Season 6, Episode 4 “Instant Karma!”
Since this episode is called “Instant Karma,” complete with an exclamation point, I had high hopes that Dawson would actually experience, um–karma–for his dickish behavior as of late. But this is a white man we’re talking about, so it’s more like “vague threat of consequences before everything returns to the status quo.”
Dawson and Todd start off the episode reminding us all why Hollywood was the bastion of the #MeToo movement. While the female star of Todd’s movie, Natasha, is still traveling to set, Todd tells Dawson to “make sure to get a close-up of [her] nipples,” and to send her to his trailer so he can talk about her character and “pretend her opinion actually matters.” Dawson is meant to be the nice foil to Todd’s macho bravado, but is still covertly a sexist jerk, and responds by winking that Natasha is a “handful.” Assholes.
That being said, it doesn’t help matters that Natasha is the most annoying new addition this side of C.J. I’m completely primed to be on her side, since Dawson is being such an enormous douche about everything (seriously, who talks shit about someone they just dumped–to her boss??), but Natasha is honestly the worst. She spends the entire episode pouting, getting drunk, and generally acting like a particularly unprofessional fourteen-year-old. I realize that the writers are probably making her insufferable on purpose so that Dawson’s behavior doesn’t seem so bad, but they only succeeded in making me hate both of them.
Anyway, if you hadn’t guessed, Natasha is the woman that Dawson dumped for Joey during their brief reconciliation. She’s also the star of Todd’s movie, and is none-too-pleased when Dawson picks her up from the airport. She gets monstrously drunk, even for Hollywood standards, and can’t complete her scenes.
Dawson is trying to run damage control when the worst possible thing happens: Joey shows up on set. She’s delivering food with Eddie (who is even worse than Natasha in this episode, more on that later), and has to ask Dawson to pay them for delivery. While they’re exchanging unpleasantries, Natasha sees Joey and sets about making the situation as horrifically awkward as possible. She rants to Joey about how Dawson is “the kind of guy who will help you over puddles, sleep with you, then break up with your answering machine,” which might be our best description of Dawson yet. Natasha also really enjoys telling Joey that Dawson said Natasha was the “best sex of [his] life,” and it’s obviously a little awkward, but since he hadn’t had sex with Joey when he said that, it’s really just an insult to Jen. (Poor Jen.)
After this whole display, Joey doesn’t say anything, but just raises her eyebrows in disgust and walks away. You go, Joey.
Natasha promptly gets Dawson fired, which is kind of awesome. I’m so hopeful that he will stay fired, but instead Natasha takes pity on him when she sees Dawson and Joey talking from afar. Dawson is clearly still raw, but Joey is ice cold (deservedly so). Dawson asks whether it might have worked out between them if “things had been different–which, yeah, things might have been different if things were different, sure. Joey basically says the same thing: “That’s the thing with us, they never are.” Then she lands a gut-punch: “Maybe that’s the only way we could ever stand on our own. To hurt each other so much [shot!] that we have no choice but to let go.” Natasha sees all of this, and lets Dawson come back because “[Joey] hurt you more than you ever hurt me.” Oh, you mean after Dawson tricked Joey into sleeping with him? Take a shot for blatantly revisionist history!
Meanwhile, Joey is in the process of falling in love with a different misogynist. While reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac, Joey has a super frustrating conversation with Eddie that literally every literary woman has had with a white man at some point in her life. She tells him that Kerouac is overrated, misogynist, and beloved only by “pretentious, quasi-bohemian hipsters” (one shot for a very accurate literary reference!). Eddie, who is basically Jess Mariano minus the charisma, tells her that she obviously doesn’t like this “beautiful book” because Kerouac “doesn’t follow the dominant path” (vom), and then has the nerve to ask, “Why are you so angry?” (shot!) and imply that she must be angry about “a guy,” rather than his blatant condescension. RAGE.
This would be a great commentary on sexist literary men, but since this is Dawson’s Creek, he turns out to be completely right. He negs her a little bit more (shot!) about how she doesn’t “follow her impulses,” which we all know is just a pretentious way of saying “kindly follow your impulse to fuck me.” And then after her mildly traumatic encounter with Dawson, she makes out with him, says she was “following an impulse,” and then he STILL feels the need to mansplain to her that she’s actually trying to get back at Dawson! WHY IS HE SO TERRIBLE. IT’S KATIE FREAKING HOLMES, JUST LET HER MAKE OUT WITH YOU. Sheesh.
In Jen-and-Audrey-land, Jen wants to go to some party, which she calls “only the biggest and best party of the year,” while Jack wants to stay home and watch Kate and Leopold. (Which one of them sold their soul to the gods of Greek life, again?) Jen insists that he and Audrey need to come with, because she wants to get drunk and make out with someone, “and it’s all for naught if you guys aren’t there to make fun of me in the morning.” She also says “we’re going to party like it’s 1999”–when it’s actually 2002. It sounds insufferable, but it’s actually super cute, and definitely the only time these kids have ever sounded like college kids.
They stumble around Boston and run into Pacey, who told Audrey he had to work late before getting pulled to various clubs, some of the strip variety. He also didn’t call her to tell her about this change in plans, which is a little bit more understandable in the age before everyone had cell phones, but still pretty egregious. When she gets understandably upset, he kind of apologizes, then criticizes her for being a rich girl and tells her “we don’t all live in Audrey land,” because this is obviously her fault. The worst.
A miserable Audrey gets super drunk at the party, and when she’s nearly passed out, a bro-y guy takes her up to a bedroom. Almost every teen show of the early aughts did the “almost date-raped” plotline, but these scenes are actually terrifying and really sad to watch. Jen tries to help Audrey, but one of the rapist’s friends blocks her, saying, “He’s my friend, he’s a good guy.” (How many times have we all heard that before?) CJ has to knock the guy out of the way, and he and Jen save Audrey before the guy has a chance to rape her.
Jen and CJ take Audrey back to her dorm, and Jen’s reaction to the whole thing is heartbreaking and so real. She says, “I’ve been in Audrey’s position before, more than once. Seeing it from the other side–was just weird.” This is probably the most human we’ve ever seen Jen, or maybe any of the characters, for that matter. Even CJ’s terrible reaction to Jen’s revelation is probably exactly what a guy like him would say at that moment: “Any mistakes in your past are over now.” Yikes. Well-intentioned maybe, but so, so misguided.
Speaking of sexual predators, sweet, naive Jack is too innocent to see the telltale signs that the beautiful professor is a creep: first, he shows up to a student’s house party, then he talks to Jack outside, alone, in an intimate setting, he betrays uncertainty about his wife and their unborn child, and then ends with the clincher, “I shouldn’t be telling you all this.” Run, Jack, run!
But he doesn’t. Instead he gets a ride home from our new Professor Creeper, who proceeds to tell Jack that he’s “confused” and that he went to the party just on the off chance that Jack would be there. (How many parties are there in all of Boston on an average Saturday night? Was he just trolling every party until he found Jack? Wouldn’t put it past him.) Jack is horrified, and gets out of the car as quickly as possible. You go, Jack.
- When Eddie says she’s trying to get back at Dawson, Joey responds with an appropriately huffy and snarky, “Thank you, Dr. Freud.” Shot!
- I like that Dawson spent all this time setting up the set to perfectly represent his 90s bedroom and it turns out the movie was set in the 70s the whole time and Dawson couldn’t even be bothered to get rid of the CDs and the damn LAPTOP. Good production assisting, chief. —Nerdy Spice
- Of COURSE Hetson assigns On the Road. OF COURSE. —Nerdy Spice
- But I judge Jack even harder for liking Kate and Leopold, one of the most offensive movies I have ever seen in my life, like possibly almost as offensive as On the Road itself, and with FAR less literary merit. —Nerdy Spice
- How exactly is Natasha, a successful actress traveling for work, stranded in a Boston airport? Pacey might not have been able to afford a cell phone in 2002, but Natasha certainly can. And regardless, they definitely have cabs!
- Every time I see Bianca Lajlich on TV I feel warm and fuzzy. I feel like she played a lot of surprisingly memorable roles in my formative years and did a great job with all of them. Bring It On! Boston Public! And, of course, Dawson’s Temperamental Jilted Actress Girlfriend. —Nerdy Spice
- Pacey promises Audrey some kind of tawdry sex act, which they call “the thing with the thing.” Shot for ridiculous sexual euphemisms!
- “Is she DRUNK?” “No.” “Dawson?” “Maybe a little.” Heh. I laughed out loud. —Nerdy Spice
- I mean, Eddie is definitely an ass and has shitty taste in books, but should Joey really be acting so snotty when she’s apparently spending her entire work shift reading On the Road? —Nerdy Spice
- Actually, I know we all agree that CJ is boring and annoying, but… watching this as an adult, Eddie really makes me appreciate CJ for just the sheer fact that he treats Jen like a human being. —Nerdy Spice
- Jen bites CJ’s head off for no reason, AGAIN, this time because he’s not drinking at the party and she assumes he’s judging her. Why would he ever date her??
- It’s so weird to see Jen get all squeamish when Audrey makes a completely tame comment about her sex life with Pacey. I guess there really is only room for one sex-positive woman at a time.
- I don’t enjoy much about Todd but this face when he realized Dawson slept with his lead actress, then dumped her for another woman, then brought that woman to the movie set, is priceless: —Nerdy Spice
- Dear Jack: When professors inappropriately show up to your party and start confessing their ambivalence about their marriage, that’s what’s known as a Red Flag. —Nerdy Spice
- Ugh, Pacey’s boss refers to female college students as “co-eds.” That is my LEAST favorite thing. —Nerdy Spice
- Rich says that everything about Pacey “screams ‘idiot in love.’” Um, sure, if “idiots in love” openly disdain their girlfriends, hate spending time with them, and go to strip clubs while their girlfriends are already angry with them.
- Wow, watching this almost-date-rape was incredibly harrowing, especially this week as we watch a guy just like this one get confirmed to the Supreme fucking Court. I don’t think I fully understood how terrifying and how REAL it was when I first watched this show, or any of the times after that. How entitled the guy feels to drag Audrey upstairs, and how his friend has his back by trying to keep her friend from saving her. —Nerdy Spice
- I’m sad for Audrey and all, but should “come inside and hold me” really be an option for Pacey? Is Joey going to come home from a long shift at the bar and find her ex-boyfriend big-spooning her roommate? HOW AWKWARD IS THAT? (OK, OK, shot for me freaking out about Pacey and Joey…) —Nerdy Spice
I was rough on Natasha this episode, but she is occasionally amazing. When Dawson makes it clear that, after all that, he and Joey are already over, she cracks up and goes, “That is–so sad.” HEE.
Most cringeworthy moment:
If Pacey weren’t awful enough this episode, while he’s out with the other stockbroker douches, he makes some joke about how one of the women who hit on him at the club was “actually a guy.” Yay, transphobia!
10, including one for yet another D/J Grand Goodbye.
Season 6, Episode 5 “The Impostors”
By Nerdy Spice
As we know, last week Audrey very nearly escaped being date raped while drunk at a party, but Pacey knows nothing about it, and Audrey’s in major denial. She’s all quiet and studious, and more so, she’s avoiding being intimate with Pacey. But even though Pacey suspects that she and Jen got into “trouble” at the party, he clearly has no idea what kinds of things make a girl act weird and distant after a drunken outing. Nor is Audrey willing to talk about it, even with Jen, insisting that she doesn’t remember the night at all.
For his part, Pacey continues to be a major workaholic. He annoys Audrey by ignoring her calls while at work, and Emma by drinking all the coffee when he pulls all-nighters studying for his series 7. But Audrey finally perks up when Emma offers her a spot in her metal band, Hell’s Belles. Joey and Jen go to the performance and love it–but Pacey, who’s once again passed out on the couch in exhaustion, misses it.
After kissing Eddie, Joey acts all weird around him and basically pulls the same old nonsense where he does something innocuous, she accuses him of having nefarious intentions, and then she ascribes it to his malicious desire to ruin her life. When she runs into him postering on campus later, she tries to make nice and he immediately negs her (shot!), saying that Hetson will walk all over her if she backs down.
Hetson does proceed to torture Joey when it’s her turn to present; he interrupts her, calls her boring and when she can’t answer a detailed question he asks about Lolita (reference to the fact that every professor on this show likes to hit on his students, I guess?), he accuses her of not having read the book. So, three shots in about four seconds from Professor Hetson! (Two for negging Joey, one for the literary reference).
Eddie jumps in to defend Joey, saying that she might be able to answer the questions if Hetson weren’t being so mean to her. Hetson responds by derailing the entire class to say cryptic things about imposters while staring deeply into Eddie’s eyes and making vaguely threatening remarks. Eventually we figure out that he has some kind of Deep Secret about Eddie, and Eddie leaves. Joey figures out from Emma later that the big secret is just that… Eddie’s not really a student. Well, it’s not exactly the end of the Sixth Sense, is it? When she comes over to talk to Eddie about it, he takes offense, but then he shows up at the bar later to… un-take offense, I guess. They don’t make out again, but they’re clearly on their way.
Todd’s movie is going badly, so Heather, the sort of mean lady who we saw in Todd’s first arc [Nicole Bilderback from Bring It On! It’s a mini-reunion!], shows up to the set. Turns out she’s an exec on the movie set, and she’s mad that the movie’s behind AND hates Natasha’s acting, which admittedly isn’t that great. She wants to shut down and recast, but Dawson swoops in to save the day. He talks Natasha into “not thinking” so she’ll be a better actor, talks Heather into watching more of the footage, and talks Todd into making better editing decisions. By the end, Heather is reluctantly won over–and there’s an amusing scene where she very, very fakely greets Natasha and compliments her effusively.
After rejecting Dreamy Professor’s advances, Jack finds himself with a C- on his paper (which he praised lavishly while in the process of hitting on Jack). Cool, so… that’s textbook sexual harassment. He confronts Professor Dreamy about it, but the professor condescendingly says that he enjoyed the content in Jack’s paper but that Jack doesn’t have a good grasp on structure. What an asshole. Poor Jack even shows up at his office and essentially says he’ll sleep with him to get a better grade, as well as shames him for going around hitting on boys while he’s married.
Thank God, Professor Dreamy has too much sense to accept this offer–but he does find Jack later at a coffee cart and give him back his paper, bumped up to a B. “Look, maybe I did let my emotions affect the way that I graded your paper,” he says defensively. Uh… so you’re basically the devil, then? He gives Jack a sob story about how much worse the world was for gay kids when he was younger (very true), which somehow means he’s justified in treating Jack like shit (NOT true).
- Pacey’s hair is growing exponentially worse by the MINUTE. At this point he resembles nothing so much as season 1 Michael Scott.
- Joey and Eddie are annoying together, but they’re both so beautiful, part of me just wants them to get married and have beautiful superbabies. –Janes
- I like that Joey is also referring to her kiss with Eddie as The Incident, having apparently forgotten the last thing she was calling The Incident.
- Joey spends a REALLY long time rolling her eyes after Eddie asks her to help him hang posters in the library. Seriously, I timed it at 7 seconds. That’s a long time to spend rolling your eyes. Isn’t she worried they’ll get stuck that way? (I just imagine the director being like, “No, Katie, not a NORMAL eye-roll. We need this to take us all the way into commercial, so can you just… make it last longer? No, longer. No, even longer.” and poor Katie Holmes having to somehow make a one-second expression last seven times that long.)
- Audrey re: Jen: “For a former party girl, that girl is not even on a first-name basis with trouble.” Hee! Shot for Audrey’s astute and very meta-observations! –Janes
- Dawson keeps emphasizing that Natasha is both sexy and smart like that makes her so special, because clearly he secretly believes that most hot women aren’t smart, like the fact that he wants to objectify someone means that she actually does have the brain power of a cardboard tube. It’s super annoying. That said, I kind of enjoy his storyline with Natasha. Especially because he saves her ass without actually letting her know that her ass was in any danger, which shows unusual restraint.
- Eddie tells Joey, dickishly, “Hey, maybe you’re not as dumb as Hetson thinks you are.” What a classic, uncreative neg. (Shot!) –Janes
- The Impostors at least largely refers to Eddie, who’s a student-impostor. But Natasha also feels like an impostor, like she got her role through luck instead of talent. I don’t even know if impostor syndrome was a commonly used phrase yet, but it’s a spot-on description!
In the beginning of the episode, Dawson’s trying to keep Todd focused while Todd just wants to go out and get wasted at bars, and I gotta say Drunk Todd is almost as good as Drunk Joey. He’s very convincingly gesture-y and word-slur-y, and I find his super-British disdain for “little work-related details” amusing.
Most cringeworthy moment
Professor Hetson is an abusive asshole to Eddie and Joey, but what made me really cringe was the thought of being one of the other students in the class, forced to sit and watch the three of them enact this weirdly aggressive, emotional, cryptic triangle of emotion instead of actually learning.
Five, also almost due to Professor Hetson.
Season 6, Episode 6 “Living Dead Girl”
If you haven’t noticed by now, I hate, hate these sort of meta-horror episodes. Which is a little weird, because I love horror, meta-horror, and Scream, but for some reason, all of Dawson’s attempts to send up the genre are mind-numbingly boring. (I guess these terrible episodes were Greg Berlanti’s first pancake re: horror camp teen soap.)
The only part of this episode worth watching is Audrey and Pacey’s long-awaited death knell, so let’s talk about them first. They dress up as Sid and Nancy for Halloween while making would-be casual jokes about their “ever-widening ideological differences.” Not a promising start. Pacey confronts Audrey after finding out that she got an F on a paper, and she admits that she’s depressed. She also blames him for it, which isn’t quite fair, but she also points out that if he cared about her as much as he claimed to, he would already know she’s depressed. That’s pretty fair.
Even Pacey thinks so, in the end. He tells Emma that he liked their relationship because it was “fun” and “angst-free” (veiled Joey reference, anyone?), and now he’s realizing how shallow and unsustainable that is. He says that he doesn’t know if he “can’t handle the rough spots” or whether he “never truly loved her.” Ouch. Emma says that only he can field that one, but I think we all know the answer.
Audrey very conveniently overhears this conversation, which confirms what she’s known for months now. She bluntly breaks up with him in the parking lot. He barely protests, and she rightly points out that she “deserves better than that.” He tries to do the Pacey thing, where he gets all self-deprecating and agrees that she deserves better (just like Joey, again!), and she cuts him to the quick in that way that only former lovers can: “You are not a knight in shining armor, Pacey. You are just a guy who’s tired of screwing the same girl and you feel guilty about it.” [She GOT him. —Nerdy Spice]
Meanwhile, Jen is so desperate to land CJ (God knows why) that she calls the help line to ask him out on a date. Tacky and insensitive, but you know–respect. He gets all flirty and actually agrees to come, which really only should have happened if he’s madly in love with her. Instead, he tells Jack that she’s “not his type,” and that he really just wanted her to be a peer counselor this whole time. Which–again, should only be the case if he’s madly in love with her. She’s like an unfunny Chandler–she should be actively disallowed from giving advice.
Also, Joey and Eddie take care of Professor Hetson’s monstrous teenage child, and Eddie confesses that he only came back to Hetson’s class because of Joey, because even men who love Kerouac and “don’t follow the dominant path in life” can’t resist Joey’s It Girl charms. Eddie tells her he couldn’t stop having “annoying conversations with [her] in his head” and kisses her, which is actually a lot cuter than I expected, considering this all happens while Eddie is saying things like “girlfriends are more trouble than they’re worth” and Joey is lamenting Eddie’s “wasted potential.” Yeah, this relationship is going to go great.
I guess I should talk about the A plot at some point, right? There’s this urban legend about an actress who was killed by her boyfriend on set, and Dawson keeps seeing her ghost, and–whatever, it’s so dumb, I can’t even get through this. It all turns out to be an elaborate prank by Todd and Natasha, who also trick him into thinking that they’re having an affair–for some reason. He gets grossly jealous and paternalistic, complaining that they’re “screwing behind [his] back.” Um… WHAT?! Not only is Natasha not his girlfriend, but he cheated on her! And broke up with her! And they were never serious in the first place! This is even more ridiculous than the whole “last spring” nonsense.
In his entitled white male rage, he also manages to quit his job. But because he’s a privileged white male, he both gets his job back and gets Natasha to be his girlfriend again. She’s all charmed that he got jealous and enraged about “another man touching [her]” (ew), which is a little depressing, since he only bothered to apologize and try to get her back when he thought she was having sex with someone else. He even says himself, “I don’t think I realized how much I wanted to be with you until I thought you were sleeping with Todd.” How romantic!
- I would love if the title of this episode was supposed to have a double meaning–the actual ghost and Audrey, who is a shell of her former self at this point. But somehow I doubt it.
- So… this Dawson’s episode revolves around a ghost story involving an actress who was strangled to death by her husband-slash-costar when he learned she was having an affair with her director. Dawson’s intelligent response is “That sucks.” What I would like to know is why this story seems to crop up so much in popular media in the form of, “And then he lost it,” like it could happen to anyone. Like these domestic partner murders aren’t usually preceded by months or years of other, subtler forms of domestic violence and misogyny. Ughhhh. —Nerdy Spice
- Pacey in his Sid costume is… kind of working for me. —Nerdy Spice
- Ew, WHY does Eddie tag along with Joey and Harley? And WINK at Harley? I would like to say that I doubt Professor Hetson wants a twenty-year-old man that his daughter has a major crush on, tagging along on Joey’s babysitting her… but… Hetson has no sense of boundaries and loves objectifying young women, so he’d probably be fine with it. —Nerdy Spice
- Audrey pops out of a coffin at one point! I guess the title was on purpose!
- Eddie says he doesn’t like Hetson because he’s too “cynical” and “impressed with himself,” and I can’t believe Joey keeps a straight face.
- Sometimes I think I’ve grown up soooo much since watching this show, and I would never fall for Eddie’s stupid trick of treating Joey like an idiot and then confessing his love for her once he has her on her toes. But, um, he gives her the CUTEST look when he says she got under his skin. I don’t even care that the dialogue is silly. On the inside I’m still a thirteen-year-old girl who thinks Eddie and his ‘tude are just so dreamy. —Nerdy Spice
- Serious question: has there ever been a babysitting plotline in a 90s show where the kid wasn’t a nightmare and the babysitter didn’t eventually lie to the parents that they were a “perfect angel”?
Almost everything about Pacey and Audrey’s break-up is well-handled; the writers and both of the actors do a great job of portraying the exhaustion of a relationship that is way past its expiration date. But my favorite part is when Audrey tells him that she knows he cares more about his job than he does about her, even though she also knows that he would tell her she’s “crazy” and call her a “hysterical drama queen.” This breaks my heart a little, as a huge Pacey fan, but as a feminist, I love that the writers are willing to call out their romantic hero for being a gaslighter.
Most cringeworthy moment:
Dawson tells Todd that if he doesn’t manage to seduce Natasha (which would already be sexual harassment), Dawson will “have a few extras lined up for [him].” Ew! I so wish these were real people so I could see #MeToo take them down.
Five, including meta-movie references and a few more Eddie negs.
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