Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dawson's Creek: Coda (4.23)

So much of senior year is about those goodbyes. Every time you do something fun, or if you had an especially great day, you get that nagging feeling of "hey, that could have been the last time I'll ever do that". It hits you like a freight train, that sense that everything you hold closest to you at that moment in time is soon going to be ruptured. That you can't just go to school the next day and see everybody again, that the sense of community you'd always had with your friends and family is all about to be thrown apart, and that you'll soon wind up pushed into a whole different environment where everybody's a stranger. Coda is all about that last night, and those awkward goodbyes that you try and stretch out for as long as possible, trying so hard to delay the inevitable.

It's that feeling that completely carries the episode. There's a ton of reminiscing, a bunch of callbacks to the pilot, and a palpable sense of a group of friendships that are being literally separated. This week's script is so quietly intimate, full of relaxing conversations between old buddies. There's a game of Would You Rather?, a trip to the movies (to see American Graffiti, natch), and everybody acknowledging what was then and what they have now.

I particularly loved Jen's last talk with Grams, in which she tells her how much she hated Capeside when she was a kid, and how she always thought living with Grams was a punishment more than anything else. And how now she really sees it as home. I love how much they've grown as characters, today having this unparalleled relationship that crosses generations so enormously. I also loved just seeing all the DC kids hanging out and being funny together. They're so charming, these guys. Even if their dialogue frequently stumbles over itself in contrivance, their feelings and emotions are so on-point and real. It's hard not to relate to these people.

Of course, the entire hour is building towards that last kiss, Joey and Dawson embracing in a kiss, their silhouette on the drapes of Dawson's bedroom window, the camera fading away and the credits starting to roll. It's hard to articulate my feelings entirely, but I honestly have no problem with this. Yeah, some of the love triangle arc this year bugged. Yes, a ton of it came off a little manipulative, especially in the fluctuating behaviors of Joey and Pacey. But the emotional growth of Dawson Leery suddenly made me really support him and Joey. It's hard to see it working forever, but they've both evolved so much over the last year that it feels right to let them try it out.

I think it's just that natural sense of closeness. These two characters know more about each other than anyone else in the world, and have such an easy, relaxed banter between them. They are each other, flaws and all. And I can't deny that I was rooting for them in that last scene, aching for them to just scream "screw it!" and kiss each other. God, it's so stupid. But I feel for these two. Or, to be more specific, these writers made me feel for the two of them... this year, at least.

This has been my favorite season of Dawson's Creek. In a subtle shift, the writers turned away from the overwhelming soapiness of those first three years and focused in on young adults and their feelings in a way that felt more heartfelt than ever before. They suddenly became actual people that you could see really existing, instead of just players on a chessboard. Certain fans point to the Joey/Pacey break-up as the death knell for the show, but I completely bought into it. Maybe I'm lame and easily manipulated, but the writers made me feel for these people like never before. Just watching as these characters had this surge of life, the way the show suddenly became about kids just hanging out and experiencing things... it just all clicked together for me.

Even now, reading back that last paragraph, I get how completely lame I sound. But I love these characters, fully aware of how silly it all is. It's like I'm eleven years old again. A+

Gina Fattore, Tom Kapinos Director Greg Prange

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