Friday, November 9, 2012

Dawson's Creek: Eastern Standard Time (4.18)

This is one of Michelle Williams' finest hours. We've watched the intensity build over the last couple of episodes, Jen slowly coming to terms with her past and how it irrevocably damaged her relationship with her father. Here we discover the source of all that internal conflict, and while it's hard not to dismiss it as something of an anti-climax (it was marital infidelity, not abuse like we were lead to believe), Williams is so ridiculously powerful here that the story itself proves irrelevant. You can see her anguish slowly building during that initial dinner with her dad, before she completely comes apart when she finally confronts him. She's always been great on this show, but Eastern Standard Time allows her to fully express her abilities. It's no surprise she's one of the most acclaimed actresses today...

Jen's dad represents the kind of parental abuse that I always find a little more believable than, say, the volatile cruelty of Sheriff Witter. He's all about money and opulence and grandeur, and seems incapable of expressing any kind of feeling towards his daughter beyond empty proclamations. And he packed her off to Capeside to cover up his own affair, which ranks high on the skeeze meter. But Jen handles him well, confronting these long-standing issues and coming out the other end with a firm perspective on her own life and her past.

Taking the show to Manhattan was visually exciting, even if most of the exterior scenes were pretty tourist-y and generic. But I loved Jen and Joey hanging out together, Jen relying on her for friendly support and Joey being adorable again. It's rewarding to see how far they've come since the catty feuds they were constantly wrapped up in when the show first began.

Eastern Standard Time falters a little in its two subplots, but both are saved by strong endings. Dawson and Gretchen embark on a road trip of their own, followed by an overdose of scenes involving wacky Maine locals and their freaky eccentricities. Snore. I did like the ending to the story, though, the two of them about to have sex but Gretchen stopping it at the last minute, telling Dawson that she wants their first time to be about the two of them in that moment, and not because he's playing catch-up to Joey. Again, it's raw and adult and putting emotions first, and I continue to love Gretchen as a presence on the show.

Pacey and Drue's similar road trip, involving a bar on the edge of town and a bunch of drunken interludes, is sort of a snooze-fest, until it suddenly hits you that Pacey is circling the drain. He's becoming increasingly angry and depressed, disappointed in where his life has ended up. It's horrible seeing him wind up like this, especially as things were looking positive just a couple of months ago.

The New York story is fantastic in every area, and another example of season four taking the cast outside of Capeside for little adventures. The rest of the hour involves a bunch of filler material, generally, until those strong endings. But this was absorbing, nonetheless. B

Guest stars
Sasha Alexander (Gretchen Witter); Dylan Neal (Doug Witter); Mark Matkevich (Drue Valentine); Don McManus (Theodore Lindley); Rob Nagle (Dr. Tom Frost); Pat Hingle (Irv)
Writer Jonathan Kasdan Director David Grossman

No comments:

Post a Comment