“Well, you can all be as exasperated as you like. It won’t do you any good.”
Full disclosure for the hardcore vampire enthusiasts: This is another Jason/Liz blackmail episode. Roger has some funny lines, and Carolyn is always worth watching, but if you’re only interested in vampires, then you can skip this one.
Actually, does it help if I tell you that Liz murdered her husband and buried him in the basement? That’s what the whole blackmail thing is about. Okay, maybe not. Come back tomorrow, vampire fans. Maggie gets abducted and everything.
While we’ve been spending time with Barnabas and Maggie, Jason’s come up with a new way to torture Liz. He’s decided that he should be the new director of public relations at the cannery, and as usual he won’t take no for an answer.
Then Jason has a nice confrontation with Carolyn, who demands to know how long he’s planning to stay. He claims that Liz begged him to stay on, and help with the family business. Carolyn is thunderstruck.
Jason delivers the final blow with this awesome line: “Your mother and I are very old and close friends. It’s almost getting to be like old times, before she met your father. We were even closer then, you know.” Boom! So there’s that.
Now, personally, I like the blackmail storyline, because Jason’s a funny villain, Roger is a snob and Carolyn gets to be thunderstruck approximately once a week, but it really does take forever, and it turns out to be a dead end, story-wise. This episode offers some incremental plot development, but the steps they’re taking here don’t end up leading anywhere in particular.
Jason pushing his way into a job at the cannery would be a meaningful plot point on any other soap opera than the one that they’re currently making. When Dark Shadows first started, Liz and Burke were supposed to be fierce business rivals. Burke wanted to destroy the Collins family, and they had lawyers and bankers and secret contracts and all your standard soap opera paraphernalia.
But now it turns out that the show is about undead ghouls rising from the grave to prey on waitresses, con men and cattle. When that’s your show, you don’t end up going into the office very much. You mostly hang around crypts and haunted houses, and instead of lawyers you have gypsies and exorcists.
So — spoiler alert — Jason getting a job at the cannery does not make any difference to anything, now or in the future. They practically forget about it in the space of a single commercial break. Act 1 ends with Jason leaving for his first day at work, and he’s back in the house by the middle of act 2.
Still, as long as we’re here, we might as well go to the library and spend some quality time with the Ralston-Purina lamp.
Carolyn and Vicki meet Roger in the library to talk about Jason again, and damn if they don’t keep that lamp smack in the middle of every single shot. I know I keep mentioning the lamp, but the director must be obsessed with it too. Look at where they’re standing; they’re actually blocking around the lamp.
Anyway, this is what they’re talking about:
Carolyn: When my father went away, didn’t he leave anything behind?
Roger: I was away at school at the time, but I gather that he only left those things in the basement.
Carolyn: What things?
Roger: You know, those things in that room in the basement.
Carolyn: What room?
Vicki: Do you mean the room that’s locked?
Roger: Yes, that one. Well, didn’t you know about it?
So that’s the latest spine-tingling plot twist — Carolyn wants to go downstairs to the basement. And that’s why we’re paying attention to the lighting fixtures.
After that, the story just kind of peters out for the day. They’re not ready for us to actually go downstairs yet, so they fill time with more conversations and then Carolyn rummages around and looks for a key.
They can’t actually mention the lamp in the credits — there’s probably union rules about it or something, the rest of the furniture would go on strike — so instead they just run the credits over a shot of the lamp. Viva the lamp.
Tomorrow: Thirst World Problems.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Liz stumbles over a line while arguing with Jason:
Liz: You can’t stay here indefinitely.
Jason: If that’s what you want, why do you constantly frustrate the arrangements that might lead to my departure?
Liz: Because your arrangements seem to — to exist of an unending succession of demands.
When Carolyn is in the library in the final scene, taking a box off a high shelf, we cut to a wide shot of the room — except the new camera angle doesn’t show Carolyn at all, just the otherwise empty room. Then it cuts back to Carolyn.
Tomorrow: Thirst World Problems.
— Danny Horn