Hahahahaha! The face that launched a thousand memes. As soon as Dawson and Joey hit the dock, the realization suddenly hit me that True Love was the source of that infamous image up top. Oh, Van Der Beek. Who knew your face could contort like that? Gah. True Love is actually a really wonderful finale, pulling together all the themes of the season and featuring an ending which pushes most of the cast into absorbing new directions. Dawson, Jen and Jack all grow, and Joey and Pacey finally run for the hills together. It's a happy ending, not that you would guess it from that picture. It never gets old, right?
The theme of 'true love' runs through the entire episode. Not only is it explored through Joey and Pacey, but the true meaning of the word becomes cleverly resonant with Dawson's decision to grant Joey his blessing. His true love for Joey enables him to see through his own longing and embrace her happiness instead of wanting to suppress it, which is similar to Andie's development last week. Even if her happiness isn't with him, keeping her captive in Capeside and forcing her to pine over her lost love all summer is the work of a very cruel person... so, instead, he encourages her to go and chase her dream. There's also less animosity here between Dawson and Pacey. They're still frosty, but their few encounters don't devolve into sniping at each other, for a change. I'm not sure this particular friendship will recover anytime soon, but it takes a strong person to put aside their own feelings for the sake of the ones they love.
Grams initiates the other exploration into 'true love'. After a moving monologue in which she tells of her own brief encounter with a loved one years ago, she drives Jen and Jack to both of their betrothed, encouraging them to take a leap and profess their feelings. I'm still in a world of not caring when it comes to Jen and Henry, but I can recognize how much Jen has grown over the course of their relationship, finally seeming to be comfortable with her past and on her way to becoming a fully stable adult.
Similarly, I never particularly bought Jack and Ethan as a couple, either. But it's hard to not feel something when he finally embraces his identity and goes in for a kiss. Sure, it all ends in tears, but the fact that this was the first gay kiss on network television helps it strike a truly emotional chord. Any show from this era which depicted homosexuality in such a positive, ordinary light deserves major respect, and it's ridiculously awesome that the show insisted on having Jack express physical intimacy with another guy, instead of just dancing around the subject like so many shows of this type. Furthering that, he gets a moment of emotional support from his dad: another strong depiction of people not making such a big deal out of sexuality.
It's that final scene that leaves you with a huge smile on your face, though. I loved the gradual building of Joey and Pacey this year, and always thought they had a ton of chemistry together. They're stable, secure with one another, and actually generate heat. Season three was a creative mess when it opened, but the time and care the writers dedicated to this coupling made the arc so much more engaging and romantic than the ratings bait 'love triangle'-thing it could have so easily been. I really damn care for these two, and supported them all the way. Regardless of the issues this year, that coda really ends the season on a high. True love on-board True Love. It's corny, melodramatic and lame, but it's absolutely Dawson's Creek. A
Guest stars Dylan Neal (Doug Witter); Michael Pitt (Henry Parker); Adam Kaufman (Ethan Brody); Obi Ndefo (Bodie Wells); David Dukes (Joseph McPhee)
Teleplay Tom Kapinos, Gina Fattore Story Greg Berlanti, Jeffrey Stepakoff Director James Whitmore, Jr.