Friday, December 21, 2012

Dawson's Creek: Cigarette Burns (5.18)

The very best episodes of Dawson's Creek are usually the ones in which characters get thrown together in the same place, hanging out and conversing with one another, sharing scenes for the first time in a while. Cigarette Burns takes place at the premiere of Dawson and Oliver's movie, a movie that remains vague in terms of story, but is supposedly as long as The English Patient and features a vast cameo from Chad Michael Murray's penis. But Cigarette Burns isn't really about the film itself, and instead more about what the film brings out in the cast. This is the strongest traditional DC episode in a while, every character given material that says a lot about how far they've all come as people, and where they'll go from here.

One of the bigger success stories this week involves the restructuring of Joey and Charlie's relationship. While the icky flirtation and lingering looks were all over the place in their last two appearances, here the writers allow us to understand Joey's feelings, explained in a fantastic scene with Jen: Joey asking her about having real attraction for another guy who is sexy and charming, but deep down is a total moron. I still dislike Charlie, but it's a welcome decision to allow us to glimpse how Joey's brain is working right now, instead of us at home being blindsided by her vague decision-making.

I was a huge fan of Audrey and Pacey's story this week, until that cop out ending. They've hit that traditional couple moment in which they tell each other how many people they've slept with, and Audrey is resistant to revealing her number because it's so high. Like fifty-seven high. But Pacey tells her that it's not at all an issue, and that they're happy enough as a couple that numbers and statistics are entirely unimportant. And all that is great -- a strong example of anti-slut-shaming, some real growth on a show that spent so many of its early seasons whining about Jen's vaguely pornographic history in New York. Until, that is, Audrey breaks down and confesses that she's actually only slept with five guys, and that she just makes out with people a lot. Oookay. It's manipulative and phony, and goes entirely against what made this subplot so interesting in the first place. Snore. Great story in principal, weak resolution.

Meanwhile, Dawson finds himself flirting with a Boston film critic who shows up for the premiere. Meredith Salenger's character isn't hugely interesting as a person (and their kiss reeks of contrivance), but I liked what the story seemed to say about Dawson as an artist and filmmaker, how he recognizes where his talent lies, and that he doesn't need to be all arch and pretentious in order to make a great piece of work.

While all of that is happening, there are also two smaller subplots for Jen and Grams. Oliver has a crush on Jen, something she finds initially awkward, before showing signs that she actually does have an interest in him, even if it's still a little strange and unknown right now. It's a cute story that gives Michelle Williams some fun stuff to work with. Grams is also dating an African-American widower, which is hilarious, but also genuinely sweet. I like that they're giving Mary Beth Piel decent work, she's really Dawson's Creek's secret weapon at this point.

Cigarette Burns uses the cast especially well, after so many weeks of drifting, and while the Audrey thing falls apart at the end, it remains an entertaining and well-constructed episode of relaxed banter. Cute. A-

Guest stars
Busy Philipps (Audrey Liddell); Chad Michael Murray (Charlie Todd); Jordan Bridges (Oliver Chirchick); Meredith Salenger (Amy Lloyd)
Writers Tom Kapinos, Jonathan Kasdan Director Les Sheldon

No comments:

Post a Comment