Opening scene, the video store where Dawson works, a “Pacey’s Pix” sign hanging on some videos, and Joey storms in begging to know if The Crucible is available because this straight-A scholarship type student blew off reading the book (Newsflash, movies, especially from the ’90s, aren’t exactly famous for faithfulness to the source material).
Turns out, between getting their B&B up and running and taking care of Bess’ baby (Who only ever gets brought out as a plot device and is almost always conveniently missing) she just didn’t have the time. But too bad, the movie is checked out, (reminding me, while I watch Netflix on my laptop, of why video stores sucked ass), and Joey and Dawson make chit chat that illustrates how not close they are these days.
What you don’t work at the marina? What? Eve left town? Oh…
Dawson offers a solution– whoa, what the fuck? There is a poster in the store that says, “Beer, pornos, thievery, Down’s Syndrome.” I kid you not. What does it even mean?
Anyway, in true Dawson form, he somehow managed to talk his way out of writing a paper and is allowed to do a movie instead. Pacey and Jen are included, of course, and Joey says her invitation must’ve got lost in the mail, but keeps a smile on her face because she can’t shit on her only chance to not fail.
The movie is going to be about Witch Island, some local legend thing, and Joey calls a spade a space for all of us and says, “So, you’re basically ripping off the Blair Witch Project?” And why not since they’ve already ripped off The Breakfast Club.
Dawson’s like, no man, it’s a real documentary! And Joey, gracelessly citing the fact she has no other good options, is in.
After the credits, Principal Green tells the story to Dawson’s camera of how in 1692 a group of teen girls, 13 to be exact, were sent to an island because everyone thought they were witches, and a year later a fire killed them all. I’m rather impressed these made-up people managed to survive a year on some random island in New England. Never mind fire, what about winter?
Other people on camera include Dawson’s parents who talk about getting it on at Witch Island.
The foursome discuss the Blair Witch Project, basically to let us know what to expect from our characters: Jen is the cynic who doesn’t believe, Joey was scared of the movie, Dawson thinks it was cinematographic history and Pacey is just sort of along for the ride.
Jen gets on her soapbox and says calling women witches was about punishing them for their natural sexual urges, because everything with Jen is sexual. Joey gets a zinger in about how it’s a good thing Jen didn’t live in the 1690s.
Jen takes it well, Joey is patting herself on the back and the crew gets to work, Joey paired with Dawson. And then Jen asks Pacey why he thinks they haven’t hooked up. Uh, because they’ve never shown any interest in each other maybe? Is this a thing, like, asking random people in your social circle why you’ve not had sex? Whatever, it probably just means that now they’re going to do it.
But before all that, Pacey breaks it down, they’re both broken people who were drawn to partners who fixed them in some way, but Pacey and Jen are both equally crummy, so that’s why they haven’t boned. Sure.
In the office, Principal Green is trying to leave but is held up by Andie, who in her usual self-absorption blathers on about her appointment to head of the disciplinary committee and wants to run ideas by Green now, despite his obvious attempts to get out of there. But she gets her way because she’s a pain in the ass.
Outside, Dawson is talking to Joey about recapturing a lost feeling. Joey’s thinking he’s talking about them, but no, he’s just happy to be “making movies again.” He’s 16! He made a movie, like, last year. What the frig’s he talking about?
With respect to Joey, Dawson says he’s happy they’re friends again. Yeah, yeah.
More footage: Grams says harlots were practicing witchcraft and the fire is proof God don’t go in for those types of shenanigans. She’s also holding a giant knife.
Hey! It’s little Alexander with Bess! Some rare shots of them together, wouldn’t you know it?
And then some random girl with yet another large vocab blames the government for creating the story.
The four go to the boat that’ll take them to the island. Looks like it’s some tourist thing? Pacey’s complaining there’s no snacks. Dawson asks to film the boat guy, who wants to film him in turn. He’s making a documentary about all the people making a documentary about Witch Island since the Blair Witch Project came out. Womp womp.
The boat guy tells them not to get stuck on the island past dark, stirs up some ghost talk, and I’m really wondering if his job is to ferry people to this island. Did they book his services or something? Wasn’t it some local makeout spot, and don’t both Joey and Dawson have boats of their own? What do they need this guy for?
They rumble on up to the island, which has its own sign:
And the more the tourism industry gets its claws into something, the less scary I’m thinking it’s going to be. And right on cue, there’s someone from the Historical Society ready and able to talk in upbeat tone about the island’s past. Does she just sit there all day waiting for this guy to bring people up in his little boat? She says there’s a snack bar and gift shop, so probably.
Dawson hasn’t given up on his documentary, though, despite the hokey signs and guided tour to the cemetery. There’s also no one else there, which must bode well for those aforementioned commercial establishments.
Speaking of which, that’s where Jen and Pacey are now, and Jen wants to try a love spell on Pacey since he’s not at all attracted to her. I guess this is a real concern for her. Pacey says she’s not his type, Jen says the lack of feeling’s mutual, and now they’re both taking offence, with Jen telling Pacey his last two relationships involved women fleeing town.
At the cemetery, Joey notices that there are 12 graves instead of 13. The guide says Mary’s body was never found and there are two theories: One is that Mary was a real witch and still haunts the place, the other is that her lover, William, came and recused her.
Mary was an orphan, was taken in by William’s parents, and one day they were found in bed together and Mary was declared a witch. Rough deal.
Joey then asks Dawson if he’s getting the point about soul mates not being together for reasons out of their control. And she’s totally implying their own story in this, but last I checked she broke up with him. Twice. But why not be dramatic and compare your menial troubled romance with the witch trials?
They talk more about the fire, which took place in the church in the woods. Church? What sort of island was this? I don’t see a bunch of teen girls building a church out of nothing. Who built it? I want to know more about that, but no one’s asking the right questions.
At the gift shop, Jen is mixing something in a cauldron and reading a spell out of a book. Okay, seriously? There’s just a common-use cauldron sitting there, with all the necessary ingredients to this spell just handily lying around? This is almost embarrassing.
Jen drinks it, and now wants Pacey to drink it too. So, basically it’s gone like this: Jen asks why they’ve never screwed, Jen insults Pacey’s past relationships and goads him about not wanting her, Jen creates potion and coerces him into drinking it. This is quite the seduction method and it’s happening for no reason.
Pacey goes ahead and drinks the potion and the guide comes back, pissed off more so that they’re fooling around with the dark arts and less so with the fact they’re messing around with the merch. She’s lost her sunny demeanour and gives them a map to the church, telling them there’s a good chance they’ll never be seen again if they get lost.
Again, this island was the popular makeout spot 20 years ago.
En route to the church, they’re talking about Mary and William. Joey thinks she died a sad death and Dawson thinks their love conquered all. Joey’s like, well, maybe he found someone else and forgot about her. Dawson counters with, “Well, then maybe they weren’t supposed to be together after all,” which is all fine except that viewpoint neglects the fact that if he moved on then that means she died a crappy death. Minor detail.
And here is the church:
And Pacey needs to pee.
At the school, Andie’s being annoying and handling out papers for code violations, and making herself very unpopular. Some random girl gives her a weird look and my well-honed TV sense is telling me she’s going to matter to the story.
Back on the island, a plaque in the church finally answers all the questions these fools never thought to ask about: the town’s people built the church hoping the girls would find God. A priest would come every Sunday but the girls mocked him so bad he quit coming.
Jen says she likes the sounds of these girls and then wanders off wondering if Pacey loves her yet.
Joey reads the plaque at the front of the church and learns men were treating the island like a brothel and the villagers were like, eff this, and locked the girls in the church and burned it. The church doesn’t look at all burned down.
Joey thinks William was a part of the angry mob and Dawson thinks he came and got Mary before the fire. They squabble over differing world views. Jen comes back and asks about Pacey, but he’s still out peein’. She sends Joey and Dawson back to the boat to make dude wait and she stays and waits for Pacey.
On the way back, Joey starts a conversation about “What are we?” She’s irritated about this friendship business (even though she told him she’s never forgive him, and hasn’t retracted that statement despite throwing herself at him). She says they know nothing about each other and Dawson says he thought they needed space.
Joey then gives him this guilt trip about her terrible year and her needs, which does not address the fact she severed ties. She says not having their connection scares her, and I’ll suggest that maybe you shouldn’t end friendships you don’t want to end.
At the boat they hear the engine start up and they run over to him, and no, he’s not waiting for nobody. I wonder how that guide is planning to get off the island. There are no other boats around.
The boat guy hightails it out of there, warning them to stay out of the woods, seemingly unconcerned about public backlash for abandoning four teenagers on an island. If the internet wasn’t still in its infancy at this point, he’d be getting a shitty review on Yelp for this. As he pulls away, there’s a weird shriek from the woods.
Pacey and Jen are now wandering around the island, and Jen’s insulting him, which must be step four of her master plan to seduce him, and Pacey wonders what about him inspires such “vitriolic diatribes.” He’s also got a flashlight, which is interesting since they were planning to leave before dark.
They talk about their failed relationships and settle on a verdict that sex is good and love is bad. Then Pacey suggests a friends with benefits relationship, but does so in a way that looks like he thinks he actually invented the concept. And since Jen and Pacey are the sullied ones out of the four, it’s probably going to happen.
They continue walking while the camera work suggests a ghostly entity is watching them.
At the gift shop, which is where they’ll probably have to spend the night now, Joey is reading aloud from Mary’s diary, mostly stuff about loneliness. This starts up yet another argument about their relationship and then out it comes: she’s still smarting from the rejection in the season opener. If I were them, I’d be complaining about how long it’s taking Pacey to just pee already and what’s the hold up?
Dawson tells her if they’re meant to be, they’ll find a way back to each other– uh, you’re both right there and single. There are literally no obstacles. If you can’t make this work with nothing in your way, it’s not happening.
Then the church bell starts ringing. Dawson says that’s probably Pacey and Jen and they leave the gift shop, with the candles still lit. And lookie there, out walks the guide with her own candles, lookin all forlorn.
They run back to the church and Jen and Pacey are there, but they’re not the ones ringing the bell. And upon closer inspection, there is no bell, which a crack of lightning helpfully illuminates for them.
Outside there are creepy footsteps and heavy breathing.
And inside, yes, inside the creepy church ringing the non-existent bell where everyone supposedly died, they’ve lit all the candles and are hanging out and Joey is still reading the diary she pinched from the gift shop. And she learns that today is the anniversary of the fire, and it’s also the page she’s reading from Mary’s diary.
In the diary, Mary states William is coming for her that night (He sent a letter, but how? The post came to Witch Island?) Jen asks if she believes it and Joey almost deliberately chooses cynicism for the sake of cynicism and says no. Love ain’t enough.
Outside, the creepy footsteps continue. I’d like to point out that there’s thunder and rain from the view inside, but from the view outside it’s dry and lightning-free.
Pacey approaches Dawson and asks why he’s not filming. Dawson says he’s not feeling it. And why would he be? He’s stuck on a mysterious island inside a haunted church in the middle of the night. What’s to document?
He wants to talk about Joey, and if he did the right thing telling her they needed space. Dude needs to learn to compartmentalize and deal with that later. Film this shit. Pacey gives a gentle little pep talk, and outside it’s still not raining and the creepy presence gets closer.
Back inside, Jen and Pacey are sorting out their sexual arrangement and from the sounds of it plan to consummate it right there in the church while Joey and Dawson sleep in the pews. Pacey muses over whether he should remove his pants. They start making out. This hardly seems like the time or place, but then I’m not typically turned on by spooky abandoned churches with phantom bells where a bunch of people once died.
And just like that, everything starts happening, screams, shrieks, fires blazing all over, glass shattering, total confusion.
After the break, the shrieking, fires, shattering continues, along with an intense chant and many voices. Dawson’s got his camera out and everyone’s losing their cool, obviously. Fire is roaring through the church.
And then as quickly as it came, the chaos left. They flee the church, like any sensible people would do. They discuss for a second what they should do, but a random scream of some kind in the distance has them running.
And at the dock, there’s the boat. Why it’s there, who’s to say? But they hop on and zoom off.
And here’s Dawson delivering his video to the class. And while you’d think everyone would be freaking out about the massive haunting they caught on film, the teacher says it’s derivative of Blair Witch and Dawson says it’s ultimately a love story.
Are you serious. There was a fireball!
A student says she sees two people on the dock in the film. Dawson rewinds and I can’t see a damn thing. Maybe sort of. Yeah… dimly. The entire church went ablaze spontaneously to the sounds of shrieking and everyone’s fascinated by shadowy figures.
None of this explains the guide who stayed behind in the gift shop.
But everything is interrupted because Green’s called away to deal with the fact Andie’s on a power trip and giving detentions to half the student body. And the girl with the weird look is there; her name’s Belinda. She’s helping. Green tells Andie the rules of conduct were written in the ’50s, that she’s to dismiss all these students, and come by his office.
At the video store, Pacey’s working and Jen pops by to discuss having sex like they planned. No, they don’t talk about the poltergeist. Jen wants to have sex in the video store.
I don’t see why she’s choosing such stupid locations for this: haunted church, place of employment… just go in the back of a car or something like normal horny teenagers. They don’t do it there, but make a sex pact for later.
At Dawson’s, Joey’s saying the guide and boat guy must be the two shadowy figures they see in the video. She also thinks they were the ones screwing with them. I guess she thinks the surround-sound pyrotechnics are just an elaborate prank they wait to be able to use on whomever randomly tries to spend the night in the church?
But in the end, when Dawson starts agreeing with her, she changes her tune, probably because she’s inherently contrary.
Dawson then apologizes for taking the friendship for granted and Joey says it’s not all his fault. For a second I think she’s going to apologize for blaming him about the whole her dad selling drugs thing, but no. But now they’re friends again. And start the countdown for the next courtship/breakup cycle.
Most Verbose Articulation – Pacey: “See, you, as the girl whose wanton ways had her banished to the boonies, you needed the affection of the unblemished small-town pure heart to validate you in your oh, so vulnerable time. Me, as the perennial black sheep of the Whitter brood, I guess I just needed the love and affection of a woman whose drive and devotion would so shame me to the core that it would force me to get in touch with my, I don’t know, should we call it my ‘inner achiever’?”