Opening scene: Dawson is showing his mom his movie. There’s a scene of Devon as Sammy almost orgasmically rowing her boat to the Leery house. And it seems to end on that note, which is weird because I thought this was an epic about the first time he got dumped. His mom showers him with praise, as moms are wont to do, and despite this being the first time anyone’s told him they like his film and he’s desperate for approval, he’s not having it. Writers. He thinks his film has fallen flat and now he’s worried about his life sucking forever. Teenagers.
Mrs. Leery moms it up and gives Dawson a pep talk before moving on to asking about Mitch, who somehow has snagged that job as a teacher at the high school. He tries to use a similar pep talk on his mom for winning her husband back, as though re-editing a movie and fixing a marriage ruined by infidelity are in any way similar.
I’m watching the opening theme on YouTube this time, as this episode… SHIT’S ABOUT TO GET REAL. And this fluffy Jann Arden ain’t gonna cut it.
At the Potter house, Dad’s cooking breakfast and Joey’s doe-eyed and almost childlike about her father’s sudden presence. I want to know how a man gets released from prison without his family finding out. Wouldn’t Joey have known her dad was getting out? Was he paroled? What’s the story here?
But no mention of such minor details! Dad and Bess want the Ice House to cater fancy shindigs and Joey’s worried because all they know how to do is flip burgers. Dad’s like, hey, we’re Potters! We can do it! Gumption! Give me my grandson! I’m back! And in less than 20 seconds he hands the baby back, which doesn’t suggest a lot of commitment, just sayin’.
The shindig in question is for Bess’ friend, who’s getting married Saturday and whose caterer bailed, and so this is their chance, with zero experience, to expand their business with a recent ex-con at the helm. What a desperate bride this must be. Dad reassures Joey her days of worry are behind her and gives her the solid father act, and because the road to hardening your heart against a disappointing dad can take many years, she accepts his comfort.
At school, Joey’s telling Jack about her dad’s sudden appearance, and because the writers don’t want to bother with this detail at all, he doesn’t ask obvious questions like, “Did you know he was getting out?” Instead, Jack’s like, you must be thrilled! And Joey says she is when she isn’t feeling an overwhelming sense of impending doom looming over her. Jack says, yeah, you should tell your dad this is a shit idea and work things out with him before he goes out in public. But he says he’ll help with the catering biz.
Inside, Dawson is telling Pacey about his plans to reedit his movie. And then he sees his newly divorced dad macking on his film teacher, which admittedly sucks ass. Jack approaches them and says Joey’s dad’s out of the big house, and do you want to be waiters? Then he says, “Joey’s dad got paroled yesterday.” Aha! Shoddy prison doesn’t alert family to fact prisoner will be released back into their home.
The bell rings and Jen goes into the bathroom and there is Abby in something Big Bird might wear to a funeral. Jen wants to talk, Abby shoots her some shade and Jen leaves. Abby has an immediate change of heart, likely due to the loneliness that comes from being a raging cunt, and chases Jen down.
Jen reveals she’s going crazy, bored out of her mind. Seems to me she’s been keeping busy, but whatevs. She says no matter what she does, she’s not going to be accepted, so why bother? This view seems fairly out of touch since various people have been vying for her friendship. Must be still stinging from getting dumped by the bible-thumper. They decide to get rowdy this weekend.
Pacey is telling Andie about the opportunity for them to earn 60 bucks apiece doing this catering deal. She’s being cynical for no reason, talking about how much she hates weddings because people get all gooey and they’re too sentimental. This from someone who lost her virginity at a romantic bed and breakfast instead of the back of some shitty car or at a noisy party like half the other kids her age.
Pacey calls her on her bullshit, but then she says people should stay together because they want to, because they feel like it, not because they’re married; a hypocritical declaration if I’ve ever heard one since she’s so pissed at her dad for leaving her mom because he felt like it.
Pacey tells Andie to come with him to the wedding to work, and if she doesn’t love weddings by the end of it, she can keep all the money. And she accepts! Andie, you unlikeable clench-jaw-talking cow.
At the Ice House, Joey’s critiquing horseradish and her dad sees Dawson coming and is like, why aren’t you an item already? Dawson approaches, shakes his hand, congratulations him for getting out of the big house and Mr. Potter, in the style of most absentee fathers, makes an awkward observation about the fact Dawson has aged in his absence.
When Potter leaves, Dawson asks how Joey’s handling her dad’s sudden reappearance in her life. She says Jack helped her through her emotions with his remarkable insight. And then she backpeddles a bit, saying, oh, but I was really looking for you. Then she has him try a dish they’re working on for the wedding.
But they overhear two ladies gossiping about how Mr. Potter shouldn’t be allowed back in Capeside, not primarily because of his prison time, but because he was cheating on his dying wife. Yet this disgust with him has not prevented them from patronizing his restaurant. Joey gets flustered and goes back in the kitchen.
Now it’s Saturday, everyone’s dressed and ready to work. Joey’s organizing everyone and Dawson’s like, I want to talk to you about those women at the Ice House– which I’d like to point out happened a week ago. Right as soon as Dawson’s work shift has started for a job he’s got no experience in and which may break the Potter family’s livelihood, he chooses now to distract her with emotionally-charged chit chat he didn’t bother to bring up till now. King of timing. She’s like, no, let’s feed these assholes, that’s what we’re here for.
Dawson gets out on the floor and starts serving drinks and his mom comes in and makes a beeline to discuss personal matters with him because who needs to encourage having a good work ethic in your son? She’s decided tonight of all nights is the day she’s going to get her husband back: at someone else’s wedding. Now we see where he gets his inappropriate timing from. But Mitch walks in with his date and throws a wrench in Mrs. Leery’s plans.
Pacey and Andie are setting up the wedding cake, and Andie’s getting increasingly pissy about having to be there, despite it’s to help out a pal. Eventually she starts to throw a fit and in the middle of her pity party, she knocks the top layer off the cake and it spills on the floor.
She looks suitable horrified, but that doesn’t exactly fix the cake. Joey sees this go down, looks like she’s going to freak out and then sighs in resignation instead. Either she’s got a plan or has just accepted this night is going to be total bullshit.
Dawson enters a random room at the venue for no apparent reason and sees the bride sitting alone and crying. Then she’s like help me with this window! Dawson’s like what? And the bride’s like, uh, I’m gonna jump outta this window in my wedding dress?
And then she unloads all this shit about “Do I really love him?” I don’t know, lady, but I think you probably at least like him enough not to humiliate him with the most public rejection possible. I mean, I’ve never understood this plot line. Just annul the marriage if you still feel like this a few days later. It’s not like doing it now will get you any refunds for all this money you spent. Do people really think marriage is that permanent? I think it’s harder to get out of a lease than it is a 24-hour-long marriage.
Jen and Abby are hanging out at Jen’s, trying to figure out what to do with their night. Abby wants booze and boys. She asks what everyone else is up to and she says they’re helping cater a wedding, but that no one thought to include her. The icy relationship between Joey and Jen continues. Abby says they should crash the wedding to show Dawson & co. what’s what. This whole town is full of people who don’t know how to act right.
Everyone’s waiting at the alter. The officiant is looking at his watch. The bridesmaids are already up there? Uh, no procession? Wouldn’t they have cleared that the bride is ready to go first? Has no one ever been to a wedding before? Dawson’s consoling the sobbing bride in that random room, instead of those useless bridesmaids. I mean, at the end of the day, the only real job of a bridesmaid is moral support. These chicks get an F.
Dawson leaves, runs into Jack and says he thinks they have to cancel the wedding. Jack asks if he should try talking to her and Dawson says, pfft, what can you do about it? Jack’s like, let me at her. They go in, the bride is gone and they hear a toilet flush? I saw that puffy dress. Good luck peeing in that thing by yourself, lady.
Joey catches up with Bess and tells her Jack and Dawson are MIA, Andie and Pacey ruined the cake and no food is ready. Bess is chill about all of this for some reason. And she somehow doesn’t think it’s a good idea to get their dad “all worked up” about these problems. Joey’s freaking out about ruining the wedding and embarrassing themselves and thinks her dad should get in there and start fixing things because it was his big idea in the first place. After declaring that he’s the one who ruined them in the first place, and he shouldn’t be thinking everything’s fixed already, she finds out her dad heard everything she said.
My first thought is good, he needed to hear it! But of course now Joey’s supposed to feel bad about hurting someone’s feelings because this is TV in the ’90s and accountability for bullshit behaviour takes second fiddle to maintaining undeservedly high self esteem. See: Pacey’s takedown of the sociopath teacher.
It’s getting dark now and the bride still hasn’t come out. The bridesmaids are still standing around and being useless and Jack and Dawson are talking to the bride through the bathroom door. She unlocks the door and the guys walk in to find her perched on the toilet. Things she’s worried about: What if her groom isn’t her soul mate and what if she’s wrecking her chances at having a perfect life? Things she’s not worried about: Holding everyone up and the anxiety she’s causing her fiancé. Anyone who thinks this way doesn’t deserve happiness.
Jack manages to talk her down in under a minute: Love’s not perfect, you’re not perfect, Alan’s not perfect. But that’s life, your love is real and don’t throw it away for a pipe dream. Solid advice man. And down the aisle she goes.
The ceremony can now begin. Mitch and Gail exchange conflicted looks. And the catering team is standing around and watching the ceremony instead of getting shit done.
After the ceremony, the bride thanks Jack for all he did, says nothing to the guy standing right next to him who talked to her for 20 minutes before that. Dawson’s sad Jack’s able to say all the right stuff– AND WHY ARE YOU NOT WORKING? They casually saunter around until they find a table with glasses to fuss around with. Dawson’s bummed Joey doesn’t turn to him anymore and just talks to Jack.
And Jack yet again says all the right stuff ’cause that’s just how Jack rolls: your lives are intertwined, you know her best, she needs you, etc. But then he suggest Dawson might need to push harder, but really? Now?
Pacey is trying to fix the cake Andie destroyed and is doing a piss poor job of it and Andie’s like, they’re coming! That’s a terrible job! Ugh! The bride comes in and wants to see the cake. Andie’s like no! It’s bad luck! A bride who sees the cake gets fat! Nice. The bride says the top layer is special and symbolic of the marriage and is to be eaten on the first anniversary. She leaves without looking at it.
Andie’s like, see?! If their marriage is doomed, it’s our fault! And Pacey calls her on more of her bullshit and tells her, no, you’re the waving maniac who knocked the cake down in the first place. He goes back to his futile efforts to fix the cake, which now looks like total mush. He points out she doesn’t give a shit about weddings and symbolism. She says she doesn’t, and then talks sadly about how this wedding should have been perfect.
Pacey’s like I knew it! Admit you care about weddings! (Maybe use this time to call a bakery and beg for help instead?) And then he makes a show of walking out until she caves, which she does almost immediately.
Back in the kitchen, everyone’s moving at a snail’s pace but have somehow managed to get all the food done. So now Mr. Potter and Joey have time for a heart to heart. He gives her a more eloquently worded apology than you might expect from a drug dealing ex-con, although the acting is painfully wooden, “Yet again I am failing in my parental duties.”
During the reception, Gail wants to know who that woman is with Mitch and Dawson says she’s the film teacher. Mitch and the teacher approach, and Mitch says hi. This couldn’t be more awkward. And I can’t help but point the finger at the teacher. Ma’am, this is your student. Extract yourself from this wildly inappropriate personal family situation. Gail leaves and Dawson wants a word with Pa.
Dawson points out Mitch is being a dick and Mitch starts throwing a little hissy fit about how “Nicole” is just a colleague and his ex wife will just have to deal ’cause he gotta live his life. Then he apologizes and says he doesn’t want to put Dawson in the middle and Dawson’s like, well, that’s what you’re doing by dating my teacher. Touche.
Abby and Jen are in wedding crasher mode and bemoaning the lack of available boys. Abby, always happy to encourage Jen sexually (And then call her a slut later) suggests a married man.
Andie sees them and promptly urges them out before they get in trouble. Abby’s like, you’re throwing us out? Jen suggests they come back after dinner when everyone’s drunk and not so uptight. Really? They’re pretty uppity for people who are 100% in the wrong. I never had balls like that when I was 16. Abby steals a bottle of booze on the way out because why not.
Dawson saunters in from the dinning room and sees Joey crying over coffees in the kitchen, as everyone continues to seriously drag their feet. We need to send Ramsay over there to make them pull up their socks. After Dawson presses a bit to get her to talk, Joey admits she’s scared of her dad being a fuck-up again and ruining their lives. Dawson tells her to lower her expectations and take the relationship slower. He basically tells her to keep her chin up, but takes a really long time to do it. He gets a hug and finally looks a little happy.
Joey and her dad are clearing things in the kitchen and she tells him a story about this girl who used to be her friend. This chick made fun of her when she thought Joey wasn’t around and Joey chose to act like she didn’t hear anything. She’s like, yeah, I can take other people’s shit, but let’s knock off the pretences between us. She says she’s proud of him, which sounds very much like the kid trying to raise the grownup, if you ask me. They hug and dad bows out.
Andie and Pacey are wheeling the cake into the reception, and we’re about to see the unveiling of the top layer. Oh, this should be good. And it’s a wreck, but still way nicer than they’d be capable of making it. And the bride’s like, oh, so beautiful! What now?
Let’s go in for a close up.
Oh hell no he didn’t! I call shenanigans, man. This looks like the job of an inebriated baker, not some slap-job repair from a dipshit high school kid.
Abby and Jen now are on the pier, getting drunk and lamenting about how lame it is to grow up and have a family one day, which is just as well because Abby’s pretty unloveable anyway. She says she’ll never be happy. Then she hits her head, Jen laughs, Abby’s like eff you, and then splash, right off the pier.
Jen leaps up, screams for Abby, and leaps off the pier to save her friend.
Inside, unawares of the impending demise of Miss Morgan, Pacey asks Andie to dance. I don’t think this sort of unprofessional bullshit is the way to drum up more business for the Potters, guys. Andie’s singing a new tune about weddings and is all, When we get married… and now Pacey’s looking to tone things down.
Mitch is dancing with his “colleague” and Gail is sitting alone looking miserable. Dawson, who’s still working unlike some people, spots his mom and then asks her to dance. Srsly? Yeah, and this is why you don’t hire your teenage pals to do anything.
Joey and Jack mosey in, acting like their job is done, even though everyone’s still there consuming drinks. Joey’s dad walks in wearing a suit instead of his Chef’s clothes. Did he go home and change? What is it with these people? The wedding isn’t over yet! I wouldn’t hire these people for anything. He pulls out a rose I can only assume he yanked out of some flower arrangement at the wedding.
Bess comes out, apparently the last woman standing who gives a shit, and sees her sister and dad dancing, along with the rest of the catering staff, pretty much. Oh, and now Dad’s trying to get Dawson and Joey to dance. This just keeps getting more stupid. You’re not guests, guys. Oh, like they care. Gail and Mr. Potter start dancing, and so do Dawson and Joey.
They have a moment, say I love you, and kiss. This is supposed to be a special and romantic Dawson’s Creek moment, but I’d like everyone to think about how they’d feel if at their wedding they saw the wait staff making out on the dance floor.
And outside, Abby is dead. She’s taken away in a body bag, with Jen left crying alone in the middle of the road.
The end credits are alarmingly cheerful and upbeat.
Most Verbose Articulation: Pacey: It was your wild gesticulations that sent this baby flying in the first place.