“And then suddenly, he seemed to burst into flames!”
So then the whole show just goes to Hell. I mean, they did already. They went to Hell, and they talked to the devil. It happened last week.
So then Barnabas comes home, and he tells Julia that demonic carpetbagger Nicholas Blair has gone back where he came from. Barnabas saw Nicholas begging for his life on Widow’s Hill, and then Nicholas just burst into flames and disappeared, which is as good a way to end that story as anything else.
So then Barnabas asks Julia how Maggie is, because when we saw her in the last episode, her soul was signed over to the Devil, and then she got electrocuted for a while, and now she has complete full-body amnesia. Julia says that Maggie will be all right, because Julia gave her a sedative, and she’s sleeping now. Barnabas asks if Maggie will remember what happened, and Julia shrugs and says, “We’ll see,” which says everything there is to say about Julia’s definition of “all right”.
So then Barnabas and Julia go downstairs to their secret basement murder lab, and they find that Adam the enormous Frankenstein man has left the house. Adam was pretty upset the last time they saw him, and Barnabas realizes that he may have gone to Collinwood, to carry out his latest threat to get even with Barnabas by hurting Vicki. This is exactly the same threat that Adam has made every two weeks since early summer, but Ron Sproat wrote today’s episode, which means that every woman in the cast is in clear and present danger.
So then Carolyn gives Vicki a sleeping pill, which is the second time somebody’s taken a sedative so far today. Carolyn says, “Why are you having so much trouble sleeping?” and Vicki says, “I don’t know,” and Carolyn says, “Are you nervous about something?” and Vicki says, “Maybe.” Earlier in the evening, Vicki was attacked by a vampire, plus her fiancee is currently in prison for a murder that he didn’t commit, but nobody can figure out why she’s having trouble sleeping. This must be one of those medical mysteries you hear about.
So then Vicki falls asleep, and Adam sneaks into her bedroom to kidnap her. Adam had a mate called Eve, but she was disappointing, so he strangled her and dumped her in a closet, and then he told Barnabas and Julia that he wanted another one. They tried to make another mate for him, but the experiment failed, and Eve’s body turned into a skeleton. Now he’s going to harm Vicki, because he doesn’t really have a lot of other storyline options to pursue.
So then Adam tells Vicki that if she screams, he’ll kill her, but she screams anyway, and Carolyn comes in to see what all the racket is about. This is a setback, but considering this is one of Adam’s plans, it’s actually going pretty well. Usually by now he’d be shot in the back, or pushed off a cliff, or stuck in the entrance to Rabbit’s house because he’d eaten too much honey. So far, this is above average for Adam.
So then Vicki starts yelling about how Adam is trying to kidnap her, so he shuts her up the best way he knows how: he slaps her across the face, and drops her like a bad habit. It turns out Adam’s meathooks are made out of sedatives, just like everything else in this town.
So then Carolyn tries to talk sense to Adam, but it’s no use. If it was possible to fix this problem by talking about it, then it would have been solved eight times over by now. There’s no solution to this thorny little knot of a storyline; they can’t just relax and hug it out. It’s all yelling and slapping from here on.
So then Carolyn grabs for the phone, and Adam grabs for Carolyn, and there’s a little tussle that ends pretty much how you’d expect. And I don’t want to get into the habit of saying too many nice things about Vicki, but dig the posture. She didn’t fall into the standard Feminine Death Heap, which I appreciate. As I said before, it’s a Ron Sproat script, which means every woman on the show today will be rendered unconscious at least once, so it’s nice to know that we’re not actually expected to enjoy the spectacle.
So then Carolyn says, “Adam, you wouldn’t do anything to me. You know you wouldn’t,” except that’s exactly what he does. He grabs her throat, and chokes her, and that’s the end of any positive regard that we could possibly feel for him, or this storyline. It’s nice to finally get that over with.
So then Adam is left with two unconscious women lying on the floor, which I think is a record for Dark Shadows, even by Sproat standards. Note that Carolyn has her ankles crossed, because she’s got a short skirt on, and she may be bad at predicting whether a Frankenstein monster is going to strangle her or not, but she’s no fool.
So then Barnabas comes in and finds Carolyn unconscious on the floor, and he kind of hoists her up and drags her over to the window seat. Technically, the bed is closer, but the window seat is better for the blocking, and if we cared about Carolyn’s possible spinal cord injuries then we wouldn’t be hauling her around like a sack of potatoes in the first place.
So then Carolyn tells Barnabas that Adam kidnapped Vicki, and Barnabas rushes out to find him. This concludes our interest in Carolyn’s welfare for the day. I’m sure she’s fine.
So then Julia is pacing around the Old House waiting for Barnabas to come back, and she hears the distinctive sound of her mad science equipment chugging away downstairs. She acts like she’s not sure what she’s hearing, but honestly it doesn’t sound like anything else on this earth, and we’ve all heard it too many times to ever forget it.
So then Adam comes up behind Julia and chokes her, because we have passed the point where this show has any relationship to human civilization as we know it. This is the third woman to be choked on screen in five minutes, which has definitely got to be an all-time record. They usually only have five or six actors on the show in any given day, so if there’s an episode where a guy chokes more than three different women, then he’s going to have to finish out the episode playing solitaire. This is not a scaleable scenario.
So then Adam lets Julia go for a second, and she reaches for her medical bag, because she wants to give him a sedative. I swear to God I’m not making that up. She actually says, “You’ve been through a very grueling experience, Adam; I thought a sedative might help.” He says, “I don’t need a sedative,” which pretty much places him outside the bounds of Dark Shadows medical care.
So then Barnabas comes home, and finds Julia passed out on the stairs, which is the second time in a row that he’s entered a room and found an unconscious woman littering the landscape. Julia tells him that Adam is downstairs doing something unauthorized with the mad science machinery, and he says that Vicki must be down there too. And then he rushes off to check, because he’s really not that good at making sure people are okay.
So then Adam is downstairs strapping Vicki to a lab table next to a skeleton with a wig on, and she’s pleading for her life, and Barnabas and Julia are standing at the locked basement door, screaming for Adam to stop before he kills somebody. And it occurs to me that if Maggie’s upstairs sleeping through this whole thing, then those must be some really powerful sedatives that Julia gave her. No wonder everybody wants some. Just imagine what you could do if you had a bottle of those, and no scruples to speak of. That’s how Julia lives.
So then we get a big healthy slice of overcooked sadism, with Vicki screaming in pain and Adam just twiddling away on the mad science knobs. The scene goes on and on, until it’s obvious that everyone involved is thinking, isn’t this over yet? At one point, Adam just looks at the camera, and he sees that it’s on, and then he just keeps looking at it because he can’t believe that this is still happening.
So then Barnabas and Julia show up, having magically slid through the locked basement door by taking a shortcut through the eighth dimension, and Barnabas has a gun somehow, and he tells Adam to stop the experiment or he’ll shoot, and Adam laughs like a madman, and he finally tells Barnabas what he heard on Dr. Lang’s tape recorder all those months ago, that if Adam dies, then Barnabas will revert to what he was before, finally resolving a dangling plot point that goes all the way back to early May, back when Adam was fresh and innocent, and there seemed to be so much promise in this grab bag of lunatic plot contrivances, and now it’s all smashed to the ground and kicked to pieces, and everybody just keeps yelling and yelling and yelling and yelling and yelling.
So then Barnabas fires, and Adam is struck by the bullet, and as he falls, he pulls the big switch on the wall, and Vicki cooks to a frazzle, and Adam bleeds to death, and Barnabas becomes a vampire again, and Carolyn calls the police, and the police call the national guard, and the national guard surrounds the Old House with tanks and machine gun emplacements, and they order the entire cast and production team to stop making this insane mess of a television show.
And then, through the mist of the dry ice machine, we see a shower of sparks, and there’s Julia, rising through the sky in her secret personal gyrocopter that she kept folded up in her medical bag for just such an emergency, and as she rises, she scatters a fistful of sedatives into the open mouths of the stunned authorities, and everybody slumps into a peaceful doze as she steers her copter towards the setting sun, and she makes a break for it, grinning and waving cheerfully at the carnage she’s left behind, and at last, at long last, Julia Hoffman is finally free.
Monday: The Missing Link.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
In act 1, when Barnabas and Julia open the iron door to go down into the basement, there’s a quick glimpse of one of the studio lights overhead.
Carolyn clearly hands Vicki one sleeping pill, but says, “Here, take these.” At the end of their scene, Vicki says, “I think those pills are beginning to work.”
In act 3, Barnabas and Julia are standing at the locked basement door, peering through the grill and calling to Adam. They’re clearly not sure whether the camera is on them or not, and Julia looks surprised when Barnabas says a line. After a moment, he decides they’re not on camera anymore, and he does a quick nose-cleaning.
As the end credits begin, Jonathan Frid walks past the Old House drawing room set. We can see his shadow pass by on the right side, then his arm, and finally a glimpse of his face as he realizes what’s happening and ducks out of the shot.
Monday: The Missing Link.
— Danny Horn