Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Dawson's Creek - 307 - Escape From Witch Island

Original air date: November 17, 1999

Guys, I am super excited to be recapping this episode for many reasons. 1) I love ghost/spooky stories and always welcomed the scary specials in shows with open arms, 2) This is so horribly done that it's awesome and it leads to humiliation for Dawson so yay! and 3) It is such an obvious rip off/cash in of the popularity of The Blair Witch Project that the episode itself points it out to us on multiple occasions. If we point out that we're aware that we're ripping something off, it totally becomes an homage! Also, it's kind of hilarious that they once again air their "scary special" well after Halloween. Gushing out of the way, let us dive into, Escape From Witch Island.

We open the episode in...holy crap! Dawson still has that movie store job? I forgot almost completely about it. Was it shown at all last season? Crazy. Well, apparently, Dawson still works at the movie store and Joey comes barging in looking for a copy of The Crucible. Joey's been a bad girl who has forgotten to do her reading amidst the whole B&B building at her house and helping her sister care for Alexander (you remember, the illegitimate baby Bessie had with a black man?) Dawson is confused because he's a shitty friend, unlike Pacey, and didn't realize that she wasn't working with Creepy McSexualharasser anymore or that she and her sister were turning their home into a B&B. In turn, Joey didn't realize that Eve had left town and it's kind of hilarious that this is the only thing that she doesn't know about Dawson's life. Like, she's been going through shit with her boss hitting on her constantly, then firing her for basically not dating him/interfering with him getting some with Andie, and that she is working with her sister to open a B&B. Whereas the most interesting thing that happened to Dawson that Joey didn't know about was that his sexy fantasy girl has skipped town.

Stay interesting, Dawson

So, Dawson tells Joey that there may be a way to get out of writing a paper on The Crucible and that is if she helps him, Pacey and Jen make a movie. Joey is hurt that she wasn't invited in the first place but gracefully moves it along and asks what the movie is about. Such an improvement on her character, season 1 Joey would probably have lashed out at him or something and then sulked in Dawson's closet. Dawson tells her that he is making his movie on witch trials that happened in their own backyard on a place called Witch Island. Ooooohhh, spooooooookyy.


I love how painfully aware the writers are that they are just ripping off a popular movie that they think if they mention it, it absolves them from the laziness of ripping it off in the first place. Either that or they think the audience is so stupid that they need to be told what movie they are trying to make the episode like and be reminded of it constantly throughout the episode. You decide. Either way, I am posting a screen grab of every time the movie's name is dropped for my own amusement. With that aside, Joey agrees to tag along and the episode gets on its merry way.

After the credits roll, we are treated to what Blair Witch did at the beginning of their movie, interviews with locals about the incident. Principal Green is the one who sets up the legend by telling us that in 1692, thirteen young girls, teenagers, were banished to a small island off the New England coast for practicing witchcraft. One year later, a fire broke out on the island, killing them all. Oooohhhh! We also get Mitch telling us it was a make out spot and Gail telling us that the island was where she and Mitch fucked for the first time (but with cleaner network TV language) and Dawson gets uncomfortable much to my amusement. Loving this so far. Then we get Jen name dropping again:

Me either, Jen

Joey admits the movie scared her and Pacey bugs her about being a scaredy cat, nice that they've kept that consistent with her character. Also this:


Then we get Dawson name dropping:

He would think that

Then we get the four of them bantering about witches. Jen says she thinks the witch trials were just a way for men to punish women who were sexually free and then Joey snarks that it's good that Jen lives in a time where she is free of persecution. Uhhhhmmmm, not entirely true. I mean, yeah, we don't get burned at the stake anymore but women are still slut shamed hardcore to this day, by people like Dawson. Jen takes Joey's bitchiness in a playful manner and jokes that she would've been burned at the stake by now. I guess this means they are kind of friends now? I don't know, Joey's comment was pretty damn catty though.

Dawson asks Joey to help him set up for interviews and leaves Jen and Pacey to talk about why they've never dated. Pacey says it's because they never needed anything from each other. Jen was over experienced and needed someone like Dawson to slut shame her be virginal with her and he needed someone who would push him to become a better person. It's pretty sound logic, I suppose and Jen is impressed with his deconstruction skills.

Andie is being annoying and pushy with Principal Green about the whole Head of Discipline Committee stuff. She says she has some ideas she'd like to run past him. Not interested in this subplot because the writers have made me dislike this character. I'm sorry, Andie.

Dawson yammers on about how happy he is that they get to do this again and Joey is all super excited and happy as well, until Dawson reveals that he's talking about making movies not them being friends again. Joey is hurt and Dawson stammers that he's missed the whole "let's make a movie bug" that they shared (Jesus, he's selfish and is still making things about him and his movies) but that he's glad they're friends.

Joey is sad

I think this moment right here totally justifies the series finale. Also, don't worry, Joey. You're going to have a much better love interest this season.

Dawson interviews Grams and Bessie about Witch Island next. Grams is completely doom and gloom about the whole thing which I'm torn on. On the one hand, it does seem to be in character for her to think that the girls were "harlots" who totally deserved to be banished to the island and that the Lord punished them for their sins via fire but...what about Jen? I thought Grams had softened at least a little bit towards Jen and her past? I don't know why it bugs me because it does seem that Grams really does believe that the girls were witches but I guess her use of the word "harlot" saddened me.

Bessie tells the story of a kid in her high school who went to the island and disappeared. Saying some people figured he just got wasted and drowned while others think the witches got him. This is backed up by a girl who tells them that a bunch of kids have gone missing at the island but she doesn't think it was the witches that got them. She believes that it was the CIA or NSA because she's clearly a government conspiracy theorist.

The gang is at the dock and ready to be taken out to Witch Island. Dawson wants to interview their boat driver but he'll only do it if Dawson answers his questions. The guy then pulls out his own camcorder and asks Dawson what his movie is about. Dawson tells him that he's making a documentary about Witch Island. Then Dawson asks what the guy is making a movie on and he hilariously responds with "I'm making a documentary about all the people making a documentary about Witch Island." And I just laughed and laughed at that because Dawson is the most uncreative person on Earth and the show just proved it for me. Also

Another Blair Witch plug!

The guy then weirdly tries to scare them off about the island, saying that they shouldn't get caught there after dark but then tells them to get aboard anyway. Alright.

At Witch Island, they are greeted by a girl called Wendy. She is a tour guide from the Capeside Historical Society and...hold up. So, this island is a popular hang out spot but it's also a historical site that also has a gift shop? You'd think that they'd close the place off and have security in that case. Otherwise people would be vandalizing a historical landmark and possibly stealing things from their business. I don't understand the logic of this place.

Anyway, Jen and Pacey head off to the gift shop for snacks and to check out the souvenirs. Wendy then confronts Dawson and asks him if he's making a movie. Side note: does Dawson not have to get boat guy and Wendy to sign a consent form to be able to film them? Does he not have to get permits to film on the island? Also this:

I'm going to have to start counting this up because this is getting ridiculous

Wendy then offers to take them to the cemetery because apparently, the townspeople bothered to make these girls, who were banished for being evil witches in their books, gravestones. Yeah, sure, I buy that. Also, Dawson gets snippy with Joey because Blair Witch was just a movie but his film is real. Also,


In the gift shop, Jen finds a spell book and a spell for luring the object of your affections. Pacey scoffs at the idea of the spell working and Jen says she wants to try it out. She says she'll try it out on him since he is in no way attracted to her and Pacey very quickly agrees to that assessment, which hurts Jen's feelings. Pacey then tells her that she's gorgeous, just not his type which makes her feel better. Jen agrees that Pacey is not her type either, than they trade barbs over their failed past relationships. Pacey bugs her about dating Ty the "bible beater" and Chris Wolfe the "skirt chaser" but Jen's shot is much harsher.

Jen: This from the guy whose last two relationships have ended with the girl either leaving town to avoid prosecution or cool out in crazy camp for the summer.
Ouch! That's gotta hurt.

Back at the cemetery, Joey proves how super smart and special she is by proving she can count. She points out that there are only twelve graves when there were thirteen witches. Wendy is super amazed by how super smart Joey is because no one else has ever picked up on this fact. No one. Only Joey was smart enough to notice. Mark this down as stage one in Joey's transformation into the most perfectest Mary Sue of Capeside. She's mostly good this season but she definitely devolves into the writers' dream girl.

Anyway, Wendy explains that the thirteenth girl is named Mary Waldeck and her body was never found. I still find it odd that the townspeople cared enough to look for them...unless I guess you could say they wanted to make sure they were dead but then why go through the trouble of making gravestones for any of them? I guess you could say that the Historical Society created the cemetery as a tribute but then why not include all girls and just write on her tombstone that her body was never discovered? This makes no sense to me. But, whatever, just go with it. The story is that Mary was an orphan and was adopted by a family with a son. She and the son fell in love, the parents were icked out by this because they wanted them to be siblings, labelled her a witch, and shipped her off to the island so that their son would meet someone else.

Now, the interesting thing about this story is that it kind of parallels Jen's back story. Look at this line about Mary:

Wendy: One night, Mary and William were found in bed together. This did not go over well with the god-fearing Bennet’s, and in the blink of an eye, Mary was no longer their daughter. She was a witch.
Is that not exactly what happened to Jen, minus the whole adopted sibling as sex partner and being labelled a witch? She was caught in bed with a guy and she was no longer her parents' daughter, she was a slut and had to be shipped off to Capeside. This could have been a very powerful scene for Jen to be a part of and to help her in her struggles with her past but nope. The writers aren't smart enough to realize that they wrote the same back story for a ghost story nor to actually use it as a way to explore an actual character's past. Nope, let's have her be a side plot in this episode and never mention the similarities. Lazy writing, FTW!

No, you want to know what they think this parallels? Why, Dawson and Joey's relationship of course! Joey points out that they are soul mates torn apart by circumstance and that this is what his movie should be about. Dawson ignores her and asks Wendy where the fire started. Wendy tells them it started at the church so Dawson asks if she'll take them there. Now, this is the really hilarious part.

Wendy: No. Because I never ever go into the woods. And if you kids are smart, you won't either. But if you do decide to go, we do have maps in the gift shop.
You...you're a tour guide and a historical worker who's job it is to take people to see the sights on the island and explain the history but you've never gone to the church where the fire actually took place? On top of that, you won't risk your life to go to the church but you're perfectly willing to let teenagers go alone and possibly damage a historic landmark because you're too scared to supervise them? You suck at your job, Wendy.

Back at the gift shop, Jen has made her spell because apparently, this gift shop comes stocked with every ingredient you need and a cauldron to mix it in. Weird. Both she and Pacey drink the potion but before they can really see if it works, Wendy interrupts and is super pissed that they are doing this. Guess you should actually supervise the people who come to the island then. Idiot. She then grabs a map and shoves it at Dawson and Joey and then says this:

Wendy: Here, this will take you through the woods and to the church. And, oh yeah, don't get lost because it's very dark, it's very dangerous, and there's an excellent chance that you will never be seen or heard from again, okay?
Liability? What's that? Now, take this map and go through the extremely dark and dangerous woods to a historical site that I refuse to go to and try not to get killed. Worst. Tour guide. Ever. This is laughably bad and is clearly just a way for the writers to only have our main characters at the church, despite the fact that it doesn't make a lick of sense.

The four argue as they make their way through the woods. Joey thinks that William forgot about Mary while Dawson thinks that if they were meant to be, they found a way to each other. They bicker with each other until Jen calls them irritating. Thank you, Jen. Pacey then leaves the gang to find a private place in the woods to go relieve himself. Sorry, I wasn't going to trouble you with that detail but it sort of comes into play later.

Back at Capeside to Andie's unimportant and forgotten story. Seriously, did any of you remember she was in this episode? Well, it has nothing to do with what's going on with the main four so of course you did. It also serves to make her more annoying as she is passing out slips to every student in the hallways for nitpick-y wrongs they've done. These infractions include, wearing spaghetti straps which is laughable because all of the main girls have worn them at some point on this show, a guy hanging pin up girls in his locker, and a guy who has sideburns. Sideburns. Riveting stuff, guys.

What happened to you?
Also, I refuse to believe Sideburns is a high school student

Oh and Belinda makes an appearance as she seems to watch Andie and get some sort of idea. What it is, I have no fucking clue because she doesn't talk at all and there is literally only this scene and one last one at the very end of this episode so both this subplot and the Belinda appearance are pointless.

Back at the church, the gang learn that the townspeople built the church so that the girls would find God. They sent a minister every Sunday but the girls teased him so much, he stopped coming. Both Jen and I agree that we could hang with these girls. Jen wonders absently if Pacey loves her yet, because of the potion while Joey...maybe discovers that the girls were murdered? She says that men treated the island as a brothel and the Churchies didn't like that, so they took all the girls into the very church they are standing in and lit it on fire. t don't know, this episode is very confusing. Like, clearly people have been in here before because there are a shit ton of candles and if the island burned down, and it started in the church, then I'm assuming that someone came and rebuilt the church and included all of the information. Which means, that it should be common knowledge that the girls were murdered but Joey acts like no one knew this before. Also, if this is clearly part of the island's attractions, since someone must have rebuilt the church recently, then why the hell wouldn't it be included in Wendy's tour? You get my confusion?

Dawson decides that it's time to go back to the boat since it is starting to get dark but Pacey hasn't returned yet (see? Told you it was kind of important). Jen offers to stay and find him and tells Joey and Dawson to head back to the dock to make sure that the boat guy doesn't leave without them.

Joey and Dawson argue all the way back to the dock. Joey calls Dawson out for being an absent jerk and a shit friend because he doesn't know anything going on in her life, nor does he seem to care about asking but just assumes they are still friends. Dawson apologizes for being distant but insists he thought it was what they needed. Before they can get too into it as to actually start discussing things, they hear the boat motor start up and run towards the docks.

Boat Guy is happy to see them and urges them onto the boat. Joey explains that they can't leave because they got split up from their friends. Then Boat Guy calls them stupid and says he told them not to get caught on the island at night. Dawson assures him that they'll be back any minute but Boat Guy pretty much says "fuck that, you guys are on your own. I'll be back in the morning to pick up your corpses." Like, what the hell kind of business does this guy run? No one questions him bringing people onto the island and leaving them there, especially if they've gone missing? If I were a cop, he'd be the first person I'd question and he would be a top suspect on my list of suspects. "Oh, so another group of kids went missing and you brought them there? Why didn't you bring them back? Oh, you were too scared to wait a couple of minutes? Are you a coward or a serial killer?" Hmmmm...

Boat Guy and Henry are in cahoots! 

Jen and Pacey are walking through the woods with a flashlight, trying to find their way back to the dock and Jen says this:

Jen: Yeah, I know. I gotta say, the idea of a wholesome, biblically-themed meal this evening with Grams isn't sounding too gosh-darned unappealing. I'd even consider saying grace. But instead I am traipsing around some haunted forest with the likes of you.
Good job, writers. You have raised another major plot hole in this episode. What about everyone's parents? Where the hell are they and why wouldn't they be like, why didn't they come home? What? You left our children on the fucking island!? Well, since I, Mitch, have a speed boat, I will be a man and go get the kids so they don't freeze out there in the dark. This episode is so gloriously stupid and poorly thought out.

Anyway, they get to talking about their failed love lives and come to the conclusion that love fucks everything up. They also agree that sex is good. Thus begins the very weird sub-plot of Pacey and Jen attempting to be fuck buddies. Let's chalk this up to the writers trying to be more risqué with the series to draw ratings with the younger viewers.

In the gift shop, Joey is reading from the diary of Mary Walbeck. I don't know how such a thing was obtained if the island caught fire but nice touch that the author (or compiler?) is Wendy. Anyway, Joey reads some line about Mary not hearing from William and wondering if their bond was an illusion and then Dawson is all butt hurt and asking if that's what Joey thinks of them, that their bond was an illusion.

Exactly, Dawson

They bicker some more about their relationship and Dawson asks what happened to her romantic side that believes love doesn't die and Joey responds that she offered herself to the boy she loved and who she thought loved her and he rejected her. Dawson doesn't want to deal with that so he just spouts off that if they are meant to be, they will find their way back to each other. Joey doesn't think that will happen and reads another of Mary's diary entries that talks about how her bond with William is growing weaker by the day. Then a bell starts to ring. They assume that it's Pacey and Jen at the church, calling for them and run off to find them. And for some reason, Wendy is still there.

I'm scared of the island and yet I live here. I'm perfectly willing to let teenagers
risk their lives to go to a church that I supposedly don't go to but obviously
studied because reasons! I also don't lock any of the buildings at night and let
everyone wander around my gift shop, free to take anything they want despite
the fact that this is how the island probably makes its money to
keep everything taken care of. I'm awesome at my job!

They all meet up at the church but none of them rang the bell. The bell is ringing on its own. Scratch that, there is no bell! Dun, dun, DUN!

Shit just got real!

Joey says she is sufficiently "wigged" and I laugh because that is such a Buffy thing to say and then I think that she could handle this ghost witches nonsense much better than anyone on this show could. Then I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if Buffy showed up right now and saved them all?" and my brain spiralled into a much better episode than what I'm watching right now because it would totally kick ass if Buffy showed up on the supernatural episode of Dawson's Creek and she'd punch Dawson for being a slut shamer, and would totally get with Pacey. Oh my god, Puffy! Their shipper name could be Puffy! This is just writing itself. And...OK, I'll get back to the actual episode now. Still...

Oh my god, yes! Somebody made this a thing! I love you, Internet.

Apparently, not long after being wigged, Joey is comfortable enough to chill and start reading more diary entries. Jen asks her how it is and Joey explains that Mary just got a letter from William. Mary wrote that William promised to take her away and the anniversary is the same day that the gang is on the island. The last entry is that one. How convenient. Joey remarks that love isn't enough and that William probably played her for a fool and then got with some main lander instead. Jen gives her a much needed reality check.
Jen: And I hate to be the one to burst this whole subtextual bubble that you're living in, but do me a favour, Joey. Don't let somebody else's love life dictate your own.
Exactly! Especially since Mary's banishment works far better as subtext for Jen's life but whatever. The writers hate Jen for some reason.

Pacey asks Dawson why he's not filming anymore and Dawson explains that he's not feeling in the mood to film. He then asks Pacey if he made a mistake. Pacey's response?

And I laughed forever and ever

Dawson clarifies that he means that when he told Joey that they needed time apart. Pacey, being a better friend to Dawson than he deserves, tells Dawson that he wears his heart on his sleeve and that when he made the choice to be apart from Joey, he was just following his heart so he can't have made a mistake in that regard. It's sweet but kind of stupid. I am of the opinion that Dawson has no heart and is in fact, a robot. Just my opinion though.

Later that night, after Dawson and Joey have fallen asleep, Jen and Pacey discuss their plans to be fuck buddies. They test things out by kissing. It's kind of awkward and I can't wait for this to be over. They work better as friends but again, that's just my opinion. They continue kissing until a loud noise interrupts them.

Suddenly, the church erupts into sounds of screams, chanting, and the place lights on fire. They scream and try to get out but can't. A large fireball bursts through a window and everything goes quiet again. The gang quickly run outside because now they can get out for some reason and race through the woods. Due to contrivances and time constraints, there is a boat that is magically at the docks. Who put it there? Who knows? But the plot says a boat is there and the gang pile on it and get the hell off the island, leaving the poor sucker who brought the boat over on the island. Fuck him/her, he's not in the main cast and we'll never mention it again or go over if someone is missing. I think we're made to think the boat guy did it but he was shit scared of being at the island after dark so why would he come back instead of just waiting for them and taking them home at the start? This whole thing is just a big pile of dumb.

The next day or next week or whenever the hell the paper was due, Dawson is showing his film to the class who are staring at it in utter awe and it makes me want to gag. Stop feeding his ego random classmate extras! Principal Green does me a solid by saying this:

A Dawson diss and movie title drop in one!

A girl in class points out that there are two people on the docks watching them leave in Dawson's video. Dawson rewinds the tape and is somehow able to zoom in, even though it's VHS because this was the 90s, bitch. Principal Green is called away to a "situation".

The situation is that Andie has given practically every kid in school a citation and is handing out detention like candy. Oh and Belinda is standing next to her and I guess has joined forces with her but who the fuck knows because she never says a word. Principal Green yells at Andie for giving all of the kids detention based on out dated rules from the 1950s and tells her to dismiss everyone and see him in his office. Belinda, scamper back to the room of forgotten side characters, where you belong.

Jen pops by Pacey's work...hey he also still works at the video store. I guess they are going to bring that back. Maybe. Anyway, she has not been deterred by their disastrous and unexplained interruption of their first foray into fuck buddy town and wants to continue with it. Pacey agrees and they shake on it because neither one of them wants to do it yet.

Dawson and Joey bicker over whether the people on the docks are the ghosts of Mary and William or just Wendy and Boat Guy messing with them. That would be epic and I'm inclined to agree with Joey that it was just those two dicking them around. It would at least somewhat explain why they were so cavalier about the gang supposedly risking their lives. Yeah the fire at the church thing was weird but it's not like anyone is going to talk about this episode past this or explore it further.  So, sure I buy that Wendy and Boat Guy  staged a fire show and were playing recordings to spook a bunch of kids for their own amusement. Whatever.

Dawson apologizes to Joey for taking their friendship for granted and for being selfish enough that they could just easily pick up where they left off like nothing happened. Joey thanks him but says it was partly her fault as well. Which is true, she's the one that dumped him epically last season. They agree to be friends and to take things slowly.

Joey then mentions that they are never going to solve this "X-File" (because that was also a thing back then) and Dawson suggests that they go back for a sequel. Joey is not for that idea and says this:

Spoilers, it does not open well and I can't wait

Thus endeth the episode. Well, that was Escape From Witch Island and while it was not a strong episode, by any means, it was a very entertaining and memorable episode. I was looking forward to this one from the start of these reviews because it's one of the ones that really stuck out in my head. The Blair Witch Project was name dropped a total of 7 times this episode and it makes me kind of excited for the No Doubt episode in season 6. How many times will they name drop No Doubt, do you think? More or less than The Blair Witch Project? Place your bets now.

Next up is Guess Who's Coming To Dinner? Seriously, guess. Who's it gonna be? I'll give you a hint, it's not Eve or Belinda because they've been banished to the room of forgotten side characters.



  1. new headcanon: Henry lives on Witch Island.

    1. And he treats it like his very own human hunting ground. Boat Guy brings them onto the island and Henry sees how many he can pick off before morning. And Wendy is there for some reason, sucking at her job.

  2. Totally late to the party but I literally just did the recap of this episode for Snark Squad and OH MY GOD THE ENDLESS NAME DROPPING.

    1. Dawson's Creek writers are not subtle and clearly have no faith in their audience.

      Can't wait to read your recaps of season 3. :)