Episode 255: Job Interview with the Vampire

“I just want to get out of this room! I’ll go insane if I have to stay in here any longer.”

Let’s look into the future, just for a moment. We’ll jump ahead to June 1968, one year after today’s episode aired.

In episode 515, Barnabas has been chained up in the Old House basement, and trapped behind a brick wall. His friends, Julia and Willie, are looking for him, and the audience is on edge, hoping that they can find him in time.

I’m bringing this up to demonstrate the unbelievable 180-degree turn that happens over the next twelve months of Dark Shadows. By summer 1968, Barnabas Collins will be the show’s romantic hero, the brave protector battling the supernatural horrors that threaten his family.

But that’s a year from now. At the moment, Barnabas is completely batshit insane.

255 dark shadows barnabas willie insane

Because the thing that he’s doing to Maggie right now is an incredibly brutal psychological rape.

Physically, the full extent of Maggie’s violation is unclear. We know that Barnabas has bitten her on the neck and taken her blood, and we’ve seen him strangle her several times. There’s no indication that he’s forced her to do anything that’s specifically sexual; the rape is mostly metaphorical.

But the psychological torture that we’re watching is unbelievably cruel — a calculated, methodical brainwashing program designed to strip her identity away. She’s supposed to give up her name, her memory and her soul, to be transformed into a blank slate for Barnabas to project his fantasies on.

And he even expects her to be grateful. He’s sincerely puzzled when she refuses to participate. It’s beyond sick.

And yet — by the end of today’s episode, we’ll see the writers take the first step on the journey toward Barnabas’ moral reboot, setting up the change from vicious monster to tragic hero.

255 dark shadows living dead

Maggie’s still being held in her prison cell. And I just thought of something: Where does the light come from? She’s in the basement, there are no windows, and the Old House doesn’t have electric lights.

If you look at the way that the shadows fall, you can see that there are at least two light sources in the room, not counting the candle that’s on the shelf by the door. Also, by the way — giving your prisoner free access to an open flame? I feel like that violates some important abduction guidelines.

Anyway, back to the scene. Willie is still urging Maggie to let Barnabas do what he wants; it’s the only way she’ll survive.

She shudders: “Do you know what that means, to be like he is? Just exist among the… living dead?”

That’s actually the most forthright they’ve been so far in giving Barnabas a label. They don’t use the word “vampire” for the first nine months of the story, for more or less the same reason that they don’t say “zombie” in The Walking Dead or World War Z: it sounds silly when you say it out loud. They need to invest a lot in creating the proper atmosphere for the word “vampire” to work.

So far, they’ve just used phrases like “inhuman”, or “beyond the rational”. Saying “the living dead” is a new step.

255 dark shadows maggie pleads

Maggie’s brought upstairs to Barnabas’ weird little fantasy playroom, and she prepares to bluff her way out of the basement.

The scene basically plays out like a job interview. Barnabas is firing questions at her, and judging her response. She’s enthusiastic and eager to please, like she doesn’t really have any retail experience, and she’s hoping he won’t ask for references.

“I had Willie cut some fresh flowers for you,” he says. “Do you like them?”

The correct answer, apparently, is yes. She likes the flowers.

“Josette had a vase of flowers in every room in the house,” he says. “She wanted life — the beauty of living — to surround her wherever she went.”

And how do you respond to nonsense like that? All you can do is stress that you’re goal-oriented, and looking for a new challenge.

255 dark shadows maggie listens

So Maggie puts on her J-face, and tries to look enchanted as she listens to the music box for the millionth time.

“Listen,” he says. “Allow the music to become a part of you.”

Maggie concentrates, and tries to do an impression of a Person Allowing Music to Become a Part of Her.

255 dark shadows hand

The interview continues.

Barnabas:  How do you feel?

Maggie:  I feel happy!

Barnabas:  Why?

She wasn’t expecting that one. She stumbles a bit.

Maggie:  … I don’t know why. I’m not sure.

She gets back on track as he throws her some softballs.

Barnabas:  Is it because you’re here, in this room?

Maggie:  Yes.

Barnabas:  Is it because you’re with me?

Maggie:  Yes.

Barnabas:  Have you longed to be with me?

Maggie:  Yes. With all my heart.

Okay, she’s on a roll now. She’s still in the game.

Barnabas:  Tell me how happy you are.

Maggie:  Happy.

Barnabas:  Because we’re together?

Maggie:  Yes.

Barnabas:  And how long will we remain together?

Maggie:  For eternity.

And what kind of benefits are you expecting? We provide full dental, which is important when you’re working in the living dead sector.

255 dark shadows hold up

But then it all goes wrong. He touches her hand, and without thinking, she pulls it away.

That’s what you might call a career-limiting move.

255 dark shadows cell maggie

After that, it plays out pretty much like any job interview. She’s tied up and gagged for a little while, and then she’s returned to her cell, which is the vampire-abduction equivalent of “Okay, thanks for coming in today. We’ll call you by the end of the week and talk about next steps.”

255 dark shadows whos that girl

And then the crazy thing happens: Maggie hears a little girl singing “London Bridge”.

London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down,
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair lady.

She gets up, and goes to the door…

255 dark shadows sarah

And there’s the girl, sitting right outside her cell, singing to her doll.

Take the key and lock her up,
Lock her up, lock her up,
Take the key and lock her up,
My fair lady.

There’s no music sting or anything for the end of the episode. Just the absolute insanity of that moment.

Monday: Falling Down.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In the Blue Whale, Sam tells Joe, “I finished the painting of Barnabas Conrad, I’d — Barnabas Collins last night, and I wanted to pass it on to him, collect my commission.”

Willie’s scene with Maggie in the cell ends with a dramatic sting, but the music cue plays too early, in the middle of Willie’s line.

Maggie murmurs that she wants to be Barnabas’ bride. He says, “Josette…” and then forgets what he was going to say. She says, “Yes?” and a moment later, softly prompts with, “What is it?” just as he’s starting to talk again.

Monday: Falling Down.

255 dark shadows london bridge

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

16 thoughts on “Episode 255: Job Interview with the Vampire

  1. The credits for this episode accidentally spoil Sarah’s identity by including her surname. After today, it switches to simply “Sarah.” Also, I was always fascinated by decision to cast a little girl with a noticeable New York-ish accent rather than a kid who might, even vaguely, sound like a person from the 18th century.

    1. Oh, I didn’t notice that about the credits; I’m going to include that in the bloopers, thanks!

      About the accent — does anybody on the show actually sound like they come from Maine? I’m not 100% sure what a Maine accent sounds like. Willie’s got a pretty clear New York accent, Roger is Louisiana by way of drama school, and who knows what Frid is going for with Barnabas.

      One of my favorite accent snafus is the Du Pres family in 1795, who all start the storyline making an attempt at a French accent, and then gradually lose it as they go.

      1. Actually, two of the actors did have Maine accents, but they were early on in the show-the actor who played Bill Malloy; and the first Matthew Morgan (before Thayer David)-I will let you fill in the blanks on the actors.

  2. I don’t think anyone sounds Maine like, but if you get a Cabot Cove episode of “Murder She Wrote” pretty much everybody except Jessica, the doctor and the guest stars will do their best attempt at a Maine accent, especially the background characters who totally go for it and must get some training to be so consistent. This probably sounds about like Scott Bakula’s Louisiana accent to someone who knows the real thing, but I think gives a pretty good idea of cadence and the general sound of a true Maine accent. Note: I don’t think anybody here is even close.

  3. You may not have seen the pre-Barnabas episodes, where characters like Matthew Morgan and Bill Malloy were Maine-ing the tar out of their dialogue. Ayup!

  4. What was Barnabas’ end game by turning Maggie into his vampire bride? Once turned was she just going to hang out in her room listening to the music box? Would she try to integrate herself into the family by pretending to be the great-great granddaughter of Josette?

    1. I think we have to assume that all the “cousin from England” stuff would have gone by the boards if Barnabas had succeeded with Maggie. When they revisited Barnabas’ Josettifying project in HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS, they had to ask what would come next, and the answer was “He kills everyone and turns the estate into an impenetrable outpost of Hell.”

      Some time after they came back from making that movie, the show would send Barnabas and Julia on a two-week visit to the future, to the far-off year 1995, where they find that most of the family is dead, the rest of them are hopelessly insane, and no one dares go to the estate, all because of hideous supernatural doings that took place there a quarter century before. Those two weeks are sensational, the last genuinely great phase of the show, and part of what makes them so great is that they are a logical sequel to the part of the show everyone remembers most clearly.

  5. After Sam and Joe leave and the rest to back to Josette’s room,the overhead microphone stays in the shot for a good while.

  6. Frid was an excellent villain, line flubs and all. I’m going to miss “mean Barnabas” when he’s gone.

  7. Regarding the Maine accent, I think Doctor Woodard tries…
    I may be making this up but I seem to recall a skit on SNL a loooong time ago
    where some character randomly said “Pepperidge Farm” with a Maine accent.
    Every time Doc Woodard spoke that’s what I thought of…

    I didn’t make that skit up! I’m old but not quite senile!!!


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