“Then why didn’t that someone give him the medicine?”
Man, after a solid week of sifting through the Danielle/Eve/Jeff/Peter boondoggle, it’s nice to get back to a simple, straightforward hypnotized rape victim flip-flop murder-revenge conspiracy. I mean, some of us still appreciate the classics.
Joe Haskell, ex-fisherman and the current title holder for Only Hot Guy on the Show Right Now, is taking up bed space at the Old House, recuperating after a vampire bite and a self-inflicted wound to the gut.
Now he’s having kind of a stressful evening, because he’s convinced that Barnabas has taken his place as vampire soap vixen Angelique’s secret sexytime blood-slave. Joe believes this preposterous idea because that is exactly what’s happening.
So here’s the scenario: Joe has spent the last couple months being hypnotically seduced and snacked on by Angelique, and now she’s tossed him aside for someone else. Abandoned and on the verge of madness, Joe tried to kill himself with a letter opener.
Angelique called her ex-vampire ex-husband Barnabas, bit him on the neck, and told him to get rid of Joe. Rather than drag the boy out into the woods and leave him to die, Barnabas brought him back to the Old House to recover.
This is where it gets a little complicated.
Nicholas Blair says Joe Haskell Must Die, because he’s in love with Joe’s fiancee Maggie, and he wants to get rid of the competition.
Harry Johnson says Joe Haskell Must Die, because Nicholas is hypnotically controlling him, and gave him some poison to put in Joe’s medicine.
Angelique says Joe Haskell Must Die, because she’s crazy and she just likes killing people.
So now Barnabas says Joe Haskell Must Die, because Angelique lured him from the house again, bit his neck, and told him to go back home and finish the job.
That makes a grand total of five people who want Joe dead, including Joe himself. You’d imagine that would make things pretty easy, but nothing’s easy in this town.
Just at the crucial moment, who should walk in but Dr. Julia Hoffman, the actual hero of the show.
As always, Julia is the audience identification figure, because she does everything that we’d want to do. She’s the one who cut Joe’s turtleneck in half — death to turtlenecks, may they be banished to hellfire for eternity — and now she’s interrupting Barnabas in the act of exterminating the cute guy.
So she takes the spoon from Barnabas’ hand, and gives him a scolding as she pours it back into the bottle. Julia is a rock star.
Julia: I told you, it isn’t time to give him his medicine now.
Barnabas: Yes, it is! The time has come!
Julia: No, I told you that he wasn’t to get any more dosage tonight.
Barnabas: You said that?
Julia: Yes, you know very well that I said that.
As always, Barnabas has a cunning plan for allaying her suspicions.
Barnabas: Yes, yes — you did.
Julia: Then why were you giving it to him?
Barnabas: Well, I don’t know — I must have thought the morning had come.
Julia: Well, how could you think that? It’s still dark out.
Barnabas turns, and does an exaggerated take to the window.
Barnabas: Yes! Yes, it is, isn’t it? Dark. Very dark.
Obviously, he’s acting super weird, but Julia doesn’t realize it, because Barnabas’ normal baseline for acting weird is extremely elevated. This is maybe one percent weirder than usual.
So she tells Barnabas to keep watch over Joe, to make sure the vampire doesn’t show up and kill him before anybody else gets a chance. She pointedly takes the medicine bottle, saying, “I’ll take this with me, in case you get confused again. An extra dose would be very harmful to him now.”
What is this medicine, by the way? It appears to be some kind of controlled-substance stomach juice.
Anyway, Julia leaves them alone, and Barnabas spends the night staring at Joe while he sleeps, which to be honest is not that bad of a job.
So I know that once again, I’m hitting the “leering at the cute boy” note pretty hard, and I hate to sound like a broken record, but look at the guy. He’s all sweaty and unshaven and dirty and helpless. This is a brand new development in Dark Shadows entertainment, and it needs to be documented. Besides, I’m only human.
When morning finally comes, Julia returns to take Barnabas’ place at the bedside, and she’s got some further questions.
Julia: Why were you trying to give him the medicine, just as I walked in?
Barnabas: You asked me that, and I told you. I was tired. Almost as tired as I am now. I must have been confused about the time of day.
Julia: I’m afraid I can’t completely accept your reason.
Barnabas: What are you talking about?
Julia: I’ve just made an analysis of this medicine.
And then she just gives him a look. This is her I’ve-just-made-an-analysis face.
Julia: Barnabas — this medicine is poison. Deadly poison!
Oh, by the way, Joe’s awake. They are currently located zero feet away from him.
Julia: You were trying to poison him, weren’t you?
Barnabas: Of course I wasn’t! Why would I want to do that?
Julia: I don’t know, Barnabas.
Barnabas: I was the one who found him, and brought him here. If I hadn’t, he would have died! Now, if I wanted to kill him, would I have brought you over here to take care of him?
And Julia sighs, like she’s thinking, I don’t know, dude. I can’t explain you to you.
As usual, Julia is entirely alone in a world of madmen.
Julia: Someone put poison in this bottle — and you were giving it to him!
Barnabas: I didn’t know there was poison there. I wouldn’t want to put poison in that medicine.
Julia: But who else could have, Barnabas?
Barnabas: Well, when I went out — when I heard the dogs howling, and went out to see if there was any danger. Someone could’ve come in then. You yourself thought there was someone in the house, when I was out tonight.
Julia: Yes, that’s something that puzzles me too.
Julia: Why did you leave him for such a long time?
Barnabas: I wasn’t gone for long!
Julia: Yes you were, Barnabas!
Barnabas: Well, maybe long enough for someone to have come in and, and — put the poison in his medicine.
Julia: Then why didn’t that someone give him the medicine?
Barnabas: I don’t know, Julia! I’m sorry, but I’m tired.
Julia: All right, Barnabas. Go downstairs and rest. All I know is that someone almost succeeded in killing Joe Haskell.
So that’s what we call bedside manner around here. It’s amazing.
Julia dismisses Barnabas, while Joe lies there and engages in thinks.
Joe (thinks): He tried to kill me! He wants to kill me — to get rid of me! Because of her. He wants to MURDER me!
I know, I’m doing a lot of quoting today, but sometimes, you just have to get out of the way and let Dark Shadows do its job.
Eventually, everybody clears the room, and Joe is left alone. Julia goes back to Collinwood to get some less aggressively toxic medicine, and Barnabas is resting downstairs.
Joe begins an extended thinks drum solo.
Joe (thinks): I’ve got to do it — before he kills me! I’ll kill him first. I don’t have a choice!
He staggers to his feet, and looks wildly around the room.
Joe (thinks): But how? How am I going to do it? I’ve got to find something — anything!
Dude, this is not that hard. This house is owned by the Collins family; there are murder weapons everywhere. Open a drawer.
He does a quick inventory of his assets.
Joe (thinks): My bare hands — I’ll choke him to death! No… There’s no strength in them.
This is actually a little audience participation moment, like on Blue’s Clues. I bet the kids at home are coming up with all kinds of helpful suggestions.
Finally, the audience yells, “The curtain, Joe! Go for the curtain!” as Joe figures out how to weaponize the decor.
So yesterday we were talking about an article in The Saturday Evening Post, which included a list of Dark Shadows merchandise hitting stores in time for the holiday season.
Let’s take a moment to think about the target demographic for those products, as we watch a lust-crazed, half-shirtless Joe throttle a sleeping man with a rope: board games, posters, Halloween costumes, masks, capes, coloring books, bubble-gum cards and plastic fangs. Thank you, and good night.
Tomorrow: Curtains, Foiled Again.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
In the teaser, when Barnabas approaches Joe’s bed, he rests his cane against the bed so that he can pick up the medicine bottle. The cane doesn’t want to balance properly, and it takes Barnabas a couple seconds to adjust it.
In act 2, Maggie and Joe engage in an extended battle over how much of his chest should be exposed. When she approaches him, he’s passed out, with his chest bare. She starts to cover him up with the blanket, and he wakes up with a start. She sits down, and Joe breathes heavily as he answers. Something strikes her as funny — apparently his insistence on playing the bare-chest scene so vividly — and she barely suppresses a smile as she tries to tug the blanket up a little bit more.
A minute later, he does some more heavy breathing, and turns his chest toward the camera again. Once again, Maggie is not successful in suppressing her smile. She’s about to leave, and he calls her back, and starts breathing heavy again, telling her that Barnabas tried to kill him. She takes the opportunity to tug the blanket up a bit.
In act 3, Julia says, “Barnabas, I’m… got to go back to the house, and… (looks at the teleprompter) fix the — get some more medicine.”
Mrs. Johnson tells Julia, “Funny — for a minute, I didn’t think you knew a thing about what I’m saying, about what I’m talking about.”
Behind the Scenes:
They’ve changed the curtain ties in Josette’s room today so that Joe can scrounge up a murder weapon. Up until yesterday, the curtains have been tied with a sash made of the same material. Today, they’re tied with a convenient rope, suitable for a garrote.
Tomorrow: Curtains, Foiled Again.
— Danny Horn