Episode 301: Burke Devlin Must Die

“He’ll go down there in that cellar, and he’ll find a coffin. And he’ll want to know about it.”

Last week, the tall, dark and vaguely handsome Burke Devlin proposed to Victoria Winters, the Collins family governess. She needs some time to think about the proposal, although there doesn’t seem to be any reason why she should say no. They’ve been dating for a while, he’s immensely rich, and she doesn’t really know that many guys.

Of course, I’m not saying that I particularly care about whether these two get together or not. I’d be much happier if they both went to a World Peace Conference in Geneva and never came back, like the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

301 dark shadows barnabas

Barnabas isn’t super pleased when he hears about the proposal; he’s planning to seduce Vicki and turn her into his dead girlfriend Josette, and you can’t accomplish that with fiances all over the place.

But the bigger problem for Barnabas is that he’s running the risk of becoming domesticated. In the last month, he’s made four nocturnal visits to sleeping ingenues — three times with Vicki, once with Maggie — and then just walked out again. His biting average has seriously declined.

It’s also been a while since he beat Willie in the face with his cane, and his threats to Julia are starting to sound hollow. The production team needs to figure out who Barnabas is currently allowed to kill, before he becomes just another soap opera guy in a soap opera love triangle.

So in today’s episode, he reveals his plan to get his edge back, starting with some Bond villain dialogue.

Barnabas:  Devlin’s plans will interfere with mine sooner or later. I cannot permit this to happen. He must be dealt with.

Willie:  You don’t have to go that far.

Barnabas:  Yes, I do. Devlin must be removed… permanently.

301 dark shadows willie barnabas jiminy

Willie says that he won’t get away with it, but Barnabas has complete confidence in himself. After all, he killed Jason, and nobody’s ever asked about it.

Willie:  But things were different in Jason’s case. He’d been practically run out of town. People didn’t like him; they were glad to see him go.

Barnabas:  Which made it all the more ideal for his timely demise.

Willie:  Okay, so it was a good set-up. But Burke Devlin is one of the most important men in Collinsport. He’s got roots in this town. He can’t just vanish into thin air.

Barnabas:  That’s precisely what he will do… without a trace.

301 dark shadows barnabas willie

Willie is determined to be a total buzzkill.

Willie:  If he suddenly disappears, they’ll have a search for him like they never had before. It’ll be worse than it was with Maggie Evans. They’ll come to this house, and they’ll search it.

Barnabas:  Burke Devlin’s body will not be here.

Willie:  The cops will come here. I know that Sheriff. He’ll have a search warrant. They’ll go through this place from top to bottom. He’ll go down there in that cellar, and he’ll find a coffin, and he’ll want to know about it.

You know, I’m usually on Willie’s side in these scenes, but if he keeps saying sensible things like this, he’s going to run the risk of slowing down the plot. Every time Barnabas wants to attack somebody these days, along comes one of the several Jiminy Crickets in his life, and talks him out of it.

301 dark shadows vicki burke kiss

Meanwhile, Vicki and Burke are standing outside of Collinwood, kissing. They’ve been doing this a lot lately; the producers seem to believe that the public has a bottomless appetite for Vicki/Burke makeout sessions.

301 dark shadows liz burke

Vicki says good night — but before Burke leaves, Liz asks him to step into the drawing room for a moment. She tells him that she’s decided to sell him Seaview, the house that Vicki fell in love with. He’s delighted, and they toast to the future.

After the commercial break, there’s another scene in the drawing room, with Liz giving Vicki the same news. According to this logic, the scene after that should be Vicki telling Burke about it, and then Burke telling Liz about it, and then they can start all over again.

301 dark shadows barnabas burke cane

Burke heads down to the Blue Whale for a drink, and Barnabas joins him. It’s not super clear how Barnabas managed to track Burke here, or why. But the writers want a Burke/Barnabas confrontation scene, and they’re going to have it whether it makes sense or not.

In an interview on the DVD set, Jonathan Frid said that this is one of his favorite scenes from the show. I can understand why he liked it — it’s full of heavy subtext Bond villain lines — but I think it’s the kind of scene that the actors enjoy more than the audience.

They sit down together, and discuss Burke’s mood of celebration.

Barnabas:  There’s a possibility that very soon I too will have something to celebrate.

Burke:  Oh? Am I to be included in your celebration?

Barnabas:  I assure you that it would be nothing without you.

301 dark shadows barnabas burke

So you can see why Frid would like this scene so much. Everybody gets to do a lot of eyebrow acting, which always makes actors feel like they’re delivering value for money.

Burke:  Barnabas, I wonder about something.

Barnabas:  What is it?

Burke:  I wonder whether we really like each other.

This is an extremely realistic thing to say. I’m going to try saying that, the next time I’m having a drink with one of my many rivals.

Barnabas:  Why do you wonder that?

Burke:  Well, the way we talk to each other, as if we were playing a card game for very high stakes.

Barnabas:  What an interesting observation… and an interesting simile, a card game. I think of our relationship more as a duel; two superb swordsmen with highly sharpened blades. You thrust, I parry. I thrust, you parry.

Burke:  I prefer my simile to yours.

And then they get into a whole argument about who has the best simile. But the important thing that happens in this scene is that they’ve figured out who Barnabas is allowed to kill. The pretty girls are off the table for now, but Burke has identified himself as an enemy combatant; this is the official declaration of war.

301 dark shadows burke phone

After Barnabas leaves, Burke goes over to the pay phone and makes a call.

Burke:  Hello, operator? Connect me with the overseas operator. I want to place a call to London.

That’s the end of the episode, so we’ll have to come back tomorrow to find out whether London is home or not.

Tomorrow: The Serpent.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Barnabas flubs a line in his scene with Willie.

Willie:  People had no idea where he was going.

Barnabas:  Which made it all the more ideal for his timely devise — demise.

Burke has trouble with a line at the beginning of his scene with Vicki.

Vicki:  You’re not going to let me go in?

Burke:  I haven’t decided yet. I don’t know if I can get — let you go.

Liz says the same line twice in her scene with Vicki, cued by the word “Burke”:

Vicki:  I was thinking about Burke.

Liz:  Then there is something.

Vicki:  Yes. I was thinking about me, too — who I am, what I want, where I’m going.

Liz:   What brought all this on?

Vicki:  Burke.

Liz:  Then there is something.

Tomorrow: The Serpent.

301 dark shadows vicki liz

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

19 thoughts on “Episode 301: Burke Devlin Must Die

  1. I loved the Barnabas/Burke confrontation scene. I can tell I’m not the only one — someone has posted it on Youtube.

  2. Barnabas “always gets” what he wants(!) Since when? The whole series is structured around the fact that Barnabas NEVER succeeds.

    Thank heaven, Liz interrupts another liplock for Vicki and Burke! Honest, I do wish them all the happiness in the world, preferably off-camera. I bet they do that phone thing, “…no, you hang up first…no, YOU hang up first!”

    Best line – Liz’s pensive “Burke’s changed.” Yeah, he used to look like Mitch Ryan, now he looks like Tony George! (They used to do that bit on Benny Hill – “You’ve changed.” “Have I?”)

    Barnabas and Burke give a name-check on a Miles (Niles?) Bradford, who probably looks like Roger Davis and does a bad British accent.

  3. I think it’s a safe bet to say that, at this point in time in soap opera evolution, all the other soaps had “romance” as the central plot-driving mechanism by which to satiate their mostly female audiences. I think DS feels guilt-shamed to throw in some rather sappy love scenes to stay on an even keel with the rest. But the irony is that it is their weakest suit to play and they should just avoid it altogether. The show is at its most interesting when Julia/Barnabas/Willie are somehow on the screen. Everything and everyone else at this point in time is readily disposable and I think the producers will figure that out as the ratings increase around the aforementioned trio’s performances.

    Love the Bond villain thing, Danny. I think it is safe to say that your blog here is just masterfully executed and provides such an amazing, informative, comedic “recap” that it has become go-to-must-read for me after finishing each episode. I wish the blog would get more attention than it does so maybe we need to figure out a way to get it out there more in the blogosphere. You are an outstanding writer and maybe it’s time we put our collective energies together and came up with a theatrical conceit of some kind, DARK SHADOWS, THE MUSICAL. Or a play wherein we do THE ENTIRE SHOW IN TWO HOURS (as in all 5 years). I think we would have a camp comedy classic on our hands in THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP mode, one of my personal faves that I have directed twice. Just some thoughts to consider.

    1. Dark Shadows, The Musical!!!
      I started writing one in 1970 but shortly thereafter I got distracted when I was introduced to rock and roll, drugs and sex in that order and all thoughts of DS departed until a few weeks ago when it floated into my head and I discovered this fabulous blog!

    2. I personally think that any scene with Willie in it is pure gold. Yeah, he’s talking sense to Barnabas, sure. But it’s his command of his lines that allows for him to display his body language to full extent! — And that look of resignation at the end of that scene, with his eyes closing, is perfect. Way to go, John Karlen!

  4. I also wanted to say that I think Barnabas is at his most uncomfortable when he is forced to enter the Blue Whale and hang out with the locals. If you notice, he never consumes the liquid put before him. Even when he and Burke toast, Barnabas sets his glass down and never even sips on it. What a waste of good Maine bourbon.

  5. It better not be Maine bourbon: Barnabas ordered a brandy.

    Barnabas and Burke have their simile-laden discussion about cards and dueling while sitting at a table with a checked table-cloth. It looks more as though they should be engaged in a game of chess or checkers than cards.

  6. Yes Barnabas, PLEASE kill the new Burke character. Or at least send him away forever, or at least long enough to allow original Burke to sober up and return to the show. I find the Burke 2 character is unwatchable. He’s an international multimillionaire businessman, and he’s begging Vickie to marry him? Idiotic.

  7. What a worthless episode, except for Danny’s blog and fellow-commenters’ comments. I’d like to say that I can’t help but seethe with annoyance every time I see a bow nesting atop Vicky’s bouffant or whatever that hair-do is. Aren’t bows for teenage girls? Woman up, Vicky!

  8. Before Burke calls London, there’s a thumping sound. Right after, it sounds as if someone said “ouch.”

  9. Yes, the bows are obnoxious, and so are Vicki’s sideburns. Maggie has the only sensible and attractive hair style with her clean and easy pony tail.

  10. This is actually a significant episode, based on these bits of dialogue:

    Burke (to Elizabeth, after she tells him she will sell Seaview to him): I feel so good about it, I’d rather leave the hard bargaining up to our respective lawyers. We’ve had our last conflict.

    Victoria: He [Burke] wants that house so badly.

    Elizabeth: I know. And in a way, I think he deserves it. Burke’s changed. He has stability now, something he never had before.

    The significance is that right here, right now, the last tooth has been pulled from the character of Burke Devlin.

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