Jack and Ethan meet on a commuter train back to Capeside after Jack, Dawson, Andie and Joey spend the weekend in Boston. Ethan is recovering from a break-up and staying with his parents in Capeside for a while. He remarks to Jack that he sees his ex-boyfriend all the time at school, to which Jack is astounded as Ethan is the first person he has met in real life who is also gay. They talk and get along great, and Jack later runs into Ethan at the store, where he ends up going to Capefest, a music festival, to get closer to Ethan.
Jack decides to invite Ethan to spend a weekend at his house, where Ethan helps Jack with his strained relationship with his father. Jack feels that Ethan considers him a newbie, which Ethan calls Jack jokingly on occasion, but is worried that it'll stop Ethan from being romantically interested in him. Jack hesitantly asks Ethan to be his date at Prom, but they fight when Jack feels like it's just political for Ethan. Ethan confesses that he is interested in Jack, but that he's not sure Jack's ready for a relationship. Ethan leaves and Jack, encouraged by Grams, Andie and Jen, travels with them to Ethan's boarding school to see him. Jack finds him and, although he's nervous, he kisses Ethan. Sadly, Ethan has reunited with his ex and Jack leaves heartbroken.
Jack after ending his relationship with Joey after coming out to both his father, sister and her befriends gay college freshmen Ethan following his failed rendezvous with an internet date arranged with Andie's help. Upon arriving at the local Capeside coffee stop and seeing the handsome older man waiting he backs out of fear of the public display of the date and not being ready. Ethan and Jack develop a nice, comfortable relationship with each other due to Jack's coming to terms despite Ethan's subtle hints at a genuine interest in a relationship with him. Ethan and Jack connect over their shared hardships in coming to terms with their sexuality and the negative reception that came with it as well as attempts at hetereosexual relationships.
They first closely connect after the Capeside Capefest Camp Out in which they share a tent on the beach and stay up all night conversing, Jack reluctant to make a move despite being strongly attracted to Ethan and at this point sharing his interest with Jen, Andie, Joey and Grams. Eventually under Andie's coercing and the knowledge that their father would be out of town Jack invites Ethan to sleepover but are then surprised by the sudden appearence of his father who then invites them both out for dinner. At the restaurant Ethan clicks greatly with Joseph on the topic of cars and mechanics much to the annoyance of Jack who sees his father's displays of interest in Ethan as false and attempts to call him out on as Joseph attempts to recount Jack's childhood interest in his automobile collection.
Jack expresses his frustration with Ethan as the two later retire to sleep and he voices his assumption on his father which Joseph hears from outside the door, Ethan eventually calms Jack's frustration and suades him to consider his father's possible genuine interest in connecting with this side of his son. Jack and Ethan start to then advance in their fling and when Joey and Andie decide to boycott the Capeside High Junior Prom over their homophobic representation, Jack, while reluctant at first, decides to ask Ethan to be his date. Ethan is all for the political stance and encourages Jack to ask him, but Jack is much more aware of, not only his feelings for Ethan, but also the spotlight he's in being the first kid to bring a guy to the Prom in Capeside.
At the prom Ethan tries to keep things light with a nervous Jack and admits that he never did anything like this with his ex-boyfriend, which makes Jack really angry because he's actually incredibly uncomfortable. After talking with Joey, Jack runs to find Ethan at the train station and Ethan confesses that he likes Jack too, but he's not sure Jack is ready for a relationship. Ethan asks Jack to kiss him now that nobody's around, but Jack's not ready and Ethan leaves. Pained by this, Jack joins Andie, Pacey and Jen in a sourfest over relationships, but is yanked out of it when Grams spontaneously turns their drive home into a Carpe Diem road trip. Jack goes to Ethan's prep school and kisses him! But alas, Ethan has reconciled with his ex-boyfriend and Jack is heartbroken. Jack leaves and they don't see each other again.
- The kiss between Adam Kaufman (Ethan) and Kerr Smith (Jack) was the first ever kiss between two men in network TV history.
Notes and references
- First Encounters of the Close Kind
- Barefoot At Capefest
- Kerr Smith On Jack McPhee From 'Dawson's Creek' & What It Was Like Playing An LGBT Character In The '90s (February 2015)
- 'Dawson's Creek's' Kerr Smith and Adam Kaufman remember their groundbreaking 'True Love' kiss (May 2015)
- Fifteen Years Ago, ‘Dawson’s Creek’ Gave Us TV’s First ‘Passionate’ Gay Kiss. How Far Have We Come? (April 2015)