This week at the Creek, Joey and Pacey start out the episode “Dance” with some stiff acting for Dawson’s movie. And Dawson, whose movie this is, writes worse dialogue than George Lucas. Pacey’s character tells Joey that even though he doesn’t believe any of the shit she’s had to say about a monster, he still believes in her and goes for the kiss. What does that even mean?
Joey backs off, cringing, and Pacey’s all “What the hell?” because Joey’s character is supposed to be into this kiss even though she’s being called a liar. And what is Joey’s reason for not kissing Pacey? He’s too “repellent.” So, Dawson’s all make with the kissing and Joey’s saying hell no because she thinks Pacey is unworthy, but for some reason she signed up for this gig anyway. Dawson rejects a rewrite, even though a rewrite is badly needed for many reasons.
So the discussion leads to kissing in general and Dawson says his unused lips belong to new blonde Jen and they haven’t kissed yet because they’re meant to be so there’s no rush. In other words, Dawson’s got no game. Joey implies Jen’s been around the block and that waiting for a slutty girl gets you nowhere. Dawson thinks Jen is just as huge of a virgin as he is and Joey calls Dawson a prude for taking kissing so seriously. But then Joey’s just frustrated he isn’t kissing her.
Dawson then makes shit super uncomfortable. After saying that he’s totes going to kiss Jen because it’s foreordained, he tells Joey she’s got kissable lips. Uh, what? What kind of guy says this to a girl he just wants to be friends with? Either he likes stringing her along or he’s being creepy. He then shows her the Joey prop head he’s been painting and it looks nothing like her. He then asks how to get erotic with Crisco.
So now we’re at the high school. Shots of kids rollerblading and wearing backpacks with one strap, as was the style at the time. Floppy plaid shirts abound, everyone trying to look like they care the least. Dawson’s wearing a ’90s necklace with a rock on it that I think he wears for the entire series.
So, Dawson approaches the film teacher and tries to weasel his way into the class by switching his study hall. The teacher allows it on the condition he does no learning.
Cut to Pacey waiting for his illicit lady friend Miss Jacobs in her classroom. Students are coming in and Pacey thinks this is the time to talk about their illegal relationship because the way to your sexual predator’s heart is blackmail. Miss Jacobs is tense and tells him to get the fuck out. Pacey’s having none of it and wants talk about their sweet, sweet love right now. Miss Jacobs gets desperate to have him leave and doesn’t understand why he’s there. She’s seemingly confused about the social consequences of making out with a student. There is no way everyone in class isn’t watching this conversation. How this doesn’t spread through the halls is beyond me.
Back to Dawson, it’s lunch and he’s telling them they need to work overtime on his crappy movie if they’re going to finish in time for a festival he has no chance of winning. Pacey and Joey talk about how they can’t bear to kiss one another because they’re so gross. Dawson tells Joey he can make her super happy by killing her off early and replacing her with Jen. She seems pleased enough with this. No more acting in a shitty movie. But then Dawson compares the plot twist to the movie Psycho, which confirms he’s living in a dream world where kissing is sex and he’s Alfred Hitchcock.
Miss Jacob’s class now, and she asks the class a questions about Wuthering Heights. Bronte enthusiast and bit character Nellie Oleson (No, seriously, that is her name on IMDb) answers her question, and Miss Jacobs tears apart her opinion to make a point to Pacey about why they can never be, and finishes by saying Bronte should have saved her ink. Nellie looks heartbroken and everyone else is put off by the shitty teaching that just happened. Pacey is bummed.
Now in film class– hey, Nellie is in film class too. I guess these classes aren’t happening at the same time? So anyway, Dawson on day one breaks the rule that he’s not supposed to participate in the class and asks a question about the film festival. He finds out the class is submitting a sports movie and rolls his eyes at how cliche the quarterback’s script is because his cheap monster movie is so much better. The quarterback is intentionally smug and we’re supposed to hate him.
Dawson complains to Joey afterwards that he has competition for the festival and it’s a terrible sports movie. But wouldn’t that be a good thing that he’s up against a crappy movie? His own dumb film has a better chance then, doesn’t it? Joey says sports movies are the epitome of everything Dawson’s against. Everything? Sports are everything he’s against? That seems rather excessive.
Ooh, then look out! The quarterback is hitting on Jen, right in front of Dawson, just ups and introduces himself out of nowhere, which no teenager has ever done. And his name is Cliff. Cliff! And he’s wearing a letterman jacket because this was the ’90s and that’s how you know someone is cool. And then after some light flirting, Jen breezes right by Dawson and Joey, who are standing right there in a practically empty hallway, without even saying hello. What the hell? They ate lunch together. Those guys are like her only friends. Not even a nod.
Joey’s all like, see, Dawson? New York girls are FAST and Dawson looks like he’s about to cry.
Cut to Dawson’s house and he’s looking for his camcorder and his dad tells him it’s on his bedside table but that he should remove the tape because hey-oh! He filmed a porno with his wife. And he’s telling his son about it. Dawson is grossed out, as would anyone, and maybe this is why he’s such a prudey prude.
And hell, what a segue because now he wants his dad to teach him about kissing. Do sons actually do this? Get kissing tips from dad? I’m kinda skeeved, but dad’s happy to help. Dawson wants to know about technique and meanwhile Joey’s climbing up the ladder into Dawson’s room. This ladder is just always there, I guess.
Dad’s reminiscing about kissing Mrs. Leery, and Joey (Wearing a bikini top. What?) starts eavesdropping. Dawson’s dad says more stuff about sex and then waxes poetic about romance. He then tries to get Dawson to kiss the prop Joey head he painted and Joey’s watching from the stairs and is totally into it.
Okay, this is uncomfortable.
So he goes ahead and kisses the head and Joey closes her eyes as though she felt it psychically. Dawson says “Cool.” No, it wasn’t. But then he says he wants to forget it happened. Well, me too.
Joey then sees a phone cord going into another room and hears a muffled voice. And since she’s already eavesdropped on one of the family’s private moments, she tries to listen in at the door. Dawson’s mom comes out and is not unreasonably shocked that the neighbour girl is in her house half dressed and trying to listen in on her call.
Then Joey lets her know that she knows. Which begs a question: who enters another person’s house via ladder, eavesdrops on two private conversations in a bathing suit and then calls out their friend’s mom on having an affair? One nosey bastard, that’s who. This chick has balls of steel.
Now back to the movie. Joey is filming her final scene and gets attacked by the monster. She actually gives a very realistic beating to it and runs off and hides somewhere foolish. Cue a decapitation and Dawson is thrilled after one take because he’s a perfectionist.
Joey goes into the house to clean the fake blood off and Jen runs after her in hopes of having a shared female moment. She offers to help Joey, who doesn’t want it, but she insists because she’s gonna make this friendship happen whether Joey wants it or not. And she decides the best way to start is to compliment Joey’s breasts as Joey removes her bikini top. Huh. Joey seems to sway between being weirded out and flattered and decides to simply insult herself instead by insisting she’s too tall.
And now Jen decides she’ll insult herself too because that’s how girls bond. “My hips do this weird thing”. That sounds like something no one would ever say. Fat or wide, fine, but they do a weird thing? What do they do other than be hips? Oh, and she also hates her own breasts and thinks she looks like a duck. She says this as she mops up Joey’s body.
Joey says she doesn’t look like a duck and Jen tells her that’s the nicest thing Joey’s said to her yet, but then says she’s going to make it hard for Joey not to like her. Eh… I don’t know if that conversation really moved her forward in that goal. She leaves Joey wearing just a towel on an open porch, which is not where the average body-shy teen girl would ever choose to change.
Back to filming the movie, Jen is now the one kissing Pacey, and he really lets her have a good one. Jen goes with the flow, and Joey is laughing because Dawson is furious that his dream girl is getting some heavy tongue from his friend instead of from him. He asks Jen if she’s okay, which she completely is because this is not her first kiss by a long shot, and Joey again implies he’s a prude. But now Dawson wants to cut the kiss and do a rewrite because ain’t nobody kissing Jen but him, someday, eventually, if he ever gets around to it after that kissing lesson from dad.
Jen leaves and Dawson follows her, Pacey says he has plans and Joey pries into it because she’s on a roll with being nosey today. Pacey only says his dream woman is at the school dance and that’s where he’s going.
Dawson is not going to the dance and tells Jen he rented movies in lieu to have a “John Travolta night of interpretive expression.” This offer to watch Travolta movies in his room does not sound like a good first date. He assumes she’ll come over anyway, but he assumes wrong ’cause Jen’s going with that Cliff guy. Burn! Dawson’s bent out of shape because she’s going on a date with another dude, even though he hasn’t even kissed her yet or anything, so is that actually a relationship? Jen suggests he come too, but he doesn’t like fun and doesn’t want to disappoint the movies he rented so he turns her down.
Back in Dawson’s room, he’s ranting to Joey about Cliff. Joey says he’s hot. Dawson calls him stupid because he can’t make movies as though that’s the only factor a girl should consider in dating someone. He then obsesses over Jen and creates an elaborate fantasy about how she and Cliff have their first kiss during a slow dance to a cheesy ’80s song, and Joey lies in his bed, probably wondering what she sees in this guy.
Dawson whines about Cliff, wondering what he did that Dawson didn’t do and Joey astutely says, “Asked her out?” Well, d’uh. And now Dawson is off to the dance to get that kiss in before Cliff can and Joey decides to go too because she’s a masochist.
But before they go, Dawson needs to fix his puffy hair and Joey does yet some more eavesdropping on Dawson’s parents. She hears Mrs. Leery say she’ll be working late. We know what that means. Joey utters a dark, “Goodnight, Mrs.Leery,” from the shadows of the stairwell and freaks out Dawson’s mom for the second time that day.
And then Mrs. Leery wants to set things straight with Joey and holy shit, Joey takes her to task about cheating, talking about her own cheating dad and lays it on thick. Like I said, balls of steel. Whoa, did she just blame her mom’s cancer on her dad’s cheating? Yes. Yes, she did. Joey, I don’t think that’s how cancer works.
Mrs. Leery then wants to know if her son is aware of her shenanigans and Joey decides not to bust her, but gives her a second dark and creepy send off.
Cut to the dance and it’s Savage Garden playing, which really takes me back. Jen and Cliff flirt and then dance like awkward 30-somethings. Pacey enters and sees Miss Jacobs chaperoning and makes a beeline for her. She doesn’t want to see him, but he calls her by her first name and asks her to dance, which is obviously not happening. Who’d have thought a horny teenage boy would glom onto a beautiful older woman who came onto him? Not Miss Jacobs.
Joey and Dawson arrive and see Jen and Cliff dancing and Dawson has no idea what to do next. Joey says he’d better act fast because those two are going to screw any second. Dawson asks Joey to dance and she says no, which seems counterproductive when you want someone that bad.
Dawson gets her on the dance floor anyway and the song ends and a slow one starts up. Joey looks like she’s going to pee her pants and they start dancing like old people at a wedding. But no sooner do they start that Dawson declares they lost Jen. They dance briefly and just as Dawson is looking deep into Joey’s eyes, here are Cliff and Jen. They make small talk about movies and everyone saunters off.
Pacey eyes Miss Jacobs from a distance and Dawson watches Jen leave the dance and follows her. She again offers to dance with Dawson and he decides this is a good time to be petty and brings up her being on a date. Jen is like screw this and goes into the ladies room and Dawson follows her and leaves immediately to the sounds of girls screaming in horror.
Now Joey and Dawson are sitting and just watching Jen hang out with the cool kids while Dawson whines again, completely obtuse to the fact this whole situation is his own wimpy fault. Joey points out he barely knows Jen and Dawson talks about their bond and fate and sounds like a stalker. And Joey says he’s scaring her, which is what we’re all thinking. Then Dawson says Jen could be Joey except that Jen is Jen, which is just better. Joey, obviously hurt and insulted, leaves and Dawson is confused because he’s oblivious to other people’s feelings.
Then he gets up, cuts into Jen’s dance with Cliff and self-importantly thanks Cliff for keeping her warm for him while he waited. They have no idea what Dawson’s talking about because he’s being weird and intrusive. So Dawson says he and Jen have something “raw and undefined” going on and he’s going to deal with it right now, thanks anyway, Cliff. Cliff, by the way, has been a gentleman all night and has shown Jen a great time. But he wears a letterman jacket, so we’re not supposed to be on his side. Dawson calls Jen “the object of my desire” and that’s not creepy at all.
None of this is cutting any ice with either of these two and Cliff is understandably put off by this nut. Now a crowd is forming, a fight is nearly going to break out and Jen ditches the dance floor and leaves them both standing there.
Now Dawson and Joey are walking home and Dawson blames Joey for letting him be stupid. Pacey is there, not revealing who his mystery woman is, and Dawson goes back to obsessing about Jen kissing Cliff again.
Mrs. Leery comes home from her extramarital romp, and she and her husband talk about Dawson maybe getting some action from Jen. Then they talk about their past. Their marriage seems super healthy, which makes you wonder why Mrs. Leery is getting some on the side. They start making out and Mrs. Leery looks very guilt-ridden.
Pacey’s walking home alone and there is Miss Jacobs. She’s been waiting for him and now she’s willing to talk. She apologizes for her behaviour and acknowledges she’s totally doing illegal shit with him. Pacey doesn’t want her to take all the blame and feels like he’s a real consenting man and she’s cool with him taking some of the blame, which just shows more bad judgement. But she still says no more kissing, even though Pacey is eager.
They part ways and– oh, they’re kissing again. So much for that.
Dawson and Joey are walking home and Dawson’s still complaining about his bad night and awful behaviour. He compares himself to the monster in his movie and Joey tells him she’s too tired for this shit. She also says she has no idea how someone so self aware could be so clueless.
And they conveniently run into Jen buying saltwater taffy from a street vendor. It’s got to be around 11 at night and there’s a street vendor in a small town selling saltwater taffy? So Dawson decides to try yet again. Joey insincerely wishes him luck in getting a kiss, probably thinking at this point he has no chance in hell.
So they talk and Jen is pissed, obviously, ’cause Dawson embarrassed her, and she wants to know why he was such an asshole. And he’s nowhere near apologetic enough and is like, what are we? Never mind he’s never put the moves on her or anything, but he thinks he’s entitled to some exclusivity, so that other guys who also aren’t kissing her won’t sort of come close to kissing her either. She wants to know what his damage is and he apologizes.
So he says he wants to be her boy adventure instead of her friend. So she says okay and pretty much does all the emotional leg work for him and puts herself on the line. He’s like, “You could kiss me.” Are you kidding? Lazy fuck. Kiss her yourself. But then she’s talking about her sad fast life in New York and how better it is now that things are all chaste and it doesn’t look like there’s going to be any kissing tonight. Guys, it’s just a kiss. You’d think they were talking about sex the way they’re analyzing this. But wait– she tongued Pacey earlier and she doesn’t even like him.
So they dance in the street instead of just making out already and they talk about the kisses they’re not having. Jen calls it the end result of desire. Uh, what? Living the sexy life in New York and a kiss is the end? Were the ’90s really this quaint?
The show ends with them dancing to “You Don’t Know Me.” How ominous.
Most Verbose Articulation: Joey: “Well, you better write something quick because in some moral sectors, what they’re doing is known as foreplay.”