted rape for the sole purpose of letting their love interest heroically save them. In One Tree Hill, Peyton’s attempted rape is used solely to paint Lucas as her knight in shining armor and further their “epic” love story. Even a great show like Friday Night Lights can fall prey to this cliche: pretty much everything terrible about the much-maligned second season is centered around Tyra’s almost-rape and Landry’s gross savior complex.
Both of those shows used a serious, traumatic event to condescendingly paint a man as a hero and a woman as a helpless victim, which is pretty bad. But this episode is somehow even worse: not only does it use Jen’s trauma to paint Dawson as a “reluctant hero,” but it doesn’t even allow Jen to be a victim. Instead, she just gets to be the sloppy, “slutty” joke, who stumbles out of her would-be rape with her top half-open, starts wandering the wrong way home, and then literally throws up on a white picket fence. (Which, in case that symbol was a little too subtle for you, is hammered home in Jen’s sad dialogue: “Bad girl throws up on the white picket fence.”) This episode marks a new phase in Jen’s increasingly dehumanizing arc: from the unattainable girl-next-door to the rabble-rousing homewrecker to the sad sack who has sad sex (read: usually non-consensual sex). This is usually the point in the re-watch where I start fast-forwarding through a lot of Jen’s plotlines, because they’re just too painful to watch.
Here are my notes for the episode, and I apologize in advance for all of the all-caps:
- Oh, here we go. We start right off the bat with Pacey randomly comparing Dawson to Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and calling him “the last of a dying breed.” Take a shot!
- “You take in stray dogs. You help old women across the street. You just say no.” Yeah, okay, except we’ve seen Dawson do NONE OF THOSE THINGS. (Take another shot.)
- Oh, Dawson. Jen crawls into your window drunk a few times and she’s “spiraling”? He’s going to be that annoying kid in college who sees someone smoking pot and then starts whispering about their “drug problem.”
- Michelle Williams is definitely still honing her acting skills in these early seasons, but she does a fabulous “Drunk person letting air and a little spit out of her mouth before realizing she’s not in fact going to vomit.” We’ve all been there, Jen. – Nerdy Spice
- Pacey has a GPA of 1.7. How do you even do that? – Nerdy Spice
- LOL at the guidance counselor telling Pacey that “most people with your academic record can’t walk upright” and that he can look forward to a “life of leisure–until welfare reform kicks in, that is.” [Oh, a welfare reform joke. That’s so nineties! – Nerdy Spice]
- Andie rails against the guidance counselor for condescending to Pacey, and then says he is “in desperate need of some guidance” and “needs to be rescued, not ridiculed.” Really, Andie??
- Andie tells Pacey, in immediate succession, “Anyone can change their fate. Heroes are made, not born.” That’s… some well-worn material right there. – Nerdy Spice
- Chris grossly starts massaging Jen’s shoulders in the cafeteria and inexplicably spells out the word “P-A-R-Tee” in normal conversation. I hate him.
- Dawson’s reaction to that line is quite expressive. James van der Beek can be quite funny—I’m glad he eventually found his calling in comedies. – Nerdy Spice
- I didn’t think I could hate someone more than Chris in this moment, but then Dawson’s like: “Hold my beer” and responds to Jen’s perfectly nice invitation to a party by snotting about her “useless drunk oblivion.” Shut up, Dawson.
- And then when Jen calls him out for judging her, he actually has the nerve to gaslight her and say, “I didn’t say a word, Jen.” SHUT UP, DAWSON.
- Dawson re: his script: “I’m a sucker for happy endings.” THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID. – Nerdy Spice
- Dawson gives Joey some of their prize money for art classes, which is surprisingly, well, classy of him. Pun intended. – Nerdy Spice
- And then this happens: “All I ever do is respect other people’s wishes, okay?? I’m sick of it. It makes everybody else feel better, and it makes me feel like hell.” A) Dawson *never* just “respects other people’s wishes” without whining about it constantly, B) If you’re doing it because it’s supposed to make you feel good, then you’re not being selfless. C) Take a shot.
- Jen says he can come out with her if he can keep an open mind and not judge. He says, “I can do that. Maybe. To some degree.” Heh. At least he’s realistic.
- Okay, I’m loathe to shame Jen for anything sexual in this episode, but–she says Dawson is “way too far gone as a rebound case for [her] to be remotely interested.” But it was fine when he was actually with Joey??
- I love this version of Jack–the one who’s nerdy, who knows random things but has no common sense, who is obsessed with lightning and watches the Weather Channel. It’s like when he starts gelling his hair his IQ immediately goes down 20 points.
- Pacey expresses a universal truth about highlighting textbooks: “How do you know what’s important? I mean, if it’s not important, why write it down?” It’s a good question! Those textbooks are stripped down to the basics already—it was always really weird and hard to figure out what the hell I was supposed to highlight! – Nerdy Spice
- The lady at the supermarket where Andie’s mom wanders in says, “If you [kids] can’t keep her out of here…” like she’s a dog. Nice.
- I think one of my least favorite parts about Andie’s-mentally-ill-mother storyline is that they never specify what kind of illness she has. Is she schizophrenic? Experiencing psychotic symptoms brought on by grief? They don’t even bother using the non-medical catch-all “nervous breakdown”–a vague and vaguely sexist term in itself. They all just sort of accept that she’s generally “crazy,” which is–not great.
- Andie tells Pacey he can be whatever he wants, which is something he did really need to hear. If only he could hear it from someone with a less annoying voice. – Nerdy Spice
- The epitome of Dawson’s character: Dawson has just called Jen “disgusting” for almost getting date-raped, to which Jen responds sadly that she just doesn’t have Dawson’s “sense of hope,” and that “if everybody did, he wouldn’t be so special.” Ewww.
- In spite of the general suckiness of this episode, I still get sentimental at the end when Joey crawls into Dawson’s bedroom, finds him gone, and smiles nostalgically at one of his stuffed animals before climbing back out the window. Such is the power of montages and Goo Goo Dolls.
On their first real date, Jack and Joey don’t seem like “true love,” and the writing is all the better for it. They’re just kids hanging out in the park (lake??), slurping soft drinks and engaging in (only mildly) witty banter. It’s all cute and teenager-y. Plus, bonus points (and a shot) for making fun of Dawson’s “John Wayne” complex.
Most cringeworthy moment:
Aside from pretty much all of the Dawson/Jen stuff, Andie characterizes Pacey’s academic situation as being “up crapola creek without a paddle.” Let’s never talk about it again.
Most wrongly used five-dollar word:
Dawson thinks it’s pronounced “macinations.” Enough said.
Most 90s soundtrack moment:
See above: Acoustic #3 by the Goo Goo Dolls. A classic.
Eight shots, including one for Pacey’s complaints about being a “joke,” and a bonus shot for a vaguely offensive Sybil reference.
2×09 “The Election”
By Nerdy Spice
In this episode, Andie decides to run for class president. She’s pitted against the queen of mean girls, Abby Morgan, and a team of red-cheeked nerds. Abby taunts Joey until the latter joins Andie’s campaign out of sheer annoyance, and finally reveals to the whole school that Andie has a mother with psychological problems. Andie is extremely distraught over this, which leads to another reveal–that she too has psychological health issues. Because of this, she’s too anxious and upset to make her final election speech, but Pacey saves the day by tricking Abby into acting super evil on the PA to the whole school, so the nerds win. Unfortunately, Andie’s unhappiness isn’t so easily solved.
Meanwhile, Jen decides to be Dawson’s “regression sponsor,” which means peer pressuring him into cutting class, shoplifting, and skinny-dipping. But when Dawson finds out his parents really are getting divorced, Jen is there for him.
I love a good episode about a school election. Community did a great job with this trope (I still miss you, Starburns), and who could forget Paris Gellar’s deranged strategy to win the school presidency by threatening a bunch of band geeks in Gilmore Girls? This episode is a classic, with all the major ingredients: pitting a main character against the antagonist in a battle between two opposing moralities, a Speechifyin’ Montage where everyone states their platforms and the popular people get applause for the dumbest shit, and finally eking out a little bit of remorse when one of the parties inevitably Goes Too Far. There are some tropes that are tropes for a reason, and this one is fun!
- Why is Jen such a jerk? She finishes reading Dawson’s script and says aggressively, “What do you want me to say?” Like he’s badgering her for some undisclosed reason, instead of very reasonably expecting, you know, feedback on the thing she just read. And when he asks for the truth she asks if he wants “the truth truth, or what Dawson wants to hear truth.” Uh, ouch. Never ask Jen Lindley to read your draft, fellow writers.
- When Dawson does ask for the truth, she tells him his story about teens in a small town is naive. Take a shot for that meta-commentary.
- Then she takes it all back by saying it’s “funny and it’s timely and it’s smart and it’s well-written, it’s just lacking relevance for today’s society.” Like…I’m so curious as to what Jen thinks the word “timely” means.
- Classic neg: Jen tells Dawson he isn’t capturing the raw darkness of adolescence. Dawson insists that “I am raw and dark.” Wow, this episode is full of jokes already. Jen, like a creepy frat brother trying to get in a freshman’s pants, tells him to “loosen up.” That’s right; the gross pickup artists of the early aughts may think they invented this oh-so-obvious tactic, but Jen Lindley got there first.
- I like this scene where Andie rushes up to Joey in the morning at school to tell her about the election idea, all perky and lispy and excited, and Joey just gives her this hilarious face like, “I CANNOT handle you until at least noon.” “It’s a little early for epiphanies, Andie,” is what she actually says.
- Also “Cheer down, it’s 7:00am.” I’m going to use that one from now on. – Janes
- “Wherever you go, Pacey, the slacker vote inevitably follows,” Abby says as she hands him her rival campaign poster. The rival poles of morality are set: Andie’s chipper hard-working optimism versus Abbie’s slackerdom. All the tropes are in place!
- “Oh, just living the same old painless, fluff-filled irrelevant existence in a dull, no-edge darklessness,” Dawson says to Jen when she asks how he’s doing. Heh! Dawson made an actual joke! Jen suggests they cut class, but Dawson tricks her by saying he’ll follow her out and then swings into the classroom. For some reason he can take Jen’s insults and criticisms with a smile, but one hint that he’s not the center of Joey’s universe and it’s Tantrum City. Which is why these “We’re soulmates no matter what” relationships are often so far from cute or romantic.
- I want to be on Gail’s side because Mitch is such a dink, but this show makes it so tough. When we next see her she’s called Mitch over to fix their dishwasher because, you know, it’s a man’s job and she can’t be expected to do it. (Which of course leads to him getting wet, taking off his shirt, and making out with her in the kitchen.) I just can’t believe she cheated on this guy, let him move out of the house they shared, and then made him come back to fix her shit for free!
- At the Ice House, Joey and Jack are playing a very cute coworker game where the first person to knock over their stack of ketchup tubs has to clean the deep fryer.
- Abby shows up and demands a menu, “preferably without yesterday’s special rotting on them,” and Joey gives her a hilariously dirty look while wiping the menu off with her sleeve.
- Predictably yet enjoyably, Abby shows up and her taunting (which is completely over the top and much more shrill than a popular girl would bother being towards a non-popular one) leads to Joey first dumping a bucket of ice water over her head and then declaring she’s “in” (i.e., in the race for student government).
- Pacey gives Andie advice from a book on the Clinton campaign. No, not that one. Sigh.
- Joey shows up to the campaign meeting all upset about Abby’s mudslinging. She’s wearing an utterly adorable brown hat in a nubby knit. [Picture??]
- Andie protests that reacting to the mudslinging is not a good message to send to their “voting constituents.” As usual the show tries to make people sound smart by tossing a few extra big words in each sentence, even if that results in redundancy (at best) and nonsense (at a more frequent worst).
- Jen and Dawson are at the Urban Decay station at some kind of makeup store. She declares herself his “regression sponsor,” and by “regression” she means shoplifting. He pretends to put it in his pocket and secretly returns it to the shelf. Heh. I totally sympathize with Dawson. I did the same thing with an Adderall once—just palmed it and claimed I’d swallowed it so that people would stop calling me a square. (Also, did they have some kind of sponsorship deal for Urban Decay Shoplifters United? Abby already shoplifted from this exact display earlier this season.)
- Jen does make a good point though, when she says that Dawson’s supposed maturity (which, when used about a teenager, is often another word for “not cool enough to be invited to the good parties”) is going to trap him. “You’re going to wake up one morning and you’re gonna realize that the reason you’re not growing is because you never allowed for the process.”
- Abby sums up the race: “Us, the geeks, or Little Miss Perky and the convict’s daughter?” Low blow for Joey, but honestly, Andie’s wardrobe of appliqued cardigans, plaid skirts, and heart-shaped barrettes is an irresistible target. Girl, you are sixteen. Time to stop getting your accessories from the Disney store.
- Abby outs Andie’s mom’s mental health issues. Even she has the grace to look embarrassed when Andie bursts into tears and eventually leaves the stage.
- Joey apologizes for grilling Jack about his family when she hears Abby’s oppo research. Jack just yells at her, which… should probably make Joey weak at the knees, since she seems to have a thing for being blamed for her boyfriends’ emotional pain.
- Pacey is taking his role as Andie’s campaign manager so seriously that he has his shirt tucked in! Wow. But then for some reason he leaves his Clinton book in the sink while he tries to convince Andie to come out. “Everybody comes from a dysfunctional family. It’s the nineties. The only happy families are in TV syndication,” Pacey declares. Meta-commentary shot!
- Andie throws the Clinton book at the window. Yikes. (Bikes!) On TV, you know someone’s having a nervous breakdown when they let their eyeliner run and when they throw shit at walls. Andie’s two for two.
- Dawson thinks there’s a reconciliation happening, but Mitch corrects him that it was “a slip. A sex slip.” Like, ohhhh, I thought it was a croquet slip, thanks for clarifying.
- Dawson shows up at Jen’s and declares that he has “a perception disorder.” Are these people aware that you can’t just make up disorders? “You are too smart for your own good,” Jen tells him, like, let’s take a shot for that completely unjustified praise.
- Jen starts totally pawing Dawson as he finally says he wants a regression sponsor. Creepy. Then she slams the bedroom door closed. Get out now, Dawson. Don’t reward this PUA behavior!
- Jack tells her that her highs and lows are worrying him, and that she should go back on her medication, which is how we get confirmation that Andie too has mental health issues. But she says she’s fine. Poor Jack looks genuinely pained, and you get a sense in this lingering closeup of just how alone he really is. Not that that makes it OK that he yelled at Joey like that, but.
- Jen and Dawson have decided to “regress” by TPing someone’s house. Then she gets him to go skinny dipping. His face when he realizes she’s taken her clothes off is pretty funny: total delight and disbelief, as you would expect from a kid that age.
- “Dawson, is that a tree branch, or are you just happy to see me?” Jen says. Ewww!! And, shot!
- Dawson and Jen have a conversation about dreams that is super inappropriate, including the phrase “your blanket in a little pup tent” (shot! And, vom!). Dawson understandably takes the hint and kisses her, but Jen pulls back and says she wants to be his friend. WHAT? Then why all the negging and pawing at him? [Yeah… usually I would say men shouldn’t assume anything, but Jen really is the worst. – Janes]
- When it’s time for the final speeches, Abby dresses up like a deranged blonde robot doll, her hair in tight curls and her face painted with eight pounds of makeup. Unclear what’s happening here.
- Joey is super supportive and sweet towards Andie, who can’t manage to make her final speech. Meanwhile, Pacey gets to save the day by tricking Abby into admitting her evil plan to take over the school while she’s still on the intercom. His white knight complex is going to get old fast, but I guess this is part of the whole arc where Pacey learns he’s not actually a hot mess, so… I’ll allow it. Also, ya know, it’s Pacey. He can pretty much do whatever he wants in our book.
- When Dawson arrives home from school, his mom has just mopped the floor of the kitchen where she was recently banging Mitch. I really hate to think about what might have gotten on the floor to motivate this mopping.
- But then Mitch serves Gail with divorce papers. That’s kind of a jerk move, given everything that just happened, so I’m back on Gail’s side.
- Jack comes to walk Joey home from work, and she forgives him quite easily. Jack’s excuse for being so shut off is that the other men in his family are gone, so his sister and mom depend on him. Which, I call sexism. Andie may have mental health issues but she doesn’t seem to rely on Jack for anything, so this is just random man-of-the-house nonsense. In response, Joey plays the dead mom card. Shot!
- On the phone with Pacey, Andie cries in the mirror and tells Pacey she’s fine while openly sobbing into the phone—and taking her pills.
- Dawson shows up at Jen’s place where she’s… doing homework… while sitting on the floor… in the kitchen? What? Who does that? Then he confuses me even further by saying, “All this perception and psycho babble has left me with quite a dilemma.” Does he even speak English? He asks whether he should have a self-aware, adult reaction to his parents’ divorce or feel the hurt and shock that a kid would. You know what, Dawson, I would freaking LOVE to see you try to have a self-aware, adult reaction to anything. You’ve never even had a self-aware reaction to a stubbed toe. But then they share a reasonably sweet hug.
I’m not so much a fan of Season 2’s White Knight Pacey, but I love when he calls out Abby on the PA system and gives the nerds a high-five on the way out, saying, “School’s yours, pal.” What a fun moment!
Most cringe-worthy moment:
Tough to pick amongst all the disgusting euphemisms used in this episode, but let’s go for the slightly incestuous one: Dawson is like, weirdly happy about having witnessed his parents having sex. “Not the main attraction, just the previews,” he clarifies. Gross! Take a shot for that euphemism.
Most wrongly-used five-dollar word:
Also really hard to pick, but in the end I had to go for Jen’s mystifying use of the word “timely” to describe something she claims in the same sentence is not relevant to today’s society.
Most 90s soundtrack moment:
There’s more Chumbawumba and, of course, more Switchfoot, all the standbys. But the winner has to be “You Look So Fine” by Garbage. Love Shirley Manson to death.
Seven, mostly for incredibly gross euphemisms. Pup tent?!!! Come on, people.
Previous installment here.