Backstage, Joey walks into the dressing room and overhears Hannah saying, "You know, if she does win, it's only for the sympathy vote, because she is a total charity case." The blonde crony apparently zipping up Hannah's dress as Hannah pets her own face asks, "What do you mean?" Hannah evidently takes a great deal of pleasure in telling Crony all about Joey: blah blah "trailer" blah "sister" blah blah "illegitimate baby with her black boyfriend" blah blah blah bitchcakes. Dawson comes in as Joey stands near the doorway eavesdropping. Crony asks where Joey's parents are, and Hannah tells her about DeadMom and Mr. Pothead, concluding, "But you can ask her yourself; she'll tell anyone who listens to her pathetic sob story." I have to say, there isn't a part of this that isn't true -- particularly the bit about Joey's non-reticence in sharing the story with others. Dawson has the grace to look wounded on Joey's behalf. Hannah delivers the closer: "I'm sure she's already told the judges." At this, Joey starts to flee. Dawson tries to stop her, but she tells him not to try to make her go back out there, and curses herself for "setting [her]self up like this." Dawson tells her she was phenomenal, and that if she lets "these inbred idiots" defeat her, she'll never forgive herself. Joey says she can't believe she's sunk so low for money, and that she "might as well have sold [her]self on a street corner." She makes for the door again, but Dawson pushes her back and tells her that she could win the contest, and that the reason those bitches are slamming her is that they know she can beat them. Joey considers this, and then says, "I don't want their money, Dawson. I don't want anything from these people -- it makes me sick!" Dawson says he doesn't think it's about the money anymore. This pulls Joey up short. He says he knows they're not speaking at the moment, but that if they were, "I would tell my best friend -- who was always too afraid to get up in class for show and tell -- how incredibly proud I am of her, and how I think she has got more guts and talent and strength of character than all the Hannah von Wennings of the world put together." Joey smiles. Dawson gets a nosebleed from the effort it took him to deliver two selfless compliments in a single evening.
Joey is onstage for her interview. Mrs. Windjammer asks her what words of advice she would bestow upon today's youth. As Dawson and Hannah watch from the wings, Joey says, "I'd like to tell today's youth that, uh, no matter where life takes you -- big cities, small towns -- you'll inevitably come across small minds [at this she glances toward Hannah]. People who think that they're better than you are. People who think that material things, or being pretty or popular automatically makes you a worthwhile human being. I'd like to tell today's youth that none of these things matter, unless you have strength of character, integrity, a sense of pride. And if you're lucky enough to have any of these things, don't ever sell 'em. Don't ever sell out. So when you meet a person for the first time, don't ever judge them by their station in life, that person just might end up being your best friend." She concludes with a look at Dawson, who beams, and applauds vigorously. "Don't ever sell out"? Joey, if only you could look into the future and see the debased shell of a girl you become after hooking up with Dawson. Lord.