“He’s some kind of a creature from the world of the dead!”
We pick up today at a pivotal plot point, as Maggie Evans — vampire abduction survivor and mental health facility refugee — stumbles into the Blue Whale, looks at Barnabas, and collapses onto the floor.
This comes as something of a shock to the Collinsport nightlife community, and especially to Barnabas, because he knows that at any moment she could expose him, and then…
Hold on, wait. Has that woman been wearing that orange dress this whole time?
Yes, the truly thrilling development today is that Dark Shadows is now being broadcast in beautiful, muddy, low-definition color. I’m very excited, I’ve been dreaming about reaching this episode for months.
Dark Shadows switched over to color in August 1967, which was actually early in the game for soap operas. Its lead-in, General Hospital, was still in black-and-white until the end of October.
As you’ll see in today’s screenshots, just because they’ve started taping in color doesn’t mean that they’re good at it yet. The close-ups look fine, but the long shots aren’t quite in focus. Still, it’s progress.
Maggie opens her eyes, and asks, “Who are you?”
Vicki says, “I’m Vicki. Don’t you recognize me?” which in my opinion is pretty insensitive. Way to break it to her gently.
By the way, I like that Maggie walked all the way into Collinsport, and the first thing that she did is go to a bar.
The rest of the Blue Whale clientele lose interest pretty quickly. This isn’t the first time somebody at the Blue Whale didn’t know who they were, or why they were there.
Maggie is still pretty hazy about recent events, but she says that she was in a hospital.
Burke: How did you get here?
Maggie: The little girl… she brought me here. She took me away from that place, and brought me here! I belong here!
Vicki: Yes, Maggie, you do belong here.
Well, not here precisely. Not at this table.
During all of this excitement, Barnabas has been hanging out in the background and quietly losing his mind. Is Maggie going to recognize him, and denounce him as the local maniac? Cause he’s trying to get with Vicki these days, and that’s not going to help.
Desperate to be anywhere in the world but here, Barnabas says that he’ll go tell Maggie’s father the exciting news. He hurries away.
Vicki and Burke take Maggie to Dr. Woodard, who gives her a cup of water and a dose of good old-fashioned medical chiding.
Maggie says that she remembers them — meaning she has a vague sense that she’s seen them before — and Woodard announces that means she’s had a breakthrough. Obviously, if you run away from a hospital, then that means you’re all better; everybody knows that. That’s how health care works.
Woodard advises her to keep talking: “I have a feeling it’s important that you say anything and everything that comes into your mind.” Sure, just like everyone else in this town.
Meanwhile, Barnabas rushes over to Collinwood to confer with Julia, which is adorable. Just think, a couple weeks ago the only person he could talk to was Willie. Now he has a co-conspirator.
He leads with “You’ve betrayed me,” which is always a strong way to start a conversation. He breaks the news that Maggie is back, and she’s talking to Dr. Woodard and her friends right now.
“You told me that you represented security to me,” he growls. “I can see now that you represent nothing but lies.”
Julia protests, but they’re interrupted by a ringing telephone. Julia answers, and does that awesome Bob Newhart thing where you repeat everything the person on the other side of the phone is saying. It’s the way you talk on the phone if you’re being held at gunpoint, or if you’re on television. Julia is both.
Julia: Hello? Yes, speaking. Yes, Dr. Woodard. Oh? Is that so. Tell me, doctor, has the patient said anything? I see. That’s all, just mumblings and fragments. Nothing specific about what happened to her? I see.
I love scenes like this, with looming vampires and one-sided telephone conversations. Every TV show should be like this.
Julia: I’ll be down in a minute, but here’s what you must do. No one must question her. Not even you, I’m sorry to say. And I want everyone cleared out of your office. I don’t want anyone to see me come in or go out. Thank you. Goodbye.
And then she hangs up the phone, and tells the looming vampire that everything is under control. Hoffman out.
At the hospital, Woodard is still trying to give Maggie little cups of things. But she’s on a roll; she has no time for cups.
Maggie: I’m starting to remember an old house. I’m being held there like a prisoner. A very special room.
Woodard: Maggie, you’ve got to take this.
Maggie: People in there. Someone who hates me.
Woodard: Please, Maggie —
Maggie: Who doesn’t want me to live!
Woodard: Take this, please!
Maggie: Who wants me to die! A man! Coming closer — can’t make out his face, but he’s coming closer — I can see his eyes — burning eyes! His face! I know that face now! I know it!
And suddenly Julia is at the door, barking: “Maggie — don’t say another word! Do you understand? Not another word.”
And if you can think of a more exciting countdown scene than that, then you’re welcome to it.
Julia bundles Woodard out of his own office, and he’s still holding the little paper cups. It makes you want to cry, doesn’t it?
Maggie is ready to burst with all of her freshly-recalled secrets, but Julia has an important piece of medical technology that she wants to try first.
It’s a medallion, which Julia is wearing around her neck. Apparently, it’s prescription strength, because Maggie snaps into a hypnotic state as soon as she sees it.
“That’s right,” Julia says. “Keep looking at it, and listen to my voice. Don’t listen to anything else, because in my voice you’ll find everything you’ve been seeking.”
A few minutes later, Julia allows Dr. Woodard to come back into his own office. Maggie greets him with a smile.
Woodard: Maggie, how are you?
Maggie: I’m fine! Apparently there was something wrong with my memory, but everything’s all right now. I remember everything, everything about my whole life!
Woodard: Oh, Maggie, that’s wonderful! Where were you, during the time you were gone?
Maggie: What do you mean?
Woodard: Well, the… the time you were gone!
Maggie: Well, I don’t know how I got to your office, but I remember that I went to bed in my room, and I wasn’t feeling very well, and — suddenly I was here in your office, with Doctor Hoffman. So if you can tell me everything that happened in between, then I’m sure I’ll be all right.
And that’s gorgeous, a strong plot point with a comedy punchline. Julia allows herself a tight little smile, which turns instantly into a look of make-believe concern.
By the way, Barnabas never did get to Maggie’s father’s house to tell him the news, did he? He’ll probably have to read about it tomorrow in the newspaper, like everybody else.
Monday: United Stakes.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
In an episode that’s all about remembering things, the characters seem to forget some important things.
In the Blue Whale, Barnabas forgets Dr. Woodard’s gender:
Burke: We ought to get her to Dr. Woodard’s office right away.
Barnabas: Yes, I think you ought to take her to her.
At one point, it sounds like Woodard’s forgotten what “contrary” means:
Maggie: What is it about my memory? Will I ever be able to remember?
Woodard: Oh, on the contrary, Maggie, I really think that your memory’s coming back very well now.
Then Burke takes Woodard out into the hall, and then forgets what he’s supposed to say:
Burke: Why didn’t you tell us?
Woodard: I couldn’t!
Burke: (looks at teleprompter for a while) Well, you know you could trust me, and Vicki. Does Sam know?
Monday: United Stakes.
— Danny Horn