“No, I can’t be Josette Collins. I’m someone else.”
It’s been two months since we were introduced to Barnabas Collins, and we’ve gotten to know a lot about him, including his hobbies, his diet and his refreshingly straightforward approach to dating.
But you can’t say that you really know a guy until you’ve seen the dungeon in his basement. That’s gonna happen today.
But first, let’s get an update on the search for Maggie, courtesy of Sheriff George Patterson, the law enforcement equivalent of Droopy Dog. What do you have for us today, George?
Patterson: Nothing. Sorry. My men have double-checked and triple-checked each other. We’ve looked everywhere, we’ve talked to everyone. I don’t even have a suspect. Nothing.
You’ve talked to everyone? That’s a lot of people to talk to. I’m amazed that you have time to show up on my television and tell me about it.
Patterson: Not even the FBI can come up with anything. They sent a lot of stuff over to the lab for analysis, but… nothing.
Wait, what? How did the FBI get involved? And if they didn’t find anything, then what the hell did they send to the lab? Now I know less about this case than I did five minutes ago.
Spending any amount of time with Sheriff Patterson will make you start to question the value of human life, so it’s a welcome distraction when Burke comes over for another round of Sam-fondling.
The first thing Burke does is touch Sam on the shoulder, like you do when you walk into someone’s house. It’s just good manners.
The sad-sack cop finally clears the room, and one second later, Burke’s hand is on Sam’s shoulder again. He’s insatiable.
Burke asks if Sam’s been eating since Maggie disappeared, and offers to take him out to dinner. He says, “We can knock your pet hate: pop art.”
That’s a pretty sweet invite; I can’t even remember the last time a guy offered to knock my pet hate.
Sam moves across the room, and Burke swiftly moves into position behind him for another shoulder-rub. You know, it’s possible that Mitch Ryan is just drunk again, and he needs to keep a grip on Sam to help him stay upright.
Guys, get a room! You’re actually already in a room, and you need to get another one.
All of this shoulder-contact cheers Sam up a bit, so he decides to go over to the Old House and work on Barnabas’ portrait some more. Sam brings along a pipe which I personally don’t recall ever seeing before, but all of a sudden he’s acting like it’s his prized possession.
Obviously, Willie’s not thrilled to see Sam show up at the Old House, since his kidnapped daughter is currently wandering loose in the house. Willie hustles Sam out the door with the painting and easel.
As Sam is leaving, he puts his pipe down on a table and forgets about it. Then there’s a big close-up on the pipe. Very subtle.
And here comes Maggie, just walking down the stairs as usual. Why are they still letting her roam around the house? This free-range kidnapping is very inefficient.
She finds her father’s pipe on the table, and seems to recognize it. Then she drifts back upstairs, and who knows what the hell she does.
But now it’s time for our first visit to the Old House basement, which is filled with cobwebs and secrets. Oh, it’s delicious — straight out of Dracula, with spooky stone walls, and steps designed to throw your servant down from.
And look at those huge carved bannister things holding fat drippy candles! I don’t even know what those are.
As Willie watches, the coffin lid creaks open, revealing Barnabas. And will you look at that! That’s a Shakespearean actor there; he’s played Richard III. Now he’s on daytime television, lying on his back in a coffin and trying to have a conversation.
So the director has a problem here: It is absolutely impossible for a grown man to sit up in a wooden box and clamber out of it, and still retain his dignity. They’ve clearly just tried it during the dress rehearsal, and found out that it doesn’t work.
So here’s their first pass at the problem. Barnabas asks Willie to come closer, and grabs him by the throat.
And then Barnabas just lies there, on his back, with his hand clutching Willie’s throat, asking for an update on the day’s events. The theory seems to be that Barnabas won’t look as silly, if he holds on to Willie’s throat and speaks in a threatening growl.
This is not successful. It looks crazy.
Seriously, even if you haven’t watched any other episode, go and watch this scene on Hulu. It’s the most amazing thing.
Meanwhile, Maggie’s upstairs and still on the loose. She looks at the pipe, making acting faces as we hear her interior monologue.
This is what they used to call “thinks” on The Goon Show. I believe it’s the first time that it’s ever been used on Dark Shadows. Over the next few months, “thinks” will become a staple of the DS house style, and this first example is appropriately bonkers.
Maggie (thinks): “I’m… someone else! I’m someone else!”
She looks at the pipe.
Maggie (thinks): “I know this. I know what it is! It belongs to someone… Someone I’ve got to find! I’ve got to take it to someone. I’ve got to take it there!”
It’s a good thing she got to use “thinks” for that speech; imagine saying all that nonsense out loud.
Then Maggie just walks right out of the Old House, which is an appalling lapse in the security protocol. The next thing we see, Sam’s at his house, working on the portrait — and Maggie is there, right outside his window!
Which is possibly the most exciting thing to ever happen on television. I know that I’m just gushing at this point, but that is a seriously great way to end an episode. No apologies.
Tomorrow: Damsel in This Dress.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
At the end of act one, as Burke and Sam leave the house, the music cue plays twice.
When Sam comes to the Old House, he puts the pipe up to his lips several times as if he’s smoking it. It’s clearly not lit, and then he just puts it down on a table. So why was he sticking it in his mouth the whole time?
Tomorrow: Damsel in This Dress.
— Danny Horn