Follow the whole rewatch here!
Welcome to the final installment of the Dawson's Creek Rewatch Project, where I'm already crying. Thanks to everyone who joined me on this long journey from Capeside to Boston to Paris and back to Capeside, and to everyone who sees this show for the beautiful, mouthy treasure it is. I miss it already.
Now let's drink to Jen Lindley, the wild, warm-hearted, misunderstood angel who captured our hearts the moment she stepped out of that taxicab.
The Dawson's Creek Drinking Game
Drink Once every time:
Joey purses her mouth or chews on her lip
Joey tucks her hair behind her ear
Sex makes Dawson and/or Joey extremely uncomfortable
Grams says "Jennifaaah"
Pacey wears a shirt that makes you want to blind yourself
Audrey declares something risqué or insane with utter confidence
Drink Twice every time:
You have literally no idea why Joey is mad
Pacey gives someone a really good hug
Cool Jen Lindley is totally crapped on by the universe
Onto the episodes!
6.23 "All Good Things..."
It's the far-off, futuristic year of 2008, five years after the last episode of Dawson's Creek took place. Here's what our friends have been up to:
* Dawson's the creator of a show called The Creek, which is really just Dawson's Creek because Dawson is Kevin Williamson and Dawson's Creek is a flat circle. (And there's that bedroom again! That's THREE TIMES now.) He's busy and famous and tired and completely bereft of a social life. He's struggling to write an ending to the season - will stunning tomboy Sam choose loquacious nerd Colby or roguishly charming Petey? These names!! "Petey" is especially cracking my shit up.
* Joey's a successful book editor, living in her rad Manhattan apartment with her snobby author boyfriend named Christopher. Christopher gives her a lot of exhausting spiels about watching trash like The Creek instead of reading literature, and as a die-hard Dawson's Creek fan who also enjoys herself some literature, I hate him on principle.
* Jen's a single mom to an adorable one-year-old girl named Amy. Her boyfriend knocked her up and split, but Jen's doing okay, because Jen is fierce and independent and brilliant and also she has Grams and Jack, who is Amy's godfather.
* Jack is living in Capeside again, teaching English (specifically, gay poetry) to the students of Capeside High and dating...SHERIFF DOUG WITTER! That's right, all of Pacey's obnoxious gay jokes about his big brother carried a grain of truth, and Doug and Jack are totally dating. Unfortunately, Doug's still in the closet, which is causing a lot of problems for their relationship. But on the plus side, they're crazy cute together.
* Pacey's also in Capeside, and he's reopened The Icehouse. He's the chef AND owner, and it's a pretty cool, impressive trajectory for him. Less cool and impressive: he's also sleeping with an older, married woman, because Pacey is an IDIOT who never learns his damn lesson. He gets his ass beaten by the woman's husband and his friends, and it's hard to say he doesn't deserve it. SIGH. Pacey.
* Audrey is not in this episode, but we get an update on her whereabouts from Joey, because those two are BFF: "Audrey’s singing backup for John Mayer, she’s touring Europe, and she’s got some boyfriend she calls the anti-Pacey" - by which she means very uncool and super sweet, to Pacey's chagrin. (Pacey's sweet! Just not to Audrey.)
Everyone's meeting back up in Capeside for Gail's wedding to Anonymous Man. Jen and Amy and Joey are all staying at the Potter B&B, and Dawson's staying with Gail and Lily, who's all grown up and watching Annie Hall and being besties with Alexander, Bessie and Bodie's little cutie. While everyone's gathering the night before the wedding, Jack's trying to get Doug to join the fun, but Doug refuses to publicly acknowledge he's gay, and they have a pretty brutal fight about it. It's sad - we learn they've been together for six months, six almost-perfect months except for the fact that Doug is, in Jack's words, "a paranoid, closeted freak." It seems like they might be breaking up over this.
The rest of the crew gets together at The Icehouse, and Joey's the first to arrive. Pacey just LIGHTS UP upon seeing her. It's really pretty magical.
Everyone else shows up soon after, and they all have this great Big Chill scene, hugging and laughing and drinking wine and waxing nostalgic about cherished old memories like accidental boners and intentional fires. It's really lovely. Jen gets especially, adorably drunk, and Jack carries her out of there and back to the Potter B&B, where we're starting to pick up on the fact that something's off with Jen, even if Jack hasn't quite realized it yet.
Joey decides to walk home, and Pacey and Dawson have a nice goodbye, but then later, Joey's decided she's too drunk to go back to the B&B, and she climbs through Dawson's window and ends up crashing in his bed, because Dawson's Creek is a flat circle. They have a great, friendly conversation, and I think we're supposed to pick up on some romantic heat between the two, but next to her and Pacey, this scene feels like the platonic ideal of platonic chemistry. Still, that night Dawson dreams he and Joey are getting married, and it's pretty hilarious because their vows are just a case-by-case recitation of every time Joey and Dawson almost got together but then didn't. Right before he wakes up, the groom and bride change into the actors playing Colby and Sam. You need a vacation, Dawson.
The next day is Gail's wedding. It's a lovely ceremony and reception, and I'm glad Gail found herself an Anonymous Man. He may be no Mitch Leery, babe-wise, but he's probably a lot smarter, bless him. All of the friends dance with each other, and we see Jen taking pills, but still no one but us seems to realize something's up. Joey dances with both Pacey and Dawson, but it's only with Pacey that the tension is ratcheted up to the stratosphere. Especially when Pacey's married mistress stares him down on the dance floor, giving him an excuse for one HELL of a kiss:
Joey's like WHOA and it looks like they're about to have The Conversation (or some sex), but this is only the first of many times they're interrupted over the next two episodes. Because then Jen collapses, and Grams screams that they need an ambulance, because she seems to know something we don't. Everyone goes to the hospital, but Grams sends them all home, assuring them everything's okay, but of course she can't convince Jack, who sticks around to discover that Jen has a heart condition, called pulmonary congestion, and it's fatal. She's in her hospital bed, apologizing for not telling him sooner, and then she breaks my heart into one thousand shards with this:
I'm so sorry, laying this all on you like this. I really thought that I'd make it to Capeside and back in one piece. I've trying to get okay with this, but I can't do it alone anymore. Because I am gonna die, Jack. And like everything else in my life, I don't really know how to do that. But I'd like to not screw up. I'd like it to be something that I get right for once.
Jen cries, Jack cries, I sob, and then he crawls into bed with her, and upon her request, starts gossiping about boys as the credits roll.
How many times did I have to drink? 6.
Guess who? Joey's boyfriend Christopher is played by Clueless' Jeremy Sisto. God, Elton, can't you suck?
Guess who x2: And Pacey's married girlfriend is played by Candyman's Virginia Madsen. It was always you, Helen. It was always you.
The truest thing anybody said this week: Joey, to an EXHAUSTING Christopher, "So I like a teen soap. So what?" SO WHAT INDEED.
Most meta moment: Christopher, still being exhausting, "Every Wednesday at 8:00, you enter this supernatural portal of teen angst." Naturally, Dawson's Creek aired Wednesdays at 8.
Other most meta moment: While Dawson's in the writer's room, he's dealing with issues like telling one teen actor that his character's about to come out of the closet, and working around the censors by using the term "walk your dog" instead of "masturbate."
Other most meta moment: I love this. After all, Dawson is Kevin Williamson and Dawson's Creek is a flat circle.
Pacey Witter's best hug: Of MANY this week. He's a hugging machine, but this is the best.
Most recognizable song: OMG, YOU GUYS. So if you've watched Dawson's Creek via any streaming service (I've purchased the series digitally on Amazon, for instance), you've been stuck with this theme song that isn't the real theme song, due to lapsed rights to Paula Cole's "I Don't Want to Wait." But for whatever reason, the last two episodes open with the REAL theme song, and I won't lie, it made me burst into tears.
6.24 "...Must Come to an End"
Okay. Gird your loins, Dawson's Creekers, because it's about to get real sad in here.
News about Jen travels quickly, and Joey, Pacey, Dawson and Jack spend much of their final episode at the hospital, along with Grams and Amy, of course, and sometimes even Lily, Alexander, Bessie, Gail, Anonymous Man and Doug, who clearly wants so badly to comfort Jack. It's a lovely way to centralize this last episode - we've seen these friends come together for births, weddings, the deaths of parents, but losing one of their own brings them closer than they've been in years. And everyone gets their own wonderful scene with Jen. Michelle Williams has always been the most talented actor on Dawson's Creek, and in its finale, we see the tremendous, four-time Oscar-nominated movie star at work. She will slay you in this episode.
She insists on light chatter and hilarity, no tears, because that's what she wants and deserves in her final days, and for the most part, her friends can accommodate her wishes, though of course it isn't easy. Here's how she interacts with our main characters:
* Jack doesn't leave her side, and after dancing around the issue, he brings up Amy. He's her godfather, he reminds Jen, but Jen doesn't want him to feel pressured to raise a child. "I think that when most people sign up for godparent duties, they don't imagine that it could ever extend beyond a few baby-sits," she points out, but Jack cuts her off. "Jen. I want her." Jen tearfully agrees that she and Grams both believe Jack will make an amazing father, and don't you just know in your heart that he will? Jen tells him she doesn't want Amy to be a misfit, because Jen always felt like a misfit. "I want her to belong. I feel like I never really did." Jack tells her that she always belonged with him, because she's his soulmate, and I am openly weeping now.
* Joey gives Jen a makeover while lightly confiding in her about her ever-present Pacey-Dawson dilemma. She's broken up with Christopher on the phone (don't feel bad for him, that guy sucks) because, as Bessie wisely points out, "You're still in love with your ex-boyfriend. No, you're still in love with your ex-boyfriends, plural." But as Joey's talking it out with Jen - using The Creek's names of Sam, Petey and Colby until Jen tells her to drop the act - Jen literally uses her dying wish to force Joey to make up her mind. Hah! Jen's so awesome. And Joey admits that, deep down, she's always known who she's meant to be with, but fear has kept her from pursuing her heart's desire. Jen perks up, and just as she asks Joey who "the one" is, they're interrupted. I'd like to believe that Joey sneaked her the answer later, because I'd hate for Jen to die curious.
* Dawson wheels Jen out into the hospital's garden where he's set up a camera, and we see why Joey took such care making Jen look beautiful and healthy again - because she's going to film a video for her daughter. It's so sad, and so lovely, and my heart almost can't take it.
* You see a little of one of Jen's scenes with Pacey at the end of that video, but Pacey's also the first person to go in to see her after Jack and Grams, because Pacey's always been the bravest of that love triangle. When Jack sternly instructs everyone that Jen wants to keep it light, Joey and Dawson just look at Pacey, who says, "Send in the clown, huh?" in that wonderful, wry way he has. And he's so great with Jen - he makes her laugh, over and over, and it's clearly just what she needs, even though it has to be so hard for him. Later, he shows her a VHS he stole from Dawson when they were kids, and it's just outtakes from the S1 credits, of these four young cuties goofing around on the beach. She watches him watch the footage of Joey, and maybe she already knows who Joey's going to choose, because she tells him that she knows he still feels sparks when Joey's around. When he tells her that Joey makes him feel more alive, and that he thinks people underestimate that feeling, her response is so wise, because Jen's always been so wise.
I think they overestimate it, too. I mean, as much as you want to, you can't rely on someone else to make you feel alive. It's an inside job.
I love that advice. I think she knows Joey and Pacey are going to end up together, but she doesn't want Pacey's happiness to be Joey's responsibility. It's something he's got to figure out on his own.
* Grams is always there, in the background, taking care of Amy and staring with such love and strength at the granddaughter she adores. We never see Jen's parents, and though, in a way, that's horrible, it's also just right, because they were never half as important to Jen as Grams and her friends. And when Jen dies, it's with only Grams in the room, just as it should be. Grams is napping in the chair next to Jen's bed, and Jen looks over at her, and smiles, and then she's gone. Seconds later, Grams wakes, and she knows immediately that her beloved granddaughter is no longer with her. She kisses her forehead and weeps and whispers, "I'll see you soon, child. Soon." It's heartbreaking and gorgeous and I'll never stop crying.
Meanwhile, around all of this, life is still happening, because that's what life does, but of course every interaction is colored by the sadness and insight that comes from knowing one of your oldest friends is leaving this earth. Joey and Pacey have some incredible scenes together, and really, so do Joey and Dawson. There's so much history there. Jen's funeral is at The Icehouse, and it's warm and casual and lovely, just what she would want. Joey and Pacey run into each other in the kitchen, and Pacey tells Joey she's "off the hook." He's taking Jen's advice, and he knows he has to make himself happy first and foremost, and he just wants Joey to be happy, too. But she tells him she doesn't want off the hook, and he lights up, realizing she's about to say something important - until they're interrupted a couple more times.
Doug finds Jack and Amy on the beach, and Jack tells him he's thinking of moving, because he doesn't want Amy to be the misfit with the gay dad in Capeside. Doug points out that she'd be the kid with the gay dad wherever they go, but that he knows Jack will be an incredible father to her, and he'd like to help. He kisses Jack, right in front of everyone, because Doug's finished being in the closet, and he and Jack and Amy are going to get their happily ever after, a spin-off I honestly would have loved to see.
Joey finds Dawson sitting outside his house, as Alexander and Lily are running around, playing. They say goodbye without saying goodbye, and Dawson admits that he's no longer obsessing over whether Sam chooses Petey or Colby. Because "in some unearthly way," Sam and Colby will always be together, because they're more than friends, more than lovers. They're soulmates. Joey cries and they hug and say "I love you," as Alexander climbs up the ladder into Lily's window, because Dawson's Creek is a flat circle, and yes, I'm still crying.
We cut to The Creek, where Sam and Colby are kissing in Colby's bedroom, because that's how the first season should end. And we realize Pacey and Joey are watching it together in Joey's apartment in New York, where they live and are in love and Pacey's probably a chef at some amazing restaurant because that is the life he deserves. They seem so happy, and so functional, and then they call Dawson to congratulate him on a terrific season finale, and he's so happy to hear from both of them. It's really lovely. And then he tells them that he has a meeting with Spielberg tomorrow! So even Dawson gets the ending he deserves.
Everyone does, actually, except Jen Lindley. But then, Jen Lindley was always too good for this planet.
How many times did I have to drink? 8.
The truest thing anybody said this week: After Joey takes a bite of Pacey's pasta (dirty!), she says, "No suit and tie for you. This is definitely your calling."
The dreamiest thing anybody said this week: Pacey tells Joey, "It’s like I was walking around seeing my life through a smudged window, and then I saw you, and the smudges were gone. The window was clean." And every woman on earth swoons and sighs and dies.
Most recognizable song: Alanis Morissette's "Hand in my Pocket," which was apparently a contender for Dawson's Creek's theme song.
Most meta moment: In the S1 finale of The Creek, Sam shouts-out to the actual theme song of Dawson's Creek by telling Colby, "I don't want to wait for our lives to be over. I want to know right now, what will it be."
Andie McPhee: My darling Andie McPhee came back for a scene for the finale, but it was cut in the aired version. It shows up as a deleted scene on the DVD set (sadly unavailable online), and served as a really lovely goodbye for her and Pacey.
That's it for this week and for the Dawson's Creek Rewatch Project, my friends. I've loved every minute of it. I think this show is really something special, as awkward and angsty and beautiful and pure as adolescence itself. Thanks for being here through all 64 weeks of it. May you all find your Pacey, or your Dawson, or your Joey, or your Sam or Petey or Colby or Jack or Jen or Andie or Audrey or Spielberg or Grams. But way more importantly, never forget what Jen Lindley says: happiness is an inside job.