“I have powers, I guess. I didn’t used to have, but I do now.”
On Friday afternoon, fluorescent floozy Charity Trask followed Quentin along the shoreline, until he entered a cave. She waited until he left, and then investigated the cave herself — and discovered the coffin of fugitive vampire Barnabas Collins, asleep and unprotected.
Picking up the hammer and stake that Quentin had conveniently dropped on the ground, Charity opened the coffin, and stared at the unholy ghoul who’d killed the only man she’d ever truly loved. And then she got down to business, hammering the stake through the creature’s heart, and putting an end to him once and for all.
As Monday’s episode opens, she staggers into the Blue Whale, vaguely traumatized and entirely thirsty.
“I done it,” she moans, a single tear trailing down her heavily rouged cheek, and then she bangs on the bar. “I need a drink!”
Tim Shaw, doing some work at a nearby table, suggests, “Why don’t you try getting some sleep instead? You can’t carry the party on indefinitely, you know.”
“Party!” Charity giggles, cuddling a bottle of bourbon. “It wasn’t no party, luv, believe me!” And then she laughs and laughs, until she collapses into sobs, and never recovers.
So: Mondays, huh? I guess they’re tough on everyone.
Then, Charity — still laboring under the apprehension that she’s a dead Cockney medium, rather than a live New England small — delivers a monologue about recent events with her face half in shadow, because every once in a while Dark Shadows delivers on visual symbolism, if the actors manage to remember the blocking.
“Oh, it was terrible!” she shudders. “The blood… the blood! I put the stike over ‘is ‘art… I brought the mallet down… He screamed! I’ve just killed — Barnabas Collins!” Which is fantastic.
But the really interesting thing is what they’re not doing right now: showing us a reprise. That’s because Jonathan Frid isn’t in this episode, and that means Barnabas Collins is actually, permanently dead.
Because we know what Monday would have looked like, if there was any chance of coming out of this with a non-perforated protagonist. The episode would open with a reprise of Charity entering the cave, opening the coffin, grabbing the equipment, and putting the hammer down.
And then — somehow, improbable as it would obviously be, even though we already saw the blood-drenched stake stuck all the way into the chest cavity — Quentin would walk in, or Julia, or Angelique, or Count Petofi, and they would have some hairbrained method of flying around the Earth backwards and reversing time.
“It didn’t hit his heart!” they would cry, or some other trick cribbed from old Saturday-matinee serials. Maybe he bailed out at the last minute before the plane crashed, or he ducked into the root cellar when the bomb exploded. Maybe that wasn’t even Barnabas anyway — it’s pretty dark in the cave, that could be anybody.
But they didn’t do a reprise. They just sent Charity toddling off, en route to the adult beverages.
We know what that means, because they already showed us how this works, six months ago. Remember that terrible Friday in March, when Dirk walked into the cottage and found Quentin on the carpet, fatally stabbed?
It was an anxious weekend, sure, but on Monday, he was still lying there, and everything worked out okay. Barnabas and Dirk stood around and had a five-minute argument, with the corpus delecti still underfoot.
And everybody knew — because we watch Dark Shadows and we’re televisually literate — that they only have a handful of actors on the show at a time, and if they pay David Selby to come back on Monday and lie on the floor, then they probably have something in mind. Sure enough, by halfway through the episode, Barnabas called his witch ex-wife to ask for a favor, and by the end of Monday, Angelique was standing over the body and promising that he would rise again.
So that’s what we’re looking for here, a Monday miracle. We don’t get it.
Instead, we get Tim Shaw, who’s terrible. Once he understands that Charity’s actually pounded that stike into the ‘orrible creature’s ‘art, he decides to try and insert himself into another storyline where he doesn’t belong. “Edward Collins will be very grateful to you,” Tim smirks. “You can demand a huge reward for this! Yes, we’ve got to go to Collinwood, and speak to Edward.”
This is a stretch for Tim, suddenly deciding that his new master plan involves hitching onto Charity, but he’s currently struggling to stay relevant. His original master plan, as of six weeks ago, was to get Amanda invited to stay at Collinwood, so that Reverend Trask would hit on her. It was never clear what step two in that plan was supposed to be, and by now, Amanda has moved on to a leading role in two other stories that have nothing to do with Tim.
So he spends three days this week trying to barge into other storylines — Charity’s, Count Petofi’s, and Quentin’s — and nothing works. It’s just one chemistry test after another, and he clicks with nobody. He’s still acting like he’s crafty and manipulative, but there’s no evidence that his craftiness is actually fooling anyone, so he’s basically vestigial at this point. And today, when the show is explaining what they’re going to do now that Barnabas is gone, it involves watching Tim smirk, which is unacceptable.
The other thing that they expect us to look at today is Lady Hampshire, another gold-digging schemer. Lady H — or Kitty, to her friends — is visiting her dear friend Edward, following the tragic suicide of her tragic husband. She claims that she needs the emotional support, but she’s actually got her eye on the financials, and she lets the audience in on her secret by overacting the hell out of every scene. She’s constantly rolling her eyes and pursing her lips, broadcasting subtext to the audience so clearly that they can hear it two channels away.
That’s not a criticism, by the way. Playing to the balcony is a Dark Shadows survival skill, and while Kitty doesn’t measure up to the enormous kaiju stomping around the studio, her dramatic eye flares are interesting to watch, and there will always be a place for interesting eye flares on Dark Shadows.
The funny thing is that this is our first post-Barnabas episode, and Kitty doesn’t really give a damn. There’s a vast audience of stunned housewives and teenagers and shut-ins and mental patients who are glued to the TV today, devastated by Barnabas’ execution, and there isn’t a single character on the show who shares that reaction.
You’d expect to see Julia today, or Quentin, or Angelique, or Count Petofi, or Beth, or Magda, or Willie, or somebody who had a close relationship with the dearly departed. But there are only four people in today’s episode, and they are not helping us process our grief. They couldn’t care less about how we feel, and Kitty cares even less than that.
After the Kitty/Edward scene, we cut back to Charity and Tim, now hanging around in the Collinwood foyer.
“You know, it’s none of your business, this,” Charity snaps.
Tim counters, “You never know when something is becoming my business, do you?” That line doesn’t mean anything in particular, but he doubles down on the smirking anyway.
Charity is unimpressed. “All right, you got me up here. But don’t you go trying none of your fancy tricks on me, because I don’t want nothin’ from them. Nothin’!”
They keep this up for the whole episode; today is just a running argument about who deserves to be on screen. The characters spend all of their time bickering about it. He doesn’t have anything to do with this story, and she doesn’t want to be here either, and yet here they are, taking up real estate.
Edward comes downstairs, and they drag him into the drawing room, because that’s where the cameras are, and the argument continues. Edward doesn’t believe Charity’s story about killing Barnabas, and he agrees that Tim should get lost. “I don’t know what your connection is with this, Mr. Shaw,” he says, “but I suspect you’re taking advantage of an unfortunate creature.”
Charity, the unfortunate creature in question, says that she doesn’t really care whether he believes her or not. But Tim says they can settle this by going to the cave, and seeing for themselves.
Edward gives in. “All right,” he says, “but you will both remain here. I would prefer to go alone.”
This is the fourth time in the last six minutes that somebody’s told Tim that he’s not part of this storyline, but he insists on hanging around. “I’m in on this, Collins,” Tim says, which he is not. “I don’t intend to stop now.”
Charity objects, “Hey, why do I have to stay here?” and Edward says, “We will be back shortly, Miss Trask, and I will have a talk with you when we come back, whatever we find.”
The boys go off on their spelunking expedition, and Charity engages in some furious thinks about how she doesn’t like getting pushed around like this. Nobody on this show can agree on who gets to be in which scenes.
Once the guys are gone, there’s only two characters left in the episode, so Kitty enters the drawing room, and meets Charity. She’s not thrilled. Kitty tries to exit, but Charity says, “No, please, luv! Keep me company,” because otherwise she won’t have anybody to be in a scene with.
“I’m all kind of nervous,” Charity gulps, “what with everything happening.”
Kitty asks, “What is happening?” but Charity walks it back.
“Oh, never mind, luv,” she says. “They’ll let you know if they want to.” Seriously, almost every line today is about who’s allowed to be in this storyline.
Kitty’s losing interest fast, so Charity conjures up a plot point. Going into her mentalist routine, she has a vision, and hears a familiar tune. It’s the music box, a symbol of Barnabas’ enduring love for Josette, his bride-never-to-be. Josette threw herself off a cliff a while back, but Barnabas will love her for as long as he lives, which means up until Friday.
Barnabas met Kitty in the woods last week, and he realized that she’s played by Kathryn Leigh Scott, which means she’s probably a reincarnation of Josette. They usually are, one way or another. So he spent his final day fluttering around the studio, super stoked to find his love again.
So maybe there’s hope, after all — this could be a coded message to the audience that Barnabas still has some post-mortem loose ends. But Kitty tells Charity that she’s not interested, because nobody can agree on on story direction today.
Meanwhile, at the cave, Edward and Tim get confirmation on the kill. Edward opens the coffin, but naturally we don’t see the corpse, because Frid isn’t on the show anymore and Barnabas is gone forever.
Edward decides to chain the coffin and seal up the cave, which is apparently a thing that you can do if you’re a Collins. It can’t be easy to find cave-sealing contractors who won’t ask difficult questions about the chained-up coffin, but maybe Edward knows a guy.
Now that’s settled, Edward returns home and tries to get some kind of handle on where this is all going. Tim is still here for some reason — and by “here,” I mean the planet Earth — and he’s still trying to make the case that he has a storyline.
Worried as always about the Collins honor, Edward wishes they could keep this in the family, and Tim steps in again. “She’ll keep it quiet,” he says. “I’ll see to that.” There is no explanation for what this could possibly mean.
But then Edward decides to step on the unexploded land mine in the room — who the hell Charity thinks that she actually is. This Cockney mentalist thing is a holdover from a story that wrapped up weeks ago, with Count Petofi casting enchantments on the residents of Collinwood. Everybody else got better, but Charity’s holding on to her identity as Pansy Faye, because you don’t throw a character like this away.
So Edward tries to intervene, inviting her to move back into Collinwood. He begs her, “Stay here with us. We can get proper treatment for you.”
Charity treats this proposal with all of the respect it deserves. “Proper treatment?” she spits. “Who’d get proper treatment in this house? I ain’t sick!”
Edward takes another swing. “Do you remember the girl you were, when you first came here?”
“I remember comin’ here with my Carl,” she says, and slaps him on the arm. “Listen, guv. I like my life. I love singin’ at the Blue Whale! I ain’t about to start sittin’ around at my age.”
Edward objects, “Miss Trask, please –” and then the world explodes.
“DON’T CALL ME THAT!” she screams. “You call a lady what she chooses, and this lady chooses to be called Pansy Faye! You got that, guv? Come on, Tim, let’s get back where we belong.” And then she storms out.
So: message received. I’ve been calling her Charity all day, but from now on, Pansy it is. I wouldn’t want to mess with this broad; she could do anything. She just murdered the vampire in her vampire soap opera.
Or did she? Back upstairs, Kitty finds the music box in her room, so maybe Barnabas isn’t so dead, after all.
As a cliffhanger, this isn’t Angelique standing over the fallen hero, and announcing that he will rise again. But it’s something, for now.
Tomorrow: … And Carry On.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Someone coughs in the studio when Edward says, “We will be back shortly, Miss Trask.”
When Edward opens the lid on Barnabas’ coffin, the camera pulls back too far, and we can see some lights on the left side for a moment.
After Edward and Tim enter Collinwood, one of the doors slowly opens behind them, with a drawn-out creak.
When Charity and Edward are arguing in the drawing room, there’s a problem with one of the cameras that messes up the color balance, turning everything chartreuse for a few seconds.
Kathryn Leigh Scott is credited as “Kathryn Lee Scott” again today.
Tomorrow: … And Carry On.
— Danny Horn