“I seem to remember doing time for a certain manslaughter charge.”
Personally, I don’t watch a lot of police procedurals. In my opinion, if there’s a crime on a TV show, they should either tell us who did it, or just admit that they don’t know and stop wasting everybody’s time.
So there’s a lot that I don’t know about how a police investigation should run. But even I know enough to say that pretty much everything that they do in today’s episode is wrong, and every character who appears on screen ought to be brought up on charges, up to and including the sheriff.
The story so far: It’s still Liz and Jason’s wedding day, and everyone is still standing around in the Collinwood drawing room, giving each other attitude.
Liz has announced that eighteen years ago, she killed her husband, because he was skipping town with money that belonged to their two-year-old daughter. Jason helped her bury Paul’s body in the basement, and now he’s blackmailed her into marrying him.
But that’s just Liz’s admittedly hysterical perspective. Jason’s point of view is that he has no idea what she’s talking about, and he didn’t do anything.
Meanwhile, Burke has picked up the gun that Carolyn was hiding in her purse, and he’s threatening to shoot Jason, except for when he forgets what he’s doing and points the gun at someone else.
The great thing about actors holding guns is that they treat it like any other prop. After a while, they get bored and start waving it around, because why should basic firearm safety guidelines get in the way of your theatrical self-expression.
Meanwhile, Liz is determined to call the sheriff and confess.
Roger: Liz, don’t! Call Garner first.
Liz: There’ll be plenty of time to talk to a lawyer later.
Really? Cause it’s feeling kind of urgent at the moment, for a whole bunch of reasons.
Liz calls the sheriff, and has the kind of conversation that makes police officers in soap operas dread picking up the phone.
Liz: Hello? Sheriff Patterson? Mrs. Stoddard. Can you come to Collinwood right away? There’s been a murder.
And then this happens:
Jason does a judo chop on Burke’s arm, and the gun goes off! Luckily, Burke wasn’t pointing it at anything in particular, so nobody’s harmed, but Jason uses the confusion to make for the door.
Burke chases after him, running outside and shooting wildly into the night.
A real action sequence, at last! They’ve all been standing around in their dress-up clothes for days; finally the boys get the chance to run outside and play cops and robbers.
Somehow, Roger has magically acquired a loaded rifle, which he apparently picked up as he was crossing the foyer on his way out the door. A couple episodes ago, Carolyn found a loaded handgun in a desk drawer; now there’s a rifle in easy reach. If Roger finds any crates, he should break them; they might be full of money and health orbs.
Also, a quick procedural question for the Bourne twins: Why are you shooting at Jason in the first place? He’s been accused of extortion, and accessory after the fact to an eighteen-year-old murder. He has no history of violent crime, he’s unarmed, his back is turned, and besides, you’re guests at his wedding.
Plus, you just heard Liz call the sheriff and say “There’s been a murder.” What exactly are you going to say when the police arrive, and find you hunting for humans on the front lawn?
There’s an incredible sequence where Roger is basically looking directly at Jason, but he doesn’t see him, because Jason is standing very still.
This begs the question: if Jason has the power to become spontaneously invisible, then why are we bothering to watch these guys clamber through the Tarzan set?
Next, Burke approaches a jumpy and trigger-happy Roger. As usual, Burke is pointing his gun directly at whoever he’s talking to.
Roger: Those shots I heard before. Did you see him?
Burke: Yeah. Just after I got outside the house, I thought I saw him stumbling into the woods. I’m not sure, though.
You’re not sure? Then why were you firing your gun? What is the matter with you people?
Roger: If I see him, I’m going to kill him.
Burke: Don’t. I think Liz deserves to see his face when we turn him over to the sheriff.
Yeah, good point. Also: don’t kill people! Let’s try that out as a general guideline, and then if we’ve got time, we can get into some more advanced jurisprudence.
Meanwhile, the girls are still in the house in their wedding outfits.
Liz asks if Carolyn could ever forgive her.
Carolyn: That room in the basement… you took me in there. You wanted to prove to me that there was nothing there.
Liz: I had to do what Jason told me to.
Carolyn: I was standing at my father’s grave! He’s been there all these years. All these years, I’ve searched for him. Waited for him to come back to me.
Liz: Darling, how could I tell you the truth?
Carolyn: Locked, all alone in that room… all these years. I was waiting for him to come home.
She’s fantastic; she’s got the tears going and everything. Carolyn is actually the one character who’s completely selling this improbable scenario.
Predictably, Liz and Vicki are kind of impatient with Carolyn’s grieving process.
Vicki starts her usual nagging: “Carolyn, everything that your mother has done, she’s done for you.”
She’s awful. And to think that just a few minutes ago, they were firing guns in this room, and there’s not a scratch on her. Another wasted opportunity.
And then who should show up but the incompetent Sheriff Patterson, Collinsport’s version of Officer Pupp from Krazy Kat.
When we see him, the first thing he says is, “Now, don’t worry, Mrs. Stoddard.” Because obviously as an officer of the law, your first responsibility is to reassure the confessed murderer.
He says that his deputies are setting up roadblocks, and they’ll find Jason.
Patterson: If I’m allowed an opinion outside my official capacity, from what you’ve told me — McGuire is the real criminal.
Well, you’re not, and he isn’t. So: thanks for that.
Roger comes back from his hunting trip.
Roger: Sheriff, good evening.
Patterson: Good evening. Any sign of McGuire?
Patterson: Is Devlin still out there?
Roger: As far as I know.
Yeah, he’s still out there, firing his gun blindly. Just follow the trail of corpses.
Roger: I take it you’ve had a talk with my sister?
Liz: I’ve told him everything.
Roger: Well, what happens now?
Patterson: We wait.
Liz: We wait? What for?
Well, for Burke to shoot one of the deputies, presumably. Unless they all fall down a ravine or get stuck in a fence.
Also: You told him everything? Are you 100% sure you don’t want a lawyer present? Cause this seems like one of those situations where a lawyer would probably be super helpful.
And then Sheriff Patterson says something so insane that he makes everyone else sound like a police academy honor student.
Patterson: From what you’ve told me, there’s a body in the cellar. We’re going to have to dig it up.
Burke strolls back in, and he doesn’t have his gun anymore, so it was probably one of those disposable revolvers, like the kind that they put on tables at weddings. The sheriff asks Roger and Burke to join him in the basement, to contaminate the crime scene.
Patterson: I can’t put in a report without a corpus delecti, which simply means that Mrs. Stoddard’s wait is being prolonged. I’m sure at this point she wants me to speed ahead as well as I can.
And there are so many things wrong with that statement that I wouldn’t even know where to begin.
I guess Liz was right; there will be plenty of time to talk to a lawyer, once everyone involved in this situation is either hospitalized or in prison.
Liz says that the body is buried under the flagstones in the basement, so the sheriff goes downstairs with Burke and starts pulling up flagstones.
Patterson says, “I wonder if this is going to be worth the effort,” which is apparently something that he says to himself every five minutes. He certainly doesn’t have the physique of a guy who spends a lot of time excavating basements.
Sure enough, about three minutes later, Patterson leans on his shovel and says, “I’m about ready to give up, how about you?”
And literally the very next thing that happens is that Burke uncovers a trunk, buried right where they’re digging. Worst sheriff ever.
Tomorrow: All These Years.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
In the first scene, Burke jumps the gun on one of his lines:
Jason: There’s nothing down there.
Liz: How can you say that?
Jason: Because it’s the truth!
Burke: It won’t get you anywhere —
Liz: It isn’t and you know it.
Burke: Won’t get you anywhere, Jason. All we have to do is a little digging.
When Burke crosses the drawing room to talk to Liz and Roger, you can see a camera peeking into the frame on the right side of the screen. It moves out of the shot a second later.
When Patterson and Burke go downstairs to dig up the body, Roger says that he’ll stay in the drawing room with Liz. The next time we see her, Roger has left, and she’s with Vicki.
Tomorrow: All These Years.
— Danny Horn