Episode 332: Safe? Safe!

“The point is that I am in danger!”

It’s another relaxing evening at the Old House, and Julia tells Barnabas that she has another treatment ready for him. She’s trying to discover a cure for his vampirism, which would be hard enough even if she had a fully compliant patient. But Barnabas is feeling cranky, and when he’s cranky, he tends to get a little strangly.

Here’s his problem: young David is convinced that there’s something spooky hidden in the Old House, and a couple episodes ago, Julia caught the boy tugging on the locked basement door. She didn’t tell Barnabas about the encounter, because she knew he would freak out about it.

Yesterday, Roger mentioned the incident to Barnabas, and guess what? He’s freaking out about it.

332 dark shadows julia barnabas warning

So, once again, the experiment storyline gets shafted in favor of another round of Threat Bingo. Using soap opera medicine to restore the damned to human life is the most exciting thing they could be doing right now, a completely new idea that opens up a landscape of story possibilities.

But for the last six weeks, the experiments have been puttering along in the background, as Barnabas plays Whac-A-Mole with an endless series of perceived threats.

They’ll get back to the experiment storyline eventually, and it will have a huge impact on the direction of Barnabas’ story. But not today.

332 dark shadows julia barnabas discussion

Instead, Barnabas and Julia hold a full-contact panel discussion on the meaning of the word “danger”.

Barnabas:  I demand complete loyalty.

Julia:  You’ve had it. I’ve put myself in terrible danger for you, time and time again!

Barnabas:  What if I were the one in danger? Would you warn me? Would you tell me?

Okay, that repetition, right there? That’s your signal that things are about to drift slightly off book.

Julia:  When didn’t I?

Barnabas:  Earlier this afternoon.

Julia:  But you weren’t in any danger!

332 dark shadows julia barnabas point

Hang on, it’s coming.

Barnabas:  That, at this moment, is not the point!

Julia:  Then what is the point?

Barnabas:  The point is… that I am in danger!

There you go; that’s why Julia showed up today. Angry Fridspeak, delivered at full volume from two centimeters away.

332 dark shadows julia barnabas danger

And it just keeps going. They say “danger” two more times, and then they start in on the word “safe”.

Barnabas:  Safe? Safe! When nothing stands in the way of complete exposure but a locked door, and someone is already tugging at that lock… and I don’t know about it! How can you say that I’m safe?

So the truly crazy thing is that we’re currently watching an incident of domestic violence between a vampire and his secret blood specialist sort-of-girlfriend on daytime television, and I’m complaining that this kind of scene is getting tired.

But that’s what happens when you’re in the Spectacle industry. Dark Shadows is now in the full-time business of creating surprises. We’ve recently seen a marionette bat attacking a child; you don’t back down from that.

332 dark shadows julia roger tea

Julia goes back to Collinwood, and shares a moody cup of tea in the drawing room with Roger, who’s fuming about David’s paranoid hallucinations. She asks if they’ve thought about sending David away for a while to a special school, and Roger says that he’s considering it.

332 dark shadows david avant garde

And then they go and do something quite strange and avant-garde with the sound effects, so excuse me if things get a little film-crit for a second.

In the foyer, David hears Roger and Julia talking about him. He overhears Roger’s plan to send him away, and he heads up the stairs to think it over.

332 dark shadows david landing

He’s still eavesdropping on the conversation as he reaches the landing — and then he pauses, and does a little monologue in thinks.

332 dark shadows david thinks

David (thinks):  They’re going to send me away! They don’t believe me! No. I won’t let them do it. I’ll prove to them that I’m right!

332 dark shadows david voices

Then he hears the recorder playing “London Bridge”, and Sarah’s ghostly voice rings in his ears: “Stay away from the Old House! Danger! Don’t go near the basement… ever!”

Now, I’ve been noticing for a while that they’re not very consistent about the recorder music. Sometimes we see Sarah actually playing the tune, and sometimes it’s disembodied music that alerts the characters that her spirit is nearby. But they also use the same music cue as part of the incidental music, and the characters can’t hear it. And in some cases, it’s actually impossible to tell whether they hear the music or not.

In this particular moment, we can hear Sarah’s voice at the same time as the recorder music, so presumably she can’t be playing it. The implication is that Sarah has a house band, which provides a backing track for her.

332 dark shadows david stairs

David calls out “Sarah!”, which the adults in the drawing room apparently can’t hear, even though he could hear their conversation perfectly well. But we can’t hear them talking anymore; there’s just the “London Bridge” song playing as David comes downstairs and does some more thinks.

332 dark shadows david soldier

David (thinks):  But I’ve got to go! You said this would protect me. I don’t know how. It’s only an old wooden soldier. But I’ve got to get into the basement, even if I have to steal my aunt’s keys! Sarah! Will this really protect me? Sarah!

Yes, that’s right — he’s calling out to Sarah from within his internal monologue. We’ve now broken all of the possible rules of how sound works within this narrative world.

As far as the audio is concerned, this scene is a boundary-defying mash-up of overheard conversation, internal monologue, incidental music and spectral reverb. It’s impossible to predict where the sounds come from, and who can hear them.

Now, it’s possible that this isn’t as unique as it appears; maybe General Hospital and The Secret Storm were also doing experimental musique concrète in 1967. But I doubt it.

332 dark shadows david coffin

Anyway, that’s pretty much the high point of this episode’s excitement, as far as I’m concerned. Nothing else really happens.

Oh, except that David gets into the Old House basement and finds the empty coffin, and then he’s caught by Barnabas. I guess that’s pretty interesting, too. Let’s meet back here tomorrow, and we’ll get into it.

Tomorrow: Those Meddling Kids.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

During the strangling, Julia chews up one of her lines:

Barnabas:  I demand complete loyalty.

Julia:  You’ve had it for me.

Julia also has a little trouble when she’s talking to Vicki about going to the Old House.

Julia:  If he’s there, I’ll bring him back. There’s no point in both of us going — traipsing over.

And this isn’t a blooper; just an odd moment for viewers who have seen the later episodes — David goes to the study to steal Elizabeth’s keys, but he gets there through the door in the foyer that’s under the stairs. Later on, they’ll establish that that door leads to the kitchen; the study is on the other side of the foyer.


Behind the Scenes:

When Vicki describes David’s toy soldier, Julia says that she remembers seeing a picture in one of the Collins family histories of a little boy with a toy soldier, and a little girl holding a doll. The implication is that this was a picture of Barnabas and Sarah as children. As we’ll see in about six weeks, Barnabas was at least ten years older than Sarah; they weren’t small children at the same time. But at this point in the show, they haven’t decided to do that yet, and all of the clues we’ve heard about Barnabas and Sarah’s relationship are perfectly consistent with them being close in age.

Tomorrow: Those Meddling Kids.

332 dark shadows barnabas david

Dark Shadows episode guide – 1967

— Danny Horn

16 thoughts on “Episode 332: Safe? Safe!

  1. Perhaps Joshua had commissioned a portrait of Barnabas as a child and then had Sarah painted in later. It’s also possible the two paintings were put together in one joined frame as a diptych. I have seen such Colonial portraits of siblings. Just a thought.

  2. Good retcon idea Cassandra.

    I love trying to reconcile the disparities in the storyline, and this is one of those big points. I always theorised that there may have been other siblings who perhaps died young, or on the frontier, or some such thing, though obviously the writers at this point were intending Sarah and Barnabas to be close in age (and she had died before he was an adult).

    1. He cant keeps his hands off of her. He only knows how to kill people. I was hoping David would get sent to the sanitarium. He is just a little too nosy for me and asked too many questions.

  3. If Roger is talking openly again about sending David away to school then I hope he’s regularly checking the brakes on his car.

  4. Just a possible explanation for Sarah being able to talk while playing a flute; there was a French entertainer in the 1800s known as ‘Le Petomaine’. You can Google him and draw your own conclusions.

  5. “But at this point in the show, they haven’t decided to do that yet, and all of the clues we’ve heard about Barnabas and Sarah’s relationship are perfectly consistent with them being close in age.”

    Barnabas stated in an earlier episode that Sarah still loved him, even after he had been turned into a vampire, which means he was turned before she died. I haven’t seen later episodes, but I assume that Barnabas was turned as an adult, so he would be older than her.

  6. The scene with Barnabas and Julia this episode feels dangerously close to domestic abuse. I know Barnabas doesn’t “care for” Julia yet at this stage, but the dialougle reads like an abusive boyfriend demanding loyalty from his battered girlfriend who’s willing to do anyting for him. The whole scene just has this whole violent intimacy vibe going on. Maybe I’m reading too much into the subtext?

    1. No Evan. I agree. I know what it is like for a woman who likes a man, who doesnt immediately return the affection. He blames her for his miserable life, and she acts like she is co-dependent to him, but its on purpose. I am thinking she really doesnt like him here, but is still trying to protect him.

    2. Evan Barnabas doesn’t know how to do anything else but kill people. What does a vampire do? He/she walks around late at night, lonely sucking off people and animals dry. He doesn’t know any better. Sarah has come back because he is killing people. Her comes Julia, immediately peeps him out, throws it in his face and dares him to do anything about it. Julia is a bad ass…still he would only strangle me one time.

  7. Remember in the sixties domestic violence wasn’t as taboo as it is now. They were just a decade removed from Ralph threatening Alice with a “trip to the moon” and the audience howling in every episode. I’m sure a vampire threatening one of his consprirators, even if she was a woman, didn’t raise any flags in the censors eyes.

    1. At this point, Barnabas better be glad Julia is not a sister. Because if Julia was a sister, she would have cold-cocked Barnabas the first time he tried to strangle her. Barnabas has no right to put his hands on Julia, no way no how. And I do not like the fact that she has to put up with that. She has the right to defend herself and she does in her own way, but its distressing to watch.

  8. The awkward conversation between Julia and Vicki about whether they should go together to the Old House to look for David isn’t entirely Julia’s fault.Vicki – and I say this as a Vicki fan – is being an idiot. There is no reason for her to be so easily persuaded NOT to go look for the boy she is supposed to be taking care of.

  9. In many ways, this episode really stands alone in terms of quality and has one of the more cinematic vibes the series has yet to reveal. The whole back-and-forth with David on the stairs, conversation from the drawing room between Elizabeth and Roger interspersed with David’s “thinking” moments, and his decision to go back to the Old House (yet again, despite all of Sarah’s warnings to the contrary), all make for a truly fascinating episode. There are long pauses without dialogue and cameras on the move to capture everything. It really is spectacular television considering they had a budget of $2.98 to work with. I mean, really. What more can you want????

    The closing sequence with Barnabas snapping the lid of the coffin shut is meritorious of a Friday Cliffhanger AND IT’S ONLY TUESDAY!!! Good God, what must the rest of the week have still in store?

  10. David goes to the study to steal Elizabeth’s keys, but he gets there through the door in the foyer that’s under the stairs. Later on, they’ll establish that that door leads to the kitchen; the study is on the other side of the foyer.

    Elizabeth goes to the same place as David when she gets the keys to the House by the Sea that Vicki is interested in. Whatever is beyond the foyer door at this point is Liz’ Key Storage location.

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