Dawson's comical, crumpled-up cry face.


Title: Dawson’s Creek S3.E22 “The Anti-Prom” + S3.E23 “True Love”
Released: 2000
Series:  Dawson's Creek

Drinks Taken: 15

Follow the whole rewatch here!

Welcome back to the Dawson’s Creek Rewatch Project WHERE WE HAVE FINALLY REACHED IT, IT’S HERE, IT’S HERE, IT’S REALLY HERE. 

Let’s drink to Dawson’s amazing, majestic, life-changing cry face! 

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!

Joey and Pacey slow dance, faces almost touching, Joey in a beautiful black dress and updo and Pacey in a nice suit. They're surrounded by twinkly lights and the tension between them is palpable.

3.22 “The Anti-Prom”

It’s prom time, that all-important passage in the life of every fictional teen character. Capeside High has the DUMBEST theme in all of fictional prom history: “Couples.” Yes, just couples. Like, famous couples, and not-famous couples, and, you know… other couples. But you know what kind of couples won’t be at this prom? Same-sex couples. When Jack is forced to submit the name of his date as he buys his tickets (seriously! You’re not even allowed to go stag to this terrible thing), fellow classmate and bigoted monster Barbara John responds with the following garbage: 

No, no, no. A boy cannot go to the prom with a boy. The definition of a prom date is a boy and a girl. To be honest, I don’t understand why you feel the need to cause a spectacle and ruin the prom for the rest of us, but if you feel you have to do so, I can’t sell you a ticket till I talk to Mrs. Meyer, head of the prom committee. What exactly is it the two of you will do, anyway? Take a nice prom photo for grandma’s photo album? Dance stubbled cheek to stubbled cheek? Share a romantic kiss under the moonlight? You don’t think that’s gonna weird out even the ones who are sympathetic to people like you?

Now I KNOW you want to know what this asshole looks like so you can visually focus your hatred, so here you go:

A snotty-faced girl with beige hair, beige makeup and a beige cardigan looks at Jack (off-camera) with scorn.

Perfect, right? What a vile collection of beige. So to fight back against the establishment, Dawson and Co organize an Alterna Prom, for all of the weirdos, misfits, gays, single people and just any high schooler who doesn’t want to go to a prom with a theme as lame as “Couples.” Dawson immediately calls dibs on Joey, harking back to some vow they made when they were, like, four, and she has understandable misgivings but agrees. Pacey’s miserable about it, but Andie gets him to ask her, presumably under the guise of friendship. Jack calls her out on her intentions here, because clearly she wants more than that.

And Dawson and Andie will soon bitterly regret their decisions to go with Joey and Pacey, because those two spend all of prom staring moonily at one another, despite Dawson’s OBVIOUS ATTEMPTS to establish ownership over Joey. He loans her his mom’s diamond earrings, which is weird, and keeps parading her past Pacey. She calls him out on it, and then asks Pacey to dance, and omg, his face. It kills me. Their dance is HOT, and he points out that Dawson’s mom’s earrings don’t really suit her, but the bracelet she’s wearing does.

oh MY. That “I remember everything”? That is EPIC. All-timer Pacey moment. So anyway, Andie and Dawson have different reactions, of course. Andie wisely surrenders her hopes of a reconciliation with Pacey, and tells him that she understands that he’s in love with Joey, and that he shouldn’t let Joey go the way Andie once let him go. And I’m sorry, this is a nice moment and I love Andie but I’m so mad at how wrong they did her this episode, styling-wise. A scraggly ponytail and too-pale eyeshadow for this big, generous speech? She deserves better.

Dawson, on the other hand, storms off, FURIOUS, forcing Joey to chase after him, and he literally screams, “HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO ME? AT THE PROM I ORGANIZED?” Get over yourself, you dipshit! She doesn’t belong to you, and neither does this prom. I thought this was for Jack

Speaking of Jack, he’s not having a very good night. He’s extremely nervous about being at prom, even Alterna Prom, with a boy, and he’s really rude to Ethan. Ethan admits that he never went to his prom and that’s why he pressured Jack to invite him, and Jack goes off on him, telling him he’s tired of being subjected to Ethan’s slightly older gay man wisdom. While Ethan does need to get over his Yoda complex with Jack, Jack’s reaction is not proportionate, and he knows it – he’s just freaking out about all of this, being forced to make a statement every day of his life when all he wants to do is be a normal teenager enjoying his junior prom. He follows Ethan to the train station to apologize, where Ethan dares Jack to kiss him. Jack can’t, just standing there, frozen, and Ethan leaves as Jack’s eyes well with tears. GAH, poor Jack!

Other stuff that happened in this episode: 

* Jen tells Henry that they’re definitely, definitely not going to have sex at prom. He’s disappointed but understands, but it’s clear she’s still considering it. At prom, she starts telling Henry all of the fun plans she has for them that summer, and he tells her he’s going to football camp for eight weeks. She’s furious that he didn’t tell her before making that decision, and she breaks up with him for the dozenth or so time. 

* Gail and Mitch are still hooking up on the sly, but Dawson and Joey catch them. Dawson’s over it, convinced this doesn’t mean anything, and then Mitch wants to know what it DOES mean. He tells Gail, basically, that he doesn’t want to have sex with her again without a commitment, and then she gets down on one knee and proposes. It’s really sweet, and the whole Leery family is overjoyed. 

How many times did I have to drink? 


The truest thing anybody said this week

Bessie, dropping some wisdom when Joey complains about how awkward it’s been since she agreed to go to prom with Dawson: “What did you think accepting Dawson’s prom invitation would do if not put you right in the middle of his tug of war with Pacey?”

The second truest thing anybody said this week

When Joey responds, saying she came to Bessie for answers, Bessie shrugs: “Give me a problem that actually has a solution, and I’ll solve it.” I love Bessie.


When Andie and Jack start selling Alterna Prom tickets right next to that asshole Barbara John, they have this HILARIOUSLY AMAZING exchange with her.

Barbara: Just because the dregs of society go to your prom does not make it a success. Nobody that matters would be caught dead there. I certainly wouldn’t go if you paid me.

Jack: Good thing, ’cause we don’t want your kind.

Barbara: And what kind is that, the good Christian kind?

Jack: This is not about religion, Barbara. I mean the kind that hates people. The intolerant, judgmental, hypocritical kind. The close-minded, immature, bigoted kind.

Andie: With bad fashion sense.

Jack: Really bad.


Dawson and Joey at prom: 

Joey and Dawson pose for a picture in his front yard. She's in a pretty black strappy dress with her hair up, and he's wearing a tux. She looks a little uncomfortable, and he's beaming.

Ethan and Jack at prom: 

Jack and Ethan stand side-by-side at prom, both looking handsome and uncomfortable in tuxes.

Henry and Jen at prom: 

Jen and Henry dance at the prom. She looks beautiful in a pale pink old-fashioned gown with Hollywood curls, and he's wearing a suit.

I wish I had a better picture of Jen’s dress, hair, makeup, etc. She looked AMAZING. 

Andie and Pacey at prom: 

Pacey and Andie watch the dance floor at the prom, Pacey looking serious in a suit and Andie looking amused in a lavender satin gown.

I do, however, have better pictures of Andie’s terrible hair and makeup. 

The back of Andie's hair. The stylist pulled it back in a scraggly, wrinkled ponytail? It's bad.
Andie's got pale pink shimmery makeup that washes her out.

Meredith Monroe is a beautiful woman, but this is A PROBLEM.

Pacey gives Joey a hand up onto his boat. The sun is shining, and they both look happy as can be.

3.23 “True Love” 

OKAY, let’s get to it. Mitch and Gail are getting married right away, and Dawson and Joey are going to be best man and maid of honor. It’s sweet! Not sweet: how utterly Dawson is making his parents’ marriage about him and Joey. I guess he thinks because his parents are reuniting, it’s a sign of his own impending reunion, but also he seems to think Joey owes him this, because it’s his special day or something. IT IS NOT YOUR SPECIAL DAY, DAWSON. It’s Gail’s. And, okay, also Mitch’s. Dawson keeps guilting Joey, pressuring her to show feelings she clearly doesn’t have, and then she’s great and tells him the truth: she only broke it off with Pacey because she didn’t want to lose Dawson’s friendship. Basically, because he made her. He does not take this confession well. 

Meanwhile, Pacey’s mostly staying out of Joey’s way, and then she hears through the grapevine that he’s planning on sailing True Love down to the Florida Keys for the summer, just one man and his sailboat, like some total Hemingway dream. She attacks him in Old School Joey Potter Rage fashion, and tells him that he’s running away and giving up on her, and he doesn’t know what to say, until later he meets her at their wall, which she STILL hasn’t painted (metaphor!), so Pacey did it for her: 

At the wedding, Pacey shows up to support Gail and Mitch, and Dawson is, again, SUCH a dick to him. Joey tells Pacey, reluctantly, that she can’t ask him to stay, and he tells her that means she’s made up her mind, and good for her. When Pacey tells Dawson that Joey chose him, he asks if things will ever be the same again between them, and a stony-faced Dawson tells him no. You’re better off without him, Pacey! He leaves, and Joey and Dawson dance, and he talks about their summer plans, but she’s so heartbroken the entire time, trying so hard not to burst into tears. Finally, he gets a clue and tells her to go. 

You have to go. You have to see for yourself, all right? I can stand here and tell you that it’s a colossal mistake and that all roads lead back to me, but that’s not gonna make any bit of difference.

Gee, thanks for throwing me this bone, Oh Wise One. Joey cries, but Dawson keeps insisting – he knows she loves Pacey the way he loves her, but the difference is that Pacey loves her back. It sounds noble on paper, but like so much with Dawson, it’s pretty self-aggrandizing and martyr-y. Finally, FINALLY, she agrees and runs away, and then it happens! It happens! Dawson Leery gives the WORLD’S GREATEST CRY FACE. 

GLORIOUS! And then he, like, doubles over and crouches down like he has to poop really bad? IT’S ALL SO AMAZING. 

Dawson crouches over on the pier in emotional agony, but it looks like he’s in physical agony.

So good! Okay, this next part is just as good. The next day, Joey runs to the docks just as Pacey’s about to take off, and she tells him she’s in love with him, and she’s going with him. He can hardly believe it!! He gives her a hard time for about two seconds before grinning ear to ear, and they SAIL OFF INTO THE LITERAL SUNSET, IT IS SO ROMANTIC. Let’s watch!

Let’s watch again, with gifs!

Okay, just ooooone more:

A wide shot of Pacey's boat sailing off into a beautiful orange sunset.


Other stuff that happened in this episode: 

* At Pacey’s very cute going away party, Grams tells a story about a boy she loved before Gramps, and she tells all of these bitter, cowardly teenagers to act on their feelings so they can live with no regrets, like badass Grams has done. So Jen tells Grams she regrets letting Henry leave on bad terms, and Grams pops a U-y and drives the car – with Jen, Andie and Jack all in tow – all night, so Jen can tell Henry goodbye at football camp. They make out happily in front of all of his friends, and I’m pretty over the Henry storyline, but since this one is Grams-adjacent I will allow it. 

* After the Henry confession, Grams and Jen decide it’s Jack’s turn, so they then drive to Boston so Jack can kiss Ethan. He does, and it’s pretty major, one of the very first gay kisses on network television. 

Jack holds Ethan's face in his hands and kisses him.

Sadly, this monumental moment doesn’t last long: Ethan has reunited with his ex-boyfriend, and he pulls away from a stricken Jack. Later, Jack’s so upset, and his dad talks to him, and it’s actually really wonderful. Mr. McPhee tells him he was so brave, and Jack tells him he’s tired of being brave, tired of the fact that something as simple as a teenage kiss has to be such an enormous production just because he’s gay. For once, Mr. McPhee says all of the right things, and I cry my eyes out. 

How many times did I have to drink? 


The best friends

Aww. When a heartbroken Dawson returns to his room after saying goodbye to Joey, he finds Jen, Jack and Andie, all there to cheer him up – AND they refuse to leave when he says he wants to be alone. They’re going to spend the whole summer lifting his spirits, because these are good friends.

Pacey got a haircut

Pacey stands on his boat with a sharp-looking new haircut.

[Kool-Aid Man Voice] Oh YEAH.

Hello, from 2000

Henry stands in the hallway in a very early aughts outfit of baggie jean shorts, black Chucks and a large orange t-shirt.

The most meta moment

As, naturally, a contempo pop song plays faintly in the background, Jen says, “We’re not in Capeside anymore, Toto. There is some alternate reality where our intellects are sharper, our quips are wittier, and our hearts are repeatedly broken while faintly in the background, some soon to be out-of-date contempo pop music plays.”


Okay, I lied. ONE last picture to revel in the beauty of that scene between Pacey and Joey. I can’t get over his face when she tells him she’s going with him. He is incredulous with joy!

Pacey, standing in front of a lovely blue sky, smiles down at Joey (off-camera) with the happiest, most disbelieving expression on his cute face.

That’s it for this week! Readers, I have a question for you: you’ve probably heard by now that Joshua Jackson and Diane Kruger have tragically broken up after ten beautiful years together. I need you to tell me how to feel. Am I sad because they were such a great couple, or am I happy because I’m a selfish, delusional monster who believes she finally has a chance with the one boy she has loved since The Mighty Ducks

[Author’s edit: I’m migrating this post over to the new FYA site in March 2022. I’m happy to report that Joshua Jackson has since found true love with Jodie Turner-Smith and I’m thrilled about it. Coolest couple ever!]

Meet me here next Wednesday morning as we enter Season 4 with “Coming Home” and “Failing Down”! 

The same picture of Dawson's comical cry face from above, but this time with the words "SEASON 3 IS OVER" in blocky text over it

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.