Episode 416: Stone Cold

“Why wouldn’t you let me bury them in the earth?”

As we open a new week on Dark Shadows, Joshua comes home from a business trip and finds Naomi in the drawing room, hip-deep in sherry.

He responds as he always does, with bitter sarcasm. “Well, I’m happy to see you up and busy at such an early hour,” he growls. “This was well worth the whole night’s journey, to be welcomed by this charming bit of domesticity.”

Naomi looks off into the distance.

“A little bird flew to the window,” she says, so apparently it’s going to be one of those conversations. “It hovered there for a moment, and then flew away. The first bird of the morning.”

This newsflash from the aviary is Naomi’s way of leading up to the breaking news story — on Friday, their little daughter Sarah died of pneumonia.

Wait, Sarah’s dead? God damn it, did somebody let her get outside again? We have got to start locking the front door, and this time I mean it.

416 dark shadows daughter joshua naomi

Yes, it’s been over a week since the last Collins family funeral, so here we are again. Luckily, they’ve been getting lots of practice; they should be amazing at it by now.

Joshua’s stunned, but Naomi has been up all night, practicing her grieving-mother performance art piece.

Joshua:   I can’t believe it.

Naomi:  Yes! That’s what we must do — not believe it! Pretend it never happened.

Joshua:  No, that’s not what I meant.

Naomi:  We must call her — Sarah! Sarah! — she’ll come running down the stairs, laughing, through the doors, into my arms.

I have no idea what stage of grief this is supposed to be. What is it again? Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof monologue?

416 dark shadows funeral joshua naomi

Naomi makes a beeline for the bottle, acting all the way.

Joshua:  If I had known, I would have been here.

Naomi:  Why would you have been here?

Joshua:  She was my daughter!

Naomi:  Daughter! Son! Wife! What do they mean to you?

It’s fantastic. You can’t blame her for playing to the balcony today; you don’t get a theatrical moment like this every day. You’d run out of daughters.

416 dark shadows cell joshua vicki

So Joshua decides to go out and have an emotional scene of his own. He’s convinced that Vicki is the witch who’s put a curse on his family.

And hey, they have a new prison cell set, which means Vicki probably won’t be getting sprung any time soon. They have to hold pretty tight on the close-ups in this scene, because the cell only has bars on one side.

Also, the wall behind her has a regular glass window with no bars, and a big brass candlestick right in front of it. It might as well have a sign that says “In case of guilty verdict, break glass”. I guess the Collinsport Gaol runs on the honor system.

416 dark shadows warned joshua vicki

This would probably be a good time for Vicki to come up with something new to say that might help to clear her name, because her current strategy of denying everything and then telling people that she comes from the future has not been the blockbuster success that she apparently expects. It’s not like she has anything else to do with her time; can’t she ask Peter for some easel paper and do a brainstorming exercise?

But no. She goes to her old standby — “But I’m not a witch!” — and then she tells him that she comes from the future. She doesn’t say her catchphrase, “You’ve got to believe me!”, but I bet she’s thinking it the whole time.

416 dark shadows fires joshua vicki

Joshua gets a nice theatrical moment of his own, asking Vicki if she likes to watch the sunrise.

Joshua:  If the sight of a sunrise is of special pleasure to you, I suggest that you rise early in the morning. Enjoy your beloved sunrises, and your glorious sunsets. There will be few left for you to see, I will see to that. And perhaps, as you gaze at the streaks of red blazing in the sky, you can contemplate not only the fires of Hell to which you will surely be damned — but the fires of this earth — the death of witches — that will take you to the fires of the next!

Which is obviously a crazy thing to say, the kind of line that only happens on Dark Shadows. By the way, do you think random citizens have to make appointments to threaten the defendant, or is it entirely on a walk-in basis?

416 dark shadows gloomy barnabas ben

Then it’s over to Barnabas’ hiding place in the Collins family mausoleum, for another gloomy interview with the vampire. The whole episode is like this.

Barnabas considers himself responsible for his sister’s death, which is only partly true but it’s nice to see him taking responsibility for something around here.

He doesn’t want Vicki to be blamed for Sarah’s death, and he strikes a vaguely noble pose. “Perhaps I should give myself up as the real murderer,” he says, adopting a pained expression. “I cannot allow Miss Winters to suffer in my stead!”

416 dark shadows acting barnabas ben

Ben tries to talk him out of this idea, as Barnabas stands there and employs a range of acting faces. This is a great scene if you like acting faces, and I do.

Part of the visual impact here is due to the undead eye makeup that they’ve started using since Barnabas rose as a vampire last week. They weren’t doing this back in 1967, before the time travel storyline; it’s a new innovation in vampire cosmetics. I love it. It makes every facial expression look spooky and important.

416 dark shadows more barnabas ben

Here’s another great acting face. They’re not going to come up with anything that matters plotwise — this is one of those episodes where everybody talks themselves in and out of things — so we might as well just turn the sound down and focus on the facial expressions.

416 dark shadows mausoleum joshua naomi

Then Naomi and Joshua pay a visit to the mausoleum, which is getting a real workout these days. Soap operas usually have a public meeting spot — a diner, a bar, a hotel lobby — where characters can run into each other and recap their storylines. On Dark Shadows, the hot new nightspot is the family crypt.

416 dark shadows therapy joshua naomi

Barnabas and Ben listen at the secret room door as Naomi treats the funeral like a family therapy session, telling Joshua all the things that she doesn’t like about him. This doesn’t solve anything, but it’s probably nice to get it off her chest.

416 dark shadows peace ben barnabas

Once the parents have cleared the room, we have yet another gloomy conversation about how much Barnabas wants to die.

This is popular afternoon television, by the way. By this point, the show is on a ratings upswing that will continue for the next two years.

So this is apparently what the viewing public of 1968 wanted — people standing around in drafty stone buildings, talking about how much they envy the sleeping dead.

Everything else in American pop culture is getting louder and brighter — Big Brother and the Holding Company, tie-dyed shirts and Laugh-In — except on Dark Shadows, where it’s jail cells, gray stone and the quiet of the grave.

416 dark shadows eternity ben barnabas

And here’s how we end this rollicking half-hour of high adventure and romance.

Barnabas:  Go now, and come back at dawn. But during the night, you must do me some service.

Ben:  Whatever you say.

Barnabas:  Find a branch of a tree — a holly tree — and from it, fashion a pointed stake. Make it of such a length that it will pierce through a man’s heart.

Ben:  What are you sayin’?

Barnabas:  You know very well what I’m saying.

Ben:  I won’t do it!

416 dark shadows destroy ben barnabas

Barnabas:  You will do as I say!

Ben:  But it’ll destroy ya, forever!

Barnabas:  I am already destroyed. What you will do is to save me from an eternity of agony. If you are my friend —

Ben:  I am.

Barnabas:  Then do it.

Ben:  No!

416 dark shadows free barnabas

And Jonathan Frid just one-hundred percent goes for it. He’s decided that he’s going to deliver one of the great dramatic vampire-suicide scenes of all time.

Barnabas:  Free me! Bring me peace at last!

416 dark shadows mad barnabas

The acting faces are just going mad at this point.

Barnabas:  Let me join those who are at rest.

416 dark shadows sleeping barnabas

Barnabas:  Do not condemn me to wander forever in endless agony. Give me to the waiting arms of the sleeping dead.

416 dark shadows word barnabas

Barnabas:  End my torment! Please, I beg you. I beg you!

416 dark shadows yes ben

Barnabas:  Let me hear you say the word! YES! Say the word!

Ben:  YES!

416 dark shadows yes barnabas

Barnabas:  Yes!

He looks up at the ceiling.

Barnabas:  Yes… Yes.

So the cliffhanger of today’s episode is that the psychopath vampire has talked his friend into some timber-assisted suicide. It’s really quite extraordinary. I have no idea what the audience was supposed to make of this, but I’m going to tune in tomorrow to see what happens next. How could you not?

Tomorrow: Too Soon.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Joshua has a hard time getting his mind around a line in the first act:

Naomi:  I can’t explain. And you wouldn’t believe me, even if I tried.

Joshua:  Of course I wouldn’t. I’m sure your inventions would be even less than imaginative than Miss Winters’.

At the end of the first act, as Naomi pours some more sherry, the camera peeks into the shot at the left side of the screen.

Also, they haven’t really figured out Sarah’s birth and death dates. When we saw Sarah’s plaque back in episode 276, it said 1786 to 1796. But that would make her ten years old when she died, and last week, in episode 413, Vicki said that Sarah would die on her 11th birthday, on January 26th.

Presumably, that means that we’re in January 1796 right now, so the stone should say 1785 to 1796. Instead, it says 1784 to 1795. So who knows what time it is.

Tomorrow: Too Soon.

416 dark shadows sneaky barnabas ben

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

32 thoughts on “Episode 416: Stone Cold

  1. Some of this is funny in a way.Love how you break these scenes down.”Naomi treats the funeral like a family therapy session, telling Joshua all the things that she doesn’t like about him. This doesn’t solve anything, but it’s probably nice to get it off her chest.”

  2. “So who knows what time it is.”

    Does anybody really know what time it is
    Does anybody really care
    If so I can’t imagine why
    We’ve all got time enough to cry

    Recorded in 1969

  3. I guess Angelique included a copy of ‘Vampires for Idiots’ as part of her victim package. How does Barnabas come up with these things (how does he know about the stake, much less that it can only be made from a HOLLY tree?). By the way did the Collins family ever ask what happened to Barnabas’ wife? Do they know she’s dead? If so wouldn’t they want her buried in the family crypt also? I know they didn’t like her but she was the wife of their only son who just died from the ‘plague’. It’s nice to see the writers’ allowing someone other than Barnabas the opportunity to utilize their theatrical training.

    1. Yeah, it’s like he instinctively knows all the details about being a vampire, as soon as he becomes one. Including how to do away with himself.

    2. Maybe they think Angelique just disappeared. A few episodes ago, Joshua bribed her to leave and gave her his passbook so she could get his 20,000 in gold. (But she obviously wouldn’t have gotten it yet.)

  4. Did Angelique include a copy of ‘Vampires for Dummies’ in Barnabas’ victim initiation packet? Where does he come up with this stuff? It has to be a stake made only from a HOLLY tree? Also does Barnabas’ family know that his wife is ‘dead’? If so wouldn’t it be proper for them to want to bury her in the family crypt?

    1. Perhaps Barnabas learned about vampirism when he was in Martinique? (along with all the other voodoo stuff he seems to know) I believe Angelique also specified holly when she told Ben to create the stake so perhaps they attended the same Vampire 101 course.

      As far as the Collins and Angelique, I’m pretty certain the last interaction they had was between Joshua and her shortly after Barnabas’ death when he offered her money to leave Collinwood. So they probably just assume she’s taken off somewhere and are no doubt glad to be rid of her.

      1. Yes. very plausible. very good. But I cannot remember what they actually did with her body… buried in the woods somewhere?

  5. But what happened to Angelique’s body? Is it just quietly mouldering in a corner of the secret cript room? And what about her holly stake and mallet, sure she didn’t get to use them, but they should still exist, why not use those. Also wouldn’t it make more sense to off Barnabas during the middle of the day instead of when he’s just one lapse of the hitting the snooze button away from waking up?

    1. Ben buried Angelique’s body when he found her in Barnabas’ coffin….remember in the same episode Barnabas appeared before Ben and asked him where he was coming from…he replied from digging the grave…..and Barnabas responded so you found the body.

  6. “And Jonathan Frid just one-hundred percent goes for it. He’s decided that he’s going to deliver one of the great dramatic vampire-suicide scenes of all time.” No kidding. I couldn’t believe where he went in that scene — it was like, whoa, I thought we were watching a soap opera/monster show, and all of a sudden we’ve got Hamlet. Took my breath away. It’s also interesting that the writers set it up for him — the style of the script suddenly became much more Shakespearean. Awesome. I hope we get more Shakespeare-in-the-Crypt before this is over.

      1. Very true, Sproat outdid himself today. A real wrist-slitter of an episode. Bennett and Edmonds must have been thrilled to get some meaty, theatrical material.

    1. Jonathan must’ve decided to simply go with the flow as his Shakespearean background just kinda crypt in at that point.


  7. It’s so weird seeing the 1795ers in Collinwood. Their first episode in the new house was great – the first thing Naomi did was usher people into the drawing room, close the doors, and lean on them a bit (clearly an hereditary trait) – but still, it’s strange. Lou’s entrance was so old school, 66, Burke’s-trying-to-destroy-our-family DS that it took me a moment to recall why Liz and Roger were dressed so oddly.

  8. I cheered Naomi’s cruel and sarcastic responses to Joshua.

    If the mausoleum is to be the final resting place of the immediate Joshua Collins family, why are there only 3 spaces, assuming the family had no expectation of secreting one of the family corpses in the secret room?

    1. a previous comment on another day thought that perhaps the three places were for Joshua, Naomi, and Abigail, as most likely Barnabas would build his own mausoleum for he and his own wife, and Sarah would grow up and get married to be buried in her husband’s mausoleum. Using it for Sarah was an unfortunate surprise to them all.

  9. There’s just so much to like in this episode I don’t even know where to start…

    The opening scene between Joshua and Naomi is certainly one of their biggest in a long time. God knows it was certainly script heavy. Both were very much on top of their cue-card reading that’s for sure. Naomi, particularly, gives the scene some solid empathy and Joshua has his usual stentorian fusillades.

    When you think about how much loss the Collins family goes through in 1795, you have to wonder why what remains of the household isn’t all in a perpetual drunken bender like Naomi. On most soaps, the loss of a single character is an event that takes months to lead up to and months to disentangle. Not so here where the body count every week seems to go up by one.

    Meanwhile, the Collinsport “Gaol” scene ratchets up the “Victoria is a witch” plot line and certainly lights an accelerant under it.

    Then to Ben and Barnabas at the mausoleum: you gotta love Ben’s “there’s quite a hullabaloo in the town” line. Anytime someone is using hullabaloo in a sentence, it’s a good day’s work for sure. Now, about Barnabas’ make-up: he’s looking very Goth these days. That final turn to the camera moment on the last “Yes!” is one for the Melodramatic Moments Hall of Fame.

    Finally, can you imagine what a lesser show this would have been had we been denied the use of the mausoleum set? So much happens there and it seems eventually that ALL of the characters wind up there sooner or later. I think this is the first time we ever see Naomi/Elizabeth there and she brings a certain grace and charm to the place that we’ve rarely seen. I also love that, even though it’s just a set, somehow they manage to get an “echo” affect there that definitely works for the setting. Odd, that.

  10. I loved this episode because of its Shakespearean flourishes. I’m sure Frid enjoyed his climactic monologue as a welcome return to his stage roots.

  11. This is a morose episode even by DS standards. Ultimately, however, the performances of four fine professional actors (Bennett, Frid, Edmonds, David) makes it a compelling entry.

    1. As talented as he is, sometimes I think Danny makes too much effort trying to be funny vs. focusing on what makes an episode really unique and memorable. “Acting faces” is more a slur than a joke and not all that funny. Jonathan Frid does a remarkable job conveying the shifting emotions that Barnabas is experiencing. He makes these lines believable and moving. Why shouldn’t he talk about himself? He is the most interesting person he knows! Who else died and came back as the living dead? I never tire of him assessing his situation and grieving his losses. He was a better than average man who has been forced into being something horrible that he doesn’t understand and can’t accept. That is worthy of plenty of angst.

  12. I have some difficulty believing this is actually a Ron Sproat script. The language is just too good. As many have noted, it is thick, complex, elegant, and sometimes even Shakespearean. That’s hardly Sproat’s pedestrian “It is?” type of line (though we do get three “I don’t understand”s this episode, including, of course, Vicki). I thought for sure it was a Sam Hall script–especially with Joshua’s sarcasm throughout–or at least split the difference as a Gordon Russell script–and I was flabbergasted when the end credits said Ron Sproat. I know sometimes the credited writer is not always the actual writer, and I wonder if that was the case today.

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