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The Dawson’s Creek Recaps: “Double Date”

The events of this episode lead to a pretty big moment at the end.

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 10: “Double Date”

Original Airdate: April 28, 1998
Directed By: David Semel
Written By: Jon Harmon Feldman

Previously on Dawson’s Creek: Joey didn’t like kissing Pacey as part of Dawson’s movie. Hey, remember Dawson’s movie? Jen breaks up with Dawson, citing a need to try to live her life on her own. Mr. Leery was still mad at his wife for cheating on him last we checked in on this storyline. Dawson tells Pacey there’s a difference between friendship and love, and his feelings for Joey and Jen are totally different. Pacey is not sold on this explanation.

As is seemingly tradition on this show, we open in Dawson’s bedroom, and he is mid-speech. It’s been two weeks since Jen broke up with him and she not! once! has asked to hang out with him. What is this girl thinking!?!? Joey is here to live in reality, and points out that generally speaking, when girls break up with you, they don’t really want to hang out with you socially immediately afterwards. Joey has a plan, although she says it’s a plan but it’s really more a list of things that Dawson has to deal with down the road here. The first is public perception as the recently dumped guy. There will be girls offering sympathy to the recently dumped, and he should avoid them. Next: Jen is going to start dating someone else eventually, and it’s time to start dealing with that now instead of when he’s staring out the window at her front door. And finally, the “Gosh, can we still be friends now” conversation with her is coming, so what’s your answer? Dawson does not have an answer. He stares for a while and Joey mocks him for being completely unprepared for this. He goes on for a minute and then says “How can you be friends with someone when every time you look at them, all you think about is how much more you want?” Joey thinks it can be done, and Dawson is so deep in his feelings that he doesn’t read the look on Joey’s face at all.

After the title sequence, Mr. Leery absentmindedly answers the phone while reading the newspaper over breakfast. It’s for Mrs. Leery, so he passes it over. “Now’s not the time” and “we’ll talk about it in the office” and Mitch’s curiosity is piqued. He asks if it was Calvin, because the voice was familiar and he hasn’t talked to Calvin in forever. Nope, not Calvin. Oh. It was Bob, The Co-Anchor, aka the dude that Mrs. Leery was sleeping with for a while there. Mitch cleans up after himself and leaves, noting that he’s not angry at Bob.

At school, Dawson’s flying through the hallways and nearly runs Jen over. The awkwardness of the ensuing conversation launches Jen straight into the “can we still be friends” conversation, and the whole show comes to a stop on Dawson’s blank stare. Smash cut to Marine Biology, and Dawson explains what happened to Pacey: He told her he needs time to think about it. Pacey accurately reads this as Dawson wants Jen back, so he has a plan. Step one: Be Jen’s friend in order to make her realize what she’s missing from the boyfriend upgrade package. This is explained to Dawson around Mary Beth (played by Megahn Perry) wandering up to say “hey” to “Daws” (that’s a new one) and mention that they’re allegedly getting their midterms back today. I’d say that Dawson handles the Mary Beth thing poorly, but that would involve Dawson actually reacting to Mary Beth at all. He barely acknowledges that she exists. Pacey has a step 2, but that’s for later, and not just after Dr. Rand (played by Keith Flippen) hands back the midterms. Most people did pretty well, but the following people need to see him after class: Pacey Witter and........ actually just Pacey. This is actually what Rand does in class, so he comes off as kind of a dick instead of just saying “Mr. Witter, see me after.” Anyway, Pacey got a 32 on the midterm, but Dr. Rand has a plan (so much planning in this episode): Do some extra credit, and he’ll get a passing grade because Pacey’s aptitude tests show that he’s actually smart and the 32 isn’t indicative of what he’s actually capable of. Luckily, Pacey doesn’t have to go it alone on the extra credit, he has a SURPRISE PARTNER! It’s Joey. Neither partner is thrilled.

Dawson finds Jen in the hallway, and her very simple question deserved a very simple answer, and he was rude to not give it to her before. Yes, he would love to be her friend. Pacey’s plan is in full swing. Friendly conversation time! Blah blah blah how’s today blah blah weekend plans? Welllllllllllll, yessssssss, Jen reluctantly tells Dawson that she is going to the carnival with Cliff on Saturday. WHAT AN AMAZING COINCIDENCE, DAWSON IS ALSO GOING ON A DATE TO THE CARNIVAL, WE SHOULD DOUBLE DATE, SAYS DAWSON. Jen is surprised, but agrees to the idea. Cool plan, Dawson, probably shouldn’t have lied to Jen about having a date, though.

At lunch, Pacey openly laughs at Dawson’s version of Step 1, because he wandered into Step 2: Date Other Girls in the process, and doubled down on the difficulty level while doing so. A Double Date with the ex to make her watch how moved on you are? High level stuff, my dude. Anyway, Dawson confirms that yes, his statement of having a date on Saturday was a lie to Jen, and Pacey points out that Mary Beth is just sitting over there. She’s eating by herself and reading Erica Jong’s Fear Of Flying and so Dawson grabs his try and heads over to shoot his shot. She’s reluctant because, y’know, everyone knows Jen just dumped him and generally trying to date again before you’re actually ready to date again is a bad plan. Then again, you’re 15 year olds and you should probably be going on lots of dates for your social skill building. Anyway, Dawson says he’s super over Jen and ready to date again.

In the Marine Biology lab, Pacey is bored because it turns out the extra credit project is attempting to figure out what kind of conditions make a particular kind of snail reproduce. Happy snails = more snails, and thus that’s the mystery to uncover. Joey sells him on getting serious about this so he can avoid summer school with his strong F-minus grade so far.

At home, Dawson is working on a model of something with a magnifying glass, and Mr. Leery is all suited up and asks him if there were any calls. Dawson says no, he would have left a note on the pad by the phone if there were. No, my dude, your dad asked “Has anyone called that I should know about?” Yep, Mitch has his son spying on his own mother for Mitch’s benefit. I guess it might be for Dawson’s benefit, too, but whatever.

At school the next morning, the snails are dead.

Wait, what? Okay, so Pacey was supposed to check on them the night before, and I guess we can all see what happened here. He didn’t and now they’re dead. Nope, he took it seriously! He was checking water levels and food levels, and there was no reproducing going on. So, he had an idea. (uh oh) What if the snails are like guys and dream of having intercourse with two girls at once? Thus, we need to introduce a third snail from a different tank to the first tank, and so that’s what he did. Two things: First, the snails are single-sex and can reproduce on their own. Second, the snail he went and got? Yeah, that one was carnivorous, so it totally ate the other snails. Pacey promises to make this up to Joey.

Dawson and Joey have a chat, and Joey quickly identifies that Dawson is just using Mary Beth as opposed to actually trying to y’know, engage with another human being like a regular person. He’s kind of being a jerk, but he doesn’t feel like himself lately, so he’s just gonna do this jerk thing anyway on Mr. Snail Three-Way’s advice. Joey is dumbfounded that he’s listening to Pacey. All things considered, Dawson would rather be taking Joey to the carnival. She says all things considered, she’d rather be going with him to the carnival. This is the closest that Joey has gotten to admitting her interest in Dawson to his face, and I guess he reads it as “doesn’t want to go snail hunting in the tidal pool” instead of “I’m super into you.” Oh well. Pacey pulls up, so off he and Joey go for replacement snails.

It’s time for dates at the carnival! Dawson gets there first, and Mary Beth turns up. There’s an awkward conversation about who looks nice and who has to feel obligated to say that the other one also looks nice. Thankfully, this is all interrupted by Cliff (MAH GAWD, THAT’S SCOTT FOLEY’S MUSIC) and Jen wandering up, and oh no, Mary Beth just found out about the double date. Yeah, so she’s not happy and for multiple obvious reasons. Dawson decides to tell her the full truth, but the camera cuts to a long shot from inside a funnel cake truck and then the show goes to commercial. IT’S A MYSTERY!

Pacey and Joey row out to troll for snails. As usual, they take pot shots at each other because they just can’t not do that, but eventually Pacey counters into wondering why Joey needs to do the extra credit so badly. She dodges out of an explanation.

Dawson’s full truth? He’s doing this double date to make Jen feel comfortable on her date with Cliff! Isn’t he so nice! Isn’t it so wonderful that he can have that kind of relationship with his ex-girlfriend! Isn’t he lying his ass off?? Mary Beth: “Some guys would try to sabotage their ex-girlfriend’s date.” Oh, wow, what kind of person would possibly do that. So, what next? Dawson sees Cliff and Jen at some sort of game booth, so he has an idea. It’s probably a bad one.

Pacey forgot to tie up the boat. It’s floating away.

Cliff beats Dawson in that “knock over the six stacked bottles” carnival game, and wins a stuffed lion for Jen. Dawson says again! Because he’s a maniac who can’t just take a loss to Jen’s date in stride. And so, they go again. They come down to one final bottle standing on their third throw. Cliff misses everything, Dawson nails it. He wins some kind of stuffed something in a jester costume, and as the barker hands it over, he says “who’s the lucky lady?” Dawson reflexively turns to Jen. Everyone sees him do this. He can’t deny that he did it. He even freezes to make sure everyone sees it. Mary Beth, we need to talk.

Pacey and Joey muck their way through chest high water to the truck. Joey: “After you did in the snails, I should have known that I was next.” That’s a good one. At the truck, Pacey grabs a couple of blankets and tosses one to Joey. Strip and wrap up in the blanket because it’s cold water and cold air, and this is safer. Jokes and sniping about nudity and peeking and who is or is not a lucky person relative to being around the other one naked ensue as “I Wanna Be Your Underwear” by Bryan Adams plays. Pacey is in his blanket faster and starts wandering around to the other side to “help” Joey. She threatens to put him in a body bag, so he turns to go start the truck. As he gets in the driver’s side, he realizes he can just watch Joey undress in the passenger side mirror. Not “oh, I have an idea,” but “I am awkwardly shifting myself into this seat with this gigantic blanket and leaning and twisting and hey, what’s that in that reflective surface over there?” He sits up and faces forward before she realizes, and as Joey gets in, she notices the smirk on Pacey’s face. He actually compliments her on being almost fun when she loosens up a little bit, and she actually smiles at this.

Hey, so remember when Dawson told Mary Beth that they need to talk? I guess she just took off running away from Dawson and he lost her and also she bought popcorn at some point. I say this because Dawson finds her in the parking lot eating from a box of popcorn, and the last time we saw either of them, they were literally standing two inches apart. I’m just trying to make the character geography make sense here. ANYWAY, yes, Mary Beth was 100% right about everything, and Dawson apologizes. As it turns out, Mary Beth is actually more upset about not telling her that she was going to spend the evening with Cliff, because — shocker here — she has a crush on Cliff. And Cliff is hung up on Jen, and Jen is hung up on Cliff, and all of this is bad news for Dawson. Well, maybe not, because MB has a plan. So many plans!

Back at the Potter residence, Joey and Pacey are in dry clothes, although they are Bodie’s dry clothes for Mr. Witter. Before he goes, he insists on an answer on the extra credit thing. Joey got a 98 on the midterm. Not a 9, not an 8, a 98. She’s doing the extra credit because she’s gotta get out of Capeside and that means a college scholarship and that means no 98s for her. They have a cute moment about their futures where Pacey explains that hopefully she’ll send him a postcard in Capeside from where ever she ends up. She tells him she believes he’ll get out of town, too. Pacey: “Sure, if the circus is hiring, maybe.”

Mary Beth’s plan? Riding the Ferris wheel, and she grabs Cliff as a partner because it’s a double date and omg they haven’t had a chance to chat all night. Nice move, girl, although you’re going to need better material than “isn’t it wild that flammable and inflammable mean the same thing?” Anyway, that leaves Dawson and Jen together, and shocker of all shockers, it stops with them up in the air. Dawson asks about how her date with Cliff is going, and she doesn’t want to talk about Cliff with him. In fact, Jen wants to retract her offer of being friends, because clearly this isn’t going to work. All of today was weird and not good, so let’s not try any further. Dawson gets peevish about Jen going on a date so quickly (it’s been two weeks, nerd) after breaking up with him because she needed to live life by herself for a while. Dawson comes clean to admit that he’s here because yeah, he’s still hung up on Jen. Why did she allow/accept the double date idea? His theory is that she’s still hung up on him, but it seems from the collected reactions that he is wrong on that. Jen doesn’t say it, but it’s still obvious.

After a carnival montage, set to World Party’s She’s The One, Dawson is sitting around by himself being lame. Luckily, Pacey and Joey are here to liven things up. Anyway, Pacey needs Dawson’s permission on something, so they go off to chat. Yes, he’s getting clearance from Dawson on making a move with Joey. Pacey just wants to make sure that his friend knows that he’s going to try to date his friend’s friend and that it won’t cause problems. Dawson gives his blessing. And then he doesn’t. And then he does. Neat.

Pacey drives Joey home and asks if he has to fail another midterm to hang out with her again. Joey misses the slick line from Pacey, but he explains it by planting a kiss on her. She is SHOCKED that this is happening and almost immediately pulls away from him. Pacey says he was confused and surprised and attracted during the day today, and thus the kiss. Joey? Just confused and surprised. Pacey closes with a question that goes unanswered: If you had kissed me back, you probably would have been thinking of somebody else, right?

World Party keeps playing as we’re in Dawson’s bedroom. He heads down the stairs as the phone starts to ring. He sees his parents embracing? slow dancing to World Party? in the living room and leaves without answering the phone like a jerk. Mitch and Gail just let it ring.

Off to the video store we go, as Dawson correctly guesses where to find Pacey. Apparently he’s picking up a shift right now? Anyway, Dawson has rechanged his mind on Pacey’s plans with Joey. Pacey tells him that he’s too late! They already made out for an hour in the Witter family truck, and Joey invited him in, but it was too late, but she’s cooking him dinner tomorrow because she’s always wanted to cook for a real man and Dawson realizes that he’s lying through his teeth. Pacey admits it immediately, but that’s because he realized his opportunity to blast Dawson here. It’s time for hard questions, because he’s spending way too much energy on a girl he claims is only his friend. Which one is it Dawson, the blonde or the brunette?

And fade to black as Dawson can’t come up with an answer!

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

GOOD THING: 10 episodes in and someone has FINALLY pushed Dawson Leery to the point of mentally addressing the issue between him and Joey that was literally raised in the very first scene of the show. Dawson is going to have to figure out what he wants to do about Joey going forward because he’s actively thinking about if he’s attracted to her now. Only took 450 minutes of television to push him there. My goodness. At least the “omg will he ever figure it out?” part of the show is done.

BAD THING: Both guest stars were wasted here. We’ve already seen Scott Foley’s Cliff before, and to see him essentially do nothing other than be a plot device is a waste. I feel like this part could have been played by anyone, and arguably it would have been better if it was just a random guy from Capeside instead of Cliff attempting to swoop in on the newly single Jen. Megahn Perry is making her only appearance here, and she was really just playing Dawson’s conscience more than anything else. She seems like an interesting smart character with more to her than what we saw, but we didn’t get it here and we won’t see her ever again.