The Great Dawson’s Creek Rewatch Project: Season 6, Episodes 16-18

We’re rewatching all of Dawson’s Creek in honor of its twentieth anniversary. Will require some mind-numbing. Drinking game rules can be found here.

Season 6, Episode 16 “That Was Then”

By Janes

We’re in the Golden Ages! Joey and Pacey are officially back together, meaning they are unofficially talking about thinking about getting back together, as these characters are wont to do.

Joey comes to visit Pacey’s apartment, which is apparently right across the street from the bar? Did we know this? I had very little conception of anyone’s geography on this show, but they talk about it like, seven times in the next couple of episodes.

Anyway, they’re a little awkward with each other, but in an adorable, sexual tension-filled way. Joey demands that they stop being so polite to each other, and Pacey asks Joey if she regrets what happened in the KMart. She smiles and says sweetly, “It’s hard to regret something that’s already been in the back of your mind.” Pacey, in turn, gets this huge, adorable grin on his face like YES, it is ON.

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But Joey, being Joey, puts a damper on everything by saying she “resents reality as a general concept.” This is a pretty concise summary of her character, but what harsh, cold reality are we talking about exactly? That they dated years ago and then very healthily moved on? That she just broke up with Eddie, whom we all wish we could forget about? You’re both single adults, just get back together if you want to!

Pacey serves as a great counterbalance, and–before it can devolve into a vintage Joey POtter freak-out–that he won’t be gone forever if he doesn’t like her decision (which Dawson would NEVER say in a million years). She starts to freak out about coming up with some sort of “plan,” but Pacey just smiles, tells her that major life decisions can’t be scheduled, and then takes her to pizza. The perfect man.

This leads to a sometimes great, sometimes insufferable hour of the characters revisiting their past selves, hence the episode title. The most elegant plotline belongs to Pacey, who rushes home after his father has a heart attack. Considering how little we care about whether his abusive father lives or dies, this should be super boring, but the writers smartly draw out the pathos in the Pacey/Doug relationship. Pacey, having used up all his charm on Joey, blows in like the finance bro he’s become and starts ordering Doug around and demanding to know why Doug didn’t get him a private room. They have the most sibling conversation ever, where Doug snots that this may not be “up to [his] Wall Street standards” (the fact that Doug associates Pacey’s little stockbroking job with Wall Street is cute and so realistic), and he’s the one who’s been there all day, so maybe Pacey should shut up for a minute.

It becomes increasingly clear that Doug is bitter because he’s fallen out of favor with their father. Mr. Witter treats Doug like he’s a waste of space, while bragging to the nurses about his successful son who has more money than the rest of the family. He even kicks Doug out when only one son is allowed in the room at a time, which is a pretty on-the-nose metaphor for what’s going on here. In private, Mr. Witter tells Pacey that he’s proud of him, and that he always knew Pacey would grow up to be “one of the good guys.” BULLSHIT. SO MUCH BULLSHIT. Tragically, Pacey is so desperate for his father’s love and approval, he ignores the fact that it’s clearly arbitrary and based on this gross anointing process where only one son gets to be worthy of fatherly affection at a time.

Pacey actually deals with this in a very graceful way, and tries to downplay how much their father is favoring him with Doug. But Doug still isn’t having any of it, and his jealousy-slash-justified-annoyance bubbles over into a huge fight. He says that he’s the one who’s been taking care of the family for years, while Pacey just blows in with his expensive gift and private room, and everyone forgets. Pacey says, “Forget what? That I’m the family failure?” (Shot!)

This is the best kind of fictional fight, where both characters are right and wrong simultaneously. Pacey is right that Doug is jealous, but Doug is also right that Pacey sold his soul a little bit. Meanwhile, Doug has the right to be hurt, but he can’t criticize Pacey for being a failure his entire life and then get mad when he’s successful at something. And they’re both wrong for fighting with each other rather than their terrible father. It’s so sad, and realistic, because this is what emotionally abusive parents do. They make you think that your siblings are the enemy/competition, so you forget what terrible parents they are. 

In the end, Doug basically admits that he’s just jealous, and finishes off with a bitter, “Enjoy it while it lasts.” Ouch.

Meanwhile, Joey revisits her past self in a much more literal and annoying form. She babysits Harley, Hetson’s rebellious daughter who is angry and smart with daddy issues. (So yeah, a more annoying version of Joey.) She finds Harley’s doofy, smart-ass boyfriend hiding in the closet, and he immediately starts blatantly hitting on Joey right in front of Harley. Joey weirdly throws him all these “I know your type” asides, as if he’s supposed to be a Pacey stand-in (which would make her… Tamara?). And look, Pacey wasn’t perfect, but that is super insulting. Pacey was impish, and had a thing for older women, but he never would have disrespected a girl he was dating like that. He called Joey a “woman” when she was fifteen years old, for God’s sake!

Joey finally kicks the boyfriend out after he starts to get physically creepy with her (which, now that I think about it, she probably should have done the minute she found him in Harley’s closet? What kind of babysitter is she?), and has a heart-to-heart with Harley about how she shouldn’t be “afraid to move forward” (shot!). She says that all the problems she had with Pacey and Dawson seem “petty” now, and that she was able to talk about things with Eddie because she wasn’t so afraid of making mistakes. I honestly don’t remember this ever happening. Did she and Eddie talk about anything real in a functional way, ever? I buy that she was able to sleep with Eddie because she was less afraid of making mistakes, but other than that…

This all seems like she’s getting ready to reject Pacey for being too much a part of her past, but instead she calls him and, without giving him an official answer, says that she wants to figure things out and move forward together. “I won’t look at you and think of everything that happened, I’ll look at you and see everything that could.” Ugh, that’s amazing. At first, I thought this whole episode was gearing up for the originally planned ending, where she doesn’t end up with either of them (much more on that later), but they couldn’t have written this scene and the beautiful break-up in Love Bites unless these two were endgame… right?

Dawson has an even more annoying encounter with an even more annoying doppelganger. He goes back to Capeside High to give a talk about his “successful” film career, and Mr. Gold and all the kids are super excited. “You’ve given them hope that they’ll get out,” Mr. Gold says. I mean… he did the reshoots on a schlocky horror movie that went straight to DVD, how exciting is it, really? (Shot for unwarranted praise!)

At least Mini-Dawson, a try-hard student in Mr. Gold’s film class who just straight up looks like Dawson, points this out, but then promptly slobbers all over him, calls him “Mr. Leery,” and asks Dawson to watch the short film he made. As Mr. Gold subtly puts it, “Dawson Leery, this is your life.”

Sidebar: Harley and Mini-Dawson treat Dawson and Joey like they’re real adults, even though they are sophomores in college, aka 19 years old. They are only about three years older than these kids. Realistically, some of their friends would still be in high school. I went to a friend of a friend’s high school play as a college junior, and hung out with the high school seniors like peers. It really wouldn’t be like this until they were at least in their mid-twenties.

Anyway, Dawson watches this kid’s movie and almost goes full Ms. Kennedy on him, but then tells him that it’s “good” and he should “keep going.” In real life, this entitled kid would definitely tell Dawson to take that faint praise and shove it up his asshole, but instead he sweetly tells Dawson how much he loves that dumb movie that Ms. Kennedy hated. “Not too many people have heart anymore,” Mini-Dawson says. I think that deserves two shots: one for the undeserved compliment for the movie, and one for retroactively disagreeing with Ms. Kennedy, the only person to ever be honest with Dawson.

At the end, Dawson and Pacey have a sweet scene where they talk about growing up (shot!) and Dawson decides to make his own movie about his boring life. Watching this again, it’s so strange to me that finances is what eventually comes between them again. Pacey is making out with Joey again! That’s a tried-and-true (and much less boring) source of drama!

  • Is Jen not in this episode at all? No wonder I like it so much.
  • Joey asks if Pacey wants a clean slate, and Pacey says, “Well, yes and no. I just don’t want my prior offenses held against me.” How is that a yes and no? That sounds like a straight yes to me! —Nerdy Spice
  • I used to hate Joey’s ombre, and I’m still not a huge fan, but just like her crazy 90s outfits from the first season, it’s totally come back into style.
  • Hetson is freaking out about Harley’s putting posters of hot guys above her bed, and I find it oddly refreshing that the show acknowledges the existence of girls who (as Joey so charmingly puts it) “walk the dog.” —Nerdy Spice
  • I actually love when Joey tells Hetson that Harley is so normal, “one might even worry she’s a cliche.” A lot of the thematic stuff in this episode is so on-the-nose, while this is just a nice little moment where Joey is admitting to herself that she was also a cliche at that age. 
  • Oh, Pacey’s father actually has an exaggerated arrhythmia, which is a slightly more creative way of creating the drama of a heart attack. It’s like when everyone in Gilmore Girls had angina.
  • Pacey and Doug are super sexist about wanting to be the “man of the family.” At one point, Doug says that he didn’t call Pacey because he “was trying to keep our mother and sisters from having a nervous breakdown.” Um, your mom is Jane freaking Lynch, I’m sure she’s fine.
  • Dawson’s little doppelganger calls him a “sentimental realist” filmmaker, which is definitely not a real thing.
  • Mini-Dawson also says Dawson has “the stink of burnout talent all over [him],” which sounds more accurate.
  • If you think Harley’s dumbass boyfriend seems familiar it’s because he was Oliver from The OC–Marissa’s hilariously over-the-top stalker. —Nerdy Spice
  • Harley calls Joey “Helen,” as in Helen of Troy, the “face that launched a thousand ships” from The Iliad (shot!) (and then says she should go knit somewhere alone, like Penelope in The Odyssey [shot!]). I love that Joey has graduated from regular It Girl to literally the most beautiful woman in Western mythology.
  • “I hate you with the burning passion of a thousand STDs,” Harley tells her boyfriend. Love it! There’s a pun and everything! —Nerdy Spice
  • Joey tells Harley she’s “blowing this way out of proportion.” I’m sorry, but when a teenage girl’s boyfriend hits on her babysitter right in front of her, throwing a few snarky insults and locking herself in her room is probably an underreaction.
  • “The worst thing a guy can do is to give up the chase,” Joey instructs Harley’s dumb boyfriend. Wow, I didn’t think it was possible for Joey to be the gross one in this scene. Kudos? —Nerdy Spice
  • I am majorly insulted that Joey keeps implicitly comparing this gross kid to Pacey. —Nerdy Spice
  • It is such a mystery to me that this season ended up with Audrey and Eddie gone and Joey, instead of having ANY friends her own age at college, spending all of her non-Pacey screen time with a sixteen-year-old girl and a forty-year-old man. Like, what motivated the writers to do this? It makes no sense. —Nerdy Spice

Highlight:

Everything with Doug and Pacey, which has unexpectedly one of the most dynamic and deep relationships on the show. But especially the first scene in Mr. Witter’s hospital room, where Mr. Witter tells the nurse that Pacey is his son, “the one [he] was telling [her] about.” Pacey assumes his dad was saying that Pacey is the black sheep of the family (shot!), but he’s actually saying that Pacey is the good son who went and made something of himself.

Then, when the nurse says only one son can be in the room, Mr. Witter doesn’t even ask Doug to leave, he just says he wants Pacey to stay. What an asshole. Doug tries to save face, and says, “Okay, that’s okay, I’ve been here all day, so….” and then just leaves. The actor does a great job–his face is so tired and sad. It’s such a subtle moment, but so devastating.

Most cringeworthy moment:

Everything that comes out of Oliver’s mouth, but especially when he makes a lascivious comment about older women, tells Joey that she “slay[s]” him, and gets all up in her space. It’s so depressing that even a tiny doof like him can make Joey physically uncomfortable like this:

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Drunkenness level:

Ten, mostly for unwarranted praise of Dawson and Pacey being the black sheep.

Season 6, Episode 17 “Sex and Violence”

By Nerdy Spice

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Pacey and Joey are kinda-sorta dating and it’s actually awkward between them, in a way it’s never been before; there are poorly-landed jokes about prostitution, and even more horrifying, failures to kiss. This is not the Pacey and Joey that I know! But regardless, at the end of their date, they do not kiss, they just laugh awkwardly and Pacey finally grabs Joey, kisses her cheek, and kisses her on the hand.

Later, Joey comes to drop off a useless gadget for Pacey’s office as an officewarming gift and, due to the pervy Rich deciding he likes the cut of Joey’s jib better than Pacey’s former, older assistant, lands a temp gig as Pacey’s assistant-slash-secretary.

Unfortunately, she sucks ass at it! Not only does she refuse to make Pacey’s coffee when he gently reminds her, she also doesn’t give Pacey his messages right away so he won’t be “inundated with information,” and she doesn’t know how to work the phones. Her reasoning? She never wanted to learn secretarial skills because then that would be all people would let her do. Poor Pacey, loath to upset the lady of his dreams, just remarks that it would have been nice if she’d told him that before.

But the real kicker is when the flirtatious brunette woman he met at a party awhile back shows up as a reporter who wants to interview Pacey as a young star. Joey immediately picks up on the vibe between them, and starts aggressively trying to humiliate Pacey: interrupting the meeting with calls from his roomie, then interrupting to serve coffee to everyone and inform them that Pacey likes approximately 1000 cubes of sugar in his coffee. Finally she spills the coffee on purpose all over the reporter’s leg.

After the reporter’s gone, Pacey finally vents his quite justified irritation. Joey is offended at being asked to act professionally because the assistants are only here since they’re hot anyway, and Pacey’s last assistant was fired for being over thirty. Pacey takes his revenge by making Joey dictate a letter of apology to the reporter for the behavior of his new and “very bad” assistant, which is actually pretty funny. Of course this leads to bickering and then, inevitably, to a hot makeout sesh on Pacey’s office couch, which is interrupted by an approving Rich. [This whole episode is possibly the least cute version of P/J, but that makeout sesh saves it every time. –Janes]

Side note: I feel like the last time I watched this I was more struck by the sheer illogic of Joey’s response to Pacey, who has actually been perfectly respectful to her, even if his colleagues were all totally ogling her. But now–even though I think everything she says is still patently wrong on its face–I think I get it more. Pacey should be more angry at what’s happening in his office, as we’ve been complaining all year. So if she’s picking a fight with him, maybe it’s because she resents being the one woman who gets treated respectfully, and resents the fact that he’s OK working with people who treat all the other women in the office like shit. I certainly would have picked a fight in this situation as well.

Later, Pacey shows up at the bar where Joey’s closing up and fires her. “How can you expect me to concentrate if you’re around all day?” Pacey says. I would call this offensive, but I kind of don’t blame Pacey for not explaining in detail all the other ways in which Joey sucks as an assistant. She would definitely not take it well, considering she already took offense at being asked to do the things that were in her job description. They kiss and flirt and agree to meet up at Pacey’s apartment after she closes up. But just as the place is emptying out… dun dun dun… Eddie shows up! Ohhhhh, no.

Meanwhile, over at the Soulless Film Studio, Dawson is excitedly pitching a sexless epic love story at the studio. Heather kindly explains to him that the exec is a perve and that no one wants to hear about Dawson’s sexless love. (Oh, it’s just so terribly, terribly sophisticated and meta.) So in the middle of the pitch session with Horny Exec, Dawson–realizing that he’s losing the guy’s attention–pivots so the story is all about the stripper he fell in love with [The specter of Eve raises her annoying head again –Janes]. Horny Exec loves it and offers him a bunch of money.

Dawson promptly feels guilty, not for the young starlet who will be exploited to play the stripper, but for selling out his story. He goes to whine to Todd, who tells him to sell out: “The trick is to keep working so that one day you can write your own ticket.” Of course this gives us a chance to squeeze in a little totally unwarranted praise of Dawson (shot!): Todd tells him he’s “light years ahead of where I was at your age”, and that he’s going to make his movie with “heart and balls and swagger.” Ugh, gross.

So Dawson tries to go along with the studio for awhile, only to dramatically quit in the middle of the meeting with a heartfelt speech about how he can’t do this. Everyone is like, “Huh. OK, bye.”

In other news, Jen is still an asshole. She and CJ, who have been dating for about five minutes, haven’t had sex in a week. When CJ has the temerity to ask for sex, Jen gets offended, then says, “There are other ways to be intimate.” CJ excitedly says he’s all for those other ways… so Jen plops her hipster-bang-sporting head on his chest and starts to snuggle. COME THE EFF ON, JEN, YOU KNOW THAT WAS MISLEADING. CJ goes along with the cuddling, because he actually does respect a no, even though Jen is too unhinged to understand that asking for sex — which is a healthy response to feeling desire while in a monogamous relationship — is not the same as demanding it, so as soon as he asks she gets defensive and angry.

Worse yet, she shows up to the help line and, in response to a young woman concerned about her male partner’s libido, just starts ranting about how CJ is constantly demanding sex (“This position, that position, you want my legs where?”). Wow. She is SUCH an asshole. And also, by the way, utterly disconnected from reality. CJ’s response is almost infuriatingly tame: “I don’t like you using our problems in the bedroom to help other people.” I mean, couldn’t he say he’s offended by her blatant lies about him and completely inaccurate interpretations of his actions? But Jen has him way too terrorized for that. [Also, she definitely was NOT helping that poor woman. Her first response to her problem was, “Are you sure that [your boyfriend’s lack of sex drive] is really a problem?” What the f, Jen?? –Janes]

Jen’s response is classic Jen Lindley logic salad: “First of all, I wasn’t aware we had problems in the bedroom;” (OK… then why were you talking shit about CJ to a random girl on the phone?), “second of all, why not?” (Shut UP, Jen). Then, for the love of all that’s holy, this girl actually concludes her parade of nonsense by demanding, “Is this about sex?”

WHAT?!

I lack words for how completely flummoxed I am by this question. What exactly did Jen think “problems in the bedroom” meant? How much clearer does CJ have to be? “I don’t like when you use our problems in the bedroom with regard to having sex” seems a little bit redundant, doesn’t it?

Then again, we know that Jen also refers to cuddling as “being intimate,” so maybe she really just doesn’t know what words mean.

Finally CJ loses his temper and goes below the belt himself, complaining that the assholes got the benefit of Jen’s sex drive and that she’s ridiculing him for wanting to have sex with her. I feel like I should be mad at CJ here because he is kind of slut-shaming her, but she was shaming him first!

That night, Grams is forced to play couples counselor for Jen and CJ’s stupid problems. Jen starts off in fine form by announcing at dinner that CJ thinks she’s a slut. Then when Grams gently points out that CJ might feel insecure about her being more into all the “rakes” she’s slept with in the past, Jen says, “Nice pecs and a six-pack only go so far.” Holy shit that is so mean! Poor CJ mumbles, “I have nice pecs.” Oh, CJ. I just want to give you a hug, even though you’re a cardboard plot device masquerading as a character.

  • Jen and CJ started dating just two episodes ago after she stalked him for months, and they’ve already not had sex for a week at a time. I mean, everyone has a right to their own body and stuff, but… well, I guess CJ is learning a valuable lesson here that someone stalking you doesn’t mean they actually like you. It just means they have boundary issues. But if I were him I’d be feeling hella ripped off right now. He dates his stalker and he can’t even get laid? Tragic.
  • How much do you want to bet that this meeting with the studio, where a creator said he wanted an earnest, mostly sexless show, and a network exec said he should “throw in an affair with a teacher,” actually happened? –Janes
  • “What am I, sex on a stick?” Jen says. I don’t think that’s what sex on a stick even means.
  • Continuing a long trend of this show excusing the men for selling out the women in their lives in order to participate in sexist institutions, Heather starts a gross side conversation about her boobs and how everyone loves them and she’s totally fine with it, so Dawson gets off easy, without having to feel like he’s selling out to a studio that makes his closest contact miserable.
  • Jen doesn’t know what CJ stands for? This is the worst relationship ever.
  • “Let the audience get a little wet first,” agrees the horny exec. Ewwww, shot for possibly the worst euphemism yet.
  • “There’s always room for a movie in which teenaged girls take their clothes off,” declares the Horny Exec. Gee, I love how this show understands that Hollywood is sexist but uses it as a prop in a story about how the young white man tragically is expected to compromise his artistic integrity.
  • I love how gleefully amused Rich is by Joey’s antics: He totally knows what she’s doing:DC 617 rich
  • Dawson whines that he lost a “chunk of his soul” while directing the reshoots for a Hollywood movie at nineteen years old. Todd’s response: “You’re such a bloody drama queen, Leery.” THANK YOU. Shut up, Dawson! –Janes
  • Grams tells CJ that Jen is attempting to have a healthy relationship with a boy “for the first time in her very young life.” I’m no Dawson/Jen fan, but that was definitely at least an attempt at a healthy adult relationship. Take a shot for rewriting history! –Janes
  • Horny Exec proudly names Dawson’s film Sunset Stripped. Dawson is made all indignant by this, but I’m just dismayed that he didn’t think of it himself, given that he named the stripper Sunset, I mean… :headdesk:
  • Dawson looks oddly miffed that everyone accepts his dramatic resignation so calmly, and he waits for a really long time as everyone else gets back to work before making his exit. I think he expected everyone to start crying and begging for him not to remove his irreplaceable genius from their studio.
  • “Just remember, you’ll never find a girl like me,” Joey quips when she loses her job. “Well, I prefer to think of my secretaries as women, but OK,” Pacey says. Hee! And just like that, we love him again.

Highlight:

I just love when Pacey deals with the awkwardness of a missed kiss by instead planting one on her cheek and one on her hands. So adorable!

Most cringeworthy moment:

It’s gotta be the horny network exec sitting on his blue donut pillow, oversharing about his prostate, and salivating over teenaged girls. That said, Jen is lucky that Fake Harvey Weinstein showed up in this episode because very few things could be more cringeworthy than her deranged relationship issues.

Drunkenness rating:

Seven: the three we mentioned, plus one for Dawson saying he wants to tell a story about growing up, two for Jen inappropriately mentioning sex, and one for Dawson’s entire movie being a meta-reference to this show being made.

Season 6, Episode 18 “Love Bites”

By Janes

Joey looking sad while Pacey lays his head on her shoulder

Eddie is back. Boo. He doesn’t start school until the fall (which, what?? What has he been doing in California this whole time, then?), so he wants to get back with Joey, his muse. He gives her this whole long speech about how much he loves her, and it reads like a parody of a white male writer describing their love interest: “You have incredible eyes, and the sexiest voice, and a smile that breaks my heart.” That’s it. Nothing about how smart she is, or ambitious, or interesting. As a white male writer, he “needs her around” because she’s beautiful and makes him feel good. So basic. And accurate.

Somehow, this still makes Joey all conflicted. She tells him she’s “moved on,” but looks all doe-eyed and pained. He just sort of leaves, and then she just stands Pacey up and goes home. Which is egregious enough, especially after she said she would “be right there” last episode, but then she doesn’t even call him. He has to call her the next day, with a very mild “Oh, I was expecting you last night.” And then she very lamely says she was tired, and he immediately forgives her! And he agrees to chaperone Harley’s stupid dance with her! He’s literally a saint, Joey, what are you thinking??

Pacey picks her up for the dance, and everything is perfect–or so it seems. He brings her an adorable corsage made of vegetables to make up for her wilted corsage at senior prom, she gives him a rose for his lapel, he says she looks beautiful and they’ll have a fun little flashback, but if her weird ex-boyfriend vision board is to be believed, Joey wants to move into the future, even if that means leaving a perfect guy like Pacey for a pretentious douche like Eddie.

Sidebar: let’s talk about that weird-ass vision board for a second. Joey has an entire sad little board filled with just pictures of her ex-boyfriends. Not group pictures, or even casual pictures of them hanging out together, but snapshots of candid romantic moments and often just pictures of the boys themselves. It looks like fuel for a bachelorette bonfire, or like she’s gearing up to murder them.

A photo board with a picture of Joey and Dawson in the barn from the spring break episode, a photo of Pacey on True Love, a photo of Joey and Dawson at two different dances, a blurry group photo around a campfire, a blurry class photo, a picture of Dawson by a fire, and a picture of Joey and Eddie at the bar.

WHY? Who would have even taken that picture of her and Dawson in the barn? Why are there like, twelve pictures her and Dawson dancing when she hasn’t even spoken to Dawson since Christmas? For the love of God, WHYYYYYYYY

Anyway, this psychotic vision board serves as a very unsubtle look into Joey’s psyche. The camera pans from Dawson to Pacey, then to the picture of her and Eddie, and right before she and Pacey leave for the dance, the camera zooms in on the Eddie picture. We’re clearly supposed to think that Pacey and Dawson represent her past, while Eddie represents her present and maybe future, but I like my murder theory better.

When they get to the dance, everything is perfect, in the most embarrassingly high school kind of way. The room is covered in cheap sparkly decorations and smells like antiperspirant, girls are squealing how much they love each other’s dresses, there’s an actual punch bowl, and Harley ends up crying in the bathroom after her boyfriend punches out the guy she’s dancing with. Joey and Pacey have a grand old time, but Joey is still perturbed, and not really all there. Even as they have fun and feel separate from it all, they joke around about how they never got to dance at their own prom because Pacey dumped her in front of everyone. This is partially set up for that beautiful last scene, but also I think it’s supposed to be showing that the past still weighs on them a bit, even as they joke around about it and seemingly moved on.

There’s a sweet moment where Harley asks Joey if she had a terrible time at all the high school dances she’s ever been to. Joey says yes, and then corrects herself that she’s actually having a very nice time at this one. She looks surprised at herself, like she’s realizing that she has so much emotional distance from high school that she can finally enjoy it.

Then, she checks on Pacey in the boys’ bathroom and he’s in the middle of a very silly physical scuffle with Harley’s boyfriend. There is obviously no good reason to break up with Pacey, but the writers actually do a pretty good job telegraphing Joey’s decision.

She meets Pacey outside, and she just sort of looks at him and says, “I can’t do this. Even when everything is perfect, it doesn’t feel right.” Ouch. That’s so rough. Pacey looks devastated, but still says all the right things. He doesn’t say that he’s in love with her and they’re definitely meant to be together, he just says that he thinks this could be something amazing and he’s ready for something real. She keeps protesting, and he launches into one of the best Pacey speeches of all time: “My whole life, Joey, my whole life you have been the most beautiful thing in my orbit. And my feelings for you were what proved to me that I could be great. And those feelings were stronger and were wiser and more persistent and more resilient than anything else about me.” And then he finishes off with one of his most iconic lines: “When I was afraid of everything, I was never afraid to love you,” and I’m crying.

Joey has no heart, and responds simply, “Eddie came back.” Ughhhhhhhh Joey whyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

Then, as if we weren’t crying enough, Pacey finds Joey later, sitting sadly by the dance floor. He holds out his hand and says, “I think I owe you a dance, Ms. Potter.” And that’s it. They don’t say another word. They just have this beautiful, wordless scene where they have one last dance, the dance that should have been erasing their past to start a new future, but instead is just erasing their past so they can move on (or so they think). But also, what is Joey doing?? She’s clearly so, so sad. Like, maybe if you’re this sad about breaking up with someone, you’re making a mistake?

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Anyway, she immediately goes to see Eddie afterwards, and he doesn’t even really look happy to see her, because he’s a douchebag. They kiss, and she makes that sad, wistful face over his shoulder again! JOEY. You just had that look on your face with Pacey about Eddie! MAKE UP YOUR MIND!

Meanwhile, the inevitable disaster of Pacey investing Dawson’s money for his movie chugs along. This plotline is so boring, that I actually forgot how much Pacey tries to dissuade Dawson from going down this road. He literally says that he wants to turn down Dawson’s money for “moral reasons,” and that there is a risk that Dawson could go broke, but Dawson still wants to move forward. Whatever happens next is most definitely on him.

And finally, in the latest chapter of Jen Being an Asshole, she starts to suspect that Grams has some sort of health issue, because she abruptly broke up with C.J.’s Uncle Bill and has a new doctor calling her house. A normal, human person would just ask her if everything was okay, and, when she made it very clear that she didn’t want to talk about it, just leave her alone. But Jen is not a normal, human person, so she berates her poor grandmother until Grams admits that she has metastasized breast cancer. Shit, that’s sad. I wish we had a better emotional proxy than stupid, insensitive Jen, so that we could fully feel its effects. Where’s Jack??

  • I like that Eddie gives Joey a whole speech about how she has the “best eyes and the sexiest voice and a smile that breaks my heart,” and it’s not even the most romantic speech she’s gonna get this episode. And not just because it ends, somewhat hilariously, with “What do you say?” —Nerdy Spice
  • When Harley asks Joey if her dress is rayon, Joey’s indignant, “It’s silk! … Blend,” gives me so much joy. —Nerdy Spice
  • I don’t know what’s grosser: CJ describing Jen as “glowing” when she’s decidedly not pregnant, or saying that she looks like she “just partook of [her] boyfriend.” Gross! (Shot for that super weird euphemism!)
  • Jen hears that Grams broke Uncle Bill’s heart and calls her a “black widow.” Why doesn’t she know what words mean??
  • What’s up with Joey slut-shaming Harley for wearing a strapless bra? Not only is it offensive on principle, but also, even the prissiest church lady would probably prefer strapless bra to one where the straps are showing under the dress. —Nerdy Spice
  • Pacey makes a joke about “living out one of my teenaged fantasies right now,” but like, didn’t Tamara actually chaperone a school dance? So he already kind of lived out that fantasy! —Nerdy Spice
  • The veggie corsage Pacey brings Joey is So Fetch. I want it. —Nerdy Spice
  • On the other hand, it’s a TERRIBLE idea to be the male adult chaperone offering a dance to the young teenaged girl. Don’t do that, Pacey. —Nerdy Spice
  • He also calls her a “woman” as he whisks her onto the dance floor, when she’s only like, fifteen years old. That was much more adorable when he said it to a fifteen-year-old Joey, who was at least his own age. Shot!
  • Gail is kind of a dick for raising Dawson to believe that the world revolved around him and to have no doubt of his own genius and entitlement to success, and then suddenly, at twenty, when it’s way too late to undo her parenting, get all condescending with him about a backup plan. —Nerdy Spice
  • I love Pacey’s gleeful laugh when Harley’s gross boyfriend gets into a fight:Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 4.28.51 PM
  • I don’t know what I love more: that Harley’s boyfriend used “J.Lo’s Krav Maga moves in Enough” during his fight, or that he and Harley had their first kiss in the boys’ bathroom.
  • Shot for a Nerdy Spice rage blackout: what the hell is Joey talking about with hoping her date is “finally going to say all the things you’ve been hoping for him to say”? Pacey literally called her “simple, elegant, beautiful” and whispered “I remember everything” in her ear at their junior anti-prom. WHAT IS SHE TALKING ABOUT?! And don’t get me started on how stupid it is to compare the commitmentphobic, horny Patrick to the young Pacey, who was the opposite of commitmentphobic. It’s like they have this mental model labeled “heterosexual relationships” and they can’t even remember that they themselves created one that didn’t fit the model. —Nerdy Spice
  • I would be annoyed that Pacey keeps telling Joey that she’s “scared” and “running away from this” just because she doesn’t want to be with him, but since that’s basically the entire thesis of the Joey character, I think we can let it slide.
  • I like to think this is the face of a woman who’s just realized that she dumped an awesome, selfless, loving guy for … Eddie. —Nerdy SpiceCloseup of Joey seen over Eddie's shoulder as she hugs him, biting her lip and looking off to the side pensively.

Highlight:

I don’t think anything could ever beat this beautiful, heartbreaking line: “When I was afraid of everything, I was never afraid to love you.” Swoon.

Most cringeworthy moment: 

The ex-boyfriend vision board, may it live in infamy.

Drunkenness level:

Three, not nearly enough to drown our sorrows over Joey’s unfortunate romantic choices.


Next installment here.

Previous installment here.

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