This is very slight as an episode, but remains nonetheless charming. It's unusual, though, to see Gretchen anchor so much of it. Most of the episode involves her character journeying back to her ex with Pacey in tow, and it seems a lot like an hour designed to elaborate on her history and grant her added dimension. Personally, it's all a little bland and forgettable as a story, but Sasha Alexander has a really absorbing presence on screen. She projects this confidence and charisma that makes her a strong TV star, so it's no surprise that she's bounced around between a bunch of successful series ever since.
I wasn't hugely enamored with Gretchen's issues with her ex, played with sleazy charm by Christian Kane, but I liked how the episode left her. She got saved from doing a stupid thing by her brother, and eventually realized what a special relationship she has with Dawson in Capeside. If meeting her asshole ex was what it took to throw her into Dawson's arms, then I get what the show was doing. Dawson's subplot in all this, with the unearthing of a love letter he wrote for her when he was ten and still ridiculously articulate, was a ton of contrivance, but it helped justify the ending of the hour regardless.
Elsewhere, Joey and Drue got stuck in the parlor of the country club, and the story at least confirmed that Joey isn't going to be tempted by his roguish charm anytime soon -- he impulsively kisses her, and deservedly gets punched in the face for his efforts. Again, this is real slight as a story, but it too added extra dimension to one of the show's new recurring characters, as we learned more about his chaotic relationship with his father and how it's still wounded him to this day. He's still a jerk, but at least we understand his reasoning now.
Mr. Brooks and Grams are also dating, which feels like a stretch. But it's admittedly cute, particularly Grams' makeover for their date, and her pledge to be with him despite being aware that he's not long for this world. It's a story about friendship and the importance of just being there for somebody, and any self-respecting audience member can't really have an issue with that.
The Tao of Dawson falters compared to the adult drama of previous weeks and suffers from the fact that the ensemble feels really split off in their respective corners, but it at least shined a light on some of the more under-served members of the cast, to mostly effective results. B-
Guest stars Sasha Alexander (Gretchen Witter); Mark Matkevich (Drue Valentine); Harve Presnell (Arthur Brooks); Christian Kane (Nick Taylor); Carolyn Hennesy (Mrs. Valentine)
Writer Jeffrey Stepakoff Director Keith Samples