You know that scene in Mommie Dearest when Louie Mayer explains to Joan Crawford that she's "box-office poison"? I think that into Freddie Prinze Jr.'s life a little Louie Mayer must fall.
Reconciliation Ranch. Dawson opens the door on Gretchen and her two friends, commenting with not a little passive aggression that he thought maybe they "forgot about" him. Gretchen apologizes, saying that they started talking and lost track of the time, and introduces him to Keira and Jessica, both of whom have masses of curly hair and a lot of space-dyed knit clothing on. Small talk. Jessica says, "Great house -- rental?" Dawson has to admit that it's his parents' house, which cues the Hussy to enter, looking pinched and disapproving (not to mention an even more pronounced shade of walnut than usual). Keira and Jessica say that it's nice to meet her, and the Hussy does that patented thing moms do with the tight "uh huh, whatever" smile and the little nod. Dawson asks the girls if they'll get "there" in time, the Hussy asks where he's going, he tells her and adds that he'll get back late so he'll see her in the morning, and the Hussy says she doesn't think she likes the idea of Dawson going to a club: "Do they serve alcohol?" Dawson points out, rather reasonably, that the IHOF serves alcohol and his hanging out there doesn't seem to bother her; the Hussy snaps something about worrying about him and asks, "Since when do you go clubbing?" Dawson jokes that it's not like it's Studio 54. The Hussy says she'd "feel better" if she knew when he'd be home, and sets a curfew. Dawson objects, saying he's never had a curfew before. Gretchen eyes the Hussy. Dawson asks to meet the girls outside in a few minutes. They file out, trying manfully not to laugh at him. After they've gone out, Dawson bitches at his mother for embarrassing him; the Hussy snips back that she's "trying to protect" him. I have to take Dawson's side here, if reluctantly -- first of all, the curfew conversation shouldn't take place in front of the kid's friends. That's basic parental politics. Second of all, if you haven't set boundaries for your child before, you can't just decide to start when he's seventeen. Newsflash, Gale: you let Dawson bully you into having a baby you didn't want, so don't expect him to take you seriously now.