Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Dawson's Creek - 214 - To Be or Not to Be...

Original air date: February 10, 1999

Here it is, the episode where Jack turns out to be struggling with his sexual identity. Now, I have to admit, I was pretty damn shocked by this episode when it first aired because I thought that his questioning sexuality came out of nowhere. However, on rewatch I have to say that it might have been set up pretty damn well, even though I still question why he was adamnant about going after Joey if he was so unsure but I digress. Let's get started, shall we?

We open the episode up in Dawson's room where Dawson, Pacey and Jack are all hanging out and admiring Jack's handy-work on a model of Capeside. I have to admit, I'm pretty damn impressed too because I can't believe he was able to whip something that detailed up on like zero budget and in, what I presume to be, a small amount of time. But TV magic, I suppose and maybe there are teens out there who really are that gifted...and I envy them.

See? How much free time does Jack have?

Pacey mentions that he has to leave because he needs to work on an assignment for English that is due the next day. Jack says that he hasn't started it either. Pacey leaves but Jack opts to stay. Awkwardness ensues. Dawson is actually being pretty cool about everything in this episode, maybe his character is finally growing up a bit? He tells Jack that the situation is awkward but that he really appreciates Jack's help on his film. He then asks Jack about the assignment for English and Jack explains that they have to write a poem and asks Dawson for writing advice. Dawson offers up this bit of wisdom:

Dawson: Listen to yourself, you know? I mean poetry is a chance to give the world a peek of the innermost private part of yourself that you'd, in other cases, just stifle.
Jack: So just listen to myself?
Dawson: Yeah, I never know what you'll hear.

We'll soon see how well that works out for Jack.

The next day, Pacey is greeted by his academic counselor, Mr. Milo. Pacey thinks he is in trouble again but Mr. Milo instead gives him kudos for pulling his grades up. Apparently Pacey has managed three "B"s and two "A"s. Yay for Pacey doing well in school and getting encouragement.

Pacey immediately goes to find Andie, sweeps her off her feet and kisses her deeply.


Joey and Jack look on uncomfortably. Jack because watching your sister make out with someone must be really uncomfortable and Joey because she has secret, unresolved feelings for Pacey and is insanely jealous of Andie. What? That's my head cannon.

Clearly jealous

It's the truth

Andie asks Pacey what the kiss was for and Pacey tells her it's "just 'cause." Jack tries his hand at getting a "just 'cause" kiss from Joey but she won't have it. Because she's a hypocrite. She totally kissed Dawson in public and she's kissed Jack in public before too but whatever, it serves the plot for this episode for her to suddenly be shy about kissing in public.

Dawson walks up to Jack and asks him some crap about his movie because the writers needed Dawson in this scene but they kind of have no use for him in this episode. Then, they all split up to go to their respective classes. Jack and Joey say goodbye and kiss...wait a sec. Did she not just say that she didn't like PDA? They can't even keep consistency/continuity in one scene?? Ok, ok, I guess what she meant was mega kissing/groping is ick-snayed in public but not casual pecks? I guess I can see that.

Joey takes this opportunity to make sure she still has her hooks planted in Dawson as well by chiding him for only being nice to Jack because he's doing work on Dawson's movie. Dawson responds with what is the most hilariously unintentional Joey-burn ever:

Dawson: Well, some people are capable of moving beyond those petty, long-behind rivalries to higher ground.

Oh hai, clever insight into the Joey/Jen dynamic. It's too bad the writers were not actually intending it that way though because the two of them playfully walk off together after that but I will always take it to mean that Joey is incapable of getting over her rivalry with Jen and taking the higher ground, because she sucks.

Meanwhile, Ty is harassing Jen about why she hasn't called him after their fail-date. Dude? Read the room, could you not see that she was bored/uncomfortable through out the entire time she had to listen to your bible club? Apparently not because he has to ask her if she was "freaked out by the bible talk". Jen says that she was. He tries to tell her that his bible studying is not all that he is and she says that it's still clear that religion is really important to him and it's not her thing so she sees it as an inevitable obstacle in their relationship. Ok, there are so many things that make me love Jen more than I already do in this scene but it's mainly these two things.

1) She's mature enough to see the compatibility issue with Ty and tries to end things before they get too serious.

2) Ty then gets all insistant that she doesn't know him that well and that they should go out and then goes on to say that he won't give up and that he thought women liked persistence. Her answer?

Jen: Well, that just goes to show how little you know about me. I'm not most women.

Fuck. Yes! I love this quote because guys always get trapped in the "I don't understand women/what do women want" crap and you know what? I can't tell you what "women" want because we are not all one being. We are people and we all like different things, get to know us and what we as individuals want, that is how you impress us. And women, same thing goes for guys.

In English class, Pacey excitedly hands in his poem to the crusty teacher who is now going to be turned so fucking, moustach-twirling, evil that it will make your head spin. I pray that no one actually had a teacher this menacingly awful in real life because he's just ridiculously awful. Anyway, he comments that Pacey's cursive writing is awful and then says that his lack of presentation will get him a "D" or he can choose to lose points by handing it in late if he rewrites it and gets it to him tomorrow. Really, dude? Way to encourage kids, I get that chicken scratch is hard to read but wanting to take that much of his mark for that is ridiculous. Thank god students now type everything on their computers these days.

Pacey whispers to Jack about the teacher being unfair and Jack agrees. Since Jack has my fucking luck, the teacher, Mr. Peterson, hears him and immediately starts to pick on Jack. He asks him how his poem went because his deficient grade depends on it. Jack nods and says it went fine so Mr. Peterson tells him to read it in front of the whole class. Of course, Jack is mortified because no one else has to read theirs and it's very clear that Jack doesn't want anyone else to hear his poem. Mr. Peterson insists and Jack has to relent. Here is his poem:

Today was a day the world got smaller. Darker. I grew more afraid. Not of what I am, But what I could be. I loosen my collar to take a breath. My eyes fade and I see... I see him. An angel of perfection, His frame strong. His lips smooth. I keep thinking what am I so scared of? And I wish I could escape the pain but these thoughts, They invade my head, Like shackles of guilt...

It's pretty obvious what the poem is about and Jack can't finish. He runs out of the room, crying. Pacey, bless him, gets up to go after him but Mr. Peterson forbids it. Pacey relents but as Mr. Peterson tries to continue with class, Pacey just does this:

Because he's a bad ass

Joey and Dawson continue to flirt with each other in computer class until they over hear a conversation between two extras. They are talking about what happened in Mr. Peterson's class and damn, news travels fast in Capeside. Anyway, they are going on about how Jack cried in class because he had to read a poem. The poem is about a guy so they automatically say that he's a homo, this upsets Joey because if Jack is gay, he is no longer a useful tool for her to make Dawson jealous. Aahhh, my Joey hate is strong today.

Dawson surprises me again in this episode by being a decent friend and all around decent person. He goes to talk to Joey after school and asks if she's talked to Jack about what happened at school. Joey makes a few snippy comments about the rumours she's heard and Dawson is surprised by how flippant she's being. She claims it's because it's all a big joke and Dawson ask if it is. This upsets Joey because she thinks Dawson is insinuating that Jack is gay. I actually think Dawson has a point, whether or not Jack is gay, he is still going through a tough time and could use some support, not someone who makes light of the situation. But Joey uses it against Dawson because even though Dawson's been considerably cool about her and Jack dating as of late she still can't help creating conflict so that she can feel like two guys are fighting over her again:

Joey: Oh, I'm not being defensive, Dawson. Why don't we just say what this conversation is really about? Your passive-aggressive way to highlight some flaw in Jack that would get us to break up!

Nope, he was trying to get you to talk to Jack and see if he's ok. So, Dawson was doing the right thing and you are making everything about yourself...again.

Meanwhile, Pacey and Andie are studying at her place when Jack comes down. Andie immediately stops talking and ignores him. Jack is leaving to go to work and Pacey is the one who says goodbye to him. Pacey then calls Andie out on her frostyness. Andie complains about Jack writing a poem that could be so easily misinterpreted in the first place and it wounds me on so many levels because I usually love her but she is just awful in this scene. She's basically blaming Jack for being victimized by both Mr. Peterson and the student body. I guess it does fit with her character though, as she said, she needs/craves normalcy in her life and wants to blend in and as she sees it, Jack has made that harder for her.

Pacey tries to explain to her that Jack wasn't intending to humiliate himself and that maybe there is a deeper issue that he's struggling with. Andie looks irritated and asks what Pacey is trying to say. Pacey says that she should talk to her brother and ask him. She refuses and is adamant that he's not gay. So, Pacey changes tack and asks her how she'd feel if, hypothetically, Jack were gay.

Andie, NOOOOOOO!!!!
Oh, Andie, why must you hurt me so and writers, why must the two main characters so freaked out by Jack's possibly being gay be women? In my experience, guys have a harder time with accepting someone as gay than girls do, at least back then. But in this episode, Dawson and Pacey are painted as sympathetic and understanding towards Jack while Andie and Joey are...not. It's sad to me.

Pacey is disappointed in Andie's admission of disappointment and she shoots back that she doesn't need to be attacked for a hypothetical feeling about a hypothetical situation that is not in the realm of possibility. Pacey tells her that for Jack's sake, he hopes she's right about it being impossible. Awww, Pacey, you rock! But Andie, you've earned yourself a pissed off Tyra:

Ty keeps persistently calling Jen and asking her out. Jen refuses until she finally caves in and gives him a couple of hours to prove her wrong. *sigh* I wish she hadn't caved in because this guy is annoying.

Back at the Ice House, Bessie has also noticed that Jack is upset and she urges Joey to talk to him but Joey says he doesn't want to. Why do I think it's because she doesn't want to ask? Oh, right, my blinding hatred of the character. Bessie encourages Joey to get Jack to open up and she does try. Jack sees through her and tells her that if she wants to ask him something, she should just ask it. Joey responds by making everything about her, by complaining that he "hasn't offered her any explanation as to what [he] wrote." Jack rightly counters that he doesn't owe her an explanation but Joey still tries to make it about her because she was so wounded that he wrote poetry about a guy and not beautiful, perfect, Joey who he is dating. Um, because not all poems have to be about a significant other? Jack gives us this explanation:

Jack: Alright, look, I sat down last night, before I went to bed, and for half an hour, I wrote what I was feeling. And one of the images that came into my head was masculine, nothing sexual about it, okay? It could have been me, it could have been the image of my brother. I don't know, Joey. But I do know that there was nothing gay about that poem. And as for the crying...I don't know. It hit a weird nerve as I was reading it. It just unleashed some stuff that I've been dealing with in my family. My brother's death...I don't know. It's the only explanation I can come up with and if it's not good enough for you then you can just believe what everyone else is saying.

It's actually a pretty solid one. Hell, I could buy his poem being about his brother and it would definitely explain the crying as it is hard to share something so personal to classmates as a close family member's death. He assures Joey that if he ever did write a love poem, it would be about her because he adores her and they hug.

Jen and Ty are on their date and this time, he's taken her to some type of Rat Pack-y night club because high schoolers are totally into Jazz and lounge singing, you guys. Ty knows a singer and gets them martini's and I'm sorry, I'm just really, really curious about how this guy is on first name basis with a singer at a club in a small town and can get drinks without being ID'd or someone recognizing him and reporting his ass to his parents and/or the cops. How is this happening? I thought the US was stricter with drinking laws than we are here, at least in small towns. The drinking age is 21 in Massachusetts, which is where I assume Capeside is supposed to be located due to the mention of Boston in the show but "Those under 21 can, however, consume alcoholic beverages on private premises with parental consent." So, does that mean that the lounge singer is Ty's mom and she owns the bar? Who the hell knows with this show. I think we are just supposed to be impressed by his "street cred" and buy into everything like Jen is.

Don't buy it, Jen!

The next day, Jack's poem is posted around the school and do you see what I mean by Mr. Peterson being mustache-twirlingly evil? The only copy of the poem was handed to Mr. Peterson, only he would have it. Keep in mind, this was back in the day when most assignments were handed in handwritten still but even if he did type it up, he would have only printed one copy. Either the students of Capeside hacked his computer, if he typed the poem, or Mr. Peterson deliberately made copies and handed them out to students.

Dude, you are a dick!

Just to emphasize my "Mr. Peterson is cartoon evil" point, he asks Jack to continue reading his poem to the class. To what end? Do you get off on torturing your students? Guys, I can't handle the evilness of this Mr. Peterson character. Anyway, Jack is incredulous but Mr. Peterson just twirls his mustache and puts on an innocent spiel about Jack leaving them high and dry the other day and then threatens his grade if he doesn't do as he's told. Jack asks him why he's doing this and I really want to know the answer but Pacey answers for the teacher, "because he can." Not. Good. Enough! I want to know what the hell happened in this character's life to make him such a miserable, evil human being as to force a kid to read a poem, which was never a requirement of the assignment and only he has to do it, that he's clearly uncomfortable reading and obviously humiliated him. I think he might be a sadist.

Pacey steps up and grabs the poem, offering to read it for Jack. Mr. Peterson is upset by this and demands that Pacey sits down but he refuses. Pacey then asks him what I want to ask this character, "What part of you is it that gets off on torturing students?" See? Sadist. Mr. Peterson then threatens Pacey with an "F" on his report card.

Pacey: You can't fail me! I've gotten a 'B' or better on every test we've had in this class.
Mr.Peterson: Well, I can. I've been waiting to fail you all quarter.

This is totally how the education system
works, bithces!

Now, what follows, may be the most epic thing ever put to the small a teen drama show...with nothing supernatural in it. You have to see it to fully appreciate the epicness, so here it is:

Oh god, YES! Pacey's just so badass!

I may need a moment to recover
Cut to Pacey, sitting in the Principal's office, saying that he refuses to apologize. Because he's just that badass. Mr. Peterson is crowing on about what a waste Pacey is. Thankfully, Pacey's guidance counsellor has his back and points out, rightfully, that Mr. Peterson is no saint as he made a student cry which caused Pacey's, albeit excessive, action. The principal is useless and dismisses them all because she has no fucking clue how to handle this and wants a day to consider what to do under the guise of giving Pacey a day to think about what he's done and reconsider his stance on an apology. This isn't stated in the show but I sure as hell inferred it because in reality, this would be a shitstorm for a principal to deal with. She has to look into the accusation that a teacher made a student cry and reprimand or possibly fire said teacher, on top of coming up with a suitable punishment for what Pacey did. It makes her look kind of weak and not at all in charge of her own school for her to wave them all away right now. 

Pacey comes out of the office to find Jack sitting on a bench. He thinks Jack is there to thank him but far from it. Jack tells Pacey he was stupid not to apologize and that he can fight his own battles. Pacey counters by saying he thought he did Jack a favour.
Jack: Well, you weren't. Look, I didn't need a hero. I recognize it's an addiction of yours but this is one instance when you just should have kept your nose out of it!
I'd be mad but Jack kind of has a point. Pacey is totally addicted to being the hero. He loves being the one to save the day because it gives him a sense of purpose but more importantly, it gives him the attention and adulation he craves from his own father but fails to get. That's deep, Dawson's Creek writers. Respect. 

Ty presses Jen for her opinion of how their date went. Jen says that he's the height of hypocrisy because he does everything he shouldn't do and then goes to church. Ty looks at it as something to go to church about and that his religion expects that he's not perfect. That's a fat load of BS and really pisses me off about some religious people. They act like they are the height of morality because they go to church but then they think they can do whatever the fuck they want as long as they confess to it on Sunday. If you are going to believe in the church, stick to your convictions, there is nothing that pisses me off more than people who use religion as some weird way to clean their slate so that they can "get away" with all the bad things they do. Ugh, this guy. I do not like him. But, of course, Jen seems to dig that he's a "rebel" or whatever. 

Andie and Dawson try to talk to Pacey about apologizing but Pacey is sticking to his guns on the issue. Andie is freaking out because Pacey spit in a teacher's face, which is pretty damn serious but I admire him for not budging on the issue because Mr. Peterson was just as much in the wrong. 

Joey meets up with Jack, who has been given a bunch of pamphlets on being gay and coming to terms with your sexuality. Joey is incredulous. 

Andie is still begging Pacey to reconsider so that he doesn't destroy what they worked for, getting his grades up. Pacey says that what he worked for and what she helped him become was someone who stands up for what he believes in and what he believes is that Mr. Peterson's actions were wrong. Andie is about to counter when she spots something off camera and is horrified.

The subtlety of high school wit, on display here
A crowd of people are staring as Jack tries to courageously walk up and use his locker. He looks like he might fall apart at any second. Joey looks like she's contemplating something before storming over to Jack and telling him to kiss her. He asks her why and she says "just 'cause."  

Oohh, story arch for this episode, complete
Later, at the McPhee household, Andie finally talks to Jack. She compliments him on how well he is handling public ridicule and Jack says it's something you just have to deal with. She finally apologizes for giving him the cold shoulder and she redeems herself from the Tyra gif:
Andie: I don't. When I first heard what happened to you in class, my initial reaction was resentment. Of all the possibilities, you know, I didn't even feel sorry for you. I just...thought, oh great, thanks, when things finally seemed to be slowing down in my life, and now I have to deal with this. And everything that has happened to us in our lives just made me so afraid. And I didn't think anyone could understand that, especially you. I mean you're so strong and independent and then....and then....I read this. Your poem. I kept one of the ones I tore down. It's a really beautiful poem, Jack. And I don't know if it means that you're gay or not and I really don't care. But I'll tell you what I do know. The person who wrote this poem...he's just as scared as I am. Jack, you're terrified and I'm your sister and I had no idea. I just wanted to let you know that I'm here for you. And I love you. And you're not alone.
Awwwwwww! You guys, she really owned up to her mistakes this episode and is going to stand by her brother no matter what his sexuality is. This is the Andie I know and love and she is awesome. They hug and make up. 

Joey also redeems herself for once by actually apologizing to Dawson. Like seriously, seriously apologizing for her behaviour without expecting an apology from Dawson. I was shocked, you guys. Shocked. I mean, it's not as heartfelt as Andie's apology but baby steps, right? 

She then asks Dawson for advice on her relationship with Jack which is awkward. She thinks he might be gay but doesn't want to ask him because then he'll know she's considered it and feel betrayed. Dawson says that relationships begin and end with honesty and that she has to ask him or she'll end up wondering or the problem will get worse. I've got to say, both Dawson and Joey are pretty good in this episode. Dawson more so than Joey but Joey at least is acknowledging her faults and wants to do better. Kudos, Dawson and Joey, hooray for becoming actual human beings. 

Dawson blows my mind yet again by supporting Pacey the next day as he awaits his fate outside of the principal's office. Pacey is nervous and is grilling Dawson about what he thinks. Dawson says he can't judge because he wasn't there so Pacey asks if Dawson would do the same thing he did. Dawson says he wouldn't, which is very truthful but you can see worry on Pacey's face as he asks Dawson if he would be ashamed of him if he can't apologize. Dawson says that he could never be ashamed of Pacey. Awwww, besties! Dawson is on fire as an awesome friend this episode. 

Pacey faces the principal, his guidance counsellor, and Mr. Peterson and explains that he regrets his actions but he does not regret its intention. He believes that what Mr. Peterson did in the classroom was wrong and he will not respect or apologize to him. It is pretty bad ass because that's how Pacey rolls. He don't take crap from authority!  

Why yes, I probably will use this gif a lot throughout these recaps
Andie goes to apologize to Pacey but Pacey is upset with her for not supporting him. He also accuses her of not supporting her brother either, which she didn't. However, she says she apologized to him and was coming to apologize to Pacey but she was struggling with it as she was coming to see him because Jack was innocent whereas Pacey brought on his problems himself. That's...not really supportive, Andie. Pacey asks her if she would have had him just let Peterson pick on her brother and in the middle of Andie saying there were other ways he could have handled it, Pacey tells her the reason why he felt he had to step in.
Pacey: When I knew the whole time that IT WAS MY FAULT. It was MY fault. Peterson knew that he couldn't get the best of me so he went after your brother. If I hadn't of instigated him that day...none of this would have happened. I did whatever I could to stop it. I had to stop it.
Andie is, of course, taken aback as she didn't realize he blamed himself for what happened to Jack. She asks him why he didn't tell her and he says it's because she didn't want to hear it, she just wanted him to clean up his mess. Very true but I don't like where this is headed. It's headed to me having feels that are not good because Pacey says he wants to go home and doesn't accept Andie's offer to go with him.  

Why? I don't like it when they fight!
Meanwhile, Joey abruptly asks Jack if he's gay and explains that there is no easy way for a girl to ask if her boyfriend is gay so she just asked it but assures him that he doesn't have to answer right away. Jack assures her that he's not gay and Joey is completely relieved, even though she does say that she would have dealt with it and understood if he was. She asks him to not write any more poems for a while, which might be hard if he's assigned to write another poem, but he agrees and they hug and make up. Everything seems to be fine because Jack is not gay...

Or is he!?

Stay tuned for the stunning, drama-filled conclusion in the recap for ...That is the Question.

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