Saturday, February 2, 2013

Dawson's Creek: Clean and Sober (6.14)

I don't know when the writers first became aware that this would be the final season of Dawson's Creek, but there definitely seems to have been an attempt over these last two episodes to draw to a close the various shitty subplots that have been distracting away from the main cast lately, as well as position certain storylines as the focus for this final run of episodes. Not only does Clean and Sober resurrect a true sense of fun compared to the melodramatic lethargy of recent episodes, it also features a genuinely sweet resurfacing of the ballad of Pacey and Joey, a coupling that worked so well all those years ago, before being put on the back-burner to make way for more Dawson and Joey hooey. Some of that was fun, but it's absolutely the right time to bring Pacey back into the romantic fold.

If there's one problem I had with Joey and Pacey's initial break-up, it's that everything went back to normal remarkably quickly. Maybe I'm just comparing it too much to Dawson and Joey and all the overwrought angst that their break-ups have wrought, but the absence of emotion (particularly with Pacey) never seemed to match the depth of feeling created when they were actually dating. So it makes sense for Pacey to confess to a drunken Joey that those feelings have never exactly gone away, and that he can't help but look at her and be romantically interested. So they hang out at the party, goof off together, and later kiss in a drunken stupor; presumably all to be forgotten by Joey tomorrow, but likely to be stuck in Pacey's mind for a long while to come.

The party brings out the best in a lot of the cast. Pacey and Jack's adoration of their new TV set is sitcom schtickery at its most obvious, but admittedly fun all the same. Katie Holmes is also hilarious drunk, reminiscing with David about the time she painted Jack naked and he got all excited, as well as telling C.J. that Jen once killed a girl: "Abby Morgan. She killed her with champagne". Holmes isn't considered a natural comedienne, but she frequently hits Sarah Michelle Gellar-levels of adorable-ness here, all goofy and charming.

Emma's green card issues, on the other hand, feel like a strained attempt to keep her around, while Jack's proposal of marriage conveniently grants Kerr Smith a couple of months of heterosexual acting, which bugs. This better not interfere with David, but I can't imagine that not happening. Poor David. He probably deserves better anyway.

Away from the party, Dawson visits Audrey in rehab and it's all pretty boring. His pursuit of a famous movie producer also in residence isn't interesting at all, while Audrey's last-minute epiphany (she needs to quit having those) feels repetitive. But the story at least allows Busy Philipps to be funny again, particularly in that great scene where she pretends to be a southern gal called Pinky, whose severed toe sent her into a spiral of boozing. You'd probably have to be there.

There are obviously issues here, but Clean and Sober is the most fun episode in a long while, something that utilizes the cast well, and seems to be interested in creating laughs instead of melodramatic tears. As a result, the cast appears to be enjoying themselves again. B+

Guest stars
Jensen Ackles (C.J.); Megan Gray (Emma Jones); Greg Rikaart (David); Esteban Powell (Gus); Alicia Coppola (Toni Stark)
Writer Anna Fricke Director Michael Lange

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