“I already know how and where. What I want to know most of all is when.”
That — creature! I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s a vicious animal — but it wears clothes, like a man! It also runs like a man, wears shoes like a man, and uses doorknobs like a man. Somebody get me a man, so I can double-check. Get one for yourself too, if you want one. I mean, as long as you’re out.
So, yeah, vicious animal on the loose, and vampire playboy Barnabas Collins decides that all of a sudden he’s the wolf whisperer, and he needs to take charge of the situation. He’s a few weeks behind on the werewolf storyline, so he grabs Beth and vampire-bites her, and presto! She makes with the intel.
Under his hypnotic thrall, Beth gives Barnabas a full briefing: Quentin killed Jenny, Magda avenged Jenny’s death by hitting Quentin with a werewolf curse, and now they’re all worried about the effects of the curse on Quentin’s twin babies. The baby thing is a bonus, by the way; even Quentin doesn’t know about the twins. Biting Beth is clearly the FastPass to full storyline access. She’s like a plot-point piñata.
Now, clearly this is cheating. Barnabas didn’t have to do any work to get this information; he just bit Beth on the neck, and now he’s fully up to date on other people’s secrets. But it’s like the psychic paper on Doctor Who — it’s a shortcut that makes the story move faster. We already know all of these facts, so there’s zero dramatic value in Barnabas learning it all the slow way.
It’s not easy to tell exactly what Barnabas is planning to do about all this, but that’s the joy of having Barnabas on the show — he blurs the line between rational thought and blithering madness every time he opens his mouth.
“I lie awake nights,” Beth shudders, “wondering how and where it will all end.”
Barnabas frowns. “I already know how and where. What I want to know most of all is when.” And then he gives her a look, and leaves the room.
It’s okay if you don’t happen to understand that line; it’s one of those moments where even if you know what he’s talking about, you don’t know what he’s talking about. It’s another fastball special from the mind of Barnabas Collins; all you can do is watch it whiz by.
Beth and Barnabas stop and have another little briefing in the foyer, before he heads outside to wrangle werewolves. There’s not a ton of new content; they’re basically just recapping in Collinwood’s transportation hub to make sure that nearby eavesdroppers can catch up on the latest news. This is a feature that soap opera characters provide as part of their basic service package. Every time they walk into a room, they take another lap through the day planner, in case anybody’s interested.
Beth: Do you think you’ll find him?
Barnabas: I must.
Beth: He’ll demand to know how you learned the secret.
Barnabas: I know I’m going to have a difficult time with him, but I’ll do my best to convince him that I’m only trying to help him.
Beth: How can you do that?
Barnabas: I have no idea yet.
And I swear to god, I think Jonathan Frid is the only actor who can get away with this kind of nonsense. It’s the deep voice, I think, and the cape. He just has this air of absolute certainty, like he has full situational awareness. I think Maggie Smith could pull this off, and maybe Cookie from Empire, but that’s all. It’s a very specialized field.
As soon as Barnabas exits through the front doors, Magda emerges from the drawing room. She climbed in through the drawing room windows, and she was hiding behind the doors, eavesdropping, because Dark Shadows is a door-slamming bedroom farce about gypsies who live in a haunted house.
Magda says that she’s the only one who can help Quentin, which perks up Beth’s spirits. She asks, “Have you found a way to end the curse?”
Magda looks away. “The only way,” she frowns.
Beth is alarmed. “You’re not going to harm him, are you?”
“I cannot harm him anymore than I already have,” Magda says, so that’s a yes on the harming.
So Magda heads outside, pausing on the front porch to load silver bullets into her pearl-handled revolver. I don’t know exactly where she got the equipment from, but this is Collinwood; it was probably in the junk drawer in the pantry, or sitting out on the mantelpiece. Gun control means nothing to these people.
So a-hunting we shall go! From this point, it’s basically an episode of Gilligan’s Island, with three characters clambering around the tiny little outdoors set, trying to stay out of each other’s shots. At one point, Magda hears Barnabas coming and ducks behind a tree, just seconds before Barnabas walks by, looking directly at her. And this is Magda, by the way, who’s not exactly dressed in full camo.
But this is what we want to see — a vampire, a werewolf and a gypsy witch under the light of the full moon, with the best intentions and the worst ideas. As Chekhov said, if you’ve got a gun with silver bullets on the wall in the first act, then you need to shoot the werewolf in act three. He never said what you’re supposed to do after that. I expect it’s mostly paperwork.
Monday: You Have to Admit She’s Got a Point.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
When Magda is listening to Barnabas and Beth’s conversation, Beth says, “I’ll — I’ll wait — I’ll wait up for you to bring him back, Barnabas.” Then Beth and Barnabas both speak at the same time.
When Magda talks to Beth in the foyer, there’s a shot of the two of them taken through the drawing room doors. But the camera isn’t quite in the right place, so we see a blurry bit of the door on the right side of the screen.
When the wolf is stumbling around in the woods, he falls to the ground — and you can see the square base under one of the little shrubs. It looks just like Charlie Brown’s sad little Christmas tree.
Behind the Scenes:
The werewolf rips Beth’s room apart, and you can see the colorful afghan among the shambles. We just saw the afghan at the Old House last week, covering Jamison on the couch.
Monday: You Have to Admit She’s Got a Point.
— Danny Horn