As is now our tradition, we came up with some new drinking game rules for season 5. We’re going to take a shot:
- Every time Audrey is the MVP of a scene
- Every time someone assumes that Audrey having sex means that she’s stupid
- Every time Joey or Dawson says a Grand Goodbye to the other.
- Every time Joey hates fun.
- Every time people talk about Chad Michael Murray being hot.
- Every time Chad Michael Murray pretends to be sensitive.
- Every time Professor Creeper negs Joey.
- Every time the characters blatantly rewrite history and/or forget that Pacey and Joey ever dated.
Season 5, Episode 1 “The Bostonians”
By Nerdy Spice
Well, kids, it’s over. The high school show has survived its first four years and become … a high school show where everyone is in college. There are many ways to deal with this transition. You can One Tree Hill it — just skip the awkward college years altogether and pretend that everyone came back to their hometown after. You can Boy Meets World it —you know, just have the kids’ favorite high school teacher show up and start teaching college classes. Dawson’s Creek went the awkward middle road of sticking with everyone being in college on their separate paths, but doing at best a mediocre job of knitting everyone’s stories together. They do have a weekly Sunday night dinner with Jen, Jack, and Joey (and Grams), and Jen, Jack, and Joey go through the rite of passage of attending their first frat party together (more on that later), but everyone’s plot lines are pretty much spinning off in different directions.
We jump right in to the shocking revelation that Joey is spending her expensive college education… taking creative writing classes from shaggy-haired Franzen wannabes and writing incredibly stupid “stories” about girls who kiss boys who live across the street. Probably the best part is that she claims the kiss was when the two “transcended their status as mere mortals” (uhh… okay) and “achieved true greatness” (yeah… no).
The professor, of course, realizes that if Joey is willing to rhapsodize about some mediocre semi-emotionally-abusive kid who she grew up next to, she’s probably a great target to groom for an inappropriate professor-student relationship. So he does that by providing smarmy advice about how on Dawson’s next visit–which is conveniently this weekend–Joey should figure out where her story goes. Joey looks perturbed, perhaps because she’s just realized that she’s wasting Dawson’s sixty thousand dollars on the same damn bullshit she spent all of high school obsessing over, and is unlikely to learn a thing in college. Later, Joey saunters over to Professor Creeper (I mean Wilder)’s office hours, and he tells Joey that the story didn’t tell him what the kiss means. Um, didn’t you read it, dude? It means that they “transcended their status as mere mortals” and “achieved true greatness”!
…OK, never mind, he’s right, that means nothing. Shot for the professor negging Joey, though.
There is one good thing that college brings to our lives, and that is Audrey, played by the absolutely wonderful Busy Phillipps. Audrey is awesome, which of course means that Joey hates her. She’s spending her freshman year the way many people I know spent their freshman year, i.e. hooking up with lots of dudes. And she is bravely carrying on with this plan despite the constant grudging looks and Puritan pearl-clutching of her stick-in-the-mud roommate, which makes me even more impressed with her game. She’s also totally hilarious and continues to care about Joey despite the latter visibly disliking her. [She’s the Paris! –Janes]
Anyway, Joey was expecting Dawson this weekend, because apparently she’s hoping not to make any new friends in college, but he cancels for a film internship that he apparently forgot to tell her about, so she’s stuck at home with Audrey, who “sexiles” Joey to the library (can you just picture the Dawson’s writers reading some Atlantic Monthly article about how Kids These Days are always kicking out their roommates and calling it “sexile”?). Although when Audrey figures out that Joey’s visit with Dawson was cancelled, she offers to cancel the date for which she was about to sexile Joey. “I’m pretty awesome like that,” she says. AND JOEY JUST GLARES AT HER. The ungrateful minx! Later, Audrey tries to befriend Joey and tell her that she’s not getting the full college experience. She even accuses Joey of hating fun (shot!) and tells her that she’s scared because “if you actually met someone you liked you might actually have to let go of the past”… hee! Joey just snippily says, “No offense, Audrey, but you really don’t know that much about my life.” Which is patently false, because Audrey just summed it up in one sentence. Shot for Audrey being the MVP of this scene.
Conveniently, Jack and Joey have a frat party that they want Joey to go to with them. Joey grudgingly agrees and is aghast when Jen and Jack invite Audrey along, because again, she hates Audrey for no good reason. Joey meets a nice boy who remembers her from economics class, but declines his invite to go inside and chat because it would require her to admit that there are guys other than Dawson and Pacey in the world. (Another shot for Joey hating fun!) In a vulnerable moment, Joey admits to Audrey that part of her is still fifteen, in love with Dawson, and Audrey admits she has the same situation but that she cut the cord. So Joey, inspired by this, calls Dawson and leaves him this incredibly long voicemail about how she misses him, but she needs to let him go. (Shot for a fake Grand Good-bye!) [Yeah, they’re not even trying to pretend it’s real. At the end, she literally says, “I realized I need to let you go. Call me back.” –Janes] After the salutary effects of the world’s quietest afterparty spent in the kitchen eating cereal with Jen, Jack, and Grams, she looks almost excited to be back at college… although awkwardly, she runs into Cute Guy From Econ Class on his way out of Audrey’s room. Shoulda gone inside to chat with him when you had the chance, Joey Potter!
Meanwhile, Dawson’s first scene of his film internship involves… spelling his name for a security guard at the film lot. Very exciting. Then someone important on the film set named “Heather” (the producer, maybe?) mixes him up for a writer applicant. We learn that Dawson is a better writer than she is because her best idea is to do a Seventh Heaven feature. (Isn’t it funny how someone who manages to land a job that’s very rare for women of color in film business is somehow incredibly stupid and has bad taste, yet white boy just starting out in an industry that loves mediocre white dudes is secretly better at her job than she is? I’m sure that happens all the time in real life too. Not.) When she figures out he’s an intern she sends him with a script to see the director, Todd, a complete jerk who announces to his new intern that Heather has bad taste but is hot [and Dawson agrees with him! Way to sexually harass someone on your first day, jerkwad –Janes], so could Dawson read it instead, because he probably has good taste, and that film school is for pussies. OK, I guess one shortcut to make your entitled, misogynistic main character seem like a good person is to pair him with a ridiculously entitled, violently misogynistic character?
Dawson turns out to suck as an intern–the first thing he does is drop a tray of coffees. He gets applause from the crew for lecturing Todd on not appreciating his privileges, which… we probably needn’t comment on the irony of Dawson telling someone they don’t appreciate their privilege. Todd, of course, fires him. So Dawson, having apparently not grasped the content of Joey’s voicemail [Side note: I assumed that Dawson was just the kind of person who hears a goodbye voicemail and flies cross-country to show up at your door because I’d completely forgotten what the explanation actually is–we’ll find out next episode!], shows up at Joey’s door, and Joey leaps into his arms for an incredibly long hug full of inappropriate back rubbing.
I was curious, so I went back and counted, and we see fully THIRTY-FOUR SECONDS of this hug. Way to let go, guys.
According to the conversation Jen, Jack, and Joey have, no one knows where Pacey is–but Jen secretly does know that Pacey’s docked in Boston. Pacey wants to keep doing his own thing, so he resists Jen’s gentle pressure to come to aforementioned Sunday night dinner. And that’s all we see of Pacey. Ah well.
This episode also sees the introduction of perhaps the second most important new addition for the show’s college years. This is Charlie, and for context, our alt text image description for this photo includes the phrase “extremely handsome”:
Charlie is the most early-aughts a human can be. For one thing, he is played by Chad Michael Murray. For another thing, he uses gel to spike his hair and wears a necklace. Jen responds to his preternatural handsomeness by aggressively rejecting his not-yet-uttered pickup line when they run into each other at the frat party. He tells her he’s not cruising the party (shot for CMM pretending to be sensitive!), he’s in the band, at which point Jen totally gives in, forgets to be her usual unreasonably aggressive self, and tells him he was good. When he remarks that the cutest girl in the place is alone in the corner, she’s toast. She’s all smiles after that, apparently having clean forgotten that when she’s smitten with someone he is inevitably going to decide that he loves Joey more.
- I feel like professors read people’s work and make fun of it in public a lot more on TV than they do in real life.
- College Joey is a runner! And she runs over the same bridge I ran over so many times in college, and then runs right by my favorite bookstore from college! TWINSIES.
- This episode has a guest star who goes by the name of “Alan Fudge.” Dude… that’s rough.
- Who’s creepier: Ken Marino as the unpleasant horndog who turns out to be a secret virgin in Wet Hot American Summer, or Ken Marino as the professor who’s hot for his not-very-talented eighteen-year-old student?
- Dawson calls Joey to tell her he can’t visit when his internship starts that day. Uh… you didn’t know about this in advance?
- Look at Joey’s fancy flip phone that she uses to receive calls from Dawson!
- JEN LINDLEY slut-shames Audrey for having too many boys over, saying she has a bright future in porn (shot for assuming Audrey is stupid just because she has sex!). None of these people seem to be adjusting to college very well, let’s be serious.
- At one point Joey arrives home to her room only to be greeted by Audrey asking without preamble, “Have you ever had an orgasm?” [spoiler] Heh, Pacey and Audrey are perfect for each other! Neither one knows if Joey’s ever had an orgasm!
- During her lecture that Joey hates fun, Audrey says that Joey’s sad about Dawson and explains, hilariously, that she’s “very intuitive.” I love Audrey.
- I hate Todd, but the hastily dismissive way he says, “No, thanks,” when Dawson offers to show him his AI Brooks documentary is AMAZING.
- Awww, the guy who has a crush on Joey, and totally creeps her out by revealing he noticed her in class even though she never noticed him. I did that to Keets when we first met!
- There is a special hell for people who take up the FREAKING HALLWAY BATHROOM to call their boyfriends at a frat party. Drunk people have to pee, yo!
- I’m not sure that you should leave a big dramatic good-bye voicemail to someone and then end it, “Call me back.” Doesn’t that kind of… um… belie the rest of the message?
- The guy who invites Jack and Jen to the frat party turns out to be in the frat, and tries to convince Jack to join. Jack’s hesitant, but we all know how much that kid loves an environment full of toxic masculinity and misogyny. (“What’s gotten into him?” Joey asks when Jack is pleading with her to go to the party. “A cute boy invited him,” Jen giggles. Heh.)
- Let’s review: It’s the season premiere, where you usually try to throw in some exciting stuff to keep people watching, and Dawson’s film internship plotline includes not one but two extended mundane scenes where he talks to a security guard we’re never going to see again.
- Jen jokes that she will “devote my life to God and His teachings” if there are cookies in the cupboard, and Grams overhears and gets way too excited. Whoops!
- I love that the teaser of the season premiere isn’t a phone call between Dawson and Joey, or a group dinner at Grams’ house, but a random scene of Joey in a creative writing class. They’re not even trying to pretend she’s not the default protagonist anymore. –Janes
- Joey’s story is one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. One of her classmates calls it “Joyce Carol Oates meets Judy Blume,” but actually it’s more like Stephanie Meyer-meets-YA Parody Twitter Account. –Janes
- Dawson’s new haircut makes him look five years older and about ten times hotter. –Janes
- Jen says the frat boy who invites her to the party is cute, but in a “dumb guy with a dream” kind of way. This from the girl whose serious boyfriends include Dawson and (ew) Henry. If that’s not her type, I don’t know what is. –Janes
- Joey tells Professor Creeper that she can’t continue her creative writing story, because “nothing happened after that,” and Creeper is forced to explain to her that fiction is a thing that exists. –Janes
- Creeper says she should continue the story because she doesn’t get a chance to explicitly spell out the meaning of her kiss with Dawson, when any writer worth his salt would say that the meaning should be clear from the rest of the story. In other words, the problem with the story is definitely not that it’s too subtle, let’s just put it that way. –Janes
- Whitney from Bring It On calls Todd the “leading visualist of his time,” when she definitely means “visionary.” The writing improved in season 4, but we might need to bring back the “most wrongly used five-dollar word” category this season. –Janes
- Joey prissily covers her eyes as she opens her door to protect them from Audrey’s sluttiness. Couldn’t she just knock?? –Janes
- Also, Audrey asks Joey if she’s ever had an orgasm, and Joey acts like that’s the most absurd question she’s ever heard. Hee! Pacey’s ignorance of female anatomy rears its ugly head again. –Janes
- I love that in the high school years, Joey was the one who encouraged everyone to grow up and “evolve.” Now that the plot requires her to be completely stuck in the past: enter Audrey. –Janes
- Audrey calls Jen her “new best friend,” and they are still best friends IRL!! Awwww. –Janes
- Dawson: “I made a documentary about AI Brooks.” Todd: “Who?” Hee! So say we all, Todd. So say we all. –Janes
- When I saw Cute English Class Boy, I thought, so that’s where Dawson’s season 4 hair went: –Janes
- I thought Feisty Joey got lobotomized somewhere around seasons 2-3, when she became the perennial love interest, but really it’s now. This is the first episode where her only personality traits are Perfect and Uptight. –Janes
Most cringeworthy moment:
Joey arrives at Professor Wilder’s office hours to find him climbing out the window to escape a long line of besotted female students. So, to recap, this dude verbally abuses and belittles students in class, but he’s handsome (kind of), so all the freshman girls are of course too stupid to not fall in love with him, but Special Joey Potter appeals to him because she isn’t in love with him. And this guy is not only an overrated douche, but he actually CLIMBS OUT THE WINDOW to avoid HIS OWN STUDENTS during his OWN OFFICE HOURS without even telling them to come back next time, because he lacks even the barest, tiniest amount of spine.
Eight, including one shot for Jack discussing how Charlie is hot in a “dumb boy with a dream” kind of way.
Season 5, Episode 2 “The Lost Weekend”
The saga of the fake Grand Goodbye continues. Joey and Dawson exposit that they had a lovely weekend together, but of course we can’t see any of it, because it’s against the law to see D/J enjoying each other’s company. Instead, we skip right to the drama: it turns out that Dawson never listened to Joey’s drunken goodbye message, and he’s not terribly happy to hear it. He says he wished he had known she was trying to get rid of him before traveling 3,000 miles to see her (conveniently leaving out that he was fired and had no reason to stay). She thought he just wasn’t bringing it up this whole time. I guess we’re all in agreement that Dawson would definitely hear “I have to let you go,” and respond to that by passive-aggressively showing up at your door.
They have a classic D/J fight, where Joey is mad that things aren’t “resolved,” and Dawson somehow thought everything was resolved when they said goodbye to each other, even though they proceeded to make out and visit each other when it’s only October. They’re about to get into a full-blown fight when Audrey comes in and just sighs like, “What’s the drama now?” She’s only seen them together for two days, but she already knows their MO. Joey lies that she’s upset because she has to go drop Professor Creeper’s class on Dawson’s last day, and Audrey snarks, “Well, there’s a heartstopper.” Hee! She’s the best.
Audrey wants Dawson to take a college tour, which–no college student in history would ever, ever suggest that. Then, her ulterior motives become clear when it turns out that she’s the tour guide, and she’s just going to show him around campus herself. I know she’s not supposed to be flirting with him exactly, but they’re actually pretty cute together. They bond over how difficult Joey is, and when he finds out she’s the tour guide, she winks and tells him, “You can thank me later for rocking your world.” I’m just going to say it–Audrey should have been Dawson’s Pacey.
They have some fun banter about how terrible LA is (word), and then Audrey immediately perceives that Dawson doesn’t like USC. He says it’s a curse to have great friends in high school, because then everyone else is a letdown. I want to make a crack about the characters’ stunted development, but my best friend and I have literally said this to each other, so who am I to talk. That being said, how great can his friends be if Audrey is the only one to notice that he’s unhappy at school? What have he and Joey been talking about all weekend?
Audrey and Dawson find Joey as she’s waiting in the hours-long line to drop a class, and Joey is hilariously threatened. “She’ll flirt with anyone,” Joey tells Dawson, “animal, vegetable, mineral.” Ha! That’s a little bit more like Season One Joey, I guess, but not really in a good way. Then they segue into another nonsensical fight, where suddenly Joey is the one who thinks that their relationship is as resolved as it’s going to get, and Dawson is incensed that she doesn’t want to talk about their future. Joey says “we have to move on, we have to go our separate ways,” and Dawson says very dramatically, looking deep into her eyes, “Are you a hundred percent prepared to do that?” Take a shot for yet another fake Grand Goodbye!
Joey tells Creeper she wants to drop his class, and he snarks that she should drop something less useful than creative writing, like “basket weaving” or “women’s studies.” (No really, he actually says that.) She tells him she took too many classes and is overwhelmed, and he reluctantly signs her drop sheet, telling her with puppy-dog eyes that it’s like “getting dumped by your first girlfriend.” Gross.
It turns out that Professor Creeper tricked her by signing his name “Oscar Wilde” (because his name is “Wilder,” get it? Isn’t that hilarious?). He claims he did this because he thinks she has promise as a writer, but considering how terrible her story was, I think it’s safe to assume that he did it because he wants to get into her pants. He negs her (shot!) about her inflexibility and perfectionism, and she goes on a babbling rant about how Dawson is considering the future of their relationship with her “man-magnet” roommate. He tells her to write it all down, and then he’ll sign her form. Conveniently, her story has gotten a hundred times better, and he gives her an A-. She throws away her drop form, and the Pervy Teacher Plotline pt 2 lives to see another episode.
Audrey takes Dawson to the tower where people go to kill themselves (a staple on any college campus), and jokes about making out with him. And he says yes! Do it, you two! It would be so healthy! But Audrey won’t because of Joey, who 100% doesn’t deserve Audrey at this point. Audrey and Dawson talk about the internship as if he weren’t fired (so Joey doesn’t know that either? Seriously, what do they talk about??). Dawson admits that he was fired and sort of lets slip that he’s thought about dropping out of USC and moving to Boston. Ugh, I hate when TV writers shake everything up just to return everything to the status quo within a few episodes. I realize it’s insanely stupid for Dawson to move to Boston, but at this point I’m just like do it already, I’m bored.
Joey runs to the airport for another Grand Goodbye (shot!). Hm, I wonder if they’ll actually manage to say goodbye this time. They small talk until Dawson literally has to get on the plane (this was filmed right before 9/11, so Joey can still accompany him to the gate), and then they finally start to have it out. Joey tells him she was upset that he didn’t know about the message, because she thought he heard it and came anyway (so uncharacteristic of him, to only show up when he thinks he’s invited!). He admits he was thinking about not going back to LA, but then rightly points out that it took them two days to start talking about anything real, and maybe any attraction they feel for each other is just fear of growing up. (YES.) They both say they don’t know how they really feel, that they’re confused, but all Joey has to say is that “at the end of the night, when I got back to my room, I wanted you there,” and he decides to stay. So healthy.
Meanwhile, Jen is freaking out that Charlie won’t be able to find her, because he doesn’t have her phone number. Which sounds silly now, but was a real struggle before Facebook. Jack says that’s why we’ve had all these advances in “information technology” (hee!), so people can track down people they’re sexually attracted to. That’s true enough, but what is he even talking about in the year 2001, when even MySpace was about two years away? Email?
Jen makes a dry joke about being slutty, and Jack says, “Oh right, you’re a slut, except you haven’t actually had sex with anyone the entire time I’ve known you.” HA. (Actually, he did sort of know her when she had sex with Chris, but that just serves to remind us that the last person she had sex with was someone we’ve all but forgotten about.) He says he’s kissed more guys than she has the past year, but she protests that they’ve both kissed one guy. “How many straight guys?” Jack asks smugly. He wins, and she says glumly, “This is the saddest competition ever.” Aw! Besties!
They just so happen to find Charlie hosting the school radio station. He plays “weepy” and “mopey” bands like The Smiths, because he’s Very Sensitive, if you haven’t heard. He invites her in, and she turns on the microphone and starts giving him a hard time on the air. She turns down a request for “Girlfriend in a Coma,” because college stations play too many “misunderstood ambisexual geniuses.” That’s pretty funny, although I’m sure the listeners would take another cliched Smiths song over listening to Charlie and Jen do a mating dance for the next five minutes.
Jen goes back to Charlie’s place, and he lays it on thick with stacks of feminist literature, odes to Dolly Parton, and pretentious talk about how music can turn your universe upside down because, if you haven’t heard, he’s Very Sensitive. She tries to charm him by telling him that she likes to knit and she lives with her grandmother, but he seems more interested when she aggressively makes out with him. We all know this will end badly, but, you go Jen!
They have sex, and Jen very uncharacteristically freaks out as if she’s done something terrible. (I guess Audrey is the new blonde slut who never actually has sex with anyone, so Jen has to be the chaste one who actually does have sex. It’s so hard to keep track.) Chad Michael Murray says some sweet things about how they should just be happy that they liked each other and had sex, and that he doesn’t want to go out next Friday night and start the process over again “with a girl I won’t like half as much as I like you.” Enjoy it while it lasts, Jen. There’s only a few episodes left before he meets Joey.
Now let’s talk about Pacey, arguably the character who fares the worst in the college years, probably because he doesn’t go to college and often spends entire episodes without even talking to any of the other main characters. He’s currently having a fall fling with Jennifer Morrison, aka Cameron from House, aka hilariously-named rich girl Melanie Shea Thompson. It’s a little weird that Pacey went from screaming at Joey about her academic elitism to dating someone who openly treats him like the gardener from Desperate Housewives and dresses like Allison Williams in the last few scenes of Get Out, but I guess that’s kind of the point.
Doug needles him about “waiting on the rich” and encourages him to do something more honest with his life, like working in Doug’s friend’s restaurant. Doug’s friend turns out to be Danny Brecher, a boring addition to the show who brings a truly terrible addition along with him: Karen, who is possibly the worst love interest since Eve. Danny offers Pacey a dishwashing job. Pacey turns it down because he thinks it’s beneath him, but then Melanie Shea Thompson changes his mind by smugly paying their dinner check with the money from her “credit card, allowance, and trust fund.” Usually, it would annoy me that Pacey’s masculinity is threatened by his girlfriend paying the check, but she’s so bratty and condescending when she says, “This is what legally blondes do for their cute slacker boyfriends,” I don’t even care.
Pacey takes the job, and while he’s leaving runs into Karen (nooooooooo). She’s scowling, yelling, and smoking a cigarette, just in case we didn’t get that she’s Real. She makes an obnoxious comment about how “chicks dig” the guys in the kitchen, but he says he’s a one-woman man, “provided she’s the right kind.” Um, is he thinking about Joey? Because if he’s talking about either Melanie Shea Thompson or Karen, I will lose so much respect for him.
- Joey already left Dawson a Grand Goodbye in his voicemail, but the worst thing she’s done to him this season has to be sending him alone on a campus tour for a college he’s never going to attend. That is just cruel. —Nerdy Spice.
- Jack declares that no one is watching Jen so she doesn’t need to follow patriarchal rules about throwing herself at men. I guess that’s true if Joey Potter isn’t your roommate. She loves enforcing the patriarchy. —Nerdy Spice
- Joey says that Elliott isn’t “nice” anymore because he proceeded to sleep with Audrey after… talking to Joey for like five seconds? I guess Joey’s life experience would lead her to believe that that’s enough for a guy to be permanently faithful to her, but still.
- Professor Creeper admits to Joey that kids drop his class a lot, which is no surprise. Not only does he grossly hit on freshman girls, but he gives Ivy League kids “C”s in Creative Writing! The administration would never allow for that, especially at Fake Harvard.
- Chad Michael Murray’s full name is “Charlie Todd”?? Jen should have known what she was getting herself into.
- College Joey is a lot like College Rory, come to think of it, with the lack of personality and preppy wardrobe. Look, Joey’s dressed just like Melanie Shea Thompson!
- A terrible girl from Dawson’s program calls herself “Kiwi” and is making a short film about “accosting minor celebrities in public washrooms.” That might be the most accurate thing DC has ever said about film school.
- “Why do you have A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Sexual Politics by Kate Millett, and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein? I would have bought it if you just had one.” Ha! Dawson’s Creek was talking about the “woke misogynist” way before it was cool.
- It is admittedly cute that Chad Michael Murray likes Dolly Parton, but coming after Whitney Houston? How dare he.
- If there is anyone listening to Charlie’s radio station, I feel SO BAD for them. It’s bad enough to be stuck listening to strangers flirting in like, the subway or a cafe. But when you expected music and you get flirtation (bad flirtation, at that)? That sucks. —Nerdy Spice
- “I guess the more people you’re named after, the more wills you can potentially appear in,” Doug cracks when Pacey mentions that his rich girlfriend has three names. Heh! But… it’s only three names. Is that really a rich people thing? Do Joey, Dawson, Pacey and Jen not have middle names? I guess I never thought of it. Weird! —Nerdy Spice
- I cracked up at Audrey’s flirty little “Hi” when she joins the line for Joey. And then her insulted grimace when the dude doesn’t immediately go for her. So perfect. —Nerdy Spice
- Speaking of hating fun, this is Joey’s face when Professor Creeper claims that they’re “having fun”: —Nerdy Spice
- Joey starts listing all the people who’ve made sacrifices to get her to college and all I can think is how sad it is that these people all worked so hard and hoped so much… just so Joey could fall into the clutches of an asshole misogynistic professor who abuses his power to seduce his students. Of course, he doesn’t seem to feel guilty at all. What a jerk. —Nerdy Spice
This was a pretty dumb episode, but I liked the flirty banter between Audrey and Dawson. Who knew James van der Beek could have chemistry with anyone? (Pre-Don’t Trust the B, obvi.)
Most cringeworthy moment:
Pretty much everything about Professor Creeper, really, but I’ll pick when he negs her yet again [shot!] about “overthinking” things. What a classic technique for getting into uptight college girls’ pants.
Nine, mostly for Charlie’s woke misogyny, the wonderfulness of Audrey, and, of course, the Grand Goodbyes.
Season 5, Episode 3 “Capeside Revisited”
By Nerdy Spice
Let’s just dive right in: Two long-awaited moments happen in this episode, the first being the only Pacey/Joey encounter so far this season. Yay! (As for the second long-awaited moment… well, we’ll get to that.)
Joey, Jen, and Audrey just so happen to get dinner at the same swank restaurant where Pacey got a job in the last episode. Joey, scared away from the table by a very tame conversation about sex (it actually is about boys’ underwear, like ooh shocking; shot for Joey hating fun!), catches a glimpse of Pacey on her way to the bathroom and stops short, shocked. Can you imagine what that poor girl is thinking right now? He dumps her so brutally, then declares he’ll always love her anyway even though he’s leaving her, and then he comes back to town and doesn’t even tell her? AND she finds out a few minutes later that Jen already knew and was sworn to secrecy? Ugh, so sad.
Audrey offers to play therapist to Joey, but for some reason Joey resists. I guess maybe if Audrey were an entitled, douchey, inappropriate creative writing professor… and male… Joey would be more willing to share her problems. But she does admit that she wants to see Pacey if he wants to see her. Audrey finds it hard to believe that any guy would not want to see Joey, which… fair, if you’ve seen the rest of the show.
That night, Joey finds Pacey on his boat on the dock, drinking root beer like the adorable square he is. He gets the sweetest little dazed smile when he realizes she’s there:
They proceed to have a very sweet conversation about the stars and hold hands way longer than necessary after he helps her up on the boat. Joey remarks that human brain cells can regrow, so maybe they can forget the bad stuff and only remember the good. There’s also a healthy dose of classic Pacey/Joey banter where they pretend to have forgotten that they dated and Joey cracks that she’s slept with half the football team; and they finish up by catching up on each other’s lives under the stars. It’s pretty awesome.
Of course, when Joey comes home that night, she finds Dawson waiting for her to have a humorless conversation about how he’s “adrift on a sea of uncertainty,” and all of the sexiness in the episode fizzles into sexless, awkward emotional regression. The last thing we hear is Joey remarking “You can’t go home again” (shot!)… which is portentous, but more on that in a moment.
Jack continues his training to become an obnoxious corporate dude just like his dad by hanging out at a frat, playing video games, cheating on his classes and talking about golf. Wow. He passes out drunk and wakes up to the cute guy from the party offering him an engraved invitation to … be a frat bro, I guess? Cute frat boy declares, “There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to ask himself the question: am I in or am I out?” Awkward choice of words! Jack finally blurts out that he’s gay, and they all laugh at him and tell him they knew that. When Jack says most people are surprised, they say that “Most people aren’t Sigma people,” which makes no sense because they immediately admit that they have no other gay people and the reason they know he’s gay is because they’ve been told to become more diverse by the dean, so… it has nothing to do with being Sigma people.
Jack talks this through with Grams while they (for reasons unknown) walk arm-in-arm through their house, and conclude that he’s being influenced by Toby. This is a momentous occasion in and of itself since it means that apparently Toby is still a thing. When Jack goes back to ask if they want him for more than being the token gay guy, Cute Frat Boy insists that they want him. He assures Jack that Toby is welcome too, and Jack excitedly agrees. His transformation to a frat boy is now complete. Yayyyyy.
Jen and Charlie continue to have The Sex, with Jen trying awkwardly to find out more about Charlie so she doesn’t feel like it’s just sex. Charlie is way more interested in kissing, but he eventually plays along, mostly because Jen doesn’t really give him a choice. When she asks him his favorite color, he declares like a big dork, “The color of your eyes” (shot for Charlie pretending to be sensitive!). Then they embark on the world’s lowest-stakes bet: that they can go twelve hours without sex. Jen tries desperately to find something in common with him and gets unreasonably angry that he doesn’t like movies with subtitles (hello, shot for Jen getting unreasonably angry!). When they finally give up, they realize they’re out of condoms so they break into the health center to steal some condoms. Jen melts when she realizes that Charlie needs glasses and that’s why he hates subtitles.
Dawson goes home to tell his parents he’s dropping out of school because he hates LA and wants to be in Boston. You know, with Joey. Understandably, since he’s throwing away a dream he’s had for his whole childhood and presumably wasting a huge amount of tuition money, he’s a little nervous. Also understandably, his parents do not find his assertion that he’s at “a profound crossroads” and risks “significant regrets” to be a convincing argument. I hate to be on Mitch’s side, but this face pretty much says everything:
At first, Mitch is like “HELL NO.” Then he tries to talk Dawson out of it a little more gently, even repeating Dawson’s whole “crossroads” thing with a modicum of credulity, which surely took superhuman effort. Surprise surprise, he produces a plane ticket to send Dawson back to film school. Later, as Dawson cuddles with Lily on a picnic blanket in the yard, Gail giggles that she totally does want Dawson to move back because she misses him, and Mitch agrees that he misses him too. He says the only thing he’s good at is being a family man, which… seems sad when he was kind of a dick as a dad too.
But also, of course, the big speech about loving his life will, if you haven’t already caught the thrust of our many asides about hoping Mitch gets run over by a truck, presumably alert you to the fact that Mitch is about to die. Big-time.
Gail attempts to succeed where Mitch has failed, and we get a return to two of the show’s favorite all-time tropes: she tells Dawson that people change, and he and Joey are going to change; then she tells him that they might be soulmates. Six shots! But she also asks Dawson to promise that if he does follow Joey to Boston, he won’t prevent either of them from growing up. So she’s not completely sucking up. When Dawson leaves, Gail gives him MORE COOKIES because apparently that’s all that mothers do, but Mitch remains stone cold as Dawson gives him a dumb speech about how this is a mistake he has to make for himself. He declares himself disappointed in Dawson. But then he grabs him by the neck and adds that he loves him and will always be there for him. UNLESS HE DIES AMIRITE?
Oh, was that too soon? A little tacky? Sorry.
To get right to it, after Dawson leaves, Mitch goes out for ice cream, irresponsibly drives around eating it and singing, drops the ice cream on the floor, gets distracted trying to save it, and gets hit by a truck! Classic.
What? Come on, you know that shit is funny.
- Audrey gets in a great line within the first thirty seconds of this episode (shot!). “Will you stop?” Audrey says to Joey when the latter complains that she invited herself along, bugging her eyes out cutely. “Nobody believes that you don’t adore me.” And Joey actually smiles. Obviously, Audrey’s charm is a superpower, because as we know, Joey hates fun.
- Uh… why ARE Jen and Joey and Audrey eating at a restaurant where we already know that entrees are $25? Joey doesn’t exactly have money to burn, and $25 back then is like $35 now! (Wow, I’m pretty proud of myself now. I just guesstimated when I wrote $35, but when I entered the amount into an inflation calculator to check, it turns out $25 in October 2001 when this episode aired is actually worth exactly $35.45 in June 2018. Go me!)
- Ha! College Joey is so the Charlotte. –Janes
- I like that Grams patiently helps Dawson work through his fear of facing his parents. With a meta-reference! (Shot!) “If Moses could face Pharoah, you can face your parents.” Although technically Moses was too shy so Aaron did all the talking. But oh well.
- In this universe, pledges accept bids for fraternities at random times, not all at the same time, and frats stalk dudes before inviting them to pledge. It’s almost as unrealistic as the college admissions process.
- Grams calls Dawson an “expatriate” because he lives in… California. Close, but no. –Janes
- Kerr Smith looks so much more comfortable pretending to be a frat boy than a gay boy. I wonder if this was the inverse of Jennifer Aniston on Friends, where the character actually becomes worse to reflect the actor’s personality. –Janes
- Mitch and Gail are such a parody of TV parents, with Mitch asking pointedly if Dawson has a deal with Dreamworks yet, and Gail squealing, “Did you get the cookies I sent?” Sigh.
- Watching Dawson tell his parents he’s dropping out of school is so painful. Like, yeah, it usually takes at least a semester to make real friends, even for people who love their school. Yeah, you’re not at a “profound crossroads” just because you miss your childhood sweetheart. And side note: didn’t they already pay tuition for the semester?? –Janes
- Ugh, now even Audrey is calling Joey the “kind of girl guys never get over”? Even non-Capesiders aren’t immune to the It Girl mythology! –Janes
- Audrey also declares to Joey, “You love academia because of the rules and you hate relationships because of the lack of them.” Shot for Audrey being the MVP of this scene too. (She also gets points for not punching Joey in the face when she asks, “Don’t you have a lacrosse team to date?”)
- I love that Pacey repeats lines from Brecher like “the waitresses are moody” and then is shocked that he could cheat on his wife. –Janes
- Also, Karen tells Pacey that his “only qualification for his job is his gender,” and then he’s like, “You’re exploding on me and I have no idea why!” Um, didn’t she just tell you that it’s because you’re an 18-year-old wise-ass who inexplicably has a better job than she does? He’s losing all his feminist cred this season. –Janes
- OMG. Dawson “overcame the kind of adversity that would send most kids running for cover” to get to college? What kind of adversity is that, exactly? Being an upper-middle-class white kid with attentive, loving parents? Some old guy dying and giving him piles of money that he doesn’t need? And Dawson just nods along like, “Yes, you’re right, Dad. I have overcome a lot of adversity. I didn’t win that one film festival and my ex-girlfriend once started dating someone else a year after we broke up, if you haven’t heard.” Shut up, both of you! –Janes
- Ha, I’d almost forgotten this is the episode that Mitch dies, but then he gives a speech that begins, “Do you know how much I love my life?” Oops. Bye, Mitch. –Janes
- Jen likes Pepsi more than Coke. I knew I hated her for a reason.
- I know he’s about to die and everything so he has to be all intense, but like, isn’t Mitch standing kind of inappropriately close to Dawson?
- It’s amazing how much more likable Joey is in this little scene with Pacey. Her entire demeanor is suddenly much less Charlotte-esque, as if he immediately relaxes her. —Janes
- When Joey mentions brain cells regrowing, Pacey cracks, “So I guess that means the whole ‘This is your brain on drugs’ thing is moot.” How adorably turn-of-the-century! Remember those commercials?
- I’m sorry, why can’t Jen just buy condoms instead of breaking into the student health center? She eats at restaurants with twenty-five-dollar entrees!
Sorry, Mitch, but I’m going to pick Pacey and Joey hanging out on a moonlit boat and reminiscing about how well they could see the stars during their summer of sailing, over your hilarious death scene.
Most cringeworthy moment:
Pacey is still working at the restaurant, where he spends most of his time flirting with Karen. (She’s nakedly hostile, which of course will eventually make Pacey love her (see also: Joey).) But more importantly, it turns out that the head chef is yet another entry in a long list of Horrible Male Authority Figures who show up in this season. He promotes Pacey to Truffle Ravioli Duty after the latter practices on potato chips, declaring that Karen couldn’t have Pacey’s job even though she has discipline and willpower because… apparently this job requires something ineffable that isn’t discipline and willpower. Presumably, it’s a little thing known as “testosterone,” though he doesn’t actually say it. Ughhhh.
Eleven, mostly achieved by Gail playing Joey-and-Dawson-catchphrase bingo in her scene with Dawson.
Previous installment here.