Episode 520: What Dead People Do

“And for your own reasons, you remained silent. You remained silent for reasons.”

Roger is pacing in the Collinwood foyer when Julia enters, bright as a button.

“Good morning, Roger,” she chirps. “Such a beautiful morning, I decided to go for a walk before breakfast.”

Yes, she’s currently engaged in a life-or-death struggle with an undead sorceress. But this is Dr. Julia Hoffman, and she does not give a shit.

520 dark shadows roger julia feeling

But Roger’s in no mood to discuss mornings, beautiful or otherwise. His wife Cassandra disappeared last night without a trace, and he’s worried. She’s only been gone overnight, but Roger doesn’t have a great track record in the wife-keeping department, so naturally he fears the worst.

What’s actually happened is that Cassandra was tied to a tree by the ghost of an 18th-century witch hunter, who recognized her as the witch, Angelique. The ghost performed an exorcism on her, sending her into the everlasting fire which burns all evil.

Roger’s not very good with the wife-choosing, either. Wives just aren’t his strong area overall.

520 dark shadows julia barnabas police

Barnabas comes over, and Julia says, “Barnabas, thank goodness you’re here. I wanted to talk to you before the police came.” That’s pretty much the standard conversation-starter for these two.

She tells him that Roger has reported Cassandra as missing, and Barnabas doesn’t know what to think.

Barnabas:  I can’t believe it.

Julia:  You’re so used to thinking you’re never going to escape.

Barnabas:  It is a fact of my existence, Julia.

Julia:  But you have escaped her! I feel that!

Barnabas:  If she has disappeared — and it’s possible for me to live out my life… No. I just can’t feel it. In a moment, she’ll come through that door with some absurd excuse.

And they keep going back and forth for a while. This whole episode is basically an ESPN post-game wrap-up, with Barnabas and Julia providing color commentary on their own storyline.

520 dark shadows julia barnabas world

Julia’s convinced that the spirit of Reverend Trask has taken care of Cassandra.

Julia:  He’s finally gotten his revenge!

Barnabas:  He took his revenge on me! For all we know, he’s gone back to that other world.

Julia:  Until he finishes with Cassandra, he can find no peace. You know that.

She says this as if there are well-known guidelines that ghosts have to follow. Who knows why dead people act the way they do? They’re super complicated.

520 dark shadows julia barnabas peace

But Julia’s had more experience with this stuff than I have, so I guess she’s the expert.

Julia:  If there was only a way we could know! Why doesn’t he appear to us? Doesn’t he understand that we want to know that he has completed what he came here to do? If only there was some sign!

And then she thinks of one, because Julia knows everything.

Julia:  Barnabas — the skeleton! His skeleton! When his ghost materialized, the skeleton disappeared. Don’t you see? If he’s taken Cassandra, if he’s ended it all, the skeleton will be hanging back in the place that it was. He will be at peace at last!

So I guess that’s how it works. That’s the rule on Dark Shadows — whoever comes up with the silliest hypothesis wins.

520 dark shadows barnabas julia hesitation

So they hurry over to the Old House, and head downstairs to the haunted cellar.

520 dark shadows skeleton julia barnabas

And it’s a happy ending, after all; Trask’s skeleton is back. If Hallmark ever put out a card that said, “Congratulations! Human remains have rematerialized in your basement!” then this would be the perfect opportunity to use it.

520 dark shadows julia barnabas hope

Barnabas still isn’t quite sure that Cassandra’s gone, and he calls out to her: “If you still exist, Angelique — let me see you!” He waits about three seconds, and then Julia declares victory, because she totally understands how dead people work.

520 dark shadows julia liz name

Back at Collinwood, Liz is still under the impression that she’s Naomi Collins, an ancestor who died in 1796. There doesn’t seem to be any way to shake her out of it. Roger and Julia try to call her Liz a bunch of times, and they tell her that she’s talking about people who have been dead for more than a hundred years, but she just accuses them of plotting against her, and trying to drive her mad.

They talk this over for quite a while, and don’t really seem to get anywhere. She thinks that she’s Naomi; they think she isn’t. Maybe they could agree to disagree.

520 dark shadows julia face

The real problem is that Liz seems to have magically learned everything that Naomi knew just before she died, and she’s ready to spill it all.

She tells them that she knows Barnabas isn’t dead, and she wants to see him. “You can’t stop me,” she says. “I don’t care what he is. I love my son — even if he is one of the living dead.”

Julia takes this kind of big, executing several facial expressions in a row.

520 dark shadows barnabas julia gone

Julia runs back to the Old House, so she can talk things over with Barnabas some more.

If Cassandra is really gone, then why is Liz still under the witch’s spell? Maybe she’s still around after all. And so on.

520 dark shadows barnabas ghost

So Barnabas looks around the room, and engages in some more blue-sky necromancy.

Barnabas:  Angelique… in this very room, not three hours ago, I said to you that if you were alive, let me hear your laughter! And for your own reasons, you remained silent. You remained silent for reasons.

Julia says, “You don’t know that, Barnabas,” which I suppose is probably true. Maybe they should check with the skeleton again.

520 dark shadows liz loose

Okay, back to Collinwood, where they’re still letting Liz wander around loose for some reason. But look at that face; I don’t think there’s a way to contain a problem like that.

520 dark shadows liz drink

Determined to reenact Naomi’s last moments, Liz gets a packet of poison out of a desk drawer and spikes her own drink. Why is there poison in the desk? Because it’s Collinwood, that’s why. Don’t ask silly questions.

520 dark shadows julia barnabas tower

Barnabas and Julia beat feet back to Collinwood, completing what I think must be their sixth round trip of the day, and they get to the tower room just in time for the poison to take effect.

520 dark shadows liz down

Liz collapses, which makes this the second poisoning on Dark Shadows in two weeks. And that’s how you make half an hour of preposterous television. The end.

Tomorrow: Look Who’s Talking.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In the teaser, Roger steps on Julia’s line.

Roger:  I’ve got this feeling.

Julia:  Perhaps you should —

Roger:  Well, I shan’t bore you with it.

Julia:  — pay attention to the feeling.

Roger:  You think so?

The closing credits get to “music composed by ROBERT COBERT” and then they get stuck. The credits fade away after five seconds, and the theme keeps running over an empty shot of the Old House basement. This goes on for about fifteen seconds, and then a final credit appears for “Dan Curtis Productions, inc.” The copyright date says 1966, instead of 1968.

Behind the Scenes:

It’s time for Joan Bennett’s summer vacation — her characters always get institutionalized for one reason or another every year, so she can get a few weeks off. In tomorrow’s episode, Julia tells Roger that Liz has recovered from the poison, but she recommends sending Liz to Windcliff for her own safety. Liz is quietly packed away, and we don’t see her again until late August.

In act 3, Julia appears in consecutive scenes on two different sets, so they have to give Grayson Hall time to get from Collinwood to the Old House. When the Collinwood scene ends, there’s a five-second establishing shot of the Old House, and then the next scene begins with a close-up on Barnabas, doing a twenty-five second monologue. By the time Julia’s supposed to talk, she’s arrived at the Old House set, and they pretend she’s been there the whole time.

Tomorrow: Look Who’s Talking.

520 dark shadows liz drunk

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

21 thoughts on “Episode 520: What Dead People Do

  1. Speaking of “the rule”, the 1968 writers are changing it again. When it comes to the half-life of the average spell, it seems to have been established the year before that once the supernatural being who put the spell on you goes back to whence they came, you return to normal. When the Phoenix put Liz into that trance so that she couldn’t move or speak for weeks, she began to come out of it as the moment when the Phoenix was due to immolate approached, and the very second that Laura Collins vanished Liz was immediately herself again…. However, that storyline wrapped up in March. Perhaps if it had been nearly August when that scene was being played out, then Liz might well have been detained in that hospital in Boston another month for some follow-up tests.

  2. Well that’s Roger’s second wife that went up in flames. As long as he doesn’t hook up with Maggie like his 1991 revival series counterpart did…

  3. One of Barnabas’s defining character moments is how he monologues about Angelique’s torment of him while standing a few feet away from the skeleton of the man he brutally murdered.

    And, based on Nicholas Blair’s later encounter with Trask, Barnabas never bothers to remove the skeleton from his house to perhaps bury it more appropriately.

  4. That top photo just became my new iPad wallpaper. Amazingly, this shot is not from Julia’s own “home alone” episode.

  5. Even Sam Hall criticized her Lilian Gish moments. It’s a mystery, how with all her talent, that Grayson Hall was so inept at doing fear without diving head first into melodrama.

    She never cried TEARS, either, that I remember.

    It’s why Nancy Barrett beats her on my list. NB can do ANYTHING. And anything she does seems exactly right. From episode One until the last.

  6. I loved this episode. Maybe because for nothing more than it’s Liz / Roger / Julia / Barnabas.

    And for some reason I can’t justify, I like playing out the 1795 Naomi death again. It’s very Angelique to set something like that in motion, and by Dream Curse Standards, rather efficient.

    1. The Liz/Naomi identity crisis is meant to carry out two objectives: first to expose Barnabas as a vampire (or a cured one), and second to psychologically torture Barnabas by having him relive his mother’s suicide. It is a tactic that totally works because Barnabas already associates the modern Collins family with his own from 1795. During the costume party, Barnabas frequently slipped into adressing people as Naomi, Joshua, etc.

      I liked the small details of Joan Bennet’s costume in this episode like her hair and the ruffles on her dress. They are very reminiscent of 1795.

    2. William, totally agree!

      It occurred to me, watching this episode, that Liz and Roger are waaaaaay up towards the top of my list of favourite DS characters.

      Yes, I think my list is as follows:

      –Barnabas (but only when he’s with Julia and/or not focused on Josette or one of the girls who remind him of Josette)
      –Prof. Stokes
      –Madame Findley
      –Nicholas Blair
      –The caretaker
      –Chris Jennings
      –Daphne Harridge
      –Tony Peterson
      –Amy Jennings
      –Amanda Harris

      I haven’t encountered as many characters as others having only mostly watched the Julia episodes but .. yeah, that’s my ranked list of favorite characters.

      It seems an odd list now that I’ve typed it out and I am surprised that–apart from David–most of my top 10 favourites are ~40 or older in age.

      I think this just verifies that all of these characters leave a highly positive lasting impression with me; and to do that, they basically have to mostly not annoy me in all their scenes (therefore, characters with fewer scenes– Madame Findley & The Caretaker*– have a very high advantage). I didn’t realize how highly favorable my impressions of Liz, Roger, and David are until I compared them with my far less favorable impression of Carolyn (who I am vaguely startled to realize ranks below Maggie on my list).

      I am allowed to be startled by my own list, right? I just have never truly thought about this before.

      I think I have especially mixed feelings about Carolyn (not Barrett, who is 1000% awesome). Perhaos I will blame the writers. Sometimes Carolyn is my favourite character, when she is allowed to behave with intelligence, dignity, bravery, and kindness. But when they make her “more relatable” to younger audience members (having her behave immaturely/rebelliously/stupidly/selfishly) and/or when they have her lose total emotional control, succumbing to hysterical screaming fits exactly like any typical victim of a monster attack, I become almost as annoyed with her as with Vicki.

      This listing of favourite characters is very tricky to create. Characters who leave no impression on me or in the middle range which seems unfair since this middle range also includes characters like Alexander and, more especially, Michael (the young Jebs) who were incredible characters and who both let very lasting impressions, but very mixed emotions (it is so unpleasant to watch them bullying David who– again, wow yeah– is incredibly high up on my list of favourites). Same goes with Vicki, Gerard, Leona Eltridge and Danielle Roget, Eve, and a number of others who were very memorable characters to me but created more negative responses than positive ones throughout the combined time they were on screen regardless of how talented the actors portraying them were (or weren’t). Also, some characters– like Sabrina and Roxanne Drew– lost favor through absolutely no fault of their own simply due to the negative emotions their scenes caused me.

      Hmmmm. Now I am thinking more about this and about my list of least favorite characters.

      Curiouser and curiouser.

      Either way: yes, I so agree about this episode and the power quartet of some all time top favourites: Julia, Barnabas, Liz, and Roger.

      *Madame Findley & The Caretaker should be the name of a very silly weird but fun romance novel.

      1. I’m still contemplating this and very much wish I could know Danny’s and all of your own favourite characters, ranked … and your least favourite!

        For now, and in expectation that next year I will be rewatching DS while rereading Danny’s posts and the comments here, I can wonder if my own lists will have altered at all.

        It seems somehow less likely that my rankings for characters– not actors*– that strike me most unfavorably (below, in descending order) will change much if at all but I guess I’ll have to see …

        –Jason McGuire
        –Megan Todd
        –Harry Johnson
        –Dr. Lang
        –Donna (ep. 674)
        –Schuyler Rumson
        –Charles Delaware Tate
        –Jeff Clark/Peter Bradford
        –Ned Stuart

        I used to think Jeb’s character bothered me the most out of any others in DS but thanks to a follow-up comment by acilius to our episode 595 discussion of actors we least like (when he convinced me that the actor, Christopher Pennock, was quite a decent guy) I must have subconsciously concluded Jeb wasn’t that terrible after all.

        *I don’t think it’s possible for me to separate Roger Davis from his DS characters enough to really consider whether another actor in those roles would redeem them in my perception.

        However, Ned Stuart is utterly irredeemable and revolting to watch if he is really meant to be as Davis seems to have portrayed him: a man who has not the slightest ability to control his warped mind, body, and emotions (to the extent that he feels shamelessly justified acting on his depraved possessiveness towards the mentally ill sister he has repeatedly sexually assaulted).

        Dr. Lang is a total darling and a joy to watch, in comparison (imo).

  7. Why would they assume that Cassandra’s death would end the curse on Liz? I know that’s generally the way with supernatural stuff, but Barnabas knows first-hand it’s not a given; he killed her in 1796, but her vampire curse remained in force.

  8. I like that Julia’s idea of “at peace” is “back to being the skeleton of a man that Barnabas walled up in an alcove a hundred years ago” – yeah, Trask sure looks peaceful hanging there in shackles…especially since the reverend’s spirit attempted and failed to immure Barnabas in the same way. Had a trial and everything, raised the dead. Shouldn’t Trask be tying up THAT loose end, while he was at it? Or does (FINALLY) successfully hunting down a witch give him closure?

  9. “Why is there poison in the desk?”

    Because Cassandra put it there during the previous episode. You may have blinked and missed it.

  10. Interesting how Naomi (née Liz) carries a candle with her to the tower room, sets it down, and then flips on the light switch. I can accept her hallucinating the costumes easier than the conveniences.

  11. Not only should Liz have snapped out of her trance as soon as Cassandra disappeared, but Roger should’ve immediately started thinking “Who is this woman and why did I marry her?”

  12. Joan Bennett – wow. She’s pushing 60 here, and still so trim and beautiful. Those long summer vacations must have been a tonic.

    Wasn’t this also the year she received an Emmy nomination for “Dark Shadows”?

  13. I think in the teaser that it was actually Julia who stepped on Roger’s line instead of the other way around.

  14. During the scene between Roger and Julia in the drawing room, prior to Elizabeth’s entrance and just after Roger says, “Oh, what is it about this family, Julia? We seem to attract trouble, tragedy even,” someone blows cigarette smoke into the scene from offscreen.

  15. How does “Naomi” know where the light switch is in the tower, let alone know what a light switch does? She must still possess a little Liz knowledge.

  16. The death of Naomi in the arms of her son tore me up the first time around. (real tears) The supposed death of Liz here in the arms of her cousin Barnabas is triggering me big time!! : (

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s