Bianca Lawson as Nikki

About:

Title: Dawson’s Creek S3.E10 “First Encounters of the Close Kind” + S3.E11 “Barefoot at Capefest”
Released: 1999
Series: 

Drinks Taken: 23

Follow the whole rewatch here!

Welcome back to Capeside! Last week, Britt asked me if all holiday episodes are so boring, and they’re totally not! Thanksgiving, in particular, becomes very important to Dawson’s Creek in a really great way. Also, I know Britt’s super bummed that Jen and Pacey’s friends-with-benefits endeavor lapsed before it ever really took off, but fear not. Some SUPER juicy Pacey stuff’s a-comin, and soooooon.

Let’s drink to soon! 

Jen smiles, sitting in bed with a bottle of champagne

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”

Andie gives an impassioned speech (or rant)

Jack wears the straightest shoes possible

Pacey wears a shirt that makes you want to blind yourself


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!

Jack sits on a bus, smiling big

3.10 “First Encounters of the Close Kind”

Guys, these two episodes are kind of boring. “First Encounters of the Close Kind,” for instance, DOESN’T EVEN HAVE ANY PACEY OR JEN. Whyyyyy would you release an episode minus your two most fun and interesting characters?! I guess fun kids don’t get to go to college. 

Because that’s what up this week! Dawson, Joey, Andie and Jack are headed to the hallowed grounds of some fictional ivy league university in Boston. I don’t think they ever name said university in this episode, but we’ll later learn that it’s Worthington, I guess. Dawson’s going to enter his Blair Witch rip-off into a student film festival, Joey’s going to get a tour from a student named AJ, Andie’s going to literally stalk a dean and Jack wants to check out his first gay club. YES, this episode includes Jack’s first visit to a gay club, and it’s STILL boring. How? I dunno. Too much book-learnin’, I guess.

Here’s how it all plays out: Dawson’s video is roundly rejected by his fellow festival attendees for being – you got it – a Blair Witch rip-off. He meets an intelligent young lady named Nikki, who gives him a bunch of unsolicited feedback about how his movie is derivative and obtuse. You know the drill: Dawson pouts and storms off, then realizes he appreciates the constructive criticism. He sees Nikki’s festival submission and is wowed, and the two bond – especially when Nikki doesn’t place, and Dawson bends over backward to tell her that she was robbed. They’re friends now, which is lucky, because on the bus back to Capeside, Dawson runs into Nikki and learns that she’s actually Principal Green’s daughter, and will be attending Capeside after her parents’ divorce. 

Thanks to her ambiguously gendered name, as well as the ambiguously gendered name “AJ,” Joey is accidentally placed in a BOY’S dorm room. He’s responsible for showing her around campus, but he’s a self-absorbed, over-educated bore. He’s the TA in a literature class she’s auditing, and he mocks her in front of the entire class for naming Little Women as her favorite book. I really hate him. Of course, Joey gets all hard up for self-absorbed, over-educated bores – that is her precise cup of tea – so she falls for AJ after he apologizes and sneaks her into the rare manuscript library after hours. (EDITOR’S NOTE: ok, that would totally work on me. I get dewy for a rare manuscript library.) After AJ talks to her for EIGHT HOURS about Ulysses (eight hours! Ulysses! I hate this person!), it’s clear that there’s a flirtation occurring between Joey and AJ. Sorry, I just fell asleep. 

Andie is stalking the dean because she wants to impress him with her go-get-’em-and-never-let-’em-go attitude. But she doesn’t have an appointment, and his assistant Fran is very firm about not messing with the man’s schedule. Fran knows where her bread is buttered! But she becomes enamored of our little go-getter, and soon Fran and Andie are making friends. Andie confides in Fran about her mom, and Fran returns the favor with some wisdom and insight. It’s nice seeing this Andie again. I like this Andie. 

Finally, Jack goes to a gay club. A man tries to buy Jack a beer and he just BOLTS. Like, out of the club. Buuuuut then he runs into a cute boy on the bus back. This cute boy is named Ethan, and he’s just broken up with another boy, and hey hey, doesn’t look like Jack totally struck out, after all. 

How many times did I have to drink? 

13.

Guess who? 

Nikki is played by Permanent Fictional Teenager (from Buffy in 1997 to Pretty Little Liars in 2012) Bianca Lawson! This falls squarely in the middle of her Fictional Teenager Epoch. 

Bianca Lawson as Nikki Green

Guess who 2? 

AJ is played by Robin Dunne, whose biggest credit before Dawson’s Creek was (hilariously, considering AJ’s Alcott disdain) a recurring role as Franz on Little Men

Robin Dunne as AJ

Guess who 3? 

Fran is played by The Jeffersons‘ Marla Gibbs! Hey, Florence!

Marla Gibbs as Fran

Guess who 4? 

So many new faces this week! Ethan is played by Buffy and Veronica Mars‘ Adam Kaufman.

Adam Kaufman as Ethan

Least likely dialogue

Joey, to Dawson about their weekend plans: “Or it could be the weekend when all of our hopes and dreams just come crashing down around us, forcing us to withdraw from mainstream society and spend the rest of our days as these cynical, embittered shadows of our former selves. It’s just a thought.” Cheery!

Best pop culture reference

An overt reference to the episode title, newly on-campus Dawson says he feels like “Richard Dreyfuss from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. You know, the director’s cut where he finally boards the mothership and meets with the aliens.”

Joey’s already cleaning up with college lesbians

After Dawson’s screening, the only question is from a goth chick, who asks “Where’s the Joey chick, is she here? Because she’s HOT.”  Checks out!

The truest thing anybody said this week

Fran, to Andie: “You’ve got chutzpah. I’ll say that for you.”

Most meta moment

Joey and AJ take turns describing the plot of Little Women thusly, “Something about a girl with a boy’s name?” “The girl’s name is Jo. She has three sisters, a mother, a father who’s usually not around and when he is, he’s very impractical. He’s not the greatest at providing the material things in life.” “That’s right. They’re poor, but they have each other. And there’s something to do with a boy next door. Yeah, it’s all coming back to me.”

Ethan and Jack stand on the beach, looking flirtily at each other

3.11 “Barefoot at Capefest”

Jack runs into Ethan at the grocery store, and they flirt a little bit. Jen’s there, and Jen approves!

Jen and Jack are grocery shopping while spying on Ethan and gossiping cutely
Jen: “Cute!”
Jack: “Gay.”
Jen: “Aren’t they all?”

Ethan tells him he’s going to Capefest this weekend. What’s Capefest, you ask? Wait, Jack beat you to it, because that little cutie is terminally uncool. Ethan tells him it’s “a free concert in the park.” People camp out, grill, listen to music, what have you. Jen and Jack attend, and then Jack quickly shoos her away so he can spend a romantic day and evening with Ethan. It does seem romantic, sorta. They walk and talk about gay stuff (literally, they just talk about being gay, what that means and how it feels), and Ethan’s wearing a turtleneck, and it’s all very nice. They sleep in the tent at the same time but not together, and Jack’s confused that Ethan hasn’t made a move. Turns out that Ethan feels like Jack is “so not ready” for a real relationship. Jack tells him he feels like he could be ready, with Ethan, and Ethan gives him his number. So we’ll see, I guess!

Poor fifth wheel Jen Lindley just wanders around in the woods all night until she runs into Henry. He’s grilling veggie burgers! Jen is intrigued, I think because she’s starving. He tells her he’s been giving her the cold shoulder since the dance, a strategy that went utterly unnoticed by Jen. Henry is OUTRAGED that Jen didn’t acknowledge his petty little games, and she tells him she misses the way he used to look at her. Henry counters that he doesn’t miss the way she never looked at him, and all right, we get it, already. Then Jen sees him playing guitar and singing, and she watches his corny little song with an inscrutable look on her face.

Jen, bundled up at night in a firelit crowd, watches Henry (off-camera) with an intrigued look on her face

She apologizes to Henry (FOR WHAT, I ASK YOU?!), and it seems like she might be giving this squirrelly freshman a chance. 

Meanwhile, Dawson’s trying to decide if he actually likes having Nikki in town or not. On the one hand, she’s pretty fierce competition for The Film Bard of Capeside, and she keeps renting all of the school’s camera equipment before he gets a chance to, but on the other hand, they have a lot in common. They’re growing close, and he confides in her about his parents’ divorce – something that makes Joey Inexplicably Angry ™, because he hasn’t confided in her the same way. Dawson’s super right in saying this: “Every time I express one iota of interest, or even respect, for anyone else of the opposite sex, you attack me like I’m some sort of criminal,” and after storming off, Joey eventually acknowledges that he’s right. He’s taken down all of his Spielberg posters after some teasing from Nikki, and Joey brings him an “Imagine” John Lennon poster, which he hangs on his wall instead. Okay! 

Finally, Andie’s decided to become assistant director of the school play to help her keep her mind off Pacey. But then the director, Mr. Broderick – a tyrant and an idiot, but correct in this one respect – hires Pacey as his lead actor, to help Pacey make up some of his failing grades. Andie wants Pacey to quit, but here’s what Pacey Witter has to say about that: 

Pacey and Andie are on the stairs of the school hallway, and Pacey gestures dramatically while Andie looks entreating.
Pacey: “Witters aren’t quitters!”

Andie and Pacey bump heads at first, of course, but then they start to show grudging respect for one another again. Andie admires what a good actor Pacey is (he is!), and Pacey admires what a great assistant director Andie’s been (she has!), and they bond over their equal hatred for Mr. Broderick. It looks like these two are gonna be friends again, yay!!

How many times did I have to drink? 

10.

The truest thing anybody said this week

Andie, convincing Mr. Broderick that he should hire her: “I’m smart, bossy and super efficient. And the truth is, you need me.”

The second truest thing anybody said this week

Dawson to Nikki: “Maybe I’m just self-obsessed.”

Still, this is fair

Dawson to Joey about his parents’ divorce: “How did this become all about you?”

Most recognizable song

“Imagine,” by John Lennon, obviously. 

Nice Guy Henry Parker

“Look, you can’t keep doing this to me. Trying to be my friend then pushing me away when my feelings scare you.” All Jen has EVER done is try to be your friend, and by your own admission, you pushed yourself away when she told you her feelings weren’t romantic. This is GROSS behavior, Henry Parker. Get it together. 


That’s it for this week! Britt, I have a question for you: how are you feeling about Henry these days? I know you’re a die-hard Michael Pitt acolyte, but you also have no patience for Nice Guys. But what if the Nice Guys look like Michael Pitt?!

Meet Britt here next Wednesday morning as she covers “Weekend in the Country” and “Northern Lights.”

Meredith Borders is formerly the Texas-based editor of Fangoria and Birth.Movies.Death., now living and writing (and reading) in Germany. She’s been known to pop by Forever Young Adult since its inception, and she loves YA TV most ardently.