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Episode 778: Pocket Full of Kryptonite

“Why not bring back a strange, powerful hand to solve all our problems?”

It always starts with a box.

But this time, it’s important. At least, that’s what people tell themselves, just before they pop the lock and open the lid. This time, the wolf is at the door, the bad guy is getting away, the emperor refuses to surrender. I have no choice, they say. It’s really important.

And when they say it’s important, what they mean is I’m important. As in, more important than whoever gets hurt. I am important enough to flip this switch, to drop this bomb, to use this power which no one should wield. I am more important than you, and here’s the proof: this hell I’m unleashing.

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Episode 777: All Points

“I know what the evil force wants you to do next.”

March 6, 1897. Evening.
Village of Collinsport, docks.

Sophie Baker — white female, mid 30s. Discovered in storage area behind the Blue Whale. Severe wounds to the neck, drained of blood. Dead, but still super drunk somehow. Eyes had a haunted look, as if they had stared into a subterranean chasm that would destroy us all. Officers advised to be on the lookout for a metaphor for the lust and greed that drives the exploitation of the lower classes.

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Episode 776: Blood Sports

“If we only knew what these three bullets meant.”

“Miss Collins,” Rachel says, eyeing the loaded heater in her former employer’s hand, “you must put the gun down. You’ve got to realize!” And then: Ka-POW! It turns out she doesn’t got to, after all.

So we start the week off with a bang, and it’s going to get messier from here. This is a particularly dangerous time to be a Dark Shadows character; we had two murders last week, and there’s going to be three this week, including the governess who just got fired ten seconds ago. Soap operas don’t usually have a weekly body count like this, except for General Hospital, obviously, where they have a dedicated budget for ammunitions.

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Episode 775: The Winner

“It may be the only way we’ll find out where the coffin is kept.”

Okay, here’s a rundown on this evening’s menu.

Dirk Wilkins has just risen as a vampire tonight, so obviously the first thing he has to do is set up his coffin. He stashes it in a room that everybody keeps saying is the basement of a farmhouse, and I don’t feel like arguing about it again, so fine. I will just point out that a) there is no farm, b) there is no farmhouse, and c) this looks nothing like a basement, but like I said, I don’t want to fight about it. Basement of a farmhouse. Roger that.

After Dirk gets his coffin set up, he goes out for a prowl. Returning to the farmhouse, he walks down into the basement, and there’s hapless fugitive Tim Shaw, just sitting there like a Christmas basket. So that’s meal number one.

Then Dirk strolls over to the Old House, which is an odd choice, since Barnabas is leading the vampire hunt. But nothing gets in Dirk’s way, not tonight. He rolls in, finds his old boss Judith Collins, and bam! He bites her too.

That’s a good first night out, so Dirk heads back to the farmhouse, and guess what he finds in the basement: girl governess Rachel Drummond, who’s looking for Tim. So Dirk bites her too, and now he’s got another blood slave. He’s building a whole staff; he must be getting a softball team together or something.

So, I’ve got to say — I have been watching Dark Shadows for what is it, more than two years now, and I have never seen this kind of performance out of a vampire before. Three takedowns in one night, and literally the only thing he did is walk from his coffin to the Old House, and then back. This is clearly a world-class vampire. Somebody needs to get J.D. Power and Associates on the phone.

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Episode 774: What’s Up Dirk

“I thought it unusual, to say the least, to find an empty coffin here.”

Hapless quisling Timothy Shaw is on the lam, unjustly accused of a murder that he did technically commit. Earlier in the evening, Tim dumped nightshade into his boss’ tea, acting on a post-hypnotic suggestion so irritating that I’ve decided I will never try to explain it again.

So now he’s found his way to Peabody’s Farm, which is on the Collins estate somehow, and he crawls down into what appears to be an abandoned mining shaft with no obvious agricultural purpose. It’s a mess of bricks and greasy black stone, held up with timbers at awkward angles. You couldn’t keep animals down here, or food, or equipment, or plum preserves or whatever imaginary farmers don’t keep in the weird mixed-use storage dungeons that they have no reason to build.

The only thing a person could use a room like this for is to store the empty coffin of a newly-risen vampire, so that’s what Tim bumps right into. I guess it’s true what they say: you can run and run, but you can’t run away from your own terrible hairstyle.

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Episode 773: The Persecution and Assassination of Minerva Trask as Performed by Tim Shaw Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade

“My father won’t let her be dead!”

Okay, quick recap: Reverend Trask wants Evan Hanley to get Tim Shaw to kill his wife. No, not Tim’s wife, Trask’s wife. Tim doesn’t have a wife. Apparently, Evan does have a wife, Quentin mentioned her a while ago, but we never see her, and I don’t know what that relationship is like. For all I know, she’s totally down with Evan’s anti-wife murder training classes. Look, it doesn’t matter how Evan’s wife feels. Stop worrying about Evan’s wife.

The point is that Reverend Trask has future plans that do not involve Minerva Trask as an active participant, so he needs her out of the way. Enter Satanist lawyer Evan Hanley, who’s worked up some kind of weird juju where he can hypnotize a guy into killing somebody by licking his fingers. I mean, the guy licks his own fingers, and then they play cards, and whoever plays the Queen of Spades gets poisoned. End of recap.

Continue reading Episode 773: The Persecution and Assassination of Minerva Trask as Performed by Tim Shaw Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade

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Episode 772: Nothing Lasts

“Apologies are the Devil’s invention. They just cover evil behavior.”

So like I said yesterday, Pansy Faye was killed after only one episode, a promising new character taken from us too soon by a wiggling plastic bat. And it’s a real shame, because it feels like we only scratched the surface on the entertainment value of a gold-digging fake-Cockney lunatic mentalist. But now Pansy’s dead, and she’ll never appear on the show ever again. Well, you can’t have everything.

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Episode 771: The Mentalist

“He will look for some secret dark womb that will keep him safe.”

So, it’s yesterday, and Barnabas walks into the weird secret jail cell that he keeps behind a bookcase for some reason, and Dirk is gone! He died, and vamped himself right out of stir. Barnabas and Beth are just looking around, not sure what to do with themselves, surprise twist, big crescendo, credits, the end. You know? Yesterday.

And today, Young Danny tunes into New Jersey Network, and what do I see? Barnabas walks into the Old House, and there’s a dead white lady sitting in a chair who I’ve never seen before. Barnabas says, “No. NO!” and then Carl is knocking at the door, saying, “Barnabas? Let me in, I have to talk to Pansy!” And I’m like, who the fuck is Pansy?

So, surprise, turns out that when they first released these episodes for syndication in the mid-80s, Worldvision mislabeled episode 771. They thought it was from June 1968 instead of ’69, so they played it a year too early, right after the ghost of Reverend Trask bricked up Barnabas in the Old House cellar.

When they got to the actual place in the reruns where this episode should be, they skipped it, so I missed the only episode where Pansy Faye appears. But the characters keep on talking about her for the next five months, which was baffling, because as far as I was concerned, she was never on the show in the first place.

This concludes another chapter in the saga of Young Danny in the World Before the Internet. God, it was a nightmare.

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Episode 770: Clockwork

“Do you have any objection to my looking at your cellar?”

There are rules about these things, apparently, even on a show like this. A vampire bite is primarily a sexual act, and therefore only to be used upon ladies and members of your personal domestic staff.

In 1967, Barnabas could bite Maggie, Vicki or Carolyn on the neck. He could bite Willie on the wrist to gain control over him, in the same way that he was also preying on cows at the time, because domestic servants are basically just cows with jobs. But he couldn’t bite Burke, or Dr. Woodard, or Sheriff Patterson, no matter what the danger or provocation. It simply wasn’t done.

Those rules are still more or less in effect here, in 1897. So far, Barnabas has bitten Charity and Beth, and he’s using Sandor as a servant. He’s also going into town occasionally to feed on drunk women, who are basically cows without jobs.

But it feels like the standards are loosening a smidge. Yesterday, Barnabas bit Dirk on the neck, basically just because Dirk was being an asshole, and now he’s brought the guy home, with no real idea of what to do with him. Barnabas doesn’t need Dirk for anything in particular. I think what we’re looking at here is a second date.

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