Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dawson's Creek: Homecoming (3.2)

It's interesting watching the Eve episodes, because they so go against everything the show had originally said about sex. Whether you think it's at all believable or not, Dawson's Creek always portrayed sex as something romantic and finite, the ultimate act of love and the pinnacle of relationship happiness. It was particularly evident last season with Pacey and Andie, while Joey always seemed to believe in that too. Dawson was more of a grey area, since he was always so insistent that epic romance could exist without sex, but he never actively appeared like a horndog. The Eve story, on the other hand, is lifted straight from an '80s teen movie perspective, and Dawson's actions don't make a whole lot of sense.

Again, you could argue that he's hit a period where he's being controlled by his penis and abandoning all those romanticized opinions about sexuality, but it still feels tonally off. Dawson's always been a self-righteous, puritanical character -- and it would be more likely that he'd sit Eve down and romance her with chocolates and romantic dinners than allow her to take all his clothes off and leave him stranded half-naked in front of a crowd of his peers. The fact that he acts so proud and nonchalant about that particular incident says a lot about how out-of-character this whole arc has been.

Away from Eve, Homecoming works as a stronger introduction to the season than Like a Virgin. While the only truly impactful moment last week was Joey and Pacey's heart-to-heart at the end, here we have a couple of stories that are driven by characters rather than ludicrous sexpots. Pacey and Andie's break-up is something I have a lot of problems with, the most notable being the decision to have her cheat on him off-screen -- it being a ridiculously lazy, half-assed plot device, but both Joshua Jackson and Meredith Monroe are so blindingly convincing that it doesn't come off as terribly as it should have done. Maybe if the DC ensemble were filled with a bunch of Jennie Garth's, then everything would be terrible -- but you can't help but run with it as the actors on this show speak with so much conviction. I still don't have to like the story itself, though, especially since it leaves both characters potentially stranded, particularly Andie, but I'm willing to see how it develops.

Joey also had a really strong breakthrough at the end, and seems to be open to turning the page and moving on her with life. It's inevitable that she and Dawson will eventually cycle back around to their old feelings, but the least the show needs to do at this point is have Joey constantly cringe in jealousy at everything Dawson does. I also continue to like her budding friendship with Pacey, even if combining that subplot with the Andie infidelity saga pretty much signposts where the show is headed...

There's still a lot wrong with the show, and Jen's subplot with Michael Pitt is dangerously goofy, but the contrived sexcapades that dominated everything last week have been reduced a lot. I'd prefer Eve and the wacky condom comedy to be canned all-together, but at least the whole show hasn't been derailed by her presence. C

Guest stars David Dukes (Joseph McPhee); Brittany Daniel (Eve Whitman); Michael Pitt (Henry Parker); Chris Demetral (Mark); Obba Babatunde (Principal Howard Green)
Writer Greg Berlanti Director Melanie Mayron


  1. Better episode than the last one, Loved Andie and Pacey's subplot as well as Jack's!! I think Eve's subplot is terrible but at least in this episode we saw a bit less of her than the last time.

  2. I dunno. Speaking as someone who was pretty straight-laced and Puritanical early on in high school, I find it totally believable that Dawson reaches this point of wanting to break out of that a little bit, either because he resents the image or finds the pressure of maintaining it becomes too much. I also think Dawson's season three behavior has been somewhat foreshadowed in earlier seasons, in smaller instances and subplots where he attempts to break out of his good-boy person and prove to other people--as well as himself--that he can be more than the bright-eyed boy next door. Remember the episode when he went to a bar with Jen's ex and Pacey? Or how about the one in season two where he and Andie get massively drunk?

    Sure, the endgame of those episodes was always "Dawson tried to act like other teenagers and didn't like it so he went back to being the good Dawson we know and love," but the fact remains that the seeds of rebellion and mayhem-making are definitely there. And by the end of season two, Dawson's world has changed a lot around him whether he wants it to or not. He no longer has the perfect home life, his parents don't have the perfect marriage, his perfect romance with his perfect best friend went belly-up. He had to make a really difficult decision that, despite being the right thing to do, cost him what was left of that friendship.

    In general, being the nice boy who lives on the creek hasn't made everything (anything much) work in his favor. So I think the Dawson we get at the start of season three is a little loose from his moorings and probably pretty weary of being a good boy who has no fun and doing the right thing only to have it come back to bite him. He's trying something new. He's starting a new school year and seeing all of these possibilities before him, chances to do things differently. To me, that's the essence of Dawson: always looking at the possibilities.

    Would season one Dawson be appalled at season three Dawson's actions? Certainly, but underneath that I think he'd also be a little jealous of his older self's ability to unbutton the top two and breathe a little.

    (Also sorry, didn't mean to write a novel in the comment, but your post made me think and I love character meta!)

  3. That's a really interesting perspective, thank you for sharing it! I also empathize with that desire to break out and experiment with sort of 'typical' teenage behavior, especially when you're 17 or whatever and bombarded with messages about how you're 'supposed' to be. And I definitely think that's an interesting angle to explore, particularly with a character as highly-strung as Dawson.

    I'm still not sure it was well captured on-screen, however, although that may have just been my dislike of the Eve character influencing my opinion on the entire storyline, Dawson's personal growth included.

    It doesn't disguise the fact that your interpretation reads perfectly, and is exactly the type of thing the show should have done. Or did do, depending on your respective views of the season overall.

    Thanks for reading and commenting, by the way, and novel-like comments are absolutely fine here, heh!