Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dawson's Creek: Use Your Disillusion (5.5)

It feels like certain storylines this year are working far better the episode after the ones in which they take center stage. While Mitch's death created a ton of generic corn last week, here the reactions from Dawson and Joey felt more intimate and true. Dawson was all about that numb feeling, where you want to move forward and remember what you once had, but feel stuck and drained, like you're walking through quicksand. Joey, alternatively, went so crazy with the compassion that she once again came off a little annoying. But I liked her eventual confession to Audrey, in which she said how she found Dawson's melancholy so difficult that she was sort of relieved when he finally left Boston. It's raw, slightly embarrassing honesty, where you have certain feelings but don't dare to articulate them with the parties concerned.

It's not hugely fun seeing Dawson stuck in this lethargy, something that he was experiencing even before his father died, but I'm guessing it's an important story to tell -- the next couple of episodes presumably finding Dawson discovering those answers he needs and deciding where he wants to go next. Like I wrote up top, Joey was neurotic and annoying here, particularly her exaggerated freak-out over the car accident she and Dawson watch in the movie she's rented. Way to stay inconspicuous, girl. But I liked the tenderness to the story, as well as the feeling that this is a huge chapter in their relationship, both finding it easier to depart from each other at the end of the episode.

It's so easy to view Michelle Williams as this 'method actor' magnetized to gloomy indie movies about death and crumbling marriages that it's a welcome surprise when she suddenly breaks out her comedy chops and gets to be funny. Her story this week, in which she gets all outrageous and 'Angela Bassett in Waiting to Exhale'-ish when she thinks she spies Charlie out on a dinner date with a hottie, is crazily funny, particularly Pacey's involvement as he tries to stop her from doing something she might regret. Of course, she does, once she discovers Charlie was at dinner with his sister, but the twist ending, with Jen spying Charlie actually sleeping around, comes as a surprise. Poor Jen, she's always getting pooped on.

While most of the cast came out of this episode really well, Jack is slowly becoming a fratboy asshole caricature, abandoning Tobey to hang out with his new buddies, Tobey departing at the end of the show all sad over how his relationship has rapidly gone down the tubes. Granted, long-distance relationships rarely work out, especially when one of the parties involved is suddenly thrust into intense new surroundings full of sex and romantic availability, but Jack's behavior was obnoxious this week. He also gets struck down with that trademark Dawson's Creek disease in which he refuses to cut his boyfriend loose, despite all the signs pointing to his lack of interest in him anymore. It's just mean, but at least Tobey showed his emotional maturity by walking away with his dignity intact. Ugh. It sucks, but I guess I should be thankful that this is a Jack story not involving gay bashing. Being an asshole versus being a victim? Neither is great, but at least the former hasn't yet been run into the ground.

Use Your Disillusion bounces from one varying tone to another with little narrative cohesion, but the individual stories are mostly successful. Nothing's truly grabbed me this season just yet, but I'm not exactly disliking anything either. It's... fine. B-

Guest stars
Ken Marino (Professor David Wilder); Busy Philipps (Audrey Liddell); Lourdes Benedicto (Karen Torres); Chad Michael Murray (Charlie Todd); David Monahan (Tobey Barett); Ian Kahn (Danny Brecher); Mary-Margaret Humes (Gale Leery)
Writer Rina Mimoun Director Perry Lang

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