Dawson's Creek
Merry Mayhem

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Merry Mayhem

Previously: Natasha cheated on Dawson with Todd; Audrey turned into an irritating and alcoholic pain in the ass; Joey and Oliver had sex.

Fade up. The camera pans across a very twee ceramic townscape, populated by little ceramic post offices and general stores and tiny little schoolhouses, the kind that people collect and then set out across the mantle at Christmas. "Once upon a time, in a galaxy not entirely unlike our own, there was a girl," Joey voice-overs. Oh, dear God. I hate the pretentious voice-over. Voice-overs in general are tough to pull off, I think, and this show rarely manages to craft one that doesn't make me want to puncture my eardrums with a fish fork. "There was nothing extraordinary about this girl. She was, by her own estimation, a relatively simple sort," Joey continues, as we pan across more of the town. I think "simple" is, really, a very nice word for the sort of girl Joey is. "Yet she was cursed," Joey says as we continue to pan across the Town of Twee. "For as long as she could remember, her romantic life had been something of a disaster. Boys fell too hard, too fast, or not at all." Oh, that's the saddest story I've ever heard! Too many boys love her too much! That's a tragedy! Let me find a hankie! Shut up, Joey. "She'd long since given up on the notion of a functional relationship." At nineteen? Sweet Mary! I didn't give up on love until I was at least twenty-five. "Which is why, in the winter of her nineteenth year, she was surprised to find herself in the company of a boy who made her feel as if the curse had been lifted, if only temporarily," Joey concludes. As I finish dry-heaving, the camera pulls back to reveal Joey and Oliver investigating the aforementioned twee, wee ceramic town, which has been set up in the window of a small local store.

Joey and Oliver walk the streets of Boston, all bundled up in their winter woolies. Instead of just enjoying the winter night and her dreamy escort's company, however, Joey decides to take this romantic setting as an invitation to berate the poor boy. "Chocolate or vanilla?" she asks. "Chocolate," Oliver tells her. Are we talking about ice cream here, or cupcakes? I'm a vanilla ice cream girl, but a chocolate cake girl. In case, you know, you want to send me some baked goods. Still, that's an important distinction. "Cake, or pie?" Joey asks. "Pie," Oliver says. "Coke or Pepsi?" Joey asks. "Coke," Oliver answers. "Christmas or Halloween?" she wonders. "Halloween," Oliver says. Joey flaps her arms and squeals that this settles it! They have nothing in common. Yes, that Cake Versus Pie distinction has ruined countless marriages. Maybe the reason that you're incapable of having a functional relationship, Joey, is that you refuse to pick your battles. Religion? Can be a stumbling block. Money is often an issue with couple. Children -- wanting them when one partner doesn't, and vice versa -- can be a deal-breaker. But pie? Pie never broke anyone. Oliver shrugs that at least the sex is good. "Please, I had better sex in elementary school," Joey twitters. Oh, ew! That's not even funny. That's just weird. Oliver just sighs and asks if they're done with "this month's Cosmo compatibility test." He wonders if they can please just "get on with [their] lives," and then kisses her. Joey pulls back and invites him, out of the clear blue sky, to "Christmas in Capeside." Oliver raises his brows and looks at the ground and says nothing.

"I just said that out loud, didn't I?" Joey asks. "Yeah, pretty much," Oliver says. Joey announces that she crossed that line, "the line where girls pressure their boyfriends into doing stuff they don't want to do and I just used the word 'boyfriend' and I'm a mess and I apologize," she sputters. Oliver tells her calmly that it's okay, and starts back to walking down the street. But Joey stops him and retracts her apology. She wants him to meet "[her] dysfunctional family," she says. She wants him to help her convince "[her] retarded sister that [they] should buck tradition and get a real tree." Wow, what a compelling invite! Dysfunction and retardation! I think most people have enough of that in their own families. Oliver sort of grins and reminds her that he'll be spending the holiday with his own family, thank you very much, and that, for what it's worth, he thinks they're moving too fast. Joey trots along beside him in a smart red coat (how many pretty winter coats does Poor Little Joey Potter From The Wrong Side Of The Tracks own, anyway?) and yelps that, clearly, she's "a typical girl and [he's] a typical guy." She's just a girl. And he's just a boy. Can she make it any more obvious? Anyway, Joey delineates their gender roles by explaining that she clearly wants him to commit, while he's clearly scared of commitment. Holy cliché, Batman! Did someone leave a copy of The Rules in the writer's room? Oliver simply points out that meeting the parents is a huge deal, especially during the holidays. "Pencil me in for President's Day weekend," he smiles. Joey smirks back. "Fine, but don't think we're ever having sex again," she twitters. I don't think Katie Holmes has ever tried to be so cute in her entire life. It's making my teeth hurt. And, frankly, I think this Joey Potter: In Love! act feels awfully forced. I'd believe her relationship with Oliver a whole lot more if Katie Holmes took the hair-tossing, twittering, and Patented Tongue Between The Teeth Grin down a notch or two, because right now she doesn't look cute as much as she looks sort of needy and deranged. Oliver dubs this "typical girl behavior." Because she's "using sex as a weapon." Oh my God. "Shut up," Joey says, smiling. "You've very pretty. Have I told you that?" Oliver wheedles. Joey sticks her tongue between her teeth -- yes, again -- and grins. "Sucking up will get you nowhere," she tells him. And…credits. What the hell kind of crappy act-out was that? How in the world does that scene make the viewer want to stay tuned?

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