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.
To open episode 10 (real title: "The Scare"), Joey and Dawson watch "I Know What You Did Last Summer" in honor of the next day, which happens to be Friday the 13th. Dawson looks really happy that Sarah Michelle Gellar is about to bite it. Again, why Joey hangs out in his room alone with him all the time remains a mystery.
The news comes on and the anchor (not Bob, sadly) informs us that there is a "lady-killer" on the loose murdering female teenagers. Every context clue in this show leads me to believe, strongly, that said lady-killer is Dawson.
The next day at school QB Cliff corners Jen. You may be thinking to yourself, "We have not seen Cliff in a while, how do you know he is still a QB?" I know this, you see, because he is still wearing his letter jacket around the school. Indoors. As you do.
He asks Jen on a date, and she says that she's kind of down on dating at the moment. QB Cliff says, "Well, that's because you were dating Dawson, and Dawson sucks." Jen realizes he has a point
and agrees to go out with him.
At lunch, Pacey puts a copious amount of ketchup on his fries as the group discusses the lady-killer.
Apparently, the guy stalks his victims with letters and phone calls before coming into their homes and literally carving out their hearts. Jen says, "That's sad. He's clearly just looking for love," an interpretation that speaks volumes about her willingness to date someone like Dawson.
Discussion turns to Friday the 13th, which is Dawson's favorite night of the year. To celebrate, he's planning some sort of mass murder or something at his house that night, in addition to spending the entire day playing "scary pranks" on his friends (rubber snake in Joey's backpack, for example). He invites everyone to his death party but Jen declines, saying she has a date with QB Cliff. During this conversation, Dawson sneaks a fake bloody finger into Pacey's fries.
And Jen, clearly beginning to lose it, asks why he's tried to scare everyone but her. He's basically like, "We broke up." I fail to see what is upsetting about any of this.
But who even cares because LOOK WHO POPS UP IN THE NEXT SCENE!!!!!!!!!!!!
IT'S MEL SILVER!!!! I AM SO GLAD HE IS BACK AND IS NOT A LADY AND IS THUS UNLIKELY TO BE MURDERED BY DAWSON IN THIS EPISODE!!!!! Also notice how he is once again wearing that denim shirt. At least they gave him a sweet sweater vest to wear over it. MEL. LOVE YOU MEAN IT.
Sadly, Mel's cameo is all too brief and film class ends pretty much immediately after we see him. When it's over, QB Cliff asks Dawson for advice on how to best woo Jen. Like seriously. What. Who does this. Ironically, Dawson of all people is totally annoyed by QB Cliff's lack of boundaries (pot, meet kettle, you have much to discuss), but pretty much instantly agrees to help him anyway.
Moments after this exchange, Jen finds this in her locker.
QB Cliff pops up and she shows it to him, pretty much immediately deciding that it's from Dawson. QB Cliff is all, "How do you know it's from Dawson? Well, don't worry, I'll protect you tonight." She asks where they're going and he says it's a surprise, but that it will be "original and unpredictable."
Later at home, Jen gets a phone call that is supposed to be scary and anonymous but I can't even pretend to get into it because the caller is SO OBVIOUSLY QB Cliff. He's sort of trying to disguise his voice, but that pretty much just means he's talking semi-quietly. Jen, however, can't figure out who it is (at first she thinks it's Dawson, still trying to scare her), so they do the whole routine from the opening scenes of "Scream" and she becomes convinced that someone's hiding in her house so she spends some time running around with an enormous knife.
The whole thing ends when Gram comes home and basically tells her to calm the hell down.
Pacey, Joey and Dawson go to the store to stock up on supplies for the death party. Inside, Pacey and Dawson watch a couple fighting, which culminates in the guy storming out and the lady throwing things after him.
After her boyfriend leaves, the woman (who's been in some stuff, but will forever be known to me as homeless Laura on a Very Special Two-Part Holiday Episode Of Saved By The Bell) comes over and offers to "score them" a bottle of wine, then slips it into her bag and says she’ll meet them outside.
Meanwhile, Joey’s in the car and a creepy man named David knocks on the window and asks her for directions, then tells her, "You have the most intense eyes, they're really piercing."
He asks if she lives nearby, but before she can answer – and she’s an idiot, so she probably would have – Dawson saves the day by appearing with his groceries. He lectures her about talking to strangers, because serial killers are typically white males in their 20s. Of course he would just know this off the top of his head.
Pacey comes out and the crazy lady presents him with the wine, a bottle of cabernet sauvignon that he pronounces as "kay-ber-net saw-vick-non." He invites her to the death party and then her psychotic boyfriend reappears, so they run to the car, lock the doors and peel out as the boyfriend chases after them.
Just. What is even happening in this episode.
QB Cliff shows up at Jen's house for her date. For the occasion, she has changed out of her long-sleeved red turtleneck into this short-sleeved red turtleneck.
Gram is all about the date, by the way, 'cause she sees QB Cliff at church all the time. When they finally escape the house, QB Cliff informs Jen that he's taking her to Dawson's séance. Because. Of course he is. Once they get there, she thanks Dawson for the note and the phone call, and he says he doesn't know anything about it. Which he doesn't, because the phone call WAS QB CLIFF NOT EVEN DISGUISING HIS VOICE, COME ON, JEN.
Ursula (yeah, homeless Laura's name is Ursula) informs Pacey that the wine's not cold so they'll have to add some ice, which leads me to believe that she probably also pronounces it "kay-ber-net saw-vick-non" because STOP SERVING RED WINE WITH ICE, YOU'RE RUINING EVERYTHING. This is what they find in the freezer:
So yes, Dawson's psychotic, but really as far as I'm concerned, Ursula got what she deserved.
Clustered around the séance table, the group tells weird scary stories, culminating with Ursula telling a tale about a guy who picks up a girl at a convenience store and takes her to a party, never knowing that she's a psycho who carries a huge knife around in her purse because she likes to cut throats just to see how far the blood spurts. Dawson's is getting dark right now.
And then the lights go out. Jen goes to call the electricity company - a number I guess she must just know by heart, 'cause homegirl didn't look for a phone book before picking up the receiver - but it's useless, because the phone line is also dead. Everybody starts to freak out, and in the manner of everyone who ever got killed in a horror movie ever, they all split up to lock the doors, find flashlights and check the fuse box.
While Jen and QB Cliff are exploring like suckers, she tells him that she's sure that Dawson is just trying to scare them. QB Cliff says, "You don't know that it's Dawson. Maybe someone actually is following you around, planning to kill you."
Comforting, QB. Wooing: You're doing it wrong.
Outside, Dawson checks the fuse box while Ursula explains that she doesn't really stab people, and that the only lunatic she knows is her boyfriend Eddie, who did time in prison for assault and battery. Then Ursula says, "It's like I have ESPN or something," and tells Dawson that she can feel the energy between him and Joey and that they are totally meant 2 be 4ever. He rebuffs her, saying they just have a "really intense" friendship, and then announces that he can't figure out how to turn the lights back on. It turns out that he planned the original blackout as part of his murder party, but now the fuse box is all jammed up, like someone messed with it or something.
I'd argue maybe it just looks that way since he's using a Zippo as his light source, but okay. They hear a noise, so they go back inside, where Joey's missing. Dawson opens the closet door and Joey's seemingly lifeless body tumbles out, and then someone in a mask wielding a knife rushes in. Dawson is totally freaked out
but the knife-wielder is Jen and Joey is totally not dead, they were just messing with him. Jen's says it's payback for the note and the creepy phone call and Dawson is all, "GIRL. FOR THE LAST TIME. I DID NOT CALL YOU OR SEND YOU A NOTE." So they go upstairs to talk, where Jen again says, "Why didn't you try to scare me? Don't I matter to you?" (Yet another exchange that perfectly encapsulates the completely messed-up nature of basically every relationship on this show.)
Soft music plays as Dawson tells Jen that he doesn't like the way things are between them, and they start to kiss before Jen pulls away. "This isn't a good idea," she says, "but please keep me on your friendship list, k?" Even when they're just friends, she finds a way to friend-zone him.
Downstairs, Ursula and Pacey are talking when suddenly, crazy Eddie breaks through the screen door and lunges after them.
Pacey and Ursula run inside and slam the door as Eddie threatens to kill them all. The phone still isn't working (Dawson disconnected it because of course he did), so they can't call the cops. Eddie breaks a window and they all run around the house locking the other doors and screaming, but it's all for naught, because while they're panicking, Eddie discovers the ladder that Joey uses to climb into Dawson's window.
Look, I'm not trying to say I told you so, but if y'all had screens like a normal family, or if you ever closed said screenless windows to keep out the bugs, this wouldn't be happening. JUST AN OBSERVATION.
Eddie's in the house now, attacking Pacey for trying to take away his woman. Pacey's pretty much a dead man but then Joey goes after Eddie with a frying pan, which subdues him.
Ursula rushes down the stairs and kicks Eddie or something, and he immediately calms down and apologizes, and they say they love each other and then they leave. "These kids are weird," Ursula tells him, which is totally true. She apologizes to Dawson for the massive damage to the house, and says that to make up for it she'll be happy to give them a discount on rented shoes at the bowling alley where she works.
On the walk back to Gram's house, QB Cliff tells Jen that he got the feeling that Jen liked Dawson 'cause he's so "creative," so he asked Dawson's advice on how best to get into Jen's pants, and that Dawson's amazing advice was that Jen loves to be scared. "So I wrote that note and called you, but I came up with that all on my own," he says proudly. Jen is understandably freaked the hell out and tells him that she's not in the market for a boyfriend, "but if I were, I'd want you to be yourself." Ostensibly, this means, "not a guy who places threatening, murderous phone calls."
Even after this conversation, QB Cliff asks Jen if he can kiss her, but before she can say no he just swoops in and goes for it. In the middle of this decidedly un-Jesus-like behavior, Gram opens the door, and she must really like QB Cliff, because she's all, "OH MY GOSH I AM SO SORRY TAKE YOUR TIME!" and leaves them alone to do more godless necking.
And when Jen finally gets rid of him and goes inside, Gram is sitting up waiting for the dirty details. GRAM. I AM SHOCKED AT YOU.
Next door, Joey and Dawson talk about how super sad they'd each be if the other died. I'd be confused by this but nothing else about this episode makes any sense, so sure, let's commiserate over our hypothetical sadness in the unlikely event that one of you bites it.
And then they bang! I kid. Of course they don’t. They just climb in bed - Dawson has done this to try to scare Joey one last time -
(YOU LAUGH NOW, DAWSON, BUT YOU KEEP NOT HAVING A SCREEN AND LEAVING YOUR WINDOW OPEN AND SOON YOUR BED REALLY WILL LOOK LIKE THAT), and then they watch the news. A minute into the broadcast, they learn that David - the guy who asked Joey for directions - was, in fact, the lady-killer.
What a twist!