Dawson's Creek never disappoints, always cycling back to characters trying to salvage friendships despite all the awkward baggage that you can't forget, no matter how much you want to. It's really the last barrier that Dawson and Joey need to break through. You can understand why Joey would want to remain friends with Dawson, but any rational person would realize that it's an impossible task. It sucks, but you either choose to be with the person you love, or pursue a friendship with someone who is clearly infatuated with you. It's sort of lose-lose for Joey, but it's a decision that she needs to make to protect everybody's sanity. Including ours at home.
The Anti-Prom plays with the same plot devices as last week, but grounds them in a less showy spectacle. You feel for Dawson to an extent, but he needs to stop pushing himself on Joey the way he's been doing lately, particularly when it comes to overly romantic gestures. Years ago they could have gone to the prom as platonic friends, but after all they've experienced since the show began, it's impossible for situations like that to not be a little too intimate. Guy needs to move on. Like yesterday.
Strangely, it's Andie who breaks your heart this week. She's suffered a ton of damage this year as a character, and even if you can't rectify her feelings for Pacey here with her behavior at the start of the season, Meredith Monroe is so great at playing heartbreak that you can't help but feel terribly for her. Even now, Andie is showing maturity. She loves Pacey, but slowly comes around to realizing that she just wants to see him happy, and encourages him to pursue the girl he loves. It's a really gorgeous moment played brilliantly by Monroe and Joshua Jackson. Even though the show has driven Andie and Pacey into the ground by this point, the actors still manage to find new corners to work with.
Both Jack and Jen are in the middle of these unbalanced relationships, and try as the show might to make Ethan less 'A+ gay' and experienced, there's still this wall between him and Jack. It's not as terrible as Jen's bizarre thing with Henry, but there still isn't a ton of chemistry there. Like I said weeks ago, it feels more like a relationship based on the fact that they're both gay, and not because there's actually anything there. I did notice how prescient the 'gay-bashing prom committee' thing was, and I guess we haven't evolved at all in that regard... which is depressing. But I liked Jack's growth and willingness to stand up for himself.
Finally, Mitch and Gale are getting hitched again. Which is nice. I guess. Meh. This was a strong hour, pushing all the relationships center stage and exposing the areas that really work, and the areas that continue to be a little alienating and strange. But seriously Dawson: get over it, dude. B+
Guest stars Michael Pitt (Henry Parker); Adam Kaufman (Ethan Brody)
Writer Maggie Friedman Director Greg Prange