Season 5, Episode 22 “The Abby”
I haven’t rewatched this episode in forever, because I have this visceral response to Alex Pearl’s Duane-from-Annie-Hall moment. So there’s a lot that I forgot, and all of it is batshit insane. Professor Wilder comes back?? I had no idea. Joey’s terrible story about her kiss with Dawson got into the school literary magazine?? Ha. There’s no way the literati at Fake-Harvard would even suffer through reading that thing. Creeper actually goes into Joey’s bedroom, closes the door, and gives her a too-long hug? Okay, that’s not actually super shocking for this show, but it’s shocking for all of sane America. At least they don’t make out again, or I would have had to go all Sarah Paulson-circa-Coven on my eyeballs.
And Joey’s dad is out of jail! Joey decides to see him in prison, supposedly prompted by the events of “Downtown Crossing.” (Nice try, Dawson’s writers, but nothing will justify that episode’s existence.) When she gets there, she finds out he’s been paroled and is “making a living at the five-and-dime in Centerville,” which is hilarious and sounds like a Johnny Cash song.
Also, that agent actually gives Dawson and Oliver another chance (which technically happened two episodes ago, but I forgot to recap it because it’s completely insane and would never happen in real life), and a producer wants these two snot-nosed brats to come out to LA and make their dumb love story into a feature film. Um, NO. There’s this whole thing where Dawson and Oliver make up, but we never end up seeing Oliver again, so–like so many things this season–it seems completely pointless.
Aaaand, Jen’s parents ask her to spend the summer with them. The show hammers in their absence super hard, to the extent that her best friend in the world supposedly doesn’t know their names (which also seems crazy, btw. Who could forget the names “Helen and Theodore”??). Jen processes this news by dorky-dancing to “Teenage Wasteland,” which is probably the only time I’ve ever found Jen charming. Jack is annoying, as per usual, and insists that she should spend three months with her emotionally abusive parents–because it’s not like he ever moved out of his house to get away from his homophobic father or anything. Shut up, Jack.
In the end, she turns them down, and Jack is the worst friend on the planet. She tells him they sounded “relieved” and that she wants to cry, and then asks if she did the right thing. Clearly, the only right answer here is “yes,” on several levels, but Jack actually says, “I can’t do that, Jen.” WHAT??? What is wrong with him? Is he officially the LVP of this season??
Luckily, Grams comes to the rescue and says all the right things. She says Jen’s relationship with her parents is more complicated than she or Jack could understand, and that only Jen knows what’s right for her. MVP!!
And that’s all before we get to the actually batshit part of the episode: Pacey and Cougar pt 2 Alex Pearl get into a scuffle about this big investors’ dinner at Civilization, and it gets ugly. At one point Alex Pearl threatens Pacey that she will “make [his] life so unpleasant, [he] will rue the day God created woman,” a kind of amazingly campy threat that I wish had been spoken by a less awful character. She’s such a tyrannical nightmare that the whole staff pulls a coup at the investors’ dinner, so Alex Pearl fires Pacey and then gets fired herself. Pacey is finally free of her–but then comes back, supposedly because he “needs to know” why she is the way she is. Really? That’s the reason? It seems very thin to me. Part of me thinks Alex is right that Pacey is there to “save” her, and/or get the upper hand in their sexual games while she’s all vulnerable and defeated. You never know with this version of Pacey.
Pacey’s car won’t start, so he lets Alex drive him home, which–why??? Predictably, it goes horribly wrong, and Alex immediately starts in on Pacey for getting her fired. Less predictably, she starts ominously ranting about how her life is over, she drives faster and faster, hilariously melodramatic drums start sounding in the background like a horror movie, and soon she’s swerving into oncoming traffic and driving so fast that she’s about to kill them both.
For his part, Pacey waits until she hits about 80 miles per hour and nearly crashes into a car going in the opposite direction to put his seatbelt on. But wait, it gets even dumber. When begging her to stop doesn’t work, he decides to pretend to be on board and push her to go even faster to freak her out, because as we all know, agitating a crazy person who’s trying to kill you is always the best strategy. THEN, he starts creepily kissing her neck so she actually can’t see the road. (The plan seems to be scaring her into stopping, although she won’t be too scared when they’re both dead.) His strategy somehow works, but only after they nearly kill a poor family pulling out of their driveway and dangerously skid to a stop. We’re clearly supposed to think Pacey just outsmarted her, but this is the dumbest thing anyone has ever done.
They sit by the side of the road (OMG this is going on forever, I DON’T CARE), and Alex tells him she doesn’t know why she is the way she is. Cool. Good story. Glad we suffered through this plotline for that amazing insight. She also claims that Pacey “saved her life.” Um, if by “saved your life” you mean “sexually harassed you and nearly killed you both in the process,” then sure.
In boring news, Audrey lets slip to Joey that Dawson drove to Florida to see her. (I honestly forgot that this was even a secret. The driving part, not the feelings part.) Joey and Dawson then have a classic D/J misunderstanding, where Joey prods Dawson to confess his love, but he thinks she’s talking about his wildly unlikely Hollywood deal. She gets all sad, as if this means he doesn’t love her, when he clearly just has no idea what she’s talking about. Plus, he looks at her all goo-goo eyes and says, “You’re the person I wanted to share this with more than anyone else in the world.” AND SHE STILL LOOKS SAD. Is she dense??
We finish up this endless episode with Dawson telling his dad everything that’s happened this season since he went to that Great Big Ice Cream Parlor in the Sky. Because if there’s one thing a super boring season needs, it’s a bunch of exposition about things that we literally just saw happen.
- Creeper thanks Joey for “more than [she] could possibly know” and heavily implies that she inspired him to start writing again, because Joey is a perfect It Girl who makes all of her love interests better men, if you haven’t already heard.
- There’s a scene where Alex Pearl says there’s a “substance” on a spoon, asks a dishwasher if she has allergies, then fires her. It makes absolutely no sense, until later when we see the same dishwasher sneeze on a spoon (which, honestly, you should be fired for). Who is editing this??
- Alex Pearl checks to see that the kitchen door is closed so the investors can’t hear her scream at the staff–but it’s a swinging door. They can obviously hear every word she says. Not the brightest.
- Joey anxiously asks whether it’s still visiting hours when she gets to the prison, which is a cute throwback to season one. (Although, it’s 2002 by this point. Doesn’t she know how to use the internet?)
- It’s cute to see Audrey serve as an audience surrogate and fangirl out about Dawson’s bedroom, the site of “so many nights of teenage angst and longing.”
- Jack calls the internet “the net.” Hee!!
- Joey tells Audrey the party is over if she goes to Capeside with her. I thought it meant that the party was over because she was going to be hanging out with Joey, but it actually meant that their flight would leave soon so Audrey would have to pack. Or… maybe it was both. —Nerdy Spice
- Joey complains that going back to Capeside feels like “a step backward,” when Audrey just invited her to come to LA for the summer. And Joey not only turns her down, she drags Audrey back to Capeside with her. WTH?
- So… when Professor Creeper thanks Joey for “more than you could possibly know,” is he actually giving her credit for his decision to write full-time? Has her magical power of being the world’s best muse (aka woman who is objectified by a male artist as the key to his creative fulfillment) really stretched that far? —Nerdy Spice
- Why is Pacey wearing a single silver bracelet? Not only does it seem like kind of a new aesthetic for him, it’s honestly just not a very flattering silhouette. Also, why does Alex not know what things are in season. This show is literally full of female restaurant executives who seem to not have the first idea about their own business, like this show thinks that women are always waltzing into high-powered jobs with no training and no knowledge… what are they, men?! —Nerdy Spice
- This show isn’t so much for the jokes, but I definitely lol’ed when Oliver mentioned his own “Manly magnetism.” —Nerdy Spice
- Wait, so… Joey brings Audrey to Dawson’s house, lets Audrey go inside to explore Dawson’s room, and then leaves to visit her dad in jail while Audrey’s in there, with no warning whatsoever? RUDE. —Nerdy Spice
- Dawson says Kristy Livingston was three years older than they were, but Pacey went on a date with her in season 2, when they were in their second semester of sophomore year, so… that doesn’t work. Sorry to fanwank, but why bother calling back to the early seasons if you can’t do the barest fact checking?! —Nerdy Spice
- Joey says of Dawson, “Last time I went to visit my dad in jail, he came with me.” WHAT?! NO. That time, Dawson hijacked the visit to talk about his feelings for Joey, and then later that night PACEY took Joey back to visit her dad. We have shots for both Dawson being praised for no reason and for rewriting history so Pacey and Joey weren’t a thing so… two shots! —Nerdy Spice
- Question: Why is this called “The Abby”? Usually the titles of these episodes aren’t really that mysterious. —Nerdy Spice
I honestly have no idea. Should I pick our closure scenes with Oliver, a character we currently tolerate and never see again, or Alex, a character we always despised and never see again? Should I pick Professor Creeper being his creepy self, or Pacey being a creepy disappointment? Dilemmas.
Most cringeworthy moment:
Pacey speaks one of the creepiest lines of the whole show: “There’s something about a fast car and a beautiful woman that does it for me in all kinds of ways.” Ewwwwwww. I know Alex harassed him first, but two wrongs doesn’t make a right!
None! Unless I missed them all while I was dying of boredom.
Season 5, Episode 23 “Swan Song”
By Nerdy Spice
Season 5 ends as it started, with Dawson and Joey frantically trying to maintain the fiction that their fear of drifting apart from each other is the same as being deeply in love with each other.
Dawson has a dream where he runs into Joey at the airport five years from now. Her hair looks great, but more importantly, she’s engaged to an environmental rights attorney–and she tells him that it’s “pathetic” how he still obsesses over her. “You and me, we had our shot, and you blew it. So I moved on.”
Honestly with the sheer number of dreams Dawson has where Joey is just insulting and humiliating him, sometimes it seems like his obsession with her really is just about some kind of deep fear of being “emasculated” by her rejecting him, which, of course, leaves little room for her as anything other than an object.
In real life, Dawson is about to leave for LA once again, and just like at the beginning of the season, he and Joey create a bunch of drama around this departure even though he’s only supposed to be there for the summer. Joey says that this time isn’t as “epic and traumatic” as last time, but it’s definitely equally melodramatic. On his last night, they go for a romantic moonlit walk and she asks him about coming to Florida to see her. He says that it was to tell her that he loved her. He tells her all about seeing her album of drawings at Lily’s party and pays her a lot of fairly glowing compliments that wind up anti-climactically with “I hate it when you’re not around.” Well, if that’s not love, I don’t know what is! Joey, quite reasonably, asks how he knows she’s not just a security blanket for him, “something that you’ll keep coming back to whenever the world gets scary.” His answer is to declare that he’s not scared and to try to kiss her, but she pulls away at the last second and leaves. Grand Good-Bye #1 — shot! Unfortunately, this momentary attack of self-preservation instincts is short-lived–but more on that later.
To backtrack, EVERYONE is going to the airport in this episode. Jen and Jack have been preparing for their big trip to Costa Rica (mostly by Jack buying Jen a book to keep her from talking to him on the flight… hee!). Audrey was visiting Joey in Capeside (complete with an awkward run-in with Pacey, who’s now working as security at the marina), but is on her way home, taking Dawson in tow on his way to his big break in LA. And Grams, unbeknownst to anyone, is on her way to Vegas with Clifton Smalls (and a freshly dyed head of hair). Naturally, they all run into each other there.
Speaking of running into each other at the airport, Jack’s closeted ex-fraternity brother, Eric, shows up at the airport looking for Jack, having failed to find a way to come out to his family. At the last minute, Jack decides to stay in Capeside or Boston with Eric for the summer, leaving Jen to visit her parents, in a disappointing backtrack from last week’s hard-won assertion of boundaries.
The worst part of this twist is that it comes after Dawson gets all up in Jen’s grill about not going to see her parents, like the big controlling asshole he is. Not only that, but when she objects to his intrusive, know-it-all advice, he guilts her twice, first by accusing her of thinking he’s not her friend (ummm… “friend” and “boss” are NOT the same, even if you think you should be the boss of all your female friends, Dawson) and then accusing her of not wanting to be “honest” with her (again, umm… you can be honest if she ASKS FOR YOUR OPINION, otherwise it’s just called “being rude”). Ugh, he’s immediately erased all the goodwill he built up with me from putting up with Jen’s nonsense throughout their relationship. And of course, by deciding to go see her parents, she’s basically teaching Dawson that it’s good to boss around the women in his life whether they want him to or not because it will eventually wear them down and make them do what he thinks is best. GROSS.
The only two who are supposedly staying in Capeside are Joey and Pacey. Pacey runs into his lecherous ex-boss, Brecher, and gets a little preview of what his life is going to be like if he doesn’t settle down (why he needs to settle down at the age of 19 is unclear, but the message is not exactly subtle): getting dumped by your wife and spending your life making out on boats with women named Laurie or Glory, you’re not sure which. At least this time Pacey doesn’t seem to find it charming.
As for Joey Bessie makes one of her rare and inevitably wonderful appearances to provide the rationale for Joey’s rather ludicrous decisions in this episode. Joey has decided to stay in Capeside to work at the yacht club, but Bessie brings her a letter Dawson left in her mailbox, presumably saying that he loves her. She also tells Joey that she’s not the same as she used to be, even though she thinks she is. Shot for discussions of growing up! But unlike when Joey does it to Dawson, it’s kinda cute coming from a big sister.
That night, she and Pacey hang out at the dock and discuss the fact that Joey feels trapped. Suddenly Joey remarks, “You may be the most adult person I know. You never look back, do you?” Pacey says, “Why would I look back? The future’s out there.” For some reason, this doesn’t make Joey realize that she should stop obsessing over Dawson and, you know, date a grownup. Instead, she decides she and Pacey should go get the other kids at the airport–even though it’s dark by now and they’ve all been at the airport for hours.
Pacey, unable to afford a ticket, pages Audrey to the white courtesy phone. He’s about to win her over with an apology, but then it falls a little flat when it comes time for him to actually propose a next step: “Meet me downstairs and we will talk.” “That’s it? That is your pitch??!” Audrey screeches and hangs up on him. (Shot for Audrey winning the scene!) Pacey then bribes a security person to let him make a speech on the intercom about how he’s going to stalk her if she doesn’t talk to him, and that he’s sorry “for my predilection for the company of older women.” Which somehow makes Audrey SMILE, because she’s a sucker. And the weirdest part? He signs off with “Free the West Memphis Three,” in a weirdly flippant and very rare nod to current events. Anyway, he and Audrey decide to drive cross-country together. Obviously, Audrey is going to regret this.
Meanwhile, Joey buys a ticket to Paris to get to security, where she finds Dawson. She tells him, “I started this year thinking I had to say good-bye to you, but I was wrong.” But then, somewhat hilariously, she DOES SAY GOOD-BYE TO HIM. AGAIN. (She also admits that she was scared of not growing up if they kissed, which.. fair.) She tells him she loves him, but then tells him to go to LA, and tells him that coming with him is not her path–but if they truly love each other as much as they pretend to—uh, as much as they say they do, sorry, little Freudian slip there—there’s nothing to worry about. Then they kiss and she leaves. Shot for another Grand Good-Bye!
Joey is about to return the ticket she bought when the ticket person remarks that it’s too bad she can’t really go. Luckily, we know from earlier in the episode that Bessie Ex Machina has even conveniently been hiding a passport all these years that she ordered when Joey was planning to go to France. We close on Joey smiling with a brilliant idea. Apparently money is only a problem for her when it’s necessary for the plot, and it doesn’t matter that she gave away her life savings eight weeks ago to a drug dealer’s wife and kid?!
- How you know it’s a dream: Joey thinking it’s ridiculous for a man to obsess over her for five years, instead of taking it as par for the course.
- Audrey greets Pacey as “dickhead.” What’s with everyone calling each other “dickhead”? Was that a thing at that time?
- Everyone (and by everyone I mean Joey and Brecher) is super invested in making fun of Pacey’s security guard outfit. It seems weirdly classist for a bunch of kids who grew up as “townies” and should have no truck with that kind of kneejerk snobbery.
- “You have been a miracle this year, Dawson. My miracle, I’m not going to let you forget that,” says Gail passionately when Dawson had said NOTHING denigrating towards himself. Shot!
- Ha, Jack gets Jen Moby-Dick to keep her quiet on the plane so he can sleep.
- “Dawson, for as long as I live, I’m never gonna not want to hear what you have to say,” Joey says. I can already tell you you’re going to regret that some day, Joey Potter.
- Jack acts way more uncomfortable than his frat bro during their first conversation. Which one’s closeted again?
- “I guess we should be going. Hugs,” says Grams to Dawson. Ha! Are we supposed to think Grams is suddenly using teenaged slang because of her super-hip (not) black boyfriend Clifton Smalls?
- One of the most offensive parts of Jen and Dawson’s conversation is when Jen herself attributes it all to Dawson’s perfection: “Not everybody is as strong as you, Dawson,” Jen says. “Not everybody can rise to the occasion and do the right thing all the time.” Ummm shot for unwarranted praise of Dawson. She’s telling him he “does the right thing all the time” right as he’s acting like a giant jerk. Or, in the language of this show, “dickhead.”
- Randomly, Jen and Dawson both end up running into Todd Carr, who fired Dawson in the beginning of the season: Dawson in the airport, where he gets an offer of mentorship from Todd; and Jen, who ends up in first class next to Todd and seems worryingly charmed by him. “You’ve still got balls, kid,” says Todd Carr to Dawson. Ugh. MORE DAWSON PRAISE SHOTS.
- Wow, you know you’re still a teenager when you think it’s sweet when your ex-boyfriend publicly apologizes to you for his “predilection for the company of older women.”
- That’s the best crying face he can muster? Come on, Dawson, what happened to you?! (Although, to quote Michele Weinberger, “It is actually kind of sad.”)
- Just for good measure, Dawson comforts a random woman who’s afraid of flying at the very end of the episode, in case we forgot he’s a Strong Hero who Helps Women. Vom.
“Does this Dawson character really mean that much to you?” asks Pacey when Joey says she’s going to buy a ticket. HA. Pacey wins the episode!
Most cringeworthy moment:
Joey tells Dawson he’s going to LA, “And you’re gonna be good to everyone you meet along the way cause that’s who you are.” There have seriously been so many instances of unwarranted praise for Dawson in this episode, anyone would think that he was about to actually die on this plane.
Seven shots, most of them for Dawson being praised to the skies while acting like a big weenie.
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