Pacey and Dawson sit on a pier, fishing. Dawson's grinning while Pacey looks more serious


Title: Dawson’s Creek S4.E11 “The Tao of Dawson” + S4.E12 “The Te of Pacey”
Released: 2001
Series:  Dawson's Creek

Drinks Taken: 14


Follow the whole rewatch here!

Last week, on Dawson’s Creek.

Welcome back to the Dawson’s Creek Rewatch Project, where Dawson and Pacey have finally reunited and I’m sorry but I am SO EXCITED. I hate it when friends fight! 

Let’s drink to the delayed reunion of these two goofy fellas from The Creek: 

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!

Pacey and Dawson sit on the pier, fishing and chatting

4.11 “The Tao of Dawson”

The episode opens with Pacey and Dawson fishing together on a dock. I MEAN, how cute is that?? Dawson has woken Pacey up at the crack of dawn to confess something that Pacey basically already knows but still doesn’t want to hear: Dawson’s in love with Gretchen, and he has a feeling she likes him back. Despite the immense hypocrisy of this sentiment, Pacey has to admit: he doesn’t like it. He doesn’t like it one bit. 

So when Pacey and Gretchen head back to her college town (College Town, USA) so she can reclaim her car from her ex-boyfriend Nick, Pacey spends the road trip trying to convince Gretchen that she and Nick should get back together. (Pacey doesn’t know about Gretchen’s unhappy pregnancy and miscarriage by Nick, obviously, and neither does Nick.) They arrive and Pacey immediately gets to work forcing these two back into each other’s orbit, even though it’s quite apparent that Nick is a liar and a scumbag – he’s basically disabled Gretchen’s car so she has to stay the night, he has a hot tub in his backyard and he’s making out with some other rando when Gretchen and Pacey arrive. Still, Pacey thinks he’s cool, and is laying the groundwork for a reunion between his sister and this college stud, until Nick sees yet another rando making eyes at Pacey, and tries to convince Pacey to hook up with her. When Pacey assures him he’d never do that – he has a girlfriend, after all – Nick laughs off his objections and promises him that “guys like us have to look after each other.”

Pacey realizes that Nick sucks, and tells Gretchen as much, and she, in turn, tells him about her miscarriage, and that Nick doesn’t know, but admits that Nick still holds a certain charm for her. Nick tries, pitifully, to seduce Gretchen, but she realizes she’s moved way past him, and that she wants a good guy like Dawson now. The next morning, Pacey’s fixed her car so they can go home, and he takes a roundabout way of admitting that she deserves a guy like Dawson. I love these siblings.

Gretchen gets home to find a letter that Dawson has left on her porch, one that he wrote her back when he was a kid and had his first crush on her, and she drives straight to his house and lays one on him. Aww! 

Dawson and Gretchen stand in the sunshine, kissing on Dawson's porch

Other stuff that happened in this episode: 

* Dawson accidentally discovers that Grams and Mr. Brooks are hooking up. Yay!! But he worries that Grams – with her tragic history with her late husband – doesn’t realize that Mr. Brooks is dying, and he frets that she’s going to get her heart broken. He goes to tell her, but she seems SO HAPPY, he can’t bring himself to do it – and then she admits that she already knows, but is willing to risk the heartbreak to spend some time with someone who makes her laugh, and who sees the world as she sees it. And then Mr. Brooks gives Dawson a perfect speech, and finally a scene with Mr. Brooks makes me feel something and actually makes me cry.

When you get to the end of the race, it’s both obvious and inevitable. Make no mistake about it, kid, God intends to kill us all. You’ll find that you don’t have to have your life dictated by the cosmos. You fall in love with the wrong woman, you tell fate to piss off, you don’t like its plans for you. Sure… heartache to be had, but it’s a small price to pay for living and dying on your own terms.

* Joey and Drue have been working together on a reorganizing project at the country club, when they accidentally get locked in the storage closet overnight. Joey is hilariously, brilliantly scathing with Drue throughout the evening, and my favorite scene ever is when she’s climbing on storage shelves, trying to escape, and falls. Drue catches her and kisses her, and she hauls off and punches the crap out of him. MY KINGDOM FOR A GIF!!!! But eventually Drue confides in her a little about his crappy family life, and she starts to feel sorry for him. Later, it’s revealed that he had his cell phone and could have gotten them rescued the whole time, but he was trying to avoid a weekend with his terrible dad. Joey is equal parts sympathetic and deeply annoyed. Girl, I feel you. That is exactly how I feel about the Loneliest Boy In The World Drue Valentine.

How many times did I have to drink? 


The Tao of Dawson

According to Pacey, it’s “to do nothing.” He’s not wrong…

Guess who? 

Nick is played by Angel‘s Christian Kane. 

Christian Kane as Nick

Grams is so beautiful!!! 

She really dressed up for this date. 

Grams is dressed up in a pretty plaid frock with her hair and makeup done, and a big smile on her face

Best pop culture reference

When Pacey asks Dawson if he likes Gretchen or like likes Gretchen, Dawson sighs, “This is Gretchen we’re talking about, not Winnie Cooper.”

Most hilarious pop culture reference

Grams tells Dawson that Jen’s at “a fishing concert,” and Dawson corrects her, “Phish broke up. It’s Widespread Panic now.”

Best callback

Jack tells Dawson he should try acting like a kid again to win Gretchen, and Dawson points out, “Last time I acted like a kid with my feelings, I ended up trying to prove something in a boat race. Remember that?” Lord, do I.

The truest thing anybody said this week

Then he admits, “Not my finest moment.” It really wasn’t, Leery. 

Pacey Witter’s bizarre logic

When he balks at the idea of Dawson and Gretchen, and Dawson points out that isn’t exactly fair in light of what happened with Joey, Pacey sputters, “Dawson, you and I are friends. But sisters… sisters are off-limits. They’re like mothers, only pretty.”

Most meta moment

Drue muses as he and Joey are locked in the closet, “Hey, I wonder who they’re going to get to play you in the TV version of our ordeal, huh? Probably some former teen series idol who’s trying to break into features.” Then Drue guesses that Party of Five‘s Lacey Chabert (who went on to break into features with Mean Girls) would play Joey in their TV movie.

ILU, Gretchen

When Pacey’s trying to foist Gretchen on Nick, she tells him, “Okay, before you try and show all my teeth to prove what good breeding stock I am, you’ll have to excuse me.”

ILU, Gretchen x2

When Pacey gets furious at Nick after hearing Gretchen’s full story, she says, firmly and brooking no refusal, “I am not a victim here, Pacey.” 

Pacey is bleary-eyed in bed, while a Hostess cupcake with a birthday candle is being held near him by someone off-camera

4.12 “The Te of Pacey”

It’s Pacey’s 18th birthday, and when Joey tries to wake him up cutely with a Hostess cupcake and a birthday song, he is NOT having it. (Joey responds, hilariously, “You better make a wish before I set this couch on fire,” because she is my favorite.) But Pacey’s got good reason for why he’s not feeling the birthday love: he’s never had a good birthday, and he has some compelling evidence to support this theory. Joey’s determined to make this one different, and he tells her how she can do so: by planning a quiet evening alone with just the two of them. Unfortunately, some wheels have already been set in motion in the opposite direction. 

Mrs. Witter, whom we’ve never actually met before, insisted on working with Joey to throw a surprise party for Pacey, and Joey can’t say no, so that’s what she does. It’s instantly a DISASTER. Pacey’s in a terrible mood even before it goes south: his dad’s drunk, his mom’s a space cadet, his family gives him pathetic gifts like an ashtray (his mom) and fireworks (his dad), no one can get Joey’s name right (Pacey is adorably outraged at this fact, while Joey just shrugs it off), and finally everyone spends the evening telling shitty stories about what an idiot they think Pacey is, including the time he accidentally killed their dog by trying to make pancakes for the entire family, a TERRIBLE story that makes me cry even though this episode only spends about ten seconds on it. Gretchen, naturally, tells a great story about Pacey: 

But despite this lovely speech and several wonderful pep talks from Joey, it’s too little, too late for Pacey, who stands up and tells off his entire family, admits that he was rejected by his safety school and therefore isn’t getting into college, and storms off before anyone can stop him. Poor Pacey, poor Joey. She sets off to find him, but his drunk dad finds him first, and this is actually a good thing, because his dad says the right thing for once:

He also tells Pacey the very sweet reason he bought him the seemingly lame gift of fireworks for his 18th birthday: when Pacey was a kid, his dad bought him fireworks and Pacey told him they were his favorite gift ever. Pacey finally mellows and hugs his dad, and heads home with a smile on his face, where Joey’s re-organized the birthday party to feel like a real surprise party, with singing and candles and cake… and fireworks, and a happy Pacey, finally, and, okay, some tears on my part. Then Pacey and Joey have this talk, because they’re honestly the best couple ever (until they’re not):

Other stuff that happened in this episode: 

* Despite their progress of the last episode, Gretchen’s getting cold feet when it comes to admitting to everyone that she and Dawson are dating. She’s a little squirrelly at the prospect, which makes Dawson understandably dismayed, but the secret comes out anyway when Pacey and Joey accidentally walk up on Gretchen and Dawson making out in the basement at Pacey’s party. At first Joey’s inexplicably angry (drink!), until it’s clear that, once again, she’s just mad that Dawson isn’t talking to her about this stuff, and then he does and they have a great, mutually beneficial discussion about dating the Witter family. And then Gretchen admits the source of her trepidation: she’s not sure she’s staying in Capeside, and she doesn’t want to get hurt or hurt Dawson. He points out that he’s not staying in Capeside, either, but that they should enjoy the time they have, and she happily agrees. Dawson is handling this Gretchen relationship perfectly, I must say. Oh yeah, and they kiss some more: 


* Jen and Toby are both volunteering for a program where they drive drunk people home, and Jen keeps talking up Jack to Toby. She can tell Toby likes Jack in spite of their differences, but Toby tries to convince her otherwise, spending the evening making up a perfect boyfriend. Then he runs into Jack and sparks fly, kinda angry sparks but sparks nonetheless, and Jen gets Toby to admit that a) his boyfriend is fictional and b) he likes Jack. 

How many times did I have to drink? 

Guess who? 

Pacey’s mom is played by Jane Lynch! She’s honestly in every show back then.

Jane Lynch as Mrs. Witter

Pacey’s birthday fantasy

He daydreams that Joey’s secret plan is to take him to “Perhaps a remote dock. You brought some candles and some champagne and birthday cake that you are going to feed to me by hand while serenading me – off-key, of course, and, whoa, dressed only in Victoria’s Secret lingerie – after which, you will lay me down under the stars and ravish me.” Keep dreaming, Witter.

Fuck you, Pop

Regardless of how sweet Pacey’s dad is by the end of the episode, I’ll never forgive him for what he says here: “Pacey’s ‘big dreams’ means I’m gonna have to finance another drop-out’s half-assed education.” And then, gesturing to Gretchen, “I didn’t realize working as a barmaid in a fish restaurant qualified as a university education.” I’m glad they made up by the end and all, but also, fuck you, Pop.

That’s it for this week! Readers, I have a question for you: what’s your worst birthday story ever? Mine involves getting my period for the very first time on a road trip with my single and unsympathetic dad, but I think Pacey still wins this round. 

Meet me here next Wednesday morning as we talk about “Hopeless” and OMG OMG OMG OMG “A Winter’s Tale.”

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.