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?
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 email@example.com 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 5: “Hurricane”
Written By: Dana Baratta and Kevin Williamson
Directed By: Lou Antonio
Previously on Dawson’s Creek: Pacey has a sexual encounter with Ms. Jacobs, his English teacher, and Dawson accidentally catches it on videotape. Although Pacey’s face is obscured in the footage, he admits that it’s him to Dawson. Jen kissing Dawson is witnessed by Grams. After a prompting from Dawson about honesty, Jen comes clean (well, mostly, no details) about the sexual nature of her history in New York and why she’s in Capeside now. Dawson and Jen see Dawson’s mom kiss her TV news co-anchor. Dawson gets mad at Joey because she already knew about his mom and she didn’t tell him.
Dawson and Joey are in Dawson’s room and have just finished watching the 1996 classic film Twister. It came out in May 1996, so no, it’s not wrong that they have it on videocassette. A debate over whether to watch Towering Inferno or Poseidon Adventure next is held up by the realization that it’s time to turn on the TV news to catch the weather report. Aha, they were watching disaster movies in an effort ...... to cause the universe to push Hurricane Christopher close enough to Boston to cancel school for the day? Okay, bold choice given the obvious accompanying property damage, but it works. FUN FACT: Even here in 2020, there has never been a Hurricane Christopher that reached the strength and/or damage level to be retired as a name. Of course, watching the TV weather means going back to the TV anchor desk afterwards, and that means seeing Dawson’s mom with Bob The Co-Anchor, and she pops off a “sounds like a good day to stay in bed, Bob” banter line after the weather report. Dawson gets surly about it, and thus movie night in Dawson’s bedroom is over and Joey leaves her friend to mope about his mom.
After the title sequence, we get some establishing shots of hurricane prep: People move their patio furniture in, storefront windows get boarded up. REM’s It’s The End Of The World As We Know It plays over this, and SPOILER ALERT: hooboy is that a loaded phrase for this week’s installment. Mrs. Leery’s on the phone trying to get answers as to why she isn’t getting the assignment to go stand out in the hurricane and report back to the station, but Bob The Co-Anchor is. She decides it’s sexism, and I wonder why the co-anchors are in competition for this at all. Shouldn’t they be in the studio because they’re the trained professionals at handling in-studio updates? ANYWAY, Mr. Leery heads next door to invite Jen and Grams to hunker down with the Leerys..... but isn’t Jen’s comatose grandfather over there? Seems like they should stay over there, but hey: I appreciate Mr. Leery’s hustle to help his son spend hours of lock-in time with the girl he likes. Dawson uses the opportunity of Mr. Leery thinking of other people to talk up how great his dad is to .... his mom...... and to the surprise of no one, Mrs. Leery utters an “oh boy” at the end of it after Dawson leaves the room, so he’s not very subtle.
Pacey is out helping Officer Doug Witter (played by Dylan Neal), his older brother, put up Beach Closed signs. It’s apparently at “Dad’s orders” so I presume that Mr. Witter is either Chief of Police or the local sheriff. I’m unsure about the governmental hierarchy of Capeside, so we’ll go with Chief Witter for now. Doug is kind of terse with Pacey about getting the job done, so Pacey decides to make gay jokes about Doug because of his repressed anger. Yeah. I’d like to say that this wasn’t cool in 1998 when this aired, and it’s definitely not okay now. Pacey keeps pounding on Doug about this: He likes Broadway musicals and owns several soundtrack albums! He picked a job where he gets to dress like one of the Village People! Just a whole big bunch of yikes.
We flash over to the Leery house just to show that Bodie and Bessie are there, too, and to see their discussion about circumcising their child so we know that they have conflict as we head into the hurricane lockdown, and then back to the Witter boys as Pacey plants flags along the beach. Conveniently, Ms. Jacobs lives right along the beach, and we have now arrived at her house. Pacey and Ms. Jacobs have to have a teacher/student interaction, and Doug badmouths Pacey’s academic career to give him an in to start hitting on Ms. Jacobs. Oh, good.
Grams and Jen have elected to take Mr. Leery up on the offer to weather the storm next door. The show knew I would have a question about this, and Dawson mentions to Jen that he heard Granddad was back in the hospital, but it’s just for some tests. Again: I ask why the cardiac patient was released from the hospital while still in a coma. Anyway, Dawson’s doing some hurricane prep work on the porch, and Jen offers to help. Dawson says he’s got it under control, and that leads to a chat about the cold shoulder he’s been giving Jen since she told him about her past in New York. The camera moves throughout the house, we see Bessie and Bodie continuing their discussion, and then over to Mrs. Leery..... who is clearly on the phone with Bob The Anchorman, but not to yell at him about getting the assignment over her. It’s very much a “oh be safe, I don’t want anything to happen to you, kissy kissy” conversation. Mrs. Leery is apparently the stupidest person in the entire universe, because 1) she’s having this attempt at a secret conversation in a house that now has four extra people in it and 2) her son recently wandered straight up to the line of telling her he knows about her affair and she appeared to understand that he might know. Anyway, to the surprise of no one, Dawson absolutely overhears her on the phone, and he tells her the only award she’s going to win (see, Bob could win an award for his hurricane coverage) is a giant scarlet letter A on her chest. That might be the most “pretentious high school sophomore” reference I have ever seen on television.
That leads to a commercial break, and the conversation continues afterwards. “I love your father” and “there are reasons” come out of her mouth, and my reaction at the moment is that if this leads to a revelation that the Leerys have an open marriage, I am never going to stop laughing. (SPOILER ALERT: It does not, and her reasons are super stupid.)
After Dawson has had enough of this and tells his mom that she should be telling this to her husband, not her son, he storms into his bedroom and slams the door. Jen is waiting there for him, which is good news for Dawson, as he gets to vent to her some more. Dawson is, understandably, reacting with total emotion, while Jen tries to interject a bit of logic and “let’s look at this from your mom’s point of view.” This is a mistake, of course, as Dawson decides to use Jen’s sexually charged past against her. “Oh, you would defend her,” says Dawson, as Jen has become the champion of multiple sexual partners for a woman in his eyes. Jen tells him that some people aren’t imaginary characters in a Spielberg movie, and bails.
By now, the smart and astute reader has done some character accounting as to who is in the Leery house right now. I did not catch it, but the show was adeptly showing us Bessie and Bodie in the house to lead to the reveal of JOEY IN DAWSON’S CLOSET DURING THE DAWSON/JEN SHOUTING MATCH! I did not see that coming, but shouts to the show for setting it up with Joey’s older sister and her boyfriend bunkering in Dawson’s house.
You’ll never believe it, but Joey does not provide a more sympathetic ear and shoulder for Dawson as he continues to complain about what his mother is putting him through. Joey gets sick of his crap, drops the “At least you have a mother that’s alive” bomb on him, and bounces.
Bob The Co-Anchor is on TV out by Pacey’s flags on the beach, although this goes nowhere other than showing that he’s on Capeside’s beach. Wait. Does Capeside have its own TV station and/or series of TV stations? I kind of just figured that Mrs. Leery worked at the Boston affiliate, but then again, how would Dawson have gotten to the studio last week? ANYWAY, Bodie talks about the ingredients in some chicken dish that he has made, and Grams is dismissive of the black man who happens to be a trained chef because she’s older than him and knows how to cook better than him as a result. That’s racist as hell, Grams. Mr. Leery worries about Bob out on the beach, and Joey tells him not to worry.... which leads to Mrs. Leery grabbing Joey for a chat. “I’ve been selfish.” “That runs in your family.” Mrs. Leery says she’s ending things with Bob, which is very clearly a “well, I have been caught by two teenagers now, so I should probably stop this” move. Based on the phone call earlier, she had no intention of cutting things off with Bob The Co-Anchor just because Joey already knew about the affair.
Over at Ms. Jacobs’ house, the weather has apparently gotten so bad so quickly that the Witter boys are stuck there for the duration. They squabble over a planter on her dining room table for some idiot reason, and Officer Doug goes outside to check on a crashing noise. Pacey uses the opportunity to cut off Doug’s flirtatious behavior by telling Ms. Jacobs that Doug is super closeted gay. It’s a whole thing in their house. Pacey is the absolute worst, and the fact that he can’t keep his hand off his 40 year old English teacher girlfriend while his police officer older brother is literally coming back in the house any second just reinforces that. REMEMBER: As pleasant as the show depicts the relationship between Pacey and Ms. Jacobs, it is still a felony in the eyes of the law. Anyway, Pacey’s handsy behavior leads to the two taking a tumble to the ground, dragging the dining room table runner with them, as well as the sandwich on a plate that was on it........ literally seconds before Officer Doug comes back inside. How will Pacey and Ms. Jacobs get out of this sticky situation?!
Mr. Leery works on his restaurant model. “If The Kelp takes off, we’ll have a whole chain of Leery family restaurants from coast to coast,” he tells his son. I have so many questions about all of this right now. Unfortunately, I will get answers to none of these, as it’s time for Mrs. Leery to come clean to her husband. After a babbling speech about Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters and her career, and never wanting to be “one of those people” who end up on Sally Jessy Raphael, she says it: For the last 62 days, every time she has been making an excuse to work late or leave the house, she has been going to have sex with another man. She does not identify said man at this point.
And then the power goes out.
No, really, it does. She finishes her speech, and it immediately goes out.
Mr. Leery launches into “well, I must deal with this power outage in my house immediately” mode, which is the responsible thing to do but also allows him to ignore his wife in the immediate moment. This ends up being something of a ruse to send Dawson out of the room (Mrs. Leery told him to stick around for the speech) with candles and flashlights for everyone else, and as Gail asks Mitch to please talk to her to the point of Gail starting to cry while this happens, Mr. Leery lashes out, trashes his restaurant model all over the room, and angrily tells her that she doesn’t get to cry. Mr. Leery leaves the room, Grams uses this opportunity to investigate the noise from the model crashing everywhere, and Mrs. Leery tearfully leaves to go find more candles.
Back to Ms. Jacobs’ house, where she and Pacey have explained themselves out of being tangled together on the floor with a “oh, it was a clumsy accident!” I can’t believe that worked. Then again, Officer Doug has no reason to suspect that his baby brother (there’s about 10 years between them) is sleeping with his English teacher. Officer Doug suggests “The If Game” because it will help Doug and Tamara get to know each other better. It’s a “If you could do/be/have [whatever], what would it be?” type of thing. After all, Doug and Ms. Jacobs are strangers stuck in this house, so this isn’t that weird of a suggestion. Doug’s question of anywhere in the world to Ms. Jacobs leads us to information that she is recently divorced and as a result, departed New York City. Doug uses the information about her ex-husband to continue to hit on her, so Pacey jumps in with a question about what lead in a Broadway musical would you want to play. This hilariously backfires, because Doug’s immediate answer is Tony in West Side Story, and Ms. Jacobs loves West Side Story. I mean, she’s a high school English teacher, so being able to explain Romeo & Juliet to teenagers through the lens of gang wars in New York must be very helpful. Oh, and Pacey’s being a disgusting weirdo again about Doug’s sexuality. Don’t forget that.
Bodie and Bessie continue their circumcision conversation, and we learn that they don’t actually know if the kid is going to be a boy or a girl. “Or black or white,” interjects racist ass Grams. Bessie demands Grams explain whether she’s more bothered by a black man and a white woman having a child together or by the fact that they’re not married and having a kid. Grams says she’s most bothered by children raising children. It’s unclear how old either Bessie or Bodie are, for what it’s worth. However, Nina Repeta was 30 when this aired, and while Obi Ndefo’s IMDB page doesn’t list his age, this Los Angeles Times article about him losing both of his legs after being rundown by a drunk driver says he’s 47 now, so he was 25 at the time. Let’s strike the middle and say they’re both 27? What the hell, Grams? Even if they’re both playing, say, 24? What the hell, Grams? FUN FACT: Mary Beth Peil was 57 when this aired. Let’s presume that Grams was also 57. We then know that she has been a grandmother since she was 42, since Jen is a high school sophomore and is thus 15. I don’t know about you, but I can do the math on how old Grams was when whichever one of Jen’s parents was born and/or how old said parent was when Jen was born. Maaaaaaaaaaybe Bodie and Bessie are supposed to be right around 20, but all that does it make Grams look like a massive hypocrite who is shaming strangers for 1) her own behavior and 2) her own child’s behavior.
Back to the show. Jen wanders out onto the porch and finds Joey there keeping an eye on Mr. Leery in his SUV in the driveway. Topics covered: Dawson, Dawson’s attitude towards Jen, Dawson’s penis size (no, really), Joey being in the closet during Dawson’s meltdown at Jen earlier. Joey takes Jen’s side on that one. The argument with Dawson, not Jen’s side of accidentally being in the closet to eavesdrop on it.
Dawson picks up the pieces of his dad’s restaurant model, and Grams offers to help. It’s unclear as to whether she knows exactly what’s going on with the Leerys, but only an idiot would not understand that there is some kind of family trouble. They end up having a conversation about movies of all things, as Grams is a big fan of Frank Capra. This ends up being a long-winded point that Grams is making about how Capra’s main characters always got a second chance, no matter how bad things got for them. There’s a Jesus/forgiveness bit in there because Grams, but if you want the rainbow, you have to get through the rain. Grams says that Dawson better buy himself an umbrella, and then leaves. We are left wondering if she means what’s going on with Mrs. Leery or Jen.
A Monopoly game has broken out at Ms. Jacobs’ house, and the Broadway musical talk continues much to Pacey’s consternation. Eventually, Officer Doug winds around to the Rialto’s weekly classic movie night, and asks Ms. Jacobs if she’d like to go with him at some point, a real date. “Well, not a real date,” she says and I immediately recoil in horror. She has believed Pacey when he told her that Doug was gay. Oh no. Oh no no no no no no. She says the “well, you’re gay” part out loud, and Doug immediately realizes that this is Pacey’s fault. Ms. Jacobs says no, I guessed, I have great gay-dar from living in New York City!
And then, and I can’t not possibly make this up, Officer Doug takes advantage of the fact that he is technically on the clock or at least was when he was trapped in Ms. Jacobs’ house by the storm, and draws his service weapon and points it at Pacey’s face from across the dining room table. Seriously. The muzzle is inches from Pacey’s face. Officer Doug orders Pacey, again, at gunpoint, to tell Ms. Jacobs that Doug is not gay. He does, as he pushes the gun away from his face. What the holy hell. I would have figured that Chief Witter would have taught his children about gun safety a looooooooooooong time ago, and ignoring the fact that Officer Doug should be fired for this, Pacey casually shoving the gun away from his face is incredibly stupid. With that out of the way, it’s back to Monopoly. “Whose turn is it,” asks Doug cheerfully. OH MY GOD, HE’S A PSYCHOPATH.
Mrs. Leery finally builds up the courage to go talk to her husband in the SUV in the driveway. He guesses that the guy in question is Bob The Co-Anchor. He tells a story about his memories of the first time he saw Mrs. Leery, and how from the moment her friend Phoebe introduced them, he knew he loved her. It’s a decision, it came quick, it has lasted and weathered the storm. HEY, I GET THAT HURRICANE JOKE. Oh, wait, it wasn’t a joke. “I don’t want to love you any more. I choose to hate you now.” Mr. Leery orders her to get out of the car and after she does, he drives off angrily in the worst part of the storm.
After commercial, the storm has receded, and it’s time to put everything back the way it was. Oh, I get that metaphor, TV. Officer Doug helps Ms. Jacobs take the boards off her windows. “Sorry about the gunplay earlier, but I would still like to take you out.” WOW, DUDE. That is Shoot Your Shot taken to a whole new level. She says that she’s seeing someone anyway, so she can’t. Off go the Witter boys, probably to swing swords at each other or something.
Dawson sees his mom sitting outside on the porch and leaves her be. Jen’s inside, but she’s heading back to Grams’ house because y’know, she’s had enough Dawson time for one day. She dives deeper into her past to provide Dawson with some clarity of what he accused her of earlier: Lost her virginity at 12 when some guy whose name she can’t remember got her drunk. After her first pregnancy scare — it’s not stated when that was — she went on the pill and started using condoms...... some of the time. She was drinking a lot, often to the point of blackouts, and she was eventually caught by her dad having sex in her parents’ bed. But she’s not that girl any more, and she never really was. I mean, I’m not sure about that last part, but let’s all take her at face value because holy crap that was a lot of revelations for a 15 year old girl.
Dawson apologizes to her for having his brain set on sex all the time because he saw his parents being mostly open about their physical attraction to each other as a sign of happiness between them and it clearly wasn’t the case. Jen wants Capeside to be her chance to start over, and she wants Dawson to be a part of that. He agrees, but only if she wants him because he has been a total jackass and he would understand if she isn’t interested. I mean, she just said she did, but it’s good that Dawson actually said it out loud and apologized.
Ms. Jacobs sets her porch furniture back up as Pacey circles back around without Officer Doug The Psychopath wandering around. His big question: If you could do anything in your life over again, what would it be? The answer: Not marry a fat abusive stockbroker. Pacey, I’m telling you: Hit the eject button on this relationship. This “abusive stockbroker” thing is going to come back around. Anyway, Ms. Jacobs wasn’t really flirting with Doug, and definitely wasn’t doing it to make Pacey jealous. Well, that’s good, because Pacey says he’s already jealous of every single man that Ms. Jacobs has ever laid eyes on. This is less romantic than he was going for, but hey, when he asks her “If you could do one thing right now, what would it be,” the answer is clearly “yank Pacey inside the house for sex.” So he’s got that going for him. Which is nice.
Mr. Leery returns to his house, and sits down on the steps leading up to the screened in porch where Mrs. Leery is still sitting. “Why?” The answer? Because her life was everything she ever wanted it to be and she wanted for nothing....... and that made her want something, so she started sleeping with Bob The Co-Anchor. That’s it. That’s the reason that she told Dawson about earlier. It is dumb. She says she’s sorry, and he says he just wants to sit and not talk. Again, still outside the porch. I have no idea if this is good or bad, but hey, at least he’s talking to her.
Dawson finds Joey in his bedroom staring out the window, presumably at the Leerys outside, but Mom’s inside the porch, so I have no idea. He apologizes for all of his self-centered nonsense lately and she apologizes for using the Dead Mom Card. Dawson wants to be her friend and wants to be a good friend, and asks her what he can do. The answer, at least for now, is to put their ascent into adulthood on hold for the night, and as such, referring back to a conversation they had earlier in the show about things they used to do, they retreat into Dawson’s closet to play Jaws as the show fades to black.
And now to steal an idea from The Post Atomic Horror, a very good and very in-depth Star Trek podcast.
GOOD THING: I like that the show went ahead and wrote an episode that jammed most of the characters into one place in order to advance a bunch of plots all at once. The show kind of needed a housecleaning in that regard. Dawson and Jen are on the same page and a couple now, Mrs. Leery’s affair is now out in the open, and Joey and Dawson are not fighting any more either. Cool, now we can all move on to more interesting things instead of waiting for all of this to resolve itself.
BAD THING: Pacey’s constant attacking of his brother regarding his sexuality. I’m not excusing Doug pulling a gun on him for it, but Pacey is completely out of line here. Given the ease at which Pacey pulls ideas out to use, as well as Doug’s immediately confrontational nature towards Pacey, it’s clear that this is not the first time that Pacey has done this to Doug. Between Pacey intentionally pursuing an ongoing relationship with a 40 year old woman that will not end well for anyone — hey, remember the sex tape that went completely unmentioned in this show other than in the Previously On? — and the harassment of his actual sibling over what Pacey sees as stereotypically homosexual interests, the young Mr. Witter is rapidly becoming a completely unlikeable character and starting to veer straight into unredeemable.