And Dawson's Creek continues its messy relationship with sex. For most of the episode, Joey worries and pleads and bites her lip with nerves at the mere thought of having sex with Pacey, so driven by her desire to have sex "with the right person" and "at the right time" that she comes off like a crazy person. She eventually goes through with it, but I'm not sure any of this is at all believable. Sex is an amazing thing. It's huge and important and a major step in becoming an adult and being in love with somebody. But it's also something fun and casual that you don't need to obsessively over-analyze to the point where the whole idea of sex becomes stale and tired, lacking in anything remotely spontaneous. A Winter's Tale tries to walk that line, but it eventually overdoses on worrying, becoming just the kind of overly anxious PSA that I doubt it ever intended to be.
It's easy to understand Joey's issues. Her whole adolescence was powered by her love for Dawson, and she always imagined that she'd share these giant life experiences with him. But here she is, in a long-term and stable relationship with a whole different person, and she's scared about taking that next step. And that's all fine. It's characteristically overwrought, but I get where she's coming from. However, attacking Pacey for carrying condoms and then for expressing his excitement at the idea of sleeping with her just makes her sound nuts. This is the absolute pinnacle of a secure, rational young adult relationship, and she's still freaking out over it.
The story is also so heightened in its over-analysis of everything that it feels forced that Joey would just get over her fears and wind up seducing Pacey into bed. Either run with her angst for a while, or allow her to express her sexuality as comfortably as possible. Blurring both so awkwardly feels contrived. Gah. But I guess it's positive that they at least took that step. There's only so much 'reading literature together' or 'being platonic alone on a boat in the middle of the ocean for months on end' you can take before it becomes certifiable.
Elsewhere, contrivance saddled Dawson with the choice to turn off Mr. Brooks' life support. Ignoring the ridiculousness of this particular plot device, I liked his anguish over the right decision to make, as well as that final memorial where he, Gretchen, Grams and his family all got together to watch the documentary he made about Brooks' past. I liked this story a lot, particularly what it said about Dawson's own aspirations and Grams' gradual evolution over the years.
I feel like I ought to address Jen and Jack's weird make-out session, but I have no idea what the show was trying to do with that. Yes, it's scary being single, particularly when you're frequently pushed as a 'best friend' or some kind of platonic third party, but I'm not sure it's believable that Jack would make out with somebody of the opposite gender, who just so happens to be the closest thing he has to family left in Capeside. Ugh.
It takes a long time to get there, but that final end-point of actual sex is something that needed to be dealt with. It's a story that is more over-analyzed than at all rational, but I guess the WB had certain mandates about teen sex and how it could be depicted. Seriously, though, sex should never be this much of a deal so long into a loving relationship with somebody who's completely fallen for you. I like Joey, but I'm not sure her angst was written as believably as it could have been. It's not like she's dating Drue or something... B-
Guest stars Sasha Alexander (Gretchen Witter); Mark Matkevich (Drue Valentine); Harve Presnell (Arthur Brooks); Sabine Singh (Anna Evans); Andy Griffith (Old Friend)
Writers Zack Estrin, Chris Levinson Director Greg Prange