One of the strangest episodes of Dawson’s Creek is Season 2: Episode 5: Full Moon Rising. All of the characters seem to be infected with a superstitious determinism, blaming anything and everything on the full moon. Joey’s in a bad mood? Well, weirder things have been known to happen around this point in the moon cycle. Jack kisses Joey, when he knows she has a boyfriend? Let’s just say they call it lunacy for a reason. Of course, despite the fact that other episodes of Dawson’s Creek have probably taken place during meteorologically significant moments (perhaps the spring equinox) there has been no mention of the fateful effects they can have on the actions of characters.
There seem to be two opposing points of view on the show: the full moon determinism, and the insistence of certain characters that you can change the person you’ve been. Consider Dawson’s insistence on the reality of kismet in terms of his love for Joey. Then contrast this to Jack’s belief that, true love isn’t something that exists but something that has to be worked for or created. The characters seem to be continually floundering and wondering whether they can actually change their situations and personality traits. All this brings up an interesting question of how free the characters on Dawson’s Creek are to order their own action. Are they merely subject to the whims of the writer/creator/mood of the viewing audience who control their fate as if they were Zeus and the characters Odysseus? Or are they lifelike enough to command certain actions within the show, in the way that authors often speak of characters writing a plotline themselves?
The view you take of this conundrum is probably dependent on your opinion of the quality of the show. When Dawson shows his film, Creek Daze, to his film teacher, one of her criticisms is that the dialogue is unrealistic, leaving Dawson stupefied and stuttering, since all of the dialogue is borrowed directly from the mouths of him and his friends. The audience smirks at this as well, because we know that this insistently copied dialogue comes from the mouths of fictional characters, so of course it’s not real. We could take Dawson’s teachers’ assertion to mean that the dialogue on the show is so poorly written that it seems to her, a polished Hollywood pro, inane and unbelievable. Hence, the characters are not alive, and not quite real. There’s even a deeper suspension of disbelief at work: how does Dawson remember so exactly conversations between him and his friends, which were after all separated by a period of months? We know Dawson has a faulty memory- he forgets Pacey’s birthday, after all. Dawson’s newly minted photographic memory seems to be a product of dramatic convenience, little more-suggesting to the audience that in the end, he’s little more than a plaything, pushed around by the pens and caprices of the show’s creators. Initially, the only similarity Dawson would seem to share with a character like Odysseus is a reliance on boats as a primary method of transport. However, perhaps the two are united in their inability to act freely- this being, it seems, an overarching tragedy of both works.
-Rebecca Stoner, Contributing Writer