Episode 430: Dark Conquest

“I can feel neither love nor hate. I feel nothing now.”

Last week, Barnabas was planning to kill his fiancee, Josette, and turn her into a vampire. Instead, she fled from him, and jumped off the cliff at Widow’s Hill to a messy death on the rocks below. Not satisfied with that level of carnage, Barnabas came up with a whole new plan yesterday — he’s going to use his powers to call Josette back from the grave.

“I have made my own dark conquest of the grave,” he said. “Hers will be next.”

Now, I know the show is called Dark Shadows, but they’re really taking that super seriously at this point. The main character has been moping around in a graveyard for weeks, and I don’t see the situation getting a hell of a lot happier. I mean, at a certain point, either your show is going to do a two-part episode at Disney World or it’s not.

430 dark shadows lovesick barnabas

So here’s Barnabas, pacing around the mausoleum, doing a moody monologue in thinks.

Barnabas (thinks):  Josette… Why did you choose to die hating me? Do you hate me still? You cannot… I refuse to believe you do.

Man, talk about not taking the hint. She threw herself off a tourist attraction, dude. That is a “lose my number” move if I ever saw one.

430 dark shadows sad barnabas

By the time Ben arrives for their daily stand-up meeting, Barnabas is sitting on his sister’s coffin like he’s the saddest little vampire in the world.

But Barnabas has his plan all figured out.

Barnabas:  I will call to her, I will tell her how much I need her… and perhaps she will hear me and return to me.

Ben:  What are you talking about?

Yeah, good question. Is everyone clear on the definition of “death”? Because it seems like the show has its own take on what being dead is about.

430 dark shadows coffin barnabas ben

Barnabas insists, “I refuse to believe that she is gone forever! If I have the power to call her back from the dead, I will.”

Now, as childish as that sounds, the idea that you could call a dead person back to life does make sense to us. No matter how grown-up you get, everybody knows deep down that dead people are still “in there” somewhere, still inhabiting that body. That’s why we have funerals, and make a big deal about laying someone to rest in their grave.

I mean, if you think about it for a minute in the most cynical possible way, the idea of laying a corpse down in the ground and then tiptoeing quietly away is deeply strange. They’re not in there. They’re not going to be any more or less “at peace”, no matter what you do, even if you shook them upside down by their ankles. What happens to the body isn’t really relevant anymore.

But we can’t think of it that way; that line of thinking is just horrible and inhuman. We care about people, and that doesn’t instantly drain away as soon as their heart stops beating. There’s always going to be a child inside of us, who thinks that death is just a deeper form of sleep, and maybe if you shake the person really hard they’ll wake up.

430 dark shadows please barnabas ben

So here’s Barnabas, the eternal child, planning to shake Josette back to life. But he’s not really doing it for her sake; as usual, it’s all about him.

He wails, “I won’t lose her, I can’t!” And as far as he’s concerned, that’s all he needs. His love has the strength to violate all the laws of nature, and drag her back from across the veil. He’s actually planning to wish her back to life.

430 dark shadows wait barnabas ben

Ben, bless his heart, thinks he’s going to talk Barnabas out of doing something foolish.

Ben:  You don’t have the power to call anybody back from the dead!

Barnabas:  Angelique did! The powers of darkness served her well. They summoned Jeremiah from the grave. Perhaps I can command them to serve me. I’ll call upon all of the powers of darkness, to bring my Josette back to me.

So that’s a whole other weird concept to throw in. What are “the powers of darkness”, exactly? That’s actually not even an Angelique phrase. She does use that term later on in the series, but right now, the only person who talks about “the powers of darkness” is Reverend Trask, in exorcism mode.

Ben:  Miss Josette, she didn’t want to come back to ya. You gotta remember — she chose to die the way she did, because she didn’t want to be… what you are.

Barnabas:  She was frightened! She didn’t know what she was doing.

Ben:  You told me the way she looked at you right before she died.

Barnabas:  I don’t care what I told you!

Ben:  You told me she looked at you like she hated you!

Barnabas:  Stop it! Josette does not hate me! She couldn’t!

430 dark shadows swear barnabas ben

Ben:  She’s at peace, Mr. Barnabas! Let her rest in peace!

Barnabas:  No! Leave me alone!

Ben:  Let her spirit rest! For her sake, and for yours.

Barnabas:  If you say one more word, I WILL KILL YOU, I swear it!

So that’s a hard stop on the discussion salon. Ben walks back to the house, muttering, Okay, fine. Knock yourself out. Just let me know where to forward your mail.

430 dark shadows why barnabas

Left alone, Barnabas kneels down at Josette’s grave.

Barnabas:  Josette, hear me. I need you, Josette. You must return to me, you must! Do you hear my voice? If the powers of darkness exist, I command them to make you hear my voice.

And then we hear the sound of a woman, softly crying. He actually did it. He should try this technique the next time he goes fishing — just put his hook in the water for five seconds, and see what jumps into the boat.

430 dark shadows cemetery barnabas

He’s thrilled, obviously. Heart-crushing sobs is apparently what he was going for.

Barnabas:  Josette — you can hear me! Listen to me. I love you… I need you! You must return to me. You must!

430 dark shadows commercial barnabas

The sobbing gets louder, and louder. The crying woman is clearly in agony. It’s actually a difficult sound to listen to, even if you remind yourself it’s just a TV show. It’s horrible.

Barnabas looks around, some lightning flashes, and the crying just gets louder and more strained. And then they break for a commercial. I guess this qualifies as an act break now — no musical sting or anything, just the awful sound of a helpless woman in terrible pain.

And then there’s commercials for Pepsi-Cola, Purina dog food and Clairol shampoo. How did they get away with this?

430 dark shadows grave josette barnabas

Okay, back to the show, with a spiritual question — what is actually going on here? Why is being dead like this?

Barnabas:  Josette… why are you crying?

leave me …

Barnabas:  Why do you say that?

… you must not disturb my rest …

And that’s it, the only explanation we get for where Josette’s spirit has been, and what she expects. It turns out the crazy old Caretaker was right. The dead must rest.

And “rest”, as far as we can tell, is just a cessation of feeling. Josette has two options — not feeling anything at all, or the horror of being pulled violently back into a world of unending pain.

There’s no sense that Josette has gone to her final reward. Both Josette and Jeremiah’s spirits are still close enough to ground level that you can just reach out your hand and pull them back. Is there a Heaven that they’ve been denied? Or is there really only silence?

430 dark shadows darkness barnabas

Barnabas is drawing on the powers of darkness here, but there don’t appear to be any powers of light. As far as we can tell, in the world of Dark Shadows, if you peel back a layer of reality and look under the hood, there’s only darkness. God, if there is one, is out of reach.

Barnabas:  My dearest Josette — why do you cry?

you must leave me …

Barnabas:  I cannot let you go!

… you must …

Barnabas:  I cannot!

… I am dead now … I cannot return to you … we are lost to each other forever …

Barnabas:  I will not believe that… nothing can separate us, even death! Nothing can change our love for each other! It spans all time and space!

He’s just not a good listener, I think. This is not a new problem.

430 dark shadows portrait barnabas

Anyway, he finally gives her a little space. He tells her he’s going back to the Old House, and he’ll wait for her to join him. Once he’s there, he starts talking to her through the portrait, because obviously at this point there’s really no distinction between symbols and physical reality anymore.

430 dark shadows feet josette

And will you look at that! Here she comes, making her way slowly through the cemetery. You really do have to hand it to the powers of darkness; they put on a hell of a show.

430 dark shadows clock barnabas

But this does bring up that weird problem of whether Josette’s spirit is still tied to the corpse or not.

According to the rules of the show, it doesn’t have to be. Back in 1967, we saw Sam lift up Sarah’s ghost and sit her on a stool, and I don’t think anybody imagined that it was actually her reanimated corpse, shuffling and moaning as she staggered out of the mausoleum, pulling on a bonnet.

430 dark shadows shadow josette

And when we saw Jeremiah raised from the dead a couple months ago, there were times when he would suddenly vanish, suggesting that he wasn’t literally a standing corpse. But here’s Josette, opening the door and dragging her carcass across the threshold.

430 dark shadows dress josette barnabas

But that’s true love, I guess. You can’t explain it; it’s just magic.

Barnabas:  You came back.

You forced me to come back. You brought me here against my will.

Barnabas:  You’re here; you have returned to me!

Stop. Don’t come near me.

Barnabas:  Why not?

430 dark shadows stop josette barnabas

Oh, for Pete’s sake. What do you mean, “why not”? What are you not understanding about this situation right now?

I do not wish you to come any closer.

Barnabas:  Then you still hate me.

No. I do not hate you. I can feel neither love nor hate. I can feel nothing now.

430 dark shadows eternity barnabas

Ultimately, this story is about the limits of Barnabas’ influence. He may have the powers of darkness on speed dial, but at a certain point, there’s just nothing you can do. There are rules that you can’t change.

She begs him to let her go, to release her — to finally let a tiny bit of maturity into his heart, and realize that he’s not the only person who gets to have feelings.

430 dark shadows admiral ackbar josette

Then she lifts her veil. And that, kids, is how I met your mother.

Monday: The Catcher in the Rye.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Back in episode 283, Vicki visited Josette’s grave at the Eagle Hill cemetery, and talked about how it was set apart from the other Collins family graves. In today’s episode, Josette’s grave is next to Jeremiah’s, about three steps away from the Collins mausoleum.

Ben and Natalie step on each other’s lines in the cemetery:

Ben:  For what it’s worth, I liked Miss Josette. She was always real good to me. I didn’t want anything bad to happen to her.

Natalie:  I know. But the worst did happen.

Ben:  Maybe not —

Natalie:  And no one could prevent it.

Ben:  Maybe not the worst.

Also, Josette’s portrait is hanging in her room. It was hanging in the drawing room when we saw it last week, in episode 424.


Behind the Scenes:

Sandy Mitchell was the stand-in for Josette in the graveyard. This is her only appearance on Dark Shadows, and besides that, I don’t know a thing about her.

Monday: The Catcher in the Rye.

430 dark shadows backacting barnabas

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

24 thoughts on “Episode 430: Dark Conquest

  1. Ben tries to talk Barnabas out of what will be an idiotic move, but fails. Barnabas never listens to anyone when it comes to his harebrained schemes. Willie and Julia try to talk him out of stupid moves from time to time, but he WILL go ahead with it, and it will have the inevitable result, and often they are left to pick up the pieces of his latest stupid move.

    Everything is always all about Barnabas, what he wants, and everyone is supposed to just live to please him. He’s selfish and stubborn but gets away with it because he is Barnabas.

    Josette was buried in her wedding dress? I wonder how that came about. And who found her?

    1. Live or die to please him. I don’t remember anything about who found Josette’s mangled body after she jumped. Danny is right it was probably Riggs however I can see Barnabas being selfish enough to send his servant Ben to view the carnage as well similar to present day Liz and Roger sending servant at the time Matthew Morgan to check out Bill Malloy’s body after Vicki and Carolyn saw it floating in the water. Barnabas and the Collins family all believe they are above doing something so menial..

  2. Barnabas must have learned a few more tricks from his buddy the ‘warlock’ in Barbados? Is he a ‘ necromancer’ now as well? After all he does know the magic number of the universe? This goes way beyond the scope of a vampire’s traditional abilities (i.e. creating new vampires and involuntary servants, changing into a bat or wolf, vanishing and reappearing in another location). From his comment about Angelique it sounded like they may have attended some of the same ‘dark arts’ classes but she was the more talented student.

    1. Judging from what he says in this episode, it sounds like becoming a vampire gives you access to a general Powers of Darkness Hotline that you can call whenever you want to tamper in God’s domain.

  3. So not sure if intentional or not, but Josette’s mangled face could explain why her face is veiled/obscured whenever we see her ghost in 1966. Granted, Vicky saw her face when she was trapped in the Old House (and said it looked like her, the nut), even though I’m pretty sure the face was covered, so perhaps she was hallucinating.

    1. I wonder whether it was this spell that caused Josette’s ghost to stay attached to the Old House for the next 170 years?

  4. Interesting that there’s no mention of the echoes of W. W. Jacobs’ story “The Monkey’s Paw” in this episode – and I say “echoes,” because it leaves out some of the most important elements – such as said monkey’s paw. It also seems like they’ve gone the whole EC version of the story that appeared in VAULT OF HORROR (I think?) that reveals the face of the son killed horribly in the story. Imagine seeing that and then going to a commercial saying, “Ladies, have you ever felt less than fresh…?”

  5. So much incongruity. Why doesn’t Josette’s portrait look like her? I guess since they are using the same one from the 1967 storyline they figured it was ok that it wasn’t KLS. As someone else noted why is she in the wedding dress. Did she not have another formal dress? Where the hell is Josette’s father. Is he so busy on business he can’t come to his daughter’s funeral? Finally, can we just get rid of the Countess and her stupid facial expressions. As Julia, GH was somewhat interesting, but she really is annoying now.

    1. Ed – regarding Josette’s portrait, you’re asking the very same questions I’ve been asking. Maybe at the series beginning, they didn’t plan on ever showing Josette as a living person, so her portrait didn’t have to resemble anyone in particular; just that it looked like a young pretty woman. Of course Barnabas’ appearance changed everything, and he’d said Maggie resembled her, that might’ve been a good time to redo the portrait.

    2. Ed: Unlike Julia Hoffman, I always found Countess du Pres a much less complex and less interesting character. I liked her best in the episodes when she first arrives, flaunts her extravagance, and shows off her Tarot card reading skills, but beyond that, there was very little else for her to do but over-emote and make bad judgments about Josette and Vicki. I can’t see Julia being so stupid as to side with two fanatics like Abigail and Trask. The 1897 flashback gave Grayson Hall a much more colorful and meaty role, as Magda, the gypsy. Incidentally, Ms. Hall said that she loved playing Magda.

  6. I’ve just watched this episode for the first time and the first thing that sprang to mind was the Buffy episode Forever where someone makes a spell to bring someone back from the dead and shows a figure walking through a graveyard showing just their feet.

    1. Yes, LJG – that scene was when the vampire Spike and Buffy’s little Dawn cast a spell to bring back the girls’ mother Joyce from the dead. Fortunately, after seeing her shadow shuffling along, they realized it wasn’t a good idea and revoked the spell. Good thing, too – I know I wasn’t crazy about possibly seeing Joyce’s already-decaying corpse; the sight of it would’ve probably left Dawn emotionally scarred for life!

  7. What did Barnabas do, when he saw that josette’s resurrected corpse was rotted? Did he pound a stake through her heart, then his?

  8. My girlfriend pointed out today (while watching this episode) that Dark Shadows really loves the word “must.” Actually, if you make a drinking game out of it and take a shot every time any character says the word “must,” you will be comatose before this 22 minute episode is over.

  9. At one point I thought Barnabas was going to address the audience directly and ask them to clap to help bring Josette back to life, just like in that Mary Martin Peter Pan special from the 50s. Didn’t happen though – too bad.

    The makeup job on KLS was very disappointing, especially after that big build up. They should’ve made her look more like the distorted painting that Angelique conjured up a while back.

  10. Barnabas’ favorite pronoun seems to be “I.” He cares nothing about Josette’s feelings about returning from the dead, only his feelings: “I cannot go through all eternity without her,” “I need you, Josette,” “I cannot let you go!”

    To me, Barnabas’ talking to himself out loud in Josette’s room seemed way too theatrical to me. Another “thinks” scene here would have seemed more natural.

    I agree with Straker: Josette’s death makeup is terrible–even laughable. What was it about outlandish eyes with the D S makeup staff?–first Jeremiah’s ghost, and now Josette.

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