Episode 256: Falling Down

“You always choose the worst things to want.”

Maggie is in her basement cell looking bored, and no wonder; she’s gotten used to a pretty hectic lifestyle. She spent a couple weeks walking up and down the Old House stairs wearing a wedding dress, which sounds boring but at least it’s aerobic exercise. Now she has nothing to do but stare off into space and wait for spectral visitations.

So things perk up a bit when she hears a little girl outside the cell, singing. You remember last week when London Bridge was falling down, falling down, falling down? Well, it still is.

256 dark shadows maggie sarah ball

Maggie looks through the window, and she sees the little girl playing with a ball and singing “London Bridge”. It’s a weird thing to feature on your television show, but this is what they have, and they’re committing to it.

Maggie calls to the girl, and she has lots of questions, including: What are you doing here? How did you get in? and Why are you here?

The girl just keeps on singing and catching her ball.

Maggie says, “Little girl, please stop singing. Stop singing! They’ll hear you, and they’ll come and get you!”

Also: please stop singing, because it’s only been two minutes and already it’s driving the audience out of their ever-loving minds.

It doesn’t seem to occur to Maggie that this might be a hallucination, but like I said, it’s been a weird couple of weeks.

256 dark shadows sarah stare

Suddenly, the girl stops singing and just stares at the camera for a minute, which is its own kind of eerie.

Maggie says, “You stopped singing! That’s good. That’s very good.” Yeah, no kidding.

She tells the girl to go home, and tell her parents that she saw Maggie Evans here. Without a word, the girl turns and slowly walks away.

Maggie cheers, “That’s it! Hurry! Hurry before they catch you!” Yeah, look at her go. Zoom.

256 dark shadows willie streetcar

A moment later, Willie approaches the cell to bring Maggie some food. Apparently he didn’t notice the girl walking down the corridor, so maybe she was faster than she looked.

Maggie begs Willie to help her escape. Willie gets a big close-up, staring into the middle distance for a monologue:

Willie:  You know I can’t escape. Don’t you think I wanted to, tried to? I go out of this house almost every day, drive into town. Don’t you think that while I’m there, I get the impulse to step on the gas and never stop driving until I’m a thousand miles away? I even tried a few times. But he’s got this power. My will isn’t my own; I keep seein’ him, hearin’ him! He’s done something to my mind.

It’s a great speech, and you can tell that he’s been practicing for it all week. This is his big Stanley Kowalski moment.

256 dark shadows vicki david

Meanwhile, over at Collinwood, Vicki and David are finishing up a spirited lesson.

Vicki:  What is Australia best known for?

David:  Kangaroos.

Vicki:  Oh, come on now. Be serious.

David:  Okay, then. Koala bears.

Vicki:  Now, that’s nonsense.

Is it? As far as I know, that’s exactly what Australia is best known for. What answer is she fishing for, polar bears?

256 dark shadows mrs kowalski

Carolyn enters, and David goes outside to play so the two girls can stand around and have an argument.

Carolyn is all smiles; she says that she’s been making plans.

Vicki frowns and says, “I hope your plans don’t include what’s been going on lately,” which is a difficult kind of hope to get your mind around.

Then we get another close-order drill backacting display. Carolyn does a long sarcastic monologue about her mother’s romantic history, while Vicki stares at the back of her head.

256 dark shadows carolyn backacting 2

Then Carolyn moves to the door, pauses, and then keeps talking, still not looking at Vicki. This is a full 50 seconds of backacting, which isn’t a world record but is still very impressive.

By the way, just to confim: Talking about Carolyn’s beatnik boyfriend is not as much fun if Buzz isn’t there in person. Later in the episode, we’ll hear his motorcycle revving outside, but he doesn’t make an appearance onscreen, which in my opinion is a waste of a good beatnik.

256 dark shadows david sarah 1

Outside, David wanders over to the Old House, obviously, and he meets the strange little girl from the basement. She tells him that her name is Sarah, and they play catch together.

She starts singing “London Bridge”, and she hardly gets through a verse before David sneers that it’s a baby song.

He imitates her: “London Bridge is falling down — can’t you do anything else?”

David’s being pretty judgemental, considering that this is the first child he’s ever interacted with in his entire life.

256 dark shadows david sarah 2

She tells him a bit about how lonely she is — everyone she knows has gone away, and she can’t find them. Then she asks, “Will you play with me again?”

David shrugs, “I suppose so. If I’m around.”

Dang — kid, get a grip. This girl has the two qualities you should be looking for in a friend. #1: She’s played with you. #2: She wants to play with you again. Stop acting like a player!

256 dark shadows sarah ball

Okay, back to the basement, where Maggie hears the girl singing outside her cell again.

Sarah’s trying to keep her eye on the ball, but she keeps peeking offstage, probably looking for the director to give her a cue.

Sarah was played by nine-year-old Sharon Smyth, and this was her second soap opera role. Sharon stopped acting after Dark Shadows, or possibly during.

256 dark shadows cellmates

Maggie calls to the girl again. Sarah turns to face her, and says, “If you see my big brother, don’t tell him you saw me! He doesn’t like anybody to come down here.”

And then she skips away.

Like a boss.

Tomorrow: Bachelor Party.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

There’s a film insert halfway through the episode, showing David on a swing, with the Old House behind him. When they cut to David swinging in the studio, the swing is facing the Old House.

Somebody has drawn on one of the boxes in Maggie’s cell with a magic marker; it’s a series of concentric circles that look like an eye. This wouldn’t be a big deal, but that box is at the very front of the set, and Maggie sits right next to it several times during the episode.

Tomorrow: Bachelor Party.

256 dark shadows fragile eye

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

12 thoughts on “Episode 256: Falling Down

  1. Each of the major ghosts so far on DS has his or her own set of spectral characteristics.

    Josette Collins was very mysterious and spirit like. She can barely interact with the current physical plane of existence. The best she can do is turn the pages of a book or semi-possess drunk artists. Even with a seance, contact is fleeting, laced with riddles and leaves more questions than answers.

    Bill Malloy’s ghost steps it up a notch, with jaunty songs and rather direct warnings. And he could leave behind patches of seaweed.

    Sarah Collins is a whole other matter. Apparently, she can be completely corporeal and supplies her own toys for the living to also enjoy.

    1. I’d say Sarah’s introduction is the single most important moment in the whole show, more important than Barnabas coming out of the box, more important even than Barnabas’ first decision not to kill Julia.

      From the beginning they’d been playing with the idea that there was another cast of characters hidden behind the characters we’ve been watching, supernatural characters who can make their influence felt at certain moments. The most prominent of these was the ghost of Josette. This ghost is a serene, distant, imperturbable. When her ghost and the ghosts of the widows rescue Vicki from Matthew in 126, there is an amused smile in Josette’s voice, the sound of someone for whom nothing very important is at stake in the affairs of this world.

      When David sees Maggie in Josette’s clothes and mistakes her for the ghost of Josette in 240 and 241, it is clear that if the ghost of Josette returns, it will not be in that mode. After that sight, Josette’s ghost can return only as a terrifying spirit of vengeance. And David’s confrontation with Willie in 253 makes it clear that the protecting ghost will not return at all.

      So the show has discarded the old supernatural realm of Josette and the widows, a realm that was, as you say, never more than slightly accessible. With Sarah’s appearance, we are introduced to an entirely new part of the show. Once again we have a set of characters hidden in the supernatural background, but they can interact with the characters from the main continuity more directly and at greater length than Josette and the widows ever could.

      The puzzle of Sarah’s connection to Barnabas, and her talk about looking for the members of her family, indicates that this new order of supernatural beings have complex and unsettled relationships with each other, and that characters from the main continuity can have an influence on those relationships. We will have to figure those relationships out in the weeks and months to come, but as soon as Sarah demands Maggie not tell her big brother that she saw her, we know that they might come to enmesh the living beings. Every scene with Sarah, then, is a step leading directly to the time-travel and parallel universe storylines that will come to define the show.

  2. I just want to say the cobwebs in front of Maggie’s prison cell are pretty impressive. As the camera pans to the door, you can see the wavering shadow of them. Pretty cool effect.

  3. There’s a deliberate (I assume) discontinuity between the end of the last episode (when Maggie sees Sarah cradling a doll) and the re-enactment of the scene at the beginning of this episode (when Maggie sees Sarah tossing a ball). Sarah also seems to be wearing a different (and smaller) bonnet in this episode.

  4. There is a continuity glitch between this episode and the previous one. In the latter, Sarah cradles her doll at the end of the show. At the beginning of this one, which is a recap of the last seen, she is instead throwing the ball up and down. The doll is nowhere to be seen.

    1. There’s no absolute evidence that the teaser here is a reenactment of the end of the previous episode. Maggie doesn’t indicate that this is the first time she’s seen Sarah (though she also doesn’t indicate this is a second time either). In the previous episode, Maggie also verbally questioned her own sanity, which she doesn’t here. It’s entirely possible this is a second appearance of Sarah to Maggie. (We are still not at the point of the show when most/all of the teasers are reenactments of the final scene of the previous episode.)

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