For all the stupid plot developments and over-written insanity of Dawson's Creek, it's easy to suddenly hit that moment where you realize that you really, really love the show. Even though you recognize how intrinsically lame the whole thing is, that sense of overriding '90s nostalgia can't help but surface in you. A Perfect Wedding is one of those episodes that just bashes you over the head with warmth, featuring emotions that cut deep with their resonance and a sense of drive and momentum that never lets up. It's an overwhelmingly adorable episode, even if it does end with somebody plummeting to their death off the edge of a boardwalk. Oops.
Joey is the star here, reunited with her absent father and understandably terrified about all the emotional upheaval that entails. The story was particularly affecting, Joey happy that her father is back home but uncomfortable with the ease in which he's folded back into their lives. Then there's that pent-up worry that he'll betray her trust again. Joey's always been a character who's been a little tough to crack, constantly putting up these walls instead of letting people in -- and it all gravitates from her father. This is a girl with a lot of issues, and Katie Holmes masterfully cycles through the varying emotions at play this week.
In the end, Joey reaches for the inevitable and shares a kiss with Dawson. And while I'm not exactly crying out for the two of them to get back together, it's hard for me to say that it wasn't a heart-warming sight seeing these two kids get over all the recent drama like they did. Aww.
A Perfect Wedding, like the series' magnum opus Detention, gets its kicks from locking all the cast in a room together -- only this time it's the bustling frenzy of a wedding ceremony. Mike White's script gets a little sitcom-y at certain points, notably when each member of the ensemble has to deal with their own wacky wedding problem (The cake fell over! The bride's climbing out the window!) but the characters are so on-point and funny that you can excuse the predictability.
You can also excuse the weird contrivance employed to get Jen and Abby to hang out again, since it results in one of those definitive Dawson's Creek plot twists: a drunken Abby knocking her head while chilling on the boardwalk and being sent crashing into the Capeside rivers below. Abby's always been a strong antagonist, and Monica Keena has given her enough sassy charm to make her somewhat likable. Her death is unexpected, even if we did get one of those depressed monologues right before the moment itself, in which the soon-to-be-dead character talks about their existence in pretty finite terms. But it's an intense game-changer, particularly for Jen, who is left weeping next to a body bag right before the credits hit. Poor Jen.
A Perfect Wedding sparkles with power, from the comedic showiness of the central conceit of the episode, straight through to the earnest drama of Joey's paternal problems and punctuated by that glorious finale. It's the strongest episode in a while and a testament to how well Mike White writes these characters. A+
Guest stars Meredith Monroe (Andie McPhee); Kerr Smith (Jack McPhee); Monica Keena (Abby Morgan); Rachael Leigh Cook (Devon); Madchen Amick (Nicole Kennedy); Katy Selverstone (Pam); Gareth Williams (Mike Potter)
Writer Mike White Director Greg Prange