Jack stands in the classroom, reading emotionally from a piece of paper

About:

Title: Dawson’s Creek S2.E14 “To Be Or Not To Be…” + S2.E15 “…That Is The Question”
Released: 1999
Series:  Dawson's Creek

Drinks Taken: 12

Follow the whole rewatch here!

Welcome back to the Dawson’s Creek Rewatch Project! Inspired by Rachael Leigh Cook’s perfect imitation of one snotty Joey Potter, Meredith asked me to fan-cast Dawson, Jen, and Pacey – a sort of meta-Dawson’s Creek within Dawson’s Creek, which is right up Kevin Williamson’s alley. In keeping with that idea, I’m going with teen actors from the late ’90s, soooo: Julia Stiles as Jen, Ryan Gosling as Dawson, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Pacey. Boom. Ideal viewing situation. (Although we all know that there is only ONE Pacey Witter and his name is Joshua Jackson.)

Let’s drink as we fondly recall the golden age of teen rom-com dramedy!

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!

Pacey faces off with a furious-looking teacher in front of the chalkboard

2.14 “To Be or Not to Be…”

We’re definitely edging closer to discovering Jack’s not-so-big secret. But first, we learn something else we didn’t know about Mr. McPhee: He’s really good at building miniature towns, as he does with Capeside, allowing Dawson to use it for establishing shots in his film project. Aww, they’re bro-bonding in the most non-bro way possible.

Everyone is stressing over Mr. Peterson’s poetry assignment, which requires his students to write about something very personal. Pacey turns in his poem, Ode to the Sports Car, written in sloppy cursive script – but at least he’s making an effort, his confidence bolstered by Mr. Milo beaming over Pacey’s recent streak of As and Bs. Everything’s coming up Pacey until Peterson effectively unleashes a stream of degrading verbal diarrhea, admonishing our favorite Creeker for his handwriting and choice of poetry topic. He gives Pacey a choice: rewrite the poem legibly and get docked a few points for turning it in late, or turn it in as is and receive a D. TOTALLY UNFAIR.

Pacey calls Peterson out on this obvious case of Bullshit, and Jack finds himself caught in the crossfire (like, figurative, not that rad board game from the ’90s), forced to recite his deeply personal poem in front of the class. In addition to contemplating Jack’s insecurities, the poem centers on an unnamed man, whom Jack describes in romantic terms – but it’s just vague enough that it could be about himself, the man he wants to be, or maybe even his dead brother.

NO ONE in the class takes it that way, and Jack is so obviously traumatized by the experience (HE CRIES). Pacey tries to defend him and shuts Peterson down with some epic psycho-analysis and literally spits in his face, earning him a trip to the principal’s office, where he’s instructed to apologize but refuses. This is the part where I actively cheered out loud at my TV screen. PACEY ILU. At least Mr. Milo is in his corner while Pacey refuses to cave and insists on retaining his integrity. Paging Dawson Leery – you can learn a lot from your boy here:

Meanwhile, those little shits at school make copies of Jack’s poem and plaster them all over the place, while Andie rides down the river of Denial and refuses to believe that her brother could possibly be gay. Dawson and Pacey think it might be true, and both handle the subject with admirable sensitivity, but Joey isn’t having it – and to be fair, finding out that you’ve been some guy’s beard after dealing with the epic drama-fest that is Dawson Leery is the sort of soul-crushing intel you’d rather ignore.

When Pacey returns to class the next day, Peterson tries to force Jack to finish reciting his poem. This guy is a MONSTER. But Pacey isn’t having it and stands up for Jack yet again before ultimately delivering an apology/speech that should earn him an A+ for extra credit.

After a brief After School Special moment in which some idiot spray paints “fag” on Jack’s locker and Joey awkwardly makes out with him to assert his straightness, she seeks the advice of Dawson. He tells her to just ask Jack if he’s gay, and like, so what if he is, but she should ask. She confronts Jack at the diner and – while an obviously-placed rainbow windsock waves in the background practically shouting the truth across the bay – he denies it, giving a forlorn and contemplative glance over her shoulder.

At this point I wonder if Jack might not just stay with Joey because abruptly kissing her is the only way to get her to stop babbling.

Pacey winds up with a one-week suspension and gets in an argument with Andie because she didn’t support him enough. Points to Pacey for articulating his feelings well (“I don’t need you to agree with everything I say, Andie. The world would be a boring place if you did. But what I do need to know is that somehow, some way, you’re there for me.”), though he does let his raw feelings get the best of him and Andie ends up standing on the dock alone. But I’m not worried about these two – they’ll kiss and make up by the next episode (I think).

Oh, and what is Jen up to? She tries to rebuff Ty’s advances because the religion thing is just a little too much – and to be fair, homeboy goes to bible study THREE TIMES A WEEK. That is legit intimidating and also sort of impressive because who even has time for that? Ty remains persistent and calls Jen repeatedly until she agrees to go out with him, where he tries to prove that he’s not entirely about Jesus by taking her to a chill bar where he’s friendly with the resident lounge singer and orders up a couple of martinis. Jen remains (rightfully) skeptical and gets the feeling he’s trying to be someone he’s not just to impress her, but continues to hang out with him anyway. As far as Jen’s love interests go, Ty is a bit white bread but I’m okay with it… for now.

How many times did I have to drink? 

TBH I lost count because I was stress-drinking to cope with Jack’s life.

Truest thing anybody said this week

Joey thinks Dawson’s online screen name would be “SpielbergStud.” It probably totally is. Side note: I just realized Dawson has TWO Jaws posters in his room.

Least true thing anybody said this week

Andie, about Jack: “He hates Madonna. He’s not gay.” HAHAHA OKAY.

Second least true thing anybody said this week

Jack: “But I do know that there was nothing gay about that poem.” You guys are killing me.

Most bromantic moment:

Pacey and Dawson sit in the hallway outside the principal’s office, sharing a nice moment.
Pacey: “If I go in there and I can’t apologize…”
Pacey and Dawson sit in the hallway outside the principal’s office, sharing a nice moment.
“…would you be ashamed of me?”
Pacey and Dawson sit in the hallway outside the principal’s office, sharing a nice moment.
Dawson: “In my lifetime, Pacey, I will never be ashamed of you.”
Pacey and Dawson sit in the hallway outside the principal’s office, sharing a nice moment.
[heart eyes]

Pacey Witter’s worst shirt: JK! Pacey doesn’t wear a bad shirt AT ALL this week, which I think is symbolic of how perfect he is in this episode. I mean, he does have a questionable shirt on in the final scene at the docks, but it’s covered with a sensible fleece hoodie so I’ll let it slide.

Jack stands in the hallway, staring off with a grim look on his face

2.15 “…That Is the Question”

Meredith was not joking – these are a pair of seriously riveting episodes – at least when not focused on Dawzzzzon and Joey. Extra drinking game rule just for this episode: Drink every time someone says “sexy.” Enjoy your alcohol poisoning!

Let’s get a few things out of the way before diving into the really good stuff in this episode: Pacey and Andie argue over who should be the one to apologize (they both should), and then Pacey sets about researching the school’s code of conduct so he can make that monstrous Mr. Peterson answer for his cruelty. Principal Marky is not impressed (okay, deep down, she’s prob super impressed), but Peterson gets a whiff of what’s up and resigns before anyone can fire him. Yay! He’s gone!

Jen wrangles Dawson and Joey for a night out with her and Ty at that weird lounge that feels like it escaped from a middle-aged housewife’s daydream, and they commiserate over their respective troubles:

Dawson: “Look at me, sandwiched between two women who both dumped me. I’m pathetic.”

Jen: “Hey, I’m dating a bible-thumping hypocrite, okay?”

Joey: “Hey, my boyfriend may be gay.”

Ty seems p cool until the subject of Jack comes up, and then he gives Jen this weird homophobic and totally idiotic spiel about ducks and quacking, and how ducks (gay people) choose to quack (be gay). Jen is not even close to having it. Setting aside this moronic quacking analogy, Ty is straight-up ignorant – and the worst kind of all: he’s WILLFULLY ignorant. It’s gross. Meanwhile, Dawson and Joey share a nice dance and declare their platonic friendship for the umpteenth time and Zzzz I am bored. On the upside, Dawson is really nice about Jack’s sexuality.

So Jen takes Ty home for a nice sandwich with Grams, where their quacking debate continues, and Jen worries that Grams is about to team-up with this white bread jerk to moral majority her into submission when this GLORIOUS THING HAPPENS:

Grams may be Christian, but she is not going to tolerate intolerance and hate speech in her house. She rules.

Okay, now we can get to what makes this episode special:

Mr. Milo calls Jack and Andie’s dad to return from working out on the road, doing whatever yuppie asshole dads do when they abandon their families in times of need. Andie is thrilled to see her dad, but Jack is rightfully skeptical of this jerk. After a tense dinner in which Mr. McPhee basically tells Jack that being gay is wholly unacceptable AND brings up Dead Brother Tim to throw some extra salt in the wound, Jack bravely confronts his dad and comes out of the proverbial closet in a moment that is UTTERLY HEARTBREAKING:

Seriously, Jack needs all the hugs in the world. Andie sides with him, and when their dad insists that this is between him and Jack, Andie is like NAH, DUDE, this is a family affair and you are NOT FAMILY. Okay, that’s not exactly what she says, but she does tell him to get the hell out of their house and I am so proud of her.

I am even more proud of Jack, and now that he’s unburdened himself of this secret, he’s got a little pep in his step. He still has to tell Joey the truth, though, so he goes to her house for the romantic dinner she has planned and tells her that the poem he wrote made something click, and now I imagine Jack realizing he’s gay with all the sudden clarity of Cher Horowitz’s “Oh my god, I LOVE JOSH” epiphany in Clueless:

Alicia Silverstone as Cher in Clueless, having a major epiphany as the fountain behind her lights up

Joey assures Jack that she’ll still be there for him, and everything is going to be okay, and then she runs over to Dawson’s house and asks him if she’s sexual and he tells her, like, 800 times that she’s sexy and sexual and it’s… weird.

Also okay? Pacey and Andie, who make up in the cutest way:

How many times did I have to drink? 

12

Least likely dialogue

“We are too young to handle this responsibility.”

Most likely dialogue 

“Joey Potter, virgin at large.”

Oh, Joey

She asks Dawson, with a completely straight face, “Dawson, am I sexual?”

Grams’ best face

TAKE IT ALL IN, TYSON.

Grams sits at the table, staring sternly over her shoulder and over a pair of reading glasses like a righteous librarian.

Preach, Brother Pacey

As that evil monster Mr. Peterson exits Capeside FOREVER, Pacey offers these wise parting words: “I’ve learned that respect is not commanded through fear. It’s earned through compassion.”


That’s it for this week! Meredith, here’s my question for you: is it just me or is Dawson getting cuter all of a sudden? I really noticed it in these two episodes, but maybe that’s just because he was less insufferable than usual.

Join Meredith back here next week when she covers “Be Careful What You Wish For” and “Psychic Friends”!


Contributor Britt Hayes

About the Contributor:

Britt Hayes is a writer and sensible sweater enthusiast living in Austin, Texas. She loves movies, watches too much television, and her diet consists mostly of fruit snacks and revenge.

This post was written by a guest writer or former contributor for Forever Young Adult.