Episode 413: The New Black

“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.

413 dark shadows problem peter vicki

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.

413 dark shadows scowly peter vicki

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.

413 dark shadows surreal peter vicki

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?

413 dark shadows occasion vicki peter

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.

413 dark shadows birthday vicki peter

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.

413 dark shadows sunlight

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.

413 dark shadows counting ben

Somewhere around chime three, we see Ben in the cemetery, watching the sun go down.

413 dark shadows fog

Then the fog rolls in the way it always does on Dark Shadows, out of nowhere and all at once.

413 dark shadows waiting ben

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.

413 dark shadows down sun

Then it’s back to a still picture of the sun, while the bells keep chiming.

413 dark shadows television sun

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.

413 dark shadows another sun

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.

413 dark shadows intervention barnabas ben

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.

413 dark shadows yelling vicki naomi

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?

413 dark shadows window sarah

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.

413 dark shadows decision barnabas

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.

413 dark shadows avant-garde sarah 1

Recognizing him, she runs downstairs, and out of the house. Just outside the door, she spots her brother, and yells, “It is Barnabas!”

413 dark shadows avant-garde sarah 2

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.

413 dark shadows avant-garde sarah 3

We hold on this position for a few seconds…

413 dark shadows avant-garde sarah 4

And we see Sarah running by, following her brother.

413 dark shadows avant-garde sarah 5

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.

413 dark shadows coffin

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

26 thoughts on “Episode 413: The New Black

  1. Collinsport Geography is so baffling and insane that it is part of what makes DARK SHADOWS wonderful.

    The present-day storylines could always claim that people got around in unseen cars, though David got to Eagle Hill without much issue on foot. However, the flashbacks to 1795, 1897, and 1840 ignored this completely — they were just fast walkers in those days.

  2. I have a lot of rambling thoughts on this episode:

    1. This marks the point when I really become disillusioned with Vicki – unlike my fellow commentors I’ve always been kind of fond of Vicki – she seemed like she would have been a sweet natured child and I always felt bad about the fact she was never adopted. She went from being a fish out of water in Collinwood to a loyal family friend and fierce protector of David. It seems like she’s now grasping at straws to have a relationship and it could have been anyone (it should have been Jeremiah but even a reincarnation of all time favorite ‘Frank Garner’ would have been a better scenario  Also she never mentions her ‘beloved’ fiancé Burke again. Now I personally like continuity in my shows and it would have been nice to at least have mentioned him from time to time, even if it was just to show to the audience that he was significant in her life and would be missed.
    2. Also the cemetery distance went from five miles outside of Collinwood to being accessed by a ‘shortcut’ within walking distance that Sarah used when she led David into the mausoleum to leave him to ‘starve’ while locked there for 2 days to finally the backyard of the estate. Kind of reminds me of the 100 mile overnight walk Sarah led Maggie on when she (Maggie) was sprung from lockup at Windcliff.
    1. I agree Joanne. I understand why in her situation she might be desperate to latch onto a friendly person and attribute that to love, but the fact she doesn’t mention her feelings towards Burke (now and when she returns) makes her somewhat unsympathetic. And again, you don’t need to invest that much time on it, just have her express some doubts every now and then, especially at the beginning.

      1. Vicki’s amnesia regarding Burke is another example of DS moving away from character and focusing on plot. Characters only deal with relationships in front of them and have no internal history.

        Sarah is mentioned only in passing back in 1967, despite being Barnabas’ beloved sister, his tether to humanity and protector to Maggie and David. Maggie gets over Joe in a blink after he is hospitalized. The show’s once central question regarding Victoria – her search for her origins, for herself, is never answered.

        1. There’s a moment in this episode when Peter asks Vicki if she loved anyone in her own time. She looks uncomfortable, and says she’d rather not talk about it. Either it’s too painful for her to talk about, or she knows she won’t be able to explain the phrase “plane crash” to Peter. I didn’t mention this in the post because I don’t care about Burke.

          1. “I didn’t mention this in the post because I don’t care about Burke.”

            Ha!

            Maybe that’s also Vicki’s reason for not wanting to talk about it?

    2. I agree with you, I have never really “despised” Vicki like many of the other commenters here…towards the end of her time on the show she WAS quite annoying though. At the beginning the naivete worked for her character, but after a while she started to seem dumb and incapable of making smart decisions.

      And the Peter Bradford romance didn’t really make sense either. If you had just lost your future husband unexpectedly and suddenly saw his doppleganger, wouldn’t you feel slightly compelled to have a “second chance” with him? They hinted at that possibility in the first few 1795 episodes, but then that was dropped in favor of the Barnabas/Josette/Angelique triangle and ensuing carnage. I get that the latter storyline was more interesting to everyone, but I don’t think it would have been too difficult to let Victoria and Burke/Jeremiah have a relationship and then when he died, it would have a direct impact on Victoria (like seeing Burke die again). Instead, Victoria was relegated to “onlooker” status and nothing seemed to effect her until she was once again victimized and jailed (sorry, gaoled) as a witch. It seems that at this point, something was always “happening” to her instead of her having a more active role in the story. And yes, it would have been nice to have her mention Burke once in a while…it does seem like she jumped into that relationship with Peter because it was convenient.

      You’re right, the locations move around quite a bit in Collinsport…I never paid attention to the time elapsed and the location of certain places, but now that you mention it, they certainly did “stretch” (or compress) time to suit their needs.

  3. Well, don’t understand the plot to save Sarah’s life since she is destine to die. 1795 is a tragedy period, and fans complain about Josette or Sarah or Naomi dying don’t think that is a story line where the most tragic of Dark Shadow story lines occurs.

    1. This,I think, is the one flashback where nothing is changed. Quentin Collins survives the events of 1897 and 1840 is a full-out happy ending. Of course, those flashbacks had active, engaged time travelers with IQs greater than potato salad.

  4. Another soap staple, suspicious topography. Recently on Days of Our Lives, characters flitted from Salem (in the Midwest US) to San Francisco in moments, while others were still engaged in the same conversation in the town square.

    I’m glad someone else noticed these little (lovable) gaffes on Dark Shadows. I can’t wait until we get to the lunacy of the vampire/werewolf combo and the havoc it plays on story time!!

  5. It’s all Vicki’s fault!
    If Vicki hadn’t demanded to see Naomi to warn her about Sarah’s death then Naomi would have stayed home and thus able to prevent Sarah going out.
    So Sarah’s death is caused by Vicki trying to prevent her death.

    1. Which, as most seasoned time travelers know, is how it works. Your efforts to prevent something from happening always cause it to happen!

    2. Great point, davidspoffort! Just another instance of the old but oh-so-true saying about the road to hell being paved with good intentions.

  6. Dear Danny —

    Your funny remarks on the setting sun traveled two years into the future and made me laugh so hard for so long that my eyes now painfully burned.

    William

    P.S. — I do like how 1795 started out so bright and pink and now it’s all gloomy and dark. Nice color transition from witching to vampiring.

  7. Speaking of space and time, the show went much faster in terms of days when Barnabas arrived. If you look at the chronology in the Wiki, days used to go on for several episodes before Barnabas came and made sunrises and sunsets necessary.

  8. Hooray! Vicki changed clothes! She must have made a stop at her armoire when she sneaked into the house ‘yesterday’. The green dress is probably able to stand up by itself now. (“Peter! We need more Calgon!”)

  9. Along with all the other non-sensical stuff going on, here’s one more question. Why three vaults in the mausoleum? You would think Joshua would have had one made for everyone including Barnabas, but there are only 3, the ones later used to entomb Joshua, Naomi and Sarah.

    1. The mausoleum wasn’t intended for the family: it was a fake tomb with a hidden room to hide guns during the American Revolution. I assume Joshua and Naomi later chose to be interred there instead of the Collins plot nearer the house in order to be nearer to Barnabas.

  10. Regarding the amazingly close proximity to the cemetery, I want to leave open the possibility that it’s much like the movie “Poltergeist”… At some point between 1795 & the 1960’s, the cemetery was moved & “they moved the gravestones but not the bodies”, and perhaps the desecrated burial ground contributed to making a basic family curse into a legendary one.

    That’s the fun thing about fiction…. if something doesn’t make sense, you can practically always come up with some possible explanation that could account for the discrepancy & say “well, the writers just didn’t include that facet of information” or “it was never mentioned because everyone in the story already knew it and so it went without saying.” 🙂

    1. That’s the fun thing about fiction, indeed. The “Poltergeist” reference makes for as good a theory about the graveyard’s location as anything. 😉

  11. Don’t know about anyone else, but I was moved nearly to tears once again by the generosity of little Sarah. How thoughtful of her to fashion such a lovely and gargantuan dildo…err…I mean candle for Josette. And check out that bulbous tip! If Josette grows accustomed to jammin’ with that baby a few times a day, she’ll be over poor ole Barnabas in no time, and likely take to spending an inordinate amount of time in the stables.

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