“Live! What a mockery I make of that word.”
Okay, let’s get this over with. As we begin today’s episode, Barnabas’ little sister Sarah is currently alive. Stay tuned for more updates on this developing situation.
Because we’ve known all along that Sarah isn’t going to get a lot taller than this. When we first met her, she was a ghost, which isn’t an occupation that has a lot of long-term career prospects.
In fact, there’s only three things that we knew for sure would happen when we embarked on this flashback to 1795 — Sarah would die, Barnabas would be chained up in a coffin, and something about Josette, I forget exactly what. She lives a long and fulfilling life, surrounded by friends and family? No, that’s not it. It’ll come to me.
Anyway, after what I’d assumed was a seven-months-long murder mystery, we find out that Sarah dies from being outside, which is a bit of an anti-climax.
Plus, we saw a couple days ago that the Eagle Hill cemetery is actually just a few steps away from the front door of Collinwood, so she’s basically going to die from being out on the front lawn. It’s kind of like if you watched Lost for six years, and it turned out that the Island was a cork.
So Barnabas feels bad, obviously, although to tell you the truth the whole thing could probably have been solved with a sweater. But just go ahead and try telling Barnabas that any given event in human history was not actually about him.
Barnabas: Ben, it’s my fault. She’s lost because of me. She followed me from Collinwood.
Ben: You went to the house?
Barnabas: Only because I had to see Josette. Just see her!
Ben: Anybody see ya besides Sarah?
Barnabas: No, I didn’t go in. Sarah saw me from a window, and she ran out. As soon as she saw me, I turned and ran.
Yeah, I know. Vampires, right? They’re ridiculous.
Ben: Did she follow you to the mausoleum?
Barnabas: I don’t know. I went out there, but I didn’t go in.
Ben: Where did ya go?
Barnabas: I went to the village.
Ben gives a little disgusted sigh, and I can’t blame him. In the middle of a crisis, with his little sister hot on his heels, Barnabas decided to go down to the wharf for some takeout.
And Barnabas didn’t even get to feed off the first girl that he approached; she ended up falling off the dock and drowning. He showed up at the mausoleum later with blood all over his face, which means that he must have gone and killed a whole other prostitute before heading back home. Plus he apparently doesn’t know how to use a napkin. Dude is a mess.
But the golden rule of Barnabas is that the worse he behaves, the more self-involved he becomes.
“Don’t turn away from me, Ben,” he gulps. “I’m not responsible for what happened to me.”
Ben says, “I know that,” but he’s just being polite. Barnabas is, like, all the way responsible for what happened to him. But you can’t talk to him when he’s like this.
Ben says, “You’d best come back to the mausoleum. It’s gettin’ light.”
Barnabas takes this as a cue for one of his dramatic interludes, so he looks off into the distance.
Barnabas: Light! She knows me well, my wife. To put a curse on me that I must live eternally by night… Live. What a mockery I make of that word. For I am dead… and nothing lives, except the hatred inside me.
Luckily, at that point Ben interrupts him, because Barnabas could keep going like this for another eight minutes. “Hatred! How can I feel anything else, with this curse upon me. Curse!” And so on.
In the end, they don’t actually spend a ton of time on Sarah getting sick and dying. She was only trapped in the mausoleum for one episode, and by the middle of today’s episode, she’s caught pneumonia and she’s on her way out.
The actual bedside scenes are a bit slow, but this is lightning fast compared to six months ago. David was trapped in the secret room in the mausoleum for a whole week, and at the end of that sequence, he returned home and just went on with his life.
In this episode, we’ve got a dying child, which under normal daytime soap opera rules should be a five-star all-hands-on-deck red alert, with a clip-show retrospective and a fantasy gates-of-Heaven dream sequence.
But the kids are sidelined in the 1795 storyline, where the adults have a hard enough time getting through the day without shooting a blood relative in the face. Sarah’s ghost was in 29 episodes back in 1967, and she’s only in 8 episodes alive. Plus, we haven’t even seen young Daniel Collins so far; David Henesy ends up off the canvas for three months. We never see Daniel and Sarah together at all.
The episode ends with a lengthy changing-of-the-guard sequence. Millicent tells Naomi that she can watch over Sarah, and then Ben arrives to relieve Millicent. When the coast is clear, Ben ushers Barnabas into the room.
In the end, we close the loop on Sarah’s death, with a very sad little reconciliation scene. She croaks out, “I love you, Barnabas. I always will.” And then that’s it.
Get some rest, kid. You deserve it. See you in the 60s.
Monday: Stone Cold.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Barnabas has a nice bit of Fridspeak for Ben: “I want you to keep continuing to look for Sarah.”
Behind the Scenes:
This was Sharon Smyth’s final appearance on Dark Shadows. At a 1989 Dark Shadows Festival panel, Smyth explained, “I stopped doing the show because ghosts are not allowed to age, and I was rapidly growing — I was becoming prepubescent, and ghosts are not allowed to do that when they died young. That was the main reason.”
Sharon did some commercials and print ads after this, and then she retired from acting and went back to being a regular kid. She got married and had kids, and that’s pretty much all I know about her. She has a cute personal website, and she has a lot of fondness for her Dark Shadows days. I do, too.
Monday: Stone Cold.
— Danny Horn