Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dawson's Creek: Great Xpectations (4.6)

Drugs are bad, mmkay? This perpetuates the PSA vibe that plagued last episode, but happily tosses that into just one small subplot, saving us from the bombardment of preachiness that could so easily drown out any of its potential merit. Andie's descent into junkiedom is hilariously speedy, but at least the writers added some vague excuse for her near-death experience, what with the ecstasy reacting badly with the medication she's already on. It's not quite 90210 territory (didn't Kelly Taylor become a coke addict in the space of, like, a day?), but there's definitely a feeling that the show is bashing you over the head with a "very important message".

You can understand why Andie would want to escape. She's had a really crummy existence over the last couple of years, regardless of some of it being self-induced. But I feel for her, too. She lost Pacey, and now sees everything he has and understandably there's some resentment there. But, unlike Dawson, she acts out in this tragic way, where everything's mostly repressed and hidden. She and Dawson are actually pretty similar, it's unfortunate they never hooked up at one point or another.

Where Great Xpectations rises above the preachiness is in its other stories. I'm happy that the show has turned a corner on the Dawson/Pacey angst, even if there's still this general frostiness whenever they're together. I actually think it's Gretchen's presence. She's getting closer with Dawson, more intimate, and it was nice of Joey to at least raise the possibility of something romantic between them. Gretchen herself has already sort of assumed Joey's old role in Dawson's life, since they're always talking openly about their emotions, while he goes to Gretchen first with the news of his mom's pregnancy.

The writers seem to insist on making the Dawson's ensemble a bunch of strange non-teenagers with their whole "eww, raving and having fun is so gross" vibe, but I liked that they rooted Pacey's recent melancholy in the destruction of his boat. I didn't really talk about it in my review of Two Gentlemen of Capeside, but it was pretty saddening to see such a literal depiction of his relationship with Joey go down like that. It's left a hole in his heart, and I'm hoping it's not being used as some kind of metaphor for their crumbling coupling. That'll just be depressing.

There's an annoying sense that the writers are cycling through a checklist of 'issues' lately, but the characters were at least recognizable this week, every member of the cast being used effectively. I also liked the rave being used as a backdrop to all the angst, something shiny and new and different for Capeside. You can only see that same sun-baked creek so often before you want to unload a can of pepper-spray in your eyes. B-

Guest stars
Sasha Alexander (Gretchen Witter); Mark Matkevich (Drue Valentine); David Dukes (Joseph McPhee)
Writer Nan Hagan Director Bruce Seth Green

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