Dawson's constructed reality falls apart in "Discovery"--his mother's in an affair with her co-anchor, his girlfriend's not the virgin he thought she was, and his best male friend's having sex with the English teacher at Capeside High. Considering Dawson judges everyone's worth as it measures up to his own life, he doesn't react well to the sudden changes in his life. Upon learning that Joey kept the affair secret from him, he pushes his best friend and future soulmate out of his life. With Jen, he says the right things but his accusatory and judgmental glances reveal his true opinion of the girl he described as perfect throughout the series. With his mother, he gives off "I want to murder you" vibes outside of Leery manor before he marches off to Joey's without so much as a hint that he knows his mother's secret.
Joey explains Dawson's behavior to Jen when she solicits advice from the forehead's dearest and oldest friend. Dawson's the classic only child who pouts when things don't go his way (pout's putting it nicely, Joey). More so, Dawson's as inexperienced as a teenager can be. According to Joey, he looked like a fourth grader until his puberty hit within the last twelve months. Jen's experience in New York threatens him. Dawson's not so much a puritan from the 18th century as he's afraid of his own inexperience. And, he's a teenager. Though he might have the vocabulary of a graduate student, he's just a teenager whose unable to deal with his emotions in a mature, adult way. The boy's only 15 years old. So, yes, he has impossible expectations for the people in his life but he's an idiot teenager who reacts with his heart rather than his reason because his brain's still developing those mature responses. Dawson retreats into himself because he cannot talk to anyone around him.
Jen tries to discuss her past with him in an honest way because she honestly has pleasant regard for him. Her attempts are met with those accusatory and judgmental glances. Dawson's anger stems from his feelings toward his mother as much as it stems from the truth of Jen's past; however, maybe Dawson's angry at her because she rejected his sexual advances earlier. His behavior was a response to Pacey's admittance that he's in an affair with Tamara. Dawson tries to remove his girlfriend's bra but she stops him. The moment passes without incident though, so it's a weak argument.
Sex as taboo is actually the theme of the episode. Pacey wonders why the classic literature books portray sex negatively. In books, characters who have sex either die or become ostracized from their society. In this show, the same happens or will happen to those who have sexual intercourse with the opposite sex. Pacey argues that sex is a beautiful thing between two humans, which it is; however, perception and context usually creates trouble for sexual partners. Pacey and Tamara are doomed because he's a student and she's a teacher. Gale's adultery betrays the vows and laws of marriage (Dawson's Creek, of course, never portrayed sex positively though, even when it was perfectly legal). I'm never sure what the writers intended during these episode because their convictions lack...conviction. Pacey's criticisms of the portrayals of sex supposedly reflects two of the arcs but the circumstances and context couldn't be more different from the novels Pacey uses as evidence to support his argument. But maybe it's as simple as, times haven't changed.
The resolution in "Discovery" is non-existent. The only relationship resolved in the 44 minutes is Dawson and Joey's relationship. This isn't a criticism--just an observation. The adultery arc will pay off in the very next episode. Dawson and Jen will talk in that episode too. This episode's about tearing apart Dawson's happy and oblivious existence but it also begins to build towards a romance between Joey and Dawson. Their scene at the end's an elaborate metaphor about how they were together in a past life, and Joey wonders if they could be together again. In time, Potter.
Jon Harmon Feldman wrote the episode; Steve Miner directed it.
UP NEXT: "Hurricane"--several characters take refuge in the Leery house as a giant hurricane moves inland. Mitch learns of his wife's infidelity, Dawson acts like an ass towards Jen and Pacey's brother wants to ask Tamara out. "Hurricane" is the first episode I ever saw.
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