So, “Promicide” is not really a treasure. Pacey’s nonsense meltdown is a treasure. From Autumn to Ashes, the screamo band from Long Island, used Pacey’s meltdown on their track “Reflections.” Joey’s “You break my heart into a thousand pieces and you say it’s because I deserve better?” opens “Take Her to the Music Store.” “Capeside Rock” has a Dawson’s Creek heavy bridge. I was a stupid teenager. I looked to Dawson’s Creek for dating guidance. I adored the angst I heard from DC in those two songs. I wanted to watch “Promicide” more than any other episode when I began watching reruns of the show on TBS. Describing it as a treasure is an inside joke only I get. Yes, I’m an insane man.
“Promicide” is the reverse of “Anti-Prom.” Dawson lost it on Joey after he saw her and Pacey dance; Pacey lost it after seeing Joey and Dawson dance. He’s terribly mean and cruel to her. Joey’s teary “You can control how you treat me” is the line of the series. None of Pacey’s frustrations included that terrible stretch where she prioritized Dawson’s feelings over his own. Jack couldn’t bring a guy to the official prom; Jen told him no one cared, so he brought Toby, kissed him, and they started something promising, whereas Jack and Ethan had a miserable night. Pacey’s meltdown is nonsense. The breakup’s poorly structured. The execution’s a classic, but it’s for narrative convenience. Pacey acted out of character because the writers wanted to push Joey and Dawson together at the end of high school. Gretchen broke up with Dawson, telling him he’s always chasing Joey. Gretchen, too, recognized she paused her life. Their relationship, though never expressed by either character, was convenient—a distraction for both. Dawson needed someone after the huge hit his ego took when Joey chose Pacey, and Gretchen needed someone after her miscarriage. Would anyone else have enjoyed, after Gretchen broke up with Dawson, Dawson throwing the box of condoms into the water? He looked at her like he wanted to murder her in the limo. Dawson’s a regular Pozdnyshev.
I forgot that Drue put the idea of attending school in Boston in Jen’s mind. Drue sold it as, “I’ll be there.” No, he’s not. Maybe Mark Matkevitch demanded a sizable raise after season four, or Paul Stupin recognized Drue was a plot device, or that the gang can’t hang out with everyone they went to school with in college. Drue’s “Cool; a baby! Can I hold it?” followed by Mitch, Gale, Dawson, Gretchen, and Joey shouting, “No!” is my favorite Drue thing in the season.
Jen’s flirtation with jumping overboard reminded me of a chapter in a novel I love—only the possibility that she’d do it. The specifics of the scene in that novel and the scene in Dawson’s Creek are as wide and distant as Terra and Antiterra.
This would’ve worked as a season finale. The title punctuates the theme of the episode. Our high schoolers fear what happens after high school. It’s a staple of teenage melodramas or sitcoms. In TV, the future is certain. The college years will suck, and the fans will only watch the high school years.
Pacey and Joey got their breakup right in this one. After the travesty of “Promicide,” Pacey returns to himself. Worthington brings the two together for a function. Pacey thought Worthington would offer him admission to the college, but the dean of admissions only wanted Pacey to work as his deck hand. Pacey apologized to Joey for taking his insecurities out on her, for turning into the stereotypical guy that can’t deal with his girlfriend’s success, and for making her feel bad about what she accomplished. It’s much, much better than the “Promicide” nonsense. They sleep together a final time before they move on and away from each other.
Gretchen left town. Dawson, inspired by Brooks and Mitch, declared he wanted to go with Gretchen to her college. He failed. Gretchen realized he needed to be where he was rather than where she’ll be. She permanently broke up with him via yearbook message. So much for her “I’m so past this high school” thinking in “Promicide.”
Jen convinced Grams to move with her to Boston. Oh, she will. Grams will thrive more than Jack and Jen in Boston. She’ll meet Mr. Smalls. Jen and Jack did next to nothing in Boston.
Graduation episodes in teenage melodramas are the same. One of the core characters delivers a speech. The rest reminisce about high school, how far they’ve come in four years, and another character to returns to continue that nostalgia and reminiscing. Joey delivered the speech (“Take Capeside with you wherever you go!”). Andie returned, which caused Dawson and her to reflect on love and if someone would look fondly back on them and think of them as that person who taught them what mature love is (what the bleep?). Pacey remembered Andie believed in him first, so she heard the good news about his graduating. Drue and Jen failed to arrange prank (but they didn’t!) and missed the big senior party. Of course the graduation episode needed a senior party. Oh, how many parties my friends and I attended the days before graduation. The Leerys told Dawson how proud they are of him. Joey’s mother wrote a letter to her before she died specifically for graduation in which she expressed her pride in her and Bessie. Pacey’s the hero of the episode. He didn’t attend graduation. He didn’t tell anyone he passed his final. He decided he didn’t need to compare himself with his peers any longer. He got on a plane and flew the hell away from Capeside to spend the summer sailing around the Caribbean Islands. Pacey made the mistake of returning to Capeside, though.
It took 42 minutes for Dawson and Joey to say goodbye. Dawson’s leaving for USC’s film program. Neither wants to say goodbye. Neither knows how. Dawson’s Creek’s two most selfish characters want something. Joey wants Dawson to stay. Dawson wants Joey to ask him to stay. When she does, Dawson says, “Nah, I’m good. I need to leave this room and this town” (that’s a rough paraphrase). How do two soul mates part? Joey described knowing him as “pure magic.” Dawson lamented not having sex with her in “Like A Virgin.” Joey regretted lying to him about sleeping with Pacey. Blah. They watched ET. Neither can believe they’re off to college. It follows the subtle theme of the series about how, despite their sophisticated languages, the characters don’t know how to deal with what they feel. Graduating high school and starting college feels momentous. I remember the graduation parties. I remember graduation day. I remember hugging people I never wanted to leave. I loved certain folks from my class that eventually drifted away from me. It seemed unimaginable we’d lose track of each other until it happened. When I realized it had happened, it did not feel as heavy as those fresh days post-graduation; it felt natural, like, ‘yeah, this is what happens, and it’s okay. I still love that time and those people.’ Moving from high school to college is the biggest change in a young person’s life. They leave behind what they knew: a home, a school, a group of friends, etc. Many significant memories are made during those four years. People want to hold tight to what they knew. That’s how I’d like to read the Dawson/Joey stuff, but I know the writers’ goal was the romantic soul mate aspect of Dawson/Joey.
The daring thing in season five would’ve been separating the two, letting the characters exist independent of the past, as it happens in life across the world in colleges and universities. Dawson and Joey learned life goes on without them pining for each other or dating each other. Season four focused on their differing lives. They immediately unlearn it--without the context of them representing a safety net for each other. “We were supposed to be together. Why aren’t we? Uh, we need a cliffhanger.” Dawson’s goodbye to Jack and Jen pales in comparison to Joey, thus confirming the inaccuracy of my interpretation. Mitch’s goodbye to Dawson touches my soul. It’s a wonderful short scene. Pacey’s phone call to Dawson is sort of sour for the viewer, meaning me, because I don’t like Pacey needing Dawson’s approval. The whole point of “The Graduate” for Pacey was that he didn’t need anyone’s approval, but of course he needs goddamn Dawson’s. Ah…Dawson’s Creek. The last Jen/Jack/Grams scene of “Coda” is, also, wonderful.
“Coda” is where I hop off the Dawson’s Creek re-watching/re-romping. I wrote a few posts over the years about the terrible fifth season. I have no interest re-watching season five and six, two seasons Tom Kapinos said he nearly drove into the ground. He did not destroy the show’s production, but he destroyed and decimated whatever charm the series had. Season four’s solidly mediocre and it veers towards tire-fire status for a long stretch. Kapinos blamed the “four monstrous actors” at the center of the series for his hellish experience running the show and the room. Season 6 is maybe the worst season of television I’ve watched. Its lone contender is No Ordinary Family’s first season. Never watch it.
THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK WHOOOOOOAAAAHHHHH