Season 2, Episode 6 (real title: "Dance") opens in Dawson's room, with an overalls-clad Andie dancing along to Footloose while everyone stares at her like she has four heads.
But it conveniently gives them an opportunity to talk about the big homecoming dance! Joey, Dawson and Pacey say they are sooooo not the type to go to dances. They also don't go to football games or pep rallies because they are TOO COOL! Never mind that there was an entire episode in season 1 called "Dance" wherein they all went to a motherfucking dance! I guess dances are sooooo last season.
Andie says she can’t believe they’d rather watch a movie about something than do it themselves, so the logical progression of this conversation is to porn. "What about sex?" she says. "Dancing could be great foreplay!" Everybody looks awkward
but since they're all teenagers and teenagers are nothin' but big bags of horny hormones, I'm sure they'll all be heading to the big dance.
The next morning, Joey remains tormented by her kiss with Jack. She confides in Bessie, who just laughs at her.
She tells Joey that since the kiss was one-sided and unwanted, she shouldn't beat herself up or tell Dawson about it. Best to just let it go. This is pretty good advice, I think - it's one of those situations where telling Dawson is only going to benefit Joey, though that sounds mostly like something Joey would do - though I may have thrown in a "set some boundaries with Jack" comment just for good measure.
As Joey gets out of the truck, "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None The Richer starts playing. My inner teenager was swooning a little, but then Abby shows up, so it's short-lived. Ugh. Abby.
She and Jen are friends again, I guess, even though she called Jen a slut like 87 times and then Jen smacked her in the face? Whatever. They're standing around trying to decide whether this chick's boobs are real.
Some things just transcend physical violence, I guess.
That's whipped-cream bikini girl from season one, btw. Hey girl hey!
I guess Abby and Jen are legitimately pretending like the VINCIDENT never happened. Abby tells Jen that her current life plan is to go to homecoming for the sole purpose of stealing whipped-cream bikini's boyfriend, who she says is a major "himbo." Ugh. Abby.
Dawson and Joey decide that even though they are too cool for the dance, they are going to go to the dance! Somehow this leads Dawson to comment that since he and Joey started dating, they don't talk about sex as much as they did before they were dating. Maybe that's because you suck, Dawson. Just a thought.
Throughout this long and painful conversation about how they were friends but now they are dating, both Dawson and Joey keep using the phrase "the transition from friend to lover," which makes my lunch want to transition to vomit. They basically agree that they're only going to the dance because they've bought into Andie's notion that dancing is foreplay. HANG IN THERE, SALAD IN MY STOMACH.
Abby and Jen sweep by, and Joey says she doesn't like that Jen is so chummy with Abby, which is true but annoying, because I hate agreeing with Joey. She says that maybe she and Dawson should invite Jen to the dance, since they're going as a group and Jen's grandpa is all dead and stuff. Dawson is shocked!
He gives Joey "humanity points" for suggesting it, but is clearly uncomfortable with the idea, possibly because he believes that dancing is foreplay and is unclear how three people might get busy doin' the horizontal mambo. Joey says he can decide whether to invite her, and he kisses her and heads to class. Then Jack comes in and, just in case you missed the memo that he is clumsy, drops his backpack.
Joey freaks out (or maybe just can't even believe how freakin' clumsy this guy is)
and then runs away.
Pacey and Andie are going to the dance together, but Pacey doesn't dance (unless you are Tamara at that other dance, in which case he will spend all goddamn night trying to dance with you). He tells Andie it's because he hates it and he sucks at it and it's the worst, and she should just be happy that he's even going to the dance at all.
Andie says she'd like to invite Jack to come to the dance since he's all clumsy and nobody likes him, and Dawson suggests that they set him up with Jen. Pacey says this is a terrible idea, because fixing people up who've never met and have nothing in common "is a recipe for disaster that can only end badly." Pacey is the oracle, y'all.
But Andie and Dawson ignore him! Jen and Jack will fall in love whether they like it or not!
Dawson’s parents are having a sad porch party while they wait to break to him the news of their impending separation!
They apologize for the total implosion of familial hierarchy and parenting normalcy that was the other night, but it's cool because now they're breaking up. Dawson suggests that maybe they could go back to counseling instead or try to find another solution, but his dad cuts him off and says, "Your opinion is important to us and we love you, but we are not open to suggestions." A LEERY PARENT SETS A BOUNDARY, WHAT SHOW EVEN IS THIS?
Dawson replies by saying they suck and storming out, so no worries, it's still Dawson's Creek.
Later, to pack up his stuff, Mr. Leery has tucked his T-shirt into his belted dad jeans.
Mrs. Leery, the only one whose hair ever acts appropriately for the climate in Wilmington, is very distraught, probably at least partly due to the humidity.
She asks if she’s allowed to talk to Mr. Leery now that he's leaving, and he's like, whatevs girl, call me whenever you want! Dawson is tying his tie in emo fashion while watching this conversation from above, partaking in the time-honored Leery tradition of staring contemplatively into space. If only he were wearing satin.
Mrs. Leery cries as Mr. Leery drives away.
At least there's no accompanying dramatic shot of the moon.
She decides to deal with her grief by making a salad!
She's crying when Dawson comes downstairs, and despite her totally believable story that her tears are just a reaction to the onions she's chopping, Dawson senses that she's upset and offers to stay home from the dance and keep her company. Mrs. Leery says it's OK, and that he should go pick up Joey before he's late. APPROPRIATE PARENTAL BEHAVIOR, WHAT SHOW EVEN IS THIS?
Everybody arrives at The Big Dance for awkward introductions!
Jack is real mad.
Everyone inside the gym is legitimately swing-dancing,
so can't say I really blame him.
Abby rolls up looking like this.
She is more 90's than everything and everyone who ever 90'd, including Mark McGrath,
Justin Timberlake's Ramen-noodle hair,
and this picture of the Backstreet Boys.
Abby compliments Jen's dress, then says she likes it so much that she has the same one, but "in a smaller size." So I guess they aren't friends? I don't know. Go away, Abby.
A slow song comes on and Andie shoves Jen at Jack, and while they dance they figure out that they are on a blind date of sorts. Andie's proud of herself because they aren't killing each other, but Pacey says shit'll get ugly in about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, Dawson commiserates with Joey about his parents' separation and how he wishes they would go back to boning all over the wicker furniture in his house, but at least now that his dad has moved out the wicker furniture is available for bonin'!
With smooth lines like that it really is a wonder that they haven't been talking about sex very often.
They do a little spin move, and Dawson notices Jen smiling while she dances with Jack. He makes a comment about how they seem to be getting along, and Joey flies completely off the handle. They're a terrible match, she says, and Dawson shouldn't have been complicit in setting them up, because Jack is a nice guy but Jen is a "total barracuda."
You would think she'd be OK with this since a) it was her idea to invite Jen to the dance, b) Jen is hanging out with nice-guy Jack instead of 90s-monstrosity Abby and most importantly c) she was all stressed out about her Jack kiss and this is a nice distraction for him, but she's Joey, so the most unpleasant option is always, always the correct one.
Andie just wants Pacey to dance with her but he TOLD HER ONE THOUSAND TIMES THAT HE DOESN’T DANCE, so she goes to find someone else to dance with, and then Pacey notices whipped-cream bikini bumping and grinding with her boyfriend
and spends some time watching her in creepy drooly fashion.
Andie decides everyone should switch dancing partners so she grabs Dawson, leaving Joey with Jack. He apologizes for kissing her, and says that he feels terrible about it and accepts total responsibility for what happened. It's a pretty good apology, I think, so naturally Joey is having none of it.
HE SHOULD FEEL BAD, she says, BECAUSE SHE HAS A BOYFRIEND AND NOW SHE FEELS GUILTY EVERY TIME SHE SEES HIM. Then she runs away.
Jack follows to ask her why she's so angry, and she says it's because he doesn't respect her relationship with Dawson. (To be fair, do any of us respect her relationship with Dawson?) In the background, a girl in a blue dress wanders by barefoot, clearly having given up on life.
Jack says that doesn't make sense, and she's not angry at him for kissing her, she's angry at herself for kissing him back. And then he whirls around to reveal...
...AN ANGRY DAWSON STANDING THERE LISTENING TO THE WHOLE CONVERSATION, AW SHIT.
Joey can't even deal so she runs away again.
Suffice to say I doubt they'll be boning on the wicker furniture tonight.
Abby somehow got that jock guy away from whipped-cream bikini. While they dance, she tells him that the thing she admires most about him is how he works all of his muscle groups evenly.
This guy doesn't skip leg day, y'all! Abby sucks, but this may have been my favorite moment of the episode. LEG DAY!
Jack’s trying to duck out of the dance, but Dawson confronts him. Jack says it was not even his fault that he kissed Joey. There was a full moon! "You must remember that, there were so many camera shots of it last week!" And anyway he is not going to apologize for it, because he would totally kiss her again. You should both be apologizing for your terrible taste in girls. JOEY IS THE WORST.
Dawson has zero time for this shit. He punches Jack right in the face!!!
JOEY IS SO NOT WORTH THIS, Y'ALL. Abby's contribution to this scene, naturally, is to compliment Dawson on his testosterone as he storms out.
Sidebar: the 90's playlist in this dance is really good, y'all! I am straight-up jamming in most of these scenes, which makes it almost tolerable, except for any moments that include Abby, who is awful all of the time.
Look at the fake smile on that guy behind her. He knows. He gets me.
Pacey comes out of the bathroom to find whipped-cream bikini leaning against the wall in sultry, pouty fashion. He asks what she's doing and she says, "Just thinkin', you know."
Specifically, she says, she's just thinkin' about her deadbeat boyfriend and her low self-esteem. Pacey senses that this could be his moment!
I didn't mean for that speech bubble to be coming from his groin, but...maybe I did.
Pacey tells whipped-cream bikini that there are like hundreds of guys who would totally do her if she broke up with jock guy. Then she shyly asks if he's one of those guys, and Pacey (and/or his talking genitals) cannot even say yes fast enough.
Whipped-cream bikini tells him that, "as lame as these school dances can be, there’s always that one moment that seems to make it all worthwhile.” (My annoyance at this was audible.) Then she asks him to dance and even though HE HAS TOLD EVERYONE ONE THOUSAND TIMES THAT HE DOES NOT DANCE, he says okay. And then they just start swaying right there in the hallway. Based on their faces, I guess it's intense, but really, it's just awkward swaying.
Mr. Leery MOVED INTO A DAMN MOTEL ROOM. LOOK AT THIS PLACE. UGH.
I guess he doesn't have a job so it's not like he could get a sweet bachelor pad, but seriously, this guy can't do anything right. Also, is that a bucket with an apple in it? What are you doing, Leery?
Meanwhile, Mrs. Leery is chilling in her enormous waterfront mansion, eating ice cream while the unfinished remnants of her salad look on from the kitchen island.
The phone rings, and it's Mr. Leery! He's probably bored because that motel doesn't get premium cable and he left all his toys at home.
(You KNOW this idiot watches the Kardashians.)
Mrs. Leery tells him that she never realized how huge their house was until she was left alone inside of it and that she doesn't know if she can do this, but Mr. Leery says that she can do it - because she has to. Thanks for calling, Mr. Leery! I'm sure she appreciated the pep talk!
Jen agrees to escort a wounded Jack home from the dance, leaving Andie free to go look for Pacey. She finds him in the hallway, still swaying awkwardly with whipped-cream bikini. And then he sees Andie.
The contradiction of the stupid "no really I don't dance" crap didn't hit me until this moment when I was watching this episode. From my notes: "THE DANCING THING DID NOT OCCUR TO ME UNTIL RIGHT FUCKING NOW AND NOW I AM REALLY FUCKING MAD AT PACEY UGGGHH."
Andie's just so nice, you know? And teenage me JUST STARTED TO LIKE AND BELIEVE IN PACEY. PACEY! PACEYYYYYY. UGH.
Dawson and Joey storm out of the dance and all I can see is the slit on Joey's weird tweed dress. Hey girl.
She tells Dawson that he's blowing her kiss with Jack way out of proportion, but Dawson says that she's been in love with him for 15 years, they're finally together, and then she kissed someone else and lied about it, so nah, he's not really overreacting.
She says FIRST OF ALL, she didn't lie, she just didn't tell him, and second of all, this isn't about him, it's about her, and that's what she's been trying to tell him, which makes no sense really (she was trying to tell him nothing), and they're going to fight more but then they notice that there's a huge crowd listening to them and looking like they smelled a bunch of farts.
Except for that guy on the right, he just looks kind of confused. Anyway, they can't yell in front of these people, so Dawson flounces off again.
Jack drops Jen off at Grams', and before she goes inside, she says, "You really like Joey, huh?" Jack says he's always been a sucker for lost causes, which I would like to think is a subtle reference to Joey being a terrible human.
Jen says that doesn't make him a loser, it makes him a ROMANTIC!
As he goes to leave, she tells him she had a really nice time at the dance, “because when you were with me you did a really good job of pretending that you didn't want to be with someone else." Which is fucking depressing. Jen, you're no peach, but even your bottom line should be higher than "idk he did a good job of acting interested in me even though I know he wasn't."
But I guess when Dawson Leery rejects you and your only friend is freakin' Abby, things probably do look pretty bleak.
Uggghhhh Mr. Leery rolls up in front of his former house. THIS FUCKING GUY.
Conveniently, Mrs. Leery is standing in front of the window, wearing one of her many satin outfits while flipping idly through a magazine instead of staring out into space contemplatively like she would be at literally any other moment.
Perhaps because this reminds him of Mrs. Leery's stockpile of slick fabric and her penchant for staring at nothing for hours at a time, Mr. Leery changes his mind and drives away. Mr. Leery is the teenageist of all the teenagers on this show. He probably just came back to get his Super Nintendo.
Andie and Pacey run into each other wandering the docks at night! He's really happy and she really wants to smack him. Who even blames her?
She says, “I thought you didn’t dance, Pacey.” He says you could hardly call that dancing, and she says, “NO, I CALL IT FOREPLAY.” But it's fine, she says, and Pacey doesn't owe her an explanation because it's not like they're a couple, they're just "verbal sparring partners." Pacey says that isn't true, he just got caught up in the whipped-cream fumes radiating off whipped-cream bikini. She's like a fantasy, he says, and Andie can't tell him that she's never wanted to act out a fantasy. PACEY, YOU ARE NOT HELPING.
Andie basically tells Pacey that he is her fantasy, which confuses him. He asks why she likes him so much. Doesn't she know he is the black sheep screw-up?! Did she not watch season one?!
Pacey might be genuinely confused, but this reeks to me of playing the victim. "I AM SO AWFUL. DON'T YOU ALSO THINK I AM AWFUL? NO? TELL ME WHY I AM NOT AWFUL." Andie is happy to oblige! Soft music plays as she lists like 87 nice things about him even though he was just a total douche to her, and halfway through her list she seems to realize it because she stops herself, says, "This is more than you deserve," and walks away.
Pacey grabs her. He says he's truly sorry, "sorrier than I've been in a long time," and then he cribs a line from whipped-cream bikini, telling Andie that "that one moment that'd make the whole night worthwhile was with the wrong person." Predictably, he then asks her to dance, and there is no music, and it looks nice and romantic, but I've done that before and it's actually just kind of awkward? You're just swaying back and forth like a weird two-person hula dance? Also, is she not annoyed that he did this exact same thing with another girl like two seconds ago? Apparently not, because they eventually smooch,
and at that moment the good 90's music takes a nosedive with this Jessica Simpson song. JSimp and I clearly agree on this whole situation, though we probably disagree about her horrible song.
Dawson comes home to find Joey in his room, sitting in front of his bookshelf of spare body parts.
He asks what’s going on between them. Ever since they got together, he says, she's been pulling away from him, and he doesn't think it's only about his collection of spare human limbs. He asks if he's really what she wants, and she replies, "You're what I'm going to want."
That is some friend-zone bullshit right there.
She says she dreamed about him forever, but then she got her dream and now she’s got nothing left. Then she trots out her favorite narrative about how Dawson's future is set in stone because he has decided that he will be a famous movie director (that's how life works, y'all!), but she needs to figure out her own future for herself, and that process can't include him - it's got to be her and her alone. "You make me so happy," she says, "but I have to make myself happy first."
Ugh, fine. FINE. THAT IS TRUE. FINE. DAMMIT, JOEY. I HATE YOU AND I HATE IT WHEN I HAVE TO AGREE WITH YOU.
Joey gets up to leave, and Dawson chooses this moment to tell her that he loves her for the first time. Joey looks incredulous.
She says she loves him too. And then she goes to leave again! Dawson, understandably, says, "WE CAN'T JUST SAY 'I LOVE YOU' FOR THE FIRST TIME AND HAVE IT BE OVER."
In spite of myself, I feel bad for him. He's having the worst possible day imaginable. I know it wasn't Joey's fault that Dawson found out about the kiss, but could she really not have waited to ruin his life? Even until morning? Just so it's not the same day his parents split up?
It's Joey, so you can guess the answer. She has to GO. She is full-on going to climb that ladder in her blocky 90's heels. Perhaps to prepare herself for this task, she pauses outside Dawson's window to cry.
He cries too, but only for a second. And then he gets so mad that he throws some spare body parts around!
Then he goes after Joey, but he's too late; all he can see is her running away. She's wearing flats now, which is very convenient and also much more practical. I'd have changed into those before I climbed down the ladder, but you do you, Joey.
AND THEN IN A SYMBOLIC GESTURE, DAWSON KICKS THAT MOTHERFUCKING LADDER TO THE GROUND!!!!
Did I cheer? Maybe I cheered. But we all know it doesn't really mean anything. That ladder is a resilient fucker that comes back with no explanation time and time again. I'm watching you, ladder.
It's at least better than watching Joey.