What would the season-ending cliff-hanger of the compulsively self-referential Dawson’s Creek be without an exchange about the lameness of season-ending cliff-hangers? This week, America’s favorite tomboy, Joey (Katie Holmes), tells the golden retriever of teenagers, Dawson (James Van Der Beek), that ”a cliff-hanger is merely a TV device designed to improve ratings…. They are so predictable — the producers put the characters in contrived situations hoping that the audience will think something will change, but you know it never does.” Dawson offers a weak protest (does Dawson ever do anything not weakly?), and then the episode proceeds to do exactly what Joey describes. Joey has a chance to go to France — should she? Will the possibility of her leaving move Dawson to realize that he likes Joey on more than a platonic level? Will they — omigod, omigod! — finally kiss?
Before any of this is addressed, there are subplots. Joey visits her father in jail (she resents him for not ”being there” for her — Joey, Joey, the poor guy’s in the pen, for Pete’s sake!). And Jen (Michelle Williams) talks so much to her comatose grandfather (all about herself, of course: ”I want you to smile at me and listen to me and magically uncomplicate my life…”) that the old fellow finally stirs a little — but not, unfortunately, enough to tell her to put a sock in it. (It’s gotten so Pacey is my favorite Creeker simply because, now that his sleeping-with-his-teacher subplot has petered out, he’s used primarily to make cynical comments about the rest of the characters.)
To think that we have to wait until next fall to see new episodes of these teens (as Joey puts it) ”analyzing [their] sad little lives” — well, it makes you look forward to a long summer, doesn’t it? C