Episode 9 (real title: "The Election") kicks off in Dawson's room, where Jen is reading the script for his new stupid movie. She appears to be sober, which seems like a bad life choice.
She finishes the script and SURPRISE, IT SUCKS! She tells him it's all fluff, and he totally freaks out.
He says he put his heart and soul into it and Jen says it's just kinda boring and formulaic and about teen love and crap and who cares? Dawson can't even. It's about SEXUAL AWAKENINGS! THE MAGIC OF FIRST LOVES! BLERRRRRGGGGFFFFGGHHH. Then he literally beats his head against the wall.
POUND HARDER, DAWSON.
Jen tells him the script is fine, it's just not "raw and dark" enough. She says Dawson acts and writes like a 47-year-old man instead of a teenager, and he needs to start pretending like he's actually 15. I guess Jen must not watch this show, because Dawson's about as teenager-y as it gets. They disagree with me, though, and decide that Jen must re-initiate Dawson into the shenanigans of adolescence. Thus begins an episode-long trope in which they refer to her as his "regression sponsor." I can't.
At school, Andie catches up with Joey and says she was having trouble sleeping until she had a Joey-centric epiphany! I get it because Joey frequently makes me want to curl up in a ball and go to sleep too.
Joey may also have that effect on Joey, judging from her "woke up like this" fashion choices here.
Andie says that she wants to run for sophomore class president and she wants Joey to run with her! Joey is not into it.
She tells Andie it's a bad idea to put her on the ballot because everyone knows she's a heinous bitch with a messed-up family, but Andie asks her to think about it anyway.
Freakin’ Abby comes by to drop the bomb that she and Walking Hepatitis Chris are running, too! She wants Pacey's vote because apparently he's got a lot of influence with the slackers.
Pacey bemoans the current state of politics at Capeside High, and Andie tells him not to give up hope in the democratic process because she is going to run for president - AND she wants him to be her campaign manager!
He agrees to do it, but I wouldn't say he's psyched.
Mrs. Leery’s dishwasher is broken and Mr. Leery is helping her repair it because she "didn't know who else to call." (Might I suggest a repairman?) In the world's least surprising turn of events, Mr. Leery has zero idea how to fix a dishwasher.
In true beefcake fashion, Mr. Leery strips off his wet T-shirt. Mrs. Leery begins to ineffectively dry him with a dish towel, and suddenly, they are both overcome with lust.
I thought for sure they'd find the nearest piece of wicker furniture to go at it, but they choose the butcher block island instead.
Followed by the kitchen table.
In the middle of this uncomfortable-looking grope fest, Dawson wanders in. Any other person on the planet would be horrified to walk in on their parents going at it, but not our Dawson!
Thankfully, he doesn't stay to watch, just quietly backs out to leave them to it.
Joey and Jack are building condiment pyramids and discussing genetics in the once-again-completely-deserted Icehouse restaurant.
Seriously, how does this place stay in business?
Joey asks if Jack inherited his clumsiness from his mom or his dad, which leads into a series of questions about his family. Jack gets all squirrelly and refuses to answer any of them. Joey's pushing him on it, but he's saved by the bell, or rather, by Abby and the Walking Hep C.
Abby is super horrified by the terrible service at the Icehouse. I mean, she's not wrong; why do you think it's always so dead in there?! She tells Joey that she brought Hep C there to discuss campaign strategy specifically because she knew they'd have the entire place to themselves.
Jack asks Joey if she's sure she wants to let these idiots run the sophomore class. She says she's not much of a joiner and isn't really into putting herself out there for public scrutiny, so Jack showers her with undeserved praise, telling her she's got this "amazing girl-next-door quality" and that she's "a born leader." Abby creeps up behind them. She can't even.
She says Joey would have no chance against her, because people throw the trash out, they don't vote it in. But Joey should feel free to run anyway, she says. "What's one more disappointment in a meager, depressing existence?"
Joey's had about enough of this shit, so she dumps an entire pitcher of water over Abby's head!
Abby storms out, and Joey turns to Jack and says, "Tell Andie I'm in." JACK CANNOT EVEN!
Pacey and Andie talk election strategy, with some help from "this book about the Clinton campaign" that Pacey picked up. Which Clinton campaign? Who even cares? STILL RELEVANT, BABY!
Somehow their political powwow devolves into a conversation about how sexy they find each other. They’re nuzzling, but then Joey plops down in this condom hat to spread the bad news that Chris and Abby have launched a “mud-slinging campaign.”
Andie says it's fine. She refuses to play dirty. She wants to just focus on the issues! Winning will be their best revenge!
Andie, this strategy didn't work for Bernie and it ain't gonna work for you.
Meanwhile, Joey hates everything. Including, hopefully, her own hat.
Jen and Dawson are starting his "regression training" here at the market, where she's encouraging him to do a little shoplifting! Dawson cannot even.
Jen says he must EXPERIENCE THE RUSH, and he must do it by stealing her this lipstick! "We may as well both benefit," she says.
Eventually, after whining for what feels like my entire life, Dawson shuts up and pockets the lipstick. They exit the store and talk about how they are both so omg EXHILARATED, but then Jen asks for the lipstick, and Dawson admits that he actually put it back. She goes off on him for being too mature, for approaching life like a middle-aged psychologist. It's keeping him from connecting to his imaginary movie audience, she says. This whole subplot is confusing and annoying. You're both stupid and immature. Let's move on.
And also his running mate, who appears to be some sort of teenage undertaker. Hello!
The candidates have gathered for their big debate, which thankfully we only have to watch in snippets via a montage. Some highlights!
"WALKMANS IN STUDY HALL IS A GREAT IDEA."
“I’m a man of the people. I’ve probably partied with everyone here at least once.”
Joey also whines about Hep C and Abby's mud-slinging campaign, but who cares. The montage ends with Abby asking the audience who they really want to run their class. "Us? The geeks? Or Little Miss Perky and the convict's daughter?"
Andie says that's not relevant, so Abby says she'll bring everyone up to speed on something that is relevant: Andie's mom's mental illness. She puts her typical heinous Abby flair on it, though, saying that Andie's mom is "one shock treatment shy of a permanent residence in the loony bin."
Andie doesn't know what to do, understandably. She finds Pacey in the bleachers, and he makes a "stay calm" motion at her. Joey jumps in and says Abby should stick to the issues, and that Andie's personal life has no bearing on her ability to be class president, but Abby is not having it. She goes on to say that she has "hard evidence" that Andie's mom was responsible for the death of her older brother, "and we all know that mental illness is hereditary."
Those are ugly butterfly clips in Abby's hair, but really, they're her demon horns yearning to breathe.
Even Hep C has the decency to look uncomfortable.
And then, and only then, does the world's worst guidance counselor and debate moderator think it's a good idea to jump in and stop this bullshit.
By this point, Andie is crying and semi-catatonic.
She tries to say something, but can't, so she just walks offstage, leaving Pacey holding his book about the Clintons and looking upset. I like to think it is at least partly because Andie did not smack Abby across her stupid face as she left the gym.
Joey finds Jack later and says she’s sorry for grilling him about his family. He's not in the mood.
He just wants to find his sister and not listen to Joey's warbling. She asks if she can help, and Jack reiterates that he doesn't like talking about his family. "But I can help! I went through something similar with my family!" Joey says, but Jack just snaps at her and walks away.
I'm kind of torn. On the one hand, I like it when people yell at Joey, and it just doesn't happen nearly often enough. On the other hand, she's just trying to help. Meh. Team No One, yet again.
Pacey, continuing his streak of relative-in-today's-political-climate actions, heads into the girls' bathroom to look for Andie! (Too soon? Whatever. Welcome to my North Carolina news-reporting life.)
Also, look at Hep C's campaign slogan. "The people's choice. The only choice." Even on a poster, he manages to come off like a date rapist.
Pacey crawls around trying to find Andie while monologuing about how this is not such a big deal.
He eventually finds her crouching on a toilet and tells her she can get through this.
Andie says she may have to live the rest of her life in this bathroom, because everyone knows about her messed-up family and they'll laugh at her. Pacey says nobody will laugh at her, because everybody comes from a dysfunctional family. "It's the 90's," he says, very unironically.
Andie waxes poetic about how politics used to mean something, but now she'll never be elected because she doesn't come from the normal family she always wanted. Pacey replies by telling her that "normal" isn't really a thing. Andie seems kind of calm at this point, but then out of nowhere she gets upset again and chucks his Clinton book at the mirror. "I HATE THIS," she yells, so I guess she's Team Bernie. Or maybe Team Trump.
The mirror shatters.
What kind of mirror breaks from having a book thrown at it? You know what else used to mean something, Andie? CRAFTSMANSHIP.
Over at the bachelor loft, Mr. Leery is using his free, unemployed time to refurbish a chair that he found in the literal trash!
He's hoping to sell it, earn himself a little spending money! What an enterprising young man! Hey just a thought here but if you're looking for some cash you know what else might help you earn it is A GODDAMN JOB.
Dawson stops by to drop off Mr. Leery's mail (a stack of comic books and Highlights magazine, probably), but he's really just there to gab about how Mr. Leery banged Mrs. Leery all over the kitchen.
Look how smug he is. I want to punch him in the face.
Mr. Leery tells him that it's complicated, and Dawson says that's fine. "I just wanted to let you know that I'm fine with you staying over sometimes." He knows reconciliations can be tricky. How he knows this, I'm not sure, since nobody wants to reconcile with Dawson. Nobody wants to reconcile with Mrs. Leery either, it turns out, because Mr. Leery isn't coming back.
Banging Mrs. Leery amongst the vegetables was a mistake, and it just made everything worse, and it changes nothing. "It's the action that must change," he says, in the manner of a sleeveless Mr. Miyagi.
Andie remains catatonic, and is sitting in a rocking chair staring out the window. She's doing a really good Mrs. Leery, minus the satin.
Jack comes in. He tells Andie that her highs and lows are becoming really intense and he thinks that maybe she should go back on her medication. We veer slightly into Very Special Episode territory here, but it clarifies a lot of things. Mental illness is, in fact, hereditary - Abby sucks, but her research was correct - and given everything that's gone down with her family in the past year, it seems reasonable that Andie would have been on some type of medication. But Andie tells Jack she just had a rough day (also reasonable) and she doesn't NEED pills because she is FINE.
I wouldn't say she's super convincing.
Dawson is done dealing with the world, so he asks Jen to arrange some teenage shenanigans for him. They start by TP-ing someone's house and fleeing through the woods!
Dawson's all high on hormones and wants to keep the party going, so Jen tells him to drop trou because they're going skinny-dipping!
He's super freaked out, which does not get better when Jen ducks behind him to strip.
She finishes getting naked and runs into the water without him.
That water looks very reedy and is probably full of snakes, AND THERE'S ABOUT TO BE ONE MORE, because Dawson finally strips down and runs in. Awwww yeah a penis pun, my blog has finally hit the big time!
They get into a splash fight, and then Jen abruptly asks Dawson if he's ever dreamt about her. "Have you ever woken up sweating...with your blanket in a little pop tent?" UGH.
Instead of answering, he asks if she's ever dreamt about him like that. Then they kiss.
This is the least romantic thing to ever happen, and not just among things that involve pop tents.
Jen ends the kiss quickly, telling Dawson he's crossing the line. They're finally friends, she says, and she doesn't want to mess it up, even though she started this whole pop-tent line of questioning. She says they'll just have to figure out their friendship as they go. And then they get into another splash fight.
This is one wild and crazy night!!!
The next day, the sophomore class president candidates are giving stump speeches over the PA system. Abby, who is inexplicably allowed to continue her campaign even though she publicly and cruelly humiliated a classmate for no good reason the day before, asks simply if her classmates really want "those other losers" running the school. Then, proud of herself, she says the election is "as locked up as Joey's father."
Even Hep C can't stand her.
Joey tells Andie they can just bail on this, but Andie says she can do it. But once the microphone is on, she just sits there, until finally saying, "I just can't do this." Then she leaves.
Pacey sits down at the microphone, which is very obviously still on, and asks Abby why she's slumming as vice president with Hep C. Abby, who must be very stupid to not realize that nobody turned the microphone off after Andie left, says she's just using "that walking penis" for his popularity. "Victory is so much sweeter when you have to walk on other people to get it," she says, adding that everyone's just too stupid to stop her. NOT PACEY, THOUGH! He informs her the microphone's been on this entire time!
As Pacey walks out, he says, "School's yours, pal," to Jimmy and they have a high five.
REDEMPTION FOR JIMMY!! Making his untimely death as the Tree Hill school shooter that much more confusing. What happened to you, Jimmy?
Dawson finds the Leerys’ divorce papers in the kitchen, and his mom tells him that Mr. Leery had her served that morning. He asks if she’s OK, and she says yes because she’s very busy cleaning this already-spotless windowpane.
Jack shows up at the Icehouse and asks if he can walk Joey home. He apologizes for being a big a-hole and shutting her out, it's just that when things get rough, he goes on autopilot. Joey tells him that when her mom was dying she had this amazing friend (clearly, it's Dawson) who would sometimes just sit with her when she didn't feel like talking. It really helped! Sometimes he'd just hold her hand, she says, and then carefully takes Jack's hand.
Pacey calls to check in on Andie. She says she's feeling a lot better, and then she reaches into the cabinet and pulls out a bottle of prescription pills.
She shakes out two (the recommended dosage, don't worry) and tells Pacey, "I'll be back to my old self tomorrow." (That's not really how psychiatric medication works, but I support Dawson's Creek calling awareness to the struggle, regardless.) She pops those pills in her mouth and washes them down while sobbing.
They're not cyanide pills, Andie. You're gonna be OK.
Jen’s sitting on the kitchen floor writing in her journal (as you do) when Dawson comes in to tell her that his parents are getting a divorce and he doesn’t know how to react. He starts crying, so she just hugs him. He thanks her for being there, and she says, “Thanks for letting me.”
Then Jen makes this face
probably because she's realizing that she's now Dawson's only friend. You brought this on yourself, Jen. You have only yourself to blame.