Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dawson's Creek: The Reluctant Hero (2.8)

Sometimes Dawson's Creek reaches so hard to make its lead character appear a good person that you begin to wonder if James Van Der Beek was demanding script approval at this point. The Reluctant Hero paints Dawson as one of the last incarnations of a dying archetype: the selfless, classic 'good guy', who saves threatened women, does the right thing, and stays moral and true despite heavy temptation. Sure, most of his actions here are worthy of praise -- but, being Dawson, you can't help but wonder if all of it is really that selfless, the character doing all these things to make himself look better, rather than doing them because it's the right thing to do.

The theme of heroism runs through most of the episode, but it's most notable with Dawson. After he wins the Boston Film Festival prize for best amateur short film (yup, that hackneyed monster movie was deemed a worthy winner), Dawson splits the prize money between himself and Joey, using it as some kind of emotional leverage to prove how wonderful he is. Then he saves Jen from a drunken orgy, because this show seems to be going out of its way to make Jen a humiliated mess. Can we expect junkie hookerdom next week? At least Jen immediately put a distance between them at the start of the episode, since I don't think I can take more romantic stupidity between these two. There's no such thing as a selfless good deed, so all of Dawson's heroism leaves a tacky aftertaste, both because of his being a raging jerk, and the show for pushing him as a good person taken for granted by everyone around him. Ugh.

Pacey's story is a little more successful, if again cloying. Fitting into the idea of this episode being a placeholder hour, we once again see Pacey saving the day and proving to Andie how heroic he is -- but surely we've gotten past the point where Andie needs to be constantly impressed by him? The episode opened better with Pacey's failing grades being set up as the driving story, but quickly got bogged down in McPhee family drama that already feels repetitive.

It feels like Dawson's Creek has hit a wall over the last couple of episodes, something that often plagues soapy drama series. Several storylines are being dragged out a little longer than they need to, presumably to delay inevitable new directions for most of the show's central couples. Joey and Jack's cute first date is the only truly rewarding part of the episode, the rest being filler reruns of past stories. C

Guest stars Meredith Monroe (Andie McPhee); Kerr Smith (Jack McPhee); Jason Behr (Chris Wolfe); Caroline Kava (Mrs. McPhee)
Writers Shelley Meals, Darin Goldberg Director Joe Napolitano

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