Episode 549: Take What You Want

“All men are allowed to fall in love. It’s expected of them, actually.”

You know, people complain about how difficult homeschooling is, but it’s a breeze, really. At school, there’s a real problem with classroom size, and that’s even more important when your child is a 6’6″ Frankenstein with kung fu grip. He needs the personalized attention that he can only get from a child-centered environment. Besides, they’re teaching about evolution at school and not creationism — which, for a child assembled in a mad science lab, is pretty insensitive.

Homeschooling is super convenient, too. All you need to do is give him some books and keep him in a dusty old cobweb sanctuary, and the kid practically educates himself. Then you arrange for some seriously ill-advised sex ed training, and you’re good to go.

549 dark shadows nicholas adam man

Adam’s been cooped up in the abandoned west wing of Collinwood for two weeks, hiding from the police and catching up on his Elizabeth Barrett Browning. He’s made tremendous progress in the crucial academic disciplines of talking, reading and sitting more or less quietly, but he’s a big boy, and he needs some more room to spread out.

Meanwhile, Adam’s drawn the attention of Nicholas Blair, a sinister sorceror who’s been staying at Collinwood, dividing his time equally between lurking, sneering and forming vague yet menacing plans. He’s got the idea in his head that if he can bring Adam over to the dark side, he can learn the secret of creating life.

549 dark shadows nicholas confidence

Adam is bored and lonely, and his romantic interest in Carolyn is being ignored, so Nicholas takes the opportunity to slip some new items into the curriculum. He starts encouraging Adam to behave like a man, and not let people keep him locked up.

Like any good confidence man, Nicholas exudes nothing but confidence and man-of-the-world sophistication.

Nicholas:  There’s no need for you to be cared for, like an infant, even if your keeper is as pretty as Carolyn.

Adam:  Carolyn is very pretty.

Nicholas:  You’re in love with Carolyn, aren’t you?

549 dark shadows nicholas adam expected

Adam walks across the room, with a shy smile.

Nicholas:  Oh, you don’t need to be embarrassed about it, Adam! Why, all men are allowed to fall in love. It’s expected of them, actually.

Adam:  Every man falls in love?

Nicholas:  Usually, with someone.

Adam:  Then what does the man do?

Nicholas:  He makes the woman love him. He shows her how much stronger he is than she.

549 dark shadows nicholas adam take

Oh, dear. This is leading up to a pretty unfortunate homework assignment.

Nicholas:  Adam, you must learn to take what you want!

Adam:  How do I learn that?

Nicholas:  By grabbing. By demanding! If necessary, by lying, cheating. It’s the only way. Oh, you will learn. I’ll see to it that you do.

549 dark shadows adam psyche

So this is the point in the Adam storyline when you realize that they’ve spent the last three months walking us through the first act of a tragedy.

Various people have come in and out of Adam’s young life. Professor Stokes is the one who’s been the most helpful and paternal, really interested in Adam’s progress and willing to spend more than five minutes in his presence at a time. But Stokes has never had children, and he doesn’t really know how to guide Adam’s emotional development.

549 dark shadows carolyn adam mean

Adam’s been acting out lately — clinging to Carolyn, and even kissing her at one point — but Stokes and Carolyn have been treating his journey through adolescence as something that could be pushed to the side. Last week, Stokes actually told Adam to forget about his romantic feelings and concentrate on his reading. This was a mistake.

So Nicholas has swooped in, staking a claim on the territory that Stokes and Carolyn left unguarded. The “take what you want” message has some obvious appeal, if the alternative is to hide in a dark room for the foreseeable future.

549 dark shadows adam carolyn lock

So the question of Adam is still up for grabs. Is he a good guy in a bad situation, or is he inherently violent and savage? So far, the show appears to be coming down on the side of sympathy for Adam, who had a brutally abusive early childhood, and is just trying to reach out for love and connection.

Which leads us, tragically, to the rape scene, which I suppose was inevitable, and the arc of Adam’s emotional and moral development hits a wall and shatters into pieces.

549 dark shadows adam carolyn stay

We’ve seen this kind of thing before on Dark Shadows; it’s pretty much impossible to do a vampire story without getting rapey every once in a while. The moral values of the show have been subverted by the producers’ need to keep the most popular villain on the show indefinitely.

Barnabas makes weird, unconvincing excuses for his assaults on young women — I couldn’t help it, I had to protect myself, I want to stay with her for eternity — and the show has allowed the audience to make up their own minds about whether that’s acceptable or not. They’ve even done the hideous “rape a girl, and she falls in love with you” trope so common to vampire fiction, including an attack on Carolyn a year ago.

549 dark shadows adam carolyn love

In this case, the rape story is much more complex. Barnabas’ weird expression of his “needs” aside, he’s an adult man who knows exactly what he’s doing when he sacrifices a girl’s life for his own pleasure and protection. But Adam is just learning about life, and he hasn’t had many positive influences. You could easily make the case that he legitimately believes that this is how it works between men and women, and that she’s expecting him to use these enhanced procreation techniques.

On her side, Nancy Barrett is making the same acting choices that she made when Adam first picked her up and carried her away a couple months ago. She’s fully committed to the idea that this is not sexy.

She lowers her voice to a whisper, saying, “Oh, no,” as she tries to pull away. That’s fear in her eyes, not suppressed attraction. She is doing everything she can to dispel the idea that she might be secretly enjoying this.

549 dark shadows adam carolyn please

And then we get to a point where the audience’s sympathy for Adam’s point of view breaks down. There’s a lot that he doesn’t know about life, but the one lesson that he’s learned over and over is that pain hurts.

No matter what he thinks is the correct romantic approach, she’s saying, “Adam, you’re hurting me,” and that should be the trigger that turns him off. It doesn’t go that way.

549 dark shadows carolyn adam love me

So the vaguely villainous Nicholas Blair has finally stepped up, and become a real force for evil on the show. He’s intentionally set up a situation where Carolyn will be sexually assaulted, and Adam will be banished, and separated from the few people who actually care about him.

Like a cult leader, Nicholas is cutting Adam off from his support network, so he can gain control over Adam’s life. Barnabas, Julia and Dr. Lang may have breathed life into a patchwork corpse, but Nicholas Blair has created a monster.

Tomorrow: The Afternoon After.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In act 1, when Barnabas talks about feeling free, there’s a crash as something falls over in the studio.

When Nicholas tells Carolyn that Cassandra is gone forever, the camera wobbles.

Roger tells Nicholas, “I love it here, because I was born in Collinwood, but I can’t imagine why you would prefer it to all the places you’ve been.” He means Collinsport.


Behind the Scenes:

Props note: Nicholas takes a tour of the House by the Sea today, which he’ll be renting from the Collins family. The drawing room is partially a redress of Dr. Lang’s front room, which was previously the master bedroom in the Old House. The Smith Brothers portrait is hanging on the wall, crooked — it’s previously been seen at Professor Stokes’ house and several other places.

There’s also a lamp with multi-colored stained glass, which I don’t think we’ve seen before, and which is extremely 1968.

In later episodes, there’ll be a doorway to the left of the fireplace, but in this episode, there’s a tapestry hanging where the door will be.

Tomorrow: The Afternoon After.

549 dark shadows roger nicholas lamp

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

11 thoughts on “Episode 549: Take What You Want

  1. Was this set the former Seaview house that Vicki fell in love with? I thought the House by the Sea was actually a redress of the Collinsport Inn lobby and coffee shop. Also I wish that Angelique had axed Adam while she had the chance.

  2. Too bad Carolyn didn’t continue on with Buzz, then Adam would’ve had a better, more interesting mentor for his burgeoning adolescence of the mind. Imagine a beatnik Frankenstein, which would have been perfect for 1968. As Buzz himself once said: “If you want something all you’ve got to do is take it.”

  3. The writers referred to Nicholas’ house as a “house by the sea,” as they had also referred to Caleb Collins’ Seaview. I think that’s probably confused a lot of fans into thinking they’re the same house. Of course, now Big Finish has produced an audio called The House By the Sea, which combines them into the same house. But the show used very different exterior stills and different interior sets.

  4. I don’t think this is the same house where Vicki fell in heavy-like, it looks to me just like Dr. Eric Lang’s drawing room.

    As school kids, Carolyn was never our favorite character, but I must give Nancy Barrett props today. If you watch closely it’s clear when she does the scene in Adam’s room where’s he’s going to make her love him (btw, my schoolgirl friends all thought she was stone crazy to say No), it’s very clear that Ms. Barrett has either been crying off set or has a pretty substantial headcold or hayfever going on. Her voice is congested and weak and she keeps sniffing. I’d be afraid to push through such a physical scene with the ever-present running nose danger.

  5. Nancy Barrett is on fire in these scenes. She’s just fantastic. I was dreading Adam — and maybe it goes downhill from here. But so far, I like the Adam storyline and I like Robert Rodan and his interactions with Nancy Barrett and Thayer David.

    It’s the best post-1795 stuff for me. I think they could have had that storyline without ever bringing in a witch and a warlock.

  6. “Barnabas, Julia and Dr. Lang may have breathed life into a patchwork corpse, but Nicholas Blair has created a monster.” nice, Mr. Horn.

  7. My biggest surprise is that Adam falls for Blair’s malarkey – Adam knew bad from good very early on. Guess all that book learnin’ didn’t make him smarter, after all.

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