Title: Dawson’s Creek S4.E13 “Hopeless” + S4.E14 “A Winter’s Tale”
Released: 2001
Series:  Dawson's Creek

Drinks Taken: 20


Follow the whole rewatch here!

Welcome back to the Dawson’s Creek Rewatch Project, where we have reached an episode that, no big deal, WHOLLY DEFINED MY TEENAGE SEXUAL JOURNEY.

Let’s drink to Pacey and Joey gettin’ it on!

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 Gretchen at a restaurant

4.13 “Hopeless”

Gretchen and Dawson are doing great, but Gail doesn’t seem so happy about it. In fact, Gail’s being a real a-hole, if we can be frank here. Gretchen wants Dawson to meet her friends, and though he’s a little nervous, he agrees. But when her two college gal-pals show up, Gail humiliates Dawson by downsizing him in front of Gretchen’s friends, balking that they’re heading to a club and insisting on a curfew for the first time in Dawson’s life. (How has Dawson never had a curfew?! No wonder he’s so entitled.) Dawson takes his mom aside and tells her that it’s too little, too late on the tough mothering front, and if she wants to practice out her new disciplinarian skills, she can do so on the baby

Things go marginally better with Gretchen and her friends after they leave the house. Dawson’s clearly in over his head with these three bodacious, mature, hard-partying, sexually liberated babes, but he’s game to play along and he doesn’t embarrass himself, except for how every bouncer and bartender makes a point of reaffirming his minor status. Gretchen’s having a blast but still being a good girlfriend, and mentions several times how glad she is to have a nice boyfriend after all of the jerks she’s dated. Dawson’s clearly a little hesitant to just be the default good guy, but he still plays it cool all evening. When Gretchen and her friends want to go to a 21+ only bar, Dawson casually tells them to go on without him and he’ll see her later. He heads back to the house and makes up with Gail, who admits she’s feeling over-protective and hormonal and that she thinks Gretchen is a good match for him, and then Gretchen shows up immediately after, feeling guilty for having bailed on Dawson. He tells her he doesn’t just want to be her nice boyfriend, and she assures him that she likes him for much more than that. They make out a little, and it’s nice.

Meanwhile, Joey wants to take time off from the club for the upcoming senior trip (!), but to do so mean ol’ Ms. Valentine blackmails her into a double date with Drue and a polished rich girl named Anna Evans whom Ms. Valentine would obviously like Drue to marry. Anna likes Drue but Drue’s being a baby about it, so Ms. Valentine wants Joey and Pacey to go with them and keep Drue from totally alienating this poor girl. The date goes okay – Drue’s being a jerk to Anna, who’s really sweet but dumb and seems to like Drue a lot for some mysterious reason. But Pacey smooths things over very charmingly (and Joey doesn’t seem entirely comfortable with how well Pacey is getting along with this gorgeous gal), and it comes out that a) Drue and Anna have already hooked up, and b) Drue’s now just being a jerk because he actually likes her and doesn’t know how to handle that. The night ends with Anna and Drue on pretty good terms; Pacey and Joey less so.

Other stuff that happened in this episode: 

  • Mr. Brooks isn’t doing so well, and Grams discovers he hasn’t been taking his meds. She scolds him gently, but he tells her he wants to have full use of his mental faculties with the time he has left. They’re really getting on beautifully, and Harve Presnell gives an amazing, physical and emotional performance. He clearly has so much love for Grams already (who wouldn’t!), and also he’s begun slowing his speech and facial movements to really accurately portray someone in immense pain. Also Dawson’s documentary is almost finished and Mr. Brooks gets him to sign some papers under the guise of picking up his prescriptions and whatnot. It’s vaguely mysterious. Dawson enters Mr. Brooks’ house at the end of the episode to find him collapsed on the floor. 
  • Toby shows up and asks Jack if he wants to help him tutor underprivileged kids in reading. Jack’s a little suspicious but agrees, and of course he’s AMAZING at it, totally turning around this one kid’s day and causing both Toby and myself to look at him like this:

Toby sitting and watching from across the room

Afterward, Toby asks Jack if he wants to grab a coffee and Jack agrees, but then realizes it’s a date. He tells Toby, nicely but firmly, that he doesn’t see that ever happening with him and then leaves. Toby’s crushed.

How many times did I have to drink? 


Guess who? 

Anna Evans is played by soap star Sabine Singh, known for One Life to Live and All My Children.

A woman standing on the dock

Guess who x2

Gretchen’s friend (on the right) is played by Half-Baked and The Craft‘s Rachel True: 

Rachel True as Gretchen's friend

Pacey Witter’s worst shirt

Ironically, as he’s wearing this trash he’s giving Gretchen a hard time for her tight sweater, which looks incredible so mind your business and take care of your own shirt situation, Witter. 

Pacey's wearing a loud patterned blue-and-white shirt, while Gretchen's wearing a cute, snug purple top

Poor Dawson

Dawson smiling ironically with a bad haircut and "Under 21" stamped on his hand

8 months and counting

After it’s revealed that Drue and Anna have already had sex, stuff gets weird and awkward between Pacey and Joey, who have clearly been avoiding the sex conversation since this happened. It’s just been this terrible elephant in the room, and Pacey admits that waiting over 8 months has him a little edgy, but what’s worse is that Joey won’t talk to him about it. She’s trying. Sort of. 

Jen and Jack sitting on the ground

4.14 “A Winter’s Tale”

It’s the senior class ski trip! Apparently this trip is long storied as being a bacchanalia of sex and booze, which already has Joey completely terrified and inexplicably angry (drink!). Everyone assumes Pacey and Joey are staying in the same cabin (there is seriously VERY little adult supervision at this thing), so now they are, and though Pacey keeps trying to smooth things over and make it clear he’s not pressuring her to do anything, Joey is just furious the entire time. Poor Pacey. He tells her he worries the reason she’s afraid to have sex with him is because, deep down, she always believed Dawson would be her first, and Joey’s VEHEMENT DENIAL doesn’t do much to convince Pacey or me otherwise. He goes for a walk, and Joey immediately calls Dawson, which also doesn’t do much to convince me. But she and Dawson kind of dance around what they’re really talking about, and when they say goodbye, it feels like a real goodbye, like real closure, finally.

As Pacey’s taking a walk he runs into Anna Evans, who right away tries to seduce him. He tells her that he would never do anything to jeopardize his relationship with Joey or hurt her, and Joey sees all of this, and finally remembers what a good guy she’s been yelling at all weekend. She brings him back to the cabin. He reads to her (that thing they do!) and then as she’s brushing her hair, he comes up and says “May I?” and starts brushing it for her, and HIGH SCHOOL MEREDITH DIES EVERY TIME AT THAT. So does Joey, and she gives this wonderful speech where she tells him she’s ready to have sex now, and lists all of the reasons Pacey is the person she wants to be her first:

This is about how you carried my bag off the bus yesterday. This is about how when we go to the movies and you buy a popcorn you always make sure you bring back a napkin so I don’t wipe all the grease on my jeans. And this is about how just last week when we were at miniature golf you took all of the shots first so I would know the correct path. You taught me how to drive. And last year at prom, you knew that the bracelet I was wearing was my mom’s. You kissed me first, sweetheart. The second time, you counted to ten before doing it again just in case I wanted to stop you. You bought me a wall. We were alone on a boat for three months and you understood without a word why I wasn’t ready. Do you have to ask me now why I am? Pace. I’m going to count to ten, and then I’m going to start kissing you. If you don’t want me to… Then you’re just gonna have to stop me.

And she silently counts to ten, then whispers, “Ten. My love.” AND THEY HAVE SEX FINALLY AND IT IS WONDERFUL AND I’M SO HAPPY!!!!


Jen and Jack aren’t having the best time on this trip. Jen’s fallen twice and injured herself, so she decides to hole up in their cabin and get drunk. Jack’s feeling lonely and alienated after the Toby thing, so he decides to join her. They get really, really drunk, and have a sweet, sad talk where Jack admits he’s terrified he’ll never love a man the way he loves Jen. 

And then… they start making out, as two hormonal, lonely, drunk teenagers are wont to due regardless of sexual preference. Fortunately, before it goes too far (though it goes pretty far!), Jen wisens (read: sobers) up and gently stops them, telling Jack that they both know better and will regret it later. He thanks her, and she kisses his hand, and it’s really lovely and bittersweet. 

Other stuff that happened in this episode:

  • Mr. Brooks is in a coma at the hospital, and it turns out those mysterious papers he had Dawson sign last week actually make Dawson his medical executor, so it’s up to Dawson to decide when to take Mr. Brooks off life support. This is a terrible amount of pressure for a teenage boy, but Dawson handles it manfully, with the loving support of his parents, Grams and Gretchen. Something’s telling him to wait, so he does, and then Mr. Brooks’ oldest friend arrives, his Pacey, the man who stole the woman Mr. Brooks first loved. The man tells Mr. Brooks he’s sorry and says goodbye, and Dawson realizes that’s what he was waiting for. They take Mr. Brooks off life support, and it’s so sad, and then Dawson gives him the most beautiful tribute: they all sit down in the Leerys’ living room with big bowls of popcorn and watch Mr. Brooks’ film. <3

How many times did I have to drink? 


Jack’s problem with Toby

“He’s too…GAY.” Yeah, that isn’t great, Jack. You might still have some stuff you need to work out. 

Guess who

A baby Tony Hale plays Mr. Brooks’ doctor!

Tony Hale as a doctor

Guess who x2

And Andy Griffith is Mr. Brooks’ oldest friend!

Andy Griffith cameo

Best pop culture reference

Jack says the ski trip has a John Hughes ’80s nostalgia thing going for it, and it’s true. The best of Dawson’s Creek does feel very Hughes in tone, which is the highest compliment I can pay. 

The truest thing anybody said this week

“Sex. Sex is always my problem.” Poor Joey. That’s so true. 

That’s it for this week! Readers, let’s talk. I think Joey’s fear, stress and anger about sex are totally understandable and realistic. She’s just MAD that everyone else seems to feel like sex is a no-brainer when it’s this horrible source of anxiety for her. It really helped me understand my own terrified feelings about sex as a teenager, and though it lends to the whole “first time is a fairy tale” myth, her first time with Pacey was really liberating for me, because Joey came to that place on her own terms and only when she was ready. How do you guys feel about it? 

Meet me here next Wednesday morning as we cover “Four Stories” and “Mind Games”!

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.