Dawson's Creek has always sourced drama from tossing a cat among the pigeons. It opened up all the initial conflicts as far back as the pilot, with Jen the rebellious outsider who threw everybody for a loop. Then Abby took over that position, and stayed there for a while. Eve is the latest incarnation of that same character, but here we get metatextual references to that very fact -- she's a credibility-straining newbie whose entire presence allows other characters to react badly to one another. She's the seductive temptress to Dawson, Joey gets jealous, which by proxy pushes her into Pacey's arms, and so forth. But the insanity of Eve renders her completely useless, since every action she instigates feels ham-fisted and awkward. It actually lends this opening stretch something of a surreal, dream-like vibe... but I'm not sure that's at all what the writers had intended.
The launching pad of this week's drama is Eve's contrived ownership of the LSAT results, and the various reactions that come along with its presence. Everybody is tempted by it, but then it goes missing, and Dawson has to figure out which one of his friends stole it. It goes without saying that this feels completely unrelated to the show's sensibilities, while the various dream sequences and nightmarish visions that appear at various points in the hour continue that trend of the show flying off the rails under the hands of Alex Gansa.
But the real damage is occurring with Andie. Not only is she cold and heartless in relation to Pacey and essentially throws her infidelity and his sense of complete betrayal in his face, she's eventually revealed to be the LSAT thief. It's the latest in a long line of ludicrous plotting, but unlike the out-of-character nuttiness of Dawson, Pacey and Joey over the last two episodes, Andie comes off as entirely hateful here. It's difficult to understand any of her actions, and she seems to have undergone a complete personality transplant since last season. They've turned what was a neurotic, romantic and inspiring young woman into this deceitful, mean and calculating witch -- and it's mystifying why they've saddled Meredith Monroe with this poop.
The one area that seems to be getting handled with some dignity and grace is in the growing bond between Joey and Pacey. I don't like that they've introduced this violent conflict between Pacey and Dawson so abruptly, but Joey and Pacey have always had this relaxed, confident chemistry that it makes sense for the show to push them together as a potential item. They've got my blessing.
Elsewhere, I'm unsure where Jen and Jack are going right now. Jen barely appears this week, while I'm not into Jack's football subplot at all. They again made his sexuality a major part of the story, and that final slow-motion victory sequence was crazy dumb. While Andie and Jack had significant roles to play last year, it seems like the show is struggling to find a place for them now. One's a drag, and the others lost her mind.
Season three is undeniably stuck in the Twilight Zone, but at least some of the characterization still rings true. It's awkward, though, that the episode opens with the show's most arrogant takedown of pop culture yet (in this case the show that followed DC at the time, Felicity), while simultaneously drowning in Eve-inspired horror. Don't get all high and mighty when you're rapidly turning to shit, show. D+
Guest stars Brittany Daniel (Eve Whitman); Niklaus Lange (Rob Logan); Michael Pitt (Henry Parker); Obba Babatunde (Principal Howard Green)
Writers Bonnie Schneider, Hadley Davis Director Patrick Norris