“Does he even know you are not, shall we say, an ordinary being?”
So once again the bat/man arrives on the scene, for a last-minute rescue. The supervillain has kidnapped Barnabas’ time-tossed best friend, and locked her away in a secret chamber hidden in the old mill. She’s bound to a chair with her mouth gagged, looking straight down the barrel of a revolver. There’s a string tied between the doorknob and the gun’s trigger, so that whoever opens the door becomes Julia’s executioner.
And how does Barnabas save his friend from this diabolical trap? Well, he doesn’t, obviously. He just opens the door, and the gun fires, and Julia dies. Duh. This is Barnabas Collins. He fails at everything.
But riddle me this: If Julia’s got a gut full of point-blank buckshot, what’s she doing with a pulse? She’s unconscious, but there’s no blood and no bullet holes, and it turns out she’s actually fine. So what gives?
Well, it would take a scientist to explain, and luckily we’ve got one right here. We just need her to wake up, and be an active participant.
The gun didn’t miss — Julia felt the bullet as it hit. But here she is unharmed, and the chair she was sitting in has a bullet hole through the back. Why doesn’t she?
The answer is needlessly silly and complex, thank goodness. If traveling into the past and not getting killed by a bullet was easy, then everyone would do it, and you’d have to come up with new ways of endangering people.
Now, Dr Julia Hoffman is nothing if not capable, so after a sit-down and a cup of tea, she puts the whole thing together. Get a load of this.
Julia: I can think of only one explanation that makes any sense.
Barnabas: What is it?
Julia: When you came back to the past, your physical body remained in the future. The same thing must have happened to me.
Barnabas: But that doesn’t account for the fact that you went unharmed tonight! I’m still vulnerable, why aren’t you?
Julia: Because you existed in this time before. You had a host body here, to receive your essence. I did not.
Barnabas: Meaning you are here only in essence.
Julia: Yes. My physical being is still in the present.
Barnabas: That’s incredible!
Yeah, that’s one word for it. She’s here in essence? Can we go over this again, in words that make sense this time?
But, of course, this does make sense, it’s just a different kind of sense. This is the version of sense that makes you leave flowers on a loved one’s grave, or scatter their ashes in a place that they loved, even if you don’t actually believe in ghosts or gods or an afterlife. People apparently come hardwired with the idea that the spirit and the physical body are separable, despite the one hundred percent of available evidence to the contrary.
So according to that kind of sense, sure, Julia is here in essence. She can’t be injured by anything physical, although she can still wear clothes and manipulate physical objects. Now you tell me one.
But how can you worry about logic, when Julia is so happy? She cares about two things in this world — finding her light, and solving problems — and she’s currently doing both. She is giddy with competence.
Julia: Barnabas — don’t you understand, this means I’m not in any danger at all from Petofi! There’s no way he can harm me while I’m here!
Barnabas: But you said yourself that you felt the impact of the bullet, and it did leave you rather weak.
Julia: I’m sure that was all psychological. I expected to be killed when the gun went off, and I simply reacted accordingly.
Barnabas: Well, let’s hope you’re right.
Julia: I know I am. Now, come — I’ve got to give you a second injection before dawn.
And now, that’s the new thing we’re doing. “Literally defy death” has been crossed off the to-do list, so we move on to “cure vampirism”. Oh, Julia. Even when you’re only here in essence, you rock this hard.
Then Barnabas and Julia do one of their party tricks, where they discuss old story points in such an urgent tone of voice that it hardly seems like recap. Barnabas says that they need the assistance of the only person who can help them — Angelique! — and Julia turns and gasps, “Angelique!” Then she runs through eight different facial expressions in a row.
He says that he hates to go to the witch for help, but this time, she’ll be more than willing. Julia asks why, and he announces, “She’s planning to marry Quentin Collins.”
This elicits an even bigger gasp, and Julia squeaks, “Marry him!” like that’s the most fiendish thing she’s ever heard. Then she narrows her eyes, and snarls, “Does he have any idea what she is?” He does, apparently.
And then, because we’ve been good little ladies and gentlemen, we get an Angelique/Julia catfight scene.
It’s morning now, and Angelique has received a message summoning her to the rectory. When Julia opens the door and sees the wicked witch’s stunned expression, she takes pleasure in her own capacity to surprise.
“Please come in,” she smiles. “Your eyes are not deceiving you; I am who you think I am.”
“But how can you be?” Angelique gapes.
“You’re here, Barnabas is here. Why not me?”
“But you’re not like Barnabas and me,” the witch says, entering the room. “You’re –”
“I’m human,” Julia nods.
So here’s the question for the day: Is she?
Because today, for some reason, the kaiju are all obsessed with classifying each other. Earlier in the episode, Count Petofi met up with Angelique in the Collinwood foyer, and started talking smack about her wedding plans.
Petofi: We might discuss the utter absurdity of your marriage to Quentin.
Angelique: I find nothing absurd about it.
Petofi: Tell me — does he know everything there is to know about you?
Petofi: I see. Does he even know you are not, shall we say, an ordinary being?
And Julia had exactly the same response: “Does he have any idea what she is?” Suddenly everybody’s concerned about mixed marriages.
So when Angelique says, “You’re not like Barnabas and me,” you have to ask: In what way?
I mean, Julia is currently here only in essence, which means whatever it means, and she’s curing Barnabas’ vampire curse with whatever chemicals she can scrape out of the local apothecary. She’s traveled to the past using lysergic time travel techniques, she just walked away from a gunshot, and considering the time period, she’s got an unbelievably fashion-forward hairstyle.
Plus, she gets dialogue like this:
“Let me give you one word of advice, Dr. Hoffman,” Angelique says. “The pursuit of Barnabas Collins can lead to nothing but misery. He is a cold, harsh, unresponsive man.”
Julia narrows her eyes, and growls, “Who made him that way?” And then she turns and looks at Angelique, who practically flinches. You call that human?
I mean, I don’t know what the entrance exam is like when you become someone who is not, shall we say, an ordinary being, but surely Julia has enough course credits by now. She’s immortal and unstoppable, and she regularly delivers devastating put-downs to people with magic powers. I’m not sure what club Angelique and Petofi think that they’re in, but whatever it is, Julia is now a card-carrying member. Somebody go and find her a card to carry.
Tomorrow: I Can Make You a Man.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
When Barnabas rouses Julia, he says, “Julia, can you hear me?” She groans, and says, “Barnabas…” Urgently, he asks, “Can you talk?” Since she just did, there’s not much for her to say. She just looks around for a while, until he stumbles forward to the next line.
There are a lot of footsteps in the studio at the beginning of Barnabas and Julia’s act 1 scene in the rectory.
As Barnabas says, “I’m still vulnerable, why aren’t you?” he crosses and stands right behind Julia. He’s apparently stepping on the back of her dress, and she has to reach behind to pull it out from under his foot during her next line. She does it so smoothly that it’s easy to miss, but if you watch closely, it’s really funny. Go and see.
Someone in the studio coughs while Julia is rummaging through her medical bag.
Barnabas tells Julia that Angelique is here: “She put in an appearance about a week ago — just a week after that I arrived from the present.”
Tate tells Petofi about his experience with the I Ching: “A woman went into a trance, and… (pause)… well, when she started… (long pause, looks at the teleprompter)… well, when she was in the trance, she started to scream.”
Barnabas has a minor meltdown in a conversation with Julia:
Barnabas: We must get another message to Angelique, and tell her that it must be done before — sooner than we thought!
Barnabas: We can’t give Petofi too much time to maneuver! By now, he probably knows that — that you are not dead.
Julia: But —
Barnabas: It means he’ll make another move against you.
Julia: Barnabas, you know that there’s nothing he can do to harm me!
Barnabas: I know that. And I know that he will find out that. Sooner than — sooner than you think. And his change — then he’ll change his tactics, and harass you till the point that you’re unable to help me.
When Amanda sits down in a chair, you can see the foot and leg of a crew member, behind the potted plant.
Behind the Scenes:
This episode is not written by Gordon Russell. The credits say that it was, and the credits are misinformed. This is a Violet Welles script. I would bet my immortal essence on it.
Tate’s creation is played by Alexander Cort, in his only role on Dark Shadows. Cort also had small roles in John and Mary, a 1969 Dustin Hoffman/Mia Farrow film, and a 1972 TV-movie called Your Money or Your Wife.
Tomorrow: I Can Make You a Man.
— Danny Horn