-The sixth season of Dawson’s Creek is one of the worst seasons in television history. When it’s not filling out episodes with filler characters, filler relationships, and filler drama, which comes from the aforementioned filler characters and filler relationships, it’s an extended commercial for a product, a band, a radio show; or it’s an extended PSA about the dangers of becoming rich as a stock broker. I write of the sixth season as an entity removed from the writers’ room. The writers filled out episodes with all that nonsense. It’s a deplorable, dismal season that’s later, not redeemed because not even the risen Christ could redeem Dawson’s Creek season six, ignored by Williamson’s finale. He tossed out all the stupid wasteful plot devices disguised as characters (Audrey’s not among the stupid wasteful things of the last two seasons). Episode 8 of season six brings the gang to a No Doubt concert. 3/4s of an act is devoted to No Doubt’s performance. Joshua Jackson directed the Dr. Drew/Adam Carolla episode. “Castaways” is a giant-sized commercial for K-Mart.
-The only way to make a giant-sized commercial K-Mart palatable is by returning to the Joey-Pacey romance. Season five ignored their romantic past. The writers began writing towards Pacey and Joey again in season six. “Castaways” establishes that Joey and Pacey remembered their relationship during Pacey’s relationship with Audrey. There’s so much around the Pacey-Joey dynamic in “Castaways” that I don’t like. On its own, removed from the trappings of horrible story choices and the total K-Mart product placement, it’s a good specific story about two characters with a past together and uncertain future together. First thing in their way is Pacey’s season six arc as a stockbroker. His friends and his family don’t like the work he does, because money’s the root of all evil. His goatee represents his newfound financial success, and Joey wants him to shave it at the first chance she gets to do something that he otherwise wouldn’t do (because he feels bad for their Act 1 fight ). Second thing in their way is Eddie, an improvement over Chad Michael Murray’s Charlie but still only a tertiary character with no purpose besides standing between Joey and either Dawson or Pacey.
-Joshua Jackson and Katie Holmes sparkle together. The series finale concluded with a montage of the series set to the song “Say Goodnight, Say Goodbye” and it’s notable the lone clips from season six come from “Castaways” and another Pacey-Joey centric episode when she leaves him at a high school dance because gosh darn Eddie returned to Capeside. Pacey has his Dawson moment in the store when he wonders why Joey didn’t brood or despair after their break-up. Joey’s answer does not include the fact that Dawson always attaches their parting with a megaton of psychological trauma. The conversation is disappointingly restrained. The writers didn’t get into the reasons why Pacey broke it off in season 4. Joey mentions “valid reasons” for why they’re not together after they kissed post-goatee shave. Pacey, in a way, refers to what’s changed in his answer about whether or not he feels happy, which is that he has everything he wanted in his life for the first time. Later, of course, he repeats what Joey said to him about ‘a thousand reasons’ why they don’t work together. Creative writing teachers tell students to show and don’t tell. “Castaways” tells us Pacey and Joey don’t work and cite a thousand reasons though the only reason is that Pacey’s not her soul mate, which means he’s not Dawson—that is a major reason why the series dragged because of the Dawson of it all. I’d like to ask Kevin Williamson would he have kept Dawson around as a looming figure of doom, darkness, and insistently there whenever Joey almost moved on. The writers sort of move on from it in season six after they have sex, but the triangle returns in the finale. There’s a great late season six episode when Joey arranges Pacey and Dawson to meet after Pacey lost his money in bad stock stuff. Pacey and Dawson recognize that the only thing Joey wanted was for them to be friends again. Dawson or Pacey? It was never a question. The shaving scene is more tender and intimate than any Dawson/Joey scene in six seasons.
-Pacey suggested Joey use the words “postmodern” and “subjectivity” in her discussion about Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Joey complimented him for the suggestion, and Pacey is right. If any future English major reads these words, be advised professors dig specific literary jargon buzzwords. Gender identity in Shaw’s Pygmalion? Your professor will give you a B at minimum.
-Among the items displayed in “Castaways” for the K-Mart commercial element of the episode: low-priced VCRs, TVs, blank VHS tapes, 25% off best sellers, a collection of DVDs that can save you the hassle of reading an assigned book, camp equipment, purple pajamas, big slippers, a Boston Bruins sweat shirt, razors, shaving cream, video cameras, nachos, large cups for fountain sodas, popcorn, condoms, automobile equipment, and low, low prices.
-Police never free Pacey and Joey from the K-Mart. Freezing rain outside prevented police from helping; however, they found all they needed inside a K-Mart. Blatant native advertising is bad ending to any episode of television, especially when it’s K-Mart. K-Mart is not ‘perfection.’ Yes, Joey Potter calls it perfection. She promised to call the home office and say, “Don’t change a thing.” Season six.
-Anya describes Xander as an “utter loser” before Cordelia makes her wish. Anya, of course, asks Xander to prom. The following season they begin dating and then happiness abounds until a season six episode.
-The episode leans on binaries. Early in the episode Xander asked Buffy how she dealt with Angel’s death. Buffy said, “I have you guys.” Her friends in Sunnydale keep her from becoming Cleveland-based Buffy. Giles and Oz are binary-free. Larry already changed from bully into lovable recurring character. Giles never ceased believing in a better world. Anya’s line, “What makes you think the next world is better than this?” which is a mere paraphrase leads to Giles’ memorable “Because it has to be.”
-Every major character dies in the wish dimension. The best is Angel’s sudden dusting. He turns around, says Buffy’s name, and Buffy walks through his falling dust. It’s a hell of a sequence that does not lose impact or affect after many re-watches.
-“The Wish” happens after “Lover’s Walk”, a gem of an episode, and takes place in a unique bubble for the show. Xander and Willow kiss for the first and only time in the series in “Lover’s Walk” and deal with the fallout in “The Wish.” They never come close to dating again. It was the first “ship” of the series. Leave it to Joss to give the fans what they wanted when they don’t want it, because Buffy fans loved Oz. I adore Xander and Cordelia together, and I would’ve liked a Xander cameo after Cordelia died. Wish Willow returned in #316, an episode I will bet a small amount of pepper on will air later this week.
-I’ll leave the last words to Joss Whedon: “So, a lot of people upset that nobody learned anything in this episode. But you know what I thought was cool? Nobody learned anything in this episode! For Cordy to cause such a hideous disaster and be totally unaware of it and not learn anything just totally makes me laff. On the other hand, the audience learned (to be pedantic) the importance of Buffy's support group, so it's not like everything is the same. Meanwhilst, Willow in leather. Everyone seemed to have the same reaction I did to THAT.”