Joey and Dawson, sharing a dance at the prom and looking happy (both of them for the last time that night)


Title: Dawson’s Creek S4.E19 “Late” + S4.E20 “Promicide”
Released: 2001
Series:  Dawson's Creek

Drinks Taken: 13

Follow the whole rewatch here!

Last week, on Dawson’s Creek.

Guys, this isn’t going to be easy, so let’s just get it over with. It’s time for The Saddest Prom Ever. 

Let’s drink to getting it over with!

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 his dad sit in the woods, chewing unlit cigars and smiling at each other

4.19 “Late”

Gail’s two weeks late in having her baby, and Joey is some undetermined amount of time late in getting her period. Both women are DISPLEASED. Poor Gail keeps going into false labor, and her doctor is concerned because she’s hella old (for having a baby, you know, not for the earth). They haven’t named the kid yet, and both parents are kind of scatterbrained and weird about the whole thing, because this is Gail and Mitch Leery we’re talking about. The ladies of Capeside are hosting a baby shower for Gail (two weeks after she’s due? You guys are bad at this), and they offer names and support and it’s all pretty sweet. Finally, Gail goes into REAL labor, and she has a beautiful baby girl named Lillian. 

Of course all of this baby stuff isn’t doing anything for poor Joey’s nerves, but I don’t have too much sympathy for her because she’s doing what every Teen Idiot has done on every Teen Idiot Show since the beginning of time: wigging out and telling people before she’s even taken a test. TAKE A TEST, TEEN IDIOTS. You could save everyone a lot of anxiety, especially yourself! She keeps trying to call Pacey, who is thankfully (for him) out of town, on what Joey at first believes is a fishing trip but finally learns from Gretchen is a Scared Straight Camping Mission with Doug after last week’s public intoxication shenanigans. Naturally, this is the first Joey’s heard of any of this, and Gretchen tells her that Pacey’s in a lot of pain and a bad place right now and doesn’t need any additional pressure. Then Joey’s like “Uh, I think I’m pregnant.” Gretchen’s terrific through all of this, which is good because Bessie’s surprisingly unsupportive, leading to a big fight at Gail’s baby shower. They make up, beautifully (as Joey and Bessie always do), and Joey finally takes a test and is OF COURSE not pregnant. She finally gets a hold of Pacey and gently probes to see if he’ll tell her about the arrest, but he doesn’t. She’s sad. Hate to break it to you, Potter, but you’re about to get sadder. But hey, at least you’re not pregnant!

Other stuff that happened in this episode: 

* Gretchen’s got a job interview in Boston as an assistant lifestyle editor at a cool magazine. Hey, great opportunity, Gretchen, congrats! Obviously, that’s how Dawson should respond, but instead he immediately goes all existential on her. They talk a lot about long-distance relationships, where they are as a couple, if either of them would move for the other, and it all sort of goes nowhere – though Joey is sweet and gives good advice to both of them. Dawson thinks this is somehow related to the fact that Gretchen didn’t have sex with him last week, and it sort of is in that Gretchen just doesn’t seem to view Dawson as a viable forever boyfriend, which is a fair perspective. Anyway, they end the episode making out and coming to no resolution, so good for them? 

* Toby and Jack have been becoming better friends in the tutoring program, and so Jack’s concerned when Toby doesn’t show up one day. He goes to Toby’s house and finds out from a VERY reluctant Toby that he was beaten up by a hate-criming creep. It’s really bad – he’s on crutches and his face looks terrible – but the worst part is his shame. He can barely admit it, and he’s so traumatized and upset. Jack’s a really good friend to him here and convinces him to report the crime, and tells him he’ll be there for him. Toby teases him that Jack’s becoming a “homo activist” and Jack counters that he’s a “Toby activist,” which is just the cutest thing ever and are you TRYING to make this poor boy fall in love with you?!

How many times did I have to drink? 


Pacey Witter’s worst everything

I hate this entire look, Pacey. I hate all of it so hard. 

Pacey's wearing an oversized ballcap and a khaki jacket and looks like an '80s dad

Mitch’s soothing labor music

John Tesh, Kenny G. I am so totally with Gail when she says, “I’m having a baby, not going into a coma.”

Oh, Mitch

He brings out cigars for him and Dawson during the baby shower. That is the most Mitch move ever. Actually, THIS is the most Mitch move: they’re not smoking the cigars, they’re just holding them in their mouths while sitting in a tree. 

What the hell, Mitch? 

First, he tells Dawson they need to leave the baby shower “before the Vagina Monologues start,” ugh, and then he says TO HIS SON, “A man doesn’t really love a baby the way a woman does.” Stop talking forever, Mitch Leery. Just sit in that tree, sucking on your unlit cigar and being a babe. 

Joey sits in the dark, staring stonily off-camera

4.20 “Promicide”

Man, I am really not looking forward to writing about this episode. Oof. Okay. Let’s do this. 

Pacey’s being really weird to Joey – distant, awkward. He won’t touch her and he recoils when she touches him. He laughs it off when she asks him if anything’s wrong, but it’s clear something bad is happening here. He keeps telling her he wants to make prom perfect for her and that he’ll take care of all the details – except she has to pick up the tickets because of his academic standing, which obviously isn’t helping his mood – but he’s got a bad bout of luck and everything goes sort of wrong. He tears her dress while helping her zip it up, he didn’t refrigerate the corsages so they die, he rented the saddest, rustiest ol’ bucket of a limousine and everyone has to pretend to think it’s great. His mood is getting worse and worse, and poor Joey’s trying everything she can to cheer him up or get him to talk to her. Pacey’s not biting.

He confides to Gretchen that he’s been angry ever since getting arrested, and that he finds himself angry at Joey instead of himself. He know he doesn’t have a real reason to be angry at Joey, but he can’t help himself, so then he feels guilty, which only makes him angrier. Gretchen tells him to talk to Joey, and they go into the prom to find Joey and Dawson (who just had their one millionth “you’ll always be my first love” blah blah but legit platonic conversation) dancing. It’s not a sexy dance, like when Dawson found Joey and Pacey dancing at Anti-Prom last year, it’s just two friends laughing and sharing a dance. Still, Pacey LOSES IT. 

This is, I believe, the hardest to watch scene in all of Dawson’s Creek. I think it’s true to the way Pacey’s been made to feel inferior all his life by his mostly terrible family (Gretchen aside, of course), and how he’s always felt in the shadow of the eternally pure eclipse that is Joey and Dawson. I understand how it happens, but I hate it so, so much. So I’m going to make you experience it several different ways with me, because misery loves company. 

Here’s his terrible, heartbreaking, absolutely cruel speech, which he SCREAMS at Joey as she cries in the middle of the dance floor, all of her classmates watching, stunned: 

Pacey: You know what I actually realized when I saw the two of you dancing there together? That is the happiest I have seen you all night. I mean, I think it’s actually the happiest I’ve seen you in weeks. You want to know what’s worse than that? I don’t care. I saw the two of you dancing together, and I just don’t care. I’m not angry. I’m not jealous. I’m not upset. I’m really not much of anything.

Joey: Pacey, fine. Let’s just take this nothing outside.

Pacey: Why, because you want to clean up my mess again? No. You wanted me to take off the happy mask, and the happy mask is off. So answer me this one question, because this is what I’ve been wanting to ask you, Joe. Why are you with me? Why are you with me? Because I don’t know why I’m still with you. I mean, I used to know, but I don’t anymore.

Joey: I’ll make a note of that.

Pacey: What I do know, Joe, I feel like I’m Josephine Potter’s little charity project. I feel like I’m the designated loser, the failure.

Joey: Pacey, I never said that. This isn’t about me. This is about you.

Pacey: No, it is about you! It’s about you and how you make me feel when I’m with you! Okay? I feel like I’m stupid and I’m worthless and I’m never right. But you know what I realize? That it’s not my fault! That it’s not my fault. Because I’m with you, it’s poor Pacey. He didn’t get into college, and it’s stupid Pacey forgot the limo and ripped the dress and messed up the corsage.

Joey: I told you I didn’t care about any of that.

Pacey: But I want you to care! I want you to care! I don’t want you to just accept it like that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We are not trapped on this boat. You and I are trapped in this relationship. I can’t take it anymore, Joey. When I’m with you, I feel like I’m nothing. I feel like I’m nothing. That’s why I flinch when you come to touch me. It’s why I never touch you. Why I never even think about it. Because when I start to, it just reminds me that I’m not good enough.

FUCK YOU, PACEY. Okay, now let’s watch the video. 

All right, once more in GIF form: 

I’m so proud of Joey when she finally cuts him off, tells him he’s done and he can go to hell. Because, really, Pacey, you can go to hell. He finds her later, sitting alone and crying at a table, and he’s calmed down, but he still doesn’t apologize for the hateful, untrue and unfair things he screamed at his girlfriend on the dance floor. Instead, he just tells her that last year, he felt like he had something to give her that no one else did: a walla boat. “But I don’t feel like I have anything left to give you now, Joe. I guess I’m spent.” She still tries to argue that they can make this work – run, Joey, run! – but Pacey tells her, quietly and calmly, that it’s over. “You’ve spent your entire life trying to get out of Capeside, Joey, because you felt like you deserved better. Well, I am Capeside. That’s why I didn’t get out and you did, and you do deserve better. You deserve better than this place, and you deserve better than me.” She doesn’t let him off the hook, scoffing that he broke her heart into a thousand pieces and now he’s saying it’s because she deserves better, and I’m glad she said that, because “You deserve better, that’s why I was a complete and utter ass to you” is a line that always gets my goat. 

Theirs isn’t the only breakup at prom, but it’s certainly the worst. Gretchen’s feeling weird about being an adult going to prom, which makes sense, but she’s trying to be game and cheerful for Dawson. Then she hears that she didn’t get the Boston job, and she’s crushed, but she’s still trying to play along – even though she confides to Pacey that she just feels too old for all of this. 

And then after all of the insane drama goes down in the middle of the dance floor, Gretchen’s like, I am REALLY too old for this. She breaks up with Dawson, nicely but firmly, telling him she’s going to get back in college and figure out what she wants to do with her life, and also she just really hates being at prom. “You’re a senior in high school. And I’m not.” Dawson’s upset, but let’s be honest – he’s spending most of his energy worrying about Joey, so this is a good time for Gretchen to take off and spend some time with adults. 

Other stuff that happened in this episode: 

* Jen and Jack are in a bit of a prom date prank war, and he pays Drue to take an unhappy Jen to prom. She’s still dealing with all of the stuff she faced in New York, and she kind of can’t take it, so she gets really drunk and almost falls in the water (oh yeah, this fancy prom is on a boat). Drue’s surprisingly great through all of this, keeping her out of trouble and finally getting her to open up to him a little, and he comforts her really sweetly. When Jack tries to pay him later, Drue refuses the money. Aww. Lonely Boy Drue Valentine <3

* The reason Jack tricked Jen into going to prom with Drue is because she did the same thing to him with Toby. Jack keeps insisting he just wants to be friends with Toby, but when Toby answers the door looking FOINE in a tux, Jack’s mouth drops open. 

Toby, looking great and smiling big in a tux

They have a great time together, laughing and confiding in one another, until Toby asks Jack to dance, and Jack wigs out just like he did with Ethan at Anti-Prom. He tells Toby he doesn’t feel anything romantic for him, but Toby isn’t buying it, and he tells Jack so, then walks away. Jack finally admits to himself what he wants, finds Toby and tells him his feelings are much stronger than he was ready to admit to himself, and then they share a WONDERFUL kiss and it makes me so happy!!! At least two people had a nice prom. Well, three if you count Drue Valentine, for whom taking care of a drunk Jen Lindley is probably the highlight of his entire lonely year. 

How many times did I have to drink? 


Pacey Witter’s worst shirt

Although it’s not as bad as Bessie’s.

Bessie's standing near Joey in a hideous shirt while Pacey watches from the bed in a hideous shirt

Look at these awkward babes trying on dresses for a prom they totally don’t want to attend

Jen and Gretchen, trying on gowns at the store, both looking hot and miserable

I will admit, this is cute

Dawson, in his tux for prom, holding Lillian and smiling down at her

The least true thing anybody said this week

Pacey tells Joey he’ll take care of all of the arrangements: “I want to take care of everything. I want to make this perfect for you.” How about you just not scream at her and break up with her in front of the entire school? That would probably make her prom better, you cretin.

The truest thing anybody said this week

When he keeps telling her that he’s breaking up with her because he doesn’t want to hurt her anymore (UGH), Joey is so right on when she replies, “I’ve got news for you, Pacey. How you treat me is actually in your power.”

That’s it for this week! Readers, let’s talk about that breakup. I’ve told you how I feel: devastated, furious at Pacey, but also understanding how this is the result of lifelong emotional abuse from his family and an innate sense of inferiority made worse next to his near-perfect girlfriend. Still, I hate him for how he spoke to Joey, who has been so kind and supportive to him. Now you tell me how you feel! Let’s process this terrible scene together. 

Meet me here next Wednesday morning as we cover “Separation Anxiety” and “The Graduate.”

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.