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The Dawson’s Creek Recaps: “Kiss”

Dawson works on two movies, Joey flirts with a rich kid, and Pacey.... does things.

Dawson’s Creek Season Two Title Screen Screencapped From The Season Two Credits

I don’t know if you guys have heard this or not, but when the 2020-21 college basketball season starts, Marquette men’s basketball will have a high profile freshman named Dawson Garcia. You can click the link there and realize he’s kind of a big deal. You know what else was a big deal back in the day? The WB hit show Dawson’s Creek.

Much like we did for The O.C. for Sandy Cohen a few years ago, we’re going to jump in and start recapping Dawson’s Creek episodes. Why? Well, to be honest, I don’t know much about the show other than the basics, so if I’m going to run an internet blog and enjoy making pop culture references along the way, then I’d better learn a few for Dawson’s Creek/Dawson Garcia. Besides, we’ve got nothing but free time between now and whenever college sports actually do start up again thanks to the coronavirus, so what better way to occupy ourselves?

RELATED: If you’re looking for something to occupy yourself and end up binging The O.C., please check out our recaps of Season 1, Season 2, and the first five episodes of Season 3.

ALSO: If you have a catchy name for these recaps other than just “The Dawson’s Creek Recaps,” shout it out in the comments section or kick an email to or send the AE Twitter a note. We used “The Sandy Cohen Chronicles” for The O.C., but that worked since it was an actual character’s name. I don’t think “The Dawson Garcia Chronicles” works quite as well here.

Alright, hit it, Paula Cole!

Season 1, Episode 3: “Kiss”

Written By: Rob Thomas
Directed By: Michael Toshiyuki Uno

Previously On Dawson’s Creek: Joey sees Mrs. Leery smooching her TV news co-anchor, and then later tells Mrs. Leery that she knows. (Spoiler Alert: This has absolutely nothing to do with this episode, so I don’t know why it’s in the Previously On.) Dawson wants to be Jen’s boy adventure, and Jen’s interested in the idea. Ms. Jacobs apologizes to Pacey for kissing him, but Pacey played a part in that kissing and then he kisses her.

From Here To Eternity plays on the TV in Dawson’s bedroom, specifically the beach kiss scene between Burt Lancaster’s Sergeant Warden and Deborah Kerr’s married Karen Holmes. The unspoken illicit nature of the kiss will be important as we go on, as will Deborah Kerr’s presence in Joey’s mind, as Dawson and Joey are watching the flick. Dawson is thrilled by the scene as Joey noticeably sighs. “This is my Jen moment,” he says, as he has taken the absolute wrong message from his dad about romantic aspects of kissing. See, his dad was making a point about taking advantage of when romantic situations present themselves, but Dawson is going to attempt to engineer a romantic situation so he can kiss Jen in said moment. Joey calls him out on his insane crap, something she’s becoming wildly good at to the point where I start wondering what this relationship was like back before we turned the cameras on. Joey points out to Dawson that all movie moments are in fact fake acting moments, so everything Dawson wants to try to recreate with Jen is in fact fake silliness that can’t be achieved in normal life. She doesn’t point out that he wants to be a filmmaker and should be aware of this, so points for subtlety on her part.

After the title sequence, we head to Capeside High, specifically fifth hour film class. They’re talking about the script for the football movie that the class is making, specifically the dramatic tension in the film. They’re trying to come up with ideas that would ratchet things up a bit, although to be fair, most of them are just bad things happening to the characters as opposed to narrative dramatic structure tension plot points. Thus, I can’t be surprised when Dawson just starts shouting about creating tension and so on because their ideas kind of stink. However, his deal with Mr. Gold was that he was 1) not officially a part of the class and 2) he would stay quiet. Somehow, Dawson is not immediately thrown out of the room, but Nellie, as the movie’s producer, demands that Mr. Gold tell Dawson to shut up. She’s not wrong.

Pacey goes to see Ms. Jacobs after class, and he figures she didn’t hand him his quiz back because she wanted to see him for non-academic reasons, but no. He got a 23 on a quiz on Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome. This isn’t actually pulled out of nowhere as a book that the class was reading, as there was a 1993 movie starring Liam Neeson and it’s set in Massachusetts just like Capeside is. Anywho, Pacey’s been tanking in every class apparently, as the other teachers have been talking about it and so Ms. Jacobs is going to try to do something about it. Pacey claims he is doing this on purpose to get attention via private tutoring. Specifically from Ms. Jacobs, obviously. She’s reluctant, but can’t deny that extra teaching falls in a student/teacher relationship, so she tells him to wander back later that evening.

Dawson bikes over to the Icehouse, a harborside bar/restaurant. We’ll get to this eventually in this episode, but it’s apparently the Potter family business, with Joey working there, Bodie (now played by Obi Ndefo) running the kitchen, and Bessie presumably managing it. Dawson finds Pacey and tells him that he struck a deal with Mr. Gold: Prove himself useful as Nellie’s production assistant during this weekend’s shooting and he gets to officially join the class. I don’t know why Mr. Gold struck this deal, as he was pretty serious about Dawson not being in the class because there wasn’t space for him, but maybe he’s just trying to get rid of Dawson because Nellie’s a pain to work with!

Anyway, Dawson’s going to have to fit in filming his own movie around working on the class movie. This is important, of course, because that’s how he’s going to end up kissing Jen. Not really sure how, since he’s not actually in his movie, but whatever, it’s not my dumb plan. Dawson’s here for a huge to-go order, leaving me to wonder 1) What it’s for, as he does not say, and 2) how he is going to figure out how to carry all of this food while on his bicycle. As Pacey tells everyone about his maybe a date tonight (yep, definitely handling failing high school well), Joey gets distracted by a boy that no one knows wandering in and out of the restaurant.

Dawson’s hard at work putting stickers on football helmets. I have many questions: Why is he doing this? Did the film class buy brand new football equipment just for props and costuming? Why aren’t they just using the regular Capeside stuff? Why is Dawson just slapping the stickers on the helmets haphazardly instead of in an organized manner like we normally see at places like Ohio State? Jen turns up, as Cliff gave her a part as a cheerleader including two very cheerleadery lines. Dawson immediately starts getting agitated about why Jen is in this movie when she’s supposed to be the star in his movie (I guess no one told him you can be in more than one movie in your career), and then Cliff tells him he’s doing a good job on the helmets, but calls him David. Hey, remember when they nearly got in a fistfight last week?

After a commercial break, Pacey’s over at his tutoring. Hey, wait a minute, when was the movie stuff happening? I thought it was “this weekend,” but Pacey’s tutoring was definitely “later tonight.” Oh well. After Ms. Jacobs easily fools Pacey into admitting he isn’t reading the book, Pacey tries to make this an interrogation of Ms. Jacobs about her high school years. She reluctantly gives up the info, admits that she never would have dated a dope like Pacey back then, and then promises him some positive reinforcement if he answers some questions on Chapters 1 and 2 of the book.

While out back of the Icehouse, Joey hears a violin playing. It is, of course, coming from the random boy that she saw earlier. That’s Anderson Crawford (played by Ian Bohen) and he has literally sailed into town with his parents who are hunting for some sort of antique chair. He immediately presumes that she’s also not from Capeside, so she just runs with that. Joey also decides to start matching Anderson in being a high society rich girl while hiding her work apron behind her back. Uh huh. This ends up with the pair making a sailing date for the next day and Joey telling Anderson that her name is Deborah Kerr-son, pronounced Carson, as she suddenly realized midway through that she can’t just be Deborah Kerr. See? Came back around as promised.

Back to Pacey’s tutoring, where he has finished his questions. He makes funny ha ha Jeopardy “what is blah blah blah” answers to Ms. Jacobs first few questions, and then she ramps up the difficulty and he stutters for a second before nailing it. Ms. Jacobs didn’t expect Pacey to pull this off (always a solid plan to figure the kid admitting he was tanking on purpose to get your attention wasn’t actually smart), and so now he deserves his positive reinforcement. Pacey figured she meant of the physical variety, but she says “your education is your reward.” He pushes the issue, and instead of just throwing him out of the classroom, Ms. Jacobs leans into it and tells Pacey it’s time for the super sexy times. This, somehow, stuns Pacey who doesn’t know how to react even though this is in theory what he wanted? We find out that — SURPRISE — Pacey is a virgin, and so Ms. Jacobs backs off reminding Pacey that this is all a very bad idea. THAT reactivates Pacey’s voice box, he tells her some silliness about how maybe it really is the right thing to do, and leaves.

You know what’s worse than a will they/won’t they story? A will they/won’t they story about a 40 year old teacher and her 15 year old student.

Back at the football movie, Cliff’s character is making a speech to rally his teammates. We don’t really hear the speech, as Dawson’s snide and kind of homophobic comments muttered to himself kind of drown out Cliff. Nellie catches him being a dope, and as Cliff calls cut in the background, Nellie reams Dawson up one side and down the other. Not in so many words, she tells him to know his role and shut his mouth. Nellie is very much correct here.

After some morning time harbor establishing shots, Joey meets up with Anderson on his family’s boat. They talk about the pluses and minuses of boarding school (again, Joey’s doing some lying here), and after a sailing montage, they take the rubber motorboat attached to the back to some empty beach area for some frisbee. They talk about their parents (more Joey lying) and Anderson correctly deduces that Joey does not have a boyfriend. This ultimately leads to Anderson casually saying “the truth can’t hurt you” and how honesty is the most important thing he looks for in a girl. Kid, do I have a story for you.

Back in town, the football movie is shooting out on the field. They don’t have dolly track or a Steadicam, so some poor schmuck kid is stuck getting yelled at by Nellie because he can’t walk backwards and keep football players in frame. Dawson starts to pipe up with an idea, but Nellie immediately shouts him down and send him on an errand for more film. I’m still Team Nellie on the “Dawson should shut up” item, but hey: if the kid can’t get the shot, maybe listen? ANYWAY, Dawson bumps into Jen whilst on his errand. After admitting she’s working on this movie because she knew that he would be (my god, he’s dense), Jen is up for some shooting on Dawson’s movie later because it’s a “chance to work with a real director.” Very mean towards young master Cliff, I think.

Now that we’ve given Anderson and Joey some off-camera time, things have gotten serious. Very serious. Anderson has recreated Dealey Plaza in the sand and is walking Joey through the Kennedy assassination. Yup. Apparently my guy has read all 469 pages of the Warren Commission report (now available online!) because he’s curious. Yeah, something’s curious about that, all right. Joey mentions her UFO theories..... oh, wait, this is just a bit to threaten to throw the frisbee at the sand model. Very cute. Anderson dives at her to stop her from getting the frisbee, and this ends up being a tackle really, and lands on top of her. There’s almost a kiss, but she breaks it up saying her parents will be expecting her. And then she frisbee smashes Sand Dallas anyway. BOOM, take that, Texas!

Back on the field, Pacey turns up and starts being a nozzle as they can’t get the shot right. Dawson tries to interject again, but finally this time Cliff overrules Nellie’s shouting down of Dawson. Dawson’s idea? Having the cameraman (in this case him) sit in the wheelchair that’s floating around on the sideline that Pacey just plopped himself in, and then pull the chair backwards. BOOM, shot absolutely nailed. I can’t believe it took multiple failures before someone realized putting the camera on an available wheeled item was going to work.

Over at the Icehouse, Jen praises Dawson for his efforts on saving the shot, while Joey waits on them. She was a wee bit late for work thanks to the sailing, but such is life. Bessie chides her a bit, and then Anderson wanders in. Joey quickly bails into a chair next to Dawson. Anderson approaches her to talk, and Dawson NEEEEEEEEEEEEARLY blows up her spot before Jen saves it. Bessie, in an effort to get Joey to actually work because she’s needed (“ORDER’S UP, JOEY [emphatic staring]), also accidentally tries to blow up Joey’s spot, but Bodie jumps in to save her again. Dawson just stares dumbfounded into the distance at what is transpiring.

Pacey is just zipping around the halls at school in the wheelchair for Odin knows what reason, and comes across Ms. Jacobs and Mr. Gold flirting about movies. He is, of course, pissed off about this. Pacey lays in wait for her around the corner, and gets cranky about her talking with Mr. Gold. “What do you want from me,” she asks. “You,” Pacey says, and I batter my head on my coffee table because it was less than 24 hours ago where Pacey nearly ran out of the room screaming because Ms. Jacobs unbuttoned one blouse button at him and asked if he had a condom.

Dawson and Jen head up to something that’s been referred to as The Ruins previously in the episode right around twilight in order to get the shot that Dawson wants to close the movie. Dawson explains what the place is to Jen (some rich guy’s wife loved Greece, then she got sick, so the rich guy built the garden to make her happy) as well as point out that officially, it is private property, so they have to watch out. Dawson sets up the shot, and Jen notices that it’s kind of a schmaltzy set up for the end of a horror film. Of course, it’s the monster’s secret place, and her character is there for a wistful goodbye to the man she loved, so it’s not completely out of place. Anyway, Michelle Williams is pretty good at this acting thing, so she knocks it out right away. Dawson points out that it would be a shame to waste all this good production value, and they’re just about to kiss....... WHEN JEN NOTICES THE MONITOR IS STILL RUNNING MEANING THAT DAWSON IS ACTUALLY FILMING THIS. Dude. Engineering a setup is one thing, but literally making it a movie is a totally different thing. Also: Turn off the monitor, dummy.

Joey wanders over to Anderson’s boat, allegedly after the alleged family Scrabble game that she quickly came up with to get rid of him at the Icehouse. Anderson did not catch all of the context clues there, so they have a nice goodbye, because the Crawfords are leaving tomorrow, and oh dear, the two will likely never see each other again even if they are both in New York as fancy rich kids. Anderson gives her his phone number, and they kiss before Joey leaves him there, standing in the moonlight where he belongs. Joey meets up with Bodie and Bessie for a ride home after the Icehouse closes for the night, and after Bodie lets her know that she made a statement about New York that wasn’t true any more, Joey quietly throws Anderson’s phone number out the window as they drive off.


It’s now after dark in The Ruins, so apparently this conversation about what a disgusting weirdo Dawson is has been going on for a hot minute. This evolves into a conversation about Dawson trying way too hard because he’s way too far inside his own head when it comes to thinking about how he wants to behave around/towards/whatever with Jen. Dawson’s confession about his overthinking it leads to Jen overthinking her part in the kiss.

Dawson notes that his rate of stupidity around Jen is increasing, but now is not the time to discuss that. There’s someone coming, and since they are officially trespassing, they have to hide. They do, and never see who’s coming, nor do we really see who it is. Dawson and Jen hide, and there’s cobwebs, and Dawson helps Jen brush them off of her hair, and LO AND BEHOLD, an unplanned honest moment between two people leads to a kiss between them! Amazing how that works, and the whole setup was — shouts to Mr. Leery — kind of romantic, too.

We pan away from Dawson and Jen and to the monitor, where we can definitely see the beginnings of some kind of romantic something or other going on.... and the lady in question seems kind of familiar....... but the shot fades out. But it fades out into the next shot, and that is absolutely Pacey Witter and Ms. Jacobs in a post-coital recline. I’m unsure how to read Ms. Jacobs’ face, but Pacey seems quite pleased with what is and was going on.

Well, the good news is that we got the will they/won’t they part out of the way. The bad news is THIS TERRIBLE STORYLINE MUST CONTINUE oh and I’m pretty sure that, since we saw things on the monitor, Dawson never actually turned off the camera..............

And now to steal an idea from The Post Atomic Horror, a very in-depth Star Trek podcast.

GOOD THING: Dawson finally got to see that just living his life leads to good things happening with Jen. He got a natural, unprepared moment, and it led to a moment where a kiss with Jen was a totally natural thing to happen. I’m not expecting Dawson to learn a lesson from this — this is television, after all, and Dawson continuing to be a dope is (theoretically) good drama — but he was just on a tear about how he’s thinking and planning waaaaaaay too much and then the universe immediately showed him that he should stop that. Fingers crossed that it works out that way going forward.

BAD THING: Literally nothing good is going to come from Pacey and Ms. Jacobs sleeping together. Not a single thing. It’s not going to lead to good things for Pacey, it’s definitely not going to lead to good things for Ms. Jacobs, and it’s definitely not going to lead to good things for them as a couple. There is no positive outcome to this storyline. When it was just Pacey’s stupid pursuit of her, it could at least end up with “Pacey learns a lesson about life” eventually. This leads to “Ms. Jacobs loses her job when they get caught, and they will, because this is television” and that’s the GOOD resolution.