Episode 593: Missing Persons

“It is true that he tried to kill you, but he was only acting out of fear.”

Carolyn Stoddard is dead, killed by a freak mad science experiment. And that’s just the beginning; the evening gets worse from there.

Choked with rage and grief, Adam the enormous Frankenteen tells Barnabas that he’s heading straight to Collinwood, and he’s going to murder everyone he can find. Then Adam punches Barnabas in the gut, drops him like a bad habit, and makes for the wide open spaces.

Barnabas tries to stagger after the crazed killer, but he can’t even make it to the front door before collapsing into Julia’s arms. She leads him to a chair and tries to help him recover, but Barnabas is desperate. There are three people living at Collinwood — more than that, if you count the help — and they are moments away from being entirely massacred. There’s not a moment to lose.

And hey, you know what? This would be a great moment for somebody to own a fucking telephone.

593 dark shadows julia barnabas medication

I’m sorry, I’m sorry. You know that I don’t like to use language. But I seriously think that this episode was specifically engineered to drive me out of my god damn mind.

Julia says that she has some medication upstairs that might help, so Barnabas tells her to go up and get it. I’m not sure what kind of medication you give to someone who’s been socked in the breadbasket, but maybe there have been some advances in medical science since the last time I checked.

Anyway, the point of having Julia go upstairs is for her to see that the bed in Josette’s room is empty. Carolyn’s body has vanished.

593 dark shadows barnabas julia gone

Now, that’s weird. I’ll give them that. Even for these people, that’s an unusual circumstance. But the really weird thing is that all of a sudden the entire focus of attention shifts from the imminent mass murder at Collinwood — which it would be a snap to prevent, if only certain people had thought to take advantage of the available telephone installation services — and instead, Barnabas and Julia drill down into what happened to the corpse that they have apparently mislaid to rest.

“Julia, that’s impossible!” Barnabas cries, springing to his feet. “Adam told me that she’d died.”

“She did,” Julia insists. “I examined her myself.”

“But the body can’t just disappear like that!” Barnabas paces anxiously around the room. I guess somebody’s made a miraculous recovery.

593 dark shadows barnabas julia conference

He sits down again, and they have one of their impromptu Junior Detectives meetings, where they review the case, with a particular emphasis on how baffled they are.

593 dark shadows julia water

Then — and I swear to you on my mother’s eyes that this is what happens next — Julia saunters over to the desk, where she finds a jug of water and two empty glasses. She fills one of the glasses with water, and then she fusses with a little pill bottle that she takes out of her doctor’s bag.

593 dark shadows barnabas julia stimulant

She approaches Barnabas, and hands over the supplies.

Julia:  Barnabas, wait — here, don’t get up.

Barnabas:  I don’t need that! I’m all right.

Julia:  You must take it; it’s a stimulant. Now, take it. Take it just in case.

593 dark shadows barnabas julia water

And now we’re watching an ill-tempered vampire swallow a stimulant and drink a glass of water, just in case. I mean, am I the only one who feels like there’s some kind of urgency to this situation? Collinwood must be awash with the blood of the innocent by now.

593 dark shadows willie enter

Then the door opens, and Willie walks in. Finally, here’s an able-bodied first responder; now we can get a move on. They just need to hand him a crossbow, point him in the direction of Collinwood, and let events unfold.

But first, Willie wants to discuss the problems he’s having with Maggie, who he’s hidden in a crypt for reasons that are not germane to the current situation.

593 dark shadows barnabas julia firm

To his credit, Barnabas takes a firm line.

“I’m sorry, Willie,” he says, “I know it’s difficult for both of you, but we cannot cope with Maggie now. We’ve got a far greater emergency to look after here!”

593 dark shadows willie barnabas julia puzzled

Willie asks what he’s talking about, so Barnabas offers a recap.

“Carolyn Stoddard was involved in the experiment,” he says, “and she died. And now Adam will go to Collinwood, to destroy the family.”

He pauses, and the three of them fall into a thoughtful silence.

593 dark shadows willie barnabas julia old house

So the only interpretation that I can think of is that Dark Shadows is like the numbers stations, which broadcast endless lists of numbers as coded messages to secret agents. The entire run of Dark Shadows has actually been an elaborate deep cover operation, and today is the day that the operatives receive their instructions.

And that’s why — at 4:08pm on Wednesday, October 2nd, 1968 — across the nation, a thousand well-trained sleeper agents disguised as thrill-seeking housewives and pot-smoking teenagers were activated. “Adam will go to Collinwood, to destroy the family” probably meant that an enormous cadre of Russian fifth-columnists had been identified and targeted for assassination. That is literally the only explanation that makes sense.

Tomorrow: Weak Shoddy Adversary.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Willie agonizes, “Barnabas, what good is all this to worry about, I mean, if Maggie gets out and goes to the police?”

There’s a huge scratch on Collinwood’s front door. It’s framed perfectly next to Barnabas’ head as he pauses before knocking.

Tomorrow: Weak Shoddy Adversary.

593 dark shadows willie julia barnabas conference

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

27 thoughts on “Episode 593: Missing Persons

  1. This episode is notable for including one of my favorite Barnabas Collins Drama Queen moments (“Oh if it were only Adam and the experiment, I might have the strength to go on…”) and for delivering to the audience the biggest, most shameful narrative cheat in a long time.

    Carolyn is dead. The entire episode is about how she is dead. A doctor even examined her. But, no, she’s alive. And it was done off screen and there are no apparent consequences to Nicholas’s ability to bring the dead back to life.

  2. I haven’t seen it in a long while, but what’s odd is that the 1897 Collinwood has a telephone, and it seems to be used right and left.

  3. Barnabas on speed! Dark Shadows takes a walk on the wild side. And the Collins girls go, Doo doo-doo doo doo-doo doo doo-doo…

  4. If Adam punched Barnabas in the stomach isn’t he essentially punching himself? He seems to take on Barnabas’ afflictions when it’s convenient to the story only.

    1. The link between Adam and Barnabas was fine if restricted only to the vampire curse. As long as Adam is alive and healthy, Barnabas can’t become a vampire. This has the advantage of tying Barnabas’s hands with Adam for fear of reverting. There is also tension whenever Adam is in mortal danger.

      However, they later decided there was an ongoing connection so that if Barnabas felt pain so did Adam and vice versa. However, I think that happened only once or twice.

      Oh, and later Nicholas forgot the connection entirely — you know, the whole reason he prevented Cassandra from killing Adam — and let Angelique attack Barnabas.

        1. When Barnabas, Julia, and Stokes plot to kill Eve (which by the way is cold-blooded murder as Eve* had committed no crime), Nicholas finds out and arranges for Barnabas to walk into a trap with Angelique waiting for him. Nicholas had apparently nodded off during part of the storyline — understandable — and forgotten that Barnabas and Adam were connected. It was the whole reason, in fact, that Nicholas had actively protected Barnabas in the past. I think the best they do is a quick “Oh, my bad” from Nicholas.

          *Despite all the build up about how evil Danielle Roget is, Eve does nothing but sit around and sulk. It would have been far more compelling if Barnabas, Julia, and Stokes had taken action because Eve had demonstrated how worse she was than even Adam.

          1. Yes, that’s right. I got it confused with later when he forbids her from biting Barnabas and to use Joe instead. As you say, it must have slipped his mind. And I’m in total agreement with you about Eve – struck me as odd that they would just cavalierly choose to kill her because she might be evil. However, it does lead to one of the most ridiculous plans ever concocted by Barnabas and Julia so it’s comedy gold.

            1. I’m also interested in Danny’s opinion of this plot point as it relates to Stokes, who starts his descent into series “butt monkey.” He’s basically either completely wrong (e.g. he states as a fact that Nicholas is not on to them), in the dark, or outright failing (e.g. Quentin’s exorcism). His last truly successful moment might have been during the Dream Curse.

              1. I actually had a problem with Stokes during the second part of the Dream Curse storyline. He’s fantastic at first, confronting Angelique and putting an end to the Curse (presumably). But then when it starts up again and Vicki goes to him for help he basically says, “Yeah, no, sorry, nothing I can do, oh well, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” It was a bizarre change of face for the character and set the stage for his frustrating ‘I know everything/I know nothing persona’.

                1. Stokes was a problematic character. He could easily have become the protagonist — as unlike Barnabas, he actively risked his own safety to stop the Dream Curse. But he also wasn’t a “shady’ character, which is what Barnabas, Julia, and Quentin all are at heart. I’ve commented that DARK SHADOWS became a sort of “monster noir.” In classic film noir, the “heroes” would be bad guys in any other film but here, they are only better than the villains by contrast. Stokes was quick with a witty rejoinder but he was more Sherlock Holmes than Sam Spade. And in a “noir” world, he really didn’t fit in.

                2. Stokes seems to feel put upon the way people keep coming to him for help, yet without ever offering anything in return, so his occasional refusal is understandable. Julia approaches him in the Collinwood drawing room telling him that they urgently need his help and he replies indignantly with, “That has a familiar ring to it. You always seem to need my help, don’t you?” And when he asks for details, Julia puts on her secretive front, refusing to take him into her full confidence. His assistance is always urgently needed, but it seems no one is willing to trust him with a secret.

                  The next, and possibly last, thing he does that can be considered successful in advancing and resolving a storyline is he tracks down some rare psychoactive herbs and performs a ceremony for Jeff Clark, to help him discover the truth of his origins and identity.

  5. Barnabas is a world class prima donna – it’s always about HIM HIM HIM…and Julia is a world class enabler. These two definitely should have wound up together .. on a remote island far far from civilization…

    1. Well her role now is picking him up when he falls and she is probably sick of doing that. If she did feel any love for him, had to have changed by now with his constant Vicki/Maggie b.s. along with the Adam fiasco.

  6. I still think Thayer David was best as Matthew Morgan and Ben Stokes – you knew exactly what type of characters they were from the start and were both pretty consistent until the end. I’ll concede that Vicki was the cause of changing Matthew from a loyal Collins employee for 18 years to a raging maniac towards the end…

  7. I saw bits and pieces of eps during this time frame on SciFi Channel. I sort of filled in my own gaps and maybe either misunderstood or mis-remembered some things. Somehow, I mistakenly thought that Stokes was clearly on Team Barnabas and that Barnabas’s struggle with his “vampire affliction” was pretty much mostly common knowledge.

    I thought I remembered a convo, post-Adam, between Stokes and Elizabeth in which Stokes talked about Barnabas’s vampirism — it was mentioned casually in the same way that one would ask “Do you like cream with your coffee?” Hmmm… maybe someone waved a medallion in front of me and wiped out my memory.

    Anyhow, many of you have seen all of this many times over, perhaps. To me, this is all new – and as tedious and plodding as it might be and even ridiculous (it seems Nicholas could probably conjure up his own Satanic master race without having to go through a Frankenstein experiment) — I’m just enjoying the ride. This whole thing truly is a thrill ride/spook show/with its own drama/build-up and cliff-hanger tension — and the show will wrap up the whole Adam thing (I did see that part on SciFi), which is fine… I look forward to the whole werewolf/Quentin/1897 story arcs, which I only again saw once in a while on SciFi. It’s great to see it in order and read your great blog, Danny!

  8. Oh gawd, Julia and that stupid medallion! I’m so glad Maggie remembered.

    I thought it rather noble of Barnabas to want to just tell the family of everything. And DUHN DUHN DUHN Carolyn isn’t dead! I just love her facial expression when she answers the door.

  9. The twist at the door would have been very effective indeed if they had given us about 90 fewer seconds to realize who was going to answer the door.

    I understand why Barnabas couldn’t have any modern conveniences in his house when he was a vampire. With his free range style of kidnapping, a captive could have called the sheriff when he wasn’t looking. Besides, you can’t have people around installing and maintaining equipment. Imagine if the meter reader should come strolling in at end of shift, when the sun is going down. Could get a bit awkward. But when he is de-vamped, when he starts wearing a brown suit and combing out his fang bangs- you’d think he’d get telephone, electric, gas, and running water at the first opportunity. He’s a seriously lazy guy, those things would all be irresistible to him. Even if he wanted to preserve the front parlor and the bedrooms upstairs as period-authentic, the kitchen, the basement, and the servants’ quarters could still be up to date.

    For that matter, why doesn’t the front door of either mansion on the estate have a peephole? And why doesn’t Barnabas ever lock the window in that parlor? Etc, etc.

  10. Yes, Danny. I ought to have thanked you years ago for your brilliant hypotheses explaining why, after a good fifty or so episodes wherein Julia & Barnabas have done anything and everything to keep Adam from his promised rampage, the final inevitable bloodbath at Collinwood is apparently no longer of remotest import to them.

    As much as I adore Julia and Barnabas in their DS version of the roles Tommy & Tuppence (or Nick & Nora or Lord Peter & …what’s her name), I get whiplash watching this episode at the abrupt downshifting of gears.

    This time around, reaching the scene when Julia calmly scratches her cheek while speaking as slowly as ever with Barnabas about the stimulant she is preparing for him, I found my dazed confusion instantly replaced by humor as I recalled this Cold War theory of yours.*

    At least Willie’s lack of interest in Adam’s intended rampage makes sense since he has mainly only ever been concerned over Maggie’s well-being. But Barnabas, ignoring any lingering instinct to protect his formerly beloved Vicki in favor of sitting around with Julia … Okay, yes I adore this, but it really makes no sense.

    What also almost seems plausible is that the writers are, in this episode, considering a sudden plot detour to reveal that Julia is a complete sociopath who has never cared for anyone apart from Barnabas; and that it wasn’t a stimulant she has given him but something quite the reverse as her firm intention is to trap him (Misery-like) at her side, to hell with anyone or anything he cares about.

    *While marathon-rewatching the Julia episodes this autumn, I am also marathon-playing Gardenscapes as a member of a Russian team. (Meh, I am not what many would describe as patriotic plus this Russian team scores way higher than any U.S. team). Anyway, I am considering asking if any of them recall hearing or reading about the implementation, on October 2nd, 1968, of the DS “Adam will go to Collinwood” Soviet espionage code. Just out of curiosity, mind you. I am no spy. Well … not a political one. Spying in the residents of Collinsport is quite different.

  11. I like how Julia is just sits casually cross-legged in her chair while as far as she is concerned Adam is on his way to commit multiple murders at Collinwood. Also, how is it that Maggie lets Julia block her from leaving the mausoleum (pronounced “mauso-lay-um”)? Julia has no weapon other than that dime-store medallion, and Maggie’s at least as strong as Julia.

  12. Yes Maggie is a healthy young girl and Julia is middle aged. Why didn’t Maggie just tackle her and escape ? Why am I still trying to make sense out of my favorite show ?

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