The Great Dawson’s Creek Rewatch: Season 3, Episodes 19-21

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 3, Episode 19 “Stolen Kisses”

By Nerdy Spice

This is one of the most romantic episodes of the show and one of my favorites. I think the best thing about it is that it delivers a cogent argument for why Joey wants Pacey, and why she should be with Pacey: that Dawson is safe and comfortable, but Pacey makes her feel alive. It’s extremely well done, and convincing; the way the two of them look at each other so intensely throughout the episode, like they’re all raw nerves and excitement and longing, just shows how alive they really are. And you can see how carefully the show was trying to bring its original viewers along with it; they had gotten attached to Dawson and Joey as the story, and it was going to be hard to make people root for the pairing that would be in direct competition with that. That transition can be hard to convince people of, and this episode makes the best effort it possibly could. (Of course, the next few episodes also help things along from the opposite direction, by showcasing long-known but ever-more-obnoxious aspects of Dawson’s character.)

It’s spring break, and instead of (as Dawson puts it so quaintly) “ingesting mass quantities of liquor,” the Capeside kids do their “traditional” trip (one of those TV traditions which has never been done in earlier seasons and will never be mentioned again) to visit Dawson’s Aunt Gwen. Joey and Dawson are happily bantering about karaoke when they arrive to find that the guest list has changed: Jack decided not to come, but Pacey did decide to come, bringing a rando who everyone gets very invested in but will also, much like Aunt Gwen, soon disappear and never be seen again: Will Krudski.

Will’s appearance is one of those “backdoor pilots” that always seem so strange when the new show doesn’t work out. I had to look this up on the internet to remember the details because I didn’t see this episode in real time (I started watching in season 6), but apparently he was the star of some spinoff called Young Americans that aired for one season. Anyway, he has Daddy Issues, loves Salinger, and develops a flirtation with Andie. He and Pacey hustle some guys playing pool in a seedy bar, and Andie seems slightly won over once she’s holding a pile of cash. Andie finds his “blue-collar academic” nature to be a fascinating “contradiction” (because, being a shitty person, she apparently thinks poor and stupid usually go together) and bonds with Will over his daddy issues.

(No one mentions Jen, because, as usual, no one cares about Jen, but we’ll find out eventually that she stayed home to work at the restaurant and hang with Henry, who’s also working there. This gives her an opportunity to create major drama by refusing to act like a normal human being. When a pretty blonde waitress, Shelly, inexplicably develops a crush on Henry and decides she wants to… take a bath with him (what?!), Jen decides not to mention that they’re dating so that she has an excuse to go completely bonkers after Shelly innocently attempts to flirt. She inappropriately yells in front of all the customers at this brand-new, still-struggling restaurant, “Get your boobs away from him.” Shelly is understandably confused why Jen didn’t tell her, and is clearly ready to back off. But Jen, not to be deterred from utterly embarrassing herself, calls Shelly a slutty wench at the top of her lungs and threatens to “throw down.” Henry for some reason finds all this endearing; he chases her to the back room and promises he’s not going anywhere. You know what, I take all my complaints back—those two belong together. They’re both pretty much the worst!)

Back to the spring break kickoff: when Pacey shows up, Joey—having apparently abandoned her pretense that the Big Kiss “meant nothing”—glares at Pacey until the poor guy looks like he’s about to melt into a puddle on the grass. As soon as they’re off to one side out of earshot of everyone else, she says that he was supposed to sit this one out, but Pacey just says that he did it for Will. Joey raises her eyebrows and is like, “Aaaaand?” but Pacey, unable to make eye contact, doesn’t state the obvious other reason, that he came to be around her. Partly because Joey doesn’t really want to hear it anyway.

Outside, sunny. Joey and Pacey face each other, Joey looking concerned and Pacey staring at the ground.

So the two of them try to act natural, but can’t because they’re pretty much thinking about each other every time anyone says ANYTHING. Joey does get really excited talking about Aunt Gwen, who paints and does yoga, which I guess at that time was credible evidence of someone being super original and hipster, and she left her husband for someone else that she fell madly in love with so she could “live life on her own terms.” But as soon as Joey figures out that Pacey is staring intensely at her from across the table, she gets all awkward. And it doesn’t help when Will comments, “Isn’t it better to have a short time with somebody that you really love than a lifetime with someone who’s basically your roommate?” AWKWARD. Then they show up to Aunt Gwen’s house and Gwen (played by Julie Bowen, who’s exactly seven years older than James van der Beek) reminisces about Pacey chasing and teasing Joey as a child, which leads to yet more awkward looks.

When it’s time to go to bed, somehow Pacey and Joey find themselves stuck in one double bed together because the others took the sleeping bags. Joey makes a pretense of being Very Upset About This, complete with hands on hips and a hilariously exaggerated frown, so Pacey tries to get everyone else to switch with Joey. He fails, due to Andie being a heavy sleeper and the other two boys thinking that sharing a bed with another boy will make them gay (and everyone conveniently forgetting that the obvious solution is for Dawson and Joey to share the bed just like they’ve been doing for years). So the two are forced to share a bed. Oh no, the horror! Joey, still in Feisty Mode, starts to say, “If I so much as feel anything—“ but Pacey interrupts her with possibly the most deserved burn of all time: “Joey, get in bed. And while you’re at it, get over yourself.” Hee!! Joey gets in, but then they fight over whether Pacey’s butt is too close to hers (ummmmmm no such thing) (sorry, I had to make that joke) and over the covers. But when they wake up in the morning, they both pretend to still be asleep so that they can enjoy the moment a little longer. Pacey starts leaning over Joey as if to see if she’s awake, but just then they’re called down to breakfast and they both make a big show of having been dead asleep.

Later that night, Pacey and Joey share Longing Looks in front of a painting Aunt Gwen made of Dawson and Joey. Things finally come to a head later that night, during the “traditional” never-to-be-repeated performance of “Daydream Believer” by Dawson and Joey. Pacey leaves all depressed when he sees Joey give Dawson that big smile, and Joey comes out to find him. Pacey complains that he can’t compete with the history, so Joey says they’re supposed to have their own history and then freaks out and backs off again. But when he’s about to walk away, she stops him and says that when his arm brushed up against her in bed, it made her feel alive.

Pacey, who looks like he’s about to faint from sheer incredulity, announces, “You can’t say something like that to me and expect me not to kiss you, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to kiss ya, in about ten seconds.” He also says that if she doesn’t want him to she’ll have to stop him. I’m not going to bore everyone with discussing consent issues because of how super duper obvious it is that Joey does in fact want to kiss him. So whatever. It’s adorable and I stand by that forever. So he approaches her (both of them looking terrified and hopeful in about equal measure) and kisses her softly. They’re just hitting their groove when Aunt Gwen, Ruiner Of Everything, clears her throat behind them and interrupts the fireworks.

Let’s just have a sidebar about Aunt Gwen, shall we? I’ve always watched this episode and been like, wow, Aunt Gwen is an annoying Manic Pixie Dream Aunt, but I’m now convinced that she’s actually evil. She basically spends the episode meddling in everyone’s business in ways that SHE CLEARLY KNOWS are going to bother them. Like, earlier that day while Pacey’s off shooting pool with Andie and Will, Aunt Gwen rudely asks Dawson why he and Joey aren’t together anymore. The two of them give a very congenial summary of all the drama, so in sync in their understanding that they can complete each other’s sentences… until Joey accidentally ends with, “And then he asked Pacey to look out for me.” Oops. Dawson of course notices nothing. Gwen notices it—then turns the conversation right back to Dawson and Joey. Later, Joey finds Aunt Gwen alone in the kitchen later and asks if she has any regrets, clearly hoping to get some kind of permission to go after Pacey so that she won’t have to make the decision on her own. Aunt Gwen essentially gives it to her by describing word for word what Joey’s superego is constantly telling her to do: “I stayed in a relationship that was safe and comfortable and then I met this man who made me feel alive for the very first time.” I mean, I’m not like LOVING this as a justification for adultery if that’s what Gwen is talking about (they don’t really make it clear) but as a justification for ditching a controlling ex-boyfriend who you haven’t even been with in almost a year, I like it quite a bit. But then Gwen shoves Joey unsubtly over to a picture she painted of Dawson and Joey, of which the kindest thing I can say is that it is not the worst fictional painting I’ve ever seen:

A cheesy painting of Dawson and Joey with halos around their head and a heart-shaped ivy wreath around them.

And it’s like, maybe don’t pressure this young woman to stay in a relationship with your bratty nephew just because it’s what she’s always known, right after you bragged about choosing someone new and exciting?

Then when she catches Pacey and Joey kissing, things really turn inexplicable. The sheer amount of contradictory stuff she does is mind-boggling. Like, she says in one breath, “What I just saw is none of my business. But I think you should tell Dawson.” Um… I thought you said it was none of your business?! And if it was none of your business, couldn’t you have NOT interrupted the kiss with your weird, aggressive throat clearing? Plus, after telling Joey to tell Dawson, she finds the two in a room and APOLOGIZES FOR INTERRUPTING instead of just silently backing away like any normal person would do, which allows Joey to back out of telling Dawson.

But the kicker? Even though she tells Joey that when Joey kisses someone it’s probably not a mistake, she spends a long, awkward scene basically trying to get Dawson to think he’s in love with Joey again. She gives him the Dawson-Joey painting, tells him that art is just a way of expressing your love for the one thing or person that you love the most, and then—while he’s holding the painting of Joey in his hands—tells him to close his eyes and think of what he most loves. Like, she obviously wants him to think Joey? But she also told Joey it wasn’t a mistake with Pacey? But she also kind of prevented Joey from telling Dawson when she knew that was what Joey was about to do? The only possible explanation is that she is actually an evil mastermind sent by the TV gods to ruin everything.

Anyway, back to the story. Joey does try to talk to Dawson about the kiss, and chickens out once Aunt Gwen provides her a convenient excuse. But she finds Pacey sitting by a campfire all alone, and tells him that she’s been trying to pretend this is a “bizarre hormonal glitch” but it’s not working. He says the real question is how she feels, since they know how he feels. She just says she feels awful, and he agrees. “It’s tearing me up inside to have these feelings for you, but I can’t get rid of them,” he says. (There’s been much written in the last twenty years about how the big words that these kids use are so unrealistic, but I think the true unrealistic thing is for a sixteen-year-old kid suffering from possibly unrequited love to be brave enough to describe his feelings in plain and simple language the way Pacey does!). He declares he’s done kissing her first, and tells her, “If you felt even one shred of what I feel for you, we wouldn’t be standing here having this conversation.”

Unclear whether it’s that incredibly romantic line delivered with an intense stare into her eyes, or just the threat of getting no more kisses, but Joey finally gives in, pulls him back by the hand, and kisses him. It’s seriously so great—everything about their conversation, how angry and defensive Joey is as she tries to turn the conversation away from her feelings, and how sad and hopeful Pacey is, and how she finally overcomes her fear for long enough to stop pretending that it’s all Pacey’s doing and actually plant one on the guy, no more plausible deniability, no more pretending it’s just a mistake. Everything about it is super great. And Pacey delivering romantic lines like he was born to do it doesn’t hurt.

Long shot of Pacey and Joey kissing by campfire, arms around each other.

  • Like Jen, Gail also spends the week causing unnecessary problems by making utterly unreasonable choices. Gail lies to a friend that she and Mitch are still together because the friend is a recent widow (and because Gail is manipulative and weird). Gail gets all mad at Mitch for being annoyed at her. But then he catches the nostalgia bug too, and they watch their wedding video and agree that their problems are “trivial.” If that’s how you want to describe adultery plus a multi-year routine of misogyny and passive-aggression, then sure.
  • Jen declares Henry a “saint” for spending spring break at a fish restaurant just to be near his girlfriend. Henry says, “There’s a fine line between saint and moron.” Yeah, there’s also a fine line between saint and stalker.
  • Speaking of saints, these kids should all be canonized for hanging out with the insufferable Andie, who attacks Will as soon as he joins the group with a perky, cliched interrogation that could have been ripped from the pages of an inane questionnaire in Seventeen. What’s his favorite movie? What does he want to be when he grows up? Dear Andie: SHHHHHHH.
  • So, this widowed friend of Mitch and Gail’s shows up, and they’re all, “What’s up! How’s the hubs?” and they find out that he’s dead. But apparently they were so close to the dude that he made a toast at their wedding. So like, how did they not already know the dude was dead? Shouldn’t they have been invited to the funeral? So weird!
  • Aunt Gwen tells the whole story about Pacey teasing Joey while holding onto his hand for WAY too long post-handshake. Hey, I don’t blame you, Aunt Gwen. The kid is cute.
    Screen Shot 2018-05-28 at 9.20.42 PM

  • Didn’t anyone worry about casting Julie Bowen as a parental figure when she’s not only the same age as Meredith Monroe (no, literally, the exact same age), but also looks exactly like her? –Janes
  • Joey comes out of the bathrobe and runs into Pacey. He says “hey,” and she responds with a cranky rant about whether they’re going to talk in monosyllables the whole week. Because the poor guy greeted her politely with a commonly used word of greeting. Talk about a handful!
  • For some reason Andie develops a marked hostility to Will on the first morning, after having been creepily friendly to him the day before. He offers to teach her pool and she aggressively rolls her eyes and goes, “So you’re like, Tom Cruise, Color of Money? Riiiiiight.” Um, RUDE. It’s one of those things where people try to prove that characters have chemistry by making them fight, but I think as Pacey and Joey show, you can’t really force chemistry. It’s there or it isn’t. And Andie insulting a near-stranger for no apparent reason is Not Cute.
  • It is almost impressive how Jen manages to escalate this Henry-Shelly thing despite Henry behaving absolutely perfectly. She does it as only a person truly determined to create drama for herself despite being stuck in a terminally boring plot silo away from the rest of the cast could do. Henry tells her Shelly offered him sex; furious, she asks what he told her; he says that he said he had a girlfriend; she gets even more furious and asks if he finds her attractive; he says no; and she finally loses her temper altogether at his perfect-boyfriend answers and tells him to go sleep with Shelly. Like, WHAT?! I almost want to say that even a creepy fifteen-year-old stalker can do better than dating someone this unreasonable.
  • As Dawson and Joey have a quiet moment up in some picturesque barn window, he just asks Joey if he seems different to her. Joey, somewhat hilariously considering this is yet another praise-filled conversation solely about Dawson, says, “Once upon a time you had to be the center of attention. Life revolved around you and your dreams. And recently, I’ve watched you fade into the background and let others shine.” Then Joey declares that things are changing and that people evolve. Three shots in rapid succession! One for unsolicited praise of Dawson, two for Joey talking about Changing and Evolving. Dawson argues that growing up doesn’t have to mean growing apart, but Joey—knowing where growing up has taken her—says it does. Finally, Dawson asks Joey why they’re not together now. Cut to Pacey interrupting to ask if they want to help wash the horses. Subtle!
  • When Pacey busts out a completely hilarious growling rendition of “Wild Thing,” Joey is SO OBVIOUS:
    giphy (10)
    Oh, Joey. I’ve been there. Before Keets and I were married there were not one but two separate occasions where someone figured out I was in love with him based solely on me making that exact same googly-eyed expression while he sang karaoke.
  • Something I’m not sure I ever noticed until I watched with headphones in: after Aunt Gwen interrupts them like a big old jerk, you can hear Joey whisper “Oh my God—Pacey—” It’s so sweet and trusting, like it’s already them against the world.
  • It’s really unclear to me what Andie knows in this episode. On the one hand, when Pacey asks her (smiling delightedly, just proving once again that where Dawson is an immature bully Pacey is a delightfully evolved young man) if she likes his friend Will, Andie responds, “Maybe, maybe not. Who knows, Pacey. But don’t you think it’s better to just be honest and open about things like this?” Then she mentions moving on and tells him she wants him to be happy. None of which makes sense unless she knows about Pacey and Joey, or at least suspects. But then in a future episode she acts super hurt and upset about the whole thing, so… maybe she’s just being really weird here.
  • Mitch’s hair in this wedding video is freaking amazing.
    Old CRT television displaying a woman in a white veil (Gail) and a man with long curly hair reaching down to his collar (Mitch)

  • While Pacey approaches Joey for the kiss, he calls her “Joayy” and “Jo” in quick succession. Two shots!
    Evening, exterior: Joey faces away from camera; Pacey (middle shot) faces her, hands in front of him, sidling up to her.(There’s also one more instance later, with Pacey saying, “I can’t keep on kissing you, Jo.”)
  • While they’re making up from their stupid fight, Jen tells Henry that he has a “big beating heart.” Technically we only said we’d take a shot for mentions of Dawson’s heart and the fact that it beats, but I think this warrants one.
  • No wonder the “Will Krudski against the world” pilot didn’t get picked up–his line delivery is so flat, he makes James van der Beek look like Daniel Day-Lewis. –Janes
  • Joey’s double-denim is so back in:
    Screen Shot 2018-05-28 at 9.08.33 PM
  • Oh my God. When a random co-worker says Henry is cute (without knowing he’s her boyfriend), Jen doesn’t, I don’t know, tell her that he’s her boyfriend, but gets unreasonably jealous and annoyed for absolutely no reason? NO HUMAN ACTS LIKE THIS. –Janes
  • I like when Aunt Gwen says that when they were kids, Pacey used to “tease [Joey] mercilessly.” In an episode that’s so heavy on the Dawson/Joey childhood nostalgia, it’s nice to have a reminder that Pacey and Joey have known each other since childhood, too, they just don’t crow about it all the time.
  • Am I too old now to lust after Pacey in his wifebeater? (Oops, too late :/)
    Screen Shot 2018-05-28 at 9.23.44 PM
  • Jen’s whole “I say that I’m never vulnerable with guys because I’m actually soooooooo vulnerable with guys” is getting super old.
    Screen Shot 2018-05-28 at 9.33.08 PM
  • Dawson says that he has spent “all this time reinventing [himself]” but doesn’t “feel any different.” Um, maybe because you’re still only focused on yourself all the goddamn time?? –Janes
  • And then Joey starts laying on the undeserved compliments (shot!), and actually says the words: “I’ve watched you fade into the background and let others shine.” WHEN. HOW. –Janes
  • Um, I actually love that Gwen was told to “paint her future” and then ended up in a little cottage just like her painting. I am such a sap. –Janes
  • Twinsies! –Janes (1)
  • This face Joey makes during her and Dawson’s rendition of “Daydream Believer” is super cute. And the fact that her goofy, nostalgic happiness makes Pacey emotional enough to leave the room is even cuter. –Janes
    giphy (11)
  • “We’re supposed to have our own history!” AW! That gets me every time. –Janes
  • Jen spent the entire beginning of this season calling herself a “feminist,” then tells Shelly to “get [her] boobs away” from Henry and publicly shames the poor girl for (gasp!) being sexually forward with a guy that she thought was single. Literally the worst. –Janes
  • I love that, after squarely establishing “Daydream Believer” as a D/J song, they play an updated cover during Pacey and Joey’s amazing kiss at the end. On the one hand, it’s a great way to symbolize the whole “creating our own history” thing, but on the other hand, it’s a clear middle finger to the D/J ship that probably wouldn’t fly in the Tumblr era.




Closeup of Pacey kissing Joey.


giphy (13)

Maybe this:

Pacey holding a microphone.

Too many choices. Cannot pick.

Most cringeworthy moment:

When Henry finds Jen in the back room, she complains that crying is “such a girl thing to do.” Um… I think crying is the only remotely reasonable thing you’ve done all day, but thanks for that random hit of internalized misogyny. (And he responds that she’s “such a girl.” Ugh. I wish they had both joined Will Krudski in the Great Big Dawson’s Spin-Off in the Sky. –Janes)

Most 90s soundtrack moment:

Most of the karaoke songs are fun 60s throwbacks, including “Daydream Believer” by The Monkees, but Mary Beth Maziarz’s cover is pure 90s (even if it was technically released in 2000).

Most wrongly-used five-dollar word:

Well, it’s pretty clear that Aunt Gwen doesn’t understand what “none of my business” means…

Drunkenness rating:

We added a new rule in honor of this string of episodes: a shot for every time Pacey and Joey are declared to have Ruined Everything Forever. So three for that, plus nine makes twelve: “Jo” and “Joayyy” incidents, random praise of Dawson and male heartbeats, and of course Changing and Evolving, plus a shot for the Color of Money reference and another for the Salinger reference (this one is presumably pretty accurate since, according to Wikipedia, Will Krudski is an existentially conflicted, angsty young fellow who hangs out with a lot of rich kids).

Season 3, Episode 20 “The Longest Day”

By Janes

Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 3.40.39 AM

Let the love triangle begin!

“The Longest Day” isn’t necessarily the best episode of Dawson’s, but it is the most formally ambitious and arguably serves as the fulcrum of the entire plot of the show. In this episode, the events of one pivotal day–the day everyone finds out about Pacey and Joey’s relationship–from four different perspectives, Rashomon-style.

First, we get Pacey’s perspective, starting with an adorable makeout session (or, as Joey funnily calls it, an “embarrassing gropefest”) between Pacey and Joey in the boathouse. There’s really no reason this scene should be as memorable as it is–it’s just a random teaser that provides some exposition on the progress of the P/J relationship after the events of “Stolen Kisses”–but it’s been used in tons of P/J fan videos because it’s just, um, super hot.

giphy (14)

(It might be a little weird for me to say that now that I’m well into my twenties, but whatever.)

In this scene, Pacey and Joey kiss, talk about how they shouldn’t be kissing, and kiss some more. In between the kissing, they exposit that they’ve been keeping their new relationship a secret from everyone and that they both feel guilty about Dawson. Joey finally expresses her feelings for Pacey with as much teenage eloquence as he’s been demonstrating the past few weeks (“How can I tell [Dawson] that I’ve developed some sort of bizarre gravitational pull towards his best friend, and I can’t stop thinking about him, or wanting to be near him, or wanting to kiss him all the time?”), and Pacey tells her to give him one day to tell Dawson what’s going on. It’s great, because while they’re kind of doing the whole Dawson/Joey analyzing and navel-gazing thing, but unlike D/J, it’s all sort of in service of their can’t-keep-their-hands-off-each-other chemistry.

Pacey then goes on a wild goose chase trying to find Dawson (a quaint TV plot that could only happen before all kids had smartphones), which includes a casual run-in with Andie at the library. He ends up back at Dawson’s house, ready to deliver the news, when Joey runs up in a panic. She tells Pacey with her huge eyes that things are “really complicated” with her and Dawson (shot!), that it has “nothing to do with [Pacey]” (um, ouch), and that the news has to come from her or “it’s going to ruin everything” (three shots!). He quickly figures out that she’s not trying to tell Dawson herself, she’s not-so-subtly trying to prevent anyone from telling Dawson ever, and she does a terrible job denying it.

Finally, Dawson comes out of the house and catches them mid-couples argument. Pacey haltingly admits for the both of them that “There’s an us now,” and the world quietly implodes. James van der Beek actually does a decent job of looking scary-angry, like a spoiled young king about to order some executions.

Then, in a twist that probably surprised me when I first saw it (I’ve seen this ep so, so many times that I do not remember), we hear Joey’s voiceover say, “Do you ever have a day you wish you could live all over again?”, and then we live the day again from her perspective. She and Jen have a rare, refreshingly honest conversation–which still doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers–about Joey’s decision of whether to tell Dawson about Pacey. Jen also reminds Joey that she needs to be careful with Pacey’s feelings, especially since his heart was already broken by Andie, and in an obvious but nicely played transition, we cut to Joey witnessing Andie and Pacey’s casual conversation in the library about Andie’s date with Will “Who?” Krudski.

While most of the episode is not really like Rashomon (or even Joshua Jackson’s current perspective-shifting show, The Affair), since it occasionally breaks perspective, and the vast majority of the action in each perspective doesn’t quite overlap, Andie and Pacey’s seemingly innocent convo is filtered very differently through Joey’s perspective. She’s not exactly jealous, but the scene is a heavy-handed reminder that they both come with emotional baggage, and that there will be major fallout when everyone discovers their feelings for each other. This is only reinforced when Andie chatters to Joey about how that conversation brought back every “adorable/irritating” thing he ever did. Clearly, this tiny, insignificant interaction was interpreted differently by Pacey, Joey, and Andie respectively, which is pretty complex and fascinating for a teen show.

In the next obvious-yet-elegant transition, Andie says that that’s the test for whether you’re over your ex: “When you’re not over someone, you run into them and it’s like boom: floodgates.” Joey then runs into Dawson and has another interaction that’s normal on the surface, but clearly means different things to each character. Katie Holmes does a great job of leaving Joey’s feelings somewhat ambiguous: she clearly feels something, but it’s difficult to tell whether it’s primarily unresolved romantic feelings or guilt or (the most likely option) a mixture of both.

Joey calls Pacey to stop him from telling Dawson, and then runs over to Dawson’s house to make sure. And this is the coolest thing the episode does with the Rashomon gimmick: from Joey’s perspective, since she doesn’t realize that Dawson already knows about Pacey, she interprets his demeanor as normal, even breezy. While when we see the same scene from Dawson’s perspective, his demeanor is still casual, but in a forced, calculating way, like he’s trying to lure Joey into a false sense of security.

Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 1.00.10 AM

And because Joey doesn’t know he knows (and he knows that she doesn’t know he knows), Dawson is able to make pointed comments that, from her perspective, seem completely innocuous. Even when he weirdly brings up the movie they watched on their first date and starts talking about a suspiciously familiar love triangle that ends in complete and utter disaster, she remembers him saying these things casually, and laughing a little like, “Ha, I don’t know why I’m telling you this story.”

Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 1.26.38 AM

But then when we see it from Dawson’s perspective, the smiles look more like grimaces, and his tone is colder and more strained. When he tells the story about The Last Picture Show, James van der Beek delivers it bitterly, and more like a threat.

Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 1.46.41 AM

And then, of course, Dawson throws a MASSIVE hissy fit, the likes of which haven’t been seen before on this show. He lashes out at Joey, asking if she’s “bored, confused, or just malicious.” (Right, because everything’s about you, Mr. I Step Back and Let Others Shine.) Then he lashes out at Pacey, spitting that “sex doesn’t come above friendship in your list of personal priorities.” Wow, so first Joey could only want to be with Pacey if she’s bored or trying to get back at Dawson, and Pacey could only want to date Joey to get her into bed. In just a few lines, Dawson has degraded both of these people, whom he supposedly loves, in a multitude of ways.

Then, Joey follows Dawson into the house (bad sign for Pacey), and she and Dawson get into an epic screaming match that leaves me a little shaken every time I watch it. (Or, more accurately, Dawson screams at Joey while she desperately tries to make things better, which makes the scene all the more disturbing.) First, Dawson goes out of his way to degrade and sexually shame Joey again, telling her that she better be ready to have sex with Pacey, because “That’s what he’s going to expect.” Ew, projection much? Then, when Joey very calmly points out that they are not together (!!) and they haven’t been together for a year, he takes that as evidence that she’s trying to “punish” him for not wanting to get back together. (Right, because he’s God’s fucking gift.)

Then, Dawson gets to the heart of the matter. He says that she keeps saying she wants to “find herself,” but apparently what she found was Pacey. This is complete revisionist history, of course, since she only said that when she broke up with him the first time around. This time, she just wanted to find someone who didn’t send her father back to prison. But still, there’s a great, very honest moment when Dawson asks her how she and Pacey ended up together when they’ve done nothing but argue their whole lives, and she answers, “I can’t explain it, it just happened.” Compared to her relationship with Dawson, which is “complicated” (shot!) and constantly under analysis, her relationship with Pacey is more organic, it’s just the result of life happening.

Dawson, of course, can’t handle this type of nuance. He needs her to outline, point by point, why Pacey is better for her, but she just says, “I need him. He responds, childishly, “Do you need him like you need me?”, and she very maturely explains that her feelings for him and her feelings for Pacey have nothing to do with each other. But of course, he can’t handle that either, and he screams at her that she’ll have to make a choice, and that if she doesn’t choose him, she won’t have his friendship as a “consolation prize.” He finishes up his vicious little tantrum with a classic, “This ruins EVERYTHING!! There’s no going back!” (Shots!)

Finally, Joey and Pacey have a really well-acted little breakup scene on the dock, where Joey delivers that refrain we’ve heard all episode, “Ever have a day you wish you could live all over again?” They come to the sad conclusion that it wouldn’t really matter if they did things differently, because they’re in a terrible situation, and there was really no good way out of it. After avoiding the subject with some heavy-handed boat metaphors, Pacey says, “It’s over, isn’t it?” Joey says it has to be, and Pacey selflessly respects her decision and doesn’t try to talk her out of it, even though he’s clearly heartbroken. Contrast that with Dawson, who immediately resolves to get Joey back, regardless of her wants or needs. I know this breakup is only going to last like, two seconds, but goddammit, Dawson!!

  • This episode is clearly a nod to Rashomon, and yet, the title is a reference to a seemingly random 60s war movie about D-Day. I know the Dawson’s kids would just love to compare their teen drama to WWII, but still, two shots!
  • During the “gropefest,” Joey protests that they should stop making out because they’re supposed to “christen” Pacey’s boat. Dirty!
  • Is this the last time we see Buzz? When his mom is late picking him up and he breaks Doug’s answering machine? I’m not complaining, since I was kind of sick of the Buzz plotline before it even started, but it’s sort of funny that the writers invested so much in this character only to realize that all the imminent love triangle drama left no room for precocious spiky-headed children.
  • OMG, it’s so cute when Pacey and Doug pass him back and forth like a football, though. Bye forever, Buzz!
    Screen Shot 2018-05-28 at 11.46.12 PM
  • The scene where Jen encourages Pacey to tell Dawson that “the girl he can’t live without is the same girl you can’t live without” is very cute and mature, especially considering that both of these guys are her sort of her exes. Poor Jen. No one cares about you.
  • “Whatever happens,” Doug warns Pacey, “Joey and Dawson will stay whatever they are, and you’re going to end up alone. No girlfriend, no friend, just completely alone.” Again, does Pacey only have one friend?? These kids really need to branch out.
  • We randomly see a little bit more of Pacey and Joey’s makeout scene in the beginning of Dawson’s perspective, which doesn’t really make sense for the gimmick. But I’m totally here for it, because it means we get to see Joey bite her lip before they kiss and look totally bowled over after.

    giphy (15)

    These two SLAY me.

    giphy (16)

  • Dawson tells Will that a movie is a bad idea for a first date because you can’t talk, which I realize is common wisdom, but I don’t agree! Especially on the first few dates, it’s better to have a shared experience before you have to talk to each other, because you know you have something to talk about. (Plus, Will’s going on a date with Andie, so he’ll probably want to talk to her as little as humanly possible.)
  • Okay, Jen is generally on a roll this episode, but seriously, HOW could she be so stupid as to blow P/J’s cover!! Dawson is clearly not upset when he comes over to her house, and she knows Joey was on the fence about telling him, so how, how could she not wait for Dawson to bring up this humongous secret that will RUIN EVERYTHING FOREVER???
  • I have little to no sympathy for Dawson after his manipulation and sexual shaming, but it is kind of sad when he comes out of his house and says, “You’re having an argument. Of course.” It’s his own fault, but it must suck to realize that Joey and Pacey have been arguing themselves into a love story under your nose this whole time.
  • Similarly, when he bitterly asks if they’re in love, and then flips the f*ck out because Pacey looks at Joey for guidance, I actually kind of get it. I mean, it’s a childish overreaction, but it must be rough to see that specific kind of intimacy, the fact that they naturally form a team.Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 1.54.46 AM
  • In the most boring date scene of all time, Will lectures Andie about the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice because… Will is losing faith in Andie? (As he should, since she’s still in love with Pacey.) Because Andie is losing faith in Pacey? (As she should, since he’s in love with Joey.) Because… if you love something, you should let it go? Definitely not what that myth is actually about. Five shots!
  • Andie lectures Pacey about how Joey will never love him the way she loves Dawson, because “He’s her first love, Pacey! Her first love!!!” Like, I get that Andie is really saying she still loves Pacey, but seriously, what decade is this?
  • Not for nothing, but the acting during the fight between Dawson and Joey is top-notch. Katie Holmes kills it as usual, but James van der Beek steps it up as well, portraying Dawson as equal parts frightening and pathetic, like every emotional abuser you’ve ever met.
  • Although, par for the course, that’s immediately upstaged by Pacey and Joey’s breakup scene. Joshua Jackson’s manly single tear kills me every time!
    Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 2.48.38 AM
  • How cute is this little hair-tug while Pacey tries to protect Joey from having to tell Dawson? Answer: so cute.
    Joey and Pacey (3/4 facing away from camera); Pacey has his hands in Joey's hair and Joey looks sad.
    –Nerdy Spice
  • OMG and then he does it again when Joey is freaking out outside Dawson’s house that night:
    Joey looks down, looking sad, and Pacey (facing away from camera) tugs gently on her hair.
    –Nerdy Spice

  • Pacey gives Andie a big smile and an affectionate squeeze on the arm when he finds out she’s going on a date with his childhood friend, showing once again what actual maturity would look like, as opposed to Dawson’s fake, self-congratulatory imitation of “maturity.” –Nerdy Spice
  • Poor Doug. Pacey leaves him all alone with Buzz and then comes home and, instead of apologizing, drinks the milk out of his fridge, straight out of the carton! That has to shoot chills into Doug’s neat and tidy little heart. –Nerdy Spice
  • It is really sad how everyone keeps telling Pacey that he’s going to end up alone over this. It’s melodramatic, but also quite possibly true, but also just (to be fangirly for one second, and by “one second” I mean “the entire duration of this rewatch project”) a testament to how much he is willing to risk for this. –Nerdy Spice
  • I think Bessie, who sacrificed her youth and untold hours and money caring for her younger sister, would be very interested to hear how Joey’s running all over town declaring that Dawson “was my family when I didn’t have any.” –Nerdy Spice
  • I feel like the weird loop hanging off this champagne bottle that Dawson gives to Pacey must be some kind of sailor’s knot, but doesn’t it look amusingly rather like a hangman’s noose?
    Dawson hands Pacey a champagne bottle with a loop of rope coming out of it.
    –Nerdy Spice

  • I enjoy Joey coming out of the back of this boathouse trying to act all natural with a little hair flip, like she wasn’t just in the middle of making out with Pacey four seconds ago (not that it convinces the all-knowing Jen):
    Long shot: Joey walks around the dock, flipping her hair.
    –Nerdy Spice

  • Joey’s fake cheerfulness when she sees Dawson is hilariously transparent. Katie Holmes is funny! –Nerdy Spice
  • Dawson finds out his ex is dating his friend and invites her over to play some sick psychological joke on her where he makes her watch a movie about a love triangle and tells her that the movie ends with everyone hating each other. And then when he finds Pacey and Joey outside, he stands over them on his porch steps looking all superior as they realize he knew all along. It’s pretty twisted! –Nerdy Spice
  • So Will’s looking for a secret studying room that Andie told him about, and Dawson suggests that it’s the genealogy room. Um, Capeside high school’s library has a genealogy room? What kind of fancy-ass school is this? –Nerdy Spice
  • Dawson figures out what Jen’s talking about after about five seconds, which I think shows that he kind of already knew. –Nerdy Spice
  • “Are you bored, are you confused, or just malicious?” Dawson asks Joey as to why she’s with Pacey. Wow, ego much? –Nerdy Spice
  • How come Will gets to explain Orpheus and Eurydice to Andie when she compares their river-rowing date to Greek mythology? Maybe we wouldn’t have such a mansplaining problem if it weren’t for scenes like this, where the woman mentions a topic and the man magically knows everything about it, except the “everything” he knows is the most obvious thing ever and in real life she would have known everything he’s saying if she was interested enough in the topic to bring it up in the first place, but in the scene she’s like, “Wow! Tell me more about the most famous Greek myth that exists!” Oh, and um, by the way… there actually isn’t a river crossing heavily featured in Orpheus and Eurydice. They crossed out of the underworld by walking, at least in the best-known versions. So Will’s reference doesn’t even make sense in context. –Nerdy Spice
  • Dawson declares that instead of letting Joey go, he can “fight for what [I] want.” That language was so common in movies when I was younger, like girls were just a thing you could get, like a sports trophy or college admissions. Super toxic—and Dawson will demonstrate just how toxic in the next episode. –Nerdy Spice


Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 12.34.29 AM

Needless to say, there’s a whole lot of woman-blaming this episode, but it’s almost counteracted by a rare, sweet (and feminist!) moment between Joey and Jen. Joey is expressing anxiety about ruining Dawson and Pacey’s friendship, and she says, “The girl’s always the villain, right? In stories like these, she’s always the wicked, conniving whore who manipulates her way between two brothers or two best friends…” and then Jen, who is a great fairweather feminist, replies, “Joey, keep in mind that most of those stories have been written by men.” YUSS. Dawson’s isn’t really a feminist show, as we’ve documented extensively, but it makes a huge difference that for the most part, this love triangle is filtered through Joey, her feelings, and her character development.

Then it gets even better: Joey genuinely compliments Jen on her free-spiritedness. She says that, like Pacey, Jen “feels things and acts on them” and behaves like she’s “fearless.” Considering how threatened Joey was by Jen just a season ago, it’s great to see her give Jen a compliment that’s somewhat based on her superior worldliness.

Most cringeworthy moment:

In a completely irrelevant subplot, Henry goes from creepy puppy dog to gross horndog, refuses to listen to Jen’s problems, and tells her he’s rather make out than discuss “whatever little mini-drama [she] and her friends have whipped up this week.” This is already irredeemable assholery, but the best part is when she very calmly tells him to leave and he says, “Now you’re being irrational.” He’s going to be so deliriously happy when Reddit is invented. (It’s like the grand slam of casual sexism. –Nerdy Spice)

Drunkenness level:

Nineteen for a classic episode: inaccurate references, oh-so-“complicated” relationships, and of course, lots and lots of women-blaming.

Season 3, Episode 21 “Show Me Love”

By Nerdy Spice

Medium shot of Joey, Pacey, and Dawson all making angry faces at the dock.

In a string of really really great episodes, this episode is memorably… annoying.

Remember how I mentioned that the next few episodes would showcase the crappy sides of Dawson’s personality and make it even more clear what Joey should do? Well, this episode is like Exhibits A through ZZ. Basically, Dawson exhibits every single quality of toxic masculinity, from thinking that being in love with a woman entitles you to her returning that love, to thinking that violence and speed are the ways to prove oneself a better man, to thinking that he knows everything about everything due to sheer arrogance. And it kind of works, because he manipulates Joey’s guilt and her dependence on him to keep her close to him despite knowing that she doesn’t want to be. It’s very unpleasant, for Joey and for everyone. But the episode at least makes it very clear that Dawson’s attitude is wrong, that it makes Joey feel like an object and a trophy, and that she’s choosing him only because he is threatening her with the loss of his friendship.

If you’ll recall, the end of the last episode found Dawson vowing to “fight for what you want,” which is PatriarchySpeak for “treating a woman like a what instead of a who because her own desires mean absolutely nothing to you and you feel entitled to do anything to make sure your desires are met.” So in this episode, he sets his sights on manipulating Joey into being with him again. Meanwhile, the browbeaten Joey has set her sights on avoiding all conflict at all costs, which makes Dawson’s job quite a bit easier. First, he finds Joey at her wall and spouts a lot of cliched metaphors about how he and Joey should “rebuild” and “move forward.” Joey—interestingly, given who bought the wall for her—puts him off by saying that she needs to paint her wall first. I’m guessing she’s not all that keen on letting Dawson get those controlling long-fingered hands on her life decisions again.

Then, he sets his sights on getting “what he wants” by out-masculinity-ing Pacey, which really isn’t the way to go either in terms of the audience (what does Joey care about masculinity?) or, frankly, the competing parties’ respective athletic abilities. There’s a Big Boat Race (which according to Wikipedia is accurate because a regatta is a series of boat races, which, who knew?) and Leery’s Fresh Fish is sponsoring Pacey. Mitch, proving that the vindictive asshole doesn’t fall far from the tree, thinks they shouldn’t do it, but Gail goes forward. Dawson pretends he’s fine, both to his parents and to Pacey (for the first five seconds at least), and Joey gets her hopes up when she sees Pacey’s flag, but Dawson has something else in mind. He borrows Jack and Andie’s boat to race against Pacey. His theory is that he’s been sitting on his butt moping too much (true) and that entering a race against Pacey will convince Joey he’s awesome again (false).

The most obnoxious part of it is that he gets the Potter B&B to sponsor him, even paying the entry fee, which gives Bessie free advertising if he wins. Joey, still bent on being nice to everyone in the hopes that all her problems will disappear, pretends to be fine with this till Bessie shows up. She has never spoken truer words than what she says to Bessie: “It’s not free! Dawson may have put down the cash, but you’re obligating me.” YUP. He’s using his money to manipulate her, and by accepting it, Bessie’s putting Joey in the position of having to be involved with Dawson just when he’s trying to trap her into a relationship.

Joey, knowing that Dawson can’t be reasoned with (and perhaps, wisely, not wanting to talk to him at all), instead asks Pacey to reason with him. Pacey mopes a little about how they only ever talk about Dawson (uh… get used to it, kid) but agrees. He finds Dawson the night before the race and challenges Dawson to punch him instead. “Do you think that indulging yourself in some James-Dean-meets-Grease-Lightning fantasy that you’re actually going to prove that you’re a better man than I am?” YESSSSSSS. That is exactly what he thinks, and it’s exactly that stupid. Dawson claims he’s already a better man because Pacey had the nerve to fall for Joey, and says, “Are you delusional enough to believe that you actually have something real with Joey?” Pacey gets in another excellent zinger when he says, “Well if I do, it’s because of her own free will.” This, of course, means nothing to Dawson, because free will would require Joey to be something more than a cardboard prop for his narcissism. And then he says, “Do you actually think that you could possibly hold on to that beautiful woman with some sort of selfish ultimatum?” NICE. (Also, shot! He called Joey a woman.) Dawson gets in one zinger of his own with a reference to the fact that Joey was upset about him when Pacey started to fall for her: “You’re only interested in the girls that you can save or screw, right Pace?” Crude, but it does the job, and Pacey leaves. That said, Pacey is obviously right about everything. Dawson has no respect for Joey’s free will and is trying to hold on to her by manipulating and threatening her. The only surprising thing, to me, is that the show was willing to actually say this stuff about its Mary Sue of a main character.

Even more absurd is that it turns out Dawson knows jack shit about sailing but I guess thought that his penis was going to magically give him the knowledge he needs, or something? Jack offers to sail with Dawson, but gets hit in the head by the boom during practice for his generosity, and Mitch has to tell them things like where the jib sheet is. Jack wisely deserts the cause out of self-preservation, so Mitch steps up. Dawson shows some minor sense of selflessness, hesitating that he doesn’t want to divide the household even more, but Mitch is fine with it, since he totally identifies with Dawson’s belief that he owns Joey’s lips and vagina till the day she dies anyway.

With Mitch’s help, the utterly unqualified Dawson manages to keep up with Pacey, and at the finish, as Pacey’s in the lead, he heads right for Pacey’s course despite everyone on the water, including Mitch, yelling that the True Love had the right of way. “I’m not getting out of his way!” he yells, like… that’s not how sports work? The True Love swerves off the race and loses due to Dawson’s blatant cheating, and Dawson crosses the line first, so he gets out of the water crowing to Joey that he won. “If you knew a little more about sailing you would know that you got disqualified,” Joey says.

Pacey and Dawson get into a screaming match which Dawson ends by moaning that he still loves Joey, clearly expecting that this is going to cause her to melt at his feet. Joey rants that she’s not a “trophy” (YEP) and then says wisely, “No one person is worth this. Neither one of you and especially not me.”

Dawson, of course, runs after her. She tells him she’s not good for him, given how he behaved today. True story. Dawson’s excuse is that “I behaved the way I did today because I was threatened.” Like, yeah, we know. Joey, who is dropping truth bombs all over the place, says that Dawson doesn’t want her, he just doesn’t want to lose her. She basically tells him if he doesn’t want to lose her, he should be her friend and be there for her. He agrees to that way too eagerly, so she gets sad and walks off.

That night, Pacey finds her standing in front of her still-completely-blank wall in her trademark painting bandanna. He offers to renew the lease for her, but she says she’s not ready to paint. “After the way he behaved today I really thought you’d love him less, but you don’t, do you,” he says sadly. Joey just begs him not to make this harder than it is, and he’s like, sure, but first let me ask this other extremely painful question: “If it weren’t for Dawson, could you ever love me like that? Like a soulmate?” Joey just begs to be let off the hook again. Pacey’s last words are, “I’ll renew the lease on the wall first thing in the morning. And I understand. I do. There are no ultimatums here.” He’s obviously consciously comparing himself to Dawson—but it is a pretty true comparison. Joey, however, takes this as carte blanche to enter ever deeper into her denial bubble, and goes over to Dawson’s to watch ET and recreate their sexless childhood sleepovers. (Semi-successfully: it’s equally sexless, but with a lot more awkward glances.)

Meanwhile, Jen, Andie, and Jack are relegated to literal ornamentation: they make flower wreaths to display at the Big Boat Race, while Henry stands outside stalking Jen with signs demanding her to forgive him. Jen says that it’s because he’s a “typical teenaged boy” with a “one-track mind,” like… no? It’s because he belittled your problems as “mini-dramas” and said he didn’t want to hear about them? Both Grams and Gail think it’s just a cute romantic thing that boys do, so Jen is slowly worn down into talking to him, just as he wanted. It’s SO creepy and gross. And then he like makes her go up to the roof with him, where he’s set up a trail of rose petals leading to a bunch of pillows for a supposed “picnic.” Um, ew? But at least he admits that he “stopped hearing you” and promises not to do it again, so… it could be worse? Jen stays out with him all night, leading to Grams being totally horrified and Jen getting all self-pitying that Grams doesn’t realize that she’s changed. (Shot for a pity party for Jen, another for discussions of Changing, and another for people slut-shaming her when she still hasn’t gotten laid in the entire timeline of the show.) Then somehow Grams manages to get over herself and rev up for a big talk about birth control, which is freaking impressive, until Jen reveals that they didn’t have sex after all, and she just let Grams freak out for nothing because she’s Jen Lindley and she likes to create drama.

There’s also a bit where Andie and Will end their little thing because Will got a scholarship to a great boarding school (where Young Americans would be set). It gives Andie just enough time to show her true colors by declaring that Pacey and Joey “brought this on themselves.” God, she’s such a jerk. Will points out that they didn’t set out to hurt Andie and Andie has the ABSOLUTE GALL to say that “I didn’t set out to hurt Pacey either, but he offered me no forgiveness.” Um, Andie? You cheated on him while you were together. Pacey made out with Joey six months after you broke up due to aforementioned cheating incident. Will tells her she’s better than that, which… talk about love goggles. Pacey sends him off to the train station and advises him not to sleep with any of his teachers. Very helpful! Will’s advice to him is that “True love always wins in the end.” Aww. After his talk with Joey, Pacey tears the True Love placard off his boat and throws it into the water, but Andie rescues it and attempts to be “better than that” by declaring that she refuses to hate him (although there’s a lot of verbiage about being “betrayed” in the midst of all this supposed maturity, TBH).

Oh and there’s a D-plot about Gail and Mitch making up, if anyone cares, which they don’t. Gail closes the restaurant so they can have dinner. She loses shit tons of business from the Big Boat Race but declares that Mitch is more important, which is… probably not true when you have a brand-new restaurant and a chance to actually make money for once, but we all know Gail isn’t a very good restaurateur.

So there you have it: all the various horrible ways that people “show love” in this poorly-titled episode. In fact, the only person who actually shows love in any way, male or female (well, other than Grams, but that’s a different kind of love!), is Pacey, who loves Joey enough to give her her space while she figures shit out, and even enough to not be resentful that she clearly still loves Dawson on some level.

  • The opening montage is set to a very nineties-indie-rock song that doesn’t seem exactly suited to montages. Dawson stares at Aunt Gwen’s dumb painting of him and Joey, Joey stares at the wall Pacey bought for her which is still blank, Pacey washes the True Love, and Henry stands outside Jen’s door with a sign asking to forgive him.
  • The montage continues at school, with Dawson ostentatiously ignoring Pacey and Joey. Joey can’t find anywhere to sit at lunch because Dawson is hostile to her and she knows he’ll be even more hostile if she sits with Pacey, so she ends up sitting alone.
  • Pacey tells Dawson that he’s glad Dawson’s mad at him now since Pacey’s the one who deserves it, and Dawson calls this “chivalrous, self-deprecating crap.” I kind of agree—Pacey’s white knight complex has been much discussed here, and if I were Dawson I’d honestly be mad at both of them. On the other hand, as someone’s ex, you are expected to date again; as someone’s so-called best friend, you really aren’t supposed to date their ex. It’s just made more complicated by the fact that Joey and Dawson did remain friends.
  • I like Joey’s Happy McKayla smirk when she sees Pacey’s boat flying the Leery flag. Her face is very “Yay! If Dawson is cool with everything I can totally date Pacey again!”
    Joey, wearing a jean jacket, smiles to herself and looks to her right.
  • What the hell is wrong with Jen? She’s plucking petals off daisies like she’s playing “He loves me he loves me not” while Henry is outside stalking her. Girl, the question is not whether he loves you. It’s why you’re still dating someone so shitty.
  • Jack at first tells Dawson he can’t have the McPhee boat “Because pieces of the last boat you borrowed are still floating around the Creek, that’s why.” Hee!
  • “What’s the problem with Dawson seizing the day? I mean, Pacey most certainly did,” Andie says. Is that what the kids are calling it these days?
  • Jack’s eyeroll when Andie expresses her passionate support of Dawson is all of us:
    Jack rolling his eyes, wearing a red sweater.

  • Bessie tells Joey that “your actions have consequences, forcing life to constantly move forward. Why do you think they call it growing up?” Two shots for moving forward and growing up! (It’s not from Joey, which is technically the rule, but it’s to Joey.)
  • Pacey’s sailing shirt is very on point. I don’t know if it’s a common thing to wear shirts with little fishies on them to Big Boat Races, but it’s a cute touch:
    Pacey stands in street, wearing a shirt with fish printed on it.

  • Jen says Henry is the most original person in her life. Um… a trail of rose petals leading to a romantic apology date is not original. At all.
  • Grams thinks that Jen is telling her a whole romantic story about her first time with Henry, and I know she’s supposed to be all prudish and old-fashioned, but that really would be way TMI if it were actually about sex. Pulling off my glasses with this heavy-hearted look is probably exactly what I’d do in this situation myself:
    Closeup as Grams takes off her glasses, looking sad.

  • Mitch makes a Ben-Hur reference in relation to Dawson’s race. I’ve never read it, but according to Wikipedia, this is a story about Jesus (wow, comparing your vindictive main character to Jesus… bold move) and also about “a revenge plot that leads to a story of love and compassion” (wouldn’t go that far either). But it does apparently feature a chariot race where the main character purposely cheats by scraping the chariot of, and crippling, his romantic rival. The best part? After many years, the woman they were fighting about kills his romantic rival because she discovers that his people are evil or something. So, props (and one shot) for perhaps the most hilariously outlandish and yet kind of on point reference this show has made.
  • Shot for a man blaming a woman for his dumb choices: After the race, Dawson tells Joey that he was just trying to be the kind of guy she wanted: “You went for a guy who beat up a bully and bought you a wall.” Sure. Because that’s the same as “guy who entered a sporting event he knew nothing about and cheated in a way that risked the lives of his father, himself, and three of his friends.”
  • Mitch is actually a terrible father. First, he tells Dawson that his mother will give up a business opportunity just because he had a falling out with his friend (no wonder Dawson is such a spoiled little puke). Then, he helps Dawson try to beat Pacey, even though that also means competing against his wife, because he’s so intensely invested in a relationship between two sixteen-year-olds. What a fucking weirdo. —Janes
  • Grams thinks Jen should forgive Henry because “all boys only want one thing,” then gets mad because she thinks Jen had make-up sex with him. I love Grams, but what a funny indictment of religious hypocrisy.–Janes
  • Dawson accuses Pacey of going after Joey because she was vulnerable, because he only wants women that he can “save or screw.” I mean, Dawson was the one who just last episode was telling Joey that Pacey just wanted to fuck her, and now he’s the one implying that Joey needed to be saved. Again with the projection. —Janes


Mmmmm… besides the opening montage, because, well, montages, I guess it would have to be Grams putting on her big-girl panties and telling Jen that she’s grown up now and it’s time for her to learn about birth control. Everyone’s talking a big game about growing up, but Grams takes the biggest leap in this episode!

Most cringe-worthy moment:

So much to pick from, but I guess Mitch totally supporting Dawson in his idiotic quest is probably the cringiest. He even tells Gail that he’s proud of Dawson for standing up for himself, so we have further confirmation of where Dawson got his toxic notion of masculinity from. Gail then also misses the mark by claiming that she supports “fighting for what you want” (this AGAIN?!) but that he should fight with his mind. Yeah… I think “but Joey is a person, not an object” is the correct end to that sentence. Also, pretty sure Dawson has the whole fighting-with-his-mind thing covered with his constant psychological assault on Joey.

Most 90s soundtrack moment:

“Somebody Loved” by The Weepies, which plays when Jen and Henry make up (ew) and when Mitch and Gail make up (whatever). Cute song, though.

Drunkenness level:

Eight shots, mostly for discussions of growing up, amusing references, and of course, Men Blaming Women For Stuff.

Next installment here.

Previous installment here.


  1. I’m reading the blog with interest, and I’m in awe of the depth of analysis and master of reference to multi-media cultural products (from medieval English literature to pop songs from the ’90s), but I have to notice a major inaccuracy in the commentary to episode 21: the reference to Ben-Hur does not make reference to the book, but to the 1959 movie, one of the most successful movies ever. I watched it over 30 years ago, as a kid, and as a matter of fact, the scene of the race is the one that most stuck in my memory!



    1. Ah that makes sense, given that all the characters much prefer movie adaptations to the original books! I have to admit I haven’t read or seen it, but I knew of the book thanks to its appearance in Anne of Green Gables. Thanks for reading and commenting!!



  2. Dawson wouldnt have responded any differently whether they had told him right away or not! He would have still shamed joey and insulted and lied about pacey! So, regardless of what he blathers on and on about multiple times in multiple episodes as far as if they had only told him right away, his response would have been the same! And anyway, he had to be blind if he couldnt see the chemistry between pacey and joey.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s