Friday, November 9, 2012

Dawson's Creek: Admissions (4.17)

My general happiness with the road Dawson's Creek is headed down is probably sourced from the inevitability of everything falling apart in a couple of months. This is the very end of senior year, the time when everybody's preparing to leave and move on into their adult lives. It's also the time when high school relationships generally come to their natural end, especially when you're moving across the country from one another. So while it's clear that the writers are engineering a Dawson/Joey reunion, I have no real issue because you know it'll eventually fall apart again. Not because of fights or repressed memories or whatever, but because of time, and how we all eventually move on.

Yes, it's crazily contrived that Joey would have to turn down her college place due to financing issues. Even more contrived that she'd dismiss the idea of student loans. Even further contrived that Dawson's inheritance from Mr. Brooks just so happens to arrive like a beacon of good fortune. But the journey getting to that point, filled with moments of brutal honesty as Joey told Dawson about her now-physical relationship with Pacey, was rewarding all on its own. Again, season four is about the adult decisions. Regardless of Joey being batshit over the last two episodes, everything is pushed out in the open this week... and nobody reacts irrationally. Dawson admits that the knowledge of she and Pacey sleeping together hurts him, but it doesn't change his friendship with Joey. Joey still feels something for Dawson, but it isn't changing how she feels about Pacey... for now, anyway. And Pacey confides that he was momentarily happy that Joey would be stuck in Capeside with him, until he realized that the one thing he doesn't want to do is hold her back in life.

It's an episode that constantly looks over that cliff edge at the epic fall of soapy contrivance, but always pulls back just at the right moment. The overriding theme this year has been emotional growth, and I'm glad that the show is still promoting that, instead of allowing the seductive power of trainwreck plot twists to take over. Like always, I'm still scared of what they could throw at us next, but right now I'm content.

It feels like we've settled into a storytelling pattern of late with Joey, Dawson, Pacey and Gretchen stuck in their rotating-door romantic A-plot, and Jen and Jack hovering around on the fringes in their smaller subplots. But it still works, Jen once again digging deep into her past to try and unearth why she feels certain things about New York, and why her dad is a major bone of contention for her. I'm not excited for what feels like an inevitable sexual abuse reveal lurking on the horizon, but hopefully the writers will surprise us when the time comes for Jen to face her trauma.

Admissions was another sleepy episode driven by dialogue, even if it did feature that doozy of a ridiculous plot device with the financial problems. But I'm wrapped up enough in these characters and how their minds work to prevent fatigue, while it's nice seeing Joey back on track after a couple of weeks of insanity. B-

Guest stars
Sasha Alexander (Gretchen Witter); Mark Matkevich (Drue Valentine); Obi Ndefo (Bodie Wells); Rob Nagle (Dr. Tom Frost)
Writer Barb Siebertz Director Lev L. Spiro

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