“I suppose I’m exaggerating. But then again… maybe I’m not.”
At the top of today’s episode, we’ve got Barnabas sneaking up on a sleeping Vicki as she spends a not particularly peaceful night in Josette’s room. He’s got his fangs in this time, so he’s ready for action.
But then, from the corner of his eye, he notices Josette’s portrait, staring at him. He’s basically making a move on his new girlfriend while his ex is calmly sitting there and watching. It’s an awkward moment for everyone — even for Vicki, and she’s sound asleep.
Embarrassed and sheepish, Barnabas backs away from Vicki and exits the room. It’s a nice character-building moment for Barnabas, but unfortunately it makes the story less interesting. If he’s not going to bite her, then we don’t have a plot anymore. So now what?
There’s another awkward social moment in the morning, when Vicki wakes up and finds that Barnabas isn’t around. Ouch. Even for a vampire, that’s cold.
So in lieu of breakfast, she has a completely head-baffling conversation with Willie.
Willie: Did you sleep all right?
Willie: I mean, nothing disturbed you during the night.
Vicki: Of course not! What are you talking about?
Vicki: Did you expect me to see ghosts?
Vicki: Well, I must say, I expected to, sleeping in Josette’s room.
Willie: I mean, you didn’t see or hear anything?
Vicki: No. Why do you keep asking?
I don’t know, crazy girl, maybe because last night you woke up in the middle of the night because you heard a ghost. The two of you had a lengthy conversation about it before going back to bed. What the hell is wrong with you?
Anyway, Vicki gets back to Collinwood in time to hear Liz tell “Miss Hoffman” that she’s not interested in helping with her research into Collins family history.
Now that Liz doesn’t have a storyline anymore, this seems to be her function on the show — to say no to things, and then change her mind two scenes later. A couple weeks ago, she had to be talked into attending Barnabas’ costume party in three different episodes; whenever an episode is running short, they wheel her in to temporarily refuse something. She’s become a storyline speed bump.
You know that Liz is treading on weak ground when she says, “I just don’t believe in going over the past,” with Vicki in the room. That’s like saying she doesn’t believe in Santa Claus.
But the real point of the scene is to give Julia an opportunity to be manipulative. She needs to get a foothold in Collinwood so that she can continue her investigations into the mysterious goings-on, and Vicki is a natural ally.
Julia proceeds to dazzle Vicki with the number of facial expressions she can adopt in one minute. I believe this may be a record-breaking attempt, so let’s see how many she can manage. The clock starts at 09:57.
Julia: I know everyone who specializes in something always thinks his or her work is of world-shattering importance.
Julia: I can’t help it.
Julia: In this case, I think my work, my research, is important.
Julia: Very, very important.
Julia: You have an interest in the past.
Julia: Help me? Talk to Mrs. Stoddard, and try to persuade her.
Vicki: I don’t know if I can.
Julia: And remember…
Julia: … it’s just possible my work
Julia: may be as important
Julia: as I think it is.
Vicki: A family history, that important?
Julia: Who can tell?
Julia: Maybe someday, just as important
Julia: to someone else.
Julia: Maybe… even more so.
Vicki: I don’t understand.
Julia: Maybe I’m exaggerating.
Julia: Or, then again…
Julia: Maybe… I’m not.
And she turns to look at Vicki for the dismount.
Sixty seconds on the clock, ladies and gentlemen. An unbelievable performance.
It’s a cliché to say that it’s difficult to explain “camp”, and in fact it’s even a cliché to say that it’s a cliché, so I’ll just say two things — number one: Grayson Hall is the greatest actress who ever lived, and number two: Shut up.
Next on Julia’s tour of terror, she saunters into the Old House like she owns the place. Willie tries to protest, but he doesn’t have a chance.
Willie: I thought I let you know the other day when you came with Miss Winters that visitors aren’t welcome!
Julia: I’m not a visitor, and I’m not interested in being welcome. I came to see Mr. Collins.
Willie: You can’t!
Julia: Why not?
Willie: He doesn’t want to see you.
Julia: Then I prefer that he tell me himself.
Willie: He can’t, he isn’t here.
Julia: Then I’ll wait.
So there’s a particular brand of super-campness on display here — specifically, the kind that makes trim, well-dressed men with a creative nightlife say the word “fierce” a lot. Julia is violating the normal social rules of hospitality, and simultaneously using those social norms to make Willie uncomfortable.
This is actually standard operating procedure for mythopoetic trickster figures, as practiced by Anansi, Reynard the Fox, Bugs Bunny and the Wizard of Oz. But it’s usually easier just to say “fierce”.
Julia continues to dominate.
Julia: Mr. Collins has done a remarkable job with this house. Did he refer to any drawings of the house?
Julia: Then what were his references? They must have been very exact.
Willie: What do you wanna know for?
Julia: I told you, I’m interested in the history. This house is part of it.
Willie: Well, he had old pictures.
Julia: I thought you said he didn’t.
Willie: He did.
Julia steps back, and fixes Willie with a look.
Julia: There was no need to lie. If there was, I can’t imagine what the reason could be.
At this point, it’s clear to Willie that there are more monsters loose in the world than the one that he’s currently living with.
Barnabas finally shows up to have his own sparring match with Julia. He tells her that he’s not interested in helping her with the Collins family history. He admits that he has a deep interest in the subject, but he prefers to keep his interests private.
She tries a couple of flanking maneuvers, but he blocks them easily. Julia has no choice but to bring out the larger guns. This involves using several brand new facial expressions which she invents on the spot.
Julia: I have done some research of my own. I might know something about your family that you might find extremely… informative.
Barnabas: I doubt it.
Julia: How can you be so sure?
Barnabas: Well, I can’t… but I can be disinterested.
Julia offers “a fair exchange” — she’ll tell him what she knows, if he does the same.
Barnabas says, “Oh, come now, Miss Hoffman. That’s not possibly fair. Whatever you may know, I certainly know much more than you do.”
Julia flashes him a crocodile smile, and says, “Do you. Well, let me know if you change your mind, you might find it… extremely interesting.”
She whirls around to leave. “Goodbye, Mr. Collins,” she says, toying with her gloves. “I hope I’ll see you again,” — smile, tug the gloves — “soon.“
Then she strolls casually away from the blood-soaked undead ghoul, smiling.
He’s left staring after her, thinking, I have lived for almost two hundred years and I’ve never come across anything like that before.
And you know what? They’re just getting started. Things get so much crazier from here.
Tomorrow: The Unreflected.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
At the end of Julia’s scene with Willie, someone offscreen coughs. It happens just before Julia’s last line.
Tomorrow: The Unreflected.
— Danny Horn