Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dawson's Creek & Buffy, the Vampire Slayer Day 3: "The Longest Day" & "Doppelgangland"


“The Longest Day”

-Dawson learned the truth in this episode. Did “The Longest Day” fundamentally alter the lives of viewers? I know I revered this episode when I first watched it in summer 2003. As a stupid teenager I sympathized with Dawson. As an oft-bearded man I sympathize with Joey, and Pacey. Every character, except for Jen, Will, and Mitch, treat Pacey like he’s a hell-demon that deserves to feel the absence of love, because hell-demons don’t deserve love. Guess what? Dawson Leery is the hell-demon, an incubus, a near-psychotic with control issues and who controls Joey through guilt and fear. Their scene in Act IV is insane. Dawson feels he has a claim on Joey because of the soul mate belief, and because they were each other’s first loves. Andie, too, believes it. Dougie believes it. Dawson unleashes unholy hell on Joey for daring to feel for Pacey Witter. Dawson asked Pacey to take care of her after he, Dawson, rejected her advances in the season three premiere. Pacey and Joey formed a bond, a connection, and he bought a wall for her. The Dawson of it all, which I rambled about yesterday, lasted awhile in the series. After Dawson shouts words at her about losing him forever, about her losing self-worth if she decides to be with Pacey (because Pacey only wants her body, he believes), she walks to where Pacey sits, his True Love docked a few feet from him, while his true love stands before him to end it. Pacey heard Dawson shout he wants sex and nothing else from Joey; he heard from Doug how he’ll end up alone because Joey will never feel what she feels for Dawson; and Andie asks Pacey how stupid he is to mess with the destined soul mates. It is a bizarre and insane episode, broken up in Rashomon style, allowing for four different perspectives in the episode; however, it’s not as complex as the style of the episode makes it. The drama in “The Longest Day” is basic for many teens. Hurt feelings, people pairing off at the expense of someone’s broken heart, tension within a group, and yada yada. Dawson’s insane verbal vomit that’s harsh enough to make Joey cry comes from a hurt, wounded place in his mind. Dawson’s Creek, especially in Williamson’s seasons, and in the third, depicted self-aware and sharply articulate teenagers who still couldn’t communicate how they felt or know how to act sometimes because they’re teenagers. One may possess the eloquence of Shakespeare’s Petruchio but one has not the experience nor the maturity nor the specific eloquence with which to deal with the girl you love choosing someone else instead of you. Dawson’s writing is poor. The writers hit the wrong beats over and over. Joey’s more a possession, an object, to Dawson than soul mate. He wants her when he can’t have her. The writers gave him a victim complex. Jen and Joey conversed about why the woman in a triangle becomes the villain. Joey points out she’ll hurt one of them. Jen states that men usually depict the woman who wrong them as the villain. Of course, the series is still filtered through Dawson’s worldview. Dawson’s the director, the creator, the shaper of the narrative, and he treats the soul mate distinction as a thing of medieval Arthurian lore, as the holy grail, so when he finds it is his by rites of the Lord God above. Will told Andie the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice during their overwhelming first date on the creek, suggested by Dawson, for thematic parallel reasons. Orpheus lost Eurydice and then went to Hades to rescue her. He won her freedom from Hades, but he could not look back at her while they traveled home. Orpheus, fearing she’d disappear, looked back, and she disappeared into “thin air.” Will needed to sit Dawson next to Andie in the rowboat for the story. The writers identified Dawson as Orpheus and Andie as Orpheus. Both don’t want to lose their Eurydices to Hades. Hades is Pacey, also known as the hell-demon of “The Longest Day.” Dana Barrata’s script succeeds as a tragic love story--it’s doubly tragic: Dawson, Joey, and Pacey are alone at the end. No, my mistake: Jen comforts Dawson of all folk; so, Dawson, who threatened Pacey and Joey with a lifetime of loneliness, receives comfort from his friend, while the other miserably break apart and end up alone. Fiction follows a long tried and true tradition of the villain triumphing before the end. Indeed, Dawson triumphs in keeping his former best friend and always soul mate apart, but it’s temporary. True Love prevails, after all.

-I would’ve liked a passing reference to a Chekhov short story, “About Love,” in which Alehin tells a story about a woman he loved, that culminates in an epiphany he experienced about love. The library serves as a recurring set. None of the characters read a book or a story while there.

-I adore season three Jen Lindley. She’s the best. She’s absolutely the best. Kevin Williamson probably disliked the cheerleader arc, but I adore it. I like Jen and Henry together. I love how chill Jen is. Her and Jack hang out drama-free under the stars on a hot summer night. Her and Pacey hook up drama-free for a spell of episodes in season three until Dawson and Joey ruin that.

-True Love does not prevail. A storm destroys the boat in “The Two Gentlemen of Capeside,” #403. Dawson is cast as the brokenhearted selfless hero.

-Will was the lead, I guess, in the failed spin-off of Dawson’s Creek, Young Americans. Ian Somerhalder was in the main cast with Kate Bosworth. Michelle Monoghan and Charlie Hunnam appeared in guest roles. Kerry Ehrin wrote the third episode. Ehrin later wrote for Friday Night Lights and co-created Bates Motel. I liked Will. I don’t know why the writers didn’t bring the character back in season four. The WB cancelled the series after eight episodes. One last fun fact: the series preceded Dawson’s Creek in devoting many parts of an episode to product placement.

-Anyone looking to excel at passive-aggression may study Dawson in the scene when he tells Joey how The Last Picture show ended. Ah, Dawson, what a villain.

“Doppelgangland”

-Willow had ‘one of those days.’ You know that day. Nothing’s right. Everyone around you walks all over you, you feel, or makes fun of you as they never do. ‘One of those days’ is more about you than them, though. Any other episode Willow wouldn’t have felt insulted by ‘Ol’ Reliable.’ Her powers increase as a witch—she’s spinning pencils in the air. Her human powers are the same. Snyder and Percy run over her. At least with Anya Willow takes with her the chicken feet when she leaves the spell area.

-“Doppelgangland” is the lone sequel to “The Wish.” Anya mourns her lost vengeance demon power. Anya’s line about failing mail and being 1100 years old crack me up all these years later. Joss Whedon wrote and directed the episode. He made it look easy.

-Adorably sweet scene when Xander, Buffy, and Giles see Willow alive and well. The existence of two Willows creates good dramatic irony. Whedon’s Shakespearean admiration subtly comes through in the aforementioned scene as well as the scene in which Angel breaks the terrible news to Buffy.

-Anya and Willow working together on the spell that accidentally brings Vamp Willow to Sunnydale, instead of sending Anya to Wish-verse, struck me. I thought of “Triangle,” a season five episode in contrast to them working together. Anya and Willow don’t bond, but, you know, Whedon didn’t know the arc of the Anya character beyond. Actually, I’m certain he did. This dude pitched five seasons of Firefly and Dollhouse to FOX.

-The episode is Shakespeare-lite. Identity swaps and role reversals. The characters do not dance at the end of the episode, though. Shakespeare’s comedies do end with a ‘flourish.’ Every actor had the chance to act as his or her character’s opposite. Sarah act as Faith and the Buffybot; Xander played vamp Xander and double Xander (who is completely lucky, successful, and not a renter in his childhood home, because he owns his own place); Tony Head played Giles the teenager in “Band Candy”; Boreanaz played Angelus.

-Cordelia and Wesley. Wesley saved Cordelia from Vamp Willow. Alexis Denisof nailed Wesley from his first episode until his last. One day I might write a long essay about Wesley. Wesley’s my favorite character in all the Whedonverse. I love dopey, nerdy, awkward Wesley as I love dark, scarred throat, scruffy Wesley in ANGEL and all that happens between the extremes of his characterization. Season 1 of ANGEL Wesley taught me to dance. The character’s not different from season 3 Wesley. Anyway, yes, I learned to dance by watching “She.” I lost to my friend, Bryan Jawn, in a dance contest at senior year homecoming 2004. Cordy and Wesley kiss in “Graduation Day.” They’re co-workers until Wesley kidnaps Connor, and her body is hijacked by Jasmine before Wesley returns to Angel Investigations. Season 5 wipes those memories. “Origin” restores the memories, in a great, great episode. Cordy and Wes share a sweet and tender reunion in “You’re Welcome,” ANGEL’s 100th episode. It all matters in Whedon’s stories.


-“This world’s no fun.” “You noticed that too.” Oh, the Willows. I’d hug them both. Joss makes storytelling seem easy. Willow can’t let her doppelganger die. Her doppelganger is her. Joss told a story about duality in a fun, witty story about alternate dimensions, playacting, and bad days, but it's sneaky in its duality and identity theme. Teenager concentrate on fixed, singular identities. What’s cool then is what they’ll follow and what they’ll be. Duality implies two halves. We contain multitudes. By the end Willow recognizes the power within herself—with the help of a sad, wandering, and aimless vampire from an alternate hell dimension. She's both and more, "and a little gay", and that's okay.

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.