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'Dawson's Creek' nostalgia recap: 'Just an impromptu home birth'

Season 1 | Episode 6 | “Baby” | Aired Feb 24, 1998

“Baby” is the first episode to make me cry since I’ve embarked on this Dawson’s Creek rewatch. It’s also the first episode where Dawson’s boypain has taken the back seat and allowed the far more dynamic characters of Joey, Jen, and Pacey to drive the plot. Coincidence? I think not.

Bessie is a week away from her due date. She’s as cranky as a woman who’s nine months pregnant deserves to be, and she and Joey are not getting along. Bodie is leaving for the day for an interview at a restaurant in Hyannis. FORESHADOWING.

Pacey and Tamara meet outside of school. Pacey is getting tired of all the Friday nights locked away in Tamara’s beach house. He wants to go out “like a real couple” and suggests that they go away from the prying eyes of Capeside, to Providence. Where no one will notice that a 30-something is on a date with a teenager? “Will you go out with me, Miss Jacobs?” he asks, and Tamara laughs.

In the boys’ bathroom, Pacey tells Dawson that as soon as he gets his learner’s permit (oy!), “This woman is going to cave completely.” Pacey does a cursory check of the bathroom stalls before he and Dawson start talking about all the sex he is having with Tamara. The bell rings. They leave and we hear a cough. Someone was smoking in one of the stalls and heard everything. Dawson and Pacey have the worst noses EVER because I don’t know HOW they didn’t smell that.

Minutes later, Jen races up to Dawson, asking if he’s heard the rumors about Pacey and Miss Jacobs. He freezes and asks her who she heard it from. “The question should be, Who DIDN’T tell me?” The proverbial cat is out of the bag. Pacey panics, and Dawson tells him the only thing he can do is walk around with his head held high: “The only thing worse than a rumor is a substantiated one.” Later, in Tamara’s class, where the unfortunate lesson of the day is “forbidden fruit,” students start making comments during the lecture. Tamara does her best to keep a poker face. Joey seeks Pacey out after school to say that she knows what he’s going through, as she has been the topic of gossip because of her family situation. Pacey asks what he should do. She can only say, “Pray like hell for a better story to come along.”

Joey arrives home to find Bessie in labor. Their phone is out (of course), and the only option is Dawson’s house. Joey rows them across the creek, with Bessie hilariously taking over halfway through because Joey is going too slowly. They make it to the Leerys, only to discover that all the local ambulances are being monopolized by a traffic accident an hour away. Bessie gives the dispatcher the what-for: “Maybe I’m not in the tax bracket that guarantees a prompt response to medical distress, but I have a shoe full of amniotic fluid, my pelvis is beating like a rumba band, and I’m in real danger of having my firstborn child delivered by two high school students.” Joey and Dawson panic at the prospect of delivering a baby, considering they haven’t even finished biology.

Tamara angrily confronts Pacey. She placed ONE condition on their relationship: not talking about it. She suggests they do a “real couple’s thing”: break up. Later, Doug lays into Pacey about the rumor (“Poor, sweet Tamara” … if he only knew), and informs him that she is being brought before the school board.

Jen finds a Bible in her desk (at least it’s not a Virgin Mary in her goody drawer?) and argues with Grams about her right to privacy and need for respect. She’s not an atheist to piss Grams off; she just doesn’t have a lot of faith in God OR man these days. Joey interrupts them, reluctantly asking Grams to help Bessie because she is a nurse. No matter how she feels about Bessie’s pregnancy, she took an oath to help people. Grams goes into FULL BossBitch mode, and it’s amazing. Bessie is furious when Grams arrives, but Grams ignores her protests and tells her to shut up. Surprisingly, Bessie does. Probably due to the “don’t fuck with me” expression on Grams’ face.

At the hearing, Pacey tries to apologize to Tamara, but is stopped by her attorney. Pacey interrupts the hearing right as Tamara is about to answer the allegations. He says he made everything up (way to be a prince and fall on that sword, Pace). She smiles at him gratefully as the charges are dismissed. Outside, Doug approaches Tamara, saying Pacey has always been the bane of his family. (SERIOUSLY WHY DOES PACEY’S FAMILY HATE HIM? #meritedcapslock) She replies that Doug must be very proud of his brother. When he doesn’t understand, she coolly replies, “The way he’s grown up. From an unruly child to a … sweet, sensitive … intelligent young man. Oh, and Douglas? It’s Miss Jacobs.” Consider that a mic drop.

Bessie’s labor is not going smoothly. Joey, freaked out by her sister’s screams of pain, leaves the room. Jen comments that there is a lot of blood, which freaks Bessie out. She clings to Grams as if she is the mother she’s lost: “Mrs. Ryan? I’m doing okay, right?” Dawson, who has been filming the entire event, says that of COURSE she is okay because they are making a movie. He asks Grams to smile for the camera, and she promptly swats it out of his hand, ordering him out of the room. (I told you. BOSSBITCH.) Grams pulls Jen aside, chiding her for upsetting Bessie. When Jen pushes for answers, Grams admits that she is uneasy about the amount of blood. She implores her granddaughter to set aside her attitude, summon up some faith, and help her get this baby delivered.

Dawson comforts Joey outside. Joey shares how much Bessie reminds her of their mother: “Sometimes it’s like my mom never died.” Bessie’s cries of pain brought back memories of her mother’s illness, where Joey would sit and hold her mother’s hand as she cried. Dawson, in a rare moment of wisdom, asks Joey why her sister would need her in this moment any less than her mother did.

Grams and Jen surround Bessie. It’s time to push. Bessie begs Grams to give her something for the pain. Having nothing to give, Grams calmly looks at her and starts reciting the Lord’s Prayer. When Bessie says that won’t work on her, Grams says it’s NOT for her, but for her child. The two women stare each other down for a moment, and then Bessie repeats the first line of the prayer (this is when I started crying). After a second, Jen chimes with the next line, much to Grams’ shock. Joey returns and takes her sister’s hand, which helps Bessie summon the will for the final push. She delivers her son, who is healthy. Later that night, Grams asks Jen if she still doesn’t have faith in God after what she witnessed. “I don’t know about God,” Jen replies. “But I think I may have come around a little on man.” That admission is enough for Grams on this evening.

Pacey goes to Tamara’s house, where she expresses her appreciation for his actions. She informs him that she’s turned in her resignation and is leaving Capeside. Their relationship ending was inevitable—but just because she’s older and (arguably) wiser, that doesn’t mean this is easy for her. He asks her for a farewell kiss, which she denies, saying she doesn’t think she can handle kissing him again. She kisses his forehead and tells him to enjoy high school. Later, Pacey watches Tamara’s house from the beach (a little creepy, but go with it). He watches until she turns out the light, and then he smiles.

“Bye, Tammy.”

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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