“Josette is dead! How DARE you dig her grave!”
Hey, guess what: Barnabas wakes up and gets out of his coffin, and he’s in kind of a bad mood. I know, news flash, right? I’ll give you a second to catch your breath.
To be fair, it’s been a rough week. Barnabas was planning to murder his fiancee Josette, and then somebody else came along and murdered her first, but in totally the wrong way. It’s a frustrating situation.
So he roars out of bed at a hundred miles an hour, just bouncing off the mausoleum walls and shouting, “Destruction, that’s all I want! Destruction, everywhere! Death! BLOOD!” This is how we start Dark Shadows episodes now. It ramps up from here.
So, there he stands — the Dark Knight, the Caped Crusader — haunted by tragedy that is almost entirely his own fault. Look at him, all tensed up like a bad idea just waiting to happen.
By the end of this episode, he will come up with the single worst plan that he ever makes in the entire run of the show. And this is the guy who kidnapped a waitress, put her in a wedding dress, and told her to listen to a music box until she forgot who she was. You would think that would be pretty much the basement level of vampire plans, but no. It turns out there’s, like, six levels below that.
He decides that he needs to see Josette one last time, which is not advisable. Ben reminds him that Josette died by jumping off a cliff onto the rocks below, and that kind of thing makes the recovery process a little challenging. I bet Riggs had to go out there with a wheelbarrow, a spatula and a whole mess of paper towels.
Back at the house, Barnabas’ aunt Abigail is holding another conference with the witch hunter, Reverend Trask. They’ve locked up Vicki, the time-traveling governess, and put her on trial for witchcraft.
They look worried, and I’m not really sure why; the trial is leaning pretty decisively in their direction. But Abigail just isn’t satisfied.
Abigail: As long as Miss Winters lives —
Trask: Every living soul is in mortal danger. Yours! Mine!
Abigail: Yes. Why does that stupid judge prolong this needless trial? That girl is indisputably a witch. Why can’t he see that?
Okay, dang. The girl’s in prison. I think there might be more than one bloodthirsty member of this family.
So Abigail comes up with an idea: maybe Vicki’s lawyer, Peter Bradford, should be made to understand that the Collins family can make things hard for him, if he ever hopes to advance in the world.
Trask: He’s a most stubborn young man.
Abigail: Stubbornness is a vice, dear Reverend, that I think it’s your duty to eradicate.
Trask: You want me to talk to young Bradford?
Abigail: You might go farther than mere talk.
Trask pauses for a moment, clearly thinking, Holy crap. I think she wants me to seduce the guy.
But he seems okay with it, because he brightens up immediately, and leaves the house with a crafty smile on his face. It’s nice to see a guy who really enjoys his work.
Left on her own, Abigail pounces on Ben, who’s come in to tend to the fire. She wants him to testify against Vicki, but he says that he can’t — he knows that she’s innocent.
It turns out Abigail has a suggestion for Ben, too.
Abigail: You are to dig the grave, is that true?
Ben: Yes, ma’am.
Abigail: I have another task for you. As you dig the grave, remember its purpose — to house the dead. And remember, there are many paths to the grave, and a path can be found for you — filled with back-breaking punishment, at that prison from which you came!
Okay, wow. What is the matter with this family? Everybody named Collins needs a time out.
So this has been a fairly intense episode up to now, and it doesn’t let up. Dark Shadows has reached the stage where every single scene is a desperate, life-or-death shouting match. This is not pleasant or relaxing television that you can have on in the background while you’re washing the dishes. This is television that reaches through the screen, and grabs you by the hair.
The show’s ratings have been gradually increasing since around halfway through the first vampire storyline, and viewership really starts to pick up now. I think that one reason for its success during this period is that most people didn’t have remote controls in 1968. If you wanted to change the channel, you’d have to walk right up to the television set and turn the knob. I don’t think I’d have the nerve to do that during a Trask scene; I’d probably have to wait until the commercial break and sneak up on it.
Anyway, this is the scene where Trask shows up at Peter’s one-room studio apartment, dressed to kill. You can tell he’s trying to make an impression, because he’s wearing his party cloak.
Peter: What is it you want?
Trask: Strange. I was about to ask you the very same question.
Peter: Come to the point.
Trask: All right. What is it that you want?
And then he turns, and looks Peter in the eye.
So, wow — is this really happening? Cause I think these two actually have something. I can see sparks flying. Observe the technique.
Peter: At the moment, your absence might sum it up.
Trask: Come, come, Mr. Bradford. I’m sure you understand better than that what I’m saying.
Peter: I’m afraid I don’t.
Trask does a quick survey of the room.
Trask: Rather humble fare you have to eat, isn’t it?
Peter: I have enough to eat, thank you.
Trask: And your lodgings — I should imagine this room gets quite cold on occasion.
Peter: I’m not uncomfortable.
Trask: I notice you can’t even afford some wench to come in and do the cleaning, and mending.
So, apparently, the Reverend has come over to criticize Peter’s food, his apartment and his clothes. All he has to do is mention Peter’s hair, and this will officially be an episode of Queer Eye. What is going on? Why don’t you kiss him, instead of talking him to death?
But there’s no time for romance; we’ve got to get back to the vampire for his big epic fail idea.
Peter’s decided that he needs to hide the Collins family history book that Vicki brought back with her from the 1960s; it would be a key piece of evidence against her at the trial. He decides that the best way to do that is to go to the cemetery in the middle of the night and bury it next to a gravestone. I don’t know how this occurs to him. I’ve given up trying to understand these people.
Anyway, Barnabas is in the mausoleum, and he hears someone digging outside. Thinking that it’s Ben digging the grave, Barnabas calls out to him. Then, realizing his mistake just in time, Barnabas ducks back through the secret panel just as Peter enters the mausoleum.
By the time Ben arrives, Peter is tapping on the walls, trying to find the door that he glimpsed as he was coming in. It’s all plot today, just one damn thing after another. I think they’re getting the hang of this at last.
Naturally, Barnabas heads straight for Plan A, which is: kill everyone you come in contact with.
Barnabas: He heard me! I’m sure he saw the panel close! He cannot be allowed to reach his home!
Ben: He ain’t sure if he’s seen or heard anything.
Barnabas: I cannot take that chance!
God damn it, dude. Slow your roll. How is this the answer to everything?
Ben manages to talk him down, but Barnabas is on a roll; there’s no stopping him. He steps out of the mausoleum, and regards Josette’s freshly-dug grave.
Barnabas: I see your work is done.
Barnabas: No matter. Pile earth a mountain high, it will make no difference.
Ben: I don’t understand.
Barnabas: I do not know what powers are mine, or how far they reach into the dark. But I promise now, I will summon their full force to call her back.
Barnabas: I have made my own dark conquest of the grave. Hers will be next. This, I swear!
So there you have it — capping off ten straight months of bad ideas, Barnabas is about to embark on his dumbest caper yet. Mayhem will ensue. Let’s meet back here tomorrow and hunt for survivors.
Tomorrow: Dark Conquest.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
In the teaser, Barnabas loses track of the “Are you afraid” sequence:
Ben: I don’t want you to see what I’m doin’. I don’t want you to look at it.
Barnabas: Why should I avoid the sight of an opened plot of earth?
Ben: You know it’s no ordinary grave I’m diggin’.
Barnabas: Are you afraid… that I would hate the sight… of such… an open plot of earth?
Ben: You know you would.
Barnabas: Are you afraid that I would take hold of such a man?
Also, Peter tells Trask, “I wonder if you ever stop, just once, in all your lies and hypocrities, and think what a waste it is to sell out your life, your one and only life, by trying to destroy everything you don’t understand!” He means “hypocrisies”. There’s no such word as “hypocrities”.
Behind the Scenes:
Champion prop-spotter Prisoner of the Night says: “When Trask visits the lodgings of Peter Bradford, this is the same set that was used for Angelique’s room at the Old House, first seen in episode 370. When Act 3 opens, we see Peter in his room reading the family history, but with the same camera view from inside the fireplace that was use for this set when Angelique was seated before the fireplace concocting potions. A black bolt lock has been added above the handle of the green door, to create the impression of independent quarters. We see this room redressed again in episode 440 as Maude Browning’s room.”
Tomorrow: Dark Conquest.
— Danny Horn
20 thoughts on “Episode 429: Destruction, Everywhere”
One question ‘Where is that darned cemetary caretaker when you need him’! Any other time he would be chasing out people who wanted merely to pay respects to their loved ones. Now when you have these morons desecrating graves and destroying cemetary property he’s nowhere to be found. I have one word for the writer’s ‘CONTINUITY’. At least have someone mention that they need to watch out for the caretaker since he’s known to prowl the grounds at all hours of the day and night. Enough complaining for today, I’m going to go watch the fireworks from Widows Hill. Happy 4th of July everyone!
I don’t think we ever saw a cemetary caretaker in 1795 but man I kept hoping and hoping that the 1960s Caretaker would just show up in 1795 looking and sounding exactly the same, with absolutely no explanation. That would have been so Dark Shadows.
And wasn’t “hypocrities” the founder of the Hippocratic Oath? : )
You’re right – it just seemed (and he looked) like he’d been there forever. I would have imagined that there was probably someone who would have to maintain the cemetary back then because that was when they were still burying (alot) of Collins family members during that time. I think that in the present day timeframe it was mentioned that the cemetary hadn’ been used in many years.
“Pile earth a mountain high, it will make no difference.” That’s a direct HAMLET thing.
Laertes is all:
O, treble woe Fall ten times treble on that cursed head, Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense Deprived thee of! Hold off the earth awhile, Till I have caught her once more in mine arms:
[Leaps into the grave]
Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead, Till of this flat a mountain you have made,
To o’ertop old Pelion, or the skyish head Of blue Olympus.
And then Hamlet is all like YOU THINK YOU CAN GRIEVE?:
[Advancing] What is he whose grief Bears such an emphasis? whose phrase of sorrow
Conjures the wandering stars, and makes them stand Like wonder-wounded hearers? This is I, Hamlet the Dane.
[Leaps into the grave]
The devil take thy soul!
[Grappling with him]
So they have a little fight, and finally Hamlet drops the mic and shows his dissing mastery:
Dost thou come here to whine? To outface me with leaping in her grave? Be buried quick with her, and so will I: And, if thou prate of mountains, let them throw Millions of acres on us, till our ground,Singeing his pate against the burning zone, Make Ossa like a wart! Nay, an thou’lt mouth, I’ll rant as well as thou.
So yeah Barnabas is TOTALLY Hamlet with his whole I MUST SEE HER ONE MORE TIME thing, and this PILE EARTH A MOUNTAIN HIGH thing just underlines it. Also his father is bossy and his mother is ineffectual and he sees ghosts a lot and we made Millicent be Ophelia and Ben is a sassy gravedigger SO YEAH THAT HAPPENED
Your Hamlet allusions are spot on!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this from Hamlet! So true so true!!
Barnabas really needs a sedative. Where the hell is Julia anyway?
Also, there was a pretty glaring blooper here that is not mentioned above. When Ben and Barnabas are talking (Barnabas wants to see Josette but Ben is telling him that’s not the best plan, and waxing lyrical about her frail white hand peeping out of the shroud, then Barnabas is worried about whether she had the ring on), the camera shows the edge of the set at the left. It wobbles back and forth several times trying to get the shot right, and you can see the studio beyond and cables on the floor and such. It’s just before the 5 minute mark on my disc. The mausoleum is suddenly very flimsy in that moment…
But also, about the ring, because I thought this was a blooper. The ring wasn’t on Josette’s finger when they brought her up from the sea, so she lost it again? Or did they forget that she had lost it once before and Barnabas found it for her? Blooper? Or, she lost it again?
Josette lost the ring only once. In episode 425, it is still lost. Josette thinks perhaps she dropped it at the Old House and wants to rush out of her room to go there. Natalie won’t let her, and that’s when Angelique slams the door shut while Natalie is in the hallway and beckons Josette to Widows’ Hill through the secret panel and to her death. Barnabas never found the ring or gave it back to her.
Huh. Roger Davis is actually bearable in the Trask scene. There really is something between them, a fire more obvious than anything Peter’s shared with Vicki.
So… yeah. I now ‘ship Peter Bradford and Reverend Trask. It’s unexpected and weird, but here I am – a fully-fledged Traskerford fanboy!
Also, Peter tells Trask, “I wonder if you ever stop, just once, in all your lies and hypocrities, and think what a waste it is to sell out your life, your one and only life, by trying to destroy everything you don’t understand!” Despite Peter incorrectly pronouncing “hypocrisies” this is one helluva powerful line, and one that needed to be repeated to Aunt Abigail as well. To say something like this to Trask took some real cahones, as it probably helped grease the skids toward his own eventual execution. 😦
I agree with you about how this would be an appropriate message for Abigail, too.
Definitely applicable to Abigail as well!
When I see Bradford wearing that doublet (or whatever it is) all I can think of is Jack, of beanstalk fame.
Once again, DARK SHADOWS poses a storyline that it doesn’t follow through with: Barnabas’ quest for the black onyx ring he gave Josette.That also brings up an unresolved question: why does he still wear his own identical ring? Was that a duplicate ring he had given her?
This is an episode that makes me even more sorry for Ben. He has truly been a character who has been caught between a rock and more than one hard place: working for Joshua trying to appease Abigail, and attempting to serve Barnabas: all while attempting to avoid returning to jail and/or, in Barnabas’ case, trying, much like Willie, to save his own life from his wrath. These are but several reasons why Ben remains my favorite Thayer David character, with his Sidney Greenfield-like Count Andreas Petofi a close second.
And, I had forgotten to add, trying to serve Angelique. That’s more than enough on any one person’s late!
I meant “plate.”
Happy Halloween!! 2021
Ok, best line ever from Barnabas: “Why should anyone live when she is dead? They all feared the plague. Well, I will visit them with a pestilence that will leave them nothing but the wish for a sudden and speedy death!” He’s wonderful in this episode! Feel the fury!!
Abagail is scaring me real bad in the episode, and she def needs a prozac.
Why does Peter hide the book under a coat in his chair? And the visitor’s chair, not even the chair by his desk? That’s the place where whoever is knocking on the door might be asked to sit. Wouldn’t under the mattress, or at least under the pillow be better? What an idiot! He and idiot Vicki are made for each other!
Finally, why when Barnabas is trying to fast hide from Peter in the mausoleum doesn’t he turn himself into a bat? We’ve seen him do it pretty easily. Like comments made above on certain plot points: Writers – be consistent. If you need Peter to be suspicious of the mausoleum, then be smarter about getting there.
Trask going for the garment on the chair TWICE, almost giving Peter a heart attack, once again demonstrates that the writer(s) are no slouches when it comes to farce. By the 2nd time, I bet Trask thought Peter was hiding his unmentionables under there!