Episode 22 “Joey Potter and the Capeside Redemption”
It’s the end of an era! This is our last recap, which means we’re coming up on one of the most tearjerking, weirdly perfect series finales of all time. But until then, we’ll be talking about this episode, which is–a valiant first try.
That’s right. This dumb, throwaway type of final-season episode, where Joey voiceovers at the beginning AND end, Joey and Dawson sleep in the same bed together without recreating that iconic shot from the pilot, and–most importantly–JOEY PULLS A KELLY TAYLOR AND CHOOSES HERSELF, was originally supposed to be the series finale. Under most circumstances, I’m all for women choosing themselves, but let’s be real–that would have been f*cking insane.
Anyway, we’ll get to that. First, Joey starts off the episode telling us that “memory is an unreliable narrator,” and that she “can’t say this is exactly how it happened. But this is how it felt.” So not only is she the de facto protagonist, she’s a literary unreliable narrator and everything we’ve seen has low-key been from her perspective. Cool.
Then Joey, who’s constantly talking about growing up this episode (shot!) regresses to a pluckier, perkier version of her first-season self and decides that her entire purpose in life is to buck up all the men in her life. First, she tries to inspire Dawson to make his movie for cheap, but he’s too busy complaining about how Pacey forced him to max out all his credit cards, because God forbid Dawson take responsibility for his (extremely significant) role in his own financial ruin. Her voiceover tells us that they’ve all come full circle: once again Dawson’s “dreams are dashed,” Pacey’s “fallen from grace,” and she’s stuck in the middle. I mean, I guess so, although the triangles are usually about slightly more interesting things than the stock market.
Speaking of which, her next stop is Pacey, who is lying on a crumb-covered couch and watching daytime soap operas (or, as he puts it, “watching my stories”). It’s supposed to be super pathetic, but he and Joey are so cute on the couch together (with Pacey in his boxers!), that it’s just endearing.
She tries to get Pacey to help her gather money and resources to make Dawson’s movie, and he says no, but we all know he will. That’s how these characters have actually come full circle: Dawson has always pretended to be a good guy and then proves himself a selfish asshole, while Pacey has always pretended to be a selfish asshole but then proves himself to be a good guy.
What happens next is like a struggling artist’s wet dream. Joey successfully gathers the troops (even Todd!) and, without any help from Dawson, provides all the tools for Dawson to make his movie for no money. They all surprise him in his childhood bedroom–Spielberg posters and all–for a Hallmark moment where they all offer to do various jobs for free and his mom fires him from the restaurant to support his dream. And he’s barely even happy about it! He doesn’t deserve any of these people.
The rest of the episode, where Dawson films his movie, is basically just a long meta-commentary on the show. Harley plays Joey, her impish boyfriend plays Pacey, Dawson’s film geek mini-me plays, um, Dawson, and they all recreate several iconic scenes from the pilot and credit footage. There’s an unexpectedly delightful scene where they talk about Eve getting cut from the script entirely (“Long story. Ambiguous ending”). And Audrey plays Ms. Jacobs, which is actually hilarious.
Fairly boring moviemaking hijinks ensue, although it is pretty funny when Mini-Joey makes fun of Real Joey for wanting to hang out with an “asexual film dork” instead of go to France. Amen. Joey says “the character” just wasn’t ready to go to France, because she “had a sucky childhood and had a lot of growing up to do.” Yeah, you keep telling yourself that, Joey. (shot!)
Meanwhile Pacey, the real hero of the piece, goes around asking businesses for donations, and runs into none other than Christy Livingstone, the beautiful blonde he sort of stalked in high school. He doesn’t recognize her, and actually neither do we, because they recast the role with an actress who looks absolutely nothing like Ali Larter, who had already become recognizable by this time. What a weird thing to do. It’s just like when the Palladinos cast a Fake Tristan in the Gilmore Girls revival. Like, do we really need to catch up with this minor early-season character that badly? Just don’t do it!
Anyway, Pacey charms the pants off of Fake Christy. Not literally, but she does give him her number, which he deems a “metaphor” (not really, but okay) for Pacey outgrowing his loser high school years. Joey takes umbrage with this, and says something super annoying: “And the fact that all the normal girls who haven’t been surgically enhanced, girls like me and Jen and Audrey and Andie, have spent every second of the last five years telling you you weren’t a loser, that means nothing to you?” Um–so many problems: 1) “Normal girls”?? She’s literally talking about three beautiful blondes and… Katie Holmes. 2) Not that it matters, but poor Fake Christy doesn’t look fake at all, she just looks like a pretty blonde actress (much like Audrey, Jen, and Andie). 3) The problem isn’t that Pacey is using the *wrong* women to prove his manhood, the problem is that he’s using any woman to prove his manhood. Jeez.
Pacey tries to give Joey the money so he won’t have to talk to Dawson, but she won’t take it. She says it’s not her fight, and never has been. Fair. But then there’s this bizarre interaction where Pacey says, “So after all these years you’re just going to wipe your hands of the both of us?”, she smiles and says “I’m going to try,” and then he smiles widely as if that’s an acceptable thing to say. Um, rude. Can’t she just stop being their go-between without dumping them as friends?
In the end, there’s a quick, perfunctory montage where Jen, Jack, and Grams say goodbye to everyone and leave for New York. (By the way… they’re moving to New York? I sort of missed that.) I know it’s supposed to take Jen’s character full circle, because she came from New York in a cab in the pilot, but what does that say about her, exactly? That she was an outsider when she came and now she’s finally self-exiling? That it took six years for her to take a hint?
Anyway, that whole Jen-leaving-forever thing isn’t treated with nearly as much import as Dawson and Joey lying in bed together, talking insufferably about “life imitating art imitating life.” They have some pseudo-romantic conversation where Dawson says the movie is about “a girl who wanted more than she had, who had to grow up to realize she already had everything she ever wanted.” Um, what? What does that even mean? That Joey already has everything she wants in… Capeside? HAVE YOU MET HER. THIS IS NOT HER STORY.
Even Joey seems to know this is bullshit. He says he doesn’t want to close his eyes in case she’s not there when he wakes up, and she tells him to “close his eyes” in a very Buffy, I’m-about-to-stab-you-and-send-you-to-hell-kind-of-way. And then he wakes up in the morning and she’s actually gone! Ha! Classic.
But where did she go, you might ask? Paris, of course! This is amazing, not only because it brings her character full circle from the end of season one, but because she’s directly contradicting Dawson’s narrative of her. She didn’t grow up when she realized she wanted what she had when she was fifteen, Dorothy-style, she grew up when she realized she wanted to finally follow her own dreams instead of supporting his all the time.
But first, she meddles one last time to get Pacey and Dawson to talk to each other again. But her mission sort of fails, considering they spend the whole meeting talking about Joey. And as per usual, Pacey speaks of Joey with nothing but respect and glowing admiration. He chuckles that she’s “never listened to a word either one of us has ever said.” He says he and Dawson can’t go back to the way things were, and that the only remaining tie is that they’re still in love with the same “woman” (shot!). But even so, he doesn’t regret a single second he spent with her, and is amazed that a “woman” like that (shot!) would give either of them the time of day. He’s giving a classic romantic Pacey speech, and she’s not even there to hear it!
Dawson’s theory of the entire show is, predictably, less romantic. He says it makes sense that it never worked out for either one of them because “all we wanted was her, and in the end, all she ever wanted was for us to be friends again.” I mean, I think she wanted a few other things from her life (see above), but sure. Whatever. Then, when Pacey asks sweetly if they could be friends again, Dawson coldly responds, “Anything’s possible,” and is only slightly more moved when Pacey gives him the money he raised. Asshole.
Luckily, it doesn’t really matter that Dawson is an asshole, because this isn’t really his story. The episode ends on Mini-Joey rowing the boat from the dock with a song about “breaking free” playing in the background, while Real Joey voiceovers about how she used to be afraid she would never grow up (shot!) and leave Capeside, but now she lives her life without fear and follows her dreams. And her dream is walking around a very fake Paris in an adorable, Blair Waldorf-esque headband. Amazing.
So yeah, this was supposed to be the series finale, which would be feminist if it weren’t so patently absurd. I would love if this were a show about how early friendships form your character, or about a young woman finding her independence. But this is Dawson’s Creek we’re talking about. They’ve made us sit through six years of this ridiculous love triangle, and dammit, we’re going to get our answer.
- So let me get this straight: they’re filming at least four scenes directly from the pilot, but they still have time to get all the way to Jack and Joey’s kiss in season two?
- Joey’s ribbed cardigan is impressive in that it is wrapped around possibly the most lithe young woman who has ever walked this planet and yet still manages to make her look… lumpy.
- Jen asks, “What is this feeling? It’s like everything’s getting smaller and smaller, it’s all still there but I just can’t touch it.” What? And then Jack goes, “I think it’s called good-bye.” WHAT?! The fact that Jack thinks “good-bye” is a feeling is one of the least bizarre things about that exchange. –Nerdy Spice
- Pacey and Dawson meet at the ruins, which I believe is where Dawson and Jen had their first kiss and where Dawson and Joey made out a bunch of times. I actually kind of like the idea that this would-be finale is trying to retcon the entire show to be a platonic love story about Pacey and Dawson, but they’ve had like, two scenes together in the last three seasons so… too little, too late.
There’s this cute little moment where Joey grabs Mini-Pacey by the ear and threatens him bodily harm, and Dawson just looks at her and laughs knowingly. Even he ships P/J deep down!
Most cringeworthy moment:
Audrey’s last scene in the whole series is kind of tragic. Todd orders Audrey to give him a back rub in the grossest way possible: “Give an old geezer a rub.” Then he gets all faux-vulnerable and says it’s just a “numbers game” and eventually “some bird’s going to find it all very charming.” Ew. And then she actually falls for it and has sex with him! I respect her right to have sex with gross men if she really wants to, but–gross!!
Eleven shots. So much meta.
Season 6, Episode 23 “All Good Things…”
By Nerdy Spice
It’s five years in the future, and the kids are INSANELY successful (except in their love lives). We open on Joey, who leads an idyllic life hanging out in a fancy New York City apartment that would definitely cost the equivalent of about $3,000 a month in today’s dollars, sitting on her non-futon couch and editing manuscripts while her hot (if kind of obnoxious) writer boyfriend brings her bottles of water. The one thing she does that isn’t the cliche of what every young book-lover thinks her New York City life will be like, is to watch Dawson’s new show every Wednesday night at 8 (oh, gee, what time and day do you think Dawson’s aired, guys?).
They brought back Kevin Williamson to write this episode, so Dawson’s show is a rather magnificent send-up of what the first season was actually like, with even more poorly-chosen multisyllabic words. It includes the lines, “Period. End of sentence, dissertation, and post-modern diatribe,” which reminds me not only how absurd the first season was, but also of the fact that none of the writers of this show appear to have any notion what the word “post-modern” means.
Joey’s boyfriend Christopher (Jeremy Sisto in a very random appearance) thinks the show is stupid, and Joey hasn’t even told him her connection to it, which is … not a GREAT sign for their relationship. (I wish I had time and energy here to write down my rant about the end of La La Land and how absurd it is for an adult woman to visit the jazz bar of her ex and not even tell her husband she knows him.) The scene concludes with Sam assuring the Dawson character, Colby, that she’s just friends with Petey (Pacey), and Colby mumbling, “That’s what I was afraid of.” Which actually didn’t really happen in the original show, oddly enough.
As we know, Dawson has a show. He also has an assistant with a weirdly aggressive way of enunciating all her words, and he is dealing with an actor who’s not crazy about his character coming out of the closet (oh, hey, do you think that was about real life?!) and a network that wants him to say “walk the dog” instead of “masturbate” (euphemism shot!). He spends about two minutes in the writers’ room as the other writers argue over whether getting Dawson and Joey, sorry, I mean Colby and Sam together at the end of the first season will kill the tension (meta-reference shot!). He also has a girlfriend named Rebecca that he stands up a lot, apparently. Cool, so Dawson has gotten even worse–the only nice thing about him was that he was highly unlikely to stand up a date.
Jack has acquired a new boyfriend: Sheriff Doug, who it turns out was gay after all! (He also refers to Doug as “the sheriff” when he’s talking to Jen later, which is kind of hilarious.) They enact a weird scene where Doug catches Jack speeding and Jack asks if there’s anything he could do. It’s basically the beginning of a gay porn scene… except that when they kiss it lasts about two seconds and is utterly devoid of tongue or sexiness. It seems so sad that Doug’s first kiss onscreen after six closeted years is so… lame! Sorry, Dougie. Jack is also a teacher at Capeside who’s trying to teach jocks to love Walt Whitman. In response, Jack assigns the class to write poems about things they’re scared of, to be read aloud in class (remember, the teacher who outed Jack told them falsely that their poems would be private).
For his part, Pacey is running the reopened Icehouse — which if you’ll recall was Mr. Potter’s restaurant before it got burned down by the big bad drug dealers — and having an affair with his graphic designer, a pretty blonde who just happens to be married. This part kind of annoys me, because it feels like Pacey has turned into an asshole and that’s never really explored.
Jen is a mom of a tiny blonde doll of a baby. She’s not living in Capeside, but she comes back to town for the conceit of the episode, which is that Gail is getting married to someone we never even meet, because it’s not important.
Next to arrive home is Dawson, who is greeted by baby film geek Lily. When he goes into his room we learn that he has MULTIPLE posters of The Creek (his own show) on the walls. AND framed magazine clippings about it! Um, conceited much? (Maybe his mom did it, but you can just imagine Dawson doing all this himself.) Of course, the object he chooses to pick up and fondle is a picture of him and Joey, in case we forgot that Everyone Loves Joey Potter.
Speaking of people who are in love with Joey Potter, time for one of the most iconic scenes of the finale (in my humble opinion as someone who has watched every Pacey/Joey fan video on the internet): Pacey is out greeting customers at his restaurants when Joey walks up in slow motion, holding an umbrella. Pacey gets a giant grin on his face and greets her by picking her up and spinning her around and it is SO DAMN ROMANTIC. They say hello, then go in for another long hug, at which point Dawson shows up to kill the fun.
After one moment of what looks like it might be tension, everyone decides to grin and forget that they are an Awkward Triangle and hug and greet each other. Jack and Jen show up almost immediately. (Audrey isn’t invited to Gail’s wedding. I feel like it sort of sucks for Busy Phillipps not to have made it into this episode, whatever reason there was; Jen would have died much less alone if she’d had a proper gal pal along. Oops, spoilers.)
The five of them get a little tipsy on wine and reminisce about their favorite awkward moments from the show. (There are two sexual euphemisms and one mention of Dawson and Joey being soulmates here, so take another three shots!) When Jen gets a little too drunk, Jack carries her off and we learn from her drunken rambling that she was “knocked up” by her boyfriend and left to raise Baby Amy as a single mother. Which leaves Joey, Dawson, and Pacey all alone. Pacey offers Joey a ride, but she says she’ll walk, so–after some very affectionate good-byes between the boys and Joey, followed by longing glances from the boys to Joey’s departing form–Pacey and Dawson stick around to clean up.
Pacey complains about the girl cast as Joey’s character on The Creek. Without much provocation, Dawson tells Pacey he’s changed (shot!), and then Pacey asks Dawson seriously if he’s happy. Dawson says he hasn’t thought much about it, and Pacey quips that he himself would be miserable if he were happy. After this brief heart-to-heart, they share an adorable long hug good-bye.
Jack and Jen are hanging out at the Potter B&B, where Amy and Jen are staying. Jen pops some pills right in front of him, but then claims that the other bottle of pain pills he finds is just for Gram. Jack takes no notice of Jen’s cryptic, sad remark and instead says something sort of hilariously tactless about whether Jen could survive as a single mother without Grams. Uh, rude! When Jen says something sentimental and cliched about motherhood, Jack randomly declares, “You’ve changed the most.” (Shot!) Omg we get it! They’ve all changed! Meanwhile, Jack complains a little bit about Capeside, but Jen says gently that he’s frustrated with Doug, and advises him to give Doug more time. Meh, easy for her to say.
Dawson is struggling over his ending when he hears a clatter at his window. He stands ready to use his laptop to brain the intruder (I admit it, I find that part super funny) but of course, it’s just Joey, come to reenact their childhood dysfunction. Shouldn’t she go home to hang out with Jen and Jack? Whatever. He asks about her life, and she tells him about Christopher, and he claims he’s not seeing anyone (I bet Rebecca would be sad to hear that!) Dawson says something about not being Spielberg, and Joey says, “Dreams aren’t perfect, Dawson. They come true, not free.” WHAT? Wtf does “dreams aren’t perfect” mean? Then Dawson says, “Nicely put.” Um… that’s… generous. Anyway, when Joey makes to leave, Dawson gives a great big theatrical yawn and commands her to sleep in his bed with him. “We are adults,” Joey says. (Shot for false claims of growing up!)
While Dawson and Joey are cuddling up, poor Pacey gets beaten up by not only the husband of his girlfriend but also several of the husband’s friends. When he thinks it’s just the husband, he says with classic Pacey false heroism, “I deserve it. Do your worst,” but he tries unsuccessfully to run when the others show up. Nevertheless, they catch him and give him a beating. For some reason even though there’s like four of them, Pacey doesn’t even have to go to the hospital. Weak sauce, Betrayed Husband!
Dawson dreams that he and Joey are getting married the next day (I remember being DEVASTATED when they put a shot of the two of them in wedding gear in the promos, because I had belatedly but very firmly converted to the Pacey camp during his speech at the prom, you know, the one that ends with “When I was afraid of anything I was never afraid to love you.”). Their vows are HILARIOUS. Basically Dawson and Joey recap their entire insane history, which means that Dawson has to utter the words, “And then I convinced you to turn your dad in for trafficking cocaine,” while holding the hands of Joey in her wedding dress. I don’t know why but it totally cracks me up. But it ends with the words “star-crossed, ill-fated soulmates” (shot!), so it also makes me nauseous. Dawson wakes to find Joey gone, with a short note on “her” pillow.
Jack and Doug go for a morning jog, and Doug reveals he has booked them a romantic weekend getaway, which leads to Jack getting a little cranky. When Jack complains about having to sneak around, Doug loses his temper and goes, “Not all of us were fags at fifteen.” WHOA. Jack retorts, “You were a fag at fifteen. You just haven’t stopped hating yourself for it.”
Side note: The sort of weird thing about this plotline — besides the fact that Pacey, as Doug says, gets the “last laugh” for all his homophobic jokes — is that Doug has actually been pretty much an abusive jerk for all of his time on this show. So I mean, maybe we’re supposed to think that all of that just went away when Doug realized that he was gay and stopped trying to hide it from himself? Like he was being abusive out of self-hatred? But honestly, that’s not really how most people act when they’re in the closet, and it’s hard for me to be like, woo-hoo, Jack gets a happy ending when in fact Doug’s cruel remark about being a “fag at fifteen” is the most in-character he is in this whole episode.
At the real, non-dream wedding, Dawson hugs his mom and wishes her happiness, and says that his dad would feel the same. And that’s the most we care about Gail. Moving on, everyone’s on the dance floor, and Pacey is avoiding his girlfriend (talk about being an asshole! Wouldn’t it have been easier for him to just call her and tell her it’s over instead of acting like such a sketchball?). Jen, who is TERRIBLE at keeping her Deep Dark Secret, is standing at the sidelines openly popping pills out of the bottle she claimed was for Grams.
And Pacey and Joey start dancing. She asks about his shiner, but he doesn’t answer–at first. He just says, “I forget how much fun I have when I’m with you, and it’s really really nice to be reminded.” Awww. Meanwhile, as soon as Joey starts dancing with Dawson, she starts babbling and Dawson says pompously, “I’m glad you’re nervous too. You ramble when you’re nervous. I like you ramble when you’re nervous. I like that I know that you ramble when you’re nervous. I like that i still make you nervous.” Joey, as anyone would, just feels more uncomfortable–but Jen saves her, demanding to switch partners, so she’s back with Fun Pacey.
And things get REAL fun this time around; Pacey, wanting to dump his married girlfriend in the meanest way possible, awesomely decides to dip Joey for a long, romantic kiss. When they stand back up, Married Girlfriend looks displeased. Joey, on the other hand, looks like she’s just about to drag Pacey back to the Potter B&B and have her way with him.
But Jen ruins everything, as Jen does, by dramatically collapsing on the dance floor. Grams sobs that she’s very sick while everyone else crowds around in shock. (Oh, and Grams orders Dawson to call an ambulance, but Dawson STAYS to demand what’s wrong with Jen until Grams screams at him to go. Dawson, you are the WORST.)
After the break, Jen’s in a hospital bed, while everyone else waits. Grams walks back everything she said when she was freaking out and claims Jen just has a “small problem” with her heart. Side note, I never noticed how great a job they did on Mary Beth Peil’s (Grams’s) makeup in this episode–she really looks like she’s aged five years, and a tough five years. Anyway, Grams sends them all home, so they take an awkward ride home in Pacey’s car. Even more awkward, Joey has to field a call from Christopher right in the middle of it.
Jack, having stayed at the hospital, is the first to find out from Grams: Jen is dying. When Jen wakes up, Jack comes to visit and says he wants to engage in their “patented Jack-Jen… fag-hag banter,” but he wants to know why she didn’t tell him. Jen gives the stock dying-TV-character answers, then explains to him in vague, not-particularly-medically-accurate-sounding words that she has pulmonary congestion and she’s going to die. But then the scene gets really good, as Jack cries softly onto her hands and Jen admits that she needs him because she doesn’t want to screw this up and Beth Nielsen Chapman’s “Say Good-Night, Not Good-Bye” cues up on the soundtrack and the two of them cuddle in the bed. Holy crap it’s so great (and hopefully you’re not crying yet because the next episode will slay you).
Montage time! As Beth croons in the background, Jack shows up to tell Pacey the news, then Joey. (Poor Dawson only gets a phone call, which sort of cracks me up, like Jack thought to himself, “Eh, Dawson will just make it all about him anyway,” and decided to skip the in-person visit.) Meanwhile, Grams, Amy, and Jen play in the hospital. And finally, Joey shows up to hug Dawson in what are really distractingly low-cut sweatpants (what?! I guess I see what our parents’ generation was saying after all. Those pants we were wearing were like WORRISOMELY low).
- Joey’s sexist hipster boyfriend is played by the abusive husband from Waitress, which sounds about right. –Janes [I cannot believe your reference for Jeremy Sisto is Waitress. What happened to Clueless? Or (my personal favorite and no, I have no idea why Youtube recommends this to me so often) his failed audition tape for Titanic? —Nerdy Spice]
- I love that the writers’ try to humanize Joey’s plucky early career by having her say the line, “You should see the crap I have to edit.” When actually, the average 25-year-old New Yorker with an Ivy League English degree would literally die to edit actual books, no matter how crappy. –Janes
- “Walk the dog” is definitely more graphic and disgusting than “masturbate.” I will never understand this substitution.
- Um… did they just meta-call out Kerr Smith for being a homophobe? Awesome. –Janes
- My first thought when Doug and Jack kiss: “Is that too much pretty for one relationship?” –Janes
- Dawson says he “aged ten years in the last nine months,” when they didn’t even bother to make James van der Beek look any different from an episode ago, when he was supposed to be barely twenty. –Janes
- Actually, aside from Jen’s longer hair, they didn’t bother making anyone look different. Joey’s stupid ombre hasn’t even grown out! In five years! –Janes [Don’t forget Grams! —Nerdy Spice]
- When everyone’s reminiscing and Pacey and Joey have some very mild banter about Joey’s dad burning down the restaurant, Dawson exclaims, “I couldn’t write this stuff if I tried!” Oh, I always enjoy watching this show basically jerking itself off by declaring how great all their plot lines are.
- There are fully six vehement back-slapping sounds while Dawson and Pacey share their first long hug at the end of the night. It’s really sweet when they hug, but like, how many times do you have to hit each other? We get it! You’re straight!
- I hate the “motherhood makes women wise and mature” trope, but Michelle Williams actually sells it very nicely. –Janes
- I hate to be old-fashioned but what do you think Christopher thinks of Joey sleeping in the same bed as Dawson? That really doesn’t seem like behavior befitting a serious girlfriend. [I mean, if he’s okay with a super hot make-out with a super-hot Pacey, he’s probably fine with it? –Janes]
- Oh God, “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain plays while Dawson and Joey recreate that iconic awkwardly-lying-in-bed shot from the pilot. The tears are starting already. –Janes
- Wow, that’s the third time Dawson and Joey refer to each other as “soulmates.” Three shots! –Janes
- I remember when the TWoP writers pointed out what a dick Dawson is for bragging that he makes Joey nervous while he and Joey are dancing at the wedding, but I didn’t realize how right they were until I watched it as an adult. Those recappers knew what was up, and honestly if it weren’t for them pointing out all the shit that Jess and Dawson pulled, I think I would have been much less quick to pick up on it in real life. [Also, what is this retconning of their relationship? When has Dawson ever made her nervous? Even when she was pining for him, he just made her angry all the time. –Janes]
- Oh my God. Six years of love triangle drama, and we don’t even get to see Dawson’s reaction to that amazing P/J kiss?? –Janes
- I never noticed Joey and Grams holding hands in the waiting room. It’s so sweet.
- “And the triangle becomes a square,” says Dawson when Joey picks up the phone to talk to Christopher. Then Pacey says, “Well-put.” …Really? I mean… that’s a pretty gentle geometry joke.
- Then they cut right as Joey opens her mouth to talk to Christopher. Did the editors, like, forget to finish that scene?
- So sad that Grams doesn’t even bother calling Jen’s father. Jen had such a tragic life. –Janes
- OMG this moment where Amy touches both Grams and Jen’s faces. I don’t even like Jen, but here come the tears. –Janes
Oh, it’s gotta be the twirling.
Most cringeworthy moment:
Watching Dawson fake-yawn so he can get Joey into his bed one more time is pretty cringey. And seriously, Joey, you have a boyfriend!
Ten, not enough to calm down from the image of a D/J wedding.
Episode 24 …Come to an End
We start off at the hospital, where Jack is telling Dawson, Pacey, and Joey that Jen wants “laughter” and no drama, and if you cry you get kicked out of her room. Which is harsh, but definitely her right. But then Pacey, the reliable comic relief, goes in her room and she immediately says “get that fake smile off your face.” Um, Jen, I know you’re dying and all, but WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM THEM??
Pacey is the only one who even somewhat manages to give her what she needs–Dawson and Joey both self-righteously tell Jen that her death jokes “aren’t funny,” which like–wow. Tough room. So it’s no surprise when, later, Joey comes to the Ice House for food and cheering up. She and Pacey have this adorable moment where she says, “I was walking around in a fog and ended up here,” Pacey almost puts his hand on her shoulder but doesn’t, then he ushers her in and gets this adorable grin on his face as she walks ahead of him. So cute.
This next scene is a perfect microcosm of the Pacey/Joey relationship. They each, at some point, serve as a complement to the other: Pacey starts to wallow in self-pity about never getting out of Capeside, and Joey tells him that his loser complex is all in his head and that he has a “great life.” And when Joey starts to feel bad about laughing when Jen is dying, Pacey assures her that they need laughter now “more than ever.” Pacey also tosses off a romantic speech like it’s nothing; he tells her he didn’t feel like his life was that great until she “breezed through [his] door again.” “It’s like I was walking through life seeing my life through a smudged window. And then I saw you, and the smudges were gone.” Jesus. He’s so good at those.
Instead of jumping his bones like a normal human being, Joey gets freaked out, and throws food at him to lighten the mood. They have an adorable little food fight, during which Joey looks like she’s having more fun than she’s had in years (maybe the whole show), and then they find themselves almost making out. Pacey says, aptly, “Here we are again. What is it between us?”
Later, Bessie (but no Bodie–boo) tells Joey that she’s obviously “in love” with her ex-boyfriend. When Joey denies this, Bessie laughs, “You’re right. You’re in love with your ex-boyfriends. Plural.” Hee! Joey doesn’t exactly cop to this, but she agrees to break up with Christopher, which seems like some sort of confirmation.
At the hospital, she tells Jen that she broke up with Christopher, and Jen is like, “He took it fine? No suicidal romantic speeches?” Ha! Joey doesn’t even bother trying to be humble, and casually says that while he wasn’t suicidal, he did melodramatically quote Pablo Neruda (shot!). She’s such an asshole sometimes.
Jen sums up Joey’s character more generously, and says that, like Dawson’s TV show ingenue, Sam, Joey’s heart and head are constantly in conflict, which is why she’s never been able to make a decision. Joey says, “The only decision left is the one that Sam has to make with herself.” (Shot for the barely-meta commentary!) She says she’s “always known” who she’s supposed to be with, she just keeps running from it. Which is an explosive thing to say for all the shippers out there, and yet conveniently could apply to either Pacey or Dawson. I see what you did there, Dawson’s writers.
Then, Jen says maybe the saddest thing anyone has ever said. She tells Joey that her dying wish is for her to choose between Pacey and Dawson once and for all. “My death will serve a greater purpose,” she says. “It’s your ultimate motivator.” It’s supposed to be somewhat dark humor on Jen’s part, but like–literally. That’s the purpose her death is serving in the show. It’s super perverse, but also fitting, sadly.
On the bright side (sort of), Jen gets a tragic send-off that packs more of a punch than I ever would have imagined. She has Dawson film a message to her daughter, Amy, and it is SUPER sad. Jen tells her daughter that even though she doesn’t believe in God, she hopes Amy does, because “it doesn’t really matter if God exists or not. The point is to believe in something.” What a beautifully unexpected way to bring her once-annoyingly self-righteous character full circle. “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan plays (WHY DID THEY DO THIS TO ME) while Jen tells Amy to hold onto love wherever she finds it, which is so tragic, because no one ever really loved Jen except for Grams. Then she finishes off with “And remember, sweetheart, to love is to live.” This still slays me.
Back in the hospital room, she and Pacey watch the original footage from the first season credits. In a nice touch, the footage is set to “Hands in My Pocket” by Alanis Morissette, which was originally intended to the show’s theme song. After Joey’s little smile at the camera that we all remember, Jen looks at Pacey and says, “I know a Joey trance when I see it.” She asks Pacey if he still feels any sparks between them, and he says, in a wonderful callback to “Stolen Kisses”: “You can never really deny the sparks between the two of us. When she’s around I just feel more alive.”
Dawson is, as usual, dealing with grief in a significantly less cute way. “You know that list of hardest things to live through?” he says to Joey re: the goodbye video. “You just got bumped again.” Great. Way to use this occasion as an opportunity to drag your ex for dumping you. And then he promptly starts complaining about how this whole death thing is giving him writer’s block, because he’s literally a garbage person. He whines that he’s lost touch with everything in his life, including Joey. He says that his relationship with her is “the only thing that ever made sense to [him],” but they’re not even together. Joey says, re: his narcissistic TV show, “Dawson, we’re together every Wednesday at 8:00.” That’s kind of beautiful, but also kind of sounds like a careful dismount.
(Note that we never see Dawson actually talking to Jen about what’s going on or comforting her in any way. Even Joey found a way to relate to Jen a little, while we only see Dawson talking about himself. Considering how close Dawson and Jen once were, I’m surprised (and yet not surprised) that their relationship doesn’t get a more intimate moment of closure.)
But no matter, because Jack and Jen’s goodbye is totally heartbreaking. Jen is getting worse, and Jack asks what she plans to do about Amy. She’s hesitant to ask him for anything, even though he’s Amy’s godfather, but he tells Jen he wants her. She says both she and Grams (whose health is failing) think that Jack would be a great father. She asks him to help Amy find a “place to be,” because she was always the troublemaker and never belonged. He says, “Jen, you belong. You belong with me. You’re my soulmate.” This is the only usage of that word on this show that rings true.
Montage time! “Green Apples” by Chantal Kreviazuk, which played in season one right before Dawson and Jen broke up (the first time), plays while they all wait in the hospital for Jen’s inevitable demise. The best part by far is this moment, when, with no context whatsoever, Pacey and Joey are cuddling in the waiting room and Joey grabs his arm for comfort.
This builds up to the last scene between Jen and Grams–who, interestingly, don’t get a proper goodbye scene. Jen briefly wakes up, smiles a little at Grams sleeping in a chair next to her bed, and then dies. Then Grams wakes up, sees Jen has passed, kisses her head and says, “I’ll see you soon, child. Soon.” I’m crying.
“Hands,” which played during a sad montage in the second season, plays during Jen’s wake at the Ice House, where Grams is holding Amy and Jack is playing with her. Doug at first is too afraid to approach Jack, but then finds him on the beach, where he tells him he loves him and that he wants to help him raise Amy. They kiss in public, Doug gets weirdly defensive with some old people who are passing by, and the old people are like “Good for you!” Hee.
As Joey helps Pacey in the kitchen, he gives one last Romantic Pacey Speech. “You’re off the hook,” he tells her. He says he loves her, and has always loved her, but he wants to let it go and be happy, before it’s too late. He’s also super selfless about it, which–again–Dawson never has been and never will be. He tells her he genuinely wants her to be happy with someone else, whether it be Dawson or “New York guy” (hee) or a man she hasn’t even met yet. “I want you to be with someone who can be part of the life you want for yourself,” he says. “I want someone who makes you feel the way I feel when I’m with you. [GAHHHHH] So I guess the point to this long run-on sentence that has been the last ten years of our lives, is just that the simple act of being in love with you is enough for me.”
Joey, overcome with emotion, tells him she doesn’t want to be let off “anyone’s” hook (Good God, woman, make up your mind!). But then she finally gets a little more specific: “I love you. You know that. And it’s very real. It’s so real it’s kept me moving, mostly running from it, never ready for it.” You can just hear all the P/J shippers in the background yelling, “HE’S THE ONE SHE’S RUNNING FROM YUSSSSSSS.”
Then she inappropriately brings up Dawson, because of course she does (shot!). “And I love Dawson. He’s my soulmate [shot!].” She describes their love as rooted in childhood and “pure and eternally innocent,” which is pretty accurate but still makes me feel queasy. She finishes off with a classic Joey move, where she sort of makes a decision without actually making a decision: “I can’t be let off the hook because I might just get the notion that it’s okay to keep running.”
Pacey is, understandably, a little confused. But of course Joey still doesn’t actually say “I choose you” because, in one of the most contrived moments on the series, they get interrupted by Gail, and then Bessie, who wants Joey to help her with the food. And then Joey actually leaves! Would it have killed her to say, “Sure, I’ll be there in a minute” so she can finish up one of the most important conversations of her life??
Of course she couldn’t, because that would ruin the crazy bait-and-switch in this next scene. Dawson is sitting on the dock, flashing back to Jen arriving in the cab, when Joey joins him. When this was airing, it was only a couple minutes from the end, so everyone must have thought this meant Joey would end up with Dawson. And it definitely seems like that at first: Joey tells him to make the ending of his show “a happy one,” and takes his hand. Dawson tells her it doesn’t matter how it ends, because “in some unearthly way, it’s always gonna be you and me. What we have goes beyond friendship. Beyond lovers. It’s forever.” Then she agrees! And says they’re soulmates! And touches foreheads with him and says “You and me always”! NOOOOOOOO.
But, since we all know how it ends, this scene is actually beautiful and nostalgic. Kevin Williamson said he wrote this ending partially to reinscribe what the word “soulmate” can mean, and this scene is basically saying that Dawson and Joey are “soulmates” in the sense that they’ll always be tied to each other’s childhoods. Which is the way it should be. Declaring their platonic (or like, Platonic) love for each other and nostalgically watching Alexander climb the ladder into Lily’s bedroom (aw!!) is the perfect ending for them.
This is it: it all ends with Joey in her New York apartment, watching a reenactment of that momentous first kiss with Dawson (complete with dialogue lifted straight from the Paula Cole theme song, which is pretty funny). And then, a slow pan reveals that Pacey is sitting next to her, crying his eyes out. (I already know what happens, but still, YAY!! They ended up together! He moved to New York with her! He fits into the life she wants for herself!)
She teases him, as they are wont to do, and then they call Dawson to congratulate him. Dawson, for his part, has no bitterness about his soulmate ending up with his best friend, because he has a date with his one true love in the morning: Spielberg. There’s a close-up on a picture of the four of them from the early days, because Dawson, Joey, and Pacey are keeping their promise to Jen to stay friends forever. “Say Goodnight, Not Goodbye” plays AGAIN during a montage of old footage (are they trying to kill us??), and then it ends. I agree with Joey: it was “perfect. Absolutely perfect.”
- Apparently, I’m just going to cry this whole episode. Amazon bought the original theme song just for the last two episodes, and even that’s getting me going.
- When Joey says sadly, “This isn’t happening,” Pacey and Dawson practically compete to get their hands on her faster. Calm down boys, this is not the time. —Nerdy Spice
- So cute that Grams still calls them all “children” when they’re twenty-five. She sounds like Maria von Trapp.
- They’re all drinking what appears to be a very very dark rose that is coincidentally the exact same shade as cranberry juice. —Nerdy Spice
- They really shouldn’t have cut the scene where Joey finds out that Christopher is about to propose, because otherwise Joey’s sudden decision to break up with Christopher over the phone–when they live in the same city–doesn’t really make any sense. But whatever. No one cares about Christopher anyway.
- And it’s very sweet that Joey is putting lotion on Jen’s legs when she visits her in the hospital! How adorable is that? Yay friendship! —Nerdy Spice
- On the other hand, the most tragic part of Jen’s death–more tragic than the tearjerking good-bye video, the adorable orphaned baby, or even Grams’s good-bye to her (“I’ll see you soon, child,” which made me shed many tears)–is that it’s not only used as a plot device to solve the love triangle, but that JEN HERSELF declares that her death will have the higher purpose of… making Joey choose a boyfriend. I mean, it’s fitting, because Jen essentially became extraneous as a character the moment the Love Triangle That Ate All Other Love Triangles began, but it’s tragic. —Nerdy Spice
- When Pacey cutely feeds Joey some sauce, she says “Mm,” and I wait for her to follow up with “Orgasmic.” But I guess that would be one callback too many.
- “OK, Mrs. Dalloway,” Dawson says to Jen when he’s filming her good-bye video. She responds, “Thank God, your humor has returned.” Um… “humor”? REALLY?! Major unwarranted-praise-of-Dawson alert. —Nerdy Spice
- When Doug finds Jack on the beach, he asks if he’s “thinking” and Jack answers, “Capeside’s favorite pastime.” Hee! Take a shot for that amusing meta-commentary!
- I guess it’s nice that Doug wants to face homophobia head-on, but seriously, why can’t they move out of Capeside? Wouldn’t it be much more fun to live in Boston, for many different reasons?
- At the hospital, Pacey and Dawson are playing a weird game where they… throw cards onto a chair. –Nerdy Spice
- As you might know, Andie came back for a couple of scenes in the finale that were eventually deleted. She’s a doctor in Boston now, and she and Pacey have a cute ex catch-up where she says she keeps up with his life via Jack, he thanks her for challenging and believing in him, and they say they should keep in touch (but they probably won’t). These scenes aren’t strictly necessary–as Nerdy Spice said, once Joey becomes a love interest, the emotional significance of all other couplings goes right out the window–but I like them. They’re sweet, they treat Andie and Pacey’s relationship with the exact right amount of significance, and Andie looks completely fabulous. She’s totally fixed all of her crazy hair issues.
- If you’re having trouble finding the final montage at the end of the episode (which is severely truncated on Hulu and Amazon), here it is. It’s like a perfect fan video for the series that hits all the iconic moments, from the pilot to D/J’s first kiss to–yes–the infamous cry face! And it all ends, of course, with Pacey and Joey sailing into the sunset together. As it should be. ❤
It’s so hard to pick. The Jen scenes packed a bigger emotional wallop than I remembered, especially Grams’ sweet-yet-ominous goodbye to her. But our last highlight was always going to be a P/J moment, and I pick the food fight. It’s such a perfect encapsulation of the humor, physical chemistry, and ease that makes their love for each other feel so real.
Most cringeworthy moment:
Aside from Jen’s declaration that the meaning of her life is to resolve the love triangle (the same one she once called herself the “roadkill” of), it would have to be Dawson’s pseudo-philosophical ramblings about how birth is the opposite of death and “Life… has no opposite” [and then even more ludicrously claims, “Leave it to me to overthink it.” —Nerdy Spice]. He sounds like the parody twitter account of a freshman philosophy major.
Nice knowing you, Dawson. I hope Spielberg appreciates your narcissism and would-be profundity more than the love of your life did.
Best 90s soundtrack moment:
There were so many amazing musical callbacks in this finale that I felt the need to bring this category back. “Say Goodnight, Not Goodbye” is certainly a DC classic (so much that they used it twice). But I also want to highlight “Hands” by Jewel, which is not only the most 90s song that ever 90ed, but is also sort of a deep cut. It played in “Full Moon Rising,” an episode that only the most devoted DC fans would probably remember. I remember when I watched the finale for the first time, I was like, “I totally thought that the ‘Hands’ montage in season two was iconic, but I didn’t think anyone else did!”
Fourteen, for all the meta-commentary and several, ultimately subversive uses of the word “soulmate.” We would expect nothing less.
Thank you for reading! We hope you’ve had as much fun with this re-watch as we did. 🙂
Final thoughts here.
Previous installment here.