Thursday, June 2, 2011

The 2011 Summer Re-watch: Dawson's Creek "Dance" Review

Dawson and Joey hang out in Dawson's room. Joey watches dailies from Dawson's film while Dawson finishes work on fake Joey's head for his movie. The friends converse about the problematic kiss scene in the movie. Joey's repulsed by Pacey but Dawson insists the kiss happens because the movie doesn't work without the kiss--it's a love story. Joey rolls her eyes, reminds Dawson that the movie's an horror film. Dawson reminds her that it's a horror-love story with a heavy allegorical slant. In essence, Dawson's movie will parallel his life in "Dance" in ways he doesn't see yet. Dawson's Creek is many things but the series isn't subtle because the characters themselves draw the parallels between real-life and their fiction. One could admire such self-awareness from the characters. Dawson and Joey's self-awareness isn't separate from the self-awareness of Williamson's Scream characters but, for some reason, that style of storytelling isn't as effective in a coming-of-age drama.

In Dawson's Creature of the Deep rip-off, Pacey portrays a character whose also the dreaded creature murdering the residents of their sleepy small town. As Dawson pursues that special kiss from Jen, he morphs into the fictional villain of his own creation. In the case of Dawson Leery, art borrows from life. The show always portrayed Dawson as a brilliant visionary and scribe for his age, one with enough talent who made his actors feel like they weren't wasting their time for his movies; however, every screenplay he wrote reflected his real life melodramas. His writer's block coincided with a period of no drama in his life; his revelations as a storyteller came when he wanted something for personal reasons. For instance, Dawson solves the kiss problem by killing Joey off, and introducing Jen as Joey's beautiful cousin. In the mind of Dawson Leery, the ability to write and direct good film supersedes charm and good looks--Dawson believes it's key to romancing Jen. Unfortunately, he's wrong and a football player named Cliff (portrayed by Scott Foley) takes Jen to dance because he asked her and she said yes.

The news shatters Dawson's reality. The self-absorbed teen with ridiculous hair cannot free himself of the image in his head of the two teens dancing closely, flirting until that inevitable moment when their lips touch. Joey lays on his bed, disinterested and quiet, allowing Dawson to whine and whine. When Dawson wonders what Cliff did that he didn't, Joey reminds her clueless friend that he asked her out. Dawson notes that Cliff's storytelling instincts are terrible. Joey tells Dawson that she doubts Jen cares about Cliff's storytelling instincts. Dawson decides to take action so he and Joey attend the Capeside High dance.

Katie Holmes and James Van Der Beek rarely had good chemistry during the six years of Dawson's Creek, which made their fates as soulmates hard to swallow because the two never enjoyed each other's company. Maybe Holmes and the Beek loathed each other off camera...I don't know. Their dance in "Dance" is a rare piece of good chemistry between the two actors though. Katie Holmes deserves most of the credit because the way her face expresses her emotions and anticipation of a possible kiss. Her eyes sell the scene actually, with the way she looks back at Dawson as he leads her through their slow dance. Dawson and Joey nearly kiss but Jen and Cliff interrupt, and the moment's gone. Dawson transforms into the monster from his movie, forcing himself between Cliff and Jen, declaring that he and she have something special. Jen walks off in anger. Joey already disappeared, abandoning her best friend because he killed her off already. Dawson's chances with Jen are seemingly blown.

However, some way and somehow, Leery wins Jen's heart by night's end. The dude acted like an ass for the entire evening, displayed extreme amounts of passive-aggressiveness, embarrassed Jen in front of her date but yet she ends up in his arms, slow dancing on a pier. You see, Lindley IS interested in Dawson but she wants to wait to kiss him because she moved really fast in New York, and she's trying to change. Dawson apparently won her over when he stated that he couldn't be her friend and boy adventure concurrently because it's too complicated at fifteen to be both. Improbably, Dawson gets the girl. Dawson's Creek, everybody!

I understand the point of the story. Dawson went from a passive character to an active one--being active got Cliff the date with Jen. Dawson, of course, is a d-bag which is strange for a series protagonist. TelevisionWithoutPity covered this much more thoroughly that d-baginess than I will in the re-watch so read their recaps for that. Dawson also has the bad habit of creating identities for his friends. The construction of Joey's fake head is a symbol of that creation. When he talks about Jen, he only talks about her in ways that relate to him. Dawson's construction of his friends' identity will continue throughout the season. Pacey won't be spared. Joey won't spared. His parent's won't be nor Jen nor anyone else who enters his life.

Other Thoughts:

-Joey told Gale that she knows about her affair. Joey covers for Gale when Dawson nearly finds out. It seems that Joey got through to Mrs. Leery following the story she told about her mother and how her father's infidelity destroyed her. Gale comes home after dinner, without sleeping with her co-anchor. She even indulges Mitch in a re-enactment of their first kiss.

-One of the most bizarre scenes in the entire series happens in "Dance." Dawson asks for kissing advice from his father. Mitch explains what makes a kiss powerful. Dawson wants the mechanics so Mitch instructs his son to kiss the fake head of Joey. Joey watches from the upstairs then closes her eyes to imagine Dawson actually kissing her.

-Pacey and Tamara kiss once again, after Pacey furiously pursues physical contact with her during the first three acts of the episode. Pacey becomes more interesting once Tamara leaves the series in a few short episodes. One has to admire his determination though.

-Kevin Williamson referenced his own movie in the episode, and used Dawson to call the Drew Barrymore scene a rip-off of a rip-off. Yes, he wrote the episode. Steve Miner directed it.

UP NEXT: "Kiss"--Dawson tries to kiss Jen again. He also becomes a backround actor in Cliff's movie. Joey's swept off her feet. Pacey tries to have sex.


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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.