“I owe my life to a man I vowed to kill.”
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the craziest show on Earth, where they inter and disinter their major characters at regular intervals.
Barnabas was attacked by a bat last week, and he died, because bat attacks are invariably fatal, as everyone knows. Convinced that he would rise as a vampire, Julia and Willie buried him in the woods, because they’re bad role models and that’s all there is to it.
This was bad news for Adam, our enormous Frankenstein man, because he’s been borrowing some of Barnabas’ life force this whole time. When Barnabas went down, Adam’s system crashed too. This is why, if you’re shopping for life force, you should just go ahead and buy the protection plan. I know, it’s an extra fifty bucks, but can you really put a price tag on peace of mind?
But as Julia and Professor Stokes are standing next to Adam’s lifeless corpse and discussing the events of the day, Adam suddenly starts to move again, gasping for breath. Watching him struggle, Julia realizes that Adam and Barnabas are connected, and that Barnabas must be alive too.
Now, just to be clear, the story as I understand it is not “Barnabas was buried alive.” Barnabas was actually dead when Julia and Willie buried him. But he’s alive now, at least for a few minutes, until he suffocates all over again.
I know, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s a dead thing; you wouldn’t understand.
Stokes, bless him, is trying to keep up, but it’s not easy. He asks, “Why did you bury Barnabas?” and Julia says, “Because his heart had stopped,” and that is apparently the end of that line of inquiry.
So this is how life works in Collinsport these days. You can be standing in an abandoned root cellar, watching a patchwork giant who’s been animated by the life force of a vampire fighting his way back to conscious existence for the second time this summer, and you have to be excused because you need to participate in an even weirder scene somewhere else.
But Professor Stokes’ own life force is composed entirely of curiosity, so he follows Julia to Barnabas’ unquiet resting place, and he agrees to grab a shovel and pitch in with the recovery efforts.
He’s still asking impertinent questions, but Julia continues to stonewall, using the ruthless skills that one can only acquire during a lifetime of telling nothing but lies.
Stokes: How odd it seems, really.
Julia: Yes, I know.
Stokes: Surely, the Collins family did not consent to this bizarre burial.
Julia: I had no time to ask them.
Stokes: Why not?
Julia: Professor, I will answer all your questions…
Julia: When Barnabas is free.
Meanwhile, Barnabas is in the box, pushing desperately at the lid and struggling for breath. I don’t know what the hell they’re doing on The Match Game over on NBC today, but I can’t imagine they could compete with this. At a certain point, a network just has to admit that they’re licked, and stand down.
When we return to the excavation project, Professor Stokes has apparently dug a perfectly rectangular four-foot hole in the ground, without taking off his jacket or even loosening his tie. It’s called style.
They pry open the coffin lid, and what do they find? Barnabas Collins, resting in peace. Now they’re going to have to bury him all over again.
In my opinion, Barnabas needs to take a more active role in this process. He’s up, he’s down. This is not an efficient use of resources. He’s going to have to pick an altitude and stick with it.
He finally pulls himself together, and we get him up on dry land for a status update.
Barnabas: It will soon be dawn. Why did you ever bring me back?
Julia: Barnabas, you’re not as you were.
Barnabas: The bat attacked me!
Julia: Barnabas, your heart is beating. You can feel it yourself.
Barnabas: Any moment, I may begin to change.
Julia: You’re alive! You’re not one of the living dead.
It’s pretty great. We’ve just drifted out to sea, far beyond the boundaries of logical human interaction. It’s four o’clock in the afternoon, in the middle of July, and this is the conversation.
And look at Julia; she’s having the time of her life. This is exactly what she wants to be doing, just sitting around and reassuring her best friend that he’s breathing. This counts as girl talk for her.
Barnabas: I don’t believe you.
Julia: I’ll prove it to you.
Barnabas: How can you prove it? You know you can’t!
Julia: Here, Barnabas, look in this mirror. Now, don’t be afraid. If you can see yourself, then you will know.
So he looks in the mirror, and he sees his own reflection, and he says, “Free!”
And that’s how you make the silliest thing on television. It’s that easy.
So we can leave our heroes here, for a while — let them rest, and sigh, and speculate, as they try to figure out what the hell is happening on their own show.
Barnabas is alive again, and he’s still technically a human being, which means that the entire three-month Dream Curse storyline was nothing but a shaggy dog story. Cassandra’s curse struck Barnabas with full force, and he just picked himself back up, and walked it off.
But that doesn’t mean that this was a complete waste of time. We can pull something from the wreckage, and it’s valuable, and precious. The Dream Curse story is the moment when Barnabas and Julia become best friends.
The ice started to thaw between them as soon as we came back from 1795, but it was still an uneasy alliance all the way through the mad science experiment that created Adam. In fact, at the time, it looked like Barnabas was going to blow Julia off, and go hang out with Dr. Lang instead. It was only at the last moment that Julia got involved with that story at all.
But look at them now. Inseparable. She got him out of the bricked-up alcove when he was trapped by Reverend Trask, and she dug him up out of the ground when he was buried alive. From now on, when Barnabas Collins is in trouble, Dr. Julia Hoffman will come to the rescue.
That’s the true legacy of the Dream Curse — this magical, twisted, fascinating friendship — and I will always be grateful. I mean, don’t get me wrong; the Dream Curse was a terrible disaster of a storyline, and I’m thrilled to finally see the back of it. But here they are — safe, and sound, and entirely out of their goddamn minds. I wonder what they’ll do for an encore?
Tomorrow: Grieve a Little Grieve.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
After Julia frees Barnabas, she begins one of her lines too early:
Julia: The —
Barnabas: But it can’t be! The curse…
Julia: The curse did not work, Barnabas.
On Monday, Stokes checked Adam’s wrist, and said, “There’s no pulse beat.” Today, Carolyn says “I can’t find a pulse beat” at the end of act 2, and then Julia says “There’s a faint pulse beat” in act 3. I don’t know why everybody on Dark Shadows thinks that “pulse beat” is a thing.
In the last moment of Julia and Stokes’ final scene in the root cellar, the camera cuts away a moment later than Grayson Hall thought it did. You can see her break character, and give Thayer David a smile as they finish their last scene of the day.
Tomorrow: Grieve a Little Grieve.
— Danny Horn