“Enter Julia Hoffman, bearing flowers.”
INT. JOSETTE’S ROOM – DREAM.
Vicki, wearing a bride’s veil, is staring at herself in the mirror on the vanity in Josette’s room. Barnabas walks in, and tells her that she’ll be a beautiful bride.
Hesitantly, Vicki asks, “I will be a bride… won’t I, Barnabas?” He says that she will. She asks where Burke is, and Barnabas says, “He’s here, Vicki. Right here. Look on the bed.” She turns, and sees Burke’s corpse on the bed, covered in a shroud.
Which raises the question: What is the purpose of “love” in an open-ended narrative?
“When that time comes, and it will be very soon, my dear Josette will come to me quite willingly.”
Burke Devlin is dead. We might as well get that out of the way.
We’re about four seconds into the episode, and a breathless Mrs. Johnson runs into the drawing room to tell Elizabeth, “I just heard a report on the radio. They said Mr. Devlin’s plane went down over the Amazon.” Apparently, Mrs. Johnson listens to the Top 40 plot-point station from Gilligan’s Island, and the drive-time news roundup covers South American business-class mishaps.
They can’t find the body, so if you’re familiar with soap opera narrative tropes, you know exactly what happens next: Vicki and Barnabas are at the altar, and the justice of the peace says, “Should anyone present know of any reason –”
Then the doors swing open, and there’s Burke Devlin — shaggy hair, unkempt beard, torn clothing, deep tan, possibly accompanied by a macaque. He’s just in time to stop the wedding, and reclaim the woman that he stayed alive for.
So, to be clear: Not gonna happen. Burke’s dead, he never comes back, and you can feel free to forget that he ever existed.
“Terrible things happen, and no one seems to do anything about them.”
At the top of today’s episode, the ghost of Sarah Collins appears in David’s bedroom, and tells him that Dr. Woodard was murdered.
Sarah says that she doesn’t know all the details, but it was horrible, and “it shouldn’t have happened the way it did.” David asks who killed him, and Sarah says that she can’t tell him. Then she disappears.
This is all standard operating procedure for Sarah, who is powered entirely by narrative convenience, and always gives David exactly enough information to set up the next scene. Usually, I would complain about that, except that the next scene is unbelievably sad and beautiful, and it makes me want to cry.
“I wonder what I’ll be like, as a human being?”
Okay, now we’re talking. Right out of the gate today, the first thing we see: dark red liquid bubbling in a glass jar. It’s connected with tubes and wires to a bunch of other equipment, and there’s a grinding motor noise that indicates that there’s some kind of complicated machinery at work.
Backing up a step, we see Dr. Julia Hoffman in a pale blue lab coat, squinting at equipment and making adjustments. She’s in a basement room, with brick walls, exposed timbers and huge cobwebs. The doctor uses a pair of tongs to grab chunks of dry ice, and she drops them into a huge bubbling cauldron.
That cauldron is full of more dark red liquid. It’s a bubbling cauldron of blood. This is mad science, we’re actually watching mad science.
“I didn’t say I believed it, but Dave did. And he’s dead.”
You know, we’ve been spending a lot of time with the monsters lately; we should probably check in with the good guys while we still have some.
Yesterday, Barnabas and Julia murdered Dr. Dave Woodard, because he’d found Julia’s notebook that described her efforts to cure Barnabas of being a vampire. Julia prepared a hypodermic with a drug that would make it look like Woodard had a heart attack. She chickened out at the last minute, but Barnabas jammed the needle into Woodard’s arm, and the doctor died.
This has caused a great deal of inconvenience for everyone, because earlier in the evening, Woodard had called Sheriff Patterson, and made an appointment to share some important evidence. So now the Sheriff is wondering whether Woodard was killed to conceal that evidence.
Naturally, this raises an important question, namely: Why do you need to make an appointment to bring the Sheriff crucial evidence about an unsolved murder and kidnapping? What else was on his schedule today?
“Loathsome I am, and evil. You can mock me for that, but leave my pain alone.”
Okay, it’s all blowing up. Dr. Woodard knows everything! He stole Julia’s notebook, and he’s read all about her experiments. Now Barnabas appears in Woodard’s office to confront him, and Julia’s there too, with a hypodermic needle full of blue look-like-a-heart-attack poison.
You know, there’s a better than average chance that something might actually happen today. This time I mean it.
“He will beg for death. Death will be a mercy.”
It always starts with a box.
Someone is always too greedy, or too curious, or too clever. They go looking for trouble, and they find it. They open the mystery box. Evil is loosed upon the world.
And they don’t even clean up after themselves, which is just typical, isn’t it? Barnabas and Julia go to her room to find the notes that she’s been keeping on her experiments, and they find that Dr. Woodard’s already been there. He’s pried open the lock, and stolen Julia’s notebook, and now somebody is going to have to do something terrible.
“We’ve wasted enough time.”
Barnabas and Julia are bickering again. Dr. Woodard’s getting closer to discovering Barnabas’ secret — he’s met the ghost of Sarah Collins, and in yesterday’s episode, he eavesdropped on Barnabas and Julia talking about the notes that she’s been keeping on her experiments. Julia reports that she’s spoken to Woodard, and she didn’t get very far.
Barnabas sneers, “The next thing you’ll be telling me is that Woodard poses no threat.”
“No,” Julia says. “This time, I’m frightened, Barnabas. Dave behaves as if he’s on to something… and if he is, this could mean the end of everything, for both of us!”
“Stop thinking like a woman, and start thinking like a doctor.”
Here’s a lesson from Supervillain 101: Don’t sacrifice your only henchman.
I know it’s tempting, but seriously, try to keep it together. Willie was kind of a pain sometimes — prone to backchat, and not fully committed to the corporate vision — but on the upside, he did the occasional perimeter check.
So here’s Dr. Woodard, leaving the Old House after a mutually threatening conversation with Barnabas. He bumps into Julia on his way out, and says good night. As soon as she enters the house, Woodard takes four steps over to the window, and helps himself to their conversation.
Barnabas really should have a more complex security protocol by now. This is not a new problem.
Of course, it’s not easy to keep things on the D.L. in a soap opera, because the format requires a level of exposition usually reserved for 24-hour cable news channels. It doesn’t matter if you’re hiding from the Nazis, and an SS patrol is walking by with sniffer dogs and infrared goggles. You’re a soap opera character, and you never stop talking.
“The thought of what he might be frightens me as much as it did you.”
Well, there are books here, that’s something that I know. There are books on shelves, and they’re dusty, so this is probably an interior set. That’s a place to start.
The walls are made of stone, with big stone columns, and there are plaques on the wall that look like gravestones. Lots of cobwebs, naturally. Very dark, very shadowy.
There’s an old man with glasses who’s carrying a book. He shuffles over to the wall with the gravestones, peers at them, and then looks at all of the other walls, as if he suspects they might be up to something. Then he shuffles over to the bookshelves, and puts down the book that he’s holding.
I’m trying to describe this scene for you in as much detail as I can, because we’re currently one minute into this episode, and I have absolutely no idea what we’re looking at.