Season 2, Episode 10 “High-Risk Behavior”
The first part of a classic two-parter, “High-Risk Behavior” is the kind of episode that branded this show as “scandalous” and “sex-obsessed” in the 90s, but looks downright quaint in the post-Gossip Girl world. At the center of the episode we have the teen soap contrivance to end all teen soap contrivances: Jack ruins Joey’s figure drawing with his adorable clumsiness, and Joey just has to draw him in the nude.
You know where this is going, right? They talk about sex while he’s naked, he gets an erection, and they make out (although to be fair, he puts his clothes on first). If that sounds like the premise for a softcore porno, that’s because it is, and the dialogue is very nearly at that level of cheesiness. But then once they get their clothes on, they have a much more real and touching moment where they’re not softcore porn stars, they’re just two inexperienced and scared kids who are curious about sex. It’s like that moment in season four when Joey and Pacey decide to “be scared together,” except they actually make themselves vulnerable instead of just talking about it.
Side note: It was an interesting choice on the writers’ part to write their relationship like this; maybe it was just for ratings or because they hadn’t broken the gay news to the network yet, but having their relationship be primarily based on sexual attraction paints a much more complex picture of sexuality (and discovering your sexuality) than most would dare to put on TV at the time. Jack is clearly sexually attracted to Joey, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t gay. That was a pretty progressive concept in the 90s.
Meanwhile, Dawson has written a weirdly puritanical teen romance, and everyone and their mother line up to tell him that his fictional young lovers should take the plunge (sorry for the innuendo, I’ve been watching this show too much). I love that the characters say literally a thousand times that Dawson’s script should take the “risky” choice and allow his characters to have sex–maybe even with the wrong people–and then the writers of the show take the least risky avenue, and (spoiler!) have everyone back out of their respective sexual encounters except for Pacey and Andie. At this point in the series, it actually would have been an interesting choice for Dawson and Joey to lose their virginities to other people but still be considered “soulmates,” but it’s most definitely not a risky choice to preserve Joey and Dawson’s precious virginities and have Pacey and Andie, the only pair that is in a stable and loving relationship, sleep together. It’s almost like the writers, very much like their protagonist, are extremely meta without actually being at all self-aware.
- “Freudian slip this cat out of the bag.” Way to mix your metaphors, there, Dawson. (Also, take a shot for Freud!)
- I love that the first scene, in which Dawson and Pacey proclaim their love for each other, is staged like a fake-out, as if we wouldn’t guess they were reading from a script. It was the 90s–Jack or no Jack, the HoYay! gods were not that kind.
- The terrible five-dollar word game is strong with this one. “Highbrow analytical posturing” (um… “highbrow”?? You wish, Kevin Williamson), “wrestling internally with the psychological repercussions of my feelings,” which James van der Beek audibly stumbles over. The satire of the overwrought dialogue would be pretty funny if it weren’t so close to their normal dialogue.
- “What’s up with all the psychobabble insight? What teenagers do you know who talk like that?” Take a shot for the extremely on-the-nose meta commentary!
- “Right, that’s not Joey, the guy’s not you, you’re not dissecting your guys’ relationship on the page just like every other narcissistic writer throughout history.” AKA every white guy in a writing workshop ever.
- The show clearly wants us to think that everyone is right when they incessantly beg Dawson to put sex in his script (shot!), but… eh. Dawson is kind of right–sex in the movies was not inherently risky by the year 1999. Although Dawson is also terribly wrong that having his protagonist remain a virgin is the “risky, edgier choice.” That’s what we call “magical thinking.”
- Jen literally passes out one flyer and Dawson tells her she’s “so good at [producing].” That’s like a Dawson-level undeserved compliment.
- Dawson says that this extra, who is hilariously identical to Dawson, would make the “perfect lead” in his movie, and Jen responds, “Ew” and calls him “about as sexy as a bucket.” Poor James. Being on such a meta show must be rough on the old male ego.
- Then again, “Ray Liotta meets sewer rat” is an even meaner (although pretty accurate) descriptor of this poor extra, who plays Jen’s pick for the lead:
- Pacey gets an HIV test, and Andie responds sagely that she’s “proud of him” and that it was “very responsible of him.” She sounds like a mixture of his mother and his Health teacher.
- I want to be happy that Pacey and Andie are having a frank conversation about how much sexual activity they’re both ready for, but they keep grossly referring to sex as “scrumping.” Ew! (2 shots!)
- Dawson sees Joey’s art and teases her about whether she’s blushing while calling her “Little Joey Potter.” Jack sees it and immediately compliments the lines and the technique. And you wonder why she’s picked him. – Nerdy Spice
- Yeah… usually it’s annoying to hear Joey’s constant “evolution” talk, but after that condescension, who can blame her for saying something as silly as “I’m not little Joey Potter anymore”? (2 shots!)
- Requisite terrible audition montage! We not only get to hear a satirical, exaggerated version of Dawson’s Creek’s overwritten dialogue, we get to hear pretty young actors butcher it. So meta! (1 shot!)
- I love this nude modeling plot contrivance from the bottom of my heart, but no one in history has ever gotten an “F” in a local art class. Just for the record.
- Andie and Pacey have what is, dare I say, a reasonably mature conversation about sex: confirming that they both want to, but want to wait for the right time, without hedging or blushing or getting dramatic. Knowing how poorly Pacey and Joey will handle this in a few short years, it almost makes me look favorably on this relationship for a second. Almost. – Nerdy Spice
- Agreed, although Pacey says at one point that his “tainted past” (dirty) makes him an unlikely candidate of being worthy to take Andie’s precious flower. I love that this show is so committed to slut-shaming teenagers, they even do it to the boys.
- When Pacey sweetly says he would want to make her first time “memorable” if they should ever choose to have sex, Andie says talk like that “makes her want to jump him.” Um, ew, and also, I’m so confused as to what they’ve been talking about for this whole conversation. (That’s two shots!)
- Jen whines re: Dawson’s script that she “thought she and Dawson had something too, but even with [her] flair for the dramatic, [her] role has been relegated to the first act.” It’s a classic Jen Lindley pity party, take a shot!
- Dawson tries to convince Jen that he had real feelings for her by mumbling that she’s “sexy” and that “the skinny-dipping didn’t suck.” Wow, he sounds more like a real-life teenage boy already. (2 shots!)
- Jen tells Dawson that he really should have sex in his script and he protests that it’s “about romance!” She points out, “Who says sex can’t be romantic?” I only wish that these healthy, sex-positive sentiments could be expressed via a less irritating source.
- Case in point: “If you hadn’t gone for such an obvious choice of girl, maybe the ending to your script would be less obvious.” Right… because Jen, the blonde, beautiful literal girl-next-door is not an “obvious” choice. Shut up, Jen.
- Jack comes over to Joey’s house, strips down for the nude modeling, and then shyly asks her, “Where do you want me?” Dirty! (1 shot.)
- I’m not sure I noticed as a child that literally all of their dialogue is meant to double as sexual innuendo. Joey answers, “On the couch, or on the chair, or you could stand, or I could move!” She’s literally just repeating the lyrics to “I’m F*cking Matt Damon.”
- And some of it just straight-up doubles as cheesy come-ons: “This is just like that scene in Titanic.” Really, Jack? (Take a shot!)
- “You know, Joey, if you’re not gonna make it, we can stop at any time.” Again, dirty.
- Joey admits in a very mature way that the situation is making her “uncomfortable,” and Jack responds in the worst possible way: “Just imagine how comfortable we’re going to be with each other after tonight.” REALLY, Jack??
- Joey justifiably freaks out and asks Jack to leave, which of course leads to Jack accidentally dropping his towel. They then decide that since Joey has already seen his dick, they might as well keep going. I would call that out as ridiculous Dawson’s writer logic, but it’s actually pretty convincing teenager logic.
- Jack asks, “How’s it coming along?” and a panicky Joey answers, “It??” Oh, good grief. (1 shot)
- Amid all the hilarious porno lines, there’s one very teenager-y moment of vulnerability: Jack brings up his fear of sex out of the blue (2 shots!), and Joey asks faux-casually if he’s “done it a lot.” He hems and haws, and then admits he’s done it “exactly once.” They both smile at each other and look relieved that their mutual inexperience is out in the open, and it’s pretty real and cute.
- In regards to knowing all the lines to Dawson’s script, Jen says, “Well, if you get really desperate, I could always play your leading lady.” Jesus Christ, Jen. Lay it on a little thicker, please. (1 shot for a Jen Lindley pity party!)
- Joey tells Jack not to be embarrassed that he’s afraid of sex after only doing it once: “I’ve never done it, and it terrifies me from afar.” Ha. Yep, been there. (Shot!)
- Jen says, kind of correctly, that from a writing perspective being “in love” is a much less interesting reason for characters to have sex than being “in lust.” And yet, again, the only characters to have sex this episode are the ones who are in love. Sometimes I just want to shake the writers and scream, “LISTEN TO YOURSELVES.”
- Joey asks Jack to describe his first sexual experience “as if it were art” (shot!), and it actually gets pretty intense. It actually seems kind of crazy that Joey would be surprised about Jack’s erection considering that during his speech, she’s breathing super hard and looking at him like this:
- At first it seems creepy that Pacey enacts all of the things that Andie said she wanted for the night of her first time, but then he says all the right things, and actually means them. He tells her that this night was “not designed to reach the verdict of having sex” and that he just “wanted to give [her] a fantasy evening.” And when she says she’s not ready, he doubles down on that nice sentiment and gives her a romantic speech about how “lucky” he is to have her in his life. (I mean, whatever you say, dude.) I know we’re not supposed to be rewarding men and boys just for being minimally decent anymore, but really, what a champ.
- Dawson weirdly has a framed professional picture of Joey–just Joey, not the two of them–on his bedside table.
- Jack is very cute when he says he thinks “two scared people cancel each other out,” but then ruins it with the very porn-y line: “Tonight is a night of firsts, Joey. Who says it has to stop?” Gross. (1 shot!)
- In spite of the grossness, their kiss at the end is actually pretty hot. I love that Katie Holmes can have chemistry with pretty much everyone except for Dawson.
Before Jack creepily turns the conversation back to sex, Joey gives a really sweet speech about how she has a very “plain” life and art allows her to “take chances” that she otherwise wouldn’t. Joey sans Dawson is definitely the best Joey.
Most cringeworthy moment:
So hard to choose in an episode like this, but I have to pick the already-played-out Dawson and Jen pairing, which isn’t helped by the fact that the actors have like, negative chemistry. The close-ups on them kissing are pretty gross, and not just because he uses the yucky line: “Just don’t ask me my motivations.” Ugh.
Most wrongly used five-dollar word:
Oh, man. There are literally too many to choose from. First, Pacey calls Dawson’s script “obtuse,” and Dawson inexplicably takes that as a compliment. Hee. Then there’s the usage of the phrase “hypnotically scarring” in Dawson’s script, which is nonsense, but maybe supposed to mean something like “psychically scarring.” Then there’s Dawson thanking Jen for being there for the “horrifically epic” auditions–definitely think you mean “epically horrific,” bud.
But the winner has to be the female lead of Dawson’s movie considering the “unequivocal, highly irrational, possibly damaging proposition of… of loving you back.” To that usage of “unequivocal” I say:
Most 90s soundtrack moment:
For a classic episode, the TV gods have gifted us with both Sheryl Crow (“Anything But Down”) and Dave Matthews Band (“Lover Lay Down”)!
Yikes, 22. Totally deserved.
Season 2, Episode 11 “Sex, She Wrote”
By Nerdy Spice
This is such a classic episode; it’s a detective episode, basically, where the kids find a note from someone who had sex with someone else for the first time the night before, and try to figure out who it is. The crew all end up in a class where their assignment is to learn about mysteries. Of course this gives Dawson an opening to mansplain how mysteries work to the audience, which also conveniently explains how this episode is going to work: a mystery movie involves a setup, the “testimonies,” and the “classic denouement,” where all the characters gather in a room and the mystery is solved. (Take a shot for that oh-so-subtle meta reference.)
So what is the mystery, you ask? Well, it’s the highest-stakes question a show like this could come up with: who slept with whom?
The episode opens with the three couples each leaving their date from the previous night—Joey and Jack agreeing sweetly that Joey has no regrets, Pacey and Andie kissing and thanking each other outside the B&B, and Jen and Dawson discussing their “unexpected encounter.” Later, Chris and Abby, the diabolical duo, find a note that says “The whole night was amazing, but sex changes everything, and I think we should take some time before anything happens again.” Abby, who for reasons best known to herself actually listened to Dawson’s lecture, gets very excited and decides to solve a real-life mystery as her English project. Which is a nice way of getting out of the assignment, since she only has to read one note that was written at a fourth-grade reading level.
Of course, as we all know, Dawson will hold out for an impressive three years to come, and Joey won’t lose her virginity till season 4 with Pacey. So we know it’s gotta be Pacey and Andie. But getting there is fun! Abby finds the note, and concocts various evil schemes under the guise of completing some kind of tortuously unrealistic school assignment about mystery fiction. Finally, she narrows it down: Pacey and Andie did the deed at the bed-and-breakfast they mysteriously found the means to visit the night before. But instead of exposing them to the whole class, she finds the grace to pretend she didn’t do the assignment instead. Classic Abby–only kind of as evil as she seems!
The final twist, though, is that the note about how “sex changes everything” isn’t from Andie to Pacey, but from Pacey to Andie. Andie does not respond well to this, but when has she ever responded well to anything?
Oh, and Dawson and Joey walk around in the rain or something. Whatever.
- Joey’s look of excited nervousness, Pacey’s look of pride, and Jen’s look of quiet satisfaction are all possible hints as to who did whom last night. Each of them does a solid acting job here—in fact, this phase of season 2 where Jen is still hopelessly in love with Dawson (for GOD KNOWS WHAT REASON) is some of Michelle Williams’ better work in this show. She got majorly shafted most of the time on this show, to be fair: horrible hair, shitty plotlines and (in later years) constantly throwing fits and getting mad at people for no reason.
- During his Mysteries 101 Lecture, Dawson plays a dumb trick where he turns the lights off and plays a scream track. Dawson is like That Guy From Class that you’ll still be complaining about at your twentieth high school reunion.
- “I have a major lust issue where you’re concerned,” Andie declares to Pacey in the cafeteria. Gross. Shot for unnecessary sexual language.
- Pacey tells Andie he had “a nice time” the night before. Uhhhhhhhh, remember this, because “nice” suddenly becomes the WORST WORD IN THE WORLD when Joey says it to him in a remarkably similar situation.
- Dawson has given his film a new sex scene where he, I mean the character, sleeps with the big-city girl he has a crush on. That’s… a pretty high-commitment way to tell your big-city friend that you want to have sex with her.
- Jack asks Joey about her drawing of him and she makes like she’s about to whip it out and show it to him, which he has to prevent in panic. Hee! When Jack says he wants to keep the picture as a memorial, Joey makes her patented “I feel awkward having a conversation about romance with anyone but Dawson because I know he’ll punish me for it eventually” face. Which is not a face you want your new love interest to be making.
- “He’s on the rebound, and God knows, she likes to bounce,” Abby says of Jen and Dawson. Ew. Take a shot for that weird AF euphemism.
- “Chris, I have a finger I place in my mouth for vomiting,” Abby says when Chris hits on her. Heh.
- Abby’s way of “investigating” is to ask Jen, “Does Dawson Leery have any other talents besides filmmaking?” Um… subtle.
- Her next tactic is to ask everyone to sign petitions as a combination tactic: a way of getting their handwriting samples, and asking them about sex. But, since Abby and Chris are slightly more competent at using their words than Dawson and his repressed cohort, the innuendo/euphemism count, and thus our shot count, remains unincremented by this sequence.
- When Abby asks Jack to sign the petition, he says, “The only petition I’ll support is for your execution.” Yikes! I mean… deserved, I guess… but like is it? – Janes
- There’s something about Chris showing Joey Dawson’s salacious script, but all I can focus on is the fact that Joey is using a hilariously giant laptop. Yay, 1998!
- Abby finds the naked Jack picture when Joey accidentally leaves it in the classroom. Oops! She has a great time showing it to Dawson, who takes it with the grace and class you’d expect.
- OMG, this desktop is insane. – Janes
- Also, I love that every female 90s villain at some point wore leopard print. – Janes
- Chris calls Abby “Nancy Drew. From Hell.” Not exactly clever, but reasonably accurate.
- The fact that Andie immediately believes Pacey would tell everyone in school that she’s bad in bed is, let’s say, not out of keeping with her inability to keep perspective about anything. Pacey is rightfully offended; I almost don’t blame him for doing that thing TV characters do where they prolong a fight by not saying the one thing that would clear it all up.
- Dawson is pissed about the drawing of Jack; Joey is pissed about the script. Both of them need to get a life!
- Abby has summoned everyone to the room for their testimonials. So meta! She has Chris with a camera.
- Most of the people in this room arrive with totally dry hair, and Andie’s hair is SOAKED. Is this some kind of statement about Andie’s (future) mental disintegration, that she decided to come here during a rainstorm without an umbrella?
- Abby says there’s a “sex pig” waiting inside Jack. Uh… what is a sex pig?
- Joey and Dawson get into a huge fight and both claim to have had sex. Their non-partners are far from pleased by this. “[Us having sex last night] wasn’t right and this pathetic little display here makes it all the more obvious why,” says Jen, in a moment of uncharacteristic wisdom. Dawson, to his credit, actually looks embarrassed.
- When Andie finds out the note is from Pacey, she asks, “What are you trying to say, Pacey?” Uh… I think he was trying to say… the things he said in the note?
- THEN SHE SAYS HE DISGUSTS HER. Try to think about this for a second. Poor guy says he doesn’t want to have sex anymore and he gets yelled at? PSA to the nineties: You’ve all figured out that this is not cool when guys do it, but it’s not cool when girls do it either.
- In a cute little Jen/Jack bonding moment that previews greater things to come, Jack tells her he “really wanted” to have sex with Joey. My partner, who doesn’t watch the show but knows Jack ends up being gay, cries out, “YOU LIAR!” – Janes
- “You’ll get used to [being second string]. I have.” – Shut UP, Jen. (1 shot!) – Janes
- “I can take all the jerks in the world climbing in and out of my bedroom window…” WHAT GUYS??? (1 shot!) – Janes
- Joey’s report involves saying that Agatha Christie is going to be the premier woman mystery writer forever. Of course this show would never let anyone say a woman was the best mystery writer, full stop. Ugh, it’s so offensive.
- Pacey finds Andie after class to explain his note, even though she really doesn’t deserve it. She’s extremely hostile (again, let’s review: he wrote a note saying he wants to wait to have sex again, and she is now treating him like dirt, just like the guy she’s accusing him of being for no good reason). It turns out he got an A on a history test and he’s freaked out that his life course might be changing because of her. Take a shot for Pacey claiming that he’s a black sheep who everyone hates!
- “I’m afraid because you are the single most important being to ever grace my existence,” Pacey says. “I am falling hopelessly in love with you.” She says she shares that feeling, and they kiss. For some reason the camera pans over to the rearview mirror and its warning that “objects in mirror may be closer than they appear.” Usually it’s not exactly hard to piece together the metaphors on this show but this time I’m actually stumped.
- Dawson asks Joey why they never had sex despite the fact that “You and I cry sex until we’re blue in the face,” What does that even mean? What is “crying sex”? Joey fails to mention that when a couple are entirely lacking in physical chemistry the sex doesn’t always happen right away.
- At the end comes the classic scene beloved of all seven Dawson/Joey shippers still remaining in this world: they stand looking at the rain from the porch, exchange creepy and codependent declarations that they’re glad the other is still a virgin, then leave the shelter of the porch and walk through the rain. He puts his jacket over both of them. OK, it’s kind of cute. Shut up, I never said that.
Maybe I should pick that classic Dawson-and-Joey-in-the-rain scene, which was mostly non-vomit-inducing. But I pick Jen and Jack, whose friendship blossoms in a natural, sweet, in-character way for both of them. They bond over being second string to the great Dawson-Joey saga. “That’s so cool how you can just unleash all that,” Jack says when Jen tells him how she feels about Dawson. He even manages to confess why he and Joey didn’t consummate their sexual tension last night. “Those things just never cooperate,” Jen commiserates. Awww. I love these two. This relationship is by far the healthiest on the show.
Most cringe-worthy moment:
Definitely has to be Dawson and Joey lying about sex to each other in front of their current love interests to make each other jealous. So inappropriate. So pathetically obvious. So classically Dawson-and-Joey.
Most wrongly used five-dollar word:
Jack calls his rivalry with Dawson a “decaying issue.” I mean, I guess it could be some form of metaphor? Like, it’s so old it’s started to rot? But frankly I think the writers don’t know what they’re even saying half the time.
Most 90s soundtrack moment:
Drunkenness level: Six shots.
Season 2, Episode 12 “Unchartered Waters”
Nope, that’s not a typo, guys. This episode is actually called “Unchartered Waters,” because the writers couldn’t even be bothered to Ask Jeeves the actual phrase. [You know your addiction to multisyllabic words is out of control when you need a [sic] at the end of your episode title. – Nerdy Spice]
Unfortunately, the actual content of this episode doesn’t fare much better. The boys go on a fishing trip and beat their chests about stealing girlfriends and their oh-so-tortured father/son relationships, while the girls slut-shame each other and talk about why all teenage girls are so insecure, and the world rotates backwards on its axis.
There are a few highlights, however. When Dawson snipes at Jack about Jack “stealing” Joey away from him, Jack eloquently puts him in his place and tells him that Joey is too smart (and, um, has too much agency) to be “stolen.” This really shouldn’t need to be explained, but it’s a start. And although it annoys me to my core that father-son relationships are automatically treated as classical and mythic while mother/daughter or even mother/son relationships are treated as niche, I’m always happy to see a Pacey-centric episode. This isn’t as nuanced an exploration of Pacey’s “black sheep” status (lots of shots!) as season four’s heartbreaking birthday episode, but Joshua Jackson’s precocious acting elevates the proceedings slightly above the level of melodrama.
Plus, even though they spend the entire episode fulfilling all of the worst stereotypes of teenage girls, at least the girls are actually talking to each other. About something other than boys, even! (Sometimes.) If this sounds like absurdly faint praise, it most definitely is.
All right, let’s get to it:
- Right off the bat, Dawson makes a reference to a “classic dysfunctional father/son relationship” and Pacey counters that Dawson will “see a lot of that this weekend” on their fishing trip. We’re going to get so drunk, you guys. (1 shot!)
- Pacey’s father John, apropos of nothing, calls Dawson “Capeside’s own cinematic wunderkind.” Take another shot for wholly undeserved compliments!
- John makes a crack about Pacey working in a fast food joint someday (shot!) and Pacey responds that he comes from “a long line of Witters with illustrious careers requiring uniforms.” Heh.
- John gruffly tells Dawson he needs to “be ready, both physically and mentally.” For fishing. I mean, I suppose one technically does need to be physically and mentally prepared for bitter cold and mind-numbing boredom.
- Dawson, aglow from all the out-of-left field compliments (John also thinks Dawson’s general “commitment to excellence” will make him a great fisherman–whatever), spends the entire episode dismissing John’s obvious emotional abuse as “jokes.” What a great friend.
- Now that I’m writing this, it’s actually kind of unrealistic that Dawson wouldn’t understand by now that John’s comments are clearly not jokes. Your college friends are the ones who think you must be exaggerating how terrible your parents are; your high school friends are the ones who understand because they’ve seen it firsthand. As Pacey says to Dawson later in the episode, “Nobody’s that oblivious, not even you.”
- Meanwhile, Dawson innocently tells Joey that Jen is doing a great job as producer, and Joey immediately goes on the defensive (not to mention passive-aggressive), with her little “If only she’d worked on your last movie” comment. You know you’re being petty and unreasonable when you actually get me to side with Dawson.
- Jen is actually so nice to Joey when she invites her to Gale’s show, calling her “thoughtful” and “articulate” and “eloquent,” and Joey just glares in return. Why can’t they just be friends??
- We had a bet going about how long it would take the characters to make a ridiculously on-the-nose Moby Dick reference, but they held out for 20 minutes! That’s progress, I guess. (1 shot!)
- Vintage Abby Morgan pick-up line: “That camera equipment looks really heavy. You must be built ram-tough.” Random camera man mumbles back, “It’s really not that heavy.” Hee! (And… shot!)
- Dawson watches porn called Good Will Humping, because of course he does. (Shot!)
- THEN Pacey says that he brought Jack on the fishing trip because “Andie’s been nagging me incessantly.” Ew, “nagging”? Pacey just lost like ten points in my book. Luckily he started with approximately a million. – Nerdy Spice
- Dawson is especially self-righteous, and Pacey snarls at him to go screw himself, and that we can’t all be the “fair-haired embodiment of perfection,” or “have words like ‘wunderkind’ and ‘genius’ attached to our names.” Yikes. At least we’re not the only ones upset about all of the undeserved compliments.
- The girls’ reactions to Dawson’s porn (and the idea of Dawson masturbating) is all of us:
- Jen starts to weirdly slut-shame the porn stars out of the blue, which then leads to Abby viciously slut-shaming Jen. It’s the circle of life.
- Joey laughs meanly at Abby’s comments, and then when Jen calls her out, she says innocently, “I didn’t say anything.” This is by far the worst version of Joey.
- Gale’s reaction to Abby gleefully informing her about the porn is priceless. “Let’s leave poor Dawson’s room now, please.” Such a mother moment.
- Although Joey and Jen’s fight is annoying for many reasons (see below), they both get a few good swipes in there. Joey is being totally unreasonable and jealous, so it feels pretty good to hear Jen say, “I love how you demonize me, instead of facing your own rampant insecurities.” But also, Jen openly tried to steal Joey’s boyfriend, so it was also pretty satisfying to hear Joey scoff at Jen, “You are so disingenuous.” True.
- Rant time: by the end of this episode, Joey and Jen patch up some of their petty squabbles (for now). And that would actually be a pretty great thing, except the show can never follow through on the promise of subverting the “girls fighting over a boy” trope. Not only do Joey and Jen never really become friends, but they never really stop fighting over Dawson. It’s hard to argue with Joey when she cattily says that Jen’s ego was bruised and that “Deep down [she] still wants to win, [she] still wants him back,” when she tried to steal him earlier this season, hooked up with him two episodes ago, claimed to be “in love” with him last episode, and takes his virginity three seasons later, while he and Joey were kind of trying to date. This is a major reason why Jen never transcends that “bad girl from New York” stereotype she always claims she’s trying to transcend, and we’re all the worse for it.
- Jack explains very patiently to dumb, dumb Dawson that Pacey might be just a little bit upset that his father is constantly putting him down and putting Dawson on a pedestal left and right. Um… did this really need to be explained?
- Dawson is on a roll, and is also super mean to his dad. Mitch is kind of annoying and not that great a parent, but it makes me cringe when Dawson needles him about finding “gainful employment,” even while Gail has clearly been the breadwinner for most of his upper-middle-class life. Like, is your mother’s on-air reporter salary not enough for you? Shut the fuck up, Dawson.
- Abby makes a mean-spirited joke about Jen being a “ho-bag” and “humping the couch” (don’t ask). Seriously, guys, she’s only had sex with one person for the entire series. (Take a shot!)
- It is awkward how long Pacey and his dad stare at each other before Pacey takes his bad darts shot. Like super awkward. How weird must that have been to film? “OK, hold it for about ten seconds longer than any human can hold eye contact. OK, now five seconds longer than that.” – Nerdy Spice
- Andie, Joey, and Jen analyze why teenaged girls are “such consumers.” Uh, yeah, because the boys aren’t out buying video games and shell necklaces to deal with their insecurities? – Nerdy Spice
- Dawson, when he finds Jack out on the boat, tells Jack he’s tired of drama. DAWSON. Is TIRED OF DRAMA. I laughed out loud. – Nerdy Spice
- Pacey tells his unconscious dad that Andie is smart and “funny.” Uh, smart I’ll give you, but funny? What Andie are you watching, because the one on my screen is about as funny as a dishrag. – Nerdy Spice
- Pacey’s monologue as written is fairly overwrought, and not nearly as affecting as it could have been if his father weren’t so cartoonish and their relationship weren’t painted in such broad strokes. That being said, when Josh cries I cry.
- There’s a hilariously dramatic slow-mo while Pacey is catching a big fish, made all the funnier by the fact that Dawson looks completely unconcerned.
- “Men are men, women are women,” Gail declares. Ughhhhh. – Nerdy Spice
- The little scene at the end between Abby and Andie was surprisingly well-acted and almost moving. Abby was such a great villain (RIP).
- “I respect you.” What a great, great line. It’s just two kids figuring out that they’ve been dumb and saying the thing that validates the other, the thing the other most needs to hear. – Nerdy Spice
- Dawson actually says that he respects Pacey’s talent and intelligence and makes a joke about Andie having a “perky coronary.” Hee! Love an Andie burn. – Nerdy Spice
Although most of the episode was sexist and annoying, the dialogue between Jen and Joey near the end is kind of vulnerable and beautiful. Jen talks about how she wanted to be someone different in Capeside, but she’ll only ever be known as the “bad girl” and the “town slut” (um… too true), while Joey admits to “going for the jugular” as a result of her insecurities about being a “small town girl who will live and die by the creek.” She also mentions her fear of losing “the small amount of love she’s managed to accumulate,” which reminds me of that jailhouse conversation with her father and almost makes me cry all over again. The whole thing is almost good enough to make up for their ridiculous, underdeveloped catfight earlier in the episode.
Most cringeworthy moment:
“Test-firing the missile,” “shaking hands with the unemployed,” “boxing the bald-headed bishop”… these are some EPICALLY gross euphemisms. (Is it even still a euphemism if it’s much more graphic and inappropriate for TV than the actual word?) – Nerdy Spice
Most wrongly used five-dollar word:
You know what’s coming. The winner is: “Unchartered [sic] Waters.”
Nine, including several instances of asshole behavior from John Witter that weren’t interesting enough to recap.
Most 90s soundtrack moment:
OMG, they plays “C’est La Vie” by B*Witched. That might just single-handedly save this episode.
Previous installment here.
Next installment here.