Monday, 22 September 2014

Dawson's Creek - 308 - Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Original air date: November 24, 1999

I'm going to level with you guys, writing this recap is going to be a huge chore. It's not that this episode is bad or anything, it's just that, coming from the high of the gloriousness that was last week's episode, this is just boring. It's slow and listless and really feels like a half hearted attempt to try and give closure to Jen's half-sister dilemma without really addressing it because the writers got bored of the whole film noire/Eve angle they were going for at the beginning of the season. So, they gave her a stupid explanation for being in Capeside, realized that it raised too many questions and should have involved Jen, so they churned this episode out to shut us up. I don't know whether that's exactly how it happened, mind you, but it sure as hell felt like it. So, without further ado, on with the recap.

We start the episode...not with Dawson at all!! This is awesome! Ok, maybe this episode isn't so bad. No, we start with my favourite characters, Pacey and Jen. They are shopping for a thanksgiving meal and Jen asks Pacey not to let her forget to get creamed onions.

My thoughts exactly. That sounds revolting!

Anyway, Pacey is upset because he thought Jen had called him up for sexy times and Jen apologizes but says that Grams' Thanksgiving dinner takes precedence over their would be sex lives. It's sweet that Jen is putting Grams above her own wants, yes that's what I took away from this scene. I also took away that this is setting up the problem that they will have being casual sex partners, they aren't ready for something like that and Jen's stalling is kind of proof of that. This is especially driven home by the fact that Jen laughs at the thought of them being intimate.

Yeah, they're better off as friends

Dawson walks into the kitchen, past Mitch who is watching football in the living room, to find Gail baking in the kitchen. Gail asks for Dawson's opinion on the pies since she wants them to look perfect for Grams' Thanksgiving thing. So, the Leery's have been invited to this as well. Dawson assures her that they are perfect and asks her how apartment searching is going. Gail looks worried and asks if he minds her staying in the guest room, Dawson says he doesn't because it feels familiar. Mitch comes in and tries to take some pie but Gail stops him and they banter for a bit until Dawson awkwards things up by mentioning that this is like an episode of The Waltons. Gail tells Dawson to go change for dinner because her and Mitch are now completely uncomfortable.

Jen comes home with the groceries and finds Grams nervously trying to tell her something. Since this is tv and not real life, instead of just asking Grams what she wants to tell her, Jen pretends like she knows exactly what Grams wants to tell her by saying that she promises to think of something to be thankful for and that she'll clean out her closet so that the guests can hang their coats in there. This is all so that Jen can be completely shocked when she goes to her room to get ready only to find her mother there.


Bessie and Joey are in the kitchen of their own house and Bessie is complaining about her lack of culinary skills. Uhhhhhh....why do you own a restaurant then? Why are you going to open a B&B? I guess you could argue that Bodie does the cooking but he's been absent for so long that I'm starting to think he split town and Bessie is a single mom now. So, who's going to cook for your guests if you suck at it, Bessie? Anyway, they reminisce about what a great cook their mom is and mention that they are happy that they are going over to Grams' place for Thanksgiving.

Gail checks on Dawson and mentions that she saw Helen Lindley (Jen's mom) in town and wonders what it means. Dawson says he can't guess and then Gail asks if he thinks they are talking about Eve. Huh, so I guess Dawson told his mom about the whole Eve thing? Anyway, Dawson says probably not because he never told Jen about Eve because he's a gutless tool. Gail is surprised by his restraint which is kind of hilarious but Dawson reaffirms my suspicions by saying he is just gutless. I'm pretty sure this scene just exists to remind us of the whole Eve is Jen's half-sister nonsense.

Grams tries to talk to Jen about the fact that her mother is in town but Jen is rightfully pissed and doesn't want to talk to her. Grams points out that it might be good that Jen's mother arrived because now she and Jen can finally discuss their feelings. Grams says that she's super proud of Jen and how far she's come since she got here 14 months ago. Ok, so season 1 and 2 are supposed to be one year and this is the second year. Sorry, I just needed to point that out to myself because the timelines on this show are kind of hard to follow. Jen agrees to at least go back to the house and greet the guests.

I love softer Grams

At the Lindley's, Pacey arrives at the same time as Andie and Jack do. He's taken aback because Andie and Jack weren't supposed to come but it turns out, their father bailed on them again.

Jack: Well, that was plan A, but he got stuck in Chicago. You know, any other dad would find a plane, train, automobile … anything to see his kids. But not Joseph McPhee.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Joseph McPhee, the worst parent in Capeside indefinitely. Seriously, Andie and Jack might as well get emancipated because they live sufficiently enough with no parents around anyways.

Pacey and Andie awkward a bit and then argue over who should go and who should stay. Jack tells them both to get over themselves and stuff it because it would be rude to not show up when Grams was nice enough to invite them all. I don't know whether I agree with this logic, especially since it might result in everyone being subjected to their unbearable break up tension.

Joey remarks to Dawson that it's weird to see his parents together again but that she's happy for him that they are getting along. Dawson looks moody about it. Grams gathers everyone inside while Jen offers to take everyone's coats.

Jen heads upstairs with the coats, only to run into her mother again. Helen asks Jen to zip up her dress and says how beautiful Jen has become. Jen looks a little uncomfortable with the compliment. Helen then says that she has something for Jen and takes out a felt case from her luggage. She opens it to reveal a pearl necklace that apparently had been given to her from Grams and she wants to pass them down to Jen. Jen says thanks but no thanks to the pearls because she'd have no where to wear them in Capeside. Jen's mom tells her to save them for a special occasion but Jen says that she taught her that pearls lose their lustre if they're not worn. Jen points out that pearls are like people in that regard, they shouldn't be hidden away, they should be held close and cherished. She then peaces out.

I'm out, bitch!

Dawson and Joey ask Jen about her mother but Jen is really ticked about it and complains that her mother has done nothing but stare at her with a mild disregard since she was thirteen. Cue Joey being mopey about the fact that she doesn't have a mother. I know, I'm mean about this but Joey does bring it up at any opportunity she can. However, in this instance it is justified and she's a lot more humble about it, so yay for character improvement. She points out to Jen that time is short and that she should at least try and talk to her mother and resolve things before it's too late.

Dawson takes it upon himself to talk to Jen's mother and to introduce himself as Jen's ex boyfriend because it was super imperative that Jen's mother know that she dated Dawson. Dawson is a tool. He also tells Helen about Eve and basically tells her to tell Jen about it. Helen is obviously taken aback by this and says that since Eve left town, there is no reason to tell Jen. She then leaves because who the hell wants to be stuck in a room with Dawson Leery?

Pacey talks to Jack about Andie while Andie talks to Joey about Pacey. Pacey vents about how much he's hurting over the break up with Andie while Andie confesses how much she regrets hurting Pacey and how much she's hurting now because of it. Joey does her best to comfort Andie and it's really sweet. I wish this show would focus more on friendships, especially female ones.

The gang has finished their thanksgiving feast and are going around the table and saying what they are thankful for. Since this world revolves around Dawson and his friends, they are the only ones shown giving their thanks. Most of the thanks go smoothly, until we get to Jen.

Jen: Let me think. Well, I– keeping with the theme I guess I’d like to give thanks for second chances. For the opportunity to try and rebuild bridges once thought beyond repair. And for the promise of many more Thanksgiving’s to come.
This causes Helen to walk away from the table in a hurry. Grams starts to follow her but Jen offers to go after her instead.

Jen catches up with her mother and apologizes for upsetting her, claiming that she was just being honest. Helen claims that she wasn't upset at all but just thinking. Sure, you ran off from the table and caused a scene just because you were thinking and not upset. No, apparently Helen was just super happy that Jen has such great friends and thinks that she did the right thing sending Jen here. Jen counters that "sending" isn't the way she'd put it and points out that as good as friends are, they still aren't family. Helen admits that Jen is right and says she's sorry she wasn't there for her.

Jen then gets very upset and it's really heartbreaking and I wish that I liked this episode better because of it. She confronts her mother about why she never called or wrote letters and how much it hurt that she shut her out. Helen claims that she wanted to and tried but ultimately didn't. Jen then says this:

Right in the feels

Helen tries to say that Jen didn't really do anything wrong which doesn't jibe with the whole, being sent to live with your Grandma in Capeside thing. Helen says she will try and explain everything.

Dawson confronts his parents about their chummy behaviour because he can't stand it anymore. I'll give this to him because it's very teenagery and also kind of justified considering how confusing it would be to have your divorced parents living together and getting along so well but for some reason not getting back together. He demands that they be honest with him about what's going on.

Cut back to Jen and Helen. Helen has just finished telling Jen about Eve and Jen is rightfully pissed. Instead of her mother sharing her past experience with Jen and helping her through her own troubles, Helen instead became a hypocrite and pushed her away. Helen insists that was more to do with her father which kind of paints this picture of Mr. Lindley in my mind where he's this rich socialite and Helen is trying to be his perfect wife and has to hide her past from him at any cost. It's kind of sad and I think I'm right because Helen is just a really blank person which Jen calls her out for. Jen says that Helen is afraid of being alone because the day she is, she'll have to look inside herself and find what Jen's known for years, that there's nothing there.

Joey goes to talk to Dawson and asks him how his conversation with his parents went. He tells her that their divorce was made final and that they are officially no longer married. He apparently told them "congratulations" in probably the most self-righteous way imaginable because he's Dawson and walked off. He does concede that any decision at this point is probably a good thing but that he's still upset. Joey understands and Dawson asks if they can just hang out and talk for a while.

Jen has decided to use her anger to finally break into casual sex with Pacey. She is dragging him out to a back shed so that she can fuck away her anger which can be a fairly solid plan with the right person. Pacey sees through her desire and asks her how things went with her mother. Jen tells him that her mother was basically like her but still punished her for it and Pacey tries to make her feel better by telling her that sometimes seeing your parents as people can be a bit liberating. Jen starts to cry and he comforts her because he's awesome.

Aw, this is why they work better as friends

Jen goes back to confront Helen and says that she promises not to spill anything to her father because it's not her place but she does not regret anything that she said to her. Helen says that it's ok because she deserved it. She then begs Jen not to make the same mistakes as her, marrying a cold man because then she'll wake up when she's 40 and be clouded with regret. Jen asks her why she doesn't just divorce him and Helen explains that when women like her get divorced, they get forgotten by all the other socialites and just disappear. Jen then realizes that she was sent away not because Helen hated her but because Helen hated herself. Helen apologizes for not telling Jen that and making her feel unloved but says that she doesn't have to worry that Jen will turn out like her because she's already so much stronger. They hug, Helen leaves and Jen asks her to call sometime.

Jen then finds that all of her friends have stayed and it's really sweet. She apologizes to Pacey for throwing herself at him but Pacey shrugs it off and says that it's not every day a beautiful woman throws herself at him. She then thanks him for being a gentleman enough not to let her go through with it.

They rejoin the group and they all remark about how cool it is that they all ended up as good friends. Joey then throws some foreshadowing down by saying that she's sure they'll find some reason to be estranged soon enough. But right at this moment they are friends and it is kind of nice.


You know, I wish they'd done more to build these characters as friends because it would create some more meaningful and interesting dynamics then just who's dating who. I wish they'd hang out as friends more often on this show.

Despite a few bright spots in this episode, Jen confronting her mother and the gang hanging out, it's just really forgettable to me. Nothing really of interest happens here. To be honest, when Dawson said that the divorce was final, it didn't come as a shock to me, I thought they'd already gotten divorced. Jen and Pacey are still dancing around the idea of a fuck buddy relationship but really do work better as friends so nothing new there either. And the Helen situation was weird. She came down suddenly because her husband was on a business trip but why did she never try to come before if she was so against what her husband thought? She didn't come to ask Jen to come home so why did she come? Really, the only reason she was here was so that they could quickly close out the Eve subplot that had already died out. It was rushed and boring and wasn't nearly the dramatic payoff that I would have liked. It smacked of the writers saying "There, see? We addressed it! Now get off our backs about the Eve thing so that we can get back to relationship drama!" Therefore, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner just falls flat as an episode to me and it bored me.


Let's hope that the next episode, Four To Tango will be a lot more interesting.

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