Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dawson's Creek: The Graduate (4.22)

Plot winds up a little thin on the ground this week, most of the major arcs having come to a natural close, forcing the writers to severely extend them for another episode. Surprisingly, this graduation episode didn't move me on an emotional level. There are a couple of moments of rousing sweetness, but not the same level of "aww, it's the last time we'll see them all together in high school" that most young adult shows can produce. Maybe I just wasn't as attached to Capeside High as a location as much as I was, I don't know, Sunnydale High?

A little bit of season one-itis crept in here, too, with continuity breaking down in the desert, leaving certain characters to pull a do over on the events of the last couple of weeks. This is clearest with Pacey, who tells Joey he can't see her anym­­ore in order to save him pain. Uh... weren't the two of them sort of civil by the end of last episode? Pacey's attitude also bothered me for the first twenty minutes of The Graduate. Yes, he's not done particularly well this year and has this constantly pessimistic outlook on his life, but there comes a point where you essentially start self-mutilating your own existence just to make you feel worse about yourself. Which explains why he throws in the towel and makes a scene right before his last-shot test. Ugh.

It's all good in the end, Pacey able to graduate, but the journey was a little annoying. Likewise Joey's nerves over her graduation speech. There's also a lot of weirdness with a letter that her mom wrote right before she died, which she told Bessie to keep from Joey until her graduation day. This is a huge deal, and yet it's performed in this alarmingly casual manner (was Nina Repeta on downers this week or something?) And it sucks that her mom's words fall like anvils as she talks all about staying close to your childhood friends and related goop. It reeks of a bad plot device rather than something especially moving. Blah.

But Andie's back! Yay! Meredith Monroe looks gorgeous, and brings her special brand of wacky eccentricity to the proceedings, like always. She's always been a character whose personality fluctuates depending on what the writers want her to do, but she's ridiculously sweet here, acting as a confidante to Pacey and congratulating Jack for embarking on his relationship with Tobey. It's all really adorable, and brightens the hour somewhat.

Despite a couple of bright spots, The Graduate is mostly a downer after such a strong run of powerful episodes, the writers struggling to give everybody enough material to justify its existence. There are moments of interest, but it still feels like the show biding time until the finale. C

Guest stars
Meredith Monroe (Andie McPhee); Dylan Neal (Doug Witter); Mark Matkevich (Drue Valentine); David Monahan (Tobey Barret); Harry Shearer (Principal Peskin)
Writer Alan Cross Director Harry Winer

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