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The Dawson’s Creek Recaps: “Detention”

Many things happen that land all four of our teens in Saturday detention. Yes, just like The Breakfast Club.

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 7: “Detention”

Written by: Mike White
Directed by: Allan Arkush
Original Airdate: March 3, 1998

Credit Notes: Yes, that Mike White, in what appears to be his second ever IMDB writing credit, and yes, that Allan Arkush, who directed Caddyshack II.

Previously on Dawson’s Creek: Dawson and Jen kiss, but Jen wants to take things slowly. Joey and Dawson aren’t friends? Or maybe more? Or maybe less? That’s it!

Dawson and Joey watch something on TV in Dawson’s bedroom. Not clear if this is Movie Night or not, but it’s definitely a movie as it turns out. They’re 90 minutes in, according to Joey, but Dawson turns it off because it’s unrealistic to him. “A girl has to decide between two guys so they drag race.” Joey asks is this is more unrealistic than Dawson’s favorite movie, E.T. Five points to Potter House. Anyway, Joey was invested, so she wants to see the end, and so she attempts to tickle the remote free from Dawson, and this goes on until Joey gets the MMA style mount position on Dawson and then they also both realize that she has mounted him, and then she hurriedly exits the bed. Because of the awkwardness, this turns into an argument about what boys are interested in girls for, and Joey specifically describes Jen’s physical characteristics while making this point. Joey also makes the point that sometimes girls are only into physical things too, and they’re not going to always go for the [insert words that describe Dawson here]. Dawson tries to tell Joey about the kinds of things girls are actually interested (oh, hey, what an amazing trap door he found at the bottom of this hole), and then also tries to claim that he doesn’t compete with other boys for girls. Yeah, buddy, I remember how you weren’t getting into a pissing match with Cliff over Jen back in episode two. Oh wait, that was the other thing. Joey fires a wrench into Dawson’s relationship with Jen by wondering if Jen is really interested in Dawson if she won’t sleep with him, and then she heads out.

After the title sequence, we head to Capeside High. There is ska music, specifically Stupid by The Chickenpox. The hallway empties except for one girl who dropped a whole bunch of stuff all over the place. Said girl is late to class, where Joey is already giving a presentation on shoguns in Japan. Man, this teacher does not mess around in terms of getting class up and moving. At some point, Joey mentions concubines for the shogun, and Grant, played by Mati Moralejo, basically only catches onto the sexual aspect of the concubines. Specifically, the 600 concubines for one shogun part. He is incredibly taken with the idea of women who are kept by the shogun who consider it to be a great honor to be selected for the shogun’s nightly activities. Hey, remember when the teacher was apparently really on the ball at getting Joey’s presentation going at the start of class? How about you jump in and get Grant to shut the hell up, buddy.

Stupid plays again as we’re back out in the hallway between classes and Pacey and Jen are giggling about some story about Oompa Loompas. Y’know, the factory workers from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. Dawson sees his friends laughing it up and wants in on the joke. What? Huh? Oh, nothing, never mind. Right. Anyway, Dawson and Pacey have gym class, while Jen is off to health class with Mr. Pickering who just does not seem to like her. It’s Friday, and Jen says she’s getting stir crazy at school and wants to do something wild this weekend. OOOO, LIKE WHAT???

Off to the gym locker room, where Dawson tries to talk to Pacey one on one about the conversation with Jen. “Oh well, you don’t have to tell me because Jen already told me.” Pacey falls for that junk and lets it slip that he was telling Jen that Dawson’s old nickname was Oompa Loompa. Joey did mention that Dawson had a big growth spurt recently. Anyway, Dawson’s mad.

Over to health class, where the topic of the day is euthanasia. I’m sure you can guess exactly where this is going. Mr. Pickering is obviously dead set against it, whilst Jen makes the “hey, isn’t it more humane to let someone suffering have a peaceful end on their own terms?” point. SURPRISE, Mr. Pickering hates it, because 1) God and 2) Jen’s evil New York ways. A reminder for everyone: Capeside is roughly Chatham, MA, which is about 90 minutes from Boston. I get that Boston is not New York, but it is a major American city. It would be like someone in Two Rivers going on about Jen’s “evil Milwaukee ways.” Ridiculous. Anyway, Jen ends up heated and responds to “life is God’s gift” with “For someone on their deathbed, life’s not a gift, life’s a bitch.” And so, Jen gets Saturday detention for a potty mouth. So much for something wild this weekend.

At lunch, it’s fishsticks for Joey, and the ever annoying Grant cutting in front of her in line. Is there no faculty monitoring in this lunch room? Anyway, Grant didn’t even realize she was there until she objected, and so we return to the concubine discussion. The very clearly shorter than Joey Grant makes some very rude comments about what Joey can do for him, as he is a cool jock type. She punts him in the groin, throws her lunch tray at his friend, and BOOM, explodes Grant’s face with a straight right. He drops like a wet bag of cement. As always, do not pick a fight with a girl that is bigger than you and who already doesn’t like you. What a nerd. Anyway, Joey’s probably headed to detention, too, huh?

Over to gym class, which seems to be wrapping up. Pacey wants to get a game of one-on-one against Dawson before they go to help Pacey further his already impressive basketball performance in front of the cheerleaders practicing on the sidelines. He has to promise to buy Dawson lunch to get him involved, and then Pacey blows past Dawson for two easy lay-ups. “I’m really kicking your ass!” You’ll never believe it, but that prompts Dawson to leave. Pacey drops an Oompa Loompa on him, and that means it’s time for the ball to come rocketing out of Dawson’s hand sttrrrrrrraight at Pacey’s nose. Impressively, Dawson also picks up the ricochet shot off the camera! Pacey goes down in a heap, and the cheerleaders zip over to tend to Pacey. Dawson gets Saturday detention for his poor sportsmanship, which seems a little much, but oh well.

Jen and Dawson arrive at Saturday detention together, and Dawson muses that this is a waste of time because neither of them deserve to be there. Hey, between the two, Dawson absolutely deserves to be there, as he essentially started and ended a fight with Pacey in one blow. Speaking of Pacey, he’s already in the library for detention with his nose taped up and two black eyes thanks to his broken nose courtesy of Dawson. Also attending detention is the late girl from earlier. She’s now identified as Abby Morgan, and she is played by Monica Keena. Our trio of main characters identify her as “straight from hell,” and Mrs. Tringle (played by Helen Baldwin), the school librarian and detention monitor, actually drops a “shut up” on her.

Detention is about penance, so Capeside’s faculty might be super into this whole God motif across the board, huh? They’re required to stay in the library until 5pm, and that includes Joey who turns up a minute late. She’s obviously here because of the lunch fight. Mrs. Tringle has A/V work to do, so if she has to come out here to settle anything, they’re going to be doing library work for the remainder of the time. Mrs. Tringle’s response to Abby’s comment that they’re going to kill each other if they’re stuck there for eight hours? “Don’t get any blood on the books.” I like her.

Abby has quite the quick wit about her, as she starts lighting up the foursome with snide comments about why they’re there. We still don’t know why Pacey is there, nor Abby, and neither is willing to talk. Jen mentions being tired of Mr. Pickering’s small town mentality, and that sets Joey off because Jen thinks she’s so special because she’s from NYC. What a great start, Joey.

8:50 am. Joey admits she’s there for dropping Grant Bodean like third period French. Abby, how about you? She won’t actually say it, but asks if the gang 1) has ever been to the boys locker room, 2) has heard of ecstasy, and 3) has heard of an orgy? That’s all she says. I find this story wildly unbelievable, as Abby is the only one snagging detention for this, and also no one else in school is talking about it. Remember when everyone knew about Pacey sleeping with Ms. Jacobs within the span of one school day?

10:00am. Dawson, of course, is the one who gets to point out The Breakfast Club nature of their current circumstance. However, that’s not the best movie reference in this scene, which only exists to make movie references. Hey, whatever happened to the actors in The Breakfast Club, anyway? Anthony Michael Hall had a thyroid condition that took him out of acting (not true, as far as I can tell, and he was working regularly up through when this aired according to his IMDB page, including a year on Saturday Night Live), Molly Ringwald outgrew her gawky ingenue appeal (although she’s now recurring on Riverdale as Archie’s mom), and everyone else is languishing in television obscurity. Pacey immediately objects. “No way! Emilio Estevez was in those duck movies! Classic! So funny.” Pacey is, of course, played by Joshua Jackson, who was one of the featured kids in the three Mighty Ducks movies, which starred Estevez as the coach of the hockey team. Those were released in 1992, 1994, and 1996, and with the third one coming out in October and this airing in March 1998, it had been less than 18 months since the third one was in theaters when this episode aired. And that’s it for the scene.

10 minutes later according to the clock on the wall, and we’re still talking about The Breakfast Club, as Jen’s old best friend in New York used to babysit for Ally Sheedy. I presume, math-wise, she means that she babysat Ally Sheedy’s kid. This checks out, as Sheedy’s kid was born in 1994. This leads to more sniping back and forth about New York is so great and blah blah blah and Abby pops up with a MRS TRINGLE!!!!!!!!! It seems obvious that she’s going to tattle on the sniping..... for some reason..... but she says she has to pee. This is where we learn that Mrs. Tringle is watching Days of Our Lives in the A/V room as her “A/V work” which is honestly a good use of her time if she’s the one who has to be in attendance for Saturday detention every week. Anyway, so now everyone goes to pee. I do have questions about why there aren’t built in timed bathroom breaks in the detention schedule if they have to stay in the library the whole time. Anyway, Dawson smiles at Pacey, Pacey glares. Abby muses about the other four having some weird sexual tension thing going on while reapplying her lipstick, and Joey and Jen don’t answer from their respective stalls.

It’s 11am, and Abby is bored. Pacey offers to do ecstasy and have sex with her, like a fine upstanding gentleman. Abby doesn’t want to do that with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, referring to Pacey’s broken nose, and there’s a return shot of “playing your ho-bag games.” Funny? Mean? I don’t know. Anyway, the mention of games gives Abby the idea to play a game, specifically Truth Or Dare. If she intentionally said “Rudolph” in order to get someone to say “games” back to her, well played.

Abby tells Dawson to go first, and tells him to pick her and she’ll take Truth. “Are you an alien and what planet are you from?” “No, and Earth. My turn.” Dawson, you idiot. Pacey picks Truth, and he’s also an idiot, because Abby asks why he’s in detention. He stammers and changes to Dare. Fine, 10 second on the lips kiss with Jen. Everyone begins stammering to get out of this — mind you, they don’t have to play Abby’s game at all — except for Joey, who is super into this particular dare. Aaaaaaanyway, so they kiss, and it is most definitely not a functional “our lips are touching to get done with this” kind of kiss. Pacey decouples from Jen, and turns to Joey. “Who do you like?” Joey quickly reverts to Dare, and Pacey is definitely paying attention here and goes to a 15 second on the mouth kiss with — you guessed it — Dawson. Abby’s “OH BOY” face after the dare and during the kiss is absolutely fantastic. Grace by Michelle Malone plays as the kiss transpires, and it seems more intense than the Jen/Pacey kiss. Abby counts off the time and the kiss continues a bit past her saying “15” out loud, and right up to Jen saying “okay” as well. Abby gets one more shot in before commercial: “Are we having fun yet?”

After commercial, it’s 11:10, and Grace is still playing. Joey turns to Jen, who opts for Truth. “Is Dawson the boy at this school that you’re most attracted to?” Joey’s talking about physical attraction, or lust if you will. Jen stammers through an objection about how stupid the question is, but yes, she lusts for Dawson, and then this turns into Jen shouting at Joey about how she would have her own boyfriend if she’d just spend less time dwelling on Jen’s relationship. Joey’s not interested in all the other boys in the school because they all suck. I find it massively hard to believe that Dawson and Pacey are the only two non-jock assclown boys at this school, but that’s what Joey is implying, to a certain extent.

Dawson elects to eject everyone from this moment and dares the entire group to follow him for a jailbreak. They sneak past Mrs. Tringle in the A/V room — this is where the kids learn she’s watching Days of Our Lives — and Jen proposes a new game: Guess My Butt. Your guess is as good as mine as to 1) how they break into what appears to be the school office to use the copier or 2) why there isn’t a copier in the library, but anyway, everyone photocopies their butt and now it’s time to guess. Abby says she knows which one is hers because of how wonderful it looks, and Jen says she immediately recognizes Pacey’s butt. Pacey is very proud of how Jen figured it out so fast, Dawson gets mad about Pacey’s pride and insinuation that Jen spends many hours staring at his butt, and so this turns into a basketball rematch challenge. Off to the gym, with the added challenge that if Dawson wins, Pacey has to share why he’s in detention.

The game starts out very badly, with Dawson playing incredible defense on Pacey with a steal and a block but missing everything he throws up. This gets more and more physically intense and turns into more of a wrestling match, and now that you understand that this isn’t worth actually watching, we turn to the girls on the bleachers. Abby throws a little gasoline on a fire, and eventually this spins into Jen announcing that she’s giving up on trying to get Joey to like her. Joey is shocked and appalled that Jen thinks that Joey doesn’t like her, but she seems like she’s coming by that feeling honestly and not faking it, even though she’s been sniping at Jen all day long. Abby points out that this is all because Joey likes Dawson, and somehow this is a surprise to Jen. I mean, come on, girl, pay attention. Joey ends up being mad that Jen is so nice and how dare she try to be Joey’s friend, anyway. That’s bonkers.

Abby goes to get a drink of water. It’s 2:45. When they left the library and saw Mrs. Tingle watching Days of Our Lives, Jen calculated that they had 90 minutes before she would finish watching a week’s worth of shows. It’s been three hours and 35 minutes since we last saw a clock, and it’s not like a lot of time spooled off in the library. And so, the shouting that we have to get back to the library right now. Pacey is distracted by the shouting, and Dawson rains in a J, the first bucket that we’ve seen in their game, so he wins, 1-0. Dawson definitely considers this a victory so it was at least tied before it. Pacey objects due to his lack of paying attention.

We get a running montage, but of course, Mrs. Tingle is standing in the hallway waiting for them to return. After commercial, she’s reaming them out, and Abby claims they snuck out because they were hungry. But seriously: Why isn’t there a policy about they have to bring a lunch to detention if they have to be there until 5pm? I have many questions about how Capeside High is running things. Anyway, Mrs. Tingle grabs a card catalogue drawer (hey, remember those?) and dumps it on the floor. If it’s not back in alphabetical order by 5pm, then they’re coming back next Saturday for another detention day.

Abby claims carpal tunnel problems and she can’t help, but as the clock reads 4:30, the gang gets the last of the cards back in the drawer. We’ll ignore the fact that they’re handing blocks of cards back to Dawson to put into the drawer and he’s not checking any of this. We’ll presume that there was some sort of generalized sorting into groups before each one alphabetized their section. Abby reapplies some lipstick as Mrs. Tingle comes back in to check on them, and Abby grabs the drawer to present it as finished and kind of take credit for the whole thing. Abby tries a little bit of sucking up to Mrs. Tingle by complimenting her eyes and wondering if she’s ever tried contact lenses. This..... doesn’t? work? I’m not clear if it did have the desired effect, because the kids accomplished their goal of reorganizing the drawer. ANYWAY, as Mrs. Tingle wanders off again, she mentions that hopefully Abby has learned that excessive tardiness is not tolerated at Capeside High. Remember she was the girl late for class at the beginning? Yeah. The gang is SHOCKED to find out that Abby’s ecstasy fueled orgy story is a total lie! What an amazing revelation! You idiots.

Pacey fires up to yell at Abby about her fake story, and Abby rightfully points out that he is now the only one with a mystery as to why they are there. Dawson suddenly remembers that he won the basketball game, and so Pacey is required to confess. Somehow this turns into a shouting match between Dawson and Pacey, although it winds down with Dawson coming clean that Oompa Loompa reminds him of all of his insecurities about himself, although mostly it’s just “I’m not a stereotypically cool kid at this school” type stuff, so stop being a dingbat about it, Dawson. Anyway, Dawson’s admission makes Pacey feel like he can make one of his own, although he makes everyone promise that this never leaves the room.

Remember how the cheerleaders ran over to Pacey to check on him and worry about him and generally pay attention to him? Yeah. Well. He got really excited about it. No, really excited. So he went into the bathroom to, uh, relieve some tension. Like as in, the gym bathroom. And then Coach came to check on him and his broken nose and yep, coach caught Pacey masturbating. Honestly, I’m impressed by Pacey’s ability to concentrate through the pain from his broken nose.

Dawson and Pacey are cool now, and Dawson has more things to say. He apologizes to Pacey and recognizes that his frustrations are coming from trying to figure out why Jen won’t sleep with him. Yep, that’s it. Not exactly the best way to let your girlfriend know that you’re onboard with her “let’s take it slow” plan, but you do you, pal. Jen ..... I don’t know how to summarize what she’s saying here, but Dawson is everything she wants in a boyfriend right now, because everyone in Capeside is jerks except him. Dawson just thinks about sex with her a lot (“1,000 times a day.” “What, that’s it?”), and it’s distracting for him and this isn’t an apology for what he just said to her.

Dawson apologizes to Pacey again, who in turn apologizes for the Oompa Loompa comments. Pacey’s a screwup and he doesn’t want to screw up his relationship with his best friend.

Finally we hear from Joey in this finale to the the episode, as she explodes wondering why everyone is so sex crazed. Well, part of that is just being 15, honestly. She goes on to say that Dawson doesn’t need to worry about being a virgin, because at least he’ll have one friend who will go to her grave as a virgin. Dawson tries to comfort her here, saying hey, it’s just a matter of time before you find the guy for you, Joey. Oh no. Oh no no no no. That was bad, and I can’t believe he doesn’t know how bad that was. “I have.” Joey is starting to cry as she holds back from saying something to/about Dawson. Dawson tells her to just open up to her good friend Dawson and let it all out. She can’t. It will change everything.

And so, detention is over, and after the camera catches a few stressed looks from everyone, so is this episode.

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

GOOD THING: I continue to greatly enjoy the way that the show is handling Joey’s attraction to Dawson, which has been an obvious-to-everyone-except-Dawson elephant in the room since literally the first scene of the show. However, I’ve talked about that before, and so I want to make this recap’s Good Thing the use of Monica Keena as Abby Morgan as an instigator for the crew during detention. They quickly handwave the addition of a new character with the three Capeside regulars rolling their eyes at Abby coming in and calling her the worst, so this way the audience already knows that they have a long history with her even though we’ve never seen her before. She is constantly creating friction in the group, and she’s doing it entirely for her own entertainment because it’s detention anyway! It’s really neat. This could have been done with Nellie Olson who we haven’t seen since Episode Three.... and who we won’t see ever again, by the way.... but the writers/producers went with introducing a new student at school, which actually makes way more sense than giving us a student that we’ve already seen before. BAD NEWS: We only get one more Abby Morgan appearance this season. GOOD NEWS: We’ll see her 12 more times after this season ends.

BAD THING: I really can’t get over the lack of rules and policies for Saturday detention at Capeside High. If they have to stay in the library, shouldn’t there be mandated schedule bathroom breaks? Why did no one bring a lunch? Shouldn’t that be part of the deal? Shouldn’t one of the five realize that the school cafeteria isn’t going to be open for them, especially since everyone except for Dawson and Jen didn’t know the rest of the group was going to be there? We literally saw no one eat anything for the entirety of the eight hours that they were at school on Saturday, and that includes Mrs. Tringle. What’s up with that?