Dawson's Creek S1E2: Dance
It ain't easy being Joey Potter
Oh heyyyy. We’re back!
Firstly, thank you guys so much for your lovely comments following the first issue of CreekBeat. Many of you reported enjoying last week’s recap despite never actually having seen a single episode of Dawson’s Creek. This is exactly the kind of energy we appreciate, nay, we encourage.
We may be living in challenging times, but you can count on us to focus on the stuff that really matters.
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The story so far:
Bedtime penguin pals Dawson & Joey refused to let their hormones affect their longstanding friendship. Joey continued to deny her secret feelings for Dawson. Dawson thirsted after new girl Jen so much that Capeside Electronics renamed their humidifier the Leery-3000.
Pacey kissed his teacher Tamara (that’s Miss Jacobs to the likes of us), Grams hinted at Jen’s mysterious past, & Joey spied Gail with the Good Hair cheating on Mitch with her colleague, Bob.
No bold font for you, Bob. Bad Glen Coco.
Interior. Dawson’s bedroom. Night:
Dawson’s movie calls for Joey and Pacey to kiss, and let’s just say Meryl Streep and Daniel Day Lewis can sleep easy tonight because method acting this is not.
Joey isn’t keen on kissing Pacey and Jailbait isn’t happy about it either. Unfortunately, Dawson the Director is preoccupied with kissing problems of his own. He wants to kiss Jen, and since he has no idea WHAT HAPPENED IN NEW YORK he assumes this might be a bigger deal than it actually is.
There’s been a significant downturn in the quality of films being screened on Movie Night. Last week Joey was treated to E.T. but now she’s being forced to watch Dawson’s Swamp Creature movie, a film that she is actually in. The way things are going I wouldn’t be surprised if next week’s feature is an animated short of Clippy from Windows 97 performing a dramatic reading from She’s All That.
The most distressing thing about this exchange is not Dawson’s continued lack of sensitivity by talking about kissing Jen in-front of Joey, but instead, it’s the creepy AF lifelike replica of Joey that he’s designed and created for the decapitation scene.
Joey-Doll is a MAJOR part of this week’s episode, so as horrifying as it may be, keep it/her in mind as the story progresses.
Mr Gold grudgingly relents and allows Dawson to join his film class, on the condition that Dawson STFU and not participate, so guess who’s winning Capeside Teacher of the Year? It’s not Tamara, who firmly tells Pacey to go away when he tries to talk to her about their kiss last week.
Pacey: Your tongue was in my mouth.
Dawson ruins Pacey, Jen and Joey’s lunch by stomping over to announce his film is behind schedule. FFS. I’m starting to think Dawson should rename this movie ‘Behind Schedule’ because that’s all we ever hear about it.
Joey and Pacey use this opportunity to remind Dawson how much they hate kissing each other. Spielberg Jr has the perfect solution. Joey’s character will be killed off and replaced by Jen, leaving real-life Joey to work behind the camera with Dawson.
This subtext of Dawson’s words are obvious to everyone but Joey, who I’m pretty sure only heard Dawson say ‘back with me where you belong’, whilst the rest of us heard ‘I’ll replace you with Jen’.
In English class - the only class that Pacey seems to attend - Tamara has her very own Gretchen Weiner ‘we should all just totally stab Caesar’ moment as she rips through Wuthering Heights, deriding Catherine & Heathcliff as losers who should know better than to embark on a doomed romance. The close-up on Pacey and his Lego-man haircut is pretty heart-breaking as he realises that Tamara clearly regrets their kiss.
Nellie: Will this be on the test?
Meanwhile, in the only other class that takes place in Capeside High (‘lunch’ is not a class), God bless Dawson, who is fighting all his natural instincts by keeping his mouth shut while Cliff bangs on about the plot of his movie. Cliff’s movie sounds boring AF, which isn’t surprising given that it’s about one of Cliff’s football games. Props for the synergy, Cliff, but this shiz isn’t making it to Sundance.
Cliff: Remember, we want the audience asking, ‘can he win the big game’?
Me: *bursts breathlessly into own room* “Jake from Scandal was in Dawson’s Creek!”
At this point I’d like to take a moment to pause and reflect on the fact that Scott Foley’s movie is called ‘Helmets of Glory’. In unrelated news, the 1998 Boston Film Festival was sponsored by Grindr.
Just when things couldn’t get any worse for Dawson, Jake from Scandal asks Jen to the school dance as his date, and she says yes. Joey’s lowkey savagery is on point here, as she consoles Dawson by telling him with a shrug ‘they move fast in New York’.
It’s at this point that things take a turn. Naturally, this weirdness takes place in Leery Manor, and begins with Joey climbing through Dawson’s bedroom window. Dawson is downstairs asking Mitch if he knows where Dawson’s video camera is.
Mitch replies that it’s on his bedside table, because he’s been making sextapes with Gail. Move over, Helmets of Glory.
You’d think that would be weird enough, but no, we’re just getting started. Dawson finds Mitch’s transparency about his sex life gross, but decides to take advantage of Papa Leery’s experience by asking for advice on how to kiss.
Mitch, man of the world, encourages Dawson to practice kissing by sticking his tongue down the fake throat of Joey-Doll. Which Dawson does, with Mitch’s coaching, and Joey watches, unseen, from the landing. Joey drifts off into a trance at this point, imagining that Dawson is kissing her, rather than her Paper Mache doppelganger.
Dawson successfully achieves whatever it was he was trying to do, and merrily skips off to find his camera/take a cold shower. Joey notices a landline extension cord leading to a closet. That’s right. WHILST all this is happening, Gail is conducting phone sex with Bob from work, despite the fact that her husband, son, son’s best friend, and son’s entanglement (Joey-Doll) are all in the house.
Naturally this does not sit well with Miss Potter, who is the moral compass of Capeside despite only seconds earlier having brought herself silently to orgasm on the Leery’s staircase, and she coldly tells Gail that she knows about her affair, before leaving to join Dawson on set.
Joey’s day improves slightly following her on-screen death, although she isn’t quite out of the woods yet. Joey-Doll’s decapitation results in blood being splattered over Joey, so she heads off to clean up where is joined by Jen, who compliments her breasts, before telling Joey she intends to make it difficult for Joey not to like her.
Jen doesn’t get much to do in this episode, although her on-screen kiss with Pacey results in Dawson throwing a hissy fit and striking the smooch from the script. There isn’t any time for anyone to question this madness because they’re (you’ve guessed it) BEHIND SCHEDULE.
Cut to the night of the dance, and a depressed Dawson complains to Joey that Jen is on a date with Cliff, of all people.
Dawson: What did Cliff do that I didn’t?
Joey: HE ASKED HER OUT!
Having seen one too many movies, Dawson decides to go to the dance and get the girl, and Joey’s going with him. Joey Potter is a goddamn SAINT.
As Dawson changes into his best waistcoat, Joey spies Gail giving Mitch a lingering kiss goodbye, because apparently Gail can’t do anything without Joey floating in like the Ghost of Christmas Future.
Gail and Joey talk woman au woman and even though Joey’s logic-train veers a little of the rails, her point is obvious. To everyone but Gail.
Joey: My mom died.
Gail: Go on…
Joey: …Because my dad cheated on her.
Gail: Keep going…
Joey: And cheating is…
Gail: This simply makes no sense.
Jen is at the dance, engaging in some light hearted banter with Jake from Scandal, but it’s clear she’s just looking for friends and Scott Foley is looking for a beat. I’m as big of a Savage Garden fan as the next 90’s disco DJ, and although Cliff might be rivalling Lena Dunham for ‘starring, written by, produced by, directed by’ credits for Helmets of Glory, a natural dancer he is not.
I’m pretty sure nothing untoward will happen, because these school dances are usually chaperoned by responsible teachers - oh. It’s Miss Jacobs. Spoke too soon.
I suppose we should be grateful that Tamara is at least putting up the pretence of acknowledging her al-fresco frisson with Pacey was wrong. If this were Riverdale not only would Tamara and Pacey have consummated their relationship by now, they would have also developed an addiction to jingle jangle and joined a cult that levitates babies, led by Chad Michael Murray.
Jen and Cliff are dancing, which sends Dawson into a complete jealous spiral. He grabs Joey and heads onto the dancefloor, despite freely admitting that he has no real plan in mind, other than to show Jen ‘what she’s missing’.
Jen, bless her heart, doesn’t know Dawson well enough yet to be able to identify when he’s entering full on douche-mode. He has a disastrous encounter with Cliff and Jen mid-dance, before following Jen to the bathroom only to get stroppy with her for daring to even be at the dance with Cliff in the first place.
Dawson and Joey have their own awkward slow-dance moment, before they return to their table for yet another Depressed Dawson monologue about how much he likes Jen and why they’re destined to be together despite the fact that he barely knows her.
Dawson: She could be you. Except she’s Jen.
Dawson makes a dramatic show of cutting in to Jen and Cliff’s dance, a move pulled straight from the movies surely designed to melt his leading lady’s heart and send her cascading into his arms. Since he’s wooing Jen with all the finesse of a rabid velociraptor I wonder if there’s a way we can blame Spielberg for this.
Dawson: May I cut in?
Dawson walks home with Joey and Pacey, managing to blame them both for his actions, oblivious to the fact that both of the people he claims to be closest to are clearly nursing their own heartbreaks. Joey’s lowkey savagery makes a welcome return when Dawson laments that he ‘lost Jen’ when she responds simply, ‘You never had her’.
It’s all just a little bit of history repeating for Pacey, who again finds Tamara lying in wait (and yes, I am using predatory language on purpose) on his walk home. Tamara takes accountability for their kiss, which is the most sensible thing that’s happened relationship-wise all episode, until YET AGAIN she ends up making out with Pacey after he tells her that she’s not responsible because he kissed her back.
It’s time for Jen & Dawson’s showdown. Jen’s understandably angry, demanding to know what Dawson wants from her. Dawson reverts to tried and tested wheedling-mode, apologising and explaining that he was worried about being friend-zoned. Jen explains that she moved to Capeside for a fresh start, and that she doesn’t want to rush things.
Dawson may not have scored the perfect kiss, but he ends the episode enjoying his first real slow dance. Oh, and Joey’s heart implodes at the sight of it. But that’s for next week.
Tamara stands alone on the bridge, watching Pacey leave. Beneath her, the creek water begins to bubble like a summer spring. Tamara looks at her watch and sighs. Why do the nights always end this way? She watches patiently as a familiar figure emerges from the water, pulling itself up onto the bridge, dripping wet, until it comes to stand face to face with her.
“We can’t keep doing this, Tamara”. Miss Jacobs says, removing a tissue from her purse to dry her face. “He has to know the truth, or you have to end it”.
“I know”. Tamara sighs. “But ancient curses can be complicated to explain to mortals at the best of times, and you’ve seen the state of his homework. I’m not sure he’d ever understand”.
“That we are two spirits cursed to spend eternity trapped in the same body?” Miss Jacobs considers, “No. Probably not”.
Miss Jacobs looks overhead to the night sky, “We need to merge again before sunlight" Tamara nods, “But I want you to meet someone first. Whilst I was in the water, I encountered the severed head of a teenage girl, and she had the most interesting story to tell about the Leery family who live at the end of the creek…”.