Dawson's face, looking serious


Title: Dawson’s Creek S4.E17 “Admissions” + S4.E18 “Eastern Standard Time”
Released: 2001
Series:  Dawson's Creek

Drinks Taken: 17

Follow the whole rewatch here!

Last week, on Dawson’s Creek.

Welcome back to the Dawson’s Creek Rewatch Project, where it’s College City up in here, for everyone except our little dreamer, Pacey Witter. 

Let’s drink to the looming end of high school angst and the ever-nearing advent of college angst!

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”

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!

Dawson and Joey talking in the school hall

4.17 “Admissions”

It’s college admissions time, and in a little bit of heavy-handed Dawson’s Creek synchronicity, Joey and Dawson are invited to the principal’s office at the same time, to receive calls from home about college acceptance letters. Joey got into Worthington, her dream, and she’s overjoyed, but Dawson did not get into the prestigious film program of the “University of New York.” We spend a little time with his mournful self-deprecation before learning that he got accepted into an even more prestigious school, his dream school, the film program of USC. 

But while everyone (except poor Pacey) is celebrating, Joey gets some bad news – since the B&B is doing well, she’s now expected to pony over $15k for tuition, even above her financial aid and work-study programs, etc. They can’t afford it, and she refuses to get a loan because she’s terrified of debt, and decides she’s just not going to go to Worthington. She’s crushed – and Katie Holmes kills it in this episode, so quietly unhappy – but stubborn. She’ll just find a cheaper college.

Naturally, it takes Dawson about five seconds to decide to fork over part of Mr. Brooks’ money so Joey can afford to go to Worthington. She refuses him, again and again, and although there’s some White Knighting happening here, I do believe Dawson’s motives are mostly pure. When he goes to an understandably defensive Pacey to get him to convince Joey to take the money, he gives the following speech, and it’s enough to convince Pacey, and enough to half-convince me: 

She’s been fighting for a school like Worthington since the second we got into high school… against enormous odds, against people who have been writing her off simply because of her father, and she did it. I mean, she beat the odds. She got in. And I can’t stand to sit back and watch her lose it all over something as stupid as money. And I don’t think you can, either. Can you see her being happy anyplace else?

This does the trick, and Pacey convinces Joey to go talk to Dawson. She does – but not for the reason either Pacey or Dawson expects. She comes clean to Dawson about having sex with Pacey. She tells him she lied because they’d just been getting along so well, and she didn’t want to lose that. Dawson looks like someone just told him his mom died: 

Dawson looks completely stricken

And then concludes that this means he’s not “the most important person in your life” anymore, which… GROSS. You already weren’t, because you guys have barely spoken for nine months and she has a wonderful boyfriend, but I’m glad you finally understand it now that she’s soiled goods, you disgusting animal. 

Joey then goes home and tells Pacey that she lied, and he’s great and understanding about it, because he’s the best, but then Dawson proves himself to not be entirely the WORST by going to Joey and telling her that their friendship has been restored and nothing can change that, and then he gives her the $15k and she graciously accepts it. Joey’s going to Worthington! 

Meanwhile, Jack and Jen got into every school they applied to (those co-dependent cuties applied together and are determined to go to the same school so they can be a support system for one another). Jack really wants to go to University of New York and assumes that’s what Jen wants, too, but some unresolved issues start to rear their ugly heads at the very idea of going home to New York. She confides a lot to Dr. Frost about this, and he really seems to be good for her. We learn a little about her past with Drue in New York – Jen used him, and she apologizes for it, and of course Lonely Drue Valentine hungrily forgives her – and then she continues to work with Dr. Frost, unburdening herself from her heartbreaking past and terrible parents. Dr. Frost continues to always say just the right thing: 

Oh man, I’m glad Jen’s got Dr. Frost as her therapist. It seems like she’s really glad of that, too. <3

Other stuff that happened in this episode: 

* Pacey’s dealing with a lot of insecurity in light of everyone’s great college news, but he’s still being a perfectly supportive boyfriend, because that’s what he does. He admits to Gretchen, however, that a part of him was happy when he heard the bad news about Joey’s financial aid, and then he tells Joey as much, too. He’s terrified of being the thing that holds her back, and makes her promise that if he ever is, she’ll cut him loose, but she refuses to make that promise. “I won’t promise you that. You’re asking me to promise to let you go. I can’t do that.” They just tearfully hug instead. Sigh.

* Bessie and Bodie are SO PROUD of Joey. They throw her the cutest barbecue to celebrate that she got into college, the first Potter to do so, and they’re extra-proud that a Potter just so happened to get into one of the best universities in the entire country. It’s really sweet and makes me smile.

How many times did I have to drink? 


This is so illuminating

Dawson says earnestly to Joey, “All the pain you’ve been through, I’ve never been able to fix it before. I can fix this.” And I feel like that’s a perfect distillation of his approach toward being friends with Joey Potter.

Pacey Witter’s worst shirt

Another loud & proud shirt on Pacey Witter

Bodie’s back! 

Bodie and Joey in a huge hug


Hello, from 2001

Jack holds up a VHS tape

Jack and Jen are watching college admission VHS tapes. 


When Joey’s wrapping her head around Worthington, she says, “You know, it’s kinda weird to get your dream.” Pacey smiles back at her, “I know it. I say that every time I look at you.” <3

Jen and Joey, on a windy rooftop at night, both with serious looks on their faces

4.18 “Eastern Standard Time” 

It’s Senior Ditch Day, and everyone’s taking road trips. (Well, except for poor Pacey AGAIN, but we’ll get to that in a minute.) The most pressing and significant trip belongs to Jen and Joey, who travel to New York for the day. Joey’s just thrilled to see the city for the first time (she is seriously so cute and wide-eyed this whole episode, like “Gee whiz, mister, the buildings sure are tall here!”), and Jen’s supposedly here to meet with an admissions counselor for University of New York. After some fun sight-seeing, Joey does a little digging and discovers that this meeting is a fiction created by Jen to cover up for the fact that she’s actually here to confront her terrible father, at the advice of Dr. Frost. Jen didn’t want to tell Joey about it and ruin her fun day, but as soon as Joey hears, she sweetly abandons all plans and spends the day supporting Jen. These two girls are SO great to each other in this episode. I really love it.

And Jen definitely needs the support. She opens up to Joey a lot about her father, but when we go to see him, he seems so charming and wonderful at first. He’s overjoyed to see Jen, and when he hears the great news that she was accepted into UNY, he cancels all of his meetings and takes the two girls to dinner. He’s so charismatic and warm, but never actually seems to LOOK at Jen or say anything real, and neither Jen nor Joey is buying what he’s selling. Halfway through the meal, he conjures up a work emergency and splits, leaving the girls money to eat or buy whatever they want and breezily telling Jen he loves her. Jen takes Joey to the best view in the city, then tells her she’ll meet her at the train station – she needs to confront her dad, and now. 

She goes home and finds him passed out in his study with a glass of scotch. She wakes him and tells him a story – we realize it’s the root of everything that’s gone wrong in Jen’s life, the reason she started drinking, doing drugs and having sex at the age of twelve, the reason she arrived at Capeside so angry and unhappy. She came home one night, when she was twelve, to find her dad having sex with the teenager who lived upstairs – Jen’s best friend. Her dad saw her in the doorway, but at first, as she’s telling this story, he denies it, tells her she must have imagined it. She doesn’t let this creep off the hook for one goddamn second: 

You knew, didn’t you? Oh, god, all this time. My life got uglier and messier, and then you sent me away. You made me feel ashamed. You punished me for all these things that were beyond my control. You saw me standing in the doorway. And you never said anything. I don’t need a confession from you. That’s not why I came here. I don’t need you to apologize to me for all the pain that you’ve caused me, and I don’t have to forgive you. All I have to do is forgive myself for these things that I can’t change. Good-bye, daddy.

It’s heartbreaking, beautiful work from Michelle Williams, a reminder that Jen Lindley really is one of the all-time characters. It kills me. She meets Joey at the train station, and the two girls share a tearful, lovely hug. Then she goes back to Dr. Frost and tells him that she’s made the progress she needs to make, and she’s done. He tries to convince her that they still have far to go, but she tells him, quietly and sadly, that she doesn’t have anything else to say. (UGH I HATE IT WHEN TV SHOWS DO THIS. Therapy takes YEARS to really stick. Four sessions don’t cut it.)

Other stuff that happened in this episode: 

* Gretchen and Dawson also take a road trip, because Dawson’s determined to be spontaneous and truly live life – especially after hearing that Joey’s having sex, he says but doesn’t really say. Gretchen knows what’s up, but she’s game to play along, and they drive until they get a flat and become stranded outside of a small town. They have some mild hijinks with a hillbilly mechanic named Irv and end up having a really sweet, romantic date on the beach around a fire. They ALMOST have sex, but Gretchen stops them, saying “When we go there, it’s not going to be because you have something to prove to yourself. It’s gonna be because we love each other, and we’re prepared to show each other what that really means.” The night ends with Dawson asleep and Gretchen crying, which, let’s be honest, is probably how it would have ended whether or not they had sex.

* Pacey’s stuck at school, taking a test and trying to be good. Drue’s also there – apparently Capeside High only lets its good seniors skip, which is actually a fair deal. Drue tempts Pacey to skip with him and get into some trouble, and Pacey eventually agrees. They use underage IDs, get trashed and start gambling, and eventually get in trouble and kicked out of this shady bar. Doug comes to pick up Pacey, and he keeps trying to talk to Pacey, or hug him and let him know that he understands, and Pacey just starts screaming, “This is my life now! This is all I have!” It’s really sad and infuriating, and the beginning of the end for Perfect Boyfriend Pacey Witter. 

How many times did I have to drink? 


Guess who?

Jen’s dad is played by is Don McManus, who has been in way too much stuff to narrow it down to only a few titles.

Don McManus as Mr. Lindley

Guess who x2

Irv is played by Pat Hingle, who’s also been in a ton but is best known as Commissioner Gordon in the ’80s and ’90s Batman movies.

Pat Hingle as Irv

The truest thing anyone said this week

Drue asks Pacey why he thinks Drue invited him out, and Pacey answers, “Because you didn’t want to drink alone.” Of COURSE this is true of The Loneliest Boy in the World Drue Valentine.

The worst answer to your girlfriend’s question

Gretchen cutely asks Dawson, “Whatcha thinkin?” and Dawson replies without hesitating, “About Joey.” YOU ARE SUCH AN IDIOT, DAWSON. 

That’s it for this week! Readers, hit me up: let’s talk about Jen Lindley. I really love how Season 4 dives into her past and her psyche, everything she’s gone through that turned her into the so-called Bad Girl from New York. We learn so much more about this character that we’ve known for four seasons, and Michelle Williams is INCREDIBLE in this arc. You can see the budding movie star she’s becoming in these episodes. 

Meet me here next Wednesday morning as we cover “Late” and “Promicide.” (SIGH)

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.