January 21, 2012

Dawson’s Creek 4.12, The Te of Pacey: Baby, You’re a Firework

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 4:04 pm by Jenn

Yum (and the cupcake looks good, too)

Summary: Joey wakes Pacey with a cupcake with a candle in it: It’s his birthday. He’s not happy about it. Every birthday he’s had since the age of ten has been awful. When he was 12, he threw up on his crush, who nicknamed him Pacey Pukey, a name his family sometimes brings up. When he was 16, he failed his driver’s test and no one came to his party. At 14, he was mauled by a dog. Pacey thinks the only way he can have a good birthday is if he celebrates it with Joey and no one else.

Dawson’s preparing for his first date with Gretchen, and Jack thinks he’s worried because Pacey and Joey don’t know about it. Dawson says if they ask, he’ll tell them. Gretchen and Joey talk about Pacey’s birthday as he gets a letter that surprises him. After he leaves the room, Joey begs Gretchen to come to Pacey’s last-minute surprise birthday party, which Mrs. Witter wants to throw. Gretchen thinks she’s crazy. And no, she totally doesn’t have any plans, especially not with Dawson.

Jen and Grams decoupage picture frames (yes, really) before Jen spends the evening driving home drunk teenagers as part of her community service. Jen senses that Grams is distracted and guesses that she’s thinking about sex with Mr. Brooks. Grams denies that they’re even in love. Jen urges her to have the safe-sex talk with Mr. Brooks. Grams accuses her of trying to get herself grounded so she doesn’t have to do her community service.

Dawson visits Gretchen at the restaurant and learns about Pacey’s party. She asks to postpone their first date, though he’d rather just treat the party as their first date. He doesn’t want to hide their relationship. He adds that sneaking around is a good way to get caught. Gretchen tries to convince him that she just wants to be sensitive to Pacey and Joey. She’s not ready to go public, but Dawson thinks she’s trying to hide, which means maybe they shouldn’t be together at all.

At community service, Jen gets paired up with Tobey. She invites him to drop in on Pacey’s party with her if they wind up in the neighborhood. Oh, and Jack will be there. Tobey’s not excited to see him again; he notes that they don’t have to be friends just because they’re both gay. In fact, he’s not even convinced Jack is really gay. Jen swears she’s just being nice, and Tobey tells her he’s taken anyway.

Joey blindfolds Pacey and takes him to his parents’ house, where the surprise part of the party hasn’t been set up yet. Doug’s gleeful at the possibility of the disasters that might happen this year. Sheriff Witter treats everyone to the story of his own 18th birthday: He spent it fighting in Vietnam, topping it off with a prostitute. Pacey wishes he were dead. Sheriff Witter doesn’t remember meeting Jack, despite spending an entire weekend with him.

Pacey confronts Joey for breaking her promise that they would spend his birthday alone. She tells him his family wanted to throw him a party. He replies that his father just wants an excuse to yell at him. Joey urges him to make an effort, but Pacey knows he’ll fail no matter what. She promises that they’ll get through the evening together. Meanwhile, Gretchen and Dawson smooth things over, and Jen and Tobey chat about his boyfriend, though she’s still trying to talk up Jack.

Joey finds Pacey alone outside and points out that there haven’t been any disasters (yet). He starts to tell her why he’s upset, then stops himself. They head off to talk somewhere else, but Sheriff Witter wants to talk to Joey. He thanks her for getting Pacey to think about college…because now he’ll have to pay for another dropout’s education. Pacey defends Gretchen’s decision to leave school, but Sheriff Witter won’t listen. He thinks Pacey will either drop out or flunk out. Mrs. Witter disagrees.

Sheriff Witter continues that Pacey’s always been a screw-up. When he was a kid, he wanted to be a vet, but his mother suggested he be a dog groomer instead. Joey realizes that everything Pacey’s said about his family is true. In the basement, Gretchen tells the kids (and Dawson) a story her grandmother used to tell her about a princess who had to dance among the stars. She was free but alone. Dawson doesn’t see the sadness in the story, considering how many stars the princess got to visit. Gretchen notes that the princess can never stay in one place for long.

Joey tries to give Pacey a pep talk about his future, saying he’s going to surprise his family with his success. He thinks his family’s right about him being too dumb to do anything worthwhile. He takes her to the basement to talk, but Dawson and Gretchen are making out down there. Everyone goes upstairs for dinner, which Mrs. Witter thinks is Pacey’s favorite meal but which is actually Doug’s. Also, she keeps calling Joey “Joanna.”

In the kitchen, Dawson tries to talk to Joey about the kiss she just walked in on. She confirms that they basically have a relationship, then goes back to the table. Gretchen wonders what she and Dawson do next. He tells her that Joey thinks they’re a couple and he didn’t exactly correct her. He tells Gretchen that her hesitance isn’t about Pacey or Joey; it’s about her, and she needs to figure out what she wants.

First, though, Gretchen wants to talk to Pacey about it. He’d rather pretend that nothing happened. He’s too distracted by the conversation he keeps trying to have with Joey which he knows could change their relationship. Jen and Tobey pick up various drunk teens and college students as Pacey opens his lame presents. (His father got him fireworks.) Mrs. Witter suggests reminiscing about Pacey’s childhood, which goes over as well as you would expect. Gretchen tries to make it better by sharing a happy memory of Pacey taking care of her.

Pacey calls an end to the stories once they turn back to his screw-ups. (He tried to make pancakes and their dog died of smoke inhalation.) He complains that no one ever treats him like anything other than a loser. He adds that he’s not going to college because his fallback school, the only one he thought would consider taking him, rejected him. Just then, Jen and Tobey arrive, singing “Happy Birthday” as Pacey runs off.

Joey and Dawson go off in search of the birthday boy while Jack tries to make small talk with Tobey (it doesn’t go well). Joey tells Dawson that she doesn’t care what he and Gretchen are doing anymore. He admits that he doesn’t even know what they’re doing. Joey can relate since she’s also dating a Witter. Witters keep their emotions inside, but it’s actually because they care so much. Dawson assures Joey that Pacey not getting into college isn’t her fault. She knows, but she feels bad because she told him he would get in, and she knows he thinks he’s disappointed her.

Sheriff Witter tracks Pacey down by the water, admitting he’s there because someone called the cops to report a “creepy guy” hanging out there. Sheriff Witter confides that he was rejected from the police academy the first time he applied. Pacey knows he’s not cut out for college, but he wanted to be.

Sheriff Witter says he was never hard on Pacey because he thought he wasn’t good enough for school, he just didn’t think it was the right path for him. He does, however, think Pacey is meant to do great things. Sheriff Witter notes that he didn’t get to tell his story about Pacey’s childhood. On Pacey’s tenth birthday, his father got him fireworks, which he loved. His happiness made Sheriff Witter happy.

On the way home, Jen asks Tobey why he was mean to Jack and why he made up a boyfriend (because the guy is obviously fictional). He wants Tobey to try being friends with Jack if he’s interested in him. Pacey and his father return home, where the Witters and Pacey’s friends finally do the surprise part of the party right.

Later that night, Gretchen tells Dawson he was right about her reasons for wanting to keep their relationship quiet. She’s afraid that she won’t be in Capeside long enough to really develop anything, and she’ll hurt him when she leaves. Dawson reminds her that he’ll be leaving at the end of the year, too. They might as well make the most of the present and try not to be afraid. Gretchen isn’t sure if Dawson is wise or naïve, but she admires his fearlessness.

Joey and Pacey finally find some time alone and she apologizes for the horrible party. She tells him that one rejection isn’t the end of the world. He says that just makes it real because he already knew the two of them were on different paths, drifting farther and farther from each other. Joey thinks all roads lead back where they are now. They just need to try harder to get there. As they kiss, Pacey’s family and friends set off fireworks in the yard.

Thoughts: Pacey’s mom is Jane Lynch, you guys! Jane Lynch!

Sorry, but Joey should know better than to agree to a Witter family party. This whole episode could have been avoided if the writers hadn’t had her do something so out of character.

Joey and Pacey grew up together, right? And everyone in town knows the Potters? So why doesn’t Mrs. Witter know Joey’s name? Oh, right, it’s a way to show that her character is disconnected. How original and clever!

Tobey’s still a jerk. Shut up, Tobey.

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