“I’ve often thought it’s very sad that we live in two worlds that are so far apart in time from each other.”
Last night, assistant jailer and aspiring lawyer Peter Bradford sprung accused witch Victoria Winters from the Collinsport Gaol, so she could break into somebody’s house and steal a key piece of evidence in her case. Then he lied to opposing counsel about it, and indicated that he would perjure himself on the stand if required.
This morning, he feels bad about lying, so he’s planning to go to Reverend Trask and apologize.
I think it’s time for somebody to communicate to young Peter that he should stop coming up with new ideas, possibly through the medium of a prison sentence.
So here’s Peter and Vicki, standing around in — what do I call this, the prison’s living room? This is the only prison set they have, so Vicki spends a lot of time here, just wandering around loose like she’s an indoor cat who you can trust to stay home.
In this scene, Peter’s put on his coat to go out, apparently planning to leave Vicki on her own without a babysitter. It’s not exactly Orange Is the New Black around here.
But today’s episode is full of odd contradictions, challenging the viewer to make sense of it all.
For one thing, Peter’s shouting again. He’s supposed to be the new love interest for Vicki; he shouldn’t be frowning all the time. He’s clearly aiming for intense, and landing on petulant.
So, obviously, he’s the perfect match for Vicki.
Vicki: Peter, please — don’t go through with this.
Peter: Why are you so concerned about me? It’s your life that’s at stake, not mine.
Vicki: Because you’re the only person who’s shown any kindness and understanding to me.
So that’s kind of a big “screw you” to Jeremiah, Barnabas, Naomi and Sarah, but whatever.
But then she says, “I don’t want to see anything happen to you,” which I for one completely agree with. I don’t want to see anything happen to either of you, so if you could please step aside, you’re standing in the way of my favorite TV show.
Then Vicki walks across the room, strikes a pose and says, “I’ve often thought it’s very sad that we live in two worlds that are so far apart in time from each other.”
And apparently, we’re supposed to just accept that as a sentence that a human being actually said out loud in front of a camera.
I mean, I agree that it’s sad. But is it very sad?
Eventually, the conversation turns to the Collins family history that Vicki brought back with her from the 1960s, and Peter opens it up and starts browsing. You can tell that this is a soap opera, because he’s a guy and he’s skimming for personal tragedies, and not baseball scores.
As usual, he opens the book to the exact spot that unlocks today’s plot point. This book must have been published by the same people who made the radio on Gilligan’s Island.
Glancing at the book, Vicki realizes that Barnabas’ ten-year-old sister, Sarah, is going to die of exposure in two days.
You’d think that by now, Vicki would have learned to keep this kind of information to herself. But, no — she insists that Peter go and fetch Naomi, so Vicki can warn her to keep Sarah inside. Nobody on this show ever learns anything.
Then there’s a sequence that really makes you wonder if you actually understand this show at all, or if it could be some kind of coded communication to an underground resistance movement, like the numbers stations, or Duck Dynasty.
We see a still picture of the sun. A church bell starts tolling the hour.
Somewhere around chime three, we see Ben in the cemetery, watching the sun go down.
Then the fog rolls in the way it always does on Dark Shadows, out of nowhere and all at once.
Ben steps up to the gate of the Collins family mausoleum, and looks again at the setting sun. At this point, the bell has rung nine times.
Then it’s back to a still picture of the sun, while the bells keep chiming.
Then they cross-fade to another still picture of the sun, because apparently that’s an acceptable way to assemble a television show.
There’s a ton of studio noise at this point, a bunch of footsteps shuffling around. It’s one of the noisier sunsets. And the church bell keeps on ringing.
Then they cross-fade to another still photo of the setting sun. This sequence takes up a full sixty seconds, just the sun setting in installments. It’s unreal.
They eventually get all the way up to eighteen chimes, and then the sound effect cuts off halfway through the next one, so I guess it’s eighteen and a half o’clock.
Finally, here’s what we waited all that time for — the vampire gets up, and has kind of a gloomy conversation. Ben warns him that people in the village are upset about the vicious late-night plasma runs Barnabas has been making lately.
In a lovely bit of Fridspeak, Barnabas says, “I’m going… not to the village tonight. I have other plans.” These plans involve going to his parents’ house, and staring up at Josette’s window. As usual, these aren’t super well-thought-out plans.
But honestly, Vicki’s plans are even worse. Once again, she drags a member of the Collins family all the way downtown, to give them a vague and unsourced warning about the future. Then they go back home, and the bad thing happens anyway.
By the way, spoiler alert, but Naomi’s also scheduled to die pretty soon, which should also be in the family history. Why is Vicki only reading the book one paragraph at a time?
So the whole episode has been pretty baffling today, and here comes the weirdest part.
Young Sarah is lighting a candle in Josette’s window, hoping that it will bring back her beloved brother, Barnabas, who she’s been told has gone away to England.
And talk about your home run, superstition-wise. She looks out the window, and the very first thing she sees is Barnabas, just standing outside looking up at her! She should hold on to that candle; it’s incredibly efficient.
Recognizing him, she runs downstairs, and out of the house. Just outside the door, she spots her brother, and yells, “It is Barnabas!”
Now, this is going to seem like a total non sequitur, but at this point, I need to remind you that the Eagle Hill Cemetery is five miles north of Collinwood. You’ll see why in fourteen seconds.
We cut to Barnabas, who whispers, “No, Sarah! You mustn’t see me!” and moves off screen to the right.
We hold on this position for a few seconds…
And we see Sarah running by, following her brother.
And now she’s in the graveyard. That’s one continuous shot; she walks directly from the spot she could see from the front door, right into the graveyard.
So either the tide came in and the cemetery is suddenly in the front yard, or we just saw a ten-year-old girl in her pajamas run five miles in 14 seconds. That’s around 1,200 miles an hour, from a standing start. Don’t try this at home; she’s clearly a professional driver on a closed course.
I mean, it’s either that, or the show has just drifted again into full-on avant-garde surrealist cinema. Today’s episode is a complete puzzle — legally, geographically and meteorologically. I give up. The show wins. Anyway, it’s half-past eighteen o’clock; I should have been in bed hours ago.
Tomorrow: That Thing You Do.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Vicki reads in the book that Sarah will die in two days, on January 26th. This episode aired on January 24th, 1968, so they’re using the typical soap opera convention of syncing the in-story date with the broadcast date. That means that it’s now January 1796, but just last week, Josette read in the family history that she would commit suicide in “winter, 1795”.
Naomi tells Sarah that Josette and Natalie went to Bangor this morning, and won’t be back until later that night. It was established in episode 57 that Collinsport is about 50 miles from Bangor. In a carriage, over mostly dirt roads, a 50 mile trip would take all day; there’s no way they would make the trip there and back in a day. (Thanks to Dark Shadows Wiki for this one.)
Sarah tells Naomi that she’s made a present.
Naomi: What is it?
Sarah: You see, Jer — Joshua — Josette’s been so sad for such a long time.
There’s a slow pan across Barnabas’ coffin, and it looks awful — it’s obvious that it’s been battered around a lot lately. Check out the screenshot below.
Peter tells Naomi, “I’ll take you back to Collinsport, Mrs. Collins.” He means Collinwood.
At the end of Naomi’s scene with Peter, her voice suddenly gets husky. She tries to resist, but she ends up coughing before the end of the scene.
There’s a lot of studio noise as Sarah enters the mausoleum, including footsteps.
Over the credits, the fog machine is just off screen, sending out little puffs of smoke. I keep telling them that mist doesn’t work that way, but they never listen.
Tomorrow: That Thing You Do.
— Danny Horn