Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dawson's Creek: Rest in Peace (2.19)

There's an interesting sensibility to Rest in Peace, which addresses the complicated reactions that we all have to death. Abby Morgan, as fun a character as she was on the show, wouldn't be somebody you'd enjoy encountering if you ever met her in reality. Hearing of her death would be naturally shocking, but it'd be hard to eulogize her, or put her on some kind of post-death pinnacle purely because of how tragic it is for somebody to die so young. But the show does a strong job of exploring that contradiction, mourning the circumstances of her passing, but not making out that she was ever a good person.

It's what makes Jen's attitude here so troubling. She spends a lot of her time this week attacking others for mourning Abby like she was their friend, but seems to forget that it wouldn't be rational or all-together sane to not mourn somebody's death. Even if you hated her, gloating over an unfortunate demise is both socially tacky and more than a little sociopathic. Be ambivalent, sure, like you should be over the death of, gosh, a dictator or a terrorist or whatever, but at least nobody actively celebrated Abby's death. It's just that natural gray area that we all have, and it's easy to read that Jen is attacking others out of a sense of her own guilt.

Andie experiences her own crisis of conscience here, Abby's mother assuming that they were good friends, and asking her to perform a eulogy at the funeral. Naturally, considering Jen is far more external with her drama than the alternatively introverted Andie, she rationally thinks out a means to remember Abby as a human, while still acknowledging the pain she caused -- using it as a kind of in-road to explain her own surge in confidence, some of it formed by Abby's own cruelty towards her. It's a respectful eulogy, something that paints her well but doesn't deny the negative qualities she possessed.

Rest in Peace successfully explores heavier issues, but sometimes feels a little too narrow in its storytelling, everybody other than Jen and Andie barely appearing. But they're also two strong characters on their own, and it's neat seeing them steer the show for a while -- Jen in particular. It's also the final Mike White episode, which is ridiculously depressing, but considering all he's said since about his unhappiness while working on the show, I'm sure it was a relief for him. But he really left his mark, and pushed the show's potential whenever he took the reigns. B+

Guest stars Meredith Monroe (Andie McPhee); Kerr Smith (Jack McPhee); Monica Keena (Abby Morgan); Michele Scarabelli (Mrs. Morgan); Gareth Williams (Mike Potter)
Writer Mike White Director David Semel

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