Dawson's Creek
That Was Then

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That Was Then

Wow, I wonder if I even remember how to do this. It's been a while since we've had a new episode. Who are these people? What is my name? Where am I? What have I been drinking? Okay, those are probably questions for my therapist, so let's just get into this. Previously, on Dawson's Creek: Deputy Doug had issues with Pacey's new high-paying job, Dawson's movie career tanked, and Joey and Pacey made out in a Wal-Mart.

We open in Pacey's apartment. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it primarily Emma's apartment? Did Pacey and Jack take over the lease when she, you know, vanished into thin air? On the other hand, considering how much shit I gave the writers for devoting an episode to Joey waiting in the Add/Drop line last year, I guess I shouldn't complain about being denied a scene about transferring a lease. Anyway, Pacey is watching the enormous television that Emma's erstwhile fiancé broke a couple of weeks ago. I'll just assume that this is a new television that looks exactly like the old one. Maybe Pacey invested in some Big Screen Insurance? I don't know. Anyway, he surfs through the channels, starting with It Happened One Night and flipping through any number of things, landing on something I should probably recognize but don't, in which a man in period dress says, "The problem is, you can only marry one of us." Off-screen, a woman tells him that, if she didn't know better, she'd think he was jealous. Hey, is that supposed to remind us of anything? Because I'm not entirely sure that I see the parallel. It sounds familiar, but I'm just not sure. Something about this exchange -- I can't think what! -- prompts Pacey to think of Joey, and he gets off the sofa and walks to the window. He stares dreamily out at Liberty Hell's Kitchen, clearly thinking about his one true love: beer. Or, you know, Joey. Whatever. And by the way, Joshua Jackson has finally taken about ten pounds of hair off his pompadour, and this new haircut, plus his freshly-shaved face, combine to make him look about five years younger and twenty-five times cuter than he has all season. After several minutes of swoon-worthy gazing, he closes the window and puts on a coat. He opens his front door and finds Joey, her hand raised as if to knock. Katie Holmes looks very pretty here, mostly because her hair is tied back and it looks all one color. I know Katie Holmes is trying to grow out her roots or something, but this two-tone hair thing is looking more and more horrific as the weeks pass. Has she never heard of a semi-permanent rinse? She could temporarily dye her hair something approximating her natural color and by the time it rinsed out, she could just chop three inches off the bottom -- which she needs to do anyway -- and there you go. Does no one else read InStyle?

At any rate, Pacey certainly looks pleased to see her. Joey apologizes for her bad timing, and Pacey assures her that it's "cosmic timing," because he was on his way to see her. They sputter inarticulately for about ten minutes, until Joey invites herself inside. Pacey offers her something to drink, then wonders if she'd like to order a pizza. Joey sort of half smiles at him and tells him that what she really wants is for them to "stop being so polite." And, I assume, for them start getting real. Wait, that's a totally different show. Pacey snarks that he's been meaning to "emotionally abuse her" for weeks, so that sounds like a great plan. I feel like this show has been emotionally abusing me for the past two years. Joey makes her Pacey, You Silly Boy, Please Take Me Seriously face, and then they stare at each other for an hour, and then she asks him if he regrets telling her what he told her, and he asks if she regrets hearing it, and she's all, "Have you met me? I love it when people tell me they love me and, for your information, that happens to me all the time." Actually, she tells him that it's hard to regret "hearing something that's already been in the back of your mind." Pacey grins charmingly as Joey sits at the breakfast bar and tells him that she regrets "reality as just a general concept." She asks him if he remembers reading Choose Your Own Adventure books as a child. Pacey reminds her that he was "pretty much a functional illiterate until the ninth grade," which may be true, but dude, those books were tailor-made for the functionally illiterate, because they had, like, ten words to a page. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed them myself, and I actually think whoever came up with the concept is a genius and ought to be very rich right now, but they're hardly Little Women. Joey briefly explains the concept of the Choose Your Own Adventure series (which, for those of you unfamiliar with the books, is basically thus: the books are structured so the reader is the protagonist and gets to choose what happens. For example: "You are in the woods. A mountain lion charges you. If you run away screaming, turn to page 12. If you try to wrestle the lion to the ground, turn to page 56." Eighty percent of the time, you end up dying. Good times). She then tells Pacey, very sadly, that she consistently "cheated on" those books. She'd just go back to the beginning until she got a happy ending. Pacey quite rightly points out that everybody did that. It was sort of the point of the books. Joey, very concerned, whines that it's not a very realistic way to lead your life. Um, I hardly think the Choose Your Own Adventure books are blueprints for life, as they had thousands of grade schoolers being tortured by the Incas (the Inca book being my own personal favorite in the series. Let's not ask what that said about my elementary school-era psyche). ["It could be worse. I was a Your Code Name Is Jonah woman myself." -- Sars]

So, Pacey asks Joey why she thinks "one false move is going to ruin [their] entire story." Joey just looks at him. "History," she finally says. "That was then," Pacey points out, leaning over to look into her eyes. He points out that they're older now, that they've changed. "I'm not going to run out on you if I don't like your choice," he says. Joey blinks and wonders what it is that he's afraid of, then. "That the whole possibility thing is just a mean trick," he says softly. At this, Joey stands up and announces that "[she] doesn't like this chapter. It's too negative." Well, Joey, I hear that the best way to solve that kind of problem is to run away from it, so you're totally on the right track. Way to go! Pacey calmly explains that he's just playing through the "worst case scenarios" because he wants to make sure that they're grown up enough to be together without "replaying [their] past history." Dude, if we have to replay their past history, I quit. Joey looks up at him plaintively. "I'd really like to look into our future," Pacey tells her. I don't know how Josh Jackson manages to say these lines without sounding supremely cheesy, but let's all be grateful that he somehow manages. He tells her that he just doesn't want her to hold his "prior history" against him. Joey looks at the ground as The Tinkly Piano Music Of The Other Soulmates -- You Know, The Pair That People Actually Care About plays in the background. She whispers that they've both said things they regret. "But we've changed, haven't we?" she asks. Pacey gazes at her lower lip. "Yeah," he breathes. Joey stares dreamily back at him. Pacey stutters that he's going to go "think about things," and she probably ought to go think about things, and, in fact, she should probably actually leave, before he loses his ability to think about things. Because, I presume, all the blood is rushing from his brain.

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Dawson's Creek

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