Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dawson's Creek: Separation Anxiety (4.21)

One of the most pleasant surprises this season has been the show's insistence on keeping things relatively peaceful and bright. Sure, there's been a ton of melancholy and angst per normal, but there's also been a real sense of a future -- that while everything is pretty complicated and pained right now, hope is right around the corner. I don't know if its because of the looming potential of college, or if there was a genuine mission statement that the writers had this year, but it's why I've never been more personally invested in a Dawson's Creek season than I have been up till now.

You spend most of this episode hoping that Pacey catches a break in life, only to discover the showy Worthington offer was in actual fact an offer to spend the summer working as a deckhand on some fancy-pants yacht. Ugh. But it was a revelation that pushed the episode into more hopeful areas. Joey appeared more sympathetic and compassionate as a result than she ever did during their actual coupling, and the two of them really turned a corner. After the soapy melodrama of their fight last episode, both seem to have come to a fresh perspective on their relationship, Pacey ecstatic over her future, and Joey no longer unsure of where she stands.

I also loved the final separation of Dawson and Gretchen. Again, it's about the future, Gretchen leaving him that gorgeous final message in his yearbook, telling him what he has meant to her and expressing so much excitement that he's about to head out into the world and experience real life. Man, I loved Gretchen. She's like the perfect woman! Smart, funny, adorable. Sasha Alexander was a real discovery on this show. Granted, I'm not such a fan that I'm gonna tune into Rizzoli & Isles anytime soon. Or NCIS. God, she deserves better shows. But she has a wonderful presence on camera, and infiltrated the DC ensemble with perpetual ease. Her scene with Pacey this week, in which she tells him that regardless that they're related, she plain likes him, was ridiculously sweet. Bye, Gretchen. You'll be missed... by me, anyway.

Elsewhere, it was ridiculous that Jen would refuse to apply for student loans, but contrivance at least allowed Grams to make the jump into next season, the only adult not stranded in Capeside. I'm happy with this decision, not only because I love Jen and Grams' relationship and the latter's quiet evolution over the years, but because Mary Beth Peil adds such a warm and optimistic quality to the show.

Separation Anxiety inspires a lot of fear at the best of times, making you wonder if the show is going to merely rehash old wounds for both of season four's major couples, but thankfully both relationships are given new dimensions in what amounts to something of a post-mortem episode. It's ridiculously moving and relaxed for a show of this type. B+

Guest stars
Sasha Alexander (Gretchen Witter); Mark Matkevich (Drue Valentine); Peter Jurasik (Walter Kubelik)
Writer Rina Mimoun Director Krishna Rao

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