Friday, 8 November 2013

Dawson's Creek - 212 - Uncharted Waters

Original air date: January 27, 1999

Welcome back to another episode recap of Dawson's Creek. Might I just add that I had completely forgotten about this episode and yet upon rewatch, I absolutely love it? Because I do. There is just so much right going on in this episode that it makes up for all the wrongs. For starters, we finally get some insight into Pacey's home life that they've been hinting at for what seems like forever. Not to mention there is an exceptional scene between Jen and Joey in this episode, a couple of them actually, and it makes me happy. It's like the writers finally woke up and realized that they needed to address some things in their story and they delivered.

We start off the episode in Dawson's room where Dawson is working on his script, yet again, and Pacey is playing darts and is actually really good at it. Dawson is trying to add depth to his characters by ripping off The Great Santini. The movie, if you don't know, is about a man who tries to gain the approval of his demanding father who sees him as a screw up. Pacey points out to Dawson that he will find plenty of insight into that type of father-son relationship on their fishing trip this weekend. Hello, plot set-up.

Dawson, being the ever caring friend that he always is, laughs off Pacey's confession about his relationship with his father and then tells him that his father is intense but "not that bad" and accuses him of exaggerating.

Yeah, as long as your dad doesn't do that
one thing, I'm sure he's totally fine.

The next day, Dawson and Pacey are riding their bikes to school when they are stopped by a patrol car. We are finally introduced to the enigmatic Witter father, John. This scene is really great because it showcases why Dawson thinks Pacey's dad is great and, at the same time, why he's not great. I'll show you the part of the exchange that purposefully and perfectly sets this up:

John: Dawson Leery. Capeside's own cinematic wunderkind. You aren't going to go forgetting us when you become a big wig out in la-la land, are you?

Dawson: I wouldn't worry about that, Mr. Witter.

John: I'm sure you'll come back and visit Pacey at whatever fast-food joint he's flippin' burgers at.

You can all see it, can't you? Dawson is the child prodigy and Pacey is the fuck up that will only amount to flipping burgers? This is why Dawson is so blindly alouf to Pacey's domestic issues, because Pacey's father is clearly more proud of someone else's kid than his own. And as we all know, if Dawson is being praised, that is literally all he hears, he does not pick up on other people's feelings at all. This exchange just made me hate Dawson all the more, he's a really shitty character and friend and I really can't figure out if the writers intended this or not. My guess is they thought they'd redeem him enough that no one would care...except they forgot the redeeming part.

John goes on about their fishing trip and how Dawson is so super amazing and smart that he'll make an excellent first-mate all while ignoring his own son. He caps it off by asking Dawson to keep Pacey out of trouble for him and then leaves without saying a word to his own son. Dawson's reaction to this encounter?


That's right, he thinks John Witter is amazing and why wouldn't he? John spent the whole exchange praising him so that's literally all Dawson paid attention to. Pacey even asked Dawson if he heard the "flipping burgers" remark and Dawson just says that John was obviously joking. Way to not back up your friend Dawson. But hey, as long as your ego is stroked, what do you care? Pacey sighs in exasperation while Dawson stares after him with a confused look on his face:

Because Dawson does not understand
hu-mon e-moh-shons.

Later, Joey asks Dawson how his movie is going and Dawson tells her about all the problems he's encountering. Joey brushes it off as usual pre-production chaos but then Dawson says that it's actually not so bad because Jen has everything under control.

I will destroy her!

Joey is obviously not pleased because she is so clearly the most awesome girl and must win all the things and guys from Jen to prove this. She has the gall to critique Jen for not having any on set experience and I'm watching this scene go down like this:

No word of a lie and I think I was grating my teeth too

Dawson says that Jen has an inate talent for producing to which Joey then says it's too bad that she didn't work on his last film, like Joey did and was so much better at it, obvs. And Dawson actually clues in to what she's getting at and tells her that he's not comparing the two of them. Well, he's not but Joey definitely is. Mark this scene down as yet another reason I can't stand Joey.

1) Jen has on set experience, she worked on Cliff's film and Dawson's film last year. Sure she was an actress in both but she could observe the type of work that goes on behind the scenes easily and obviously did.

2) Joey has absolutely zero right to get mad at Dawson for asking Jen to be his producer. He asked Joey first and Joey declined because she wanted to distance herself from Dawson. She chose to distance herself from him in all things and moved on to another boyfriend. To get mad at him because he asked someone else after her to be producer is incredibly selfish. What did she expect, that he would just not make his movie because Awesome!Joey was not available to produce?

3)Joey has even less right to be mad at Jen for producing and being good at it. Jen is helping a friend, she also seems to genuinely like doing it and it is keeping her from becoming the train wreck she was becoming in the past few episodes. And if we are comparing, I think Jen is doing a way better job at producing than Joey did for Dawson's last movie. Just look at what we've been shown of what Jen is doing for Dawson this season compared to what Joey did for him last season, the proof is in the pudding, folks.

Jen comes up at this moment and Dawson says they were just talking about her, she laughs it off and jokingly asks if she dares ask. Dawson then says he was singing her praises which causes Joey to become bitchy again and try to leave. However, Jen was looking for Joey because she wanted to ask her for help with something she is apparently helping Gail with. Joey is all incredulous that Jen calls Mrs. Leery by her first name or maybe she's incredulous that Jen is getting along with her because only Joey should be able to get along with Gail. I think both are true because Joey is awful.

Joey makes snide remarks as Jen asks for her help with Gail. Gail needs teen girls to answer questions for a newsreport she is doing and asked Jen to find some to go to Dawson's house. Jen actually complements Joey again on being articulate and the type of girl that Gail would be looking for, despite Joey acting like a bitch to her. So, you know, another point for Jen being way better than Joey.

Mitch and Dawson are out at the Witter's boat and Mitch is waxing poetic about the life of fisherman. Dawson shows obvious disdain for his father at being wishy washy about finding a job that he wants to do. So, you know, Dawson and John Witter have something in common. They both like to belittle their loved ones and make it obvious how disappointed they are in them for not living up to their personal standards.

Dawson goes over to Pacey who just now remembers to tell Dawson that he invited someone else to come along. That someone else is...


Joey and Andie arrive together at Dawson's house. Jen is waiting for them and ushers them inside, thanking them for coming. Joey cannot resist making a sarcastic comment about wanting to see "the hot new producer in action." Abby has also been asked to join, although I'm not certain as to why. Jen and Abby have not been friends for a while and Abby has been pretty damn nasty to them all lately, especially Andie. But, whatever, she is there and I'm sure much drama will ensue.

Back on the boat, Jack tries to make small talk with Dawson but Dawson will not have it. Dawson asks Jack why he even came and Jack says that he was equally unaware that Dawson would be there. Good job, Pacey. Jack tries to make peace with Dawson but Dawson again refuses to oblige and then goes on a rant that is oddly...antagonistic:

Dawson: There's no problem here, Jack. I'm just...amazed at your confidence, you know? That you'd leave your girlfriend alone, this whole weekend, this early on in your relationship while things are still new and vulnerable, still trying to figure things out.

Like, is that not totally the type of thing that the stereotypical jerk says to the good guy in every rom com ever? Of course, Dawson is alluding to what Jack did to he and Joey and continues the spiel to spell that out to the audience but still...kind of bad guy behaviour right there. Dawson is the bad guy this episode.

I must cause everyone pain,

Meanwhile, Gail is having no luck getting the girls to say anything, including Joey. I mean, I get the other girls being shy but Joey has known Gail her whole life and the way she acts in this scene towards her is awful. Gail asks her a question and Joey flat out ignores it and says nothing, while making this face:

I will cut you, bitch.

Gail asks to talk to Jen in the kitchen and asks her if she thinks the girls are uncomfortable sharing their feelings because she's being too formal. Jen says it's because they're uncomfortable being in the same room together. But Jen, you were the one who sought everyone out. You picked who was there, you asked Abby to come and let's face it, Abby is the reason neither Joey or Andie want to talk, why the hell would you do that if the goal was for people to be comfortable? Eh, teen show logic?

Writer 1: We need conflict!
Writer 2: Have them invite the bitchy girl from school.
Writer 1: But they all hate her, why would they do that?
Writer 2: Because conflict!

I think we're just supposed to go with it. Anyway, Gail suggests that they all turn the interview into more of a girl's night and offers them junk food. Because girl's love junk food!

Back at the Witter's boat, John continues to be a complete dick to his son. He gives everyone else good jobs and gives his son "grunt work" and then tries to tell Pacey his job is most important. We all know that John just doesn't think Pacey can handle anything else though.

Jack tries once again to break through Dawson's bratty exterior but Dawson's bratty-ness wins out. Jack tells Dawson that he didn't steal Joey away from him, because she's too smart and awesome and extra-special to be stolen and then he tells Dawson that if he has any respect for Joey he should at least respect Jack too and not be such a douche. I approve.

Dawson does not

At the Leery household, the girls have grown tired of sitting around, eating junk food and so Abby suggests they snoop around in Dawson's room for fun. At first everyone protests but when Abby goes anyway, they all follow her.

Side note: I love that Joey is all aghast at Abby's suggestion and yet, how many times have we seen Joey creep around Dawson's room or closet while he's not there?

Anyway, they go snooping around and Andie discovers that Dawson has a porn video called "Good Will Humping." Is it just me, or does that sound like gay porn?

Jack has caught a fish and John eagerly grabs the pole to reel it in but the line snaps. He immediately snaps at Pacey and asks where the "new pole" is and Pacey tells him it's at the front of the boat. John then proceeds to yell at Pacey about being a fuck up that should just listen to his instructions and then storms off. Dawson immediately rushes over to Pacey to see if he's ok.

Dawson doesn't notice other people's problems

No, Dawson comes over to yell at Pacey for inviting Jack because what you really want to hear after getting told by your father that you're a fuck up, is your best friend telling you the same thing. Now, should Pacey have invited Jack without telling Dawson? No. But still, I think Dawson should pick up on the fact that Pacey's issues right now are just a little bit worse than "OMG, my ex's boyfriend is here!!" Also, Pacey explains that Andie had been bugging him about including Jack because he doesn't know anyone in town. Pacey says he took pity on Jack which Dawson claims to understand but then yells at Pacey for not giving him warning to prepare to deal with his "adversary." Before I can say anything, Pacey says it for me:

Pacey: You know what? Screw you, Dawson. Not all of us can be the fair-haired embodiment of perfection, alright? Not everyone gets wunderkind and genius attached to their name. Some of us are just simple-minded folk trying to make it through the day without breaking anything.

Because you're awesome, Pacey

Meanwhile, the girls have started to watch the porn video and are laughing at its ridiculousness. Jen makes a comment about how she can't believe that women would choose this as a career and Abby shoots back that they are doing something fun that they love and that this could be Jen in a few years. Both Abby and Joey laugh. When Jen points out that the comment was not funny, Joey just says that she didn't say it. Because Joey is a bitch.

Gail appears in Dawson's doorway and questions the girls on what they are watching. Andie quickly shuts the tape off and says that they were just watching a video on human anatomy. Gail is not buying it. Abby opts to tell the absolute truth, that they were watching a porn video and says that Gail needs to face the facts that her son is a pervert. I know I'm supposed to hate her but I just can't help loving her when she does stuff like this. Gail ushers everyone out of the room but Jen holds Joey back to confront her about her bitchyness.

What follows is a conversation where I was both happy and angry. I was happy with Jen calling Joey out for her attitude towards her. Because Joey's attitude is atrocious and Jen is right, Joey won the rivalry and Dawson's heart ultimately so why does she still treat her like a vixen who stole her true love? Joey's comeback is rage inducing. I'm going to quote it for you and then break down all of the wrongness about it:

Joey: Look, you want our relationship to change, Jen? Then stop encroaching on what's mine. I mean, you systematically continue to recast yourself in my role. I mean, everytime I turn around I'm being replaced by you in some form, and then, you feign shock, and surprise when I resent you for it.

Jen: How have I replaced you, Joey?

Joey: Oh, well, first you were Dawson's girlfriend, and now you're his producer, his collaborator, his best friend. I mean, you've adopted his interest in his dreams and now his mother. I mean, what's next? Are you going to get a job at the Icehouse and take up watercolors?

And get a grip on yourself, Joey

First of all, "encroaching on what's mine." Are you for real? You do not own Dawson, you do not own producing, you do not own being someone's friend. People are allowed to have other people in their lives besides you and, last I checked, numerous people are in the producing business, they are not all copying precious Joey Potter.

Second of all, "first you were Dawson's girlfriend"? Jen dated Dawson before Joey did, so technically Joey was trying to cast herself as Jen in this respect, not the other way around. It's not Jen's fault that Dawson was too oblivious to notice that Joey liked him or that Joey was too scared to tell him about it. She wasn't encroaching on anything. Jen was asked out by Dawson, she liked him, so she said "yes". It's as simple as that.

Thirdly, the "producer" thing was also Joey's fault. Jen wouldn't be producer right now if Joey hadn't turned Dawson down. Period. End of sentence. I explained this one more fully earlier, so I'm sure you get my point. Jen, take it away:

Jen: I love how you demonize me, Joey, instead of recognizing your own, rampant insecurities.

The guys have docked up for the day and are hanging out in a dockside tavern. Dawson, Pacey and Jack are playing pool and Dawson makes a snide comment about his dad wanting to open a bar if he has too much fun. Pacey blasts Dawson for criticizing his father and Dawson acts like a bitch about it. He asks Pacey what his problem is and Pacey asks Dawson if he sees what's going on. Then this gloriousness happens:

Sorry, Pacey but Dawson really is this oblivious

Pacey points out that he can't talk to his father the way Dawson talks to his father and says that Dawson has gotten a glimpse into Pacey's hellish life. It's kind of sweet that Pacey still thinks Dawson notices stuff like this, sweet and kind of sad. Dawson asks why his mere presence upsets Pacey so much and apparently, it's up to Jack to explain things to Dawson because Jack is more observant than Dawson is of his supposed best friend. Jack points out that Mr. Witter has put Dawson on such a high pedastol, that Pacey can't possibly live up to it.

Gail is finally doing her news editorial thing and Abby is seen monopolizing the conversation. She is making some compelling points but it deteriorates into insulting Joey, Andie, and Jen so Gail asks her to leave. Abby protests but leaves us with this one bit of awesomeness:

Abby: What kind of journalist, are you? Oh, yeah I know. A trashy one who sleeps around.

I'm sorry if this episode is really quote heavy but there are a lot of really great things being said this episode which is part of what made me love it so much.

Dawson is talking with Mitch about what he wants to do and if he's ok for money and then criticizes Mitch's judgement of taking him on a fishing trip when he should be out looking for a job. Mitch's reaction's just heartbreaking:

Mitch: I'm sorry you're disappointed in me. I want to be the kind of man that you can respect. But, I don't know, there must be something out there, musn't there? Something for me. Something that I can put my heart and my passion behind. Now, I can't stop lookin' for that...until I find it.

How fucking sad is that? I've been pretty hard on Mitch lately because he's made really questionable choices this season but for him to realize that his son is ashamed of him, disappointed in him, that's gotta feel like absolute shit. I want to reach into the television and give him a hug.

Pacey's father, meanwhile, has gotten incredibly drunk and challenges Pacey to a game of darts. Pacey accepts and at first, it seems like they are on even footing. They are both good at darts, they seem to be ribbing each other playfully about who is going to beat who and then John gets to a point where you can see that he is going to be a fucking sore loser. Just look at this:

That is a look that says,
"beat that and I'll beat you later!"

Pacey purposely blows the shot and John crows to his bar friends about how he beat his son at darts because he is a sad, pathetic, little man and I pity him.

Back at the Leery home, the girls are finally opening up. We hear a bunch of random opinions on their lives and what it's like being a teenager and they are actually pretty insightful to the characters. Andie opens up about needing to look and act perfect because her home life is chaotic and being perfect is her mask that hides the fact that everything is not alright and she's actually unsure of herself. Jen opens up about how fast her life moved in New York and how pressured she felt and that when she came to Capeside, she finally felt like she could slow down and be herself. Kind of like what I was saying last season. However, she acknowledges that her past came back to haunt her anyway and she'll always be seen in Capeside as the town slut.

Most importantly, Joey opens up and gives me a bit of hope that the writers do see and acknowledge her faults and that maybe this is the beginning of her changing for the better:

Joey: So when somebody comes along who has seen things that I've never seen or done things that I've only dreamed about, my defenses go up because I...I can't compete with that. I don't know. I think...I think I'm just Joey Potter, you know? You know the small town girl who will live and die on the creek. You know, and as much as I completely disdain that identity, you know, it's all I've got. And I dunno, so if I ever feel like, you know, somebody is going to steal that measly bit of self that I have or that or that small amount of love that I've somehow managed to accumulate, I feel threatened and I go for the jugular. I admit it.....I admit it...

Oh my god, you guys! She admits it!! She admits that she's needlessly bitchy because she's insecure! Now, if she could just start working towards changing that and acknowledging that she chose to push Dawson away and it's not Jen's fault for helping him out, this episode would be perfect.

Jack and Dawson have a conversation about their fathers where Jack confesses that his father is not around anymore and is staying in Providence not to look after the business, but to hide from the family problems. Dawson says he can understand how that feels and Jack puts Dawson in his place:

Jack: Dawson, your father moved up the street. My father's gone. Try and put that in perspective.

See how many great quotes there are this episode?

Now this next pushed this episode into all kinds of awesomeness but also of sadness. I just love this scene, it is heartbreaking, it is great character insight, and it is acted really well. Kudos to Joshua Jackson. I'm just going to post the whole scene for your enjoyment. Fair warning, you may need tissues:

Sorry, I seem to have something in my eye...

The next morning, Jack has snagged another fish on the line. John is tied up so Pacey jumps in and starts helping Jack. He tries to instruct Jack how to do it but Jack bails and tells Pacey to do it. His father also tells him to jump in, so Pacey does and manages to reel the giant fish in. I can't tell you how great it was to watch Pacey succeed at doing this right after having watched him break down to his father the previous scene. With how down he was, it really set the tension nicely for this scene, you know how much it means to Pacey to have his father let him reel in the fish, how much it meant for him to get it in and make his dad proud.

Next we have to go to this completely undeserved and out of nowhere scene between Gail and Joey where Gail confesses that she always wanted a daughter and that she realized that Joey is her surrogate daughter. She tells Joey how proud she is of her and gives her a hug. I don't understand where this scene came from but I guess it was meant to make Joey feel better about thinking she was being replaced. I don't think it was deserved because her feelings on the matter were pretty bratty and were only shown to be between her and Jen, not her and Gail. But whatever, the writers still want us to like Joey and think she's the best ever. 

There is however, a really great scene between Abby and Andie that is both deserved and overdue given the animosity Abby has shown to Andie this season. Andie discovers that Abby has been sleeping outside the Leery household all night and Abby confesses that she is waiting for her mother because she thought Abby was spending the night. Abby thinks Andie doesn't care and Andie confesses that she doesn't and why should Abby be surprised about that? Especially with the way Abby has made Andie's life a living hell. Abby counters that she doesn't do that, she plays the crucial role in their group of being the scapegoat, the girl everyone loves to hate. Andie points out that Abby has it backwards and that Abby trashes them.
Abby: Well being sweet is boring! I don't have family lives like you guys. My mom isn't a lunatic. My dad isn't in prison. I'm not the prodical daughter from New York. My parents' divorce is boring. My house is boring. There's no intrigue. No drama. So you know what? I create drama. And I think it's a valid extra-curricular activity.
So, pretty much what I guessed about her. She creates drama because she's bored and how funny that she longs for drama in her life while Andie craves normalcy and no drama. I like this dynamic between them. Andie points out that Abby is lucky and how much she wishes she had the life Abby has. Abby then shows Andie kindness by offering her a ride home. 

It's a sweet scene

Finally, Jen and Joey have a scene where they kind of apologize to one another, though I still don't think Jen has anything to apologize for but whatever. Joey admits that she is competitive and Jen assures her that there is room in Dawson's life for both of them. Joey then admits that she respects Jen and who she is. It's kind of nice to hear that but I know nothing will really come out of it and that makes me sad. This episode had some great potential for building and strengthening their relationship. 

Meanwhile, Pacey excitedly talks about how great it felt to reel in the fish and his father offers for him to have the trophy. You think they are going to have a bonding moment but then the episode hits you right in the feels again when John follows up the offer with this:
John: Be proud of yourself. Enjoy this moment. You probably won't have many more like it.
Dude! What the hell kind of father are you? When DID you give up on your son and decide that he can't be anything more or at least something to be proud of in his own right?

Your an awful human being, John Witter

Dawson sees this exchange and, to his credit, actually tries to make Pacey feel better this time. He tells Pacey that he does have people in his life who care about him and are proud of him, one of them being himself and the other being Andie. You can tell that Pacey is still kind of upset about his father, you know it can't possibly feel the same, but he is thankful to Dawson all the same and does seem a bit happier. 

Dawson also realizes how great he has it with his father and apologizes for making Mitch feel like crap. He assures his father that he is not disappointed in him, he just worries but he still respects the hell out of him. Mitch is touched and they have a father-son hugging moment. 


It's what Mitch deserves but I can't help feeling bad that Pacey doesn't get this moment with his father while Dawson does. Not Dawson's fault though and it's nice that he has tried to make ammends with the people he hurt this episode. He even shakes hands with Jack, showing that he can at least respect Jack enough to be civil to him. 

So that was Uncharted Waters. Can you tell why I liked this episode so much? The characterizations were great, the drama didn't feel too forced, asides from Abby being invited out with the girls, and we got to see Joey admit that she's bitchy because she's insecure. A feat I never thought I'd see on this show that usually loves to build Joey up as a "Goddess". I especially adore the Pacey storyline, much as it was depressing. It was just nice to finally see the dysfunction rather than be told about it by Pacey. It made his issues much clearer and more real. I want them to keep this up but I know it's going to get shoved in the background again. 

Join me next time, when I recap the thirteenth episode, His Leading Lady.


  1. Dawson should always have that mustache. Always.

    Also damn you for posting that Pacey scene! I had no intention of crying and then I did and I hate you for it!

    1. Hey, I gave fair warning that you'd probably need tissues for that scene. :P