“You’ve got to try and relax, and then you’ll be able to speak.”
I come before you, once again, in praise of Grayson Hall’s face.
Julia: Did it have anything at all to do with Alexander? What did he do, Amy?
(Amy turns away.)
Julia: Amy, turn around and answer me. Would you write down what Alexander did?
(Amy shakes her head.)
Julia: Amy, I don’t like Alexander. I think he’s a very strange little boy, very strange indeed! Now, if you know something about him that I don’t know, you must —
Barnabas: (entering the room) What a charming picture!
Barnabas: Did I frighten you?
Barnabas: Oh, I thought I had.
Barnabas: Good afternoon, Amy. Are you all right? Well, what’s the matter, cat got your tongue?
Julia: She isn’t feeling well.
Barnabas: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Nothing serious, I hope?
Julia: No, I don’t think so. As a matter of fact, I was just getting ready to examine her.
Barnabas: Oh? And Chris is not here.
Barnabas: Do you mind if I wait?
Julia: Don’t tell me you’ve become interested in Chris again.
Barnabas: As a matter of fact, I’ve been thinking a lot about him lately. Perhaps I was disturbed when I came back from the past, when I found out that I could do nothing for him.
Julia: What game are you playing now, Barnabas?
Barnabas: Are you suspicious of me, Julia?
Julia: Let’s not talk about it now. There’s no time to discuss it. If you want to see Chris, come back later.
Barnabas: I’m busy later.
Barnabas: You’ve been neglecting your duties, Julia.
Julia: Chris has gone to get my medical bag now.
Barnabas: Well, then he won’t be long.
So I’ll take a moment here, while Julia does a Jim Halpert-style take to the camera, to say a few words about supercouples.
As we’ve discussed, there are three supercouples on Dark Shadows, as follows:
#1) Barnabas and Julia.
#2) Barnabas and Angelique.
#3) Quentin and any living human being.
And what you do, when you have a supercouple, is you put them in a room, and you give them something interesting to talk about.
Seriously, that’s pretty much the beginning and the end of Dark Shadows’ success. You cast interesting actors, you try out a lot of crazy stuff, you pivot quickly, and when you have something that works, you lock it down and then that’s your television show.
After flailing around for more than a year, Dark Shadows finally hit on the winning formula in episode 290, mid-summer ’67. That’s the episode where Julia openly challenges Barnabas to come upstairs and choke her to death, if he thinks he’s man enough to try it.
It also happens to be the episode where something in the studio catches on fire, and people shoot off fire extinguishers while the actors keep going with their scene. Sometimes, the universe just hands you a metaphor.
Barnabas: Now, what seems to be troubling you?
Amy: W– w– water.
Barnabas: Well, get some for her, Julia.
(Julia shakes her head.)
Barnabas: Well, why in heaven’s name not? A little water won’t hurt her!
Julia: No, a little water won’t hurt her.
Barnabas: But I will, is that it?
Barnabas: Julia, be sensible!
Julia: I am being sensible, Barnabas.
Julia: You get the water for her.
You don’t need to know anything about what’s happening on the show right now. This could be the first time that you’ve ever watched Dark Shadows. Why is the little girl so scared? Why is the woman so angry? And what’s the big deal about the water?
But if you watch this scene, with these actors, then you’re going to keep watching the show. You have to. Now you’re a person who watches Dark Shadows.
So the terribly dangerous thing that this storyline is exploring is whether it’s okay to split up Barnabas and Julia. These two were best friends and co-conspirators a month ago, but now he’s conspiring with somebody else, and she appears to have several sharp opinions about that.
That’s actually okay, as long as they keep having dynamite scenes like this one. Supercouples are a lot more flexible than people think. The in-universe relationship between these two make-believe pretend people is almost entirely irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if they’re fictionally “married” or “divorced” or, as in this case, “on opposite sides of an otherworldly dumpster-fire death cult”. They just need to be on the screen at the same time, with something interesting to talk about.
I don’t think I can even explain why these two actors have this kind of incandescent chemistry. They just do. They’re weird looking and sullen and intense, and every scene that they’re in is automatically better than any scene that they’re not in.
So that’s the challenge for the Leviathan storyline. It’s okay for them to pit Barnabas and Julia against each other — more than okay, if it gives us scenes like this — but they have to guarantee a decent percentage of Barnabas/Julia scenes per week. If he’s off conspiring with other people the whole time, and he only clashes with Julia occasionally, then we’re going to need some kind of emergency course correction. And hey, guess what happens next week.
Tomorrow: This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Barnabas tells Alexander, “Hazza and Oberon entrusted you to me.” When Haza introduced herself a month ago, she pronounced it “Hayza”.
There are some pauses in Barnabas and Alexander’s scene at the top of act 1; it’s the kind of conversation where you know they’re on the verge of Fridspeak. Finally, Barnabas delivers: “You will be kept locked in your room, as long as you’re in there.”
The music cue at the end of the first scene repeats the first few notes several times, possibly by design.
Julia hands Stokes the landscape, and he almost drops it.
Amy tries to throw her note into the fire, but it bounces out.
Chris asks Amy, “How you feeling well?”
I cleaned up this quote above. When Julia doesn’t get water for Amy, Barnabas asks, “Well, why in heaven’s not?”
Julia tells the loudspeaker, “The message I have is from Mr. Delaware Tate.”
Behind the Scenes:
The voice on the loudspeaker at Harrison Monroe’s house is Ed Riley, in his first contribution to the show. I can’t call it his first appearance, because we only hear his voice. He’s not credited in today’s episode. Next week, he’ll show up on screen as Sheriff Davenport, and just wait till you see how that turns out.
They must be out of the yellow stationery everyone’s been using lately. Amy writes her note to Chris on white paper, and Stokes hands Julia a note on blue paper. Yes, I’m keeping track of stationery now.
Tomorrow: This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.
— Danny Horn