Dawson's Creek

Season 4 Episode 8

The Unusual Suspects

Aired Tuesday 9:00 PM Nov 22, 2000 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
107 votes

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Episode Summary

The Unusual Suspects
Dawson, Pacey and Jack are all prime suspects in the masterful senior prank against Principal Peskin, but after their interrogations reveal seemingly air-tight alibis, another culprit surfaces.

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  • Utterly brilliant, one of the absolute best episodes of the series

    For those like myself who found their interest beginning to wade in Dawson's Creek by the time the beginning of Season 4 came around, this episode was like a Godsend, a total reminder of why I fell in love with this show in the first place in it's first and second seasons primarily, not only because of the touching if at times overly dramatic portrayal of Dawson Leery, Pacey Witter, Joey Potter and the rest of the gang in Capeside growing up and dealing with the crazy mess that is life and growing up, but also because of the show's tendency to pay brilliant homage to famous films of years past, from the Breakfast Club to Kevin Williamson's own Scream and the films of Steven Spielberg. Being that film was always the career and life for Dawson's character and thus much of the show's subject matter as well, this episode provided another brilliant homage, this time to the Usual Suspects obviously. What's so great about it though is that while some shows would just settle for the general oddity of the situation itself (hence: sitcom), the writer's here were smart enough to actually pay an homage to the original film in the best way possible by writing a "perfect crime" that was just as unpredictable, clever, and shocking as the notoriously famous whodunit perfect crime that Keyser Söze came up with in the film this episode is paying tribute to. As if that weren't enough though we also have some fantastic moments of genuine bonding among some of the principal characters after having nothing but conflict for so long this season. Pacey and his brother come to find that they respect and admire each other, Jack and Jen begin mending the fence after the big fight over Andie's ecstasy overdose, the new character of Dru finally gets his comeuppance for some of his deplored behavior (and in a way his acceptance of that punishment makes you want to forgive him), Dawson reaching out to old man Brooks and refusing to let him throw Dawson out of his life like he has everyone else in his own life, and finally and most importantly Dawson and Pacey coming together for the sheer brilliance of [SPOILERS]pulling the prank off together[/SPOILERS] and bonding over the experience. This is where they truly begin the road to becoming friends again and forgiving each other, and as much as the Dawson/Joey and Pacey/Joey relationships get love the other relationship on this show that always was a part of it's appeal was the one between Dawson and Pacey, two intelligent and deeply compassionate kids who were both exactly alike and completely opposite in their own unique ways. Add in all of that added character development on top of the brilliant plot device and you've got yourself hands down one of the best episodes of the entire series. Brilliant.moreless
  • Dawson, Jack, and Pacey are all suspected of pulling a prank. They all share stories of what happened that day, and it all leads to one person. Who could it be? Was it really that person who pulled the prank? Or is there a twist to these stories?moreless

    This episode of Dawson's Creek is brilliant. Dawson, Pacey, and Jack are all suspects of putting the Principal Peskin's boat in the swimming pool, with "The Class of 2001" on it and with his dog in the boat. Let's start of with Dawson's story. He claims to be with Mr. Brooks. I'm glad that he's finished working with Mr. Brooks because I don't like him very much. But I think it's interesting that Dawson found out that he worked on some movies. Jack claims to be coaching soccer all night. That's awesome that Jen can work with him for community service. Those men are jerks for firing Jack. That poor girl Molly thinking it was all her fault. Pacey claims he spent the day with his brother. Anyways one thing that makes this episode brilliant is that all the stories led to Drue pulling off this prank. Finally, Drue gets what he deserves. 2 weeks of Suspension and hopefully we never see him again. The second thing that makes this episode brilliant is that Dawson, Jack, and Pacey actually pulled the prank and they set up Drue so it seem like he did the prank. I give this episode a 10/10.moreless
James Van Der Beek

James Van Der Beek

Dawson Leery

Katie Holmes

Katie Holmes

Josephine "Joey" Potter

Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams

Jennifer "Jen" Lindley

Joshua Jackson

Joshua Jackson

Pacey J. Witter

Kerr Smith

Kerr Smith

Jack McPhee (recurring Season 2)

Meredith Monroe

Meredith Monroe

Andrea "Andie" McPhee (recurring Season 2)

Harry Shearer

Harry Shearer

Principal Peskin

Guest Star

Carly Schroeder

Carly Schroeder

Molly Say

Guest Star

Bridgett Newton

Bridgett Newton

Caroline Say

Guest Star

Dylan Neal

Dylan Neal

Deputy Doug Witter

Recurring Role

Harve Presnell

Harve Presnell

Mr. Arthur Brooks

Recurring Role

Carolyn Hennesy

Carolyn Hennesy

Mrs. Valentine

Recurring Role

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • In the scene where Jack is fired Jen is limping although she isn't injured in the episode and she doesn't limp in any other scene.

    • Goof: While Pacey is riding in the backseat of the cop car with Doug, he opens the door from the inside two times (once when Doug first arrives with the blind guy, and the second when Doug is seeing the blind guy to his house).

      That's not supposed to be possible, the back doors of cop cars do NOT open from the inside.

      Goof: When Doug motions for Pacey to exit the cop car, Pacey again opens the door from the inside, which is unlikely to happen in a police car.

      This same goof will happen again in 4x18 Eastern Standard Time.

  • QUOTES (26)

    • Jack: (As he stumbles through Dawson's window) Man it is a bitch getting up here without a ladder.

    • Pacey: Do you think it's possible that someday I could convince you that maybe I'm the type of person you could trust again?
      Dawson: I would like to believe that it is.

    • (To Dawson)
      Mr. Brooks: I don't give a damn about you or your lady. But I do care about my generosity taken advantage of.

    • Jack: Molly? Molly, come here. You get any orange wedges?
      Molly: One. But Billy took the other one and smashed it into the ground.
      Jack: Yeah, Billy's a jerk.
      Molly: Just wait until I'm 17 and hot, he'll regret messing with me.

    • (At a diner; Doug is eating a donut)
      Pacey: I'm shaking my head in disbelief.
      Doug: Don't judge a book by it's prologue, wise ass. There's plenty more coming up fast. More than any episode of Cops can teach you, believe me.

    • Jack: I talked to the guidance office. You know that community service, manual labor thing you're supposed to be doing? (Jen yawns a yes) I asked them if it was possible if you could fulfill your commitment by assisting me with my soccer team.

    • Principal: Process of elimination has made you one of the lucky three I still consider to be a suspect in this crime. Now there's an easy way to do this, Mr. Witter, and there is a hard way.
      Pacey: Well, seeing as though I have absolutely no idea what crime you're referring to, I'll probably take the easy way.

    • Pacey: When you told me you'd never be able to trust me again, that was probably among the top 5 moments of my life.
      Dawson: When I walked out on my back porch and saw you and Joey, that was my worst. Number 1 with a bullet.

    • Pacey: I just keep forgetting why we're not still friends.
      Dawson: You know it's not that simple.

    • Jack: We can't hate people because they're different. We just have to try and forget about them and just go on being the best person you can be.

    • Doug: Pacey, I think that you're a daring original. I think you have a talent for flying in the face of conventionality. And I think that you were born to break the rules, not enforce them. And you know what? I actually admire that in you. I really do.

    • Pacey: I'm admitting that I was wrong, Doug. What you do, it matters as much, if not more than any job I'll ever be able to hold down.

    • (To Doug)
      Drue: You can frisk me if you want. You'd like that.

    • Dawson: Today when I was going through your things I found your high school year book. Underneath your picture, the caption said that your life's ambition was to become a Hollywood filmmaker. Pretty striking coincidence given that I've had the exact same dream for as long as I can remember.
      Mr. Brooks: Good for you.
      Dawson: Scared the hell out of me. Cause I don't ever want to be like you. I don't ever want to be the kind of person who pushes everything and everyone away from him. I don't want to be alone. And I know that you don't want to be alone, either. You can't get rid of me, Mr. Brooks.

    • Dawson: Look, just because you are alone, and your life is filled with abandoned dreams does not give you the license to inflict your pain on me.
      Mr. Brooks: How dare you presume to understand me? Who I am, where I've been, what I've done. Now get the hell out of here.

    • (To Pacey)
      Doug: I want you to listen to me very closely because I am only going to say this one time. If you ever in your life ever care about anything as much as I care about being an officer in this town, I will be shocked! If you ever in your life are as good at anything as I am at being an officer in this town, I will be shocked. If you ever in your life presume to judge me again, so help God, I will beat the ugly right out of you.

    • Jack: Look, Molly. It doesn't matter if you're 17 or 45, these guys aren't going to respect you unless you make them.
      Molly: How do I make them respect me?
      Jack: Look, Molly... You gotta prove it yourself. Okay? If you do that, if you believe that you're just as good as they are, I guarantee that the rest is just going to take care of itself.

    • (To Doug)
      Pacey: You ever find yourself sitting out here on the edge of the highway in your squad car. You got your radar gun in hand. Been out here for four hours in which only 3 cars have passed all going under the speed limit, and wonder just what the hell happened to your life?

    • Jack: If I put her in goal, the boys are going to torture her out of spite.
      Jen: Well, that's because kids like Molly and myself tend towards the easier alternative. The one with the least opportunity for embarrassment, rather than glory. Unless of course...
      Jack: Unless of course what?
      Jen: You get us really pissed off.

    • Dawson: Pacey and I made a pact that when our time came, we would do it right. The prank to end all pranks. We talked about it for years.
      Principal: So it was you.
      Dawson: No, it wasn't me. In case you haven't noticed, Pacey and I aren't exactly Butch and Sundance these days.

    • (Reading the caption on Mr. Brooks' yearbook)
      Dawson: Arthur Issac Brooks. Newspaper, track and field, aspiration to become a great Hollywood filmmaker. Oh my God.

    • Joey: Take care of this punk for me, will ya? See if you can't maybe straighten him out a little bit.
      Pacey: Straight isn't really a big part of Doug's vocabulary.
      Doug: Yeah, that's funny.

    • (To Joey)
      Drue: Hey, Harry Potter! Come here.

    • (Looking at Drue)
      Gretchen: Whenever I see that guy I can't help hearing the Darth Vader theme.

    • Jen: What could be better than a dapper young lad with a floral arrangement?

    • [Joey runs into Drue who's just been suspended from school after being framed for a prank]
      Drue: Hey, Potter. Send a message to the boys for me. Tell them that I admire the brilliance of their design. No, wait. Just tell them that I said "touché."
      Joey: Which boys? Who are you talking about?
      [Drue is suddenly being forcibly escorted from the school building]
      Joey: Drue, what's going on? What happened?
      Drue: Karma... finally caught up with me.

  • NOTES (4)

    • Spanish title: Sospechas no Habituales, meaning Unusual Suspicions.

    • Dawson's Creek was shot like a motion picture using a single camera and often filmed on location, rather than being largely studio bound. While most of the episodes were conventional, there were two episodes exploring a story from differing perspectives:

      4x08 The Unusual Suspects was filmed as a film noir detective story, with camera work and music appropriate to the genre.

      5x15 Downtown Crossing featured only one regular, Joey, and her interaction with a mugger.

    • Meredith Monroe (Andrea "Andie" McPhee) doesn't appear in this episode, although she is featured in the opening credits.

    • Music featured in the episode included:
      Crazy For This Girl by Evan and Jaron
      After All by Dar Williams


    • Episode title: The Unusual Suspects.

      A reference to the famous phrase The Usual Suspects spoken by Capt. Louis Renault, Claude Rains's character, in the 1942 movie Casablanca.

    • Gretchen: Whenever I see that guy I can't help hearing the Darth Vader theme.

      Darth Vader is a fictional villain character in George Lucas' science fiction saga Star Wars.

    • Drue: (To Joey) Hey, Harry Potter! Come here.

      Harry Potter is a heptalogy of fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard Harry Potter.

    • Doug: Don't judge a book by it's prologue, wise ass. There's plenty more coming up fast. More than any episode of Cops can teach you, believe you me.

      COPS is an American documentary television series that follows police officers, constables, and sheriff's deputies during patrols and other police activities.

    • The title of this episode The Unusual Suspects could refer to the 1995 film The Usual Suspects.

  • 10:00 pm