Episode 534: The Scene of the Crime

“Yes, Adam learn. Adam learn very good!”

Adam’s out on a spree again, crashing around the sets and putting people in the hospital. That’s what happens when you’re an enormous Frankenstein man; even a simple walk in the woods turns into a spree. It’s basically your entire job description.

Carolyn was with Adam when he jumped from the cliff on Widow’s Hill, so naturally she figured he was pretty much mucilage at this point. But she’s heard that there’s a 6’6″ madman running around loose, so she’s gone back to the abandoned root cellar where he held her hostage a couple months ago.

This brings us to today’s question: What is Carolyn on, exactly?

534 dark shadows carolyn cellar

After all, her list of grievances is pretty substantial. Adam kidnapped her, knocked her unconscious several times, and kept her hostage for days with no food. When she tried to escape, he literally dragged her back by the hair. The ordeal ended when he carried her up to a cliff, where she slipped and almost fell to her death.

And yet here she is, in harm’s way, because she’s decided that he’s a nice guy, and she wants to help him.

534 dark shadows adam carolyn mysterious

It’s mysterious how the show has managed to make us still feel warm towards Adam, despite the fact that he killed Sam, gave Joe a concussion and is apparently about to embark on his second round of terrorizing Carolyn. Why do we like this guy?

One reason could be that they’ve made sure that we can track his emotional state. They’ve invested a lot of time in the idea that Adam is like a child, who had no life experience before the moment that Barnabas and Julia breathed life into his patchwork corpse. He’s lashed out, and done violent things, but only when he felt threatened or confused. We haven’t seen him be selfish, or malicious.

Well, except for when he picked up Carolyn and carried her out of the house, and then kept her locked up for no particular reason. There were some clues that he was confused by the police searching for him, and that he thought that he was protecting Carolyn from the police dogs. But that’s a bit tenuous as an excuse, and it doesn’t explain all of the weird things that he did to her.

So I think the “acting like a child” defense doesn’t really buy him that much audience sympathy. I mean, have you even seen children? Some of them are jerks.

534 dark shadows adam carolyn storyline

I think the real key to our interest in Adam is that he chooses his co-stars well, and he only hurts the boring ones.

Since his last encounter with Carolyn, he spent some time with Sam, who’s such a terrible actor that it was honestly a relief when Adam finally smacked him to the floor and put an end to him, once and for all. Then Adam went to live with Professor Stokes, where they had charming little scenes together involving dictionaries and flash cards.

Bringing Carolyn back into his orbit is a smart move, for both of them. Nancy Barrett is the best actor from the original cast that they started out with two years ago. She can basically do anything — drawing-room comedy, pretty girl in peril, hard-boiled dame, costume-drama Ophelia descending into madness — and she is never anything short of terrific.

Unfortunately, her storylines have dried up completely, now that she’s not under Barnabas’ vampire spell anymore. She had a nice little romance going with Tony, but Cassandra put the kibosh on that, and since then, Carolyn’s basically been hanging around waiting for something else to do.

534 dark shadows adam carolyn terrific

This encounter begins what will become Carolyn’s go-to plot contrivance for pretty much the whole rest of the series — doomed romance with attractive monsters. She gets cuddly with every demon-driven hunk who crosses her path, including a Frankenstein, a wolfman, a creature from the dawn of time and a flower-child astrologer. It’s kind of her thing.

And we’ll go along with it every time, because the alternative is letting Carolyn slip off the canvas, which would be intolerable.

534 dark shadows adam carolyn character

Of course, if you follow that path for a while, it becomes difficult to pull together any kind of coherent plan for the character’s development.

Carolyn started out as a young woman with a clear inner conflict to resolve — the heiress of a wealthy family with dark secrets, itching to rebel against the dull future that had been planned out for her. She went to the Blue Whale to dance with the locals, dated a motorcycle-riding beatnik, and fell in love with the man who was determined to destroy the Collins family.

Then she was bitten by a vampire, and she schemed to get her hands on a mad scientist’s notebook, and now she’s hanging out with a giant undead toddler. We’ve lost her character’s through-line. Now they just show us what she does next, and they leave the characterization to look after itself.

534 dark shadows adam carolyn ground

That’s not a complaint, by the way. I’m actually in favor of this approach. In my opinion, we already have enough stories about a privileged young woman’s struggle to break free from stifling convention. Or maybe we don’t. I honestly couldn’t care less.

Dark Shadows has given up on the deep psychological exploration of the inner turmoil of whatever it was supposed to be about two years ago. The real Dark Shadows — the one that people actually like — is a crazy-town spook show about undead monsters who are super excited because they recently learned how to say the word “ground”.

534 dark shadows adam carolyn grow

If Carolyn wants to develop some kind of nuanced character arc in her spare time, then that’s fine, but it’s not why she’s standing in front of a camera right now. She’s here because she’s funny and spunky, and oh my gosh, I think she’s about to kiss the cute Frankenstein guy. They grow up so fast, don’t they?

Tomorrow: The Point of Return.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Vicki hears a knock at the door, she thinks, “It couldn’t be Barnabas. He never comes here this early.” This is mostly true, except that they made a huge deal in yesterday’s episode about Barnabas calling on Cassandra at such an early hour.

Adam and Carolyn step on each other’s lines:

Carolyn:  It’s incredible. Who taught you all those things —

Adam:  Professor…

Carolyn:  — helped you learn to talk?

Adam:  Stokes.

Carolyn tells Adam, “One thing we’re going to have to do is teach you to say ‘I’ instead of ‘Adam’.” But Adam has been using personal pronouns on and off the whole scene, including: “I know you,” and “Yes, I want you to.”

Tomorrow: The Point of Return.

534 dark shadows carolyn adam love

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

9 thoughts on “Episode 534: The Scene of the Crime

  1. I think the shift in direction for DARK SHADOWS benefited Nancy Barrett the most and Alexandra Moltke the least. The repertory theater approach to casting the series when it went back in time gave Nancy the opportunity to demonstrate her tremendous range. Carolyn Stoddard (real time, and excluding her brief turn as Barnabas’s servant) is fairly dull and at her best, the kind of character any reasonably talented attractive young blonde could pull off. But Nancy’s performances as Millicent, Charity Trask, Pansy Faye, Carolyn Loomis PT, Crazy Carolyn of 1995, Leticia Faye, and even Melanie Collins were all tremendous. Just watch 1970 PT and 1840 PT: Nancy’s voice and bearing as Carolyn Loomis makes her seem ten to fifteen years older than when she’s Melanie.

    1. Two years later……Nancy Barrett continues to be the best actress of the sixties, for me….even my republican sisterinlaw, whom I share nothing in common with,
      Agrees, on this.

      Nancy Barrett is the best of all the DS actors.

      I would SO like to meet Her.

      NB, not my sister- in-law.

  2. Remember when Carolyn used to be involved with normals,
    like Joe, and Burke, and even Buzz?

    I miss Buzz.

    Buzz was a gas, baby, a real gas!

  3. The opening narration says Vicki is afraid of reinstating a two-hundred-year-old curse, which isn’t entirely true since she doesn’t actually know that would be the result of the dream curse.

    I actually think Moltke’s been doing a great job lately – starting with a brief convo with Cassandra prior to her disappearance, which was basically one of those thinly-veiled “I know your secret” scenes where every line is heavy with subtext. When Barnabas said Cassandra had underestimated Vicki’s strength, I have to admit I agreed – maybe we all have.

    Then again, that’s the difference between a good actor and a great one. Good ones, like Moltke, do a great job with good material. Great ones, like Nancy Barrett, do a good job with absolute rubbish. (I formed this theory watching Elisabeth Sladen being brilliant in the abominable K9 & Company.)

    Even when Carolyn has nothing to do, or is shoved into the cliché stifled rich girl role, Barrett brings nuance, multiple layers of emotion, and general watchability. There have been plenty of dull scenes featuring the character, but I still always find her interesting to watch, even when the plot’s forcing her to run in circles or tread water.

    Incidentally, is this the start of the long-promised Barnabas reboot? Confessing his selfishness, tortured by the pain Vicki’s suffering on his behalf, willing to give in the Cassandra to spare her… his scene with Julia in the Old House feels like a totally different person to the one we’ve seen so far.

  4. I love Nancy Barrett, I miss her when she’s not in an episode. She’s so pretty, and hands down the best actor on the show, and I never remember seeing her hunt for the teleprompter.

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