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'Dawson's Creek' nostalgia recap: Straight to the Smithsonian

Season 1 | Episode 4 | “Discovery” | Aired Feb 10, 1998

“Isn’t it nice to know a lot? And a little bit not …”

Like Little Red in Into the Woods, Dawson is faced with some hard truths in “Discovery.” Unlike Little Red, he doesn’t take those truths and make a bad ass fur cape out of them; instead, he wraps himself in a cloak of petulance and superiority. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

High on his first kiss with Jen, Dawson waxes poetic about her perfection while watching the dailies of his movie. Joey is thoroughly bored by this, as she says that nothing about Jen’s face is so original as to warrant “perfection.” Dawson mentions that his parents’ 20th wedding anniversary is coming up and he has no idea what to get them. Joey, still uncomfortable in her knowledge of Gail’s affair, quips he should get them separate vacations. The conversation is halted when Dawson and Joey realize what is on his tape … a man and a woman getting it on in the ruins. Joey calls Dawson out as a pervert, but Dawson didn’t shoot this. He realizes he must have left the camera on while he and Jen were making out at the ruins (a VERY happening place that night). As they stare at the screen, they realize they recognize the woman. It’s Miss Jacobs.

The next day over lunch, Dawson and Joey tell Pacey and Jen about the tape. Pacey is understandably stricken and asks if they can see the guy Miss Jacobs is doing it with. They say no, but Pacey demands to see the tape anyway. “So you can flog the bishop in privacy?” Joey asks, while I marvel at all the euphemisms for masturbation this show has managed to come up with.

Dawson walks Jen home, commenting on Pacey’s bluster regarding his level of sexual experience. He leans in to kiss her, but Jen stops him because Grams is staring at them from the window disapprovingly. After a little banter about the importance of antici—SAY IT—pation, Jen throws caution to the wind and passionately kisses Dawson, partly out of desire and partly to stick it to Grams. She tells Grams it was just a kiss, but Grams recalls plenty of “just kisses” that sent Jen to Capeside to begin with.

At the Leery house, Dawson goes up to his room and discovers Pacey desperately searching for the tape. Pacey confesses that the man on the tape is him, much to Dawson’s shock. This tape could ruin his life for many reasons, the least being the embarrassment of his first time being captured on video. Pacey asks Dawson about how his performance was, and Dawson says it was fine. This conversation just got gross.

Joey is helping Dawson shop for his parents’ gift when they stumble upon Gail and her secret boyfriend, Bob. Gail claims she’s just helping him find a new sports coat. Dawson buys this excuse because it’s a perfectly normal thing for co-anchors to do, and I want to throw roses at Katie Holmes’ feet for her amazing shade face.

The next day, Dawson takes Jen to Studio to do some dubbing for the movie. While they are taking a break, they spot Gail in the hall. Kissing Bob. Cue Dawson shutting down. Jen gently says that she is here for him if he wants to talk, but he goes running to Joey. He really wants to tell his dad, which Joey says is not a good idea. Dawson asks her if she thinks people know. Her silence says it all, and Dawson flies off the handle. How could Joey DO this to him? Dawson accuses her of being threatened by Jen, because the two things are clearly related.

Dawson goes running back to Jen, because he only cares about hearing what he wants to hear, but Jen was hurt when he ran off before. She’s sure that he went straight to Joey to pour his heart out. Given that he did, Dawson says nothing. He asks Jen to promise that there will never be any secrets between them, which Jen takes as an opening to tell him why she is in Capeside: Her parents sent her away because she was a wild child. She hung out with the wrong people, and she had sex way too young. Dawson is floored by this and asks if it was with a boyfriend. She says yes, but there were others too. It’s an incredibly honest moment for her, and it’s clear she’s been afraid to open up about it, but she wants him to know the truth. She shyly asks Dawson to hold her hand, which he does, but he can barely look at her.

At school, Jen asks Dawson to blow off a class and come watch a movie, but he starts making excuses as to why he can’t hang out with her. She calls Dawson out on his avoidance and it’s GLORIOUS:

You could tell me why you’ve been avoiding me all day, or what’s behind that look in your eyes—whether it’s repulsion or jealousy or complete disapproval—because I know I’ve never seen it before. You could tell me that you suddenly feel strange about us, that maybe we need a little break because you don’t seem to know me, and maybe you never really did. Or, and now I’ll make it really easy for you, you can just tell me if I’ve left anything out.”

Jen Lindley will NOT stand for being slut-shamed.

At the video store, Pacey says Dawson shouldn’t be upset by Jen’s confession: “Face it. Dawson: The Jen Lindley you have built up in your mind does not entirely exist, okay? In your movies, she can be whatever you want, but in real life, the scripts get thrown out.” In other words, get over your Madonna/whore complex, buddy.

That night, Mitch waxes poetic to Dawson about being married for 20 years. Dawson starts to tell Mitch the truth, but Gail walks in and interrupts. When Mitch asks Dawson what he was going to say, Dawson simply tells him, “Happy anniversary.” The truth can wait.

Jen seeks advice from Joey, who is very cold to her at first, but after Jen blurts out that she told Dawson she wasn’t a virgin, she immediately stops what she’s doing. She explains that Dawson is a typical only child; he pouts when he doesn’t get his way, and he only sees things in black and white. Joey wants Jen to keep in mind that “every guy that grows up to be one of the good ones … was probably a dweeb with girls when he was 15 too.” It’s a rare bonding moment for these two girls, as Joey expresses that she understands everything Jen is feeling. She urges Jen to wait for him to come around. How long should that be? “Don’t go by me,” she says. “I’d probably be stupid enough to wait forever.” “Mind a little company?” Jen asks. Remind me why these two have to fight over Dawson?

Joey warns Dawson that he’s going to screw it up with Jen. “I’m a teenager, Joey,” he replies petulantly. “I’m mad at the world.” Dawson stubbornly asserts that he and Joey aren’t friends anymore and he doesn’t want to talk to her. He’s unnerved by the way things have changed between them. Joey says that if they don’t evolve, their friendship may as well be a museum exhibit.

Dawson says he and Joey must have been married in another life. They banter about what their wedding was like (they both brought dates), but the moment things get real between them, Dawson freezes, saying he doesn’t remember any more. Joey gets up and says, “No matter how the wedding turned out, I’m pretty sure I had a wonderful time up until the end.” “Me too,” Dawson replies. Sarah Mclachlan’s “Full of Grace” swells in the background as Joey walks away sadly. Dawson doesn’t watch her go.

“Yep,” she tells herself as she leaves, “straight to the Smithsonian.”

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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