Season 4, Episode 4 “Future Tense”
When I first watched this episode at fourteen years old, I didn’t enjoy it, because it was just too real. I didn’t want to watch these characters go through the awful college process–why would I need to, when I was already in the thick of it? But now that that’s all over, I really love these college-centric episodes. Although none of these teen shows really understood how the process worked, Dawson’s did a much better job than most of capturing the paralyzing uncertainty of this period (and the inherent stupidity of ubiquitous questions like “Where do you see yourself in five years?”). Plus… the return of Drunk Joey!!
We open on Joey and Pacey being adorable together, as per usual, but with a caveat. Pacey sees that she’s been receiving mail from all of the most elite colleges in the country, and gets understandably anxious about the future, which drives Joey to try to hide the mail and then underplay its significance. It’s sensitive for Joey to do this, and Pacey isn’t really doing anything wrong, but still, Joey is already kind of hiding her accomplishments, which is a bad sign. They awkwardly talk around the inevitability of Joey going away to college, and she not-so-subtly maps out exactly how the show will solve the college problem: “Maybe I’ll just go to one of those fictional colleges. you know? Like on those lame high school TV shows that go on for way too long and then just in time to save the franchise it turns out there is this amazing world-class college just right around the corner where all the principal characters are accepted.” Shot for the ridiculously on-the-nose meta-reference!
Yay, it’s a montage! (A surprisingly stressful montage, but a montage all the same.) All of the main kids sit down with the school guidance counselor, and are all dealing with the tortuous college admissions process in their own idiosyncratically neurotic ways. Jen is avoiding the reality of college entirely, Andie is already done with all of her applications and is horribly perky about it (ugh, we all had an Andie), Pacey is glumly defeatist about his college prospects, Jack is busy “focusing on football” because he’s a dingus, and Dawson whines about how “everyone just assumes I want to go to film school” (um, everyone meaning… your parents?? Because I’m pretty sure no one else gives a shit about where you apply to school). Dawson’s whining is made all the more annoying when juxtaposed against the very real obstacles Joey’s up against: she’s the first in her family to apply to college, so she doesn’t have anyone to help her through the process, she doesn’t have enough money to apply to many schools, and even if she gets in, she’ll need a lot of financial aid to actually go (which, as you all know, we will hear much more about later in the season).
Joey finds out that she’s fourth in the class, and tries her very hardest not to look terribly disappointed. (Also, is that even realistic? We’re talking about a girl who lives in a tiny town and once did an extra credit project to get two points back on her midterm. I know she has more burdens to bear than the other kids, but she’d probably at least be second after Andie.) Then it gets really sad: the guidance counselor gently (but maybe a little too honestly) tells Joey that while she’s talented enough to get into a top school, it’s a crapshoot for anyone and she needs to prepare for the possibility that she won’t get in where she wants. Katie Holmes’ “trying not to cry” face is tragic:
For obvious reasons, Joey doesn’t feel like she can talk to Pacey about her anxiety over the possibility of not getting into an Ivy League school, which leads to Joey and Bessie having a completely darling sister moment (mostly because Joey doesn’t have any actual friends to talk to, but still, I dig it). Bessie reassures Joey, and tells her that regardless of Pacey’s situation, she should be able to talk to him about it. “Your dreams are your dreams, Joey. You can’t apologize for them.” Aw! Yay, sisters!!
Meanwhile Dawson, who doesn’t have any actual problems in his life, feels the need to manufacture some to complain about, like how higher education is “kind of a misnomer” because, um, people like to party and talk to members of the opposite sex. I like the idea of Dawson being more cynical after the whole P/J thing (or should I say *last spring*), but even the most cynical version of Dawson is a privileged, whiny little puke. Case in point: he tells his mother, who is working hard to pay for his college education, that college is just a “holding pen for 18-22-year-olds” and likens it to “prison with a better meal plan.” Say it with me: SHUT UP, DAWSON.
THEN, he and Gail have one of those conversations that would only ever happen on a teen soap, where she sees that he’s only considering schools on the West Coast and automatically assumes that his main motivation is getting away from Joey. This is ridiculous on so many levels, not the least of which that he wants to be a FILMMAKER, so where the hell else would he go. But of course, she turns out to be right, because Dawson is the most absurd, melodramatic human on the planet. Whatever.
On a happier note, Drew is still delightful. After revealing himself as Jen’s childhood friend/nemesis last episode, he tries to bring her out of her boring existence by planning a months-early birthday party for her–without her permission. Along the way, he and Jen develop a fun, quippy dynamic that’s almost as sexually charged as his banter with Joey: he makes a funny comment about Jen’s “whole Hip to Be Square thing,” she tells him “this isn’t a funk, it’s my personality,” eliciting his funny response, “Harsh.” He even calls the celebration an “omnibus retroactive birthday celebration” to make up for lost time, using several big words in a row correctly. The writing gets so much better when Drew’s around!
Right before the not-birthday party, Joey and Pacey have an adorably realistic scene together, in which Joey tries to confide in him about her college anxieties. Pacey makes a valiant attempt to be sensitive to her fears, but understandably has a hard time, since he’s looking down the barrel of not graduating from high school. So even though he’s clearly trying to be supportive, he does pretty much everything he promises not to do: he laughs at her, trivializes her fears, and says, “We should all have your problems.” She can’t be mad at him exactly, because he wraps this non-supportive reaction in high compliments about how she has “one of the brightest future on the face of the planet” (aw), so she reacts exactly like a girlfriend would under these circumstances: she puts the kibosh on the conversation and takes him to Jen’s not-birthday party with every intention of getting plastered.
Joey and Pacey arrive at the party, and Pacey immediately tries to stop her from drinking because she “can’t hold her liquor,” which is clearly a reference to her incident in the first season (because apparently it’s her fault that she was almost date-raped and she should never be allowed to drink again). When she calls him out for his double standards, since he’s obviously planning to drink, it gets even worse: Pacey says he’s a guy, and if he’s going to be criticized for being a guy, “he should at least get to act like one once in a while.” UGH. Their banter is still pretty cute, especially when she raises her eyebrows, he immediately backs down, but seriously, this caveman behavior has got to go.
Luckily, she just says mischievously, “That’s fine. We’ll both be guys tonight,” because you know what that means: the return of Drunk Joey! Drunk Joey only appears a few memorable times throughout the series, but is hilarious and delightful, and makes faces that are 1000% better than Sober Joey’s.
As Drunk Joey is drowning her sorrows in fruit punch, she and Dawson have a nice conversation in which he is shockingly perceptive and supportive. He congratulates her on getting fourth, and she finally admits what she’s really thinking: “Kind of pathetic, right? Twelve years of being a control freak and fishing snails out of ponds, and where does it get me? Fourth.” Dawson responds by telling her she should be happy, because all these doors are opening for her, and, in a nice callback to “Beauty Contest,” now she can become an oceanographer or anthropologist and explore the world like she always wanted. Joey says she was just “pushing his buttons” when she said that, and he responds, “So you never really planned to do great and heroic things with your life? At the end of the day you’d be just as happy staying here in Capeside?” That line is annoying, but the overall tenor of the conversation is encouraging. And while she’s clearly being a little more forthcoming because of the “80-proof fruit punch” she’s drinking, I also think, sadly, that it’s easier for her to express her neurotic fears to Dawson, because he’s also super ambitious and won’t judge her for getting upset over something that seems trivial, but is actually a super big deal to a perfectionist. (God knows Dawson would be upset if he got fourth place in a film festival.)
It’s possible the writers intended this scene to be just fodder for the love triangle, a highlight of the (few) reasons Dawson makes more sense as Joey’s partner than Pacey. But especially in light of the first D/J breakup in the second season, I read it as more complex than that. It’s true that Joey wouldn’t have to worry about Dawson resenting the very fact of her ambition, since he’s always been ambitious as well, but there’s no guarantee that he would take it seriously. Dawson and Pacey have both pooh-poohed Joey’s ambitions for different reasons: Pacey because he’s insecure and intimidated, Dawson because he doesn’t think anyone’s dreams are as important as his own.
Drunk Joey is suuuuuper drunk now, and has an even more delightful conversation with Jen. She toasts Jen’s birthday, and when Jen points out it’s not really her birthday, Joey drunkenly kids, “That’s okay, we’re not really friends.” Ha! Ice-cold! But then, it gets very sweet, as she asks Jen if they are friends, because Joey “can’t really pinpoint when they became friends,” and Jen tells her not to look at it too closely because “then we’ll remember why we’re supposed to hate each other in the first place.” Aw! The cuteness of this moment is undercut slightly by the fact that they only talk privately again once this season and start fighting again about Dawson next season, but still–girlfriends!!
Andie joins them after a tiff with Jack, and asks them if she’s too controlling. They both immediately answer, straight-faced: “Yes.” (Hee!) Drunk Joey continues to be hilarious, and says this gem: “Andie, it’s not a judgment. Some people like salad dressing on the salad, and some people like it on the side.” Then she shrugs in this great way, like, “You get me?”
Then, Joey asks them for their real answers to that annoying question–where do you see yourself in five years?–not the bullshit answer they give their guidance counselor, and they all give kind of amazing answers that are very true to their characters. Jen says she’ll be finishing her masters thesis titled “Are men necessary?”, which is just the kind of way-oversimplified (although kind of funny) thesis that a fake feminist like Jen would write (shot!). Andie says she’ll be in PR, since “painting a happy face on tragedy” is the only thing she’s ever really been good at. (Definitely the most insightful thing Andie’s ever said.” And Joey, who is paralyzed by anxiety and who never really imagined her future beyond getting out of Capeside, asks them to answer for her. Jen says that she’ll end up working in New York City after graduating from a ridiculously expensive Ivy League school (which ends up coming true!) because “New York is finishing school for cynics like us.” Then the three girls make that kind of pact that high school seniors always make and never keep: to come back together in five years and see if any of these predictions came true. It’s all very cute.
Finally, Drunk Joey reaches her peak (and Caveman Pacey hits his nadir) when she catches Pacey playing strip poker with Drue and some random girls, one of whom has taken her shirt off. He claims that it wasn’t strip poker until a minute ago, and that it’s just “good, clean, American guy fun.” Um first of all, ew, and second of all, which is it, was he not really playing strip poker or is strip poker some sort of American male rite of passage that Joey should just accept?
Drunk Joey, instead of chewing Pacey out like she totally should, instead decides to poke at him for his gross, sexist double standards. She plops herself down at the poker table, saying, “What does a girl need to take off to play this game?” HA! Pacey claims that they need to leave because she’s “drunk, bordering on disorderly, and definitely insane,” which, considering how well she’s taking Pacey’s buffoonish behavior, seems like an exaggeration. Nonetheless, she responds with this amazing face:
Pacey insists they leave, Joey very lightly refuses, so he picks her up and throws her over his shoulder, all while wryly commenting that she’s “forcing him” to “make the ultimate guy maneuver.” Um, meta-commenting on your own sexist behavior doesn’t make it any less sexist, but thanks for playing.
Luckily, Pacey makes up for this terrible behavior ever-so-slightly in their cute last scene together. Joey tells him drunkenly that she might want to stay in Capeside, and then gets to the heart of what she’s really anxious about: “I want to be with you, Pacey. I want to stay and be with you.” Pacey has a return to form and replies that that’ll be tough because “I don’t plan on being here. I plan to be wherever you are.” Aw! That’s so cute, I can almost forgive that he has the nerve to follow that up with “Not that you deserve to hear such things right now.” Um… why? For being an adorable drunk who didn’t even get mad at you for playing strip poker?
But then, they have a classic adorable P/J exchange where Pacey pretends to be grumpy, then is suckered into carrying Joey inside after she makes puppy dog eyes and makes out with him. Fine, fine, they sucked me back in.
In other news, Drue and Jen continue to be super cute together. She figures out that the huge mansion where he’s holding her birthday party isn’t his own, and assumes that he’s trying to get her in trouble in some way. He plays the villain a little, then admits that he only held the party at this random mansion because his own home “wouldn’t impress anyone, least of all you” (aw!!). Later, she apologizes to him after finding out his family is poor since his dad left his mom for a “New-Age chippie” (uh… what?). They flirt cutely, and then Drue gives her ecstasy for her not-birthday in order to tempt her back into her bad-girl ways. This devil-on-the-shoulder bit doesn’t yield nearly as much fun as it could have, but it’s still pretty fun.
- “Yeah, but 1984? Big whoop, it happened, it’s over, it was no big deal.” It reminds me of Eric Matthews’ theory about why you shouldn’t study history: because it’s in the past. —Nerdy Spice
- Joey’s response is equally nonsensical: “Everyone’s future eventually becomes the past, Pacey.” She does realize that the 1984 in the book didn’t actually come to pass in real life, right? (5 shots!)
- Pacey gets “law enforcement” on his aptitude test, and is almost as horrified with that result as Buffy was. (Side note, do high schoolers really take these aptitude tests that were so popular with 90s WB high schools? I had to take a crazy personality test that might as well have been a Scientology audit, but never an aptitude test.)
- Andie tattled on Jack to the guidance counselor because he doesn’t have his college applications done in like, September. What a wank! —Nerdy Spice
- Gretchen makes a crack about Coyote Ugly, which was probably a really cutting-edge reference at the time (it came out only months before this episode aired). We’re SO old!!!
- Although the guidance counselor was nice to Joey, it feels a little shitty that she then calls Harvard for Andie personally and has nothing but encouraging things to say to her. I might be biased, since I hate Andie with every fiber of my being, but it doesn’t seem fair that the counselor gives all this personalized attention to Andie, a rich girl with an Ivy League pedigree, while she tells Joey, whose grades and scores could only be negligibly lower than Andie’s, that she should aim lower.
- The guidance counselor agreed to call Harvard for Andie and somehow managed to speak to someone on the admissions committee who had read and remembered Andie’s essay. Uh… I’m sure that happened. And I’m sure said admissions officer didn’t immediately note on Andie’s file, “Annoying comma rude.” —Nerdy Spice
- So cute that Jack is the one who immediately knows Jen’s real birthday! They’re the real love story on this show. 😉
- Jack hurts his shoulder in football practice, and can no longer play football. Most anticlimactic ending ever to a plotline that I completely forgot about.
- Wow, the sound effect of Jack’s arm breaking is… very graphic. And squishy. —Nerdy Spice
- Joey asks Bessie what it means when she dreams that her teeth are slowly receding back into her head. Ooh I actually know this one! Dreaming about teeth means you feel your life is out of control. —Nerdy Spice
- I like that Joey knows she can’t rationally complain about being fourth in her class, so she reveals the real reason for her upset: “The schools I’m applying to, they want someone who’s fourth in their class and is a concert violinist, or won a Westinghouse Science Prize, or is a legacy like Andie.” Too real.
- “He’s just gonna think that I’m this pathetic whiny crybaby,” Joey says. I mean… she’s not wrong. —Nerdy Spice
- I love Drew’s grimace when discussing Jen’s “phantom freshman.” I feel you, dude.
- Also, Jen STRAIGHT UP LIES and says she broke up with Henry! I feel like lying about being dumped by a freshman is even more embarrassing than being dumped by a freshman.
- I love how Drue is supposed to be this big jerk but all he did is throw a fake birthday party for Jen. How rude of him! Throwing a party for her! —Nerdy Spice
- Andie is like, too bad about your horrible injury but at least you can use it for your college applications! Way to be sympathetic, homegirl. —Nerdy Spice
- Gail refers to her restaurant as “four-star gourmet cuisine,” even though it’s a fish restaurant that puts cayenne in the marinara sauce, so… I’m thinking… not so much? —Nerdy Spice
- Pacey says Joey’s problem of being fourth is “a reason to stop studying.” Hee! —Nerdy Spice
- When Joey aborts their college conversation, Pacey says, “Who is the guy in his conversation?”, as if she’s the one being insensitive. Putting aside the sexism in that statement, maybe she doesn’t want to have this conversation because you’re pooh-poohing her problems?
- Jen confirms what we could have surmised ourselves–that Drew is an old hookup–by calling him an “indiscretion.” What is this, a Henry James novel?
- Joey snarks to Drue that they “came for your immortal soul. That is, if you have one,” which sounds suspiciously similar to her banter with Pacey in “Valentine’s Day Massacre.” I’m so confused as to whether the writers meant for this to be a thing.
- Big mistake, Pacey. With a feisty girl like Joey, “I can handle my alcohol but you can’t” is the way to get her drunker faster. (I know whereof I speak. Keets has long since learned that trying to take away my beer is a counterproductive move.) I love her gleeful face as she pours a hefty dose of punch into her Solo cup. —Nerdy Spice
- Joey: “Dawson, do you have any idea how much money anthropologists make?” Gee, I don’t know, but considering that Joey eventually becomes a book editor in NYC, that anthropologist’s salary is probably looking pretty good right about now.
- Andie got Jen a college prep book as a birthday present, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about her.
- Jack says re: football that you think something is making your life a living hell until you miss it when it’s gone, Dawson expresses the same sentiment with a longing look at Joey, and I’m not sure which character is being dumber. (Shot for Dawson blaming Joey for all his problems!)
- Shouldn’t Jen be a little more worried about Joey drunkenly perching on this railing high above the water, given that’s how her only other female friend died? —Nerdy Spice
- Drunk Joey declaring that she doesn’t hate Jen is so hilarious! —Nerdy Spice
- I don’t think these kids understand what cynical means. —Nerdy Spice
- Ohhhh I didn’t get the reference when I was younger! This is SO Sixteen Candles. Oh, I know Drue ruins it like four seconds later, but ughh these two are so cute. —Nerdy Spice
- I love when Joey makes Pacey drag her kicking and screaming out of the party, and then wants to be carried into her house. Until, that is, Joey says, “It’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind,” and Pacey answers, “But you’re one of the guys tonight, and guys walk.” UGH, who wrote this episode? Was it their life’s mission to make every line between Joey and Pacey as sexist as possible so we would all start shipping Joey and Dawson out of default?
- I love the very obvious PSAs about how drinking doesn’t solve your problems. For such a supposedly “racy” show, it’s pretty crazy that these red-blooded kids drink a total of like, once per season, and when they do they always need to suffer some terrible consequence. (Attempted date rape, alienating all your friends and family, etc.)
- LOL at Dawson proudly filling in the blanks of the basic plot from The Wizard of Oz, as if that bolsters his film buff cred. So incredibly basic.
- Speaking of which, Gretchen claims that “no place like home” is the most “bogus line in cinema” because it doesn’t fit with the rest of the story, which portrays home as “dull and gray” and Oz as “technicolor.” Um, it may not resonate with a lot of viewers (myself included), but the structure of the story itself–which paints home as the happy ending–definitely works to prove that line. 5 shots!
- Dawson’s flirting with Gretchen in this last scene is surprisingly low-energy. I guess he’s supposed to still be depressed about Joey loving Pacey? But come on, the hottest girl you knew when you were twelve is flirting with you in a deserted bar… look alive, Dawson! —Nerdy Spice
I love everything about Drunk Joey, if you couldn’t tell. But I’m going to highlight a very different scene–the quiet conversation between Dawson and Gretchen after the party. Not their flirting, which is pretty lame, but their conversation about Pacey and Joey. Dawson tells her that he’s seen how much Joey loves Pacey, in her face, when they hold hands and when they kiss, but the most painful image so far is the one of them fighting at the party. He says that he’s seen them fight a million times since the first grade, but “never like this.” In a remarkably restrained moment, he doesn’t expand on his feelings any more than this, because that already says it all. It’s one thing to see them kiss and hold hands, which all couples do with varying levels of truth behind it, it’s quite another to see a minor fight that clearly won’t lead to a breakup, which is completely specific to their resilient relationship and in many ways even more intimate to witness.
Most cringeworthy moment:
Pacey’s behavior was pretty much out of line for the entire latter half of the episode, but the worst part was probably when he dragged Joey out of the party like a literal caveman. Like Dawson, I have trouble getting that image out of my head, but for entirely different reasons.
Most early aughts soundtrack moment:
I’m changing the name of this category, because the music is changing! The most era-specific song is definitely “Respect” by Train, which is classic early-aughts.
Most wrongly used five-dollar word:
Gretchen’s Wizard of Oz reference is the gift that keeps on giving. She tells Dawson that the line “no place like home” doesn’t “resonate with” the rest of the story, which is one of those usages that sort of sounds right but definitely isn’t.
15, including references to Pleasantville and, of course, 16 Candles.
Season 4, Episode 5 “A Family Way”
By Nerdy Spice
If you’ll recall, Gail spent the third episode of the season with a stomach virus, so I assume we all know what’s coming: there’s a new Spawn of The Flash on its way. Dawson throws a typical only-child shitfit, upset that his broke parents are bringing a child into their unstable marriage. Gail herself worries that they’re too old to handle the kid and they can’t really afford it, and tells Mitch she doesn’t want to have the baby. (Not that she uses the A-word—she just says she doesn’t have to “stay that way.” Shot for one of the many abortion euphemisms that will be used in this episode!)
Meanwhile, though, Gretchen talks Dawson down from his ledge by pointing out that his mom is the one growing a baby inside her while broke and unstably married, so maybe he should be worried about her feelings. So he makes a valiant attempt to pretend to be excited about the kid, except he finds out that Gail is thinking of ending the pregnancy, at which point he manages to improve upon his previous lifetime high of misogynistic douchebaggery. It’s quite impressive. His first sexist response to his mom is, “Just like that you make a decision like this in a day?” Uh, I think she’s capable of making her own decisions, dude. THEN he says he’s just trying to be supportive (yeah, judging her for having an abortion is VERY supportive!) and THEN he says, “Dad, you actually agreed to this?” Um… it’s not his body getting the surgery now is it? Gail finally tells him that it’s her decision and she’s made it, that she’s not sure she’d be a good mom, and the discussion is over.
Mitch finds Dawson in his room later and tells Dawson he’s not sure what he wants, but it’s Gail’s body and her decision. “What if it’s the wrong one?” asks Dawson, who clearly has not learned anything from Mitch’s relative maturity. But he does at least have the self-awareness to realize he’s not “handling” this well and go to Gretchen for advice. He even pays lip service to feeling “awful” for what his parents are going through. She’s a little impatient with him, so he finally just asks her: “I think you went through what my mom’s going through.” (Another euphemism—shot!) Then he says she doesn’t have to talk about it, to which she points out rightly that that’s why he called her. But he says that he never would have brought it up except that he thinks she can help him. Uh… very heroic! So she tells him that she did get pregnant, that she had student loans and a not-so-hot GPA, and she was going to get an abortion but that she miscarried before she could. (Of course, she doesn’t actually say the A-word, she just says she “made a decision.” Shot again.)
So basically we have here a combination of network TV’s two most beloved “considering-an-abortion” storylines—neither of which, of course, involves actually having the abortion. In one, the woman is going to do it but then conveniently has a miscarriage first so she’s not sullied in the eyes of the viewers. In the other, the woman is going to do it and wins over all the men into agreeing that it’s Her Body Her Choice even though they secretly don’t believe that at all, but then at the last minute has a miraculous change of heart so she’s not sullied in the eyes of the viewers. Gretchen even literally says she felt guilty when she miscarried for “getting off easy,” which is essentially what TV writers do when they do this stuff.
You know, I would have liked this plotline OK if Gail actually did end up getting the abortion. It’s not completely unrealistic for a boy that age to have an inappropriate, patriarchy-conditioned response to the notion of an abortion. But the fact that Dawson responds like this is kind of subtly vindicated by Gail choosing not to have the abortion.
Anyway, the end of it is that Dawson tells Gail that she was a great mom and never disappointed him, and that if they were “even half as good” as parents to the next child, it would be the luckiest kid in the world. Gail cries and hugs him and that night, Mitch finds her looking at baby pictures of Dawson, indicating that she’s having second thoughts.
Anyway, if all the vomiting talk weren’t enough to turn impressionable young viewers off from sex, Joey spends the episode pondering the various other dangers of becoming “sexually active.” It all starts with Pacey and Joey kissing on his porch. Pacey has decided that instead of letting Joey cut off the makeout sessions, he will cut them off first as a way to send a passive-aggressive message to her that he wants to have the sex.
So Joey mopes around school until Jen tries to figure out what’s wrong. Side note, this is one of the episodes that features Wise Advice-Giving Feminist Jen, not Illogical, Angry, Whiny Jen—always a good thing! Joey tells her: “The mashed potatoes are cold.” Jen, perhaps as impatient as the rest of us with Joey’s constant complaining—seriously, girl, you are fourth in your class and your incredibly adorable boyfriend wants to have sex with you, cry me a damn river!—comments drily, “It’s just one tragedy after another today.” So Joey expands, “The mashed potatoes are cold. AND SO AM I.” Ha!!! That’s hilarious.
Somehow Jen keeps a straight face and asks if this is about sex. So Joey tells her that Pacey’s getting impatient, and what’s more, Joey herself is getting impatient. She doesn’t know how to know if she’s ready: “Everyone just says that you just know, but what if that’s just what they say and they never really know?” (This is, I suppose, the first of many shots in this episode we will take in honor of Joey’s abject fear of sex.) Jen suggests that she go to a free clinic to get some contraceptives and safe sex advice, and says that you never know if you’re ready but you can know that you’re prepared. SO true! Jen and Joey cheers to responsible sexual gratification and womanhood, respectively. Aww!
I really like this scene even though I feel like I’m supposed to find it annoying. Everything Joey’s saying makes total sense for her personality—she’s heard all of this advice, and she’s terrified of sex, and she wants to do things The Right Way, so she’s waiting for some magical fairy to pop up in her brain and tell her she’s Officially Ready. And she’s finally starting to suspect that life doesn’t actually have a Right Way, really.
When she goes to the clinic the nurse (I think she’s a nurse? She refers to “the doctor” so she must not be the doctor) asks her if she’s sexually active and Joey is adorably confused by this question. Then things get serious: chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, HIV, HPV. Joey’s ill-timed joke about Pacey being faithful “as far as I know” leads to a lecture about partners not always being monogamous. Once the word “condom” comes out of the nurse’s mouth, Joey basically starts having a panic attack (shot for Joey’s inordinate fear of sex!). The nurse tells her that this isn’t even one of the hard questions. And that’s when all of Pacey’s hopes of getting laid before his eighteenth birthday go straight out the window. By the time the nurse sends Joey packing with a little baggie full of spermicide and condoms, you just know Joey’s lost all interest in this subject.
But Bessie doesn’t know that, so when she finds the impressively large stash of free condoms, she waits till she has all the B&B guests gathered at the table and flips out at Joey, saying that she’s “started your own mail-order birth control business out of your bedroom.” Hee! Bessie tells her she’s not ready to have sex (which is true because every time someone says “condom” Joey freaks out or giggles), to which Joey points out that she already spent three months sailing around alone with Pacey and it’s kind of too late. Bessie thinks Joey doesn’t understand consequences or responsibility, but Joey, the Master Complainer, says her whole life is consequences and responsibility. “If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to my birth-control warehouse,” is her parting line. Heh.
Bodie, whose entire role is to be offstage for vast majorities of the time and then pop up to save the day once or twice per season, finds Joey brooding outside and tells her, “She doesn’t want you to end up like her. She wants more for you. You’re the one who’s supposed to get out of here.” Which is true and seems to calm Joey a little, but the real miracle that Bodie accomplishes is to get Joey to talk to him honestly and use the S-word. She says she hasn’t made her decision about sex yet and that she was just trying to be prepared in order to be ready, and it scared her. (Shot!) “If you’re not ready to be prepared for sex, then you’re probably not ready for sex,” Bodie says. Jeez, it’s too bad they could only be bothered to hire this actor for five to six lines per season. He’s such a good surrogate dad! That night, Joey and Bessie make up over dishes in the kitchen.
Anyway, Joey turns the tables back on Pacey at the end. As soon as he stops the making out, she casually agrees. “If that’s what you want, I respect that,” she says. Poor Pacey is like, wait… I don’t actually want that. He has to admit that what he actually wanted was to “jumpstart the conversation.” Joey says she’s glad she went to the free clinic, but he says he doesn’t want to make her do anything she’s not ready for. She tells him it’s fine as long as he doesn’t turn into a “typical” boy and try to manipulate her again. Then she plays an EXTREMELY mean trick: “Just because we aren’t having sex yet, there are certain things that we can do.” I’m pretty sure any normal person would think she was talking at least third base, but instead she just says, “I could kiss you.” Uh… you made that sound a LOT more exciting than it was!
The weird thing, though, is that after managing to have this really honest talk with Bodie about how she thought she was ready and then got scared again, she doesn’t actually share any of this with Pacey. She tells him that she went to the clinic but then she doesn’t really tell him why they’re not doing it yet. Communication is key when you’re becoming intimate with a partner, kids!
Jack has been Mr. Crankypants about his arm injury, but he agrees to coach a soccer team with Andie and starts to win over an equally cranky little girl named Molly. But then Molly’s twenty-eight-year-old older sister comes over to hit on Jack even though he’s a DAMN CHILD. While Jack tries to get out the words “I’m gay,” she just compliments his “sweet little face.” Ugh, gross. What is WITH all these adult women hitting on male minors on this show? Jack is nervous about letting people find out he’s gay and working with kids, which I totally sympathize with except that isn’t he like famous for being gay in this town? Andie tries to help by making up a girlfriend for Jack named “Natasha … Boyardee,” which I have to admit I found hilarious. Finally Jack just spits it out that he’s gay, after Molly’s older sister gets INCREDIBLY aggressive about hitting on him. Then she pulls this move that creepy people LOVE to pull when you reject them: “Oh, you thought I was hitting on you?” Jack just rolls his eyes while she slinks away in embarrassment. But the next day, several boys don’t show up because their parents think Jack is dangerous. Jack puts a brave face on it, promising her pizza after the game. And Molly, sweetly, says, “They’re all just jerks. I know you’re not dangerous.” Aww, that was nice, even if I’m SO OVER the trope of precocious children bonding with various characters on this show. That night, a demoralized Jack thinks about quitting, and Andie tells him he’s great at this and can’t quit. “I’m a good person, Andie. People look at me and they see something awful. Do you know how that feels?” But Andie is incapable of understanding that some things are not problems that can be solved with a good attitude, so she just tells him it will blow over. Ugh, shut UP, Andie. He’s trying to tell you something that’s making him sad and you’re just like oh, it will be fine!
Another thread that gets picked up in this episode is Dawson’s debt to Mr. Brooks, the cranky old dude whose boat he stole to save Pacey, which somehow Joey isn’t responsible for. Dawson is painting Mr. Brooks’ house to work off his debt, and Mr. Brooks finds his photos and declares them “pedestrian” and “terrible.” And then he asks of one, “Did you take this on purpose?” Hee! But later that day Gretchen fills in the role reserved for the women in Dawson’s life by lavishing him with undeserved praise for his talent (shot!) while he takes photos of her. “Am I making you uncomfortable?” he asks when she tells him to stop taking photos. “Good.” Um… consent issues much?! Then Dawson comes back to paint some more and ostentatiously leaves out his new collection of photographs (why are you bringing your entire portfolio on a paint job, Dawson?), at which point Mr. Brooks declares that in the photo of Gretchen, he actually “connected” with his subject.
- I love that Gretchen’s knowledge of the basic symptoms of pregnancy is supposed to be foreshadowing that she’s been pregnant before. That’s really just something that all humans should know, especially ones who have had a child before (*cough*Mitch*cough*). –Janes
- Of course Jen is eating an apple while she gives Joey sex advice! One shot for the show’s favorite and perhaps only Biblical reference.
- When Joey says, “Everyone says that you just know [when you’re ready for sex], but what if they just say that and you never really know?”, my heart hurts a little. I definitely said almost those exact words when I was around her age. –Janes
- Jen says a trip to the free clinic to learn about safe sex is “a rite of passage, like having a bat mitzvah or getting your learner’s permit.” That’s definitely not true, even in New York City, but it totally should be. –Janes
- Sometimes you forget that Dawson is being played by a guy who at this point was closer to thirty than twenty. But in this season he started to get really broad-shouldered and muscular in a way that kids that age just aren’t and it’s like, oh, hi. You are an adult man playing a bratty kid!
- Um, I realize that Jack is technically legal, but the 28-year-old cougar Caroline is super creepy. Instead of admitting that he was gay when he clearly didn’t want to, he could have just said, “I don’t want to have sex with you because I’m in HIGH SCHOOL, but thanks anyway.” –Janes
- I don’t love Dawson and Gretchen, but it’s nice that she encourages him to be more selfless. Anyone who can make Dawson less of a self-centered little puke is worth shipping in my boo. –Janes
- I think Joey being unsure what the doctor means when she says “sexually active” is supposed to be a sign of her inexperience and naivete, but honestly, it’s kind of a vague and useless expression at any age. I’m a grown-ass woman, and I still don’t totally understand what it means when doctors ask that. Does it just mean that you’re not a virgin (especially when you’re as young as Joey)? Or that you’re currently/regularly having sex? If the latter, then how often do you have to be having sex? Do you say “no” if you’re generally active, but are in a dry spell? How long would the dry spell have to be to qualify? So many questions. –Janes
- I would understand if Dawson had conflicted feelings about Gail’s decision, but still, his judgmental, shaming reaction might be peak Dawson terribleness. When professional misogynistic crybaby Mitch has a more mature, feminist reaction than you, you should definitely be ashamed of yourself. –Janes
- Gretchen’s story annoys me: “I did get pregnant last semester. In the back seat of my boyfriend’s Geo Prism in the dorm parking lot while my roommate was studying for finals. Lynnyrd Skynnyrd was playing on the radio.” WHAT? I’m sorry, but I feel like that story is such “trashy kid gets pregnant in depressing way” cliched bullshit, like, they couldn’t even have tried to come up with something interesting? “I got pregnant on the bench in my school’s science lab while we were prepping an experiment during finals week.” “I got pregnant standing up in a frat bathroom during Greek week.” Come on, make some effort!
- I get why Bessie is scared of Joey having sex (although again, she was totally gung-ho about it just a few episodes ago), but really, she should relax a little. If a beautiful girl like Joey has sex when she’s almost eighteen with a long-term partner who clearly loves her, Bessie has gotten off pretty easy, even by relatively conservative standards. And if she’s really worried about Joey getting pregnant, then she should be happy that Joey has a “birth control warehouse”! –Janes
- Is Sandra Bullock’s younger sister staying in this B&B? Look at this woman! The resemblance is uncanny:
- Joey totally calls Pacey on his utterly transparent manipulation tactics: “Perhaps you were hoping that if you turned the tables on me, I might get paranoid? Maybe even pay a visit to the free clinic, stock up on goodies, and bring them back here and then we’d have sex.” Poor Pacey, completely discombobulated, is like, “Wait a minute. Did you actually go to the free clinic and stock up on goodies?” Heh. For some reason calling them “goodies” makes me laugh every time.
- Hooray, ending montage! It’s kind of a mixed bag of emotions: Joey and Bessie making up, Jack sadly cleaning up on the soccer field, Dawson staring at photos of Gretchen, Gail staring at childhood photos of Dawson. But I never say no to a good ending montage.
We make fun of Joey’s fear of sex a lot, but this episode actually takes a witty approach to it. Her panicked face every time someone mentions STDs or specific birth control methods is hilarious, and the show managed (in my opinion, although I suspect Janes is going to disagree) to walk a fine line – it laughs not at Joey’s fear exactly but with it, while acknowledging that actually all these consequences and dangers do exist—and that if you can’t talk about them with your partner you probably shouldn’t risk them.
[I agree about the episode! I think that the show sympathizes with Joey’s fear–I actually thought it was a lot of critics who didn’t. Especially feminist critics, strangely, who would often get annoyed that Joey was being so “precious” about sex when we were in dire need of sex-positive role models. They were right about that dire need, but that doesn’t mean that Joey’s fears aren’t valid, since sex does have heavier consequences for young girls than boys. Like you said, I like to make fun of Joey’s abject terror, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t heavily relate to it when I was her age. That’s what makes it so funny–it’s too real. –Janes]
Most cringeworthy moment:
Everything about the Gail-doesn’t-have-an-abortion storyline is kind of cringeworthy to be honest, but the TRULY gross thing is how ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE Gail is at running a restaurant. If you’ll recall, she ordered a sign with no name on it for a restaurant that had no chef, and then hired a chef who put cayenne pepper in the marinara sauce. But now, dwarfing all of those other sins, we find out that she’s been vomiting all afternoon WHILE she’s standing in the kitchen of her own restaurant, openly discussing the fact that she’s been throwing up all afternoon, while HANDLING INGREDIENTS WITH HER BARE HANDS. Someone call the food safety inspector and get this place shut down. I mean, I know that it turns out she doesn’t actually have germs, just a fetus, but seriously, handling food AT ALL when you’ve been vomiting is like the gravest of food safety sins. Let alone with your bare hands! It makes me want to vomit myself, just thinking about it. AND then Gretchen shows up to inform Gail they served someone a bowl of pretzels with a hair in it. So basically, never, EVER eat at this restaurant. EVER.
Most early aughts soundtrack moment:
Another era-specific classic: “Just Another” by Pete Yorn, which not only appeared on the official soundtracks of Dawson’s Creek and circa-2000 films Me, Myself & Irene and Bandits, but also played in another one of our favorite TV shows: Veronica Mars.
Most wrongly-used five-dollar word:
This is such a cliche to complain about, but when Joey says bleakly that she “set the curve” on the history test, Jen agrees, “Well, I can see how that would be aggravating.” BZZ, wrong. It’s irritating.
Fourteen shots, mostly for abortion euphemisms and Joey’s abject terror in the face of sex.
Season 4, Episode 6 “Great Xpectations”
It’s the beginning of the end for one of our least favorite characters! We open with a cute scene that almost makes me nostalgic for the terrible college admissions process (but not really). Jack comes to the library to bring Andie her admissions letter from Real Harvard (which weirdly exists in this universe, even though Joey goes to Fake Harvard). She bravely opens it in public, which, frankly, I never would have done, especially if it were a small envelope. But luckily, it’s good news! Andie got into Harvard! Jack proudly announces the news to the whole room, while Andie has a muted reaction–and Meredith Monroe actually does a pretty good job looking happy, but not nearly happy enough:
Gretchen shows Dawson some more cool music (including Poe, whom I love) and invites him to a rave, telling him that it’s a part of their “new friend agreement” that they both try to broaden the other’s horizons. (What is Dawson going to show her, I wonder–the obscure, unknown world of Spielberg cinema?) They actually get some momentum on the flirtation going, though, enough that when Joey sees them listening to music very close to each other, she immediately knows what’s going on. And in spite of her very fake smile a second later, she is most definitely Not Okay With It.
Later, Andie tells Jack that although she knows this should be the best day of her life, she doesn’t feel anything, probably because of the new medication she’s taking. “It keeps me from feeling the lows, but it keeps me from feeling the highs too.” They agree to go to the rave in order to help Andie “feel the highs” again. If that sounds like a recipe for disaster, especially on a relatively puritanical 90s teen show, that’s because it is.
Within a few scenes, everyone else agrees to go to the rave for a variety of reasons: Dawson because he’s happy that his mom decides not to get an abortion (ew, let’s move on from that quickly), Jen because Drew taunts her that she’s become a “pod person” who is repressing her real, bad girl self, Pacey because he doesn’t want to stay home and clean the bathroom, and Joey because she gets to wear super cute hoop earrings (just kidding, but she does look very pretty this episode. Her ultra-tame rave look suits her).
Right before the rave, Andie finds Jen looking longingly at the ecstasy tablets that Drue gave her at the end of episode 4. Andie asks a lot of suspiciously specific questions about ecstasy, and Jen tells her honestly that it feels amazing, hence the name, but also goes out of her way to tell Andie the downside: that it erases your inhibitions, and that you feel worse after you come down than you did before you took it. It sounds way more like a PSA than an invitation, especially when Jen says that Andie is “too interested” and tries to get the pills back (more on that later), but Andie is still intrigued by the idea of feeling joy and picking her problems back up tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Pacey and Joey are starting to catch on to Gretchen and Dawson’s burgeoning relationship and it’s… awkward. Gretchen and Dawson sit in the front seat of the car and gab happily about the old days (and Gretchen remembers an article of clothing Dawson was wearing–a telltale sign), while Pacey and Joey have dawning realizations in the backseat. A couple seasons ago (or even one season ago) this would have been some sort of “monumental betrayal” for one or both parties. But instead, both of their faces are just sort of like, “Sigh. Here we go.”
At the rave, Andie tells Jen that she took one of the ecstasy pills when Jen wasn’t looking. Andie insists that she’s fine, but then immediately starts exclaiming how beautiful everything is and petting Joey’s arm, so Jen is less than convinced. She tells Andie to stick by her, and that she needs to try to “maintain,” which is honestly such a great way of putting it. I still think the word “maintain” whenever I’m–ahem–“chemically altered,” as Jen would put it.
Just in case that wasn’t enough to wreak havoc on the event, Drue arrives to make everything worse–in the best possible way. First, he meets Gretchen for the first time in this hilarious exchange: Drue: “Hello. I don’t think I’ve met you yet.” Gretchen: “I don’t have a problem with that.” Hee! College girls are so wise. Then, Pacey gives Andie a congratulatory hug, and Joey does her best to look neutral about it until Drue gleefully says, “Wow, Potter, how cool are you? You don’t mind that that lasted just a split second longer than the ex guidelines allow?” He’s diabolical! [Hee, I love Drue. –Nerdy Spice]
And if that weren’t enough, Gretchen asks Dawson who he is, and he sighs and says, “Did you ever meet Abby Morgan?” Ha! Aw. RIP.
Andie ends up in Drew’s diabolical hands, which can only mean trouble. They have a hilarious interchange where he accuses her of being high, and she says, “Sh! I’m supposed to be MAINTAINING!”, and takes her on a tour of destruction. They spot Joey and Pacey, and Andie gives him another too-long hug. This time, Joey doesn’t even try to pretend she doesn’t want to murder her.
Then, Andie goes on a horribly awkward tirade about how she pretends not to care about Pacey and Joey, but really he’s the “love of her life” and she’s “so not over him.” But don’t worry, Joey, he’s so the faithful type: “If only I had been. Maybe we’d still be together!” Her little speech is like, the reason everyone blocks their exes’ numbers so they don’t drunk dial them.
Andie is getting extremely sweaty when she and Drue go to play in the bouncy house, and the direction starts to get really jerky and stressful. Andie grabs her head as her friends start to realize that something’s wrong, and then she collapses. Jack screams for help, and it’s actually really scary.
The EMTs rush Andie into an ambulance, because apparently the mixture of antidepressants and X gave Andie an adverse reaction. Jen realizes what happened: Andie didn’t tell her that she was on medication, and Jack knew she was on antidepressants but didn’t know she took X. As he gets into the ambulance, Jack lashes out at Jen, telling her she’s “done enough” and that “it should be her in this ambulance.” I get the anger, especially while Andie is still in peril, but still, it’s SO rough.
And then it gets really ridiculous. None of Jen’s friends reach out to her, ask if she’s okay, or tell her that Jack clearly didn’t mean what he said. Instead, everyone hangs back like she’s Typhoid Mary, with the exception of Dawson, who awkwardly asks her if she needs a ride to the hospital. Pacey and Joey don’t even look at Jen as they walk to the car. WTF is wrong with them?? Andie’s a big girl, she chose to take the drugs even after Jen expressly told her not to. They’re acting like Jen is older than Andie, or like she pressured Andie to take drugs with her antidepressants. It’s absurd.
The only one to show any human compassion in this moment is–surprise!–Drue, resident bad boy and suddenly the best character. He genuinely asks how Andie is, non-creepily puts his arm around Jen, and gallantly offers to take her home. So, so cute. Then, when she beats herself up about not seeing the “warning signs” in the park (thanks for the PSA, WB!), Drue says that “Andie is responsible for her own choices, even the bad ones,” and points out that her friends unfairly “iced” her. He tells her that she came to Capeside the “banished bad seed” and “that’s all she’ll ever be to them.” Harsh, but kind of true. In spite of Andie’s penchant for cheating on PSAT tests and boyfriends, Jen is still seen as the “bad girl,” while Andie is seen as the sweet, innocent nerdy girl. If Andie had given Jen drugs and Jen had had an adverse reaction, it would have been a very different story.
At the hospital, Jack comes out of Andie’s room and tells them that she’s stable, but that she got very, very lucky. He breaks down a little when he says she almost died, and Joey springs up and gives him a hug. Aw! Whatever, you’re all assholes.
Pacey decides to stay in the hospital until morning, which makes sense, but actively turns down Joey’s offer to stay with him, which is a little weird. When he sees Andie, she starts to apologize for the things she said (which I’m shocked she remembers), he holds her hand, and they have a sweet, pretty much platonic moment.
Joey and Dawson drop off Gretchen, and when Joey says she’s still wired, she and Dawson go out for food. That feels very real to me: it would be really tempting to stay up all night after a harrowing experience like that, and it makes sense that Joey and Dawson would go back to each other (platonically speaking) when everything feels scary. This leads to a beautifully shot scene in which Joey and Dawson have a heartfelt talk as the sun rises on the creek. Joey talks about how everything has been “more real” this year, referencing both Andie and Jen and Pacey on the boat (and probably “last spring” too, because when are they not referencing that). She says it’s hard to think that when they go to college, there will be no one rowing their boats, and Dawson tells her that on the contrary, she can give hers to Alexander and he’ll give his to the new baby. (And that’s exactly what happens! I’m tearing up just thinking about it.) She’s ecstatic to hear about the pregnancy, and they both say it makes them feel old, which is such a pure, normal reaction. She tells him that wherever they go next, it’s hard to imagine life without him. He almost ruins it all by passive-aggressively saying she was fine for three months (yuck), but she says sweetly, “I think you know what I mean.” He finally softens and says, “Yeah. Yeah, I do.” Dawson is definitely insufferable, and I am the furthest thing from a D/J shipper now, but scenes like this remind me why I’ve always been so invested in their friendship.
- Sometimes you forget that Andie used to be a hoity-toity rich girl, and then she says sentences like “we had a little confab at the yacht club last week.”
- Also, she refers to Jen’s lifestyle in NYC as partying until “the wee hours of the morning” and a “non-stop ball of fun.” I feel like even Grams would hear that sentence and would be like, “Okay, calm down, no one’s that old.”
- When Andie says that re: college letters, “size really does matter,” Jen makes a nonsensical sexual innuendo: “I think size only matters when you have a view of the entire package.” Um… what?? I get that she’s saying Andie should open the envelope, but I have no idea what that innuendo is referring to. If the “package” is what I think it is, then she’s basically saying dick size doesn’t matter unless… you can see the entire dick? I mean, I suppose that’s sort of true… but seems to go without saying?
- Andie’s dad uses the word “alum” as the plural of “alumnus,” while bragging about going to Harvard. Too good.
- Jack’s face when he looks up at the camera during this INCREDIBLY Woody Allen-like hug between his dad and his sister is very “Uhhh… are you guys seeing this? Because it’s weird, right? Right?” –Nerdy Spice
- Omg I’ve heard of Morcheeba! At least I’m cooler than Dawson. Whew. –Nerdy Spice
- Dawson is so scandalized by a rave happening in Capeside, which seems so very quaint now. This show is like a time capsule.
- Gretchen, who is supposed to be cooler than Dawson, says that raves are “all the rage with the nation’s youth.” Literally no young person would say that unless they were being ironic.
- Dawson refers to himself as “insufferably uncool,” which Gretchen corrects to “mildly uncool.” It’s a good start, but I’d say “insufferable AND mildly uncool.” –Nerdy Spice
- Another shot for Dawson’s hair, which is starting to look like the creepy boys in Party Mania:
- Ha, “collegeseeker.net” – gotta love Drue’s pitying laugh when he figures out what she’s looking at. –Nerdy Spice
- Dawson surprises Gretchen by coming to join them for the rave, and then they all acknowledge that he’s giving them a ride without any discussion. How were they planning on getting there before?
- After all their talk about participating in a counterculture ritual, none of them look even remotely like they’re going to a rave. All of them, even Gretchen and Drue, look like they could be going to dinner at Grams’ house.
- “How do you know you’re undesirable?” Andie asks while wearing a tank top with crocheted flowers on it. (I say this knowing that I would totally wear a crocheted flower top to a rave. I would just do it in a cooler way than Andie. Who, by the way, follows up this question by announcing that she’s using “the facilities” like she’s sixty years old or something.) –Nerdy Spice
- Dawson’s flirting has improved a little. Look how thirsty he is!
- It’s so cute when Joey lifts Pacey’s mouth into a smile!
- Gretchen falls all over herself to make sure Dawson is “okay” with being around Dawson and Joey. Ugh, why is everyone so concerned with his baby feelings all the time!!
- I would say that Gretchen’s little “younger siblings are great for chores!” bit is a cliche, but Nerdy Spice and our other sister totally tricked me into doing chores by “playing Cinderella.”
- I love that when Andie offers to pay Jen back, Jen says valiantly that she “doesn’t care about the money,” when she got the drugs free from Drue.
- Okay, I definitely think that Andie is responsible for her own actions, but that being said, it’s pretty funny when Jen insists that Andie stick by her, and then literally TWO SECONDS LATER lets her go off with Drue, of all people.
- “Come on, Ivy League, let’s have fun.” I LOVE Drue! And yes, probably it’s partly because I had this thwarted fantasy that when I myself went to an Ivy League school I would somehow magically be offered all these drugs and become a cool girl who went to raves. Which, thank God that didn’t actually happen, but Drue is kind of reminiscent of it right now. –Nerdy Spice
- Before everything spectacularly falls apart, Joey has a super inappropriate conversation with Gretchen about Dawson. She tells Gretchen that she should be careful if she’s not into Dawson, because Dawson has a tendency to hold onto old feelings: “he outgrows them and puts them into proper perspective, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone.” Jeez, way to salt Dawson’s game, Joey!
- Joey is so out of line and so obviously projecting that Gretchen returns, “You know what I think? If he’s waiting on some childhood crush to return to him, he’s not waiting on me.” Well, true, and Joey walked right into that one, but um, RUDE! Your brother is still dating this girl!
- Then, Gretchen lets Joey get into her head and very awkwardly asks Dawson if he expects more than friendship. He actually handles it like a champ: he calmly admits that he had a big crush on her, so as not to gaslight her, and he never actually says that he doesn’t like her, because that would be a lie, but says that all he expects now is her friendship. Credit where credit is due: I wish all men reacted that way in this situation.
- Of course, then he ruins all of that maturity by creepily staying on top of her after “falling” on her in the bouncy house. Ugh. Par for the course with men who claim they “just want to be your friend,” amirite?
- WTF is this random couch in the middle of a rave:
- That being said, it’s super cute when Joey and Pacey use said couch to sit around complaining about the music and judging everyone. That’s how I like to spend parties with my SO too. 🙂
- Pacey wearing his glow necklace as a tiara while giving Joey all this Cowboy Talk about how he “misses True Love something fierce” is SO MY JAM. –Nerdy Spice
- Although things are clearly getting serious once we get in the bouncy house, there’s still time for one more hilarious moment: Andie saying “I’m having so much fun with Drue and you and Dawson!” because she can’t remember Gretchen’s name. Dead.
- “We got to get her to the hospital like ten minutes ago,” is the EMT’s professional assessment. –Nerdy Spice
- I kind of agree with Drue that Jen will always be “The banished bad seed” to everyone no matter what she does. She told Andie that the drug feels great the first few times and then seriously fucks with you, and Andie heard “It will feel great the first time!” which was clearly not Jen’s point. And then she stole Jen’s stash without permission! And everyone just blamed Jen automatically! She’s basically the Scarlet Woman of the group no matter what she does. There’s a reason our drinking game involves taking a shot every time someone slut shames her when she’s in the middle of a multi-year dry spell. –Nerdy Spice
I love that softly lit last scene, but I have to give the edge to Drue’s amazing reactions to Andie’s awkward confession to Pacey and Joey, which range from “Oh shit” to “Tee-hee”:
[Yeah, he’s pretty much the secret MVP of season 4. –Nerdy Spice]
Most cringeworthy moment:
Definitely when Jack blames Jen for Andie’s condition in spectacularly cruel fashion, and then everyone else follows suit (except Drue!). Especially for Dawson, Pacey, and Joey: Jack is afraid of losing his sister, what’s their excuse??
Most early aughts soundtrack moment:
“Fields of Gold” by Eva Cassidy plays during that last scene with Dawson and Joey. I’m not crying, YOU’RE CRYING!
Most wrongly used five-dollar word:
The “alum” moment is pretty funny, but not as wildly incorrect as Jack’s claim that Andie is in desperate need of a night of “reckless abandonment.” Oh Jack. Oh poor sweet Jack.
Six, mostly for Joey and Dawson talking incessantly about growing up. It’s almost like the first season again!
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