“You oughtn’t to go, until you take something more to them than what you’re taking now.”
They opened the box, and read the scroll, and lost the book, and had the dream. And now they have a baby, which is not how it works.
Antiques Roadshow refugees Megan and Philip Todd are the brand-new foster parents for Joseph Gordon-Leviathan, a baby-shaped cosmic creature that will someday clear the Earth of its inhabitants. The increasingly eccentric Barnabas Collins gave the Todds a mysterious wooden box the other day, and when they opened it, an evil spirit was released. Now they’re supposed to take care of some dark starchild, while it grows itself a body.
The child came with a set of instructions, in the form of a huge leather-bound book, but it’s written in a bizarre script that Megan and Philip can’t even identify. They flipped through the volume, but couldn’t make heads or tails of it, so they put it down on a table and forgot about it.
Unfortunately, one of the occupational hazards of living in an antique shop is that anything you put down becomes merchandise. Last week, somebody bought the coffee that Philip was drinking; he just set it down for a second, and a savvy shopper snapped it right up. They’re doing brisk business at the shop; their new circular says there are special markdowns on whatever they happen to be holding in their hands.
So the book is gone — sold, or stolen, or marked for clearance. Now they’re going to have to get another one on eBay.
They’re standing around in the shop trying to figure out where it could have gone, when suddenly Megan snaps to attention, and takes a step towards the staircase.
“He wants me upstairs!” she cries. “I can feel him calling me!” Don’t get excited about the telepathy; that’s a pretty safe bet with babies. People don’t usually leave newborns on their own that much anyway.
So Philip putters around for a minute, and then Megan rushes back downstairs, baby and all. “Feel his head, he’s burning up!” she shouts, directly into the child’s face. The kid just lies there, not making a sound. I assume he’s breathing, at least, but it’s hard to be sure.
She suggests calling a doctor, because she still has half a foot left in normal human civilization, but Philip insists that they have to find the book instead. It would be helpful if the baby could be the tiebreaker, but he’s apparently too wrapped up in his own concerns to really engage with the problem.
By this point, Megan has almost entirely unraveled. She calls up Carolyn Stoddard, the shop’s new employee, and asks if she knows what happened to the book. Carolyn remembers the book that Megan’s talking about — heavy, written in an alien alphabet, left on a display table without a price tag — but she can’t think of where it could have gone.
“Look, Carolyn,” Megan yelps, “you were in the shop all afternoon, if you could just remember who else was here!”
I don’t know, Carolyn thinks, apparently not you? Who left me in charge of the lending library?
Megan apologizes for shouting, and explains that she’s upset; the baby is sick. Carolyn asks if Megan’s called a doctor. Megan has not.
Carolyn hangs up on Megan, because how long can you be somebody’s crisis hotline, and she recalls that her little cousin David was in the shop today, skulking around the forbidden artifacts display. David’s always running some kind of scheme, a heist like this would be right up his alley.
David engages his usual cycle of responses — firm denial, followed by why do I always get blamed for things, followed by a distraction and a counterattack. He did steal the book, as it happens, but Carolyn doesn’t catch on, because this is how David reacts to any given stimulus.
So that’s how Barnabas hears about Megan and Philip losing the book and endangering the baby; he just happens to be in the room when hostilities break out. Barnabas is supposed to be in charge of all this Leviathan business, so it’s a little embarrassing that he’s getting his progress reports through eavesdropping. To be fair, nobody told him that this globe-spanning supernatural conspiracy was going to involve inventory control.
So Barnabas heads to the antiquerie, and this is the moment in the episode when things get complex, human resources-wise.
You see, Megan and Philip got recruited in their dreams — that’s when Barnabas went through the onboarding checklist — but they’ve never talked about it in their waking state, so they’re not consciously aware that he’s their supervisor. When he walks in, they think he’s just another customer; he’s like a secret shopper.
Acknowledging the half-pint, he asks how the child care’s coming. Megan heaves a sigh.
“We’re supposed to look after him for a while,” she confesses, “but I’m afraid we haven’t been doing too well. He started running a fever a little while ago.”
He smiles, indulgently. “Well, that’s not unusual, is it? Children often get sudden high fevers.”
“I don’t know,” Megan shrugs. “Ask me about antiques, not about babies.”
Yeah, it doesn’t really seem to be your bag, Barnabas thinks. Remind me why we hired you, exactly? It’s a big day for sarcastic thinks.
Enter Philip, who’s come all the way downstairs to put a wet rag on the baby’s head. Philip’s had all afternoon to find a way to contribute, and that’s what he’s come up with so far.
Barnabas smiles. “He’s a beautiful baby, Philip.”
“Yes, and a very sick one, I’m afraid,” Philip moans. “If we could only find some way to help him!” This episode is set in a parallel time where babies were just invented. They’re really doubling down on the not calling a doctor.
Barnabas decides it’s time to step in, but there’s a staircase and a couple of Todds between him and the teleprompter.
“Well, perhaps,” he begins, and then stops to reassess. “Perhaps what is needed is, uh, to find out why he’s sick. Perhaps you must find out what is happening.” This doesn’t really achieve anything.
Abandoning that line of thought, he says, “Philip, I’ve decided to sell you that Hitchcock chair. You can come with me right now, to pick it up.”
Philip tuts. “If it were any other time, I’d be at your door before you could change your mind. But I can’t go tonight!”
“Yes, you can go,” Barnabas says, on firmer ground. “And you will.”
Megan looks at him like he’s crazy, which is a good guess. “Mr. Collins, you can’t expect Philip to leave the baby on a night like this!”
He fixes them with a look. “I expect you to do what must be done… exactly as it must be done.”
The Leviathan music cue starts up — cue 31, with the kettle drums and the snakey woodwinds line, the spookiest of all.
“You speak of time, my children,” Barnabas purrs. “There is only one time for us — the time of the Leviathan people.”
They instantly snap into hypnomode, which Megan is particularly adept at. She’s been practicing, you can tell.
“The time of the Leviathan people,” Philip repeats.
“And that time is now.”
So the cosmic cat is out of the bag. Barnabas has outed himself as the keymaster, and everybody knows what’s up.
But then they snap out of it, and Philip goes back to baseline.
“Megan, I’ll be back as soon as I can,” he says.
She smiles. “Oh yes, of course!”
“With Hitchcock chair in hand.”
“Oh — one more dream come true!”
So apparently, there are two possible states — regular, and hypnozombie — and they’re expected to alternate between the two. This gets even more uncomfortable, just watch.
Barnabas and Philip drive all the way over to the Old House, where we fade in on Philip and his dream come true.
“It is a very beautiful chair,” he coos. “It’s something I’ve always wanted!”
Barnabas smiles. “And now you have it. But — for how long?”
So, jeez. Are you guys still talking about the chair? Did we not move beyond this?
Barnabas tries to redirect. “Sometimes we have things that we don’t take very good care of, and we lose them, much to our everlasting regret. Has that ever happened to you, Philip?”
“Well, yes,” Philip says, at a loss. “Of course.”
And Barnabas changes course yet again. “Well, I’m sure you’re anxious to get back to Megan and the baby,” he breezes, and then switches back to menacing. “But you oughtn’t to go — until you take something more to them than what you’re taking now.”
Philip just stares at him, obviously. I oughtn’t to what, now?
Before you know it, we’re in the woods, approaching the weird stone Leviathan altar. Philip is taking this all in stride. This isn’t the first night he’s spent walking around in the dark, going home with a guy, and admiring his taste in furniture; he’s just doing it in a different order this time.
“Do you know why you are here?” Barnabas asks.
“Yes, master. Because I have failed in what I was to do.”
“Do you know what must happen now?”
“I must be punished.”
You see? Philip is phenomenal at this; he knows the dialogue and everything.
He looks at the altar. “But how, master?”
“In time,” Barnabas says, “you will find that out.”
Now, I hate to break up a party like this, but I have to wonder — shouldn’t we be helping out with the baby right now? I mean, fun’s fun, but the kid’s got a fever, and I don’t think we’re any closer to finding that book. Is there another chair we should go and get?
The next morning, Megan shows up at Barnabas’ door, and she’s even more unglued, if that’s possible. Her husband didn’t come home all night, so she’s come to collect him, if Barnabas is done with him.
Obviously, Barnabas tells her that everything’s fine; Philip’s tied up with some top secret Leviathan business right now. But that’s how things go sometimes for us Leviathan people, what with the world-bending conspiracy that you and I are both totally part of.
Except he doesn’t. Instead, he opens the door and says, “Hello, Megan. How’s the baby?”
She grimaces. “No better. Mr. Collins, do you know what happened to Philip?”
“What do you mean?” says Barnabas.
So that’s where things stand right now, in this weird little knot of a plot point. Apparently this is how the show works now. Barnabas is going to reveal himself as the Leviathan master and take control of his little charges, and then a moment later, they’ll act like everything’s totally normal — until he decides to re-reveal himself, in an endless cycle, several times during the same conversation.
I have to say, I hate to Monday-morning quarterback on somebody else’s team practices, but it’s possible that the line staff may not be entirely responsible for the current snafu. This looks to me like a problem with the management structure, and I’m sure the board of directors would agree, if they ever get the opportunity to remember exactly who they are.
Tomorrow: Help Wanted.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
In act one, when Carolyn tries the drawing room doors, you can see a huge scratch across the left-hand door.
David unlocks the doors, and lets Carolyn into the drawing room. As she enters and looks around, the boom mic peeks into the frame overhead.
This isn’t technically a blooper, but the box for Amy’s puzzle is weird and gross-looking. They’ve covered the name of the manfacturer with brown packing tape and spray-painted around the sides with gold paint, and the bottom of the box is dirty and water-stained. It’s a seriously unsavory looking prop.
Barnabas is pouring himself a brandy while he’s listening to David and Carolyn talk, and he’s trying to time it out to create an interesting reaction shot — putting the glass to his lips just at the moment that David mentions the antique shop. But there’s too much time and not enough to do, so keep your eye on him while he’s pouring the brandy — you can see him deliberately slowing things down to a crawl.
When Barnabas approaches the altar, you can see the edges of the burlap floor covering.
Behind the Scenes:
There was a planned pre-emption for Thanksgiving last week, so this episode is double-numbered to make up for the skipped episode. Unfortunately, there was also an unplanned pre-emption — Monday’s episode was pre-empted for the Apollo 12 splashdown — so the numbering is still off by one episode. Fridays should always have a 5 or a 0, but the Apollo 12 pre-emption knocks things off by an episode for the next five weeks. There’s two more pre-emptions coming up, too — one for Christmas, and one for New Year’s Day. They don’t get the episode numbers on track until they do a triple-numbered episode in early January — 919/920/921.
Tomorrow: Help Wanted.
— Danny Horn