April 15, 2012
Dawson’s Creek 5.4, The Long Goodbye: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
Summary: A couple goes to Leery’s Fresh Fish for dinner, but it’s closed due to a death in the family. At home, Dawson washes dishes and takes care of Lily. Later, he picks out a coffin for his father. Joey visits Pacey on his boat to tell him that Mitch is dead. Pacey is stunned and asks how Dawson is. She invites him to come to Capeside with her so they can attend the funeral and be there for Dawson.
At the B&B, Jen and Jack help Grams and Bessie prepare food, and Jen admits to Jack that she’s nervous about seeing Dawson and trying to figure out what to say to him. Jack (who reminds us for the first time in three years that he lost a brother) tells her that Dawson is alone in his grief. Jen will have to figure out her own way to be there for him. Dawson tends to his mother and sister, then reimagines a conversation he and Mitch had on his 12th birthday. It’s when he got his first video camera. “Let the things you love be your escape,” Mitch says.
Joey arrives and Dawson asks her to watch Lily while he goes to the funeral home. She can tell something is off with him. Sometime later, the funeral is held, followed by a reception at the Leerys’. Grams offers to take care of Lily, but Dawson wants to keep her as a buffer for people’s condolences. Gail has sequestered herself upstairs. Dawson waits for Grams to tell him that God “works in mysterious ways,” but Grams admits that she and God aren’t talking right now.
Outside, Joey looks up at Dawson’s window and remembers the first time Mitch set up the ladder for her. In her memory, Mitch tells her that Dawson will eventually figure out how he feels about her. Jen admits to Dawson that she doesn’t know what to say to him; relationship advice is more her speed. Instead, she’s going to give him a big hug, tell him she loves him, and hope it all helps.
Joey goes up to Gail’s room, and Gail tells her she’s worried about Dawson. Joey says that Mitch isn’t really gone since Dawson is so much like him. Even when she was young, she knew Mitch and Gail had something special. Dawson thanks Pacey for coming and they make small talk about their lives. The two reminisce about Mitch catching them smoking when they were in middle school.
A friend of Gail’s asks Dawson how he’s dealing with his grief, pushing him to take the time to channel his feelings. Dawson politely tries to end the conversation as he gets more and more anxious. Suddenly the answering machine clicks on, and it’s Mitch’s voice on the outgoing message. Dawson rips the machine out of the wall, insists he’s fine, and leaves the house.
Joey finds Dawson on a pier and tells him about coming across something of her mother’s a few months after her death, and how much it saddened her. She wants him to let himself be a wreck. Dawson thinks he needs to keep things together so he can take care of Gail. Joey says he can do that and she’ll take care of him.
Dawson says he felt bad for Joey when her mother died, but he never understood what she was going through until now. Everything feels surreal. Dawson also thinks Mitch’s death was his fault. He went to the store to replace the milk Gail used to make Dawson breakfast that morning. Joey tries to convince him that he’s wrong. Dawson remembers that the last thing Mitch said to him was that he was disappointed in him for making a big mistake.
Joey reminds him that Mitch also said he loved him. Dawson knows Mitch loved him, but he hates that his father was disappointed in him the day he died. Dawson agrees that he was acting like a brat. If he’d listened to Mitch, Mitch would have been taking him to the airport instead of going to the store, and he would still be alive.
Grams finds Gail outside the house and tells her she prayed that she would die before her husband; she didn’t think she could live without him. It’s difficult, but she gets by. Until then, there’s a reason for antidepressants. The two women talk about the insanity of loving someone but risking the possibility of being destroyed after losing that person. Grams offers to stick around for a while, but Gail thinks she and Dawson will have to get through their grief on their own.
After the reception, Joey also offers to stay in Capeside, but Dawson wants her to go back to school. Later, Joey and Pacey hang out at the B&B, talking about how he wants to die in a funny way. (Possibility: being run over by a car full of clowns.) Joey tells him how Dawson blames himself for Mitch’s death. Pacey doesn’t get why Dawson wants to drop out of film school, though he quickly figures out the reason. He thinks the two of them should get their shot.
Gail remembers Mitch putting together Dawson’s crib and talking about what he hopes their son will be like. She tells Dawson that she hates that Lily will never know her father. Dawson promises to tell her all about him. Gail breaks down, then assures Dawson that he’ll be able to go back to his life soon. He tells her he doesn’t plan to go anywhere for a while. Gail replies that he doesn’t have to keep himself together; he’s allowed to fall apart. Dawson admits that he doesn’t feel anything.
The next day, Pacey comes back to the Leerys’, remembering getting a driving lesson from Mitch. (He told Mitch his father couldn’t teach him because he had to work.) Pacey wishes his father were around more, and Mitch says he can come to him if he wants to practice some more. Pacey invites Dawson to go for a drive, and they go to the spot where Mitch was killed. Pacey walks Dawson through the accident, which was caused by the other driver, who fell asleep.
Pacey continues that Dawson can grieve, but he shouldn’t blame himself because the accident wasn’t his fault. He should be glad that he got his father for 18 years, which is more than some people get. Mitch made him into a wonderful person who people care about and respect. Pacey’s doing this because he and Dawson used to be best friends. That means Pacey will always be there for him. Dawson almost cries but hides it.
At Worthington, Joey tells Audrey a little about Mitch. She wishes Dawson had let her help, since she understands what he’s going through. She thinks Dawson just wanted her to go away. She cries and Audrey tries to comfort her. Back in Capeside, Dawson and Gail have a silent dinner together, though neither of them eats much. She sees that they’re out of milk and starts to ask Dawson to go get some, then breaks down.
Dawson goes to the market, where the owner gives his condolences. He chatted with Mitch right before his death, and tells Dawson that his father was clearly proud of him. He said Dawson was brave and had a romantic streak, and Mitch was proud to know him. Dawson tries not to react, but once he’s in his car, he starts to sob.
In Boston, Audrey makes Joey leave the dorm, Jen and Jack try to get on with their lives, and Grams looks at old photos. In Capeside, Gail plays with Lily. Joey, Jen, Jack, Pacey, and Audrey have dinner at Pacey’s restaurant, and Joey notes the empty chair at the table. Dawson’s still in the market parking lot, crying, but he pulls himself together and heads home.
There’s one last memory: Mitch taking a family photo before everyone separates for the evening. He’s left alone for a minute, and he takes in everything around him, smiles with satisfaction, and goes inside to be with his family.
Thoughts: I know James Van Der Beek gets a lot of flak for this show and this role, but he’s excellent in this episode. So is Mary-Margaret Humes (Gail), but JVDB is even more impressive since he can only let the feelings show on his face.
If someone came up to me at a funeral, let alone one for a parent, and asked how I was handling my grief, I’d be a lot less polite than Dawson was.
It would have been nice if they’d brought Gretchen back for this episode. I mean nice for Dawson. I couldn’t care less about her.