The fourth season of Dawson's Creek
is dominated by two themes. The first is senior year at Capeside High, as high achievers Joey (Katie Holmes) and Andie (Meredith Monroe) have as much pressure to deal with as low achiever Pacey (Joshua Jackson). The second is the constant love triangle following Joey and Pacey's return from their summer of bliss, threatening to destroy anyone's chance of having a healthy, functional relationship. Pacey's insecurity doesn't let him believe he's actually the lucky one, even as he proves with his actions that he deserves it. Fortunately for Dawson (James Van Der Beek), he finds a sympathetic ear in Pacey's older sister, Gretchen (Sasha Alexander), though he also has to enter an "indentured servitude" relationship with an old curmudgeon (Harve Presnell). Joey takes a job waiting tables at the yacht club, where she has to deal with the heir apparent to Abby Morgan's evil shoes, Drue Valentine (Mark Matkevitch), who also turns out to have a shadowy history with one of the friends. Meanwhile Andie and Jack (Kerr Smith) coach a youth soccer team, and Jen (Michelle Williams), having suddenly lost her boyfriend from season 3, cements her best-friendship with Jack and drags him to a gay coalition group where he spars with the activist leader (David Monahan). Look for cameos by Andy Griffith as a retired movie actor and by frequent soundtrack contributor Mary Beth Maziarz as a club singer.
Toward the end of the season, Dawson asks, "Is it just me, or did things get suddenly bigger in the last year?" It's true that as the characters have grown up--even Dawson, sort of--situations turn more serious, whether it's an afternoon sail on the cape or a rave that leads to the abrupt departure of one of the regular cast. After a prom from hell, the final phase is the graduation ceremony, and for Dawson's Creek it marked the end of an era, which the characters themselves felt deeply in the season-closing "Coda." The series would run for two more years, but it would never be the same again.
As with previous DVD sets, the background music has been changed significantly, including replacing the Paula Cole theme song. On the bright side, some of the linchpin songs--Shawn Colvin's "Blue Like That," Eva Cassidy's "Fields of Gold," Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You"--have been preserved. Executive producer Paul Stupin contributes his usual (and increasingly unnecessary) commentary on two episodes, joined on the second by a "mystery guest," consulting producer Alan Cross. --David Horiuchi
Dawson's Creek ~ Season 4