Episode 322: To Bite or Not to Bite

“I have to stand by and let her die. All of them… one by one.”

For the last few episodes, it’s mostly been Barnabas, Julia and Willie standing around in the Old House and discussing whether Barnabas should kill Maggie Evans or not. At the top of the show today, Barnabas has finally made a decision, and he’s on his way out the door — and there’s Julia on the doorstep, ready for another round of negotiations.

No wonder vampires sleep all day. Their nights are just one long staff meeting.

323 dark shadows julia barnabas explain

Barnabas really just wants to get outside and stick his fangs into somebody, so he tells Julia that she was right — he’s not going to kill Maggie. Julia says that she doesn’t believe him.

And then Barnabas does something really dangerous.

Julia:  You’re lying to me. Nothing I’ve said has made any impression on you. You still intend to kill Maggie Evans.

Barnabas:  Well, if that’s true, then nothing you can say will stop me.

And then he smiles.

322 dark shadows barnabas smile

It is not a helpful smile. It’s the smug, self-satisfied smile of a man who has momentarily forgotten who he’s talking to.

And then he goes and makes it worse.

Barnabas:  You will simply accept her death as regrettable but necessary, and continue as usual.

Julia:  Apparently, I will.

Barnabas:  Well, that’s very wise of you.

Oh, man. What are you doing? You don’t say things like that to Julia. She is way more scary than you are.

Think about it, dude — you’re already dead. Do you really want to push your luck?

322 dark shadows julia barnabas

Julia sits down, calmly. This is not a good sign.

“I’ve done something,” she says. “Something you don’t know about.”

Julia:  Recently, I gave a letter to a trusted friend. That letter is to be turned over to the authorities in the event of my death, or the death of Maggie Evans. That letter contains a full and detailed account of who and what you are.

322 dark shadows julia barnabas scowl

Ouch. He walks across the room, and growls, “You did that?”

And look at her face. She loves this moment. This is like Christmas for her.

322 dark shadows julia barnabas destruction

“Yes,” she says, approaching him. “So, you see, if you kill Maggie, you’ll be condemning yourself to destruction.”

And then she gives him a look.

And that is why you do not mess with Doctor Julia Hoffman.

322 dark shadows willie julia letter

Julia goes back to Collinwood, where Willie’s waiting for her on the terrace. She tells him that she’s talked Barnabas out of his plan to kill Maggie.

Julia:  I told him that there’s a letter in existence, a letter is to be turned over to the authorities in the event of Maggie Evans’ death. That letter tells exactly who and what Barnabas Collins is.

Willie:  Is that true? Is there a letter?

Julia:  No.

Willie:  There isn’t? You lied to him?

Julia:  Yup.

And there you have it. That’s how Julia rolls. Now, it turns out that in the next scene, Barnabas decides that she’s lying about the letter, and he’s going to kill Maggie anyway. I don’t care. Julia still wins.

Although, note for Julia — if that letter doesn’t exist yet, maybe you should go and write one. It seems like the kind of thing that could come in handy later on.

322 dark shadows barnabas thinks

So then Barnabas has a medium-sized soliloquy, delivered in thinks. It’s mostly a voiceover, while he walks around and makes acting faces. Jonathan Frid is fantastic at thinks, because he doesn’t have to memorize any lines.

Barnabas (thinks):  Was she lying to me? Is there a letter? Would she expose me, to save Maggie Evans?

We come in for a close-up, and he says out loud, “No! I don’t believe she would!” And then it’s back to thinks.

322 dark shadows barnabas soliloquy

Barnabas (thinks):  But she might want me to be destroyed in the event of her own death. So… possibly… she did write such a letter.

322 dark shadows barnabas but wait

He paces around the room some more.

Barnabas (thinks):  But wait a moment… the night I brought her to this house, I threatened to kill her. She had to say anything to save her life. She said she wasn’t afraid of me… but she was.

He takes a few more steps. These internal thinks monologues tend to be fairly aerobic.

Barnabas (thinks):  If there were a letter… she would have told me about it then.

Out loud, he shouts, “She was lying! I know!”

322 dark shadows barnabas too bad

He narrows his eyes.

Barnabas (thinks):  Too bad, Doctor Hoffman. You weren’t clever enough. Maggie Evans must die, tonight… and no power on this Earth can prevent it!

322 dark shadows barnabas upstairs

He crosses to the door and puts on his cape — but then he hears a recorder, playing “London Bridge” — his little sister’s favorite song. He realizes that Sarah’s spirit is nearby. He looks up the stairs at nothing in particular, and cries out, “Sarah? I know you’re nearby! Where are you? Where are you, Sarah?”

I went into that scene in a lot of detail, because it feels like they’ve reached a new level of Dark Shadows-ness. They’ve only used thinks a few times so far, but as the show evolves, this technique will become a major piece of the camp-melodrama Dark Shadows house style.

Plus, I can’t help imagining what would happen if I performed that entire monologue in public. I’ve got a couple long elevator rides coming up tomorrow, and reciting that speech could perk things up considerably. I’ll let you know what happens.

322 dark shadows maggie sleep

Okay, back to the show. As it turns out, Maggie’s memory isn’t really returning — they’ve just told people that she’s starting to remember, to lure her kidnapper into a trap. They’ve got police officers posted around Maggie’s house, and they’re ready to shoot anybody who gets too close.

Now, as we saw yesterday, everyone appears to think that the trap will only work if Maggie is actually asleep, because the kidnapper won’t show up if they’re not taking it seriously. It’s taken her two episodes, but it looks like she’s finally drifted off.

322 dark shadows chromakey cops

So it’s time to cue the Chromakey Cops, who are standing guard near some make-believe trees.

“Do you hear something?” one of them says, Spidey-sense tingling. “Look! Over there, standing in the shadows.”

“Yeah,” the other cop says, cocking his rifle.

“Quiet!” the first cop says, “Don’t make a sound.” That’s important, because they can’t afford to pay both cops to speak today. Cop #2 is just supposed to stand there and look grim.

322 dark shadows maggie shadow

Showing unbelievable restraint, the cops allow the assailant to get all the way up to the French windows before they intervene.

322 dark shadows maggie trap

But once the Collinsport law enforcement starts to happen, they don’t mess around. They fire a warning shot, and the dark figure takes off.

The cops shout, “Don’t move or I’ll shoot!” but apparently he does, so they do. Five times, actually. There’s going to be a real mess to clean up in the morning.

Tomorrow: Fire at Will.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

There’s some very wobbly camera-work in the last scene, as they pan from Maggie asleep to the French windows. The pan appears to go on longer than they expected, and they have to rush it at the end.


Behind the Scenes:

The two cops in today’s episode are played by Ed Crowley and Ted Beniades. They also appear in the reprise at the beginning of tomorrow’s episode.

Ed Crowley is the one with the real speaking part, and he’s credited as “Policeman”. He played an FBI Security agent in Woody Allen’s 1972 film Bananas, and he had a small-ish part in the 1976 movie Network. He put in some time as a doctor on the ABC soap Ryan’s Hope in the mid-70s. In 1985, he played the Sheriff in the Harrison Ford movie Witness. His biggest role was in the 1988 movie Running on Empty, which featured River Phoenix, Judd Hirsch and Christine Lahti as a fugitive family trying to settle down with new identities. Crowley plays River Phoenix’s music teacher, who blows the whistle on the family.

Ted Beniades had a lot more TV cop roles in his future — he played a police officer on Hawk, N.Y.P.D. and The Equalizer. In 1983, he had a part in Scarface.

Crowley and Beniades reunited in the 1973 Al Pacino movie Serpico. For extra nerd points, Serpico also featured Conard Fowkes, who played the irritating Frank Garner on Dark Shadows in 1966.

Tomorrow: Fire at Will.

322 dark shadows willie julia smile

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

17 thoughts on “Episode 322: To Bite or Not to Bite

  1. This is my favorite thing ever and will be for at least 10 minutes. Thank you SO much. Just subscribed… can’t wait to take the journey, Victoria Winters style, with ya.

    1. That’s awesome, I’m glad you’re enjoying it. We’re a little over 100 episodes in, so it’s only another 900 or so from here. Should be a piece of cake.

    2. Barnabas is like a school chum, trying to get girls who find him creepy with Julia as the antagonizer, inflating his ego and terrifying him. He is not used to women talking back to him without him biting them and killing them. He probably does want to kill Julia but he cant decide if he will catch hell later.

  2. Barnabas’ rationalization of Julia’s intentions is flawed, since he doesn’t even consider that Julia might have written a letter between that time he brought her to the house and threatened to kill her and now. She’s had a lot of time to see him “in action” and what he is capable of, and in an alternate version of this show, probably should have composed such a letter (it seems like something Julia, an intelligent and crafty person, should have done) in preparation for such a threat. All I’m saying is that Barnabas, who is intelligent and crafty like Julia, was displaying flawed logic in his “thinks”. Maybe I’m over-analyzing it. 😉

    1. Yeah, the way that they talk about writing a letter is very odd, as if it’s a grand undertaking that can only happen with a lot of advance planning. Eventually, this plot strand turns into The Great Notebook Wars of 339-360.

      1. Oh, how could you miss Willie’s Emmy-award worthy speech at the end where he cries? As far as I’m concerned, Willie Loomis is THE tragic character of the story … screw Barnabas! Sorry, just had to say that. I love your commentary.

  3. I never realized that “thinks” came to Dark Shadows so late. I thought they were a huge soap opera tradition, including this show.

  4. the “chromakey cops”! LOL
    i was giggling quietly to myself during the sam/joe chromakey scene, and then those hilarious cops. these people are crazy!!!
    i love this show!

  5. So Barnabas has a special place where he goes to send out his psychic death threats; his “Starin’ Window”.

    There must be big blue stalagmites of candle wax matted into the rugs at the Old House, judging by the candle drips!

    Hooray! More Joe Haskell! Who apparently has not changed clothes since he was searching for David. I’m sure he has an enchanting musk…maybe he just uses lots of cologne (Hai-Karate? Jade East? Brut by Fabergé? No, Joe probably splashes on Old Spice).

    Five shots? Sounded like seven. Guess a few deputies need to get out to the shooting range.

    1. I like your comment, John. I also observed that people stayed in their clothes too long. Maybe taking baths and changing clothes was not a big deal with some.

  6. The Julia and Barnabas scenes are starting to remind me of Ricky warning Lucy not to show up at the club.

    Willie does seem to be the tragic character here. At least he makes a decision and stands by it, at the peril of his own well-being.

  7. “He’s got about five bullets in his back,” was what the officer said. Eight were fired, so they’re not all Barney Fife’s in Collinsport. Poor Willie got the shaft in this episode. Heck, Willie got the shaft from the day he discovered Barnabas and it only continued from there.

    I did love the think-lines. Although I’ve grown to like the colorization of DS, I believe most of my first go-round was only in B/W due to the friend’s house where we viewed the show. JF sure looks older than his 43 years in color.

    Amazing to me that we raced from school at 9-10 years old to see this new vampire soap opera. Despite the muddled slow dialog, flies/mishaps on set, hit-n-miss acting, and lumbering plot lines, we couldn’t get enough of it. Summertime too. A lot of soaps were done live previous to DS coming on the scene. Anyone growing up at home with their Mom’s, knew most of the strange goings on were typical for the live genre. A vampire was NEW! The sets were creepy and the music was so different from other soaps. All of us little girls were mad for the Barnabas character. We rooted for the show of fangs. Mothers were impressed that DS scored Joan Bennett, as she was quite an accomplished actress.

    Even more amazing is this is still watchable, during it’s tenure on “Syfy” and binge weekends on “Decades.” Aside from the DS nostalgia factor, I love seeing the clothing we wore back in the day and the hairdos. I’m worried about what that says about me. (Absolutely hated the recent movie though.)

    1. I am a little late but now at age 62, I have watched the entire series on amazon prime which is great for a marathon, no commercials. I have a totally have a different perspective and am happy to give it. Its both funny and tragic. No, your not crazy. I could watch it again and again.

  8. There is no doubt about who is going to be fingered when they give Willie the collapsing-by-the-water-fountain-in-profound-anguish speech near the end of the episode. The set up has been days percolating.

    I love (not really) when Sam comments on “the night being gone” when it’s only 12:50am. I am just coming out of my coffin around that time for a night on the town. And besides, there’s a whole lot of night left given the plot intricacies of the days coming. You might want to be brewing one of those famous pots of coffee you’re always threatening everyone with.

    I am getting tired of the curtain lines, “Maggie Evans must die tonight,” or “Burke Devlin must die tonight,” or “Little Cousin David must die tonight.” Alright, already. Kill somebody, would you? The show needs some fresh meat about now.

  9. Couldn’t Dave Woodard have put Sarah’s doll in a paper bag or something? Joe must have looked / felt silly: a grown man walking up to Evans Cottage carrying a doll. No wonder the Deputy intervened with a gun.

    Maybe if Willie had been carrying a doll, too, the cops wouldn’t have let him get so close to the house before deeming him a threat.

    If I’m following Julia’s lie correctly, if Barnabas kills Maggie but doesn’t kill Julia, the letter still goes to the authorities. Not only will Barnabas be exposed as a killer, but Julia will be exposed as his accomplice. At the very least, she’ll lose her license to practice medicine, maybe even get to sent to prison.

    She should have thought this bluff through more thoroughly. She also shouldn’t have told Willie she was bluffing.

  10. That’s what I was thinking: Why oh why did she tell Willie?? And yes, write the letter already. Write multiple letters.

  11. I wonder why it never occurs to these folks that this is a trap? It is the most persuasive argument against killing Maggie Evans. And speaking of Maggie, tell those idiot men to find someone else to chum their trap. Go visit Liz in Boston.

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