“I’ve been a prisoner because of this room!”
I’ve noticed a bunch of new readers showing up on the site this week, which is fantastic, but not necessarily the best timing. This is the final week of the last non-supernatural storyline, and it’s taking a minute to wrap up. The last time we saw the vampire was over a week ago, and all he did was talk to Liz about suicide.
So, new readers — stick around! The vampire comes back tomorrow, and next week he’s going to throw a costume party. Seriously, that’s the next storyline.
But, today: more of this. We’re still playing out the aftermath of Liz and Jason’s wedding, where Liz confessed that she killed her first husband, and that Jason helped her bury his body in the basement. Burke is downstairs, digging up the basement floor with the criminally incompetent Sheriff Patterson.
Burke and the Sheriff find the trunk that Paul was buried in, pull it out of the hole and open it. In unison, they look down at the box, then at each other, and then down to the box again. There’s a dramatic sting, but they could have done a comedy “Boinnggg!” and it would have worked just as well.
Upstairs, a stubborn Liz is unshakeably committed to the idea that she should be put in prison as soon as possible.
Roger tries to reassure her, saying, “Paul Stoddard was robbing you; there’s not a court in this country that would convict you.”
Personally, I’m not so sure about that. It’s weird; they said the word lawyer yesterday, so this can’t be set in a parallel universe where lawyers don’t exist.
Starsky and Hutch come upstairs, and the Sheriff gets a call — his deputies have found Jason. He tells them to bring Jason back to the house, so he can answer some questions about the trunk.
Then the Sheriff gives Liz the big news: The trunk in the basement is empty! There’s no body, and no sign that there ever was a body there.
Stunned, Liz says that she wants to go downstairs and see it.
Patterson is kind of put out by this request, saying, “There’s no reason why you can’t take my word for it.” This must be another episode of The Whining Detective.
So everybody heads back downstairs. This is one of those days where the whole episode is about moving back and forth between two locations. This is a well-known narrative technique, popularized by Lost in its later seasons.
Naturally, Liz is confused.
Liz: But there’s nothing there!
Patterson: Nope, and no sign that anything ever was.
Liz: Why is there nothing there?
Patterson: That’s one of the things that I want to find out from McGuire.
Liz: But I’ve kept this room locked! I haven’t left Collinwood for eighteen years, to be sure nobody came down here and found out!
Roger: Come on, Liz, let’s go back upstairs.
Liz: I’ve been a prisoner because of this room! But there’s nothing there, nothing! Why have I lived like this? Why have I been guarding this room?
So it’s a nice story moment, a big plot twist that turns everything that we thought we knew about the story on its head.
Unfortunately, it’s a plot twist that makes the story less interesting, which is bad soap opera and bad storytelling. We should demand our money back.
A deputy brings Jason down to the basement, and there’s a long scene where he just crosses his arms and denies everything.
Boy, this storyline sure has a lot of glowering in it. If you’re a fan of glowering, then today is your big day.
Jason insists that he’ll only talk to Liz alone. Liz finally agrees. Then they all go back upstairs, and they forget to turn the light off when they leave.
Upstairs, Liz promises Jason that she won’t press charges if he tells her what really happened to Paul. It turns out Paul didn’t die when she hit him with the poker — he was just knocked unconscious. Jason kept her away from the “body” so that she would think that Paul was dead, and he buried an empty trunk.
Jason and Paul took off together, and Jason says that he last saw Paul in Hong Kong, ten years ago.
So that pretty much wraps it up. Liz agrees not to press charges, and the rest of the episode is about telling Jason to leave town.
Jason leaves Collinwood and walks over to the Old House, and that’s the end of the episode. The blackmail storyline has been going on for four months, and that’s how it ends — Jason leaves the house, and everybody forgets about it.
Pretty much an unforgiveable anti-climax, really. Does it help if I tell you that next week’s vampire costume party includes a seance? It really does.
Tomorrow: The Bachelor.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Patterson and Liz step on each other’s lines:
Patterson: There are some specific questions that I want to ask him —
Liz: I think I can —
Patterson: — about the trunk in the basement.
Liz: I think I can give you all the answers you want.
Behind the Scenes:
The deputy is played by Ed Sauter, in his only episode on the show. This is his only credit on IMDb.
They’ve been filming six days a week for a couple months, because of an actors’ strike in April 1967. This is the last episode filmed on a Sunday; they go back to a regular five-day schedule from now on.
Tomorrow: The Bachelor.
— Danny Horn