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Old 03-08-2016, 06:40 AM
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Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 51
I couldn’t resist the temptation to respond to AsgardianJane. I’ve really enjoyed the discussion about a show that both of us have clearly thought a great deal (too much?) about over a long period. I have decided not to respond in the point by point way we have been communicating as I think that is going around in circles.

Instead, I want to return briefly to what I think is a serious contradiction in your argument about the show.

1. You agree with me (or at least you seem to), that the show originally had a Dawson/Joey endgame envisioned by KW. You have also pointed out that when the series looked like it was about to come to an end in Season 4, the ending written was Dawson/Joey (the much loved/hated ‘Coda’). You have also accepted that Season 5 ended with Dawson/Joey. You have agreed that Season 6 didn’t end with an explicit Dawson/Joey (because you claimed that three such season endings in a row would be a bit much), but with a heavily implied Dawson/Joey. You have also said that the writers felt compelled for reasons of loyalty to stick with Dawson/Joey endgame throughout the 4 post-KW seasons. You have also agreed that the first episode of the finale was written with a Dawson/Joey ending in mind. As is obvious, I agree with all this, 100 per cent.
2. You then maintain that somehow, from Season 3 onwards, a Pacey/Joey ending was being prepared and signalled as the best possible ending, and have now gone further and started to argue that if we look closely at Season 1, there is evidence of this ending even there.

I don’t think both of these claims can be maintained simultaneously (writers had one ending in mind yet were simultaneously undermining that ending by providing us with a much better one – from the get go). I think there is a much simpler explanation for the ending we got. Pressure.

Let me explain. Planning for Season 3 is going nowhere fast, as bad idea piles on bad idea. Berlanti comes up with the notion that a new love triangle will be introduced: not the Eve (as a Jen replacement)-Dawson-Joey triangle that everyone must have realised was ridiculous and wouldn’t work even as they were working hard on it, but Pacey-Joey-Dawson. Pacey’s kissing of Joey is the kiss that saved a show, or so we are told. The difficulty for the writers with this triangle is that 1. There is no real foreshadowing of it in the first 2 seasons (in other words, I don’t for a minute buy your claim that the episode in season 1 where Pacey fancied Joey was anything other than a way the writers could get Dawson to start to face the fact that he was in love with Joey); 2. Fans had been shipping ‘Pacey-Andie’ (fanatically) and ‘Dawson-Joey’ (for two seasons). Therefore they had to work hard to make the new element of Pacey-Joey in any way credible and acceptable. So, first, Pacey-Andie have to be broken up, but Pacey cannot be to blame (so, Andie – someone fans loved in Season 2 – is destroyed and made to behave in ways that are just inexplicable; and Dawson becomes a complete douchebag – though, for the long term plan of a Dawson-Joey ending the writers had to maintain the soulmate narrative). The writers are more spectacularly successful in terms of the character destructions than they could have dreamed, and by the start of Season 5 have to get rid of Andie completely. By the end of Season 3, a substantial section of the viewers have decided that they not only want Pacey/Joey but that they hate Dawson. The vitriol poured out on Dawson on fanboards and foura in this period is extraordinary in terms of a major character in a series, and despite a sizeable number remaining loyal to Dawson-Joey, the majority do seem to have switched their allegiances (though the writers remain committed to Dawson-Joey).

Another factor that wasn’t fully counted on was the fact that the sexual chemistry between KH and JJ turns out to be fairly electric. This was because while KH genuinely likes JVDB, she actually fancied JJ (as she admitted in a recent interview, there was a ‘reality’ behind the kissing scenes with JJ that there wasn’t with JVDB). As much as I like KH, she is a limited actress, who finds it much easier to sell a scene when she personally feels it. JJ is a better actor, so can sell most things to viewers, but KH needs some help. While her scenes with JVDB are perfectly fine and good, they never match the scenes she has with JJ – but the key issue here is that the writers didn’t factor this intensity into their calculations. The gap between Pacey/Joey and JJ/KH becomes blurred for a lot of viewers in a way it never did with Dawson/Joey and JVDB/KH (where they were actually acting rather than being ‘real’). Hence the obsession with claiming that Pacey/Joey seemed ‘more real’ than Dawson/Joey: this has, I suggest, little to do with the writing, and more to do with the skill sets of the actors involved here. (on a side note, the best actors in the series were, in my opinion, in order of ability: Michelle Williams, Mary Beth Peil, Josh Jackson, Meredith Monroe, Monica Keena, and Mary-Margaret Humes).

The Pacey-Joey-Dawson triangle was invented as a way to get ratings up and a way to keep Dawson/Joey apart for a bit longer (the Moonlighting effect in operation here – if you get the two characters who are meant to be together too soon, the dynamic of the series will die; ironically, as Dawson’s Creek is first introduced as a mid-season replacement without any certainty as to whether it would be picked up for a second season, KW had written it as self-contained, so the proper ‘ending’ had already been reached, which meant an increasingly desperate attempt to find ways to keep the soulmates apart). In other words, Pacey/Joey was designed to be a part of the Dawson/Joey journey, and that design was maintained until the last fifteen minutes of the finale.

You say that I don’t tend to believe things that characters say about their relationships when they don’t conform to my idea of the series. This accusation is probably true to a certain extent, but it is also true of everyone. We all suffer confirmation bias, and look for evidence to confirm the theories we have already formed, and try to explain away evidence against that theory. So, for example, I certainly, completely, totally believe the characters when they try to explain themselves most of the time. I believe Joey, for example, when she says she has no problem with Pacey hooking up with Audrey. I believe her when she says she doesn’t feel it with Pacey and when she chooses Eddie over Pacey. I believe her completely when she says that the magic with Pacey faded away, but her relationship with Dawson is ‘pure magic’. I believe completely when Pacey says that being with Joey makes him feel like he is nothing. You tend to explain these things away. You put forward various reasons why you think we are not to take these statements as indicating that these characters really mean what they are saying, or that they are just too caught up in their emotions at the time. Fair enough. It is hard to know how to judge who is right in such debates. What I say is that we need to weigh up the various statements against the arc of the plot (always, always always – until the last 15 minutes – supposed to end with Dawson/Joey). When I do that, certain statements made by certain characters make more sense than others which I then contextualise as banter or evasion.

Finally, regarding Mr. Brook’s friend (his former best friend, who married Mr. Brooks’s soulmate). It is no coincidence that he was played by Andy Griffith; it is no surprise that this speech takes place in a season in which we are watching another example of what happens when two soulmates are separated by a friend This is not an accident – it is a direct comment on the events of Season 3 and 4, and takes place in an episode where Joey decides to have sex with Pacey. Its significance is crucial to recognise (and is consistent with the arc we agree that the writers had committed to). You also miss the most significant part of what he says to Dawson: when Mr. Brooks dies ‘he'll be with her. I suppose that's the way it…should have always been.’ I had to look that one up, as I haven’t seen the episode since it was first aired, but I remembered the importance of this conversation and the parallels (sometimes clunking ones) the writers were trying to draw.
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