“He will not be a monster then — unless, of course, you consider me one. I’m sure you do.”
Julia Hoffman has seen too much.
Yesterday, Julia went into Dr. Lang’s secret murder lab without permission, and found the monster that he’s been assembling out of corpses and bits of string. She knows that the monster still needs a head, which means one more person has to die to finish the project. This is dangerous knowledge. Julia must be stopped.
Now she’s locked herself in Lang’s parlor, and she’s calling the police. She’s also screaming and sobbing quite a bit. Barnabas and Lang are banging on the door, desperate to stop her. Lang has pulled his gun — he’ll kill to protect his experiment, if he has to.
In a last desperate bid to halt this disastrous chain of consequences, Barnabas shouts through the locked door to his hysterical friend.
“Julia, remember!” he cries. “Remember someone!”
So that’s lovely, isn’t it? It’s one of the all-time great Dark Shadows bloopers — a high-stakes dramatic cliffhanger that’s resolved with three words, and Jonathan Frid goes blank on word two.
Here’s how it plays out from there:
Barnabas: Julia, remember! Remember someone!
Dr. Lang: Dave Woodard!
Barnabas: Dave Woodard! Remember Dave Woodard!
And then Julia puts the phone down, walks to the door, and lets the guys in.
Now, there’s no logical reason why Lang should know about Dave Woodard. The whole point of the scene is that this is a terrible secret that only Barnabas and Julia know. But Addison Powell consulted the teleprompter, which is the magical source of all secret knowledge.
The interesting thing about this moment is that Barnabas is invoking a particularly powerful secret — the three words that sum up the worst thing that Julia’s ever done. But Jonathan Frid has actually forgotten that secret, and in fact this is the last time they’ll ever mention it on the show. Barnabas is simultaneously evoking and erasing his own history.
Clearly, the audience is supposed to recognize the reference, and understand exactly what “Remember Dave Woodard” means. There’s no further explanation; Julia just hangs up and opens the door.
But this powerful totem can only be used once. We all take a moment to remember Dave Woodard, and then he joins the ranks of Dark Shadows’ rapidly evaporating past.
As she lets the guys into the room, Julia gets that faraway look in her eye.
Julia: You always win, don’t you, Barnabas?
Barnabas: We can always checkmate each other, Julia.
Julia: No. You stop me, though I seldom stop you.
This is not actually the case. Julia has won before, lots of times. I haven’t been keeping score, but I’m pretty sure that she carried the day more often than he did. That’s why there are still some people left alive in Collinsport.
But the Barnabas/Julia relationship has been evolving lately, and part of that process is rewriting the past.
This is a particularly important moment in that evolution, because Lang poses a serious threat to the Barnabas/Julia relationship. A successful soap opera relationship is built on a strong foundation of shared secrets — and up to now, Julia has known absolutely everything about Barnabas’ crimes and schemes.
But Barnabas has been hanging out with Lang lately, shutting Julia out of the mad-science conferences. That’s the point of what’s happening today — the guys have been sharing a bunch of new secrets, driving a wedge between Barnabas and Julia.
So Barnabas has a new best friend all lined up — another mad scientist to confide in and fight with. And now Lang is standing behind Julia, pulling his gun out of his pocket.
Based on past experience with this insane television show, there is every reason to believe that Lang is going to murder Julia, and take her place in the story.
But that’s a dead end for the show, and Barnabas knows it.
The fact is, nobody wants to see Lang become a permanent member of the menagerie. Addison Powell is The Worst Actor who Ever Appeared on Dark Shadows, and Grayson Hall is the best. She’s interesting in every scene, dispensing at least five different facial expressions at any given moment. All Lang can do is shout.
Remarkably, Julia doesn’t invoke her emergency backup plan — the red notebook that contains all of her notes about Barnabas’ vampire cure. This was a huge focus in the last couple of weeks before the 1795 time travel story; the entire story revolved around the location of that notebook.
The notebook is safe now, locked in a bank vault — and if Julia dies, it will be turned over to the authorities. It’s the obvious trick for her to use right now, the “checkmate” that keeps her alive. But she doesn’t mention it, now or ever again.
The continuity rewrite is pretty intense at this point in the series, so if you’re having trouble keeping track, here’s a quick list of things that they don’t talk about anymore: the notebook, Dave Woodard, Burke’s plane crash, the ghost of Sarah, David’s fear of Barnabas, Carolyn being bitten by Barnabas, Barnabas aging, and Julia hypnotizing Vicki.
That’s practically everything that happened on the show in the six weeks before Vicki went to 1795. The writers have essentially decided that they’re keeping Barnabas and Julia’s simmering relationship, and they’re throwing out practically everything else.
Contrary to popular belief, going to 1795 didn’t reboot Barnabas. He’s pretty much the same as he always was. They rebooted everybody else.
The negotiation that follows is rather complex.
Julia: Will you give me your word that you will not try to kill anyone else, as you’ve tried to kill Jeff Clark?
Julia: No, you give your word too easily. I know that you still have to find a face for that — that creation.
Lang: I can create the face, the same way I created the figure.
Julia: Then you have my word that I will say nothing.
Lang nods, and turns away.
Julia: You also have my word that I will do everything possible to stop that experiment!
There’s a huge, thunderous music cue as Julia stalks out of the room and we fade to commercial. It’s a great line to end the act on; it’s just a shame that it makes absolutely no sense. What did she just agree to?
But there’s only one game worth playing on this show. It’s called Stand Next to Barnabas, and Julia is really, really good at it.
Julia: You cannot consider Lang’s offer — to put your life force into that monster, and bring it alive!
Barnabas: He will not be a monster then — unless, of course, you consider me one. I’m sure you do.
Julia: No. I wish I did, then I could simply let you do it.
Which is an amazing thing to say — and hearing her say it justifies every retcon that they’re doing here. This is the kind of scene that the audience wants to see, and if the writers have to wipe everyone else’s storyline to achieve this, then so be it. It’s just so damn cute.
Barnabas finally explains his totally bonkers plan.
Barnabas: If I go along with Dr. Lang’s plan, I will escape from Angelique forever! I will be a stranger to her.
Julia: And to all of us. Even if it works, how will you live? Where? You won’t be able to come back here; you’ll have no position at all. Barnabas, what will you do?
Barnabas: There is a great deal to be decided. I will leave whatever wealth I have with you. You will keep it for me. But that is not the important thing tonight.
So how cute is that? I can’t believe it. Not that long ago in story time, these two were determined to destroy each other. Now she’s the only person he really trusts.
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately tracking the development of this relationship, because it’s basically the whole reason why Barnabas works as a character — and, therefore, also the reason why Dark Shadows works as a show.
In that first moment when Vicki returned from her trip into the past, there were lines and meaningful glances between Barnabas, Julia and Carolyn that only made sense if the audience remembered exactly what was going on four months earlier. The Barnabas/Julia story picked up as if it was the very next day.
And the really weird thing is: that’s the only storyline we were supposed to remember in that kind of detail. They never even mentioned Sarah’s ghost, or the problems with David, and that was the entire reason why they had the seance in the first place. The writers are telling us who’s important, and it’s not Sarah or David or Dr. Woodard.
They don’t expect us to remember everyone. We just need to remember someone.
Tomorrow: Witches Be Crazy.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Barnabas bobbles a line with Julia:
Julia: You cannot deal with her?
Barnabas: Catch her at the crossroads in the day of the — in the — in the dead of night? That is the only way to catch her.
When Cassandra walks up to the iron gate to eavesdrop on Barnabas and Julia, studio lights can be seen on the left side.
There’s a tape edit while Barnabas and Julia are talking on the terrace, cutting out part of Julia’s line.
One of the quotes above has been edited for clarity. What Barnabas actually says to Julia is, “If I go along with Dr. Lang’s plan, I will escape upon Angelique forever!”
Tomorrow: Witches Be Crazy.
— Danny Horn