Props to Miss Alli, and to Sars, who is just plain made of sterner stuff than I.
Previously on Dawson's Creek: Dawson came into the possession of a copy of the PSAT; it subsequently vanished; Andie was revealed (only to the audience) to have taken it and used it to cheat on her test; Dawson asked Pacey to take care of Joey; Pacey, speaking for us all, told Joey and Dawson that their on-again, off-again love affair was giving him a rash; Deputy Doug asked Pacey whether he was stressing over a girl, and Pacey admitted that he was.
Joey "Notticelli" Potter paints a picture on a wall in the school hallway while an ovary warbles on her Walkman™. Pacey "Teen Angel" Witter strolls toward her and leans against a wall; Joey turns to moisten her brush and starts when she sees Pacey. He leans some more and waits for her to take the headphones off her ears, whereupon she snarks that she doesn't recall requesting the pleasure of his company. He grins, motions at the pile of artist's supplies between them, and asks, "Rag?" "Brush," she replies distractedly. He tells her that after Van Gogh cut off his ear, it sparked a rash of copycat mutilations among his students. Joey even more distractedly asks what Pacey is getting at, and he explains that the world reveres an artist, and so does he, and therefore he's here to watch her paint in the hopes that some of her "genius" will rub off on him. The word has really lost its currency if it's being flung around at the likes of Joey. Without turning around, Joey deduces, "You got kicked out of your house again." Pacey says it's not so much that he got kicked out: "It's more like they're filming a Lifetime Original Movie in my living room right now." Joey asks which one of the Witter sisters is in distress this time, and he tells her it's "numero uno," who apparently left her husband and returned to her parents' house, with Pacey's "screaming nieces" in tow. Pushing a scaffold out of the way, Joey further deduces that with the return of his sister, Pacey's been exiled from his bed. Pacey confirms her assessment. Joey stands beside Pacey, regards the wall, and asks what he thinks. The camera cuts to the mural: On a saffron background, it's several Chinese characters of various sizes done in dark brown and slightly-darker-than-the-background yellow. It looks okay to me, if not an especially challenging design; on the other hand, what do I know? Pacey asks, "Oh, is it done?" Somewhere, Miss Alli mutters, "Word." Affronted, Joey growls, "Yes, it's done." Pacey says he "thought Principal Green had commissioned you guys to paint murals exemplifying school spirit and unity." Joey says, "He did." Pacey says, "Well, no offense, but this looks like something you'd find tattoed on Kwai Chang Caine's forehead." As I recall, Kwai Chang Caine didn't have any tattoos on his forehead, but maybe they edited the show for Canadian television. Joey scoffs, "You don't like it." Pacey protests that he didn't say that: "I'm pretty sure the rest of the murals will be a little more traditional." Joey denigrates her colleagues' as-yet-unseen murals by predicting that they'll depict "football players and lighthouses," neither of which says anything about "the high school experience." Pacey tells her that the U.S. is "a very prosaic nation" that likes its public art "about as subtle as Godzilla." From beyond the grave, Robert Mapplethorpe remarks, "Word." Joey replies with the usual art-has-power-to-bring-people-together jazz, and Pacey confirms that she's right, in that a museum is "the thinking man's pick-up joint." Joey turns away to hide a smile, and tells him that the reason she likes him is that he goes "so deep." Pacey smirks, "Thanks." Paula Cole cashes a cheque.
Dawson "All-Brat" Leery smugs down the hall at school and straight at the wall we just saw Joey painting. A tarp is hanging against the wall -- which I would think would pose a hazard to the paint beneath, but whatever -- and is taped down at the sides, so naturally Nosy Parker heads straight for the tape and starts gingerly peeling it back. Joey appears and smacks her hand down to secure the tape, squealing, "No peeking!" Dawson has evidently been expecting "a preview," and when Joey denies him one, Dawson points out that Pacey's already seen it. Joey tells Dawson that "the unveiling is a crucial part to any new work," and that she wants him to have "the complete experience." Oh, ick. Joey asks whether Pacey told Dawson what the mural was like, and Dawson assures her that he didn't, except to say that it was "great." Joey affectionately snorts that Pacey's assessment doesn't mean much, and Dawson tells her that Pacey "knows what he likes." As Joey reminds Dawson that Pacey's "most prized possession is a black velvet painting of the baby Elvis," Dawson once again goes for the tape, forcing Joey once again to smack his hand away. Dawson asks her how her speech is coming. By way of an answer, she complains that she shouldn't have to say anything, and that her art should speak for itself. Dawson priggishly says that when the PTA lets a student paint a wall in a public school, it entitles said PTA to a "poignant ceremony in return." Joey tentatively asks whether Dawson will be there, and he enthusiastically replies that he will, and adds, "If you want me to." Joey shyly confirms that she does, and insists that, when he sees it, he be honest with her about what he thinks of it, "even if [he] hate[s] it." Dawson sort of defensively asks what would make her think he'd hate it, and she quickly replies, "Nothing. It's just...." "The stepping out from behind the curtain?" Dawson asks. She nods. He pompously tells her he knows how terrifying that can be, blah blah blah premierecakes. Joey tells him that it's more than that -- it's like she's "declaring [her]self for the first time" -- and that it will be like all her classmates are "looking right into [her] soul." Please -- what can she possibly think about high school that every single other kid in history already hasn't? Dawson has no response to that. Because he's an idiot.