Episode 323: Fire at Will

“I haven’t spent the evening browsing through anything.”

At the end of yesterday’s episode, the trap was sprung — thinking that Maggie’s memory had returned, the kidnapper came to Maggie’s room in the middle of the night, and was shot by the police.

Today’s episode starts with a reprise of that scene, and darn it, the guy shows up and gets shot all over again. People in teasers just never learn.

323 dark shadows patterson maggie aftermath

But here comes the big reveal — the man that they shot was Willie Loomis. He knew that Barnabas wouldn’t believe Julia’s bluff about the risk of exposure.

Scared that Maggie would be killed, Willie came to her house to warn her — and he just got five bullets in his back. He’s still alive, but it’s safe to say that he’s not feeling very well.

323 dark shadows joe maggie sleep

Sheriff Patterson tells his deputy to get an ambulance, and then picks up the phone to call Dr. Woodard.

Joe sits on the arm of the couch and says, “Sam, maybe Maggie ought to try to get some sleep, huh?” For some reason, everyone’s convinced that Maggie should be asleep at all times. It has literally been a minute and a half since a man was gunned down less than six feet away from her. I know it’s late, but this is not a relaxing moment.

323 dark shadows patterson scooby

So then there’s nothing much to do but sit around and say all the usual things that people say when someone they know is accused of a crime. Willie was quiet; he kept to himself; Maggie had only seen him once since he started working for Barnabas.

Shocked and confused, Maggie wonders if this couldn’t be a mistake — maybe Willie wasn’t the kidnapper.

Joe:  Maggie, what other reason could there possibly be for him to be out there?

Maggie:  I don’t know, I just want to eliminate all doubt.

Sheriff Patterson:  Maggie, I don’t think there’s any doubt about it. He came out here at three o’clock in the morning, and my men were very careful. They waited until the last possible moment, until they were absolutely sure that he was going to break in here.

I believe that the Sheriff is referring to the well-known law enforcement principle of “being in the wrong place at the wrong time”, which means an automatic conviction and death sentence.

The argument, as I understand it, is: He was outside your house at three o’clock in the morning. Therefore, he’s guilty, and we can shoot guilty people as many times as we want.

But you have to wonder what the thought process was between bullets number three and four. Would it have been that much harder just to cease fire at that point and ask a couple of questions before they used up all their ammunition? It’s a good thing they didn’t have a rocket launcher; the whole neighborhood would be a smoking crater by now.

323 dark shadows patterson maggie rest

There’s nothing else to say about the case, and there’s an ambulance or two outside, so the Sheriff wraps things up.

Patterson:  Maggie, I don’t think I have any more questions for you tonight. Why don’t you try to get some rest?

Maggie:  I couldn’t sleep if I tried.

Okay, will everybody stop telling Maggie to go to sleep? For Pete’s sake, it’s not going to happen. Let it go.

323 dark shadows julia barnabas browsing

It turns out Julia can’t sleep either, so she’s walked over to the Old House for a 3am social call. Apparently she hasn’t heard the news that late-night visits are a hanging offense in Collinsport.

She finds Barnabas in kind of a bad mood.

Julia:  I see you’ve been spending the evening browsing through your family album.

Barnabas:  I haven’t spent the evening browsing through anything.

You can understand the disappointment. He started out all excited, ready to cross Kill Maggie off his to-do list, and instead he’s been wandering around all night trying to make contact with the ghost of his ten-year-old sister.

323 dark shadows patterson barnabas tie

Before they can get into it, there’s a knock at the door. It’s the Sheriff, come over to tell Barnabas the news about Willie. Now, it’s after three in the morning, and Patterson finds Barnabas and Julia standing in the foyer together. What could he possibly think is going on with these two? Barnabas even has a tie on. Who wears a tie at home at three in the morning?

But the Sheriff gets right to business.

Patterson:  You have a man that works for you, a Willie Loomis.

Barnabas:  Has something happened to Willie?

Patterson:  About an hour ago, he was caught trying to break into Maggie Evans’ bedroom. He was shot on the spot. He’s been taken to the hospital, but he’s in very critical condition.

Barnabas:  Well, I… I don’t understand.

323 dark shadows barnabas at a loss

And then we have one of those wonderful moments when the character is taken aback, at the exact moment that Jonathan Frid realizes that he can’t remember any more of his lines.

He takes a step forward, and looks off into the distance.

“Well, Sheriff,” he says, in perfect honesty, “I don’t know what to say.”

323 dark shadows barnabas honesty

He rubs his hands, and looks around wildly for the teleprompter.

“I never dreamed,” he says, “that… Willie could’ve… done something so violent.”

It should break the show, really, but somehow it doesn’t. The actor’s discomfort merges seamlessly with the character’s discomfort. In this moment of dramatic incompetence, Barnabas is completely real.

323 dark shadows julia barnabas robe

We’re only halfway through, but by this point, we’ve pretty much seen the whole episode. Barnabas and Julia accompany the Sheriff back to Maggie’s house, where Barnabas pretends to express his shock and regret, while making sure that Maggie doesn’t actually remember anything about her abduction.

Julia heads for the hospital to check in on Willie’s condition, and then she returns to the Old House, just before dawn, to report back to Barnabas. He’s changed into his snappy dressing gown, but he’s still wearing that damn tie. An eternal existence of moonlight and neckwear, that’s his curse.

Julia tells him that Willie was still in the operating room when she left, and Barnabas wrings his hands, moaning, “Nothing is going right… nothing!” Which is adorable.

323 dark shadows julia barnabas flustered

Julia tries to reassure him.

Julia:  It’ll be a miracle if Willie comes out of this coma.

Barnabas:  But what if he does? If he wakes up and finds out that they kidnapped Maggie… he’ll talk his fool head off.

And that exchange has some kind of Dark Shadows magic that makes me love Barnabas, and the show, even more than usual. There’s something delightful about a psychotic, murdering ghoul who gets flustered and upset.

Here he is, talking about his servant, his only close associate, a guy who has literally taken a bullet for him — and all he can do is hope that Willie doesn’t pull through.

Plus, he’s still not convinced about Maggie’s memory, and by the end of the episode, he has a monologue about killing David. The guy seriously needs to learn how to relax.

Tomorrow: The Wrong Man.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Joe enters in the first scene, Sam steps on the line, “I know… but he’s the one.”

There’s a lot of studio noise at the beginning of Barnabas’ first scene in the Old House, including some coughing when he opens the door for Julia.

When Julia comes back from the hospital, she and Barnabas trip over their dialogue.

Julia:  He’ll be dead soon, and then you’ll be completely in the clear.

Barnabas:  How can I —

Julia:  Everything will be blamed on him.

Barnabas:  How can I be completely in the clear?


Behind the Scenes:

Sheriff Patterson has a deputy named Fred in this episode. Fred also appears next week, in two episodes. He’s played by Dennis Johnson, whose other two credits are a role in the 1969 lesbian-bondage film Shame, Shame, Everybody Knows Her Name, and playing a Klansman in the 1976 blaxploitation film Brotherhood of Death.

The reprise also includes the two cops from yesterday’s episode, played by Ed Crowley and Ted Beniades. None of them are listed in the credits at the end.

Tomorrow: The Wrong Man.

323 dark shadows barnabas relax

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

15 thoughts on “Episode 323: Fire at Will

  1. Two very random thoughts:

    The post-kidnapping machinations are taking much longer than the actual kidnapping (or so it feels).
    Sheriff Patterson’s voluminous ass seems to be growing larger by the episode.

  2. Of course the sheriff doesn’t think it odd that people would be up and fully dressed at 3am; it seems to be the norm in Collinsport! Either nobody has any sense of time (and since very few clocks seem to work, it can’t be ruled out as a possibility), or everyone has non-24 disorder.

  3. I love spooky window threat scenes, especially when accompanied by moonlight and dognoise. Gives us a chance to really appreciate the eye makeup.

  4. Danny–I so love, “Who wears a tie at 3 o’clock in the morning?” I have been wanting to comment on this business of Barnabas always looking like he’s heading off to the Vicarage or the NYSE but I do not believe we have EVER seen not wearing a tie. I know I’ve started dressing up every day when I watch my episode: I’m trying to channel the show as I begin to prepare to write DARK SHADOWS: THE MUSICAL……….or DARK SHADOWS: ONCE BITTEN, TWICE VAMPIRE. It somehow is making me fell all Meisner-like.

  5. And I think it’s safe to say that Julia has certainly adjusted her sleep schedule to match Barnabas’ since she spends virtually every night parading around the Old House with him.

    Oh, and that dressing gown: I think it shows up in La Cage about 15 years later as something Zaza wears in between shows.

    And the head count for the episode seems high if you throw in the deputies. I wish one of them would replace Sheriff Patterson and send him back to Stanislavsky sense emotion acting class. He would benefit greatly. You can only run your fingers around the brim of your hat for so long.

    And I agree with Danny: Poor Willie, he’s been so loyal, so subservient and such a good caretaker to Barnabas. How could he throw him under the bus so unabashedly?

  6. Sam Evans – “This has been the longest night of my life”. Really Sam? What about all those nights when Maggie was missing!!?? Sometimes it would seem the DS writers went out of their way to insert these “WTF” lines into the dialogue.

  7. Julia shouldn’t be so sanguine about Willie’s potential passing. Without him, Barnabas will need to find another slave/daytime bodyguard in a hurry. Guess who the # 1 candidate for that job would be? Hint: It’s not the caretaker from Eagle Hill.

    Another thing: Why is Barnabas so worried about Willie “talking his fool head off?” Isn’t Willie still in thrall to Barnabas and incapable of betraying him?

  8. <<I believe that the Sheriff is referring to the well-known law enforcement principle of “being in the wrong place at the wrong time”, which means an automatic conviction and death sentence.

    The argument, as I understand it, is: He was outside your house at three o’clock in the morning. Therefore, he’s guilty, and we can shoot guilty people as many times as we want.>>

    Plus we’re told that Willie was running away from the house when the cops shot him. So, it’s OK to shoot an unarmed suspect running away from the scene of a crime he was maybe thinking about committing, but didn’t actually follow through on.

    The worst Willie could be convicted of would, I think, be trespassing.

  9. Finally, my first comment! I just wanted to mention two things.

    First, Barnabas completely misses (or ignores) that Julia and Willie were 100% correct that Maggie’s memory-return was a trap. And yet still tells Julia that she’s better be right, “this time.” I really wanted Julia to point this out to him.

    And when Barnabas “thinks” that there’s still one person left who could expose him, I thought, “Julia! No,, Sarah? No, Julia!” And then Barnabas says, “David.”

  10. Finally, my first comment! I just wanted to mention two things.

    First, Barnabas completely misses (or ignores) that Julia and Willie were 100% correct that Maggie’s memory-return was a trap. And yet still tells Julia that she’s better be right, “this time.” I really wanted Julia to point this out to him.

    And when Barnabas “thinks” that there’s still one person left who could expose him, I thought, “Julia! No,, Sarah? No, Julia!” And then Barnabas says, “David.”

  11. Barnabas: But what if he does? If he wakes up and finds out that they kidnapped Maggie… he’ll talk his fool head off.

    I’m still trying to parse that sentence. Who’s they? Shouldn’t that be we?

  12. Barnabas is a courtly gentleman. Of course he’s in a suit at 3 AM. The bigger question is why Dr. Hoffman is dressed with her purse in hand. Doesn’t someone suspect that these two have a thing going on?

  13. A disappointing episode, I thought. John Karlen was one of the better actors on set and Willie Loomis certainly one of the more interesting characters. Why couldn’t they have manipulated the plot so that Burke Devlin had taken the bullets?

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