“I can see you know nothing about the power of witchcraft.”
The notorious Salem Witch Trials were a series of arrests, hearings and executions that took place from March to October 1692. Twenty people were executed, and more than a hundred people were held in prison for almost a year.
The story is often used as an example of the devastating power of superstition and the suggestibility of the mob, but more than anything, it’s actually the story of a pre-Revolution American colony trying to figure out how justice works.
This was more than seventy years before the Declaration of Independence, when the colonies joined together to form a more perfect union. At the time, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was a Puritan settlement. There was no real distinction between civil law and religious law; the judges and magistrates mostly operated according to guidelines agreed upon by the senior ministers in Boston.
The accused witches didn’t have lawyers, or any representation. The charges against them were almost entirely imaginary, based on the “spectral evidence” of the possessed girls who screamed that they saw the witches’ shapes stabbing at them, and allowing invisible birds to suckle from the blood of their fingers. There were a lot of confessions, especially in the later months of the trials, but the confessed “witches” were mostly just answering yes to the magistrates’ leading questions.
And the hearings were just three-ring circus nightmares, day after day. While the defendant stood in the dock, the growing chorus of “afflicted girls” screamed and rolled on the floor, sometimes running up to the magistrates holding out their arms to show tooth marks where the defendant’s spectre had just bitten them.
The defendant would look at the girls, and the girls would fall down on the floor. The defendant would look away, and they’d get up again. That interaction on its own was enough to put somebody in chains for months.
During Martha Corey’s trial, one of the accusers threw her muff at the defendant. When that fell short, she took off her shoe and threw it, nailing Goodwife Corey in the head. The trial just continued after that, like that was normal trial procedure. Martha Corey was convicted, and executed. That’s how witch trial justice worked.
So accused witch Victoria Winters is actually getting off easy here. Instead of Salem witch trial justice, Vicki is being tried according to the procedures of soap opera justice, which are much more relaxed.
Essentially, soap opera justice runs on the principle that every single person involved in the case should say everything that they think and feel out loud at all times, until somebody starts to cry. At that point, the judge passes sentence based on however they feel at the moment, and then the trial is over.
I forget if the jury ever gets to do anything. They’re usually just extras anyway, and who cares what they think.
So if you only watch police procedurals — or, heaven forbid, you actually know something about the legal system without watching it on television — then you might be surprised to see one of the witnesses just walk herself into the Collinsport Gaol to strike up a sarcastic pre-trial conversation with the defendant.
“You made a serious mistake when you rejected my plea last week,” Josette says, because apparently it’s okay to just yell at the accused.
Last week, Vicki warned Josette that if she stayed in Collinsport, she would end up dying at her own hand. Josette treated this suggestion with the respect that it deserved.
Josette: You really expected me to leave, when Barnabas was in such critical condition?
Vicki: Is he better now?
Josette: How could you ask such a question?
Vicki: I don’t know what you mean.
Josette: Why are you pretending to me that you do not know that Barnabas is dead?
This is a weird thing to say, because Joshua made everyone promise to pretend that Barnabas went away to England. Apparently this is the Dark Shadows version of pre-trial discovery.
So now we get a revealing glimpse of Vicki’s defense strategy.
Josette: I don’t know why you wanted Barnabas dead, but I do know that you are responsible for his death!
Vicki: No, I’m not; you’ve got to believe me!
There you have it. That sentence is about to become Vicki’s catchphrase. “You’ve got to believe me!” She says it all the time from now on. In fact, she’s going to say it again in exactly one minute.
Josette: You had it in your power to save him.
Vicki: No, I didn’t; I swear it!
Josette: I begged you to do it!
Vicki: No, that’s not true! He was going to help me. If I could have done anything to save him, I would have. You’ve got to believe me!
The problem with this argument, obviously, is that it’s incorrect. They don’t got to.
Meanwhile, see the guy lurking in the background holding his arms at his sides like he’s recently learned how to act by correspondence course? That’s Peter Bradford, Vicki’s lawyer and putative new love interest. He’s not really very good at either of those jobs.
For one thing, he scowls all the time. This actor, Roger Davis, plays five roles on Dark Shadows, and they just get more and more angry. By the time we get to Harrison Monroe in late 1969, his character is literally an automaton sitting behind a desk, who yells at people nonstop until his head falls off. That is actually true.
And even here, when he’s supposed to be melting Vicki’s heart with his devoted belief in her innocence, he just looks grumpy and confused.
So here’s a sentence that makes your blood run cold: Victoria Winters has a plan.
Last week, her world-shattering idea was to tell Josette where to find the 1965 edition of the Collins family history, which Vicki brought into the past. Now that Josette’s blurted out that she’s going to introduce it in court, Vicki has a new brainstorm.
Vicki: I want you to let me go to Collinwood, and I promise you that as soon as I have the book, I’ll come back.
Peter: I can’t do anything like that.
Okay, good. I was starting to worry that there was something in the water supply at the Collinsport Gaol which lowered the IQ of anyone who sets foot in the building.
Vicki: Don’t you think that I’ll keep my word, and return?
Peter: I’m not doubting your word. I’m thinking about your safety.
Wait, what? Seriously?
Peter scowls, and looks out the window.
Peter: During the past two nights, just being on the streets of this village has been dangerous enough. Two women have been attacked.
Vicki: Peter, if I don’t get that book, my safety won’t be worth much. Please!
Peter: Is there any way that I can get the book for you?
Vicki: No. I know where it is.
Peter: All right, you can go to Collinwood. But I’m not letting you go alone.
So he helps her on with her coat, and walks her out. This is soap opera justice at its finest.
By the way, if you weren’t planning to let the prisoner out on field trips, why is her cloak hanging on a coatrack right next to the door? What kind of a Gaol are you running around here?
Speaking of clothes, check out the ensembles on display as Reverend Trask stops by Collinwood to talk to Josette and Natalie about the case. Fantastic. As far as I’m concerned, they can talk as much nonsense as they want, as long as they’re wearing outfits like that.
Meanwhile, Vicki busts in and starts rummaging around Josette’s room, looking for the book. I thought she said she knew where it was! She’s useless.
So I’d say the charges for the evening so far are: breaking out of prison, theft, breaking and entering, concealing evidence and obstruction of justice. The felonies are just stacking up.
Downstairs, Josette tells Trask about the Collins family history. I’m skipping over a lot of this stuff, because it feels like it’s taking forever.
We’d better get a move on. They’re called the Salem witch trials, not the Salem witch standing around and having conversations.
Anyway, Natalie goes upstairs to get the book, and obviously she runs smack into Vicki. There’s a great shocked expression from Grayson Hall. Take a moment to enjoy this; it’s pretty much the only real action of the day.
Vicki and Peter get away, and when they get back to the Gaol, they discuss their next move.
Peter: We’d better do something about the book. Now that they know you have it, it won’t be long before they come looking for it.
Vicki: I know. If I take it with me into the cell, they’ll probably find it.
Yeah, you think? How big could your cell possibly be?
So Peter, being the brilliant strategic thinker of the group, hides the book in the only place in the whole room that could possibly hold a book. This approach works perfectly.
Anyway, this episode started wearing on me a while ago, so I’ll just close with my favorite exchange of the day. It comes courtesy of Reverend Trask, who never disappoints.
Trask: I demand to see for myself that Miss Winters is in her cell.
Peter: Reverend, we don’t usually have visitors this late.
Trask: I do not wish to VISIT with her!
That’s lovely. So far, this looks like the Trial of the Century, whatever the hell century this is supposed to be.
Tomorrow: The New Black.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
There are several noticeable edits in Act 1. Editing videotape was expensive in 1968, and edits left an obvious break in the background music cues, so it’s surprising that they felt like they had to make at least three edits in one scene. Maybe something really unprecedentedly bad happened while they were taping the scene, but I can’t imagine what that could have been.
When Josette tells Vicki “I am going to testify at your trial,” Vicki tries to suppress a quiet cough.
Tomorrow: The New Black.
— Danny Horn
40 thoughts on “Episode 412: You’ve Got to Believe Me”
Back in the 1990s, the DARK SHADOWS newsgroup referred to “Collinsport Dumb Water,” which the residents, with few exceptions, regularly drank.
Which meant that they ended up having to rely on Barnabas “cunning plan” Collins and Julia. Or Dumb and Dumber (because she knew better, but still went along with his plans).
LOL – for Days of Our Lives we call it “Salem Stupid Juice.” Typical soap staple, stupidity!!
“Maybe something really unprecedentedly bad happened while they were taping the scene, but I can’t imagine what that could have been.” Alexandra Moltke AND Roger Davis? ; )
Arrogant, sarcastic, narcissistic, pushy (literally), rude – I could think of many more terms in describing Mr Roger Davis and his style of ‘acting??’ – I read that he was disliked by most of the cast and after Alexandra Moltke left none of the other actresses wanted to play his romantic interest. Also Josette comes across really shallow and self-centered. I don’t remember Alexandra messing up her lines when she had the dominant role on the show so the blame for the edits probably lie elsewhere…
Am currently almost done the Adam and Eve storyline and have to admit, so far, I’m not terribly impressed by Roger Davis – but don’t want to jump the gun on Danny : )
(also, he wore really distracting sunglasses during his dvd interview – what’s up with that?)
Anyway, yes I agree Josette came across badly in this episode. I remember watching and thinkin I liked ghost Josette more.
I also think it’s kind of sad to see the disappearance of Kathryn Leigh Scott’s cheerful, warm and friendly Maggie Evan’s personality traits and replacement with this disappointing Josette depiction.
thats exactly how i felt when she started getting all hateful. i miss maggie!
Just think, in the beginning the diabolical Dr. Lang wanted to replace Jonathan Frid with Roger Davis to play Barnabas. The space-time rift this caused made the Doctor come in with his TARDIS to fix the timeline.
My God, that plan was insane! “You got woman troubles? Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll chop off the head of your rival and plop it on my monster. Your love interest won’t notice that her boyfriend is several inches taller… and she’s Vicki, so that’s probably true.”
Yes, and if it had succeeded, you know what would have happened?
“Barnabas Collins played by Roger Davis”
This is one of those episodes where a character’s actions are so incredibly incongruent with their usual behavior, that you just have to discount it as strictly a plot device and/or really lazy writing.
Josette is young and sensitive. It’s understandably that she might be angry, frustrated, grief stricken about the death of Barnabas. It is just not believable for her to be so extremely bitter and vindictive as she demonstrated in this episode. She was always kind and accepting towards Vicki and she knew Barnabas was sympathetic and protective towards Vicki. She was raised to be pious and respectful. Ranting about ensuring someone is hanged is just not in her nature. This makes sense only if they want to make Vicki a prominent and sympathetic character again.
I believe that Alexandra was extremely myopic but for some reason did not wear contacts. (And LASIK was not invented yet.) So she assiduously memorized her part every day she was on (except, I suppose, the opening narration), because if she did not, the Teleprompter would not save her anyway.
wow lots of Stupid going on in this episode. too much!
I don’t know. Vicki remembering and making use of Collinwood secret passages showed more smarts than I would have expected.
And now that I come to think of it, I wonder what Joshua was thinking about when he was authorising the plans for the house? “Make sure the builders know to put in secret doors leading to all the ladies’ bedrooms!”
I don’t remember being so annoyed with Vicki back in the ’70s watching the rerun of this storyline. Y’all are messin’ me up with her.
I remember going to school and calling her a complete dummy during the 1795 storyline. I liked Vicki at first, but the only way this whole thing works is for her to be a total idiot.
I think she peaked in the Phoenix storyline.
Does poor Vicki have to wear the same green dress until she’s hanged?
That reaction shot of Grayson must be what her husband was talking about when he said they could never end a scene on a close up of her. She is without a doubt the worst expressionistic actor on the show, really ridiculous.
The opening narration states two members of the Collins family have recently died “in mysterious circumstances”.
Am I miscounting? Coz it seems to me like Barnabas is the only one… getting shot in the face is hardly mysterious, so it can’t mean Jeremiah. And it presumably isn’t about Angelique either, since no-one but her killer and his henchman knows she’s dead (the omnipresent, multivoiced narrator knows, but they also know how and why it happened, so neither Angelique’s nor Barnabas’s death are really ‘mysterious’ from their Mary Alice perspective).
And whatever other faults she might have in this episode, Josette is so far the first person in 1795 to use the past tense of ‘hang’ correctly (it’s ‘hanged’, not ‘hung’), and I love her for that…
I noticed others getting that wrong. There is a good historical reason for that. It has to do with strong verbs and the fact that hanging was not known to the Angles and Saxons until invaders introduced it. Thus, laundry is hung, but murderers are hanged.
I do believe the second person dying “under mysterious circumstances” is meant to refer to Jeremiah (there’s really no one else). There ARE some characters who now know Jeremiah’s death was under mysterious (Ben, Josette, Barnabas, and obviously Angelique) circumstances, as do we as audience members. So the question becomes somewhat existential as to whom the narration is referring to–absolutely reality? some characters but not others? we as the audience?
On the issue of “hanged” and “hung,” yes, “hanged” is often used to mean hanging a person until death, but it’s not an absolute. Both have been used throughout history. We overstate the “correctness” of “hanged.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/hung-or-hanged
Oh, oh, also – how does Vicki know where the book is? I guess it’s fairly logical it would be in either Natalie’s room or Josette’s, but really, they could have stashed it anywhere after taking it from Vicki’s room. How does she know who has which room in the new house anyway? And when, exactly, did she find these secret passages? Surely that discovery would have been more to watch than endless Liz/Jason scenes.
Conclusion: Vicki actually is a witch.
And I liked Peter much more when he didn’t speak, just stood about in the distance like a shiny 60s Joel McHale waxwork.
Clay, delightful reasoning, that!
I think Josette (foolishly, yes) blurted out about Barnabas’ death to Vicki because a) she thinks Vicki’s THE witch of the story and would know darn good and well that he was dead, and b) she forgot to engage her brain before opening her mouth (not uncommon for some on DS).
The real Star of this episode is definitely the COSTUMES! Had there been a Daytime Emmys in 1968, DS would undoubtedly have swept that category. Does anyone know much about who costumed the show and where he/she came up with their great pieces? I would think they had to borrow substantially from some local playhouse or University theatre department as I am certain the budget could not have allowed for the kinds of costumes Naomi and Josette have been parading around in recently.
It does seem odd that Josette just blows through the Joshua warning of saying “Barnabas has removed himself to England,” because she lets her anger get in the way of her logic. There is a great moment in the scene between Josette and VIcki at the Gaol where Josette apparently forgets her line on a cross and the camera just shows Vicki wringing her hands and looking forlornly at the camera. When Josette finishes her cross, she finds the TelePrompTer and completes the line. But ole’ Vicki was not going to help her one iota with a line save. I have worked with actors like this before who literally FREEZE UP completely if the lines are not done in the EXACT ORDER that they were written. Ms. Moltke does not appear to have spent much time in Improvisational Acting for Stage and Screen, has she?
Finally, always good to have the Reverend Trask and Jerry Lacy come roaring onto the scene as you that he’s going to bring the heat. And the contrast between poor hapless Peter Bradford and the Reverend Trask could not be more illustrative.
I wanted to say though that I thought Peter Bradford does slightly improve from his first scene of a few weeks ago. I’m not sure that’s saying much but he does walk and talk and somewhat move his arms (once he gets out from the upstage where he looks like a handsome scarecrow for much of the scene between Josette and Vicki).
The Act One edits are choppy and our curiosity is definitely aroused as to what might have caused those.
i’m sorry, but I must disagree a bit about the costumes. It’s true the Countess looks great, but what’s up with Josette’s dress? The bodice and sleeves are nice, and it’s evening (I think) so I even buy seeing her arms and neck, but what’s with that strange flesh colored panel down the center front of her skirt? It’s like she spilled her lunch all over her lap, and they had to cover it up with a strange skin colored polyester panel surrounded by sequin elastic trim! I just can’t! It looks like a very strange accident… Any why why WHY does the jailor A. leave the jail with an inmate, and B. DOESN’T HAVE ON A HAT!!!! He would never never never leave without his hat. It’s like modern day people leaving for work without any shoes or socks on. It’s like No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service. No one would take him seriously, and he would be thought of as a cad or rogue. Never ceases to amaze me.
Everybody knows Vicki’s two favorite lines:
“You’ve got to believe me!”
“I don’t understand!”
It’s kind of fun to imagine her mashing them up in different ways:
“I don’t understand why you’ve got to believe me!”
“You’ve got to believe I don’t understand!”
“You’ve got to understand that I don’t believe me!”
And so on and so on…
And let us not forget “David, open the door!”
And “I don’t know.”
Coming off the well-night perfect “Other People’s Blood” episode, this one was a definite come-down. It made no sense for Josette to tell Vicki that Barnabas was dead, because it blew the cover off of Joshua’s “My son went to England” cover story. “Never trust Josette with a secret” is the moral of this episode. Also,when the Reverend Trask told Peter that he,Josette, and Natalie were all prepared to testify that all three of them had seen Vicki stealing the book, that would be wrong; only Natalie could legally testify to that. Finally, to answer Danny’s question,Ohrbach was the company credited with the program’s fashions, so they must have created the stunning gowns for this episode.
Coming off the well-nigh perfect “Other People’s Blood” episode, this one was a definite come-down. It made no sense for Josette to tell Vicki that Barnabas was dead, because it blew the cover off of Joshua’s “My son went to England” cover story. “Never trust Josette with a secret” is the moral of this episode. Also, when the Reverend Trask told Peter that he, Josette, and Natalie were all three prepared to testify that they had seen Vicki steal the book, that would be wrong; only Natalie could legally testify to that. Finally, to answer Barry’s question, Ohrbach was the company credited with the program’s fashions, so they must have created the stunning gowns for this episode..
Ohrbachs was department store focused on clothing and accessories. The 1960s clothes came from Ohrbachs. These elaborate gowns were probably sourced from from theater companies which is probably why they bounce around different eras so much. Later on they do get a wardrobe budget and those costumes are glorious.
Josette was being rash but perhaps not entirely stupid when she spilled the beans about Barnabas’s death while yelling at Victoria. Josette is convinced Victoria killed Barnabas, so there’s no reason (in her mind) to go with the cover story. It was stupid of her to say it with Peter Bradford standing by, though.
Ohrbach’s was a department store where they got clothes, not a costume designer or a costume shop. The costume designer is Ramse Mostoller. And they obviously would not have gotten 18th-century costumes from a modern department store.
Natalie and Josette are wearing some nice dresses in this episode. Josette’s dress looks like something the Empress Josephine would have worn. But shouldn’t she still be in mourning?
Technically she would be in mourning for at least one year, and because she was the spouse, she could potentially stay in mourning for up to two years.
I too miss Maggie. Josette is really becoming terse and catty. I like ghost Josette better. I guess if Vicki ever gets back to 1967, she’s not going to idolize Josette so much anymore.
Wouldn’t it be a stronger choice for Josette to defend Vicki as an ode to Barnabas who seemed to have believed Vicki’s story? Wouldn’t that make it all the more devastating poetically when Barnabas chases Josette off the cliff? That now, the woman Barnabas loves, who has been choosing to help Vicki against all odds and against Trask, jumps to her death, fulfilling the Collins book “prophecy” which Trask then uses to condemn Vicki? How sad!
How desperate! How bitter! Then we would still feel sorrow for Josette. Right now, I’m just getting irritated with her.
And besides, doesn’t David always insist that Josette’s ghost always helps him when he’s in trouble or feeling lonely? Wouldn’t it have been more meaningful and desperate for Josette to be trying to help Vicki, thus BEING the very Josette we all expected her to be from when David was visiting the Old House? And then she dies, and we are left with a big hole in our heart because we all loved Josette as Barnabas and David loved Josette?
And on top of the ghost of Josette being friendly to and helping David in the pre-1795 episodes, Josette’s ghost ALSO helps and looks out for Victoria on more than one occasion (and Vicky seems to develop a connection with her).
Just listened to an old podcast interview with Humbert Allen Astrado. He revealed something astounding… that the part he first auditioned for on Dark Shadows eventually went to Roger Davies!
Can you imagine a series where Peter Bradford/Jeff Clark was played by Astrado?