I think episodes like one this always strike close to home. Senior year is crazy with the intensity, not only because of your schooling itself, but because of the enormous pressure you're facing as you're headed for college in the fall. As a result, everybody has a different reaction to it. Some throw themselves into the possibility of an amazing future, grasping every opportunity and making sure you get your name out there. There are others that get paralyzed by fear, too terrified to aim high because the thought of actually going the distance seems far-fetched. Then there are folks who are so distracted by their high school existence that they can't even begin to think about the future. Each view-point is explored here, in another successful season four episode that puts character ahead of crazy plot drama.
Joey is particularly relatable this week. She's performing amazingly well in school, but lacks the extra-curricular glitziness that would make her Ivy League material. There's also her financial issue, which is already rearing its ugly head. At the same time, she's dating somebody similarly buried in concern over his future, and turning to him could generate yet another argument about their respective destinies. So, being 17 and erratic, she gets hammered at a party.
Jen and Drue didn't have the most promising of starts last week, the plot twist about their shared history bringing to mind narrative non-starters like Billy in season one or (ick) Eve last year. But there's a real element of danger here, in as much as a wholesome WB drama can be dangerous, with Drue offering her Ecstasy and Jen insistent that she's not like that anymore. There's still an after-school special vibe to the stories related to Jen's past, but it's not being played particularly lame this time around... as of yet, anyway. They also have a lot of chemistry together, Drue being the loveable jackass type that Jen usually falls for.
Gretchen, too, is proving to be a strong addition to the cast. Sasha Alexander is playing her in a way that isn't totally Dawson's Creek-ish, with the lack of angst and neuroses... and that's actually a good thing. She so clearly represents something fresh and new, and Dawson is naturally attracted to it. It's early days right now, so they're just hanging out and talking about their feelings, but it's depicted on-screen far more successfully than you'd imagine.
Elsewhere, I loved the girl talk between Joey, Jen and Andie about their futures, the three of them promising to reunite in five years to see if their life predictions (art gallery intelligentsia, Master's student, PR queen -- respectively) come true or not. I also dig Andie and Jack more than ever, particularly their ability to be goofy and snarky most of the time, but always with that undercurrent of genuine love for one another.
I'm assuming last week was a momentary blip, since this was the show back on form. Future Tense is definitely quieter as an episode, mostly concerned with a big party than anything truly dynamic in terms of plot, but the character beats were really affecting. For me, anyway. B+
Guest stars Sasha Alexander (Gretchen Witter); Mark Matkevich (Drue Valentine)
Writer Gina Fattore Director Michael Lange