Joey didn’t tell Dawson the truth about sleeping with Pacey. Pacey told Gretchen. Dawson told Gretchen he knew Joey didn’t sleep with pacey because she told him so. Gretchen told Pacey the truth. Pacey didn’t lash out at Joey. Gretchen stayed with Dawson despite his inability to move on from Joey and the idea he and her would lose their virginity together. Pacey continues to put up with Joey’s nonsense, and I wanted to close my eyes to wish the writers thought of anything else but this terrible plot line. It dominated “Mind Games.” Joey argued, “I can’t hurt Dawson more than I already have.” Terrible. If anyone knew someone so hung up on someone else, it wouldn’t last. Dawson and Joey are the worst.
I blocked the episode out of my head. Well, not blacked. I forgot about it. I remember certain moments from the next trio of atrocious episodes, but I remembered nothing from “Mind Games.” I may not have remembered because it’s all suck. 42 minutes of suck. Some time ago I wrote that season five marked the decline of this show. Oh no. I was wrong. This stretch of episodes compares to the worst of the last two seasons.
The episode in which Dawson gives Joey $15,000 to attend Worthington College, a no-strings-attached gift of his for her, which he gives after he declares he’s not sure he’ll ever be okay with Joey sleeping with her boyfriend; however, he’s sure giving her the money’s the right thing. Dawson Leery is a villain. “Admissions” hangs on Joey’s emotional confession to Dawson about lying to him. Joey explained that their friendship felt right after their night walking around Capeside together, and she didn’t want to ruin it. What did the writers discuss in the room? These characters didn’t realize dating different people meant having sex with those different people?
“Admissions” focuses on the Joey/Dawson dynamic again, and the college admissions anxiety—two of the weakest spots in this now miserable season. Dawson’s dream school accepted him, but he’ll leave it next season to be with—gasp—Joey and to take vengeance on ice cream for murdering his father. Joey never experienced financial difficulties again, though the $15k only covered the first year. The writers needed to show how much more Dawson can offer than Pacey.
I noted in my last post that Joey’s devotion to Pacey seemed unwaveringly clear. There’s another scene in this episode when she affirms her love for Pacey, but Pacey’s sort of defeatist response to Joey’s admission about lying to Dawson foreshadows the epic break-up in “Promicide.” I remembered Joey and Pacey together as more stable, with less bullshit, than Joey and Dawson together. The writers were obsessed with Joey/Dawson, though. Early in the scene, Dawson was what caused a fight. He’s still everywhere.
“Admissions” also hits on the promising places Joey and Dawson will go and where Pacey won’t go. Of course, he’ll go where his friends are next season, because not being accepted to college doesn’t mean one needs to stay in one’s home town until death, making the hours of melodrama ahead superfluous.
#418-“Eastern Standard Time”
Why didn’t Jen take Jack with her to New York? Why Joey? I don’t like this episode. It was Senior Ditch Day. Jen traveled to New York to face her father. Dawson and Gretchen traveled to nowhere in Maine. Dawson then wanted to have sex only because Joey had sex. Gretchen called him out on it, and Dawson was left without sex and a plan for the flat tire. Pacey began to unravel thanks to John Barleycorn, also known as Drue Valentine, the ultimate plot device in season four. Drue was never a character, friend. Later, Pacey shouts at Doug about how being drunk and in the back of a police car is his life. No college means a life of alcoholism and incarceration.
This gosh darn show had a clear way out of the Joey/Pacey relationship. Joey can’t move on from Dawson. Pacey’s forever the second priority. Pacey politely breaks things off with Joey. Joey and Dawson still get their moment together in “Coda.” Instead they vilify Pacey. Their breakup becomes more about his aimless future than her fixation on her “soul mate.”
“Eastern Standard Time” revealed why Jen’s parents sent her to Capeside. The writers didn’t bother with Jen’s parents for the rest of the series. I liked that. I also liked Jen calling off therapy. The therapist arc had a plus: the deeper exploration of Jen. Jen actually becomes a college/student therapist next season. The highlight of that is the worst “scary story” depicted in the history of television.
I must’ve invented Dawson nonsense in my head for “Late.” I thought I remembered Dawson asking Joey about her period cycle. Joey kept her pregnancy scare a secret, though. Dawson split his concern between a crumbling relationship and the birth of his sister. No, “Late” is not a top five nonsense Dawson Leery episode. Alas.
Joey experienced a pregnancy scare with Pacey away. He lied to her about where he went and why. Gretchen told her the truth about his drunken delinquency with John Barleycorn. Pacey, of course, lied to her when he could’ve come clean. The crumbling Pacey/Joey relationship is terribly written and hard to believe. It’s forced rather than organic. The writers probably decided in June or July 2000 that the season would end with the reverse of season three. It doesn’t work. “Promicide” is a gosh darn treasure, though.
Likewise, for the same reasons as Pacey and Joey, the Gretchen/Dawson relationship is crumbling. Pacey and Gretchen parallel each other. She’s afraid of what Pacey fears. Instead of lashing out at bar owners, Gretchen applies for jobs. Dawson’s leaving, and she doesn’t want to stay stuck in Capeside. Mitch compared Dawson and Gretchen to him and Gale. Dawson and Gretchen, despite Dawson’s insistence that it’s not an epic relationship, only happened because of the letter he wrote her before her freshmen year of high school. Mitch’s “You never what can happen” applies to Joey and Dawson. Any line about destiny and fate in relationships should return one to the Dawson and Joey of it all.
I'll conclude the notes to Dawson's Creek's 4th season within the next few days.