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The Dawson’s Creek Recaps: “Boyfriend”

Somewhat of an ironic title, given where everything ends up at the end of the episode.

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 8: “Boyfriend”

Original Airdate: March 10, 1998
Directed By: Michael Fields
Story By: Charles Rosin and Karen Rosin
Teleplay By: Dana Baratta and John Harmon Feldman

Previously on Dawson’s Creek: Joey and Dawson argue about why Jen and Dawson haven’t had sex together yet, and boy, is that a problematic sentence. Dawson says it’s not enough that Jen likes him, he wants her to want him. Mrs. Leery comes clean to Mr. Leery about the affair she’s been having for two months with Bob The Co-Anchor. Jen is in Capeside because she got caught having sex in her parents’ bed by her father and so he shipped her off, just like that.

Dawson flips channels in his bedroom, which is a nice twist on the seemingly traditional movie night openings to these episodes. Hey, remember when you had to flip channels to see what was on TV? Dawson comes across the scrambled porn channel and hesitates for a moment, tilting his head to the side to see if he can see anything. He can’t, so he continues onwards, eventually landing on Turner Classic Movies and something starring Gary Cooper. I don’t immediately recognize the film, but IMDB says that it’s Meet John Doe, a 1941 Frank Capra film starring Gary Cooper. Joey pops in through the window, saying that she can’t sleep because Bessie’s new baby won’t sleep. Her academics are suffering to the point where she woke up in a puddle of drool in Spanish. Dawson extends an offer to crash at the Leery house for the night, and Joey returns Dawson’s favor by declaring Gary Cooper to be “kind of a snoozer.” Dawson launches into a short speech about whatever happened to standard dependable men like Gary Cooper in something of a preview of Tony Soprano’s comments to Dr. Melfi in the first episode of The Sopranos which wouldn’t air on HBO for another nine months. However, this speech is lost on Joey, who has already fallen asleep on Dawson’s bed.

After the opening titles, we transition to what I presume is the next morning as Mr. and Mrs. Leery get ready for their respective days. It seems to be a standard morning conversation between two married people, none of which is important for this episode as it turns out other than the note that they have couples therapy at 3pm. Dawson awkwardly avoids interacting with his parents as he scampers out of the house, and Mrs. Leery brings up her husband’s meeting with the restaurant investors for the second time in two minutes. So this is going well.

Pacey sits on a harborside bench and complains out loud to a rough worn fisherman type sitting there as well about how nothing ever happens in Capeside other than the sex scandals that he provides for the town. Right. Pacey gets up and steps into the street and is nearly run down by some guy driving a pretty nice looking classic car. Look both ways, Pacey. Anyway, Classic Car Guy is looking for the high school. Pacey realizes the directions he’s giving are complicated, so he tries to finagle a ride to school from this stranger he has just met. Classic Car Guy points out to Pacey all the bad things that Pacey just said about his driving, and then leaves Pacey in his dust.

Over at the Potter house, Joey needs to dry her hair, but it sounds like Bodie is occupying the bathroom with baby Alexander. That’s just bad planning, Joey, especially with this mirror on this dresser right here that Bessie’s using. Oh, and that’s Joey’s dresser. In the room with the baby crib in it. Okay. The two sisters snipe at each other about Alexander’s inability to sleep through the night keeping everyone up. REMINDER: He’s maybe a month old.

At school, Dawson helps Joey cram for Spanish since she also overslept this morning. Somehow this turns into a discussion about Dawson and Jen, so either Dawson or Joey is not taking this cramming very seriously. As the bell rings, Jen magically turns up, so the conversation turns to bowling plans for tonight. Joey starts to head to class, but Classic Car Guy walks into the school building — hey, remember when random weirdos were allowed to just wander into high schools whenever they wanted? — and this gets Jen all stammery and she tells Dawson she’ll catch up with him later. Jen goes to talk to Classic Car Guy, and Joey catches all of this as Dawson leaves.

And so we learn this is Billy (played with gleeful jackassery by Eion Bailey), and Jen was sent to Capeside specifically to get her away from him. Oh, fun. She’s definitely not happy to see him, but as Dawson peers around a corner to witness, Jen does leave school with Billy. While Dawson is processing this, our old friend Cliff sneaks up behind Dawson because he’s trying to find Jen and doesn’t know what class she has this period. Hey, remember when that bell rang? Anyway, Cliff is having a barbecue this weekend (don’t get me started on the use of the word “barbecue” to describe his beach party here), and he wants to invite Jen. Oh, what the hell, you can come, too, Dawson. What a nice guy. Cliff then asks Dawson if Jen has a boyfriend. At least the scene ends with Dawson telling Cliff that he is Jen’s boyfriend, so Dawson has that teeny tiny victory here.

Back over at the Leery house, Mrs. Leery has suggestions on various couples activities for them to try, as Dr. Keenan — their therapist, I presume — has suggested that they try new things together. How about scuba diving?! Well, you make the money around here, says Mr. Leery, so it’s your call. As far as new things go, they haven’t tried swinging, and so now Mr. Leery is just being mean. I mean, justifiably mean, but if you’re trying to make it work with your wife, you probably need to keep that one in your pocket. This turns into a blowup between the two of them, of course, and but it resolves with Mr. Leery admitting that he’s lashing out because it still hasn’t stopped hurting for him.

Billy and Jen are talking outside Jen’s house, which is essentially a cheap way to make sure Grams does not appear in this episode. Being in Capeside is good for her, she says, and thus she politely asks Billy to leave. He’s too zapped from driving all night (he says he got lost) to get to Capeside, so he can’t drive another four hours home. Just to be clear, it’s shortly after school lets out (Dawson definitely didn’t skip school to show up in a minute) in October-ish. Just get in your car and go, pal. It’s not Jen’s fault that you suck. Anyway, since he doesn’t have money for a hotel, he needs to crash somewhere. That’s definitely not happening in Grams’ house, so luckily Dawson wanders up at exactly the right moment for Jen to sidebar with him and ask if Billy can stay at Dawson’s house. Dawson’s reaction to this request is the obvious one: “Who?” Ah, but Jen has told Dawson about Billy before. This is Mr. Caught In Jen’s Parents’ Bed. Hey, Dawson already means 10 times to her what Billy ever did. Dawson, being a sucker, goes along with this.

After a commercial break, Billy posts up in Dawson’s bedroom and breaks the ice on how weird this situation is. Well, at least’s it’s only til tomorrow, right? Yeah, no. Billy explains that he intends to stay in Capeside until Jen ditches Dawson for him. This seems like a terrible plan since he claims to not even have money for a hotel, so I don’t know how long he’s going to manage to survive. After clearly trying to taunt Dawson into a fistfight in his own house, Billy also says that he’ll probably leave tomorrow. Remember when I said Dawson was a sucker? Why is Billy still being allowed to stay here? Billy decides to turn into a wonderful houseguest and tells Dawson that if he’s got any questions about “Jenny” to go ahead and fire away. Dawson says he already knows everything, but Billy wonders if Dawson only got the headlines?

Smash cut to Dawson flying into Joey’s house. At least we know the Potters’ phone was non-functional when Alexander was born, so this makes some amount of sense. Joey glares at him because Alexander is sleeping and Dawson will catch a bad case of the death if he wakes the baby up. While I wonder if Dawson left Billy alone in his house for hours on end, Dawson whispers all of his problems to Joey. He seems on the edge of hyperventilating about relationship problems running in his family, so Joey counsels patience. Billy will go away soon, this will blow over, and then you and Jen will be fine. It’s almost like she’s aware that she’s on a TV show and that Eion Bailey isn’t a regular cast member. Dawson says thanks and runs out of the house, slamming the door behind him. Of course Alexander wakes up.

Jen thanks Dawson for his generosity in hosting Billy, and that turns into a discussion of Billy’s motives. Dawson points out that Billy’s not getting the message, and quite honestly, Dawson’s not sure if Jen wants Billy to get the message. Pushing the edges here, my dude, but hey: Jen didn’t make Billy leave and instead foisted him on Dawson for a place to sleep. It’s a solid point, even if it’s potentially stupid to bring it up. Jen says Billy wasn’t one of the bad guys from her past, and she was sent to Capeside without getting to say goodbye to him. Someone needs to explain the telephone to Jen, I guess. She says she can’t just make him go away, and I think she actually can. Isn’t one of her friends the son of the police chief, by the way? Anyway, Dawson gets all riled up instead of practicing patience like Joey told him to do, which gets Jen upset at him, and he storms off. Yay.

Pacey’s watching the 1997 classic Anaconda at work when Joey comes in. She wants to rent The English Patient and Pacey makes fun of her for wanting to watch that crap. Actually, it turns out that it was on cable the night before and it knocked baby Alexander right out, so Joey wants Ralph Fiennes’ dulcet tones to try and work their magic again. Pacey suggests that she actually needs a pharmacy, but pivots the conversation to Billy. It seems that Pacey was the only one paying attention at the end of last week’s episode, and asks Joey if Jen taking Billy back would be good for someone that they both know? Joey accuses Pacey of enjoying the drama, and thus Pacey is the one who actually gets to say the “You have a massive crush on Dawson, just admit it already” thing out loud for the first time in the show. Joey says “Bite me,” and Pacey responds with a “Be kind, rewind!” That’s dedication to the job right there, y’all.

After commercial, the Leerys return from their scuba diving lesson. Apparently Mr. Leery wandered off from Mrs. Leery, and the buddy system says you have to be within three feet of your buddy! This leads to a great albeit mean line from Mr. Leery: “That’s rich, I get bitched at for floating away from you.” This gets more shouty, so Dawson closes his door to mute the sounds.

Over at The Icehouse after commercial..... this is daytime instead of night time, so I guess the next day? Joey waits on a lady, and I mean “wait” as in “waitstaff” and also as in “stands there while the lady makes a decision very slowly” and this is just about a beverage. Bessie encourages her to move on to table 5, but she ends up at table 8, and the original lady is hollering at her about the coffee that she asked for literally 15 seconds ago. This dining room is wild. Pacey turns up to talk with Joey about what she’s doing tonight. This is while she’s bussing tables, by the way. So Pacey’s idea is crashing a beach party. I’m not clear if this is Cliff’s barbecue, but it might be? Pacey knows that Dawson’s going to be there alone and uses this as a selling point for Joey. I’m not sure how much Bessie overheard but she tells Joey all of her “I have to stay here and work” excuses are invalid and nearly literally kicks her in the butt to get her to go to the party. That’s fun. What a nice boss sister.

While Dawson.... I don’t know what he’s doing. Figuring out what to wear to Cliff’s barbecue? Mr. Leery comes into the bedroom in any case to talk with his son. Presumably largely because of the shouting elsewhere. Dawson laments that the Leery men are nice guys and no one cares about that kind of thing any more. Mr. Leery tells his son that everyone who’s been in a relationship has been hurt at some point, and you have to get through it however you can. Does it work, Dawson asks his dad? Mr. Leery has no idea.

Billy and Jen go for a walk, and he just wants to scoop her up and take her back to New York. Jen says she would just come back to Capeside. It’s time for her to go to the party to explain things to Dawson, and thus it’s time for Billy to leave. But how about a goodbye kiss first? As long as he promises to leave, then sure. She smooches him on the cheek quickly, and says goodbye before walking away.

We cut to the beach party, which may or may not be Cliff’s barbecue, and I’m not sure because we never actually see Cliff. Anyway, high school party shots roll over Blink-182’s Dammit. It’s a classic now, but it was only six months old when this aired. I want to drop this in from the song’s Wikipedia page:

It was written about a fictional breakup and the difficulty of seeing a former partner with another.

Not quite Dawson/Jen/Billy here, but close enough to be a smart choice and not just a good teenage party song here. Eventually the camera lands on Joey looking uncomfortable at the party — remember she did just punch out Grant recently — and Pacey sidles up to talk to her. This chat lasts right up until he sees Melissa Fife, the girl of his dreams. I’m just throwing it out there: Pacey dreams about girls a lot. Or at least says “the girl of my dreams” a lot. Anyway, Dawson turns up quickly after and finds Joey. Neither of them are having fun, so how about one quick drink and they hit the video store? She thought he’d never ask. Dawson heads off to get that drink, and Jen finds him. He’s surprised to see her and she launches into apologies for the entire Billy thing. Dawson cuts her off with a kiss, which is a pretty good move there. They agree to go talk...... and Dawson has completely forgotten about Joey. Some hulking blonde dude offers her one of the two he’s carrying around. “No, Dawson’s bringing me one.” “Dawson? That dude walking out on to the beach with the cute blonde?” Camera cuts to Joey’s view of the beach. Yep. She takes the drink.

Dawson and Jen talk, and of course, Billy’s here. “I took the liberty of reading between the lines.” He claims the goodbye kiss had more kiss than goodbye — it did not — and so now he’s here. Dawson demands an answer from Jen about this alleged kiss, and it somehow turns into an argument between Dawson and Billy as to who should be talking to Jen about this. Ready? Here it comes. “She was with me before she even entered your fantasies!” Kind of a creeper reason from Billy, but Dawson’s rejoinder is worse: “YOU AND EVERYONE ELSE!” Oh, Dawson. His attempt to save this is a question to Jen: Who’s the third wheel here? Jen says it’s her, and she leaves. Dawson is upset, of course, but Billy’s not too broken up by this.

Over to Joey who is sloshed and rocking out. Pacey attempts to intervene, but Hulking Blonde Dude turns up. “Chloe, is this guy bothering you?” Yep, Chloe. He attempts to lead her away, but Pacey pries her free from “the nice serial rapist man.” Quite obviously, HBD takes a swing at Pacey, but you can only sucker punch Pacey Witter once before he learns the telltale signs. He easily dodges, and drops HBD with one punch. Joey staggers thanks to the sand and falls on her butt. Dawson sees the very end of this and runs over to her. Joey declares Dawson to be her hero. Poor good friend Pacey.

After a commercial break, Pacey and Dawson have gotten Joey back home. I can’t even imagine the difficulty of getting drunk and half-conscious Joey in and out of the rowboat. They left the party in very bright daylight and it is now very dark, so I have many questions about the time lapse. Again, though, negotiating drunk Joey in a boat. Dawson gets Joey on the couch while Pacey goes to check on baby Alexander to make sure that he doesn’t wake up Bodie. A squeak toy on the floor wakes up Alexander, but Pacey disables the baby monitor to ensure there will be no problems. Over on the couch Dawson tells the very drunk Joey that he’ll always be there for her. She “wakes up,” reaches up, and kisses him, and then drops right back out. We have no idea what she did or did not see or hear.

Back in the baby’s room OH MY GOD Pacey put in Alexander’s pacifier and is now telling him the plot to The English Patient. This actually works! Pacey turns the monitor back on, and the boys scoot out of there as quietly as possible.

The Leerys return from more scuba diving, and let’s be honest: It wasn’t a great idea. Mr. Leery says that activities aren’t going to solve their problems. Mrs. Leery thought if they had new experiences together, it would help. Maybe new stuff isn’t the problem, says Mr. Leery, wondering if maybe they neglected the old things. He loves his wife, and he’s going to do whatever........ but doesn’t finish that sentence. Instead, he turns on some Chantal Kreviazuk and asks his wife to dance. She reaches up to kiss him, but he says one thing at a time. The camera pulls out and fades to black, but we’re only going to commercial here.

I wasn’t kidding about the boat, as Dawson and Pacey row their way back from the Potter house. Obvious topic of conversation: Joey kissing Dawson. Dawson thinks nothing of it because she was blasted, but Pacey explains her interest in Dawson to him because Dawson is not very observant. Dawson tells Pacey that he likes being Joey’s friend because friends are great and blah blah blah. He insists that the feelings he has for Friend Joey are much different than the ones for Girlfriend Jen, but Pacey has his doubts.

Billy’s packing his stuff up in Dawson’s bedroom. Jen’s not as confused as she seems (Billy’s words, not mine) so Dawson wins. After a not veiled at all threat to treat her well or else, Billy is in fact outta here. Jen’s standing out on the dock, so Dawson goes out there to talk to her. A slight misstep by our titular character, though, as Jen now transitions from telling Billy that it’s over between them to telling Dawson that it’s over between them, too.

Oops. Maybe you should have done what Joey told you to do instead of lipping off about Jen’s sexual past again, dork. Dawson launches into recovery mode — we can make this work! we can fix this! — but Jen wants to live life on her own instead of constantly running into a relationship to hide from things. Dawson starts tipping over to being mad at Jen by telling her that she’s not allowed to make him fall for her and then bailing out of the relationship when it gets hard. Not coincidentally, Evaporated by Ben Folds Five starts up as Dawson goes into his meltdown. The chorus: Here I stand/Sad and free/I can’t cry/I can’t see/What I’ve done/Oh God what have I done? Yep. Dawson lays in some final insults and storms back into his house and we fade to black with Jen left on the dock.

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

GOOD THING: It’s a very small thing, but can we give Pacey Witter a shoutout for his dedication to bystander intervention back in 1998? He saw his friend at risk — I didn’t mention it while intoxicated, and he did something about it. Good for him, and good for the writing staff for putting it in the show.

BAD THING: I’m going to go with Dawson’s “huh, what, no, you are being ridiculous” reaction to everything Pacey told him in the boat at the end. Look, sure, I don’t think you should veer from “no don’t break up with me” to “GO TO HELL, DEMON” like Dawson did at the very end. It’s not okay. However, Dawson remaining completely oblivious to Joey’s attraction to him after the interaction at the end of detention in last week’s episode is starting to stretch the bounds of credulity. I’m not saying he has to be interested in Joey, but denying that there’s anything there at all is starting to be silly.