#411-“The Tao of Dawson”
Grams can’t date without Dawson prying into her business. The theme of this episode and the next episode is: the characters have too much time on their hands. Dawson worried Grams dating a dying Brooks would devastate her, but Grams decided happiness for a brief time with Brooks means more than no happiness without him. Self-absorbed Dawson related Grams’ words to him and Gretchen. I forgot that I don’t like the actual Gretchen/Dawson relationship. The writers made it the only girl more important to Dawson once than Joey was. Dawson scoffed at the idea of every kiss/relationship acting as an epic event, but the writers didn’t know how to make an event other than epic.
A letter young Dawson wrote to freshman Gretchen brought them together at the end. Earlier, Gretchen picked up her car from her ex, played by Christian Kane; however, more important than the car was Gretchen’s epiphany that she needs a Dawson in her life—not a Nick. Dawson asked permission of Pacey to date his sister, which caused Pacey to try hard to sabotage it for Dawson. Dawson noted he would’ve taken things better if Pacey told him about his feelings for Joey last year. The writers worked hard to justify Dawson/Gretchen as a couple. It was unnecessary. Gretchen’s a placeholder. I wish they stayed friends.
#412-“The Te of Pacey”
Pacey experienced a lousy birthday party again. He referenced the party he threw for himself in season two. His party in season happened in warm weather. His birthday party in this episode happens in January 2001. Again, there’s more Gretchen/Dawson angst between the two. Gretchen, after feeling sure in “The Dao of Dawson,” doesn’t feel sure anymore. Joey spazzed about it. Pacey cared more about receiving a rejection from his fallback school because it affirmed his family’s forecast of him as a failure in life. Pacey’s father, who’s a consistent shithead, suddenly turned face and saved Pacey’s birthday party. Despite taking his son down whenever he could, he revealed his love for him via the fireworks gift, tracing it back to Pacey’s 10th birthday when that’s all he wanted, and how Pacey’s happiness filled him, his father, with happiness.
Pacey foreshadows his senior prom meltdown by telling Joey of his fears about growing apart. Joey’s bound for academic glory in college while Pacey’s bound to stay in town as a loser and a failure. Joey never loses faith or love for her guy. She’s completely invested in their relationship. I’ll have more to write about what drives them apart after “Promicide.”
Jane Lynch guest starred as Pacey’s mother. The family party lacked a third sister. Pacey mentioned three sisters in season two or season three. Toby and Jen showed up at the party. Toby instantly insulted Jack (because he likes him). Jen’s still the best whenever Drue’s not involved in her story.
Dawson responded to Gretchen’s line about meeting with her friends by acknowledging that meeting the new friends is the most awkward part of a new relationship, or something to that effect. Dawson never dated anyone with different friends than his. Jen knew no one but Dawson, Joey, and Pacey when they dated. Joey didn’t have friends besides Dawson, Pacey, and Jen. Gretchen’s friends were under-written and half-assed, so Dawson was right about the awkwardness. His age dominates the evening. His sexual inexperience leaves him out of the hip college talk about the stamina of college aged males, their ability to return to action immediately after finishing, as well as lady discussion about loser lists which makes Dawson feel like she wants him only because he’s safe. The evening’s terrible for him, while for Joey and Pacey they’re unconsciously closer to sex. The Drue/Rich Girl storyline existed to force thoughts of sex on Joey and Pacey. Drue and Rich Girl slept together the first night they met. They like each other, but Drue doesn’t, and who cares because it’s Drue. Pacey and Joey discussed sex at the end to set up the momentous next episode. Unfortunately, Joey needs Dawson’s permission before she lets her fears go and has sex with Pacey.
I don’t like “Hopeless.” I completely forgot the episode prior to re-watching it. Twenty three episodes was/is tough for writers. Also, Dawson found Brooks on the floor at the end. Brooks evolved from curmudgeonly boat owner to Dawson’s film savior and Grams’ first passionate romance since Gramps’ death in nine episodes.
#414-“A Winter’s Tale”
How about that bear killing Dawson Leery at the end of the second act? Oh, sorry, wrong The Winter’s Tale. Brooks, a man that didn’t trust Dawson to paint his fence (though his reluctance to compliment Dawson and his icy and critical way towards him hid the soft center of Brooks, because he was too proud to admit he needed people in his life), trusted Dawson to make the final decision about his life. Dawson needs to make a life-changing choice, which, amazingly, parallels Joey needing to make a different life-changing choice.
Their phone call’s baffling. It worked. Baffling’s not the right word. I’ll use strange. It’s a strange phone call. Dawson explains what Joey needed to hear, but he’s talking about deciding whether his mentor lives or dies and Joey’s deciding whether she wants to wait to sleep with Dawson for the first time or sleep with Pacey. Earlier, Joey asked Pacey why he stayed with her for nine months if he doubted Joey’s desire to have sex with him. Pacey could’ve asked the same question. If she wanted to wait for Dawson, why did she choose Pacey? The whole sex storyline’s bad nonsense. I dislike how much Joey considers Dawson (meaning I dislike how much the writers wrote Joey to consider Dawson). What prevented the writers from moving past it? Sure, Williamson told the press in 1997 that Dawson’s Creek centered around two soul mates. He left the show. It wasn’t his oyster. It was their oyster. They kept at Dawson and Joey. Thankfully, Williamson came back for the last episode to do what the writers should’ve done seasons earlier. I can’t remember whether Pacey learned about Joey’s phone call with Dawson. He probably did.
The story highlight of the episode belonged to Jack and Jen, the two best characters in the season. Did the writers reflect on season four Jack and find him bland and uninteresting? Toby, who didn’t appear in the episode, ragged on Jack about being a frat bro. Jack’s the antithesis of frat bro; however, the writers make him into a frat bro throughout season five. They gave up. I don’t know why. Season four Jack’s awesome. The scene between him and Jen was the sweetest of the season. Jack confessed his fear that he’d end up alone, that he’d only be someone’s brother or friend, that he’d have no one who’d love everything about him, and that he’d never love anyone as much as he loves Jen. Jen cried. Kerr Smith and Michelle Williams, in one scene, out-acted everybody in the history of the series previous to that.
Dreadful episode. The writers couldn’t repeat “The Longest Day,” so they came up with “Four Stories.” “Four Scary Stories,” which I wrote about in 2010, follows in season five. It’s more dreadful than this episode.
Joey lied about having sex with Pacey when Dawson asked because her and Dawson suck. Dawson sucks for asking. Joey sucks for lying. Dawson’s Creek is, really, the story of a mentally ill teenage boy. He experiences delusions of grandeur, he’s unhealthily obsessed with his best female friend, he thinks he controls her, possesses her, he believes the world revolves around him. Good Christmas Dawson suffered from referential mania—“in very rare cases the patient imagines that everything happening around him is a veiled reference to his personality and existence. He excludes real people from the conspiracy, because he considers himself to be so much more intelligent than other men.” There I go again. Dawson’s question and Joey’s answer ruined the genuinely sweet exchange between them about being best friends regardless of location and spouse. These characters suck.
At this point in the series, Joey’s closer and closer to Saint Joey. She’s insufferable in “Four Stories.” It worsened next season and the season after. I didn’t like either Pacey or Joey in the first story, and especially not the writing. I compared it to Ephram and Amy in Everwood. The morning after they have sex for the first time they cuddle and snuggle, and then they return to their separate homes. Amy ate breakfast and smiled. Ephram called her later because he felt so close to her. It’s wonderful. Post-sex for Joey and Pacey is atrocious. Bring on “Promicide.”
Jen’s story with the therapist, her punishment for drinking on the trip, sets her up for one of my least favorite episodes in the series (“Eastern Standard Time”). And Dawson learned he inherited a lot of money from Brooks. Also, Dawson needed to make peace with Brooks’ death in his most bipolar scene since “The Longest Day.” Brooks became a romantic and cinematic hero by the end of his arc, but he began as a cautionary figure for Dawson if he didn’t learn to move past Joey/Pacey and forgive them. Dawson. The middle stretch of season four is almost intolerable. More terrible nonsense is ahead. Dawson and the money will be a thing for Joey and college. There’s a pregnancy episode that’s in the top five Dawson nonsense episodes. Ah, it’s all terrible.
Part 4 soon.