Episode 492: The Terrible Twos

“Whether he’s ordinary or not is not the point. He’s a living human being, and we are responsible for him.”

It’s one of those weird nitpicks that people like to bring up in conversation — that “Frankenstein” isn’t the name of the monster; it’s the name of the doctor who created him. Then you say, okay, so what’s the monster’s name? And then everyone just stands around and looks foolish, until finally somebody says, gee, will you look at the time.

Because the creature doesn’t really have a name — he’s billed as the Monster in the Boris Karloff movie, and sometimes people will say “Frankenstein’s monster,” but those aren’t satisfying names, and everybody knows it.

The name “Frankenstein” exists in this weird middle space, suspended between creator and creation. And when you think about it, they’re kind of the same thing anyway, aren’t they? The doctor is the one who thinks; the monster is the one who acts. It’s the ego and the id. “Frankenstein’s monster” and “a Frankenstein monster” are both true, at the same time.

So, this big guy who’s currently smashing up the laboratory — is he Barnabas’ monster? Or is this a Barnabas monster?

492 dark shadows run julia adam

Well, whoever he is, he’s making a goddamn mess. Adam is about an hour old, and Barnabas and Julia left him in Dr. Lang’s laboratory, which is possibly the least child-proofed location in the continental United States. Just in this one room, they have electricity, breakable glass, boiling liquids, heavy machinery, scalpels, lead paint, asbestos and plutonium.

Obviously, it was only a matter of time until Adam hurt himself; the only suspense was waiting to see if he found the box of scorpions.

492 dark shadows plan barnabas julia

So he’s confused and upset, and now he’s wrecking the place.

It’s a challenging situation, and Barnabas, as usual, goes straight for Plan A. He’s going to go downstairs and get the gun out of Dr. Lang’s desk, and then he’s hunting for monsters. There’s actually a harpoon collection down there too, if he needs more firepower.

Maybe it’s best to just fetch as many weapons as you can carry; you never know what might come in handy.

492 dark shadows lab barnabas julia

Once they’re armed, Barnabas and Julia return to the lab to survey the wreckage. It’s pretty much a disaster area. Luckily, stagehands moved all the cool-looking equipment out of the room while we weren’t looking, so it wouldn’t get broken. You never know when you might need an apparatus, especially on this show.

But it’s all gone quiet, and Barnabas and Julia aren’t sure what to expect.

492 dark shadows sleepy adam

And then, oh my goodness, will you look at that. Adam finished his strenuous redecoration project, and then he just curled up under a sheet and fell asleep. It is the actual cutest thing.

492 dark shadows gun barnabas julia

But get a load of Dirty Harry, over here.

Barnabas:  Well, at least he’s made it easy for us.

Julia:  Made what easy?

Barnabas:  Putting him out of his misery.

Wow, seriously? It’s always the guns. I don’t know how many times I have to tell these people; guns are not for parenting.

492 dark shadows child julia adam

At least Julia gets it.

Julia:  He’s like a small child, who came into the world fully grown. He doesn’t recognize anything, because he doesn’t know anything. We’ve got to find some way of communicating with him.

Barnabas:  We already tried to communicate with him; it’s impossible.

Julia:  A child doesn’t learn to speak in one day. He’s got to be given a chance.

492 dark shadows point adam

Just to drive the point home, there’s a nice long shot of Adam curled up on the floor, obviously the picture of innocence. As always, Julia is the direct hotline between the writers and the audience.

Barnabas:  Julia, this is no ordinary human being. We have no way of knowing if he’s capable of learning anything!

Julia:  Whether he’s ordinary or not is not the point. He’s a living human being, and we are responsible for him.

492 dark shadows mind julia barnabas

Barnabas keeps blabbering on for another couple lines, but seriously, dude, this conversation is over. Look at her face. You know she doesn’t back down from that expression. This is not your first rodeo.

Julia:  Everything he’s done so far has been out of fear. We’re responsible for that fear. We must make him trust us.

Barnabas:  How?

Julia:  I don’t know, but we’ve got to. We gave him the life he has. I don’t know if we had the right to do that. But now that we’ve done it, I know we don’t have the right to take it away.

So that’s the official word, direct from the character who is always right about absolutely everything: Adam is a young child, and Barnabas and Julia are responsible for raising him. We have left the complex world of subtext and metaphor. They are Adam’s parents.

492 dark shadows sedative julia barnabas

So that makes everything that happens for the rest of the week absolutely baffling, because Julia’s concept of appropriate child care differs from the rest of us in several important respects.

I mean, first she gives him a sedative, obviously, because why would you spend all that time in medical school except to give sedatives to every living thing you ever come across. That’s baseline for her; if you’re not going to give the guy a sedative, then why even bother showing up.

492 dark shadows move julia barnabas

Now we can move on to the next phase of the operation.

Julia:  He’ll sleep for twenty-four hours, at least. We’ve got to move him before that.

Barnabas:  Move him where?

Julia:  To the Old House.

Barnabas:  The Old House?

Julia:  Can you think of a better place?

Barnabas:  I can’t think of a worse place.

492 dark shadows over julia barnabas

And then, because this is Julia, she says something that is utterly surprising.

“Barnabas, I don’t mean to put him in the drawing room,” she smiles. “We can put him in the cellar, and lock him up until he begins to learn.”

Because… that’s what you do. I guess. You lock children up in the cellar. This is a well-known parenting technique.

So this is one of those moments that just perfectly describes what Dark Shadows is about. They very carefully set up a situation specifically designed to make the audience feel warmly towards Adam. I mean, the guy’s curled up on the floor taking a nap, and Julia made a speech about how they have to take care of him.

Then you cut to a “raising Adam” montage — reading a picture book to him, taking him to the park, showing him how to pet a dog, baking cookies, all set to a folk-rock pop song.

Or, on the other hand, you could act like Dark Shadows, which means: Do exactly the opposite of that. Lock him up in the cellar, and don’t feed him. What could possibly go wrong?

Tomorrow: Revenge of the Baby-Sat.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Something’s wrong with the opening establishing shot of Dr. Lang’s house. I’m not sure I can diagnose what’s happening, but it looks like they’re using a black and white picture of the house.

When Julia says that Barnabas can’t kill Adam, he says, “Are you out of his — your mind? Why, he’s like an animal!”

This isn’t really a blooper, but it’s funny to watch Barnabas and Julia having a philosophical conversation while they’re crunching breakaway glass every time they take a step.

At the end of the episode, just before Mrs. Johnson wakes up from her dream, there’s the sound of shuffling feet in the studio.

Tomorrow: Revenge of the Baby-Sat.

492 dark shadows wrong adam julia

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

23 thoughts on “Episode 492: The Terrible Twos

  1. This is one of the reasons why I never warmed up to these two as much as the majority of Dark Shadows viewers. Did it ever occur to Julia (who is the head honcho at Windcliff??) to maybe take ‘Adam’ there for awhile where he could be restrained in a humane way while he was evaluated. I’m sure with her arsenal of BS she could have made up some excuse to admit him to the padded room for evaluation. NO, lets take him to a private estate (not HERS) and see what happens – no mind that there are other people living there that have a legitimate rite to be on the property and based on Adam’s first temper tantrum he may have the inkling to do the same thing to people that he did with Lang’s laboratory?? Barnabas is only interested in one thing: Barnabas, however Julia as a medical professional should have had more sense…but then again look what she did to her colleague Dave Woodard…

    1. As a psychiatrist Julia is a disaster. I do not know why they made her a psychiatrist, except that at a time people were more accepting of a woman as a psychiatrist than in any of the other specialties.

      That’s why in my remake Julia is a biochemist who is attached to Wyncliffe for research purposes.

        1. Yes, but Julia spends her time doing chemical research, not treating mental ailments. And while Barnabas kept throwing symptoms at her, she only concentrated on his cells. No matter what anomalies he had, she would have reconginzed that he presented a psychiatric challenge as great as the chemical one.

          1. Oh, I didn’t mean it made sense for her to be a psychiatrist, just that I think Maggie’s mental condition meant Julia had to do double duty : )

            I mean, really, Julia is whatever the plot needs her to be, so she’s a psychiatrist/blood specialist/scientist/general MD/reanimator.

            1. Her real speciality is “Mad Scientist”, which usually comprises a number of completely unrelated fields. 🙂

              (My headcanon again: Julia went to Miskatonic University, where she studied under the late, great Professor Herbert West. No doubt the university offered a special course for budding mad scientists.)

  2. I don’t think Adam would qualify as a “Barnabas monster” since he was created by someone else, without whom the creature would never have existed. Barnabas and Adam are in essence astral twins and their relationship, given the deep physiological and psychological connection, speaks more of a brother to brother relationship than a creator to monster relationship. Besides this, he is well meaning and his nature comes across as gentle and innocent–until his formative mind gets ensnared by Nicholas, after which he becomes a Nicholas monster. But at this point, assembled by Lang and animated by Barnabas, he is simply a Langabas–Adam Langabas.

    1. In the old days they sometimes treated psychosis by putting the patient into insulin shock (!). So they did suspect a connection between blood and mental conditions. Later, the use of lithium would develop through this theory. So Julia’s interest in blood is not all that far fetched. She was perhaps a bit ahead of her time in linking body chemistry to mental illness.

      1. but insulin shock was only used in the same way that ECT is. I think the idea then was to shock people out of their psychosis. And insulin shock was the only way they knew how to do that. Then ECT was developed and since it was much safer than insulin shock, that was the preferred treatment. But they worked out after a while that shock treatment, whatever the origin, didn’t help psychosis. These days it is really only used for severe depression, because it is considered to do something helpful there, although they still don’t really know how.
        As for lithium, it is one of the least understood things in psychopharmacology. It appears to help with bipolar, but they don’t know how it operates. But that is not surprising, since they still don’t really understand what bipolar is. It has one of the least understood aetiologies in psych.

    2. Technically Barnabas wasn’t Adam’s creator. However, he definitely takes on the Dr. Frankenstein role as far as Adam is concerned. Adam identifies Barnabas as his creator (incorrectly, but that’s what he believes); it’s Barnabas Adam blames for his existence and his upbringing; it’s Barnabas he goes to for a mate; and it’s Barnabas’ family he threatens to kill should the mate not be created. All this is in line with Shelley’s story (and even in the original Frankenstein story, not all of the creature’s horrible experiences were the doctor’s fault). So despite not having initiated the experiment, Barnabas is still stuck with the creator role.

      However, I do like the idea of Langabas.

  3. Yes, Danny, you had some great comments here — very funny. I was literally giggling over your commentary. And now, aw gee (as of today 10/11/15), I just finished Ep. 492 now available on hulu. I was stuck at ep. 452 since fall 2014, and now a year later, I moved up to 492. It’s great that you so many of you have been able to go through the whole series, more than once it seems, and you can see the bigger picture. Netflix did take us live streaming up through early 1795 a few years ago. Now you can get some DS ep disks on DVD through NF. I do really want to see how the whole Adam storyline unfolds — it seems Adam gets to have a somewhat of a “romance” with some of the female cast. Now that Barnabus is human, or mostly human, it’s too bad he has to take up so much of his time with Adam, when he could be out finding love and romance as a human being. Guess I’m going to have to put those DVDs on my NF queue and keep reading your great blog as a I go along!

    1. Yeah, I wish Hulu would expand their collection. Right now, you can buy all the episodes on Amazon or YouTube — it’s $2 an episode, or $1 per episode if you buy them in sets of 40. Also, Amazon’s DVD box sets seem to be available for $15 each for 40 episodes, which seems too good to be true. So there are some options, depending on how much you spend on this kind of thing.

  4. Is nobody going to mention the ultimate WTF moment in this episode?
    Barnabas’ argument for killing Adam is that if he got loose and killed someone then they would be responsible!

    Isn’t that rather conveniently forgetting all those killings that he’s already directly responsible for?!

  5. I know the Dream Curse is best forgotten, but did anyone notice Mrs. Johnson skipped a step? (It should be skull / guillotine / HEADLESS BODY / Skeleton bride).

    She never saw the Headless Body. She did get to see the National Geographic special on bats. TERRIFYING!

    1. Speaking of the National Geographic special on bats, I was wondering how the effect was done? Does Mrs. Johnson open the door on a green screen? And if so, does that mean that the stock footage was added in post? Any thoughts here, Danny?

      1. No, I’m sure it wouldn’t have been added in post. The usual thing would have been that the Gallery would have been playing back the stock footage live during the recording and would have fed the bats directly onto the tape over the green screen part of the image.

  6. Um, are we not going to mention how Cassandra actually has an outfit that is NOT in lime green?! This red jacket with striped blouse and blue skirt would be great for a 4th of July party.

    But back to Adam…I thought it horrific that Barnabas would want to shoot him not to mention Julia throwing him in the essential dungeon.

    And did I miss something…why is it that Mrs. Johnson is having this stupid dream if Julia hadn’t told her? I will say her reactions are much more believable, and WAY LESS irritating, than Julia’s. The video of the bats was a nice touch.

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