Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dawson's Creek: To Be or Not to Be... (2.14)

While everybody remembers this as the big Jack episode, it's in actual fact a huge moment in time for Pacey, who confirms his position as one of the most sympathetic, compassionate and strong-willed characters on the show. His defense of Jack is worthy of major kudos, putting his own education at risk to stand up for what's right. Mr. Peterson is something of a ridiculous caricature of evil teachers, and I can't remember if we're ever given indication for why he's so harsh here, but the contrivance at least pays off in the character development given to the rest of the cast.

Jack is a character who has been pretty amiable since his introduction. He's kind and articulate and you could always understand why Joey would be attracted to him, especially in comparison to the more dismissive Dawson, but his story here really gives him additional weight. It's actually an interesting approach to take for the inevitable 'gay' character. In most shows, homosexuality is introduced via another character, our protagonist gradually falling for somebody of the same gender. Alternatively, they're introduced from the get-go as a gay character. But extra complications surface with Jack, since he's not only trying to resist the feelings that he's always sort of buried, but he's also already involved with a girl.

With that, the show does a successful job at handling a touchy subject. So far it's not consumed with annoying preachiness with everybody telling Jack that it's okay to be gay -- it's more about a character coming to terms with it, trying to articulate feelings that even he isn't so sure exist. The story itself arrives when Jack writes a poem about an image of perfection, and it reads as more than a little masculine. It's with this that events begin to spiral out of control, the rumor mill going into overdrive at school and characters repeatedly wondering if Jack is gay. Jack himself denies having those feelings, but that lingering look at the end confirms that he isn't being entirely truthful.

The reactions from the other characters are interesting, too, particularly Andie's 'disappointment' in her brother. You get where she's coming from, especially in light of the McPhee family being at the center of another Capeside scandal involving their mother, and I liked that the show is approaching all of this from varying perspectives, even risking portraying Andie as reluctant to support her brother. Additionally, you feel for Joey, since she's also trying to work out how to react to the rumors.

To Be or Not to Be... takes difficult material and produces something quietly moving. It's not as showy and attention-grabbing as it easily could have been, and the ensemble manage to root their confusion in honest truth. Jen's subplot still feels entirely unrelated to everything else, but the bones of the hour are successful. A

Guest stars Meredith Monroe (Andie McPhee); Kerr Smith (Jack McPhee); Eddie Mills (Tyson Hicks); Edmund J. Kearney (Mr. Peterson)
Writer Greg Berlanti Director Sandy Smolan


  1. I Really liked this episode, The character development for Jack,Pacey, Andie and Joey is amazing, And I think what writers tried to do with Jen's subplot was to depict Ty as someone who isn't entirely into religion he's more kind of a feke christian so you wonder is he or is he not a real christian which totally relates to the title To be or not to be, Just my opinion.

  2. Thanks for contributing! I gave Jen's story the short shrift in my actual review, but that's a really good reading of it, tying it together with the main plot of the hour. Thank you!

    1. You're welcome and thanks for reading my post!!
      U have a great blog BTW