“I’m afraid of the night! Don’t let it be dark! Please, don’t let it be dark!”
Willie’s been in a coma for several days now, recovering from getting shot in the back by a trigger-happy police squad. If he comes out of the coma, then he might tell the Sheriff that Barnabas is a vampire, so Julia’s been sent to Willie’s hospital room to make sure that doesn’t happen.
In yesterday’s episode, Julia was considering pulling out Willie’s IV. Today she’s decided to go the slow route instead, killing the patient with secondhand smoke.
Dr. Woodard, like the fool he is, comes up behind Julia and tells her that he thinks the Sheriff’s right — he doesn’t think Willie was the kidnapper. Julia takes a drag on her cigarette, turns around, and blows a puff of smoke right into his face.
But come on, he’s been asking for it. What does he mean, Willie wasn’t the kidnapper? He went to Maggie’s house at 3am. Case closed.
Woodard’s getting all bogged down in details, like “If Willie did kidnap Maggie, where did he keep her, and why did he do it?” Julia shrugs, and says, “Why does an insane man do anything?” And then she just keeps on smoking.
Dr. Woodard has to leave the room for a minute, and he asks Julia to keep an eye on the patient. She says no problem.
Now, this is a crucial moment for Julia as a character. She’s been working with Barnabas for the last few months, trying to find a cure for his “condition”, because she believes it could lead to an important breakthrough in medical science’s understanding of life and death. She’s convinced herself that this research is so important that it’s okay if she becomes an accessory to murder, aggravated assault, impeding a police investigation and other assorted felonies.
But she insists that she won’t take a human life, which is fairly arbitrary as moral principles go. And even that’s on pretty shaky ground, judging by her thinks.
Julia (thinks): When he talks, he’ll tell them everything! Barnabas will be exposed, and destroyed. I’ll never be allowed to practice medicine again. Perhaps he won’t talk. No, he will… to save himself.
She looks down at Willie.
Julia (thinks): It would so easy to silence him permanently. No one would ever know. It would be so easy. So easy…
So, yeah, dark. And even more so when you realize that she’s not thinking at all in terms of right and wrong. This is not a moment of spiritual unrest; it’s basically just a question of convenience.
So it’s probably for the best that Dr. Woodard comes back into the room, and checks the IV. It turns out that Julia never actually has to make the choice between killing Willie, and letting him live.
Now, some critics have claimed that this scene was an important moment in the development of the 1960s counter-culture, challenging young people to reflect on their alienation and commit themselves to breaking down the military-industrial complex and forging a better and a more beautiful world. Other critics have argued that it wasn’t just this scene in isolation; to really grok the spirit of the times, you have to look at the entire Barnabas/Julia storyline.
Out in the hall, Sheriff Patterson is waiting for Willie to regain consciousness, and Barnabas can’t seem to understand why the Sheriff wants him to stay outside.
Patterson: I’m afraid I can’t allow you to come into Willie’s room with me.
Barnabas: But why not?
Patterson: Because when he’s able to talk, I want to question him. You can see him afterwards.
Barnabas: But can’t I be present during the questioning?
Patterson: No, Mr. Collins, I’m afraid that’s not possible.
Barnabas: But why?
I can understand his confusion. This is the first time that Sheriff Patterson has ever behaved like a responsible grown-up. It took me by surprise too.
Or maybe not. Patterson goes into Willie’s room, and tells Woodard and Julia that he’s convinced that Willie is the kidnapper. When they ask why, he digs into his pocket and pulls out Maggie’s ring, which he found in Willie’s room.
Yes. You heard me. He’s walking around with it in his pocket. He doesn’t even have a plastic bag or anything.
They’d better hope that Willie doesn’t pull through, because if he manages to survive long enough to get charged, then they’re going to have to invent Court TV twenty-five years early. This would be the trial of the century.
Julia leaves the room and finds Barnabas in the waiting area. The ensuing conversation is pure melodramatic dynamite.
Barnabas: You must see to it that Willie is silenced.
Julia: I can’t. I couldn’t now, anyway, because the Sheriff and Doctor Woodard are both with him.
Barnabas: You should have arranged to be alone with him before the Sheriff got here. You should have done it then!
Julia: I couldn’t.
Barnabas: Bungling fool!
That’s right. He breaks out the F-bomb.
Julia: I had the opportunity to do it before, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t do it!
Barnabas: I’ve got to do something, now!
Julia: There’s nothing you can do but wait, and hope that Willie takes a turn for the worse.
Barnabas: I cannot wait.
Julia: But you must. There’s nothing you or I can do!
Oh, by the way — they’re in a public place. This waiting area is basically right out in the hall outside Willie’s room. The other patients are probably all reaching for the call button, to ask a nurse to tell these freaks to pipe down.
Willie finally opens his eyes, and says, “Hurts… everything hurts!” Which is frankly kind of rude; they’ve been taking care of him, and all he can do is complain.
To be fair, it’s a stressful situation for everyone. The Sheriff looms over him and starts asking why he was trying to get into Maggie Evans’ room. Willie flinches away, pleading, “Don’t! Don’t hurt me!”
Patterson practically rolls his eyes. He says, “No one’s going to hurt you, Willie. I just want you to answer my question.”
But Willie, as always, is in a scene all his own, starring in some off-Broadway play that only exists in his imagination.
Willie: Is it dark?
Willie: Is it dark outside?
Woodard: Yes, it’s night time, Willie. Why?
And, oh, look at him. Just look at him. It’s breaking my heart.
This is John Karlen’s last episode for a while; they’re going to pack Willie off to a sanitarium. We’ll see him again, but not for seven months, and I’m going to miss him terribly. Willie is sensational.
Willie: I’m afraid of the night! Don’t let it be dark, please! Don’t let it be dark!
Patterson: What is he talking about?
Woodard: I don’t know.
Willie: I’m afraid… I’m afraid!
Patterson: There’s nothing to be afraid of.
Willie: Don’t hurt me! Please, don’t hurt me!
It’s tremendous. Rest now, my beautiful drifter. We will meet again.
Dr. Woodard and the Sheriff go out into the hall to talk to Barnabas, who’s standing there like he’s facing a firing squad.
Patterson: Well, we know something that we didn’t know before.
Barnabas: What is that?
Patterson: The truth about Willie.
There’s a huge crash zoom on Barnabas’ face.
Barnabas: Well, what is the truth?
Patterson: Willie Loomis is hopelessly insane.
Now, that diagnosis might be slightly premature, given that the guy’s on some serious painkillers, and he’s only been conscious for about three minutes.
But it doesn’t matter. He is hopelessly insane — and so am I, and so are you. Everyone who comes into contact with this show is hopelessly insane. But, oh, what a glorious madness.
Tomorrow: Twenty-two Minutes.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
In the first act, Sam tells Barnabas, “He’s got to be guilty. There’s an awful lot of unanswered questions even though there are.” I’m 99% certain that that’s what he says, but it doeesn’t make the slightest bit of sense.
When Woodard comes back into Willie’s room, Julia says, “He moved, and I was afraid he might have dislodged the hypodermic needle.” It’s not a hypodermic, which would be attached to a syringe. She means a catheter.
Tomorrow: Twenty-two Minutes.
— Danny Horn