Season 2, episode 8 (real title: "The Reluctant Hero") kicks off with Dawson watching It's a Wonderful Life. I think? Maybe it's To Kill A Mockingbird?
I have not watched many old movies in my life, I guess. Whatever. Pacey is there and he doesn't know or care what movie it is either. He is bored and just wants to take all of the pepperoni off the pizza and eat it on one slice. I totally relate to this and endorse Pacey's priorities.
Dawson is disgusted, not by the meat tower Pacey's constructing, but that he dares to ignore Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (aha! That's what it is!). Pacey does not even care because it is a damn black-and-white movie filled with dead people and there are salamis a-waitin'!
Dawson does not understand how Pacey can be bored when this is such a heroic movie. Pacey says it's because he can't relate, but he gets why Dawson's into it, since Dawson basically is Jimmy Stewart. You know, a good guy! Right then, Jen climbs into Dawson's window. She is super wasted and passes out on Dawson's bed about two seconds after she gets there. She's lucky that didn't happen half a minute earlier when she was successfully navigating the freaking ladder to his roof (which, I might add, has come back with zero explanation after Dawson dramatically kicked it down two episodes ago). Jen's spiraling and Dawson doesn't know what to do about it, he says, adding that it's the third time this week this has happened. Then he and Pacey start taking Jen's shoes off, and I guess I do believe that they're nice guys, because it doesn't give me that creepy date-rape feeling I get every single time skeevy Chris shows up.
Hey look it's fall!
I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that this footage is not from Wilmington. The leaves do not change in Wilmington and fall is not a thing that really happens there, it's just humid all the time forever until, eventually, it's Thanksgiving.
Mr. Leery has come back to pack up more of his toys and, being Mr. Leery, has decided to help himself to Mrs. Leery's coffee, food and newspaper while he's there.
He says he'd like Dawson to help him move out as kind of a bonding thing, which proves that Mr. Leery is exceedingly terrible at this whole parenting-and-divorce thing. I'd have punched my dad right in the face if he suggested that.
Dawson's not far from that, I think.
Mr. Leery says he just wants them to "do the friend thing," probably because, let's be real, this man has no friends. The closest he's come in the last two seasons is forcing Tamara to talk to him repeatedly under the guise of maybe wanting to possibly buy her warehouse. Dawson, likewise, has zero interest in being pals with Mr. Leery, but agrees to help him move because parental divorce guilt is a very real thing, even on bad teen TV shows. Mr. Leery tells Dawson he's really trying here, but Dawson is busy selecting an apple from this unreasonably large pile of apples so he doesn't have time to care.
It's just so. many. apples.
Before Dawson leaves with his carefully selected fruit, Mr. Leery hands him a piece of mail that he'd taken by mistake. Dawson eagerly tears it open and then shows us his O-face.
He got more action from that mail in 2 seconds than he ever did from Joey. I was hoping to get through this week's episode without drinking, but I could just fucking tell this was going to be about Dawson's stupid fucking swamp-thing movie so I was forced to pause the DVD to get wine so that I could soldier on. Dawson's Creek is not for the weak or the newly sober.
Pacey is meeting with his guidance counselor and learns that he's a total loser! He has a 1.7 GPA, no extra-curricular activities, and failed a career aptitude test, which shows that he has "absolutely zero career objectives." The counselor tells Pacey that most people who are that dumb can't even walk upright, and that Pacey's only option is to go to summer school, repeat the sophomore year, and then coast to graduation, after which he can mooch off the government for the rest of his life. So inspirational! Best guidance counselor ever!
Dawson seeks out Joey to tell her that they won best short film in whatever godforsaken film festival their travesty of a movie was entered in. The judges fell all over themselves to praise the thing, saying it displayed "a profound understanding" of traditional Hollywood tropes or something. Literally, I just want to vomit. Joey makes this face
so I feel like maybe she does too.
The prize is $2,500 to finance their next project. Dawson says he needs her to produce that one too, but Joey says she's really busy trying to be an artist so she can't and also they broke up so she doesn't want to spend all of her time making bad movies with him. She's totes happy for him though!
At lunch, Dawson is working on a laptop that basically is the computer I use at work, so never let anyone tell you that stereotypes about journalists are not true! We're all riding high on that sweet, sweet late-90's technology, because that is all our newspapers can afford.
Jen, presumably sober now, comes to sit with him, and Dawson shares the news of his unlikely film-festival victory. She says she's proud of him, so maybe she's still a little buzzed.
Pacey tells Andie that he's a hopeless loser without a future, and Andie goes on a rant about how it's not his fault, it's just that the public school system has failed him by letting him slip through the cracks. She gets very fired up and ends up yelling, so everybody's listening by the end. Pacey leads them in a round of applause.
This girl is presumably a student, but she is at least 39 years old so has probably failed sophomore year a few times herself. Pacey should ask her for pointers!
Andie is not here for middle-aged applause, though. She thinks Pacey should take his future seriously, but Pacey says he's finally figured out that he really IS a joke and has decided to just accept it. Andie thinks this is crap.
Pacey can reinvent himself, she says, because this is America, and anybody can be anything they want! (This was 18 years before Donald Trump became the presumptive GOP nominee for president, so Andie was way ahead of her time.) She ends her pep talk by telling Pacey, "Heroes are made, not born!" He looks very inspired, probably because this makes him think he is about to become Ironman.
Skeevy Chris comes over to Dawson and Jen's table and tells her he's surprised to see her moving around in daylight, so I guess she was getting drunk with him before jungle-gymming it up to Dawson's room. Chris' friend says he's having a "kegs and eggs" party tonight and Jen is totally excited to go, even though Chris invites her by spelling out the word "party" and inexplicably leaving off the Y. IT'S FIVE LETTERS, CHRIS. YOU LITERALLY FORGOT 20 PERCENT OF THE LETTERS.
Chris slinks away and Dawson asks what Jen's doing with him. She says she's just having fun and that Dawson should stop judging her and being suuuuch a square and should just come to the part(y) with her! She does still seem kind of drunk, to be honest. Maybe she also pre-gamed this episode after learning that Dawson's movie won a prize.
Jack and Joey have made peace after their awkward kiss, and he asks her out to dinner at a hot-dog cart! She says, "Like a date?" And he says, "Like a dat. Just take the e off."
THAT IS 25 PERCENT OF THE LETTERS, JACK. WHY. WHY IS THIS A THING.
Then he says he checked the lunar calendar and Joey can feel totally safe going with him because there's no full moon for weeks. BLAAAHHH. Naturally, Joey says yes. Jack is so happy he can't even deal.
Dawson shows up at Joey’s while she’s carefully selecting a cardigan for her dat(e). He's there to give her half the prize money from their award-winning movie about a swamp monster. As he's handing over the check, Dawson notices Joey's sexy white button-down sweater and asks if she's going somewhere.
She tells him she's just going to hang out with a friend, which should get his hackles up since, like Mr. Leery, Joey has no friends. But he's got no time for suspicion, because Joey immediately changes the subject, asking if things can just get back to normal between her and Dawson, allowing them to be friends again. She asked him this in the last episode too, and it upset him a lot - "IF YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY THAT CAN'T HAPPEN, YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND ME," I believe was his not-at-all-overly-dramatic reply - but he’s fine with it now. Continuity! Who even cares! Whatever!
Then she placates Dawson by telling him she is sure his next movie will be great. He says he's thinking of doing a love story. "Boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back.” Joey's psyched.
As Dawson goes to leave, Jack shows up. They stand face-to-face as they each mentally size up the other's testicles.
I'm Team No One, thanks.
As she lets Jack inside, Joey casts one last glance at Dawson, who's flouncing down to his douchey speedboat.
Mr. Leery, who still has no job or reliable source of income and who was most recently living in a roach motel, has inexplicably moved it on up to this awesome loft with exposed brick walls and lofted ceilings.
Dawson carries in the final box and tries to leave, but Mr. Leery is very lonely on account of not having friends or a job, so he begs Dawson to stay and be his pal. He asks about Joey (sore subject) and Jen (drunk subject), which doesn't persuade Dawson to hang out.
Dawson really just wants to leave, but before he can Mr. Leery gives him his own set of keys to the sweet bachelor loft and tells him to think of it as his own place. Dawson is totally dunzo. He says he doesn't NEED anymore friends or a swingin' singles pad, he just wants a father. Mr. Leery is very choked up at the news that he will still have to act as Dawson's parent, but admits, grudgingly, that he needs to respect Dawson's decision. This whole thing is basically the most formulaic divorced-dad plotline ever. I'd expect a trophy wife to roll in next, except you typically need a checking account to attract one of those.
After comparing penis size with Jack and teaching his dad how to adult, Dawson is done with people, so he goes to Jen's to see if he can still part(y) with her. Jen says he can come as long as he doesn't harsh her buzz (literal and metaphorical) by being all judgey about her part(y)ing habits. She also tells him that he is not allowed to think of this as a date (a dat?), because he is so pathetically on the rebound that he's "practically bouncing." Dawson can't deny this, so he says okay.
They get to the part(y) and Chris immediate snags Jen for a dance. She tells Dawson to come inside with her, but he opts to hang back creepily and watch her through the screen door in his totally inappropriate sweater. IT IS FOUR THOUSAND DEGREES IN WILMINGTON ALL OF THE TIME. I am sweating just looking at him.
Pacey goes over to Andie's house to study in an attempt to have a future, and they run into her mom in the garden. She asks what they'll be studying and Pacey says U.S. history. "If Tim were here, he could help you," Andie's mom says serenely, probably because she's hopped up on lithium. "That's one of his favorite subjects."
Tim's still dead, so inside, Pacey asks Andie about her mom, and Andie's clearly in denial about how she's really doing. They go to Andie's room to hit the books and Pacey spends some time admiring Andie's shrine to her own accomplishments, which includes a horseshoe and my mom's rainbow camera strap from 1976.
He marvels at her. She takes care of her family and wins a bunch of horseshoes and also has time to tutor his stupid ass. "Aren't you tired?" he says, and she shrugs. "You do what you gotta do," she says. If Instagram had existed when Dawson's was filming, Andie would have my permission to consistently tag her photos #hustling. She is kind of my Dawson's role model.
Admittedly, it's a pretty low bar.
OH HI WILMINGTON! YOU SO PRETTY.
Joey and Jack are eating dinner on the river. Jack tells Joey about his fascination with lightning, and Joey says that when she was younger, she and Dawson tried to replicate Ben Franklin's key experiment with the kite. They almost got electrocuted!
Jack takes great offense to this story, and sadly, I do not think it is because of the "almost."
He bought her a hot dog and taught her about lightning, he does not want to hear about stupid Dawson Leery. Joey says she's sorry, it's just that a lot of her stories involve Dawson because her life is small and sad!
Jack tells her it's OK. He knows she has a history with Dawson. "I could tell when he punched me." Joey says it isn't Dawson's fault, it's just that he thinks life is a movie, which sounds kind of like something that is 100 percent actually his fault. Jack says he knows, because when he and Dawson were comparing their manhood outside of Joey's house he felt like he was in a Western movie. Which is also fine, because Jack would duel for Joey any day!
JEN. GIMME SOME OF YOUR BOOZE.
Dawson, meanwhile, is spending his wild part(y) night hovering over Jen. Chris pops up to ask if Dawson's there to find some post-Joey action with Jen, and Dawson tells him she's just his friend. "Jen's a good friend to have," Chris says lecherously. "We should all have more like her." Dawson tells Chris he's scuzzy, so Chris goes over to Jen. Dawson is not psyched. I'm on board with this, since Chris is basically a walking talking strain of syphilis.
Jen's hair looks like a troll doll, or possibly like Ryan Cabrera.
The phone rings at Andie's and it's someone calling to let her know that her mom wandered away from the house and is down at the market. Andie and Pacey rush there to find her mom in the middle of a crowd, quietly telling everyone that her husband usually takes care of things.
Life must be pretty dull in Capeside, because this is a very uninteresting spectacle. She's just hanging out calmly with a shopping basket. Andie asks her mom to come home with her, but her mom says she can't. So Pacey steps in! He says she must be there to pick up some groceries, and suggests that she add some marshmallows to her haul.
Andie's mom seems to come to a little. She tells him she actually already has food at home, including turkey and roast beef. It's no leaning tower of pepperoni, but Pacey is still delighted!
He asks Andie's mom if she'll come home and make him a sandwich. She says yes, and Pacey leads her out of the store with his arm around her.
Did I cry a little? Maybe I cried a little.
Aaand then this happened.
Dawson walks in on a barely-conscious Jen about to have a threesome with Chris and his disgusting friend. Chris notices him and says, "Hey Dawson, you wanna play?"
DAWSON DOES NOT WANT TO PLAY.
He carries Jen outside. She is super pissed, but he does not care. "LOOK AT YOUR LIFE," he yells. "LOOK AT YOUR CHOICES." He tells her she's avoiding dealing with her unhappiness, and it's disgusting. She tells him that he's one to talk, because he's the unhappiest person she knows. Dawson says that's fine, because at least he's not pretending. "I WAS NOT PRETENDING," Jen says. "I WAS HAVING FUN." But then she has to stop arguing so she can vomit.
Into her own hand.
JEN. GET. IT. TOGETHER.
She tells Dawson that she tried to be good like he is, but she just has no hope, and that's fine, because if everybody had that hope, "people like you wouldn't be so special." Dawson tells her that she's special too and she wouldn't be so miserable if she weren't. This was all starting to feel like A Very Special Episode, so I'm relieved when Jen stops the specialness conversation to tell Dawson that she can't possibly go home. He gives her a hug. "I know someplace nearby we can go," he says.
Jack drops Joey off and lays one on her.
As she's going inside, she stops to tell him that she had a really nice time. Even she doesn't seem to understand how that's possible.
Andie and Pacey put Andie’s mom to bed. After, Andie tells Pacey he just proved that he's not a screw-up and he can be anything he wants, even Ironman!
Ironman gets alllll the smooches.
Dawson took Jen to Mr. Leery's loft! His bachelor accoutrements include two plastic pitchers and a seemingly endless supply of V-neck T-shirts.
While Jen sleeps it off, Dawson and Mr. Leery have a heart to heart. Mr. Leery says he'll be Dawson's lame old dad, but he'd ALSO like to be his friend. Dawson finally agrees. They bond over their matching necklines.
You can tell Mr. Leery is ecstatic that somebody still wants to talk to him.
Dawson goes to check on Jen, who is asleep in what appears to be some sort of basement cage.
They start talking about Dawson's dumb movie, which seems like a surefire way to get her puking again. He tells her it's going to be a romance with star-crossed lovers, but he doesn't know yet how it will end. Jen says he shouldn't make it a happy ending, because they're totally unrealistic.
Dawson says she should just go to sleep, because she'll feel better in the morning. Jen says, "I really wish that were true." Jen is emo af.
Then the Goo Goo Dolls start playing!!! The music has just been on point the last few episodes, it makes me super happy.
Joey shows up at Dawson's, but of course he is not there because he's in the basement with sad Jen. However, his creepy spare body parts
and this stuffed shark
are there for her to hang out with. I fully expected her to go sit in the closet or something (she fucking loves that closet), but all she does is pick up the shark briefly and smile.
I have zero recollection of this shark. Is it a thing? Did she give it to him? Does she just like flesh-eating fish? Who knows. And then she leaves.
And that's the end. It's very anti-climactic, but at least it involves Joey getting farther away from me.