“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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
“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.
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?
Willie: There isn’t? You lied to him?
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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!
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.
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.
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.
Showing unbelievable restraint, the cops allow the assailant to get all the way up to the French windows before they intervene.
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.
— Danny Horn