Season 5, Episode 4 “The Long Goodbye”
So as we all know, Mitch is a goner. (Nerdy Spice: “Oh, right, I forgot Mitch died.” [laughs])
It’s true. Mitch has gone to that Great Steroid Gym/Dobie Gray Concert in the Sky. The teaser of this episode makes a heroic effort to make his ice cream-related death very serious and tragic, but instead just make it unintentionally funnier. First of all, they break the news to the uninitiated viewer that Mitch is really dead with a sign (or, upon closer examination, what looks like a Post-It colored binder divider) on the door of Leery’s Fresh Fish that says, in black Sharpie, “Death in the Family.” Then, they show us all of these absurd, maudlin shots of the empty house and pictures of poor, dead Mitch, only to go straight into the chipper teen theme song that famously starts, “I don’t want to wait for my life to be over.” Like, they’re not even trying to pretend this isn’t funny.
(The funniest part is that the writers actually have a more serious version of the theme song at their disposal–or at least they take the time to create one when Joey is mugged later this season–making this choice doubly tacky. I guess it just goes to show which writers they (and we) actually care about.)
There’s not terribly much to recap this episode, because hardly anything actually happens. Everyone’s just really sad, and there are lots of “artsy” shots that are just naked attempts to evoke sentiment. Dawson putting Lily in her crib, Dawson putting a blanket over Gail, Lily crying at the funeral, and interminable sort-of flashbacks where Mitch acts out scenes with other characters from when he was alive. (The one where a now-25-year-old James van der Beek pretends to be celebrating his twelfth birthday is particularly pointless, not to mention creepy.)
There are, however, a few moments that are genuinely sad. Grams is, of course, the MVP of the funeral, telling Gail “We merry widows have to stick together,” and Dawson that “God and I aren’t on speaking terms this week.” And in the only half-flashback scene that works, Joey remembers Mitch putting up the legendary ladder next to Dawson’s bedroom so Joey wouldn’t get hurt on the trellis. He tells her that Dawson is just a stupid boy who will “figure it out” eventually (so this must have been when they were thirteen or fourteen), and then kisses her on the forehead. Joey looks up sadly at Dawson’s bedroom window, ladder-less after Mitch took it down in season two. No one does nostalgia like this show.
Naturally, this becomes a heavy-handed metaphor about how much has changed between Joey and Dawson. Joey is uncharacteristically bad at comforting Dawson, partially because College Joey is about twenty times more neurotic, but mostly because Dawson doesn’t give her the chance. He rejects all of her attempts at physical affection, and blatantly recoils when she tries to hold his hand at the funeral. She tries to commiserate with him about losing her mother (shot!) and sweetly tells him she’ll take care of him during this difficult time, but he just stares at her blankly. (That being said, he tries to tell her about his survivor’s guilt at one point, and she responds, “That’s crazy.” Is she trying to be bad at this??)
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the most affecting part of this episode is Dawson. James van der Beek isn’t the best at emoting, but he does a pretty good job at portraying Dawson’s emotionally exhausted, dreamlike grief state. Like any red-blooded toxic male, Dawson can’t let himself experience his grief, and when he does, it only takes the form of anger. Dawson just sort of stares at everyone like he’s not sure they’re real, until he hears Mitch’s voice on the answering machine and flies into a rage, ripping it out of the wall. Then, when Joey tries to tell him that it’s okay to express his sadness, he just starts railing about how his father’s death was his fault (and, by extension, hers). “For all I know, when my dad was driving that night, he was pissed, having an argument with me in his head.” Poor Dawson. If only he knew that his dad had much more important things to think about, like eating ice cream off the car floor.
By the end of the funeral, Dawson goes from chilly towards Joey to arctic. Joey finds him lying in bed and tells him people are starting to leave. He says, “See ya.” Yikes. She doesn’t take the hint, and tells him she’ll stay as long as he wants. He very harshly tells her he wants to be alone, and she leaves with that hurt-bunny look on her face.
When Joey gets back to school, she reluctantly admits to Audrey that Dawson didn’t want anything to do with her, “He just wanted me out of his sight.” Then she cries as Audrey pats her back sympathetically. She’s slightly making it all about her, but Dawson was totally rude and totally does blame her for his dad’s death, so whatever.
One female friend is a little bit better at cheering Dawson up: Jen, who has never had any experience with death but is somehow great at this. They have a cute, jokey exchange at the funeral about how to get drunk the fastest (“Wine’s fine, but whiskey’s quicker!” says a very charming Jen), and then have a genuine, honest moment where Jen admits that this is “out of her league,” so rather than give him advice, she’ll hug him and tell him she loves him. It’s all very cute and charming, but kind of annoying. Jen has never once handled pressure with grace in the entire time we’ve known her, so it’s obvious that they’re just trying to contrast her with Joey for the sake of the next (or, rather, recycled) love triangle.
Refreshingly, the only person that Dawson manages to really open up to is Pacey. He’s the only one to make Dawson laugh during the funeral, and then later, while Dawson is still insisting on bottling up his feelings, Pacey dramatically drives him to the stretch of road where his father died (a potentially disastrous gamble, but it’s Pacey, so it pays off). Pacey emphatically tells him that his father’s death was “not [his] fault,” but the fault of the person who hit Mitch’s car, a rando who was apparently asleep at the wheel. And then it gets even cuter: “Why am I doing this? I’m doing this because once upon a time, you and I were best friends. And that means that whenever you need me, I’m here. Any time, anywhere, any place, forever.” Awwwwwww! Who is Dawson kidding, they’re still best friends.
Side note: If the man who hit Mitch was asleep at the wheel, then what on Earth was the point of showing him dive for ice cream?? Were they just trying to make this the most undignified death in TV history?
Anyway, Dawson reacts to all this with the Furrowed Brow of Repressed Sadness, but it’s obvious that Pacey’s speech shakes something loose in him. It all comes tumbling out when Dawson goes out to get more milk (which, if you remember, was the chore Mitch was performing when he died). The cashier tells Dawson that on the night Mitch died, he said Dawson was “a royal pain in the ass,” but then also added that he was “brave” with a “romantic streak a mile long” and that he was “proud to know [him].” Aw. Mitch is dead, so he gets a pass on the undeserved compliments shot. Dawson goes back to the car, and has an epic crying fit. Not as epic as the season three finale, of course, nothing could ever top that, but still pretty epic.
It’s montage time! The whole last few minutes of the episode comprise a wonderfully sappy montage to a wonderfully sappy song: “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor, where everyone thinks about Mitch and Death in their own way, and Dawson finishes his crying fit. And then it all ends with a weird, impossible-to-place flashback of the Leery family taking a photo together, where Dawson has his fancy College Hair, but he’s talking about going to the movies with Jack, Joey, and Jen (so that must have been last summer?). Mitch hilariously looks out into the distance in a very I’m-about-to-be-killed-off kind of way, then goes into the house as James Taylor whines, “But I always thought I’d see you again.” God, I love this show.
- Dawson’s Creek’s version of being “artsy” is positively adorable. In the montage of shots at the beginning, they just keep fading to black in the middle of scenes, just in case we didn’t get that this is the “sad” montage. At one point, the only thing in between black screens is Dawson getting something out of the fridge with his brow sort of furrowed. God bless them, they try.
- Almost everything about this death is funny–in a way that you have to suspect is on purpose–but this song playing over the beginning montage is great. (It’s Jill Cohn, “Calm,” apparently.) —Nerdy Spice
- Wow, talk about lack of continuity. When Joey comes by to tell Pacey Mitch is dead, he’s reading… a BOOK. I just wish I could see what it was. —Nerdy Spice
- When did the family sit for this silly portrait? And like, the end of this episode revolves around Mitch taking an outdoor family portrait with a fancy camera, why not just hang that up? That’s much less embarrassing. —Nerdy Spice
- Oh right, Jack has a dead brother, which the writers briefly trot out this episode. I totally thought they forgot about that (read: I totally forgot about that).
- Ew, Mitch winks at a young Joey. Creepee. —Nerdy Spice
- Jen isn’t old enough to realize that, while everyone is awkward around the bereaved, the bereaved do not care about your feelings of awkwardness. Yet, her hug with Dawson is really sweet. —Nerdy Spice
- Sorry to speak ill of the fictionally dead, but I feel like Joey and Gail are super insulting Dawson by constantly saying he’s just like Mitch. —Nerdy Spice
- Jeez, Bodie couldn’t be bothered to show up for the funeral? That’s cold. —Nerdy Spice
- Why are they so bad at hugging??
- “When I go, I want to go in a way in which it makes everybody laugh,” Pacey declares. Well… I think Mitch just did that. —Nerdy Spice
- Ooh, Pacey’s resigned grin when he realizes what’s been going on between Dawson and Joey is SO sad. And then he says “The way I see it, you never did [get your shot]”… and not to be a HUGE DORK but “The way I see it” is a phrase he uses in a later romantic speech to Joey. It’s a very characteristic thing to say. —Nerdy Spice
- Ewwwww, Gail and Mitch call each other “Mr. Leery” and “Mrs. Leery” while flirting. Gross. —Nerdy Spice
- Um, I’m sorry, Mitch thought that team sports “teach conformity” and wanted his son to be a “freak”? The same Mitch who was the most blowhard football coach since… okay I don’t watch sports shows/movies aside from Friday Night Lights, but you get the picture.
- Wow, Pacey sure loves to pull people over by the side of this road. —Nerdy Spice
- This show always fetishizes first loves, but the really beautiful thing is first best friends (and, really, all ex-best friends). —Nerdy Spice
- I might just really be a bad person. I laughed when Gail asked Dawson for more milk. Not like when she started really bawling, but right before that when they both got this deer-in-headlights, “MILK IS WHAT KILLED MY DAD” look on their faces. —Nerdy Spice
- When are we going to get a James van der Beek-Claire Danes tearjerker drama? The crying faces would be SO EPIC. —Nerdy Spice
Pacey and Dawson’s rare bonding moment was a tearjerker, but as usual, the edge goes to Pacey and Joey. At the funeral, Pacey finds Joey outside, freshly rejected by Dawson (just like the season three premiere!), and he immediately starts joking about how he wants a funny death until she cracks a smile, and he says, “Mission accomplished.” Even more impressively, he keeps up this civility when Joey tells him that Dawson is dropping out of school for her. I loved these two when they were in a relationship, but their ability to care for each other in a mature, adult way when they’re broken up says even more about their long-term compatibility.
Most cringeworthy moment:
Aaaand then this moment is promptly ruined by Pacey sweetly saying that Dawson and Joey “never got their shot,” and that this world could “use as many Romeo and Juliets as it can get.” Um, what show have they been watching, because in this show, Dawson and Joey got at least five or six chances to get this thing right. Romeo and Juliet were star-crossed lovers because of circumstances beyond their control, not because Juliet constantly broke up with him. (Five shots for a nonsensical literary reference!)
Eight, mostly for Joey pulling the mom card and that infuriating Shakespeare reference.
Season 5, Episode 5 “Use Your Disillusion”
By Nerdy Spice
Joey is juggling the two men in her life–Dawson, who’s arriving soon for a weekend of hanging out, and Professor Creeper, who wants her to join a prestigious team to go through the literary estate of a famous woman writer named Rose Lazar. There’s a kickoff party for the literary estate project, but Joey says she can’t because she’s taking care of a friend with a death in the family. Which she does: by renting a whole bunch of movies and giving him a cheesy book about dealing with a parents’ death. And constantly staring at him with this solicitous, scared look in her big doe eyes. It’s incredibly awkward and uncomfortable and realistic. And you can feel him shrinking away from the scrutiny, and Joey trying not to crowd him but doing a terrible job, and basically it’s like the most uncomfortable thing ever!
After one movie turns out to have a car crash in it, Joey freaks out and turns off the TV, and they decide to try going to Professor Creeper’s party. Joey has a good time at first, but Dawson basically has a panic attack so they have to leave. And when he leaves the next morning–telling her somewhat unconvincingly that she did help him (“all events to the contrary”… um, English much?)–it’s still super awkward. Joey shuts the door on him looking incredibly relieved for the awkwardness to be over:
Later, she complains to an understanding Audrey that she’s actually relieved Dawson’s gone, and that he forgot the book. It turns out she actually wrote an inscription in the cheesy book, which he’ll never see, telling him that she loves him and is there for him (she also says she didn’t want to write it in an email, which… let’s all remember that comment the next time Joey decides to write an important communique to Dawson!). But things aren’t looking so good for Dawson and Joey.
Jack is being hazed for Hell Week, and apparently no one ever explained this concept until he was playing pool with one of the other pledges. So when Toby shows up by surprise, expecting to be paid attention to, Jack pretends like he’s going to but then totally goes along with the hazing anyway. It’s what is known as a Classic TV Problem: it could have been solved immediately if Jack had just had the maturity to tell Toby that showing up by surprise during your boyfriend’s first semester of college is not a good idea, and if you do it, you have to be prepared for them to have prior commitments. Instead, Jack stands Toby up for a date, then tells him he’s getting “girlfriendy” (ughhhh, someone’s been hanging out with straight misogynists too much!).
When they finally do get to dinner, Jack gets called away for more hazing, which he promises will only take half an hour. Instead he’s stuck in the frat house for hours, which leads to bonding over how Toby and the other guys’ girlfriends don’t understand their need for bro time. The guys urge Jack to “dump the chump” (while making admittedly a good point that Toby showed a distinct lack of consideration by not checking the date of his visit beforehand).
Jack arrives home in a somewhat conciliatory mood, but things quickly devolve. When Jack tries to explain that he likes the frat because they don’t just see him as the gay kid or as Andie’s brother (which… they recruited him because he’s gay, so I’m not sure it’s logical, but it’s definitely in character: Jack will go through any level of pretzel logic to justify his desire for the approval of his fellow males), Toby claims he’s not Jack’s priority and goes upstairs. The next day, he waits with Jen in vain hoping that Jack will come say good-bye to him before he leaves, but Jack is off getting initiated into the frat.
By far the most heartbreaking scene is when Jen calls him on being so callous towards Toby, and Jack rants that everyone’s growing apart and he wants to make new friends without being held back by worrying about people’s hurt feelings. He doesn’t mean just Toby, either. He clearly means Jen as well. She’s hurt, and it’s really sad… but then she goes off to take a fruit basket to Charlie, who’s also been taking up a lot of her attention, so it’s all a little hypocritical.
Jen takes Pacey to see Othello and promptly acts out the farcical version of the tragedy in real life (shot!). They just happen to pass by Charlie on a date when Jen thought he was busy working. Jen wants to go inside and “beat his ass,” but Pacey throws her over his shoulder and carries her away so she can confront Charlie when she’s more “rational.” But when they sit down and Jen summarizes Othello for poor undereducated Pacey, she suddenly makes a break for it, goes back to the cafe, and pours iced coffee and whipped cream all over Charlie’s crotch. (Shot for Jen getting mad at men for no reason!) Covered in whipped cream, Charlie reveals that the woman with him is his sister, while Pacey laughs hysterically in the background. Jen has to offer to do Charlie’s laundry for a month and sit through a very gaslighty lecture on trust, but he does forgive her. The next day, though, when she brings him over a fruit basket as a further apology, she catches him making out with someone who is definitely not his sister.
Pacey and his boss do some ostentatious male bonding at the workplace, purposely excluding Karen, probably because she is better at the silly coin flipping game they’re playing than either of them and that seriously messes with their narrative that they possess Secret Ineffable Skills that the Wimmenfolk just don’t have. Pacey even lends his boss his boat for the night for a date night “with his wife,” only to realize when his wife drops by the restaurant that dude was totally using Pacey’s boat as a rendezvous with some other woman. Gee, it’s almost like horrible misogynists don’t make great role models!
Also, Pacey is still trying to woo Karen, who seems to find it charming rather than creepy that he schedules his shifts purposely to put them in proximity to each other. To each her own, I guess?
- I didn’t note this when season 5 started, but how cute is the end of the credits when Pacey throws something at Joey? Those little flirts!
- Heh, Gail and I had the exact same overdramatic reaction when Dawson held up that gross spider-looking hairball:
- Then after that, Gail says she didn’t actually need to see the hairball, and Dawson… puts it down on the bed where Gail is folding bedding. I mean, it’s slightly out of frame, but that’s pretty clearly what he does. Who blocked this scene?!
- Ken Marino, aka Professor Creeper, is billed as a “Special Guest Star.” Um… if you say so.
- Joey and Audrey go jogging amongst all this greenery that clearly could not be in Boston in October, and the girls are wearing sweatshirts to make it look like they’re actually in a cold climate. It’s hilarious. I bet they were sweating buckets.
- “Parties are stressful,” Joey says when Audrey suggests taking Dawson to a party. [A woman after my own heart. –Janes] Shot for Joey hating fun!
- Of course Charlie plays guitar, because he’s Mr. Artistic. Shot!
- One of the pledge guesses that someone named “PB” is named “Perry Bastille.” His excuse for this completely deranged guess? “He could be French.” Yeah… I don’t think anyone who’s French is named “Perry Bastille.”
- I feel like we’re supposed to think Jack’s a big jerk for being late for his date with Toby and being so preoccupied with his frat, but like, Toby just showed up out of nowhere and expected Jack to drop everything for him! Of course the guy doesn’t have time for him! [Yeah! And then he gets mad at Jack for not calling when Toby’s the one who refuses to buy a cell phone? I never thought I’d be on Jack’s side in this, but here we are. –Janes]
- Hee, I wish I could have heard what Pacey was saying on the phone after Jen says they’re going to see a Shakespeare play. –Janes
- I like that in the last episode the show didn’t make it a competition about who supports Dawson better and just acknowledges that it’s all awkward, but Joey does manage to do what Jen was incapable of last episode, which was recognize that it was wrong to make Dawson bear the burden of her freaking out.
- Oof, Jack calls Toby his “friend” on the phone with a frat brother. Now that’s rude. –Janes
- More Pacey is always a great thing, but doesn’t Jen have any college friends to go to this play with her? They’re all so maladjusted. –Janes
- I feel really bad for the girl who hits on Dawson at Professor Creepy’s party only to have him dart out of the room hyperventilating while she opens the window at his request.
- One of the frat brothers tells Jack that his “vibe is all tweaked.” Frat guys are insufferable and all, but I don’t think that’s how any human talked, even in the 90s. –Janes
- Ugh, Toby getting mad that Jack talked about their relationship with his friends! THAT is a super controlling move.
- Jen promises Toby that Jack will regret dumping him, but Toby is actually realistic about this: “The truth is somebody always gets hurt worse in every breakup. This time it’s me.”
- Audrey listens to Joey’s interminable Dawson problems supportively, provides her with glitter lipstick, offers to take her for a Frappuccino, and then, as soon as Joey goes into the bathroom, blithely opens the silly book to read Joey’s private inscription to Dawson. Hee! So much awesome all in one scene. (Shot!)
Joey’s out for a jog with Audrey (who canNOT handle it) when she gets invited to the Rose Lazare project. And I can’t stop laughing at Audrey sticking out her boobs at Professor Creeper and pretending she’s not about to collapse from exhaustion (and at her complete inability to contain her excitement when Professor Creeper invites Joey to work with him). She also calls out, ““Hee hee, I love Brie!” as Professor Creeper rides away. Once again, the best part of the scene by far (shot!):
Most cringeworthy moment:
Oh, Joey. OH, JOEY. This might be the most tragic gift I’ve ever seen, and not because of its subject matter. You not only got Dawson a cheesy book about dealing with grief, you got Dawson a MISSPELLED cheesy book about dealing with grief.
Six shots, two of them for Audrey’s awesomeness.
Season 5, Episode 6 “High Anxiety”
Nerdy Spice once told me an anecdote about a male college friend that I repeat whenever I’m trying to explain how men are encouraged to be out of touch with their feelings. This friend’s very serious girlfriend dumped him, and when he saw his friends next, and they asked how he was handling it, he insisted that he was completely fine. Then, later in the conversation, on a completely unrelated note, he told them, “It’s weird, I haven’t been sleeping well lately. I haven’t really been hungry for meals, either. I just feel sort of tired all the time.” He couldn’t even fathom that the two things had anything to do with each other.
We get down on Dawson for his toxic masculinity a lot, but these last few episodes are actually very effective at showing toxic masculinity’s adverse effects on men. Last episode, Dawson had a panic attack a few weeks after his father’s death, which he called “completely random.” This episode, he seeks help for the panic attacks. His doctor asks him when his father died, and he says, “About a month ago.” Then he asks how long the panic attacks have been happening: “About a month.” The doctor is literally spelling it out for him, but instead of putting it together, he asks in earnest, “Am I going crazy or something?” Poor Dawson.
And then even when the doctor very patiently explains that his father’s death is probably the cause, Dawson’s just like, “Eh. I don’t think that’s it.” DAWSON. What will it take???
Ultimately, it takes a complete self-destruction, one that rivals the meltdown at his sweet sixteen. He comes to Boston to see the grief counselor, but then chickens out and leaves before she even arrives. He then tells Joey in an inhumanly awkward phone conversation that he’s in town, but will be staying with Jen and Jack. Jack makes him feel better by taking him out with his gross frat brothers and treating him like “one of the guys,” and he starts ignoring Joey’s calls.
He then shows up to a party on Pacey’s boat with Jack and the bros, completely wasted. He has a very drunk conversation with Joey that starts out cute, then takes a turn. He says “I was supposed to call you!” and Joey says, half-joking, “Yeah, you were!” and he takes out his phone and calls her on the spot, saying cute drunk things like, “Have no fear, Dawson is here.” He leaves her a drunk voicemail (tit for tat, I guess), rambling about how he wanted to call her but just couldn’t, and that it’s all okay because “You left a drunken message on my machine. And if you hadn’t, I would have gone back to LA. I’d probably still be there right now. And maybe my dad would still be alive, so thank you Joey.” Joey’s face falls in horror, and the drunk frat boys carry him away.
Dawson wakes up the next day with Pacey and his magic hangover cure.. He slowly pieces together what he said to Joey the night before and hangs his head in shame (too real). “If it makes you feel any better,” Pacey says wisely, “I think Joey’s going to forgive you a lot sooner than you forgive yourself.” Aw.
Pacey is right, as always. Joey drops Dawson off at the train, and says they’re “past formal apologies at this point.” Dawson making a fool of himself seems to level the playing field a bit, and they have the most normal, casual conversation they’ve had in a while. Then, before he leaves, Dawson says he wants to tell her something, “even if it has the potential to make [her] sad.” He said that when he dropped out of school, all he could do was daydream about kissing her, and look forward to the day when “it would finally feel right for us to give it another try.” He says he was living in a “fuzzy world of daydreams,” but then his dad’s death yanked him out of it, and he doesn’t know if he’ll ever get back. Joey kisses him, and says sweetly, “You’ll find your way back. And until then, I’ll be daydreaming for the both of us.”
It’s funny, when I first watched this, I thought that Dawson still wanted to get back to that place where he could be with Joey, and it was only later that he realized it wasn’t what he wanted anymore. But now that I watch it again, I think he already knew he didn’t want to be with her anymore. Especially since he started the whole conversation with, “I want to tell you something that might make you sad.” If he was just saying that he felt lost but wanted to find his way back to her, that would probably be a more hopeful conversation.
Meanwhile, Joey and Audrey reach possibly the high watermark of their adorable friendship. Audrey’s terrible mother–whom Audrey describes as a monster who “systematically destroyed [her] self-esteem”–is coming to visit, and at first, Joey totally gaslights her. She insists that Audrey is probably “exaggerating,” and that Audrey “doesn’t seem to be lacking in self-esteem.” What a jerk.
Of course, then Audrey’s Momster arrives (played to perfection by the wonderful Brenda Strong, playing way against her usual “perfect dead mom” type), and proves to be exactly as terrible as Audrey says. She immediately makes Audrey weigh herself to check for the freshman fifteen, rapturously compliments Joey’s “cute little figure,” and then asks a horrified Joey if she looks like Audrey’s sister–prompting Audrey to cocoon herself in a comforter in shame. Hee!
Audrey begs Joey to go to dinner that night with the Momster for moral support. Momster immediately starts in on her for ordering cream sauce and for uptalking like a “California blonde.” It turns out that Momster was a model/actress who was “up for a Scorcese movie” when she got pregnant with Audrey, and then pushed Audrey into acting to fulfill all of her own dreams, etc, etc. She gives Audrey one shining compliment–that she was a great child actress-and then tears her apart about her lack of “focus” and “discipline” before humiliating her about how her academic record was so terrible that her parents needed to shell out a huge donation for Worthington to accept her. “The fact that you’re here at Worthington at all, Audrey, is a miracle.”
Joey finally, finally sticks up for Audrey, saying that Momster has done nothing but cut down her daughter. “I don’t know if you’re upset with her because she’s not what you want her to be, or because she’s 18 and you’re not.” Yay, Feisty Joey is back! She sings Audrey’s praises, saying that Audrey “might be dramatic, but is never boring” (a sort of backhanded compliment, but we’ll take it), and is not flaky, just “well-rounded.” Obviously, in real life, it’s not usually a good idea to meddle in someone else’s family affairs, but Joey’s admiration for Audrey is so overdue, I don’t even care.
Then the writers do that thing with Audrey’s Momster that they always did with Pacey’s abusive father: they just can’t resist that one last unrealistic redemption scene. The Momster tells Audrey that everything she says, she says out of love. Audrey says an apology is missing from her little speech (word), and that they should just try to be kinder to each other. “Because I might be a spoiled brat, but quite frankly, I’m the only one you’ve got. And you may be a raging psychotic, but you’re my raging psychotic.” Then her mother finally apologizes and hugs her. Whatever. No one deserves Audrey.
In an incredibly silly, sitcom-ish subplot, Jen hatches a revenge plot against Chad Michael Murray, as he well and truly deserves. She puts on bright red lipstick and her sexiest outfit (which includes a fake flower in her hair, weirdly), and heads over to Charlie’s dorm room as absurd noir-ish music plays in the background. She knocks on the door once she’s sure he has a girl in there, and when he asks who it is, she says, “Jen, your most willing girl-servant.” No, seriously. If she’s trying not to make him suspect anything, she’s doing an impressively terrible job.
Anyway, Jen pushes her way into his room, while he clearly has a girl stashed in there somewhere. Jen makes him sweat as much as possible, first asking him to “get naked,” and then trying to “get her sweater” from the closet while he desperately tries to stop her. Eventually, Nora (the girl he was making out with last episode) comes out of the closet, and they both fake chagrin. It’s kind of funny, but also, what was his gameplan here? Did he really think the other girl wouldn’t figure out he was cheating after he made her hide in the closet while another girl talked about their plans to bone the next day?
Charlie argues that he wasn’t actually doing anything wrong, because he never had “the talk” with either of them. I’m tempted to say that the show is being too conservative by not acknowledging the importance of the DTR conversation, but in context, this is such a fuckboy move. First of all, Jen just got jealous enough that she poured coffee and whipped cream on his crotch, so he obviously knew that she thought they were serious. If he really thought they just weren’t exclusive, that would have been the moment to bring it up. Second of all, if he thought he wasn’t doing anything wrong, then he wouldn’t have gone to such great lengths to hide them from each other. Honest non-exclusive dating is fine, trying to get off on a technicality is not.
Anyway, Charlie seems pretty unperturbed by this whole situation, first making a dirty joke and then having the audacity to ask them for a threesome. That’s what you get for trying to shame someone who has no shame. The women somehow communicate telepathically and come up with an elaborate plan on the spot to embarrass him. They pretend to acquiesce to the threesome, then force him to take off his clothes and close his eyes, and then very predictably lock him out of his dorm room. [How did Jen and Nora know he was going to propose a threesome? This revenge only works if Charlie is SO full of himself that he actually proposes a threesome after being caught cheating. —Nerdy Spice] He actually does look pretty embarrassed when this happens, even though in real life someone who asks his two ex-girlfriends for threesomes and has abs like CMM would probably just be like, “Okay, ladies, one at a time.”
Oh, and Pacey finally figures out that Karen is the one having an affair with Danny. Who cares, they deserve each other.
- Another reason that [spoiler!] Audrey and Pacey are kind of perfect for each other: they both come from emotionally abusive families. —Nerdy Spice
- Joey asks Audrey if she should take her to the health center. Why? “You’re cleaning.” [Heh! That was actually a good one. —Nerdy Spice] Audrey marvels that Joey actually made a joke: “Maybe I should take you to the health center.” Aw. Besties! (Two shots!)
- I kind of like Joey’s insanely giant sweater coat–and it’s so big she can convert it to use as a blanket while she studies! —Nerdy Spice
- Jen starts in on the “men are dogs” schtick re: Charlie, and says: “Is there anything more cliche than blaming the wayward nature of men when the real culprit is…” I get so hopeful that she’s going to say “Charlie,” but instead she says, “…my own naivete.” UGH. Of course everyone is at fault except Charlie, who is, um, the actual culprit. Take a shot!
- This scene where Dawson awkwardly sits alone in his therapist’s office pressing the mysterious button on a mysterious machine is so evocative of all the awkward therapist office waits I’ve ever suffered through. —Nerdy Spice
- Dawson tells Jen she looks “smoking” before she goes to Charlie’s. Ew. The last guy who tried to flirt with me using that word turned out to have a long-term girlfriend with the same first name as me.
- “I’ve really got to get one of those palm pilot thingies to keep track of all my liaisons.” OMG, so 90s.
- Jen and Nora managed to steal several of Charlie’s prized possessions while in his room? When??
- Frat boys aren’t good for much, but they are pretty good for helping you drown your sorrows when you don’t want to talk about them, as evidenced by Dawson happily sucking down beer out of a backwash-filled pitcher at this party Jack takes him to. —Nerdy Spice
- Pacey very uncharacteristically goes all PSA on Jack and says that Dawson is just numbing the pain with alcohol. “Whatever works!” Jack says dumbly. To quote Sandra Bullock, his IQ just dropped ten points.
- The return of drunk Dawson is a pleasure as always, even when things get very very awkward. And of course, like a big softy, I teared up at the sight of Pacey nursing Dawson through his hangover (and the self-loathing that often accompanies hangovers). —Nerdy Spice
Although I love Drunk Dawson as much as the next person, the highlight has to be Joey sticking up for Audrey. Audrey is Joey’s Paris in more ways than one, and it’s refreshing to see Joey acknowledge that she’s lucky to have Audrey as a friend, not just the other way around. And look how happy she made Audrey!
It makes me so happy/sad when Audrey marvels that Joey finally invited her to a party and “made [her] feel good about [herself].” It may not have been entirely successful in the end, but this was definitely DC’s best attempt at a genuine female friendship.
Most cringeworthy moment:
“I like you and you, and once upon a time you both liked me, so why don’t we all like each other… together?” And then PUTS HIS ARMS AROUND BOTH OF THEM. Vom.
Seven, including yet another D/J Grand Goodbye.
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