N00bs on the Tube: Dawson's Creek. True Love.
In an effort to cause a little chaos here at Character Grades, each week we're setting up one brave writer on a blind date with a very important episode… of a show they've never seen. They'll attempt to navigate the foreign story, understand the strange characters, and somehow emerge [relatively] unscathed.
Season 3: Episode 23: "True Love"
I am a child of the 90s. I fed my Tamagotchi while rocking a scrunchie. I bopped to the Backstreet Boys under the angsty watch of my Devon Sawa poster. I kind of killed it, you guys. Which is why I hope you'll forgive me for having never watched a single episode of Dawson's Creek. Maybe I hit my WB quota with 7th Heaven, but the most I've seen the Beek "act” is in Ke$ha's unicorn-themed music video. This gave my respect for JVB as a teen icon (teecon?) a healthy kick to the babymaker. Here's all I know about Dawson's Creek:
- The teenagers of this show love being in love almost as much as they love talking about being in love. They talk like Diablo Cody on Quaaludes.
- This show introduced the world to the raging armpit hair and vocal styling of Paula Cole (gateway drug to the estrogen-soaked lady ballads of Lilith Fair).
- Pre-Tom Katie Holmes is the TOMboy next door.
Entitled "True Love,” I'm guessing this episode will have A LOT of teens crying their little hearts out. Does the "creek” in the title refer to a river of their tears? All aboard the FeelingsFest '12.
Cold open! Five seconds in and I'm sold on this show. Where do these people live?! It's like the Hamptons had a baby with Lorelei Gilmore's Stars Hallow. Two middle-aged people are getting hitched and both Dawson and Katie Holmes are in the wedding party. Katie doesn't seem that stoked about it… perhaps a premonition to the future soul-sucking married years she'll spend exploring the dark heart of scientology. Maybe she's just confused about why Dawson's hair is a totally different color from his eyebrows.
Dawson is vomiting feelings everywhere about how excited he is for the big day and how much it means to him that Katie's involved. She looks hungover at best and lobotomized at worst. She's all, "Keep it in your pants, Dawson,” and you can't exactly blame her… The dude's neediness is already on ‘roids and we're tee-ing up for a wedding – the Olympics of emotions. Methinks a shitstorm is a'brewin'. Credits! THIS BEGINNING SONG IS NOT PAULA COLE! NETFLIX, YOU STINGY BITCH! UN-FOR-GIVE-ABLE.
Update: Dawson's parents are getting married (possibly remarried?). I happily accept this because I was afraid for a hot second that Dawson's dad was marrying Katie's mom and I'm pretty sure these kiddies hook up at some point. I've had enough pseudo-sibling love stories for one lifetime.
Unrelated: Katie's hair makes me overwhelmed with gratitude for the proliferation of hair straighteners. Rein it in, 1997. We've now met Joshua Jackson who I learn is named Pacey.
In a plot nearly identical to the Season 1 finale of The O.C., Pacey has decided to pull a Seth Cohen and sail away from his problems (... although I guess this came first so technically Seth pulled a Pacey). He's talking to a beautiful policeman who delivers THIS line with a straight face:
"Every time you look at the stars you're going to see her face.”
I hate myself for it, but I swoon. Ugh. It seems like Katie has chosen Dawson over Pacey and he's heart-broken central. As a general life-rule, I support people running away from reality, so I'm totally for this nautical adventure. Few things are as life-affirming as a good booze cruise. Team Pacey! While this love triangle is going all Bermuda on us, there's a B-story! Michelle Williams is named Jen, and she's all Bitter McBitterson about a boy named Henry who wears BRIGHT ORANGE T-shirts to school. They're playing the Silent Treatment game, which is no fun for anyone, especially the viewer whose retinas are continually exposed to this horrific shade of orange.
I hope we never see Henry again. Overalls alert! Some chick rocking a CLASSIC denim onesie pops over to to Chez Dawson to dispense some advice about letting go.
But… Isn't Dawson with Katie? Is he letting go of Pacey? Is this a bromance breakup? (I pause to pour a drink of whiskey in case men cry. Gotta be prepared).
Katie Holmes learns from Pacey's beautiful bro that he's rolling out in an armada of sadness. She seeks him out and he tells her that he's sad because she hasn't ASKED him to stay. There is a giant, painted brick wall that's a metaphor for them: "Unfinished” as Pacey smugly announces as he drops a truth bomb on Katie. He's a smug bastard, that Pacey. As far as wall metaphors go, this is pretty weak. Compared to Carrie and Mr. Big's "red wall,” it's ultra-contrived. Why is Katie Holmes allowed to paint walls in the middle of their town? Aren't there zoning laws in the Creek? Silver lining: I predict a beautiful mural of feelings!
We cut over to Dawson's parent's rehearsal dinner where Dawson tells Katie she's there "in body but not in spirit.” Then he goes inside to douche his vagina. Katie decides to stay at the party, but I'm concerned because the entire episode thus far has just been dudes telling Katie how she feels. She's an ambivalent snoozefest and I'm offended for opinionated brunettes everywhere.
After A LOT of staring at each other and pacing (Pacey-ing) on the dock, Katie admits that she "chose” Dawson because she was afraid he wouldn't forgive her. (I'm instantly curious as to what would be an unforgivable offense in this show – did Katie bone Dawson's dad? Is that why his parents divorced?) Shockingly, the foundation of great relationships aren't usually "I figured we'd date so you wouldn't be pissed off.” Katie explains to Dawson that she wanted to pick Pacey, but didn't… because of their friendship. Friends don't let friends date other friends they are in love with. (????)
....Whiskey drink numero duo, dudes.
We cut over to Pacey's goodbye party and there's like 4 people there. This is REALLY sad, you guys. I don't even think there's booze. Worst going-away party ever. Luckily, Michelle William's grandma is there, who's a FOX. Back in the day, Gran went after her man and now she has no regrets! While I blame these stories for giving real life ladies unrealistic expectations that their ex will show up at their door a la a John Hughes flick, I eat this stuff up on TV. MORE PLEASE! Michelle Williams decides to go hunt down her man, and with grandma on board, I let go of my anger towards Orange Shirt. Get your man, gurl! After the rehearsal dinner, Katie meanders by her wall only to see that Pacey has broken out some baller third grade-level artwork.
In true form, Katie says nothing and stares at the wall sadly. It seems my lobotomy theory has some legs… The next day, Dawson's parents are getting hitched and ALL I can think about is Julie Cooper's wedding to Caleb Nichol. Pacey is Seth, obviously. Katie Holmes, caught between a past and new lover, is Ryan Atwood – and in his terribleness, Dawson is Marissa. I miss Sandy Cohen. Dawson's eyebrows can't compete.
Turns out I was right about the dude breakup because Dawson and Pacey have a terrible and intense convo about Katie. She bids adieu to Pacey and spends the rest of the wedding being a smitten kitten with Daw-brows.
Over in the B-story, Michelle Williams finds Orange Shirt and confesses that she wants to get laid. They have the kiss every girl dreams of – surrounded by a group of angry football players and her grandma. Michelle is finally happy, and her euphoria inspires Jack to spill his guts to HIS ex. The whole gang is on board and they decide to drive to Boston, which seems INSANE, since I figured this show was set in like, Tennessee. Is an 8-hour car ride really worth it?
Spoiler alert: Nope. Jack learns that his ex got back with his ex. SNAP! It's the awkward and devastating type of rejection that justifies high schoolers for being such little shitheads all the time.
Over at the wedding, Dawson makes a sweet speech about his parents where he alludes to the fact that he's forgiven Katie for seducing his pops. He later confronts her (on the dock, obvs) and tells her that she needs to go to Pacey. Apparently, Katie had the chance to go to Paris last summer and didn't go because of Dawson! I am skeptical that Pacey could offer anything as satisfying as French men AND pastries, but Dawson sways her by saying, "Pacey is this year's Paris.” He also says "Words and speeches sound great, but they don't add up to anything,” which seems cray because this entire episode has been just one long marathon conversation. In any event, Katie FINALLY knows what she wants and leaves Dawson to start what becomes a parade of men crying.
… and by crying, I mean sobbing.
No amount of whiskey can dull the pain of witnessing a man-sob. I'm misty. Luckily, Jack's dad and Dawson's friends are there to cradle the heartbroken like little newborn babies. They're all kumbaya and announce that "pain makes them real” which seems like the mantra of a Fight Club. No judgement… It seems like this whole crew could benefit from an extracurricular.
Continuing the ep's theme of hunting down the person you're into with stalker-like intensity, Katie goes to Pacey. Surprise! She's in love with him and decides to embark on an ill-planned destination-less boat trip! The couple literally sails into the sunset.
(Non-Paula Cole scored) Credits! One ep down of Dawson's Creek, I'm mildly buzzed, in the fetal position and emotionally exhausted. I f'ing loved it! Let's recap, shall we? What I know now about Dawson's Creek:
- No Paula Cole on the Netflix version. Relive the magic below.
- The feeling-filled dialogue was less drugged-up-Diablo and more Judd-Apatow-goes-to-therapy.
- Grandmas be ballin'.
So now YOU tell me, 90s kids – Is this ep a good representative of the entire series? Is Dawson always so boring? Will Katie's character ever seem real enough for me to refer to her as anything other than "Katie”? Spoil DC for me!
Seriously, god bless you. GOD BLESS YOU. this was the most hilarious, articulate, hilarious, nostalgic trip I have taken all fucking year. ;) No, but seriously, definitely this lifetime.
Katie, watch every episode backwards and tell us about it!!! I will pore over every. single. word. Not any season after season 4, then it gets all weirdly saved by the bell the college year-sy.
Fave parts - You recognise the OC is basically DC dressed up in less offensive outfits. you showed me that ke$ha video... i never knew that existed.
in summary, where have you been all my life?