Welcome to Up the Creek, y’all! In honor of the 15th anniversary of Dawson’s Creek – which premiered on Jan. 20, 1998, and which filmed here in Wilmington – we’re revisiting season one, one episode at a time. I’m Kate Elizabeth Queram, the StarNews environment reporter/former weather blogger, which obviously makes me perfectly suited to be your guide here (I totally bet that creek has water quality issues). I’ve never watched the show – though I think I tuned in for the very last episode SO I DO KNOW WHO JOEY ENDS UP WITH OMG – so please join me as I see the first season for the first time. New posts will go up every Friday. Legal parameters force me to say that all screencaps, and the teenage angst contained therein, are the property of Sony Television. Let’s hit the creek.
At the beginning of episode 7 (real title: "Detention") , Joey and Dawson are once again hanging out in his room watching TV. Seven episodes in I feel qualified to assume that this is just how every episode ever is going to open, but at least this time they are also hanging out with ET.
They're watching a car-chase movie that is probably not The Fast And The Furious and Dawson is bored, but Joey loves it. They get into a wrestling match over the remote and everything's proceeding kind of flirty-like, but then Joey climbs on Dawson and has a moment where she realizes she's mounting him and it's all too puberty-y, so she changes the subject - to why he hasn't had sex with Jen yet. Smooth. She says it's not even surprising that Dawson hasn't scored with Jen, because sometimes girls choose the guy with “the bigger joystick” and that Pacey has bigger biceps than Dawson does. Then she seems really surprised when Dawson gets mad. I really hate Dawson, but Joey is a close second. She’s basically the worst friend ever. I don’t know why anyone talks to her. At least she’s not wearing overalls this time.
The next day in school, overalls-dress girl makes another cameo.
So happy! I guess she doesn't know what she's wearing. In class, Joey’s giving a boring presentation about a harem. In the middle of this scintillating research project, a 34-year-old brunette girl bursts in and apologizes for being late.
I'm supposed to believe she's a student, so that's fine, but I'm just throwing it out there that this person is at least 34 years old. After the outburst Joey tries to continue her harem presentation but keeps getting interrupted, because the high-school boys are very excited about the sexual possibilities of said harem. The ringleader of this disruption, by the way, is a jock. You can tell because he's wearing his letter jacket in class. Incidentally, whatever happened to QB Cliff? A few episodes ago, he really had the letter-jacket-in-class market cornered. And also the 34-year-old high-school student market, now that I think about it. Anyway, this guy and his lame sex jokes will have to do for today.
Pacey tells Jen a story about how Dawson's nickname used to be Oompa Loompa, which she inexplicably finds hilarious. No context is ever given for this nickname, but I can only assume it had to do with the similarities in hairstyle.
Dawson sees them laughing together and, remembering that Pacey's biceps might be bigger than his, goes to intercept the conversation. He basically just stands there asking them repeatedly what they were talking about while they repeatedly say "Nothing. Seriously. It's not a big deal."
But of course Dawson can't let it go, so first he interrogates Jen about it in the hallway and when she won't crack, he interrogates Pacey about it in the locker room. Pacey lets it slip that he told Jen about Oompa Loompa and really who cares, but Dawson is super pissed that she knows.
In health class, they’re discussing euthanasia. This kid with the perm is anti-euthanasia.
The teacher is also anti-euthanasia. It will shock exactly no one to learn that Jen is pro-euthanasia, on account of her Godlessness. The teacher is very full of God and is none too pleased that heathen Jen is on board with what he considers to be glorified murder. Jen responds by telling him that "Sometimes, life's a bitch," and the teacher says this isn't Times Square, yo, and you can't just run around dropping the B-word in school. He gives her Saturday detention. No one discusses the fact that Capeside High School is ostensibly a public school, making it not so much legal for teachers to be running around preaching about the Jesus.
She also gets Saturday detention. She doesn't have to go to the principal's office or anything, though, which seems pretty unlikely, since she just physically assaulted another student. Who cares because he was annoying and it was nice to see him get punched, but this is the moment when I realized that everyone is going to get Saturday detention and this is going to be a riff on the Breakfast Club and then I just got sad.
In gym class, Pacey asks Dawson to play one-on-one to impress the cheerleaders, who are inexplicably practicing in their full uniforms in the middle of the day.
Dawson sucks at basketball and this makes him angry, so he goes to leave. As he's walking away, Pacey says, "Pass me the ball, Oompa Loompa," and so Dawson turns around and chucks the basketball directly at Pacey's face.
His nose bleeds, which makes the cheerleaders flock to him. The gym teacher is very angry, and - you guessed it - gives Dawson Saturday detention.
NOT DOING A GREAT JOB OF CONVINCING ME YOU ARE IN HIGH SCHOOL, ABBY. Plus when she sees the group waiting for her, she says, "It’s howdy-doody time,” which just proves she’s really old because that is a dated reference that seems to imply that the others are very young.
Joey arrives and the librarian tells them all they are supposed to just sit in the library all day and think about what they've done. The librarian leaves, and the 34-year-old says she's really mad about having to sit there for eight hours. Then she offers everyone gum, but when they say they want gum, she laughs and says, “Yeah right.”
Then she goes around the table asking each person how they got detention. She gets uncomfortably close to their faces while she does this, so I guess it's a good thing she's chewing that gum.
Everybody spills except Pacey, who says it's none of their business why he's there. The 34-year-old is very shocked to hear that Joey's there for punching a guy, and then she tells the group that she's in detention for having an orgy, with ecstasy, in the boys' locker room. So, for real, I bet that she is in detention for being late to that class where Joey was talking about harems, because why else would they have made that scene such a big deal?
I hope she's looking up "plaid" in the dictionary.
Eighteen minutes in, Dawson says, "This is sooooo Breakfast Club.” Jen has never heard of the Breakfast Club, which is interesting since she is from the big city and knows everything, and also provides a nonchalant way for the rest of the cast to give her a complete plot rundown of the movie. And then there is this FANTASTIC moment where Jen asks whatever happened to the actors in the Breakfast Club, and Dawson says they all flamed out, and Pacey goes, “No way, Emilio Estevez was in those duck movies, remember? Those were CLASSICS. So funny.”
Everyone gives him this look.
This makes me happy. It is the only thing that will do so for the entire episode.
The librarian is in the AV room watching soap operas. The 34-year-old tells the librarian that she needs to pee, on account of her bladder is 17 years older than anyone else's. The librarian grants them all a bathroom break, and I'm just so glad that I get another opportunity to watch Dawson and Pacey pee. Also, can anyone explain to me why there is a random toilet next to the urinals?
Back in the library, the 34-year-old decides they should all play a game. Pacey suggests, "Pin the tail on the ho-bag."
The 34-year-old opts for truth or dare instead. On his first turn, Pacey gets dared to kiss Jen on the mouth for 10 seconds. Dawson is so angry about this that his hair grows three sizes.
Joey is totally into the idea of Dawson having to watch Jen make out with Pacey, though. Because of course she is.
So they make out. Everyone tries to pretend like it was all hot, but it was really just 10 seconds of awkward closed-mouth kissing.
Joey is really excited about it, though. Because of course she is.
Joey chooses truth for her turn, but when Pacey asks who she's in love with she balks and switches to dare. Pacey then dares her to kiss Dawson on the lips for 15 seconds, causing Jen to look deeply troubled in the manner of Bambi.
Then they make out.
Pacey makes this face.
Drunk from her Dawson kiss, Joey asks Jen truth or dare and, when Jen chooses truth, proceeds to ask if, out of all the guys at Capside, Dawson is the one she's most attracted to. Jen is all, "Well I like him the most, sure." Joey says, but do you LUST FOR HIM? Jen says it’s a stupid question because “OBVIOUSLY the answer is yes, I lust for Dawson, I’m hot for Dawson,” and she can barely say it with a straight face, and I can barely not vomit. Then she tells Joey that maybe if Joey spent less time obsessing about Dawson and Jen, she’d have her own boyfriend. No one reacts well to this.
To deflect the awkward, Dawson dares everyone to make a jailbreak, so they sneak past the librarian, who is still watching soap operas. Look, there's Alison Sweeney, not yet hosting The Biggest Loser.
Dawson and Pacey need to settle their drama over who is more manly, so the group goes to the gym for a one-on-one rematch. If Dawson wins, Pacey has to say why he’s in detention. I guess if Pacey wins, nothing happens. Then they play basketball for a while. I find myself wishing it was One Tree Hill. I realize I don’t even know who I am anymore.
Over on the bleachers, Jen calls Joey out on the fact that she's a horrible rude bitch most of the time. In no attempt to deny that claim, Joey makes this face.
The 34-year-old says it's pretty obvious that Joey is in love with Dawson, which totally shocks Jen. Having dropped the world's most obvious bomb, the 34-year-old leaves to get some water. Once she's gone, Jen tries to discuss it with Joey, who says she doesn't want to talk about it and that life would be so much easier "if you were a total wench." Jen says, "I mean I guess I could try to be more of a wench." Joey is very annoyed by this suggestion. Just look at the photo up there again, it's pretty much accurate for this too.
The group gets back to the library too late and the librarian is super pissed that they disobeyed her instructions. As punishment, she dumps out an entire drawer of library cards and says they have to sort it. If even one card is out of place at 5 pm, she says, they will all get Saturday detention again next week, which seems like a bogus claim because she is obviously not going to go through all of those cards when there is Days Of Our Lives to be watched.
They end up finishing the cards at 4:30. And the librarian totally doesn't look at them, she just gives them a quick finger-walk and pronounces it all fine.
Before the librarian goes back to her soaps, she lets it slip that the 34-year-old is, in fact, in detention due to "excessive tardies." She had NARY AN ORGY, EVER. The others make fun of her but she doesn't even care that they know the truth, and then points out that Pacey still won't tell them why he's there. This leads to Dawson and Pacey having another fight about who is more manly and why they hate each other at the moment, which basically boils down to Dawson being insecure that Pacey is "some big sex stud," and still being angry that Pacey told Jen about his Oompa Loompa nickname. This seems to make Pacey feel bad, so after making them swear not to tell anyone, he tells them that he’s in detention because after Dawson chucked a basketball at his head, the cheerleaders took care of him and he got, shall we say, excited, and headed to the boys' bathroom to "release the tension," where he was discovered by the gym teacher.
Appropriate screencap is appropriate.
This heals Dawson and Pacey's friendship, and also for some reason results in another conversation between Dawson and Jen about why she won't have sex with him. The result of these conversations is always the same, with her reassuring him that she likes him without her ever having to have sex with him, so whatever. You may notice that this conversation has nothing to do with Joey, so it will probably not surprise you that in the next moment,
she makes it about her.
Out of nowhere, she blurts out, "BUT DAWSON, I AM WAY LESS EXPERIENCED THAN YOU." So I mean. Okay? Dawson says it’s just a matter of time before she finds the right person and she goes, “I have.” Dawson RUNS TO HER SIDE. She says she can’t tell him what she means and she feels super lonely. He says, "I’m here for you, you’re not alone." He says maybe if she says it, it will free her, in the manner of a dove or a pigeon.
But Joey says she can't say anything, because she can't take the words back once she sets them free (in the manner of a dove or a pigeon).
I will say this: I mock this show a lot (understandably so, I think), but I feel like this moment was a pretty great portrayal of pure, teenage angst. I can remember being 15 and having those occasional moments where everything feels really complicated and hard and you have no idea how to fix or really how to even explain it, and I feel like each one probably looked a lot like this. WELL DONE, DAWSON'S CREEK. I may never say that again, so I hope you really soak it up this time.
Jen looks very uncomfortable. I assume it's because of Joey, but it could also be because I just praised this show.
It's also worth noting that this is a highly private conversation, but Dawson and Joey are totally fine with having it in front of people, a further example that everyone in Capeside is so used to a total lack of boundaries that no one even notices it anymore. Jen is the only uncomfortable one here which fits that narrative, as she's a relative newcomer to the area and thus hasn't lost all of her societal norms yet. Give it time, Jen. Soon you'll be climbing in windows, too.
Anyway, so Dawson is pretty much the only one who can't tell that Joey is hinting at the fact that she is in love with him. On account of he is very slow. And with that, the librarian releases them from detention.
All I really have to say is that this was an entire episode that took place in the high school and there was nary a glimpse of Mel Silver. Where are you, Mel? I hope you come back to me soon.