Episode 966: A Happy Ending

“All our dead have turned into skeletons!”

And so, as teen dream tentacle god Jeb Hawkes swings the scepter and destroys the Leviathan box, the Leviathan altar and the whole goddamn Leviathan storyline, we have to ask ourselves: What have we learned?

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Well, don’t bet on Nicholas Blair, for one thing. He showed up late and tried to take credit for this whole ordeal, which he is welcome to, as far as the other characters are concerned. “This was my idea!” Nicholas proclaimed. Dude is clearly a failure demon. You don’t see those around very often, because they’re usually tangled up in a clothesline or promising to repeal Obamacare.

For the last four months of my life, Dark Shadows has been taken over by the Leviathans, an ill-defined squad of radicals and assassins and small business owners who believe that life would be a whole lot better if we all turned into giant slime monsters and made blood sacrifices to people named Azathoth and Y’golonac. I’m not saying they’re wrong; it’s their tactics that I take issue with.

The Leviathans have taken over the minds of some antiques dealers, Angelique’s husband and half the Collins family, plus a couple random contractors. They’ve murdered people, who became either helpless slaves or howling vengeance demons, depending on the day. They killed Carolyn’s father, and tried to flirt with her during the funeral. They cheated at board games and obstructed justice and distributed Naga schwag. And what do they have to show for it? A pile of rubble and a declining audience share. I’m pretty sure this isn’t what Great Cthulhu had in mind.

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And it’s all because Jeb got cold feet, or pseudopods, or whatever he has when he changes into The Thing That Must Not Be Shown on Camera. He was standing at the altar next to his hypnotized bride, listening as Nicholas beseeched all the dark creatures of nature to summon the Prince of Darkness.

Nicholas handed over the horned scepter, as is customary at weddings, and suddenly Jeb yelled, “NOW, Barnabas!” which was a cue to grab the girl and run away, totally messing up the reception seating chart. Then Jeb used the scepter to demolish the Naga box, which made the altar explode and put the kibosh on the entire world domination scheme. It is ashes, it is memory, it is a dream that never came true. Now the Leviathans are going to spend the next two months whining about a recount.

But Nicholas knows defeat when he sees it. He ought to, he practically invented it. All he has left is yelling, and schadenfreude.

“You never have to change into your Leviathan form, because it no longer exists!” he hollers at Jeb. “And what is there left?”

“Me!” Jeb cries.

“NO, Jeb! There is NOTHING anymore! All that remains is a shell, a manifestation! This body you inhabit is not yours!”

So what I gather is that Jeb’s human body is a rented tuxedo, which he’s supposed to return after the wedding. The only reason we still have a Jeb is that he’s keeping himself together through sheer force of will, plus we have three more weeks to kill before Parallel Time starts.

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Meanwhile, Bruno’s chilling at the Carriage House with his zombie friends; apparently none of them were invited to the wedding. Bruno hears a fire crackling somewhere, and when he looks into the Chosen Room, it’s ablaze.

The whole storyline is going up in flames, really. They’ve lost the Book and the Box and the Altar and the Room. Bruno needs to update his LinkedIn profile, pronto.

Instead, he yells at a zombie to get the hose…

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And the zombie melts away, leaving a skeleton behind. Now Bruno has to take it to the recycling center.

So the Leviathan dream is over, and the show begins the process of reconstruction. Before we move on, there are seven Leviathan-specific characters who need to be taken care of: Jeb, Nicholas, Bruno, Megan, Philip, Sky, and the mysterious ghost who’s been haunting them.

The next three weeks is basically all of these villains stranded on a desert island, sabotaging each other, with final cleanup duties supervised by Barnabas and Angelique. A werewolf, a stake, a shadow, a gun, an exorcism and a couple of cliff dives, taking the baddies out one by one, and then the Leviathan story is consigned to the dustbin of history.

This isn’t how soap operas work, by the way. You don’t introduce a whole bunch of characters just for one storyline, and then kill them all before you move on to the next one. Daily soap operas are supposed to be continuous, with multiple storylines that overlap each other, so if you wrap up one story thread, there’s a couple others that are going strong. A definitive ending is a jumping-off point for viewers, and that’s the exact thing that soap operas are designed to avoid.

Except for Dark Shadows, of course, which uses time travel trips to cut the show up into four-month chunks, giving people the opportunity to tune out, if they don’t feel like learning a bunch of new character names. And so we go from here to Parallel Time, to 1995, to 1970, to 1840, to 1841PT, and then to April Third and the end of all things.

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And so Dark Shadows lunges once again for the History Eraser Button, rolling back whatever it was that just happened, and clearing the stage for whatever it is that comes next.

The process begins with Barnabas bringing a dazed Carolyn home from her exploded nuptials, and putting her to bed. Elizabeth regards her traumatized daughter, and tells Barnabas, “I want you to explain all this to me.”

Barnabas says, “Well, I don’t know how to — how, or when — where to begin!” which pretty much sums it up.

Elizabeth says begin somewhere, and Barnabas says, “Elizabeth… we’ve committed to a cause that is both false and destructive! We’ve all been in danger, including Carolyn!”

And Liz just blinks her eyes, and says, “Barnabas, I haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about.” So there.

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“Good lord,” Barnabas smiles, “it’s too good to be true! What Jeb did has caused everyone to be released from his spell!”

And that’s it, as far as the main cast is concerned. Barnabas says “I’ll explain everything to you later,” which is Dark Shadows code for “I want to go be in another scene now.”

Elizabeth, Roger, David and Amy just wake up the next morning, a weight lifted from their shoulders, and they go on with their lives as if nothing happened, which I suppose technically nothing did.

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But Jeb’s still here — for the moment, anyway — holding his manifestation together through sheer force of will.

He tells Carolyn that he has to go away, and he wants her to come with him. She says that she doesn’t understand what’s so urgent, and he says, “I’m not asking you to understand!” which is fine, if you want to treat your main characters like goldfish taking another lap around the bowl. Expecting them to understand plot points is a waste of time; just tell them that you’ll explain everything later, and wait for something else to come along.

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So it’s a happy ending, I guess, in the sense that it’s an ending. Carolyn gets her white wedding after all, in yet another dream sequence, where they act out the big climactic reveal at the heart of this story, which it’s possible they may never actually do in real life.

“Your mother doesn’t approve of the marriage,” says dream Jeb. “She won’t be here.”

“But my father will,” she objects, “and we must wait for him!”

“Carolyn, you know that your father is dead.”

“No, no! I can’t believe that!”

“You must believe it,” dream Jeb insists. “Because it’s true.”

She looks off into space for a second, and Jeb says, “Carolyn, do you understand?” And then a glazed look comes over her face, and she says yes, even though she doesn’t, because we’ve hypnotized Carolyn so often that now she’s doing it to herself, in her own dreams.

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And Nicholas is there, of course, presiding over the funeral that we’re still pretending is a wedding.

“Prince of Darkness!” he intones, once again. “I call upon the flames, to summon you. I beseech all the dark creatures of nature to help summon you here to me, for you must be a witness to this ceremony. I summon you in the name of the seven plagues, in the name of the charred and blackened stars that reigned at my beginning!”

“I’ve never heard a marriage ceremony like this,” Carolyn quavers. “I don’t understand what he’s doing!” This episode is sixty percent people saying that they don’t understand things.

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And then the lights go out, and the thunder crashes, and the Rolling Stones stop playing their guitars. The Altamont Free Concert has ended in violence and despair, and the Hells Angels running security have fallen to the ground and turned into skeletons.

Another afternoon has passed, and Carolyn still doesn’t know that her fiancee is a monster who killed her father. Perhaps she never will.

Tomorrow: Vicki Ruins Everything, part 3: The Way It Happened.


Footnote:

If you’re baffled by the Altamont references, see “Episode 901: Sympathy for the Devil“.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In the dream, as Jeb and Carolyn walk into the drawing room, something falls in the studio with a bang.

Once again, Nicholas says, “I summon you in the name of the seven plagues, in the name of the charred and blackened stars that reigned at my beginning!” This is a standard Dark Shadows invocation that both Nicholas and Angelique have recited before. It’s supposed to be “the charred and blackened stars that reigned at your beginning.” I suppose it doesn’t matter much, one way or the other.

When the drawing room doors open to reveal the silhouette of Barnabas, a camera is visible on the right side.

In the final shot, when Carolyn is pushed against the wall, the camera shows the edge of the set, which is clearly labeled: PROPERTY OF ABC-TV. But aren’t we all?


Behind the Scenes:

This is fill-in actor James Shannon’s last episode on the show; he plays the zombie Thomas Findley, who turns into a skeleton in act 1. Shannon appears in 13 episodes, mostly in law enforcement roles: he was a guard, a gaoler and a hangman in 1795 and some 1795 reprises, and he was a policeman and a deputy in 1968. Most of these were non-speaking parts; his big moment was in August 1968, when he played the deputy who was seduced and almost bitten by vampire Angelique (“Apotheosis“). He was also fairly prominent as the non-speaking gaoler in the November 1968 episode where Eve goes back in time to find Peter (“This Is Happening“).

Consulting his IMDb page is a little tricky, because there are several James Shannons in the world, and they’re a bit mixed up. (The bio on that page is clearly not our James Shannon; it says that he was born in 1982.) But there are some credits that are obviously our guy — 34 episodes of NBC soap The Doctors in 1969, and he played Dr. Max Cooper on another NBC soap, How to Survive a Marriage, which lasted for one season, 1974-1975. He played a Courthouse Photographer in a 1978 Eric Roberts/Susan Sarandon movie, King of the Gypsies, and a Hotel Maitre’D in a 1990 Jamie Lee Curtis movie, Blue Steel. There’s also a credit on his page as a writer on Vibe, Sinbad’s 1990 talk show, but that might be a different guy. Farewell, James Shannon; I will miss your cute monkey face.

Tomorrow: Vicki Ruins Everything, part 3: The Way It Happened.

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Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

34 thoughts on “Episode 966: A Happy Ending

  1. It’s about the only play on earth I can quote casually (largely thanks to the Richard Burton film), but I think the line about “the stars that reigned at my beginning” is from the end of the play DOCTOR FAUSTUS. (Except with “nativity” instead of “beginning.”) Although maybe it was a standard phrase even before that play; I’m not sure.

    I don’t always make these connections, but the line “Your mother doesn’t approve of the marriage. She won’t be here” – especially when a confused female character is hearing it in a dream – makes that scene sound like the dream sequence in ROSEMARY’S BABY, when Rosemary is told that her friend Hutch can’t come along. And of course this is after that film.

    It isn’t just sentimental reasons, but when I think of Hell’s Angels in connection with music festivals and similar things, I think of the Monterey music festival, where they just sat in the audience!

    1. Good catch! “You stars that reign’d at my nativity/ Whose influence hath allotted death and hell”–Christopher Marlowe offering us a little touch of Calvinism in the night, and another Dark Shadows classical crib. Now I’m wondering about the rest of the trope-y mishmash that Angelique and Nicholas pull out whenever a Satanic ceremony seems called for.

  2. The relatively fast-track approach to eradicating the Leviathan mish-mash monster mash could have worked if indeed they had been more tidy in their clean-up. Looking forward to reading your theory on one of the most inexplicable, and unnecessary, twists in the Leviathan time-spanning saga. I’ve yet to read a theory that makes sense to me

  3. It was the worst plot resolution in DS history. Made me angry that I watched it. Again.

    Execution even worse. I stared at the screen and sighed.

    “Bullshit.”

    “Simply Bullshit.”

    Maybe it was all a dream that Vicki had….

  4. I love Pennock’s performance in this episode. When Jeb exclaims that he can “see and hear and feel” and demonstrates each sense… that’s… just… well, classic DARK SHADOWS.

    Bruno hanging out with zombies and expecting them to perform minor clean up tasks for him is also just adorable.

    Of course, the storyline itself is insane. Jeb kidnaps Julia so that she can “cure” him but he manages to destroy his true form just by breaking the box he always had access to in the first place. It’s also uncertain as to how the audience is supposed to feel about Carolyn’s relationship with the man who brutally murdered her father. Are we supposed to be afraid for her or are we supposed to believe in their “love”?

    A traditional soap opera could do a lot with the fact that Carolyn would likely loathe Jeb if she knew the truth about him. And instead of “destroying” Jeb that way, he’ll literally just run away from his own shadow.

    Parallel Time will feel a bit like 1897 in that the characters have legitimate motivations and don’t simply advance through the plot like chess pieces.

    I think Danny identified, though, what always struck me as “off” about the Leviathan storyline. It did feel like an extended run of the Gold Key comics.

    1. I’m a bit curious about why Jeb’s first reaction to Carolyn (his great love, the one he wants to marry and all) is to STRANGLE her…I mean, yeah, I know, it’s a bummer for him, and the strangly stuff was in her nightmare, and they need a cliffhanger ending, but really! Jeb, that is not the way to endear yourself, and get her to change her mind. Use your WORDS!

    2. “Bruno hanging out with zombies and expecting them to perform minor clean up tasks for him is also just adorable.”

      I guess the other zombies were busy washing the car, picking up the dry-cleaning, and scrubbing the bathtub…if the fire hadn’t started, he’d have had the last zombie empty the dishwasher for him.

  5. I’d love to hear Jonathan Frid try to say “Naga schwag” five times fast.

    One of my duties two jobs ago was to request swag from businesses, agencies, etc., and distribute it at our events along with our own swag. I had an 8-foot by 8-foot storeroom at my disposal, which are dubbed “The Swaggery.” I always thought if I had my dream crazy Eccentric Millionaire Mansion like Collinwood, I would have my own personal Swaggery.

    ( was always tempted to add “Swag Flow Management Specialist” to my resume right under “Mass Puppet Suicide Coordinator,” but I don’t think anybody reads down that far.

  6. My question is purely technical;
    Is Carolyn’s nightmare edited into the show? I thought she might have been able to do a quick change into the wedding gown, but there’s no way to have her wake up screaming back in her blue outfit, since the nightmare ends with Jeb strangling his bride (some good crazyface from Pennock there, too). I think it can only work with an edit…or is there a way to do the sequence ‘live’?

    1. I haven’t watched the episode yet, but yes, there is a way of doing this without performing a tape edit. They could have pre-taped Carolyn’s dream and rolled in that pre-taped sequence as the full episode is being taped. Of course by this point in time (1970), electronic videotape editing is a lot more affordable. Check the end credits to see if a videotape editor is credited. I know they do later on.

      1. No end credits for the episode….only the Dan Curtis Productions logo.

        But the sequence was a separate scene, and edited in, rather than ‘live’ (I may be misusing ‘edited’ for the process) – not necessarily a tape edit, cut & pasting, but electronically?

        1. I watched it and what Chris says below is true. The dream sequence was recorded earlier. When the final performance of the show was being taped, Nancy Barrett laid down on the bed and pretended to sleep. In the control room the pre-recorded videotape was rolled and the technical director faded from the live camera on Nancy to the videotaped sequence. When the dream was finished, the technical director cut back to the live camera focusing on Nancy.

  7. A roll edit at the video mixer, just a cross-fade to the pre recorded material, then back to live…..no real work to it, just a hand moving a fader.

    1. Thanks!
      I figured the technology was available, just wasn’t sure if Dark Shadows was able to use it. I guess the show’s popularity meant ABC Studios gave access to better equipment, and this probably wasn’t the first time DS had done it.

  8. I’ve always wondered who recruited Bruno, because I don’t think they explained things to him properly. At one point he seemed to think that if he got rid of Jeb, he could become the Thing in the Box. That is not how being the Thing in the Box works.

    1. They couldn’t explain things properly because they stopped listening to oracle David and their precious book and were making up the rules and laws of Leviathanism along the way. Petulant man-child Jeb should have gone to more of the security briefings from the previous Leviathan Administration

      1. Well, the Book kept rewriting itself, and adding new chapters as convenient.
        And why? Wasn’t Jeb\Michael\Andtherest supposed to be the Big Cheese, anyhow? If Obie & Haza could give Barnabas an instant infodump, why couldn’t the Leviathans let their LEADER in on anything?
        Guess that my issue with this plotline was that there were too few ground rules, and they were not followed anyway. And the rest of the story kept readjusting to try to suit the feedback coming in from the fans. Just turned into a mess.

    2. In the episode where Barnabas kills Nelle Gunston, the girl who shows up at the blue whale looking for the Antique Shop and is a leviathan follower she has a conversation at the blue whale or later at the old house where she tells Barnabas that Bruno recruited her and he asks “but who recruited him (Bruno) and she tells him a Mr. Strack and then cuts him off not willing to answer any more questions. (Mr. Strack is the leviathan who made the bargain with Paul and we later find out was the one who recruited Sky Rumson)

  9. Nicholas Blair – such a disappointment. He seems just like a devil should, but he smothers every flame and pretends it’s more exciting that way. I’d been hoping this was only true for the episodes I’ve seen so far. (I’m up to 750.) What a waste of a widow’s peak!

    1. I’m never bored with Nicholas.
      Oh, sure, he likes to show up, and be flashy, smug and smarmy, before committing catastrophic blunders and errors in judgement that lead to screaming, fire, running, hair pulling, the gnashing of teeth, explosions and hurt feelings.
      He’s always good for a giggle.

      1. Nicholas brings the fun! I wish he’d had more scenes with Julia – they seem to be on a par, intellectually. Also, they can both rain down the zingers.

  10. I think of Nicholas Blair as the reincarnation of Charles Dawson and Evan Hanley who finally persuaded his “master” to bestow him with powers. Unfortunately both times he’s brought down by Angelique (even in the case of Charles Dawson).

    1. Oh, it must be in the show bible that Angelique ALWAYS destroys Humbert.

      That’s fine, cuz that means two of my favorite characters will be in the same frame.

      Btw, I’m at ep 43 or so.

      Although they went on and on with plot lines, performances were quite good.

      Even DAVID FORD.

      I’m so pleased with The Beginning.

      Can’t wait, Prisoner!

      1. Hi, Chris!

        I’m in the research and planning stage at present. I’ve collected most of the relevant background books on Dark Shadows, including the out-of-print story bible by Art Wallace (Shadows on the Wall) and the also out-of-print collector’s edition by Blue Whale Books on the show’s beginnings (Dark Shadows: The First Year). I’ve also been collecting all the cast member biographies and autobiographies I can find. Just recently, a very helpful contributor from Dark Shadows Wiki pointed me to the recent autobiography written by James Hall, who was the first actor to portray Willie Loomis. So I’ve got lots of reading to do through the holidays and into the new year. I want for this blog to be everything I’d want were I to visit as a reader — a complete and comprehensive appreciation of that early period that celebrates the performances, production, writing (including the sense of humor), and music, as well as the atmosphere. Did you notice a slight change in the lighting during the summer of 1966? Joan Bennett’s husband Walter visited the set early on and suggested an improvement be made to the dim lighting where small lights could be added to the cameras to create a “footlight” effect; thereafter, the show was being seen “in a new light” so to speak. However, an August 1966 newspaper article has Bennett saying that when she had twice seen herself on the show she thought she looked “ghastly” because the dim overhead lighting in the TV studio made it look to her as if she had no mouth. The article then indicates “The lighting has since been adjusted”. So it may have been her complaint to her husband that prompted his visit to the studio to suggest that changes be made in that department.

        Agree on the performances. The best thing about David Ford was the emotion he could put through with his excellent and sonorous voice. Right from the start, in only his second scene on the show when Sam Evans pays a visit to Burke’s hotel room, he forgets his lines and has to pause to look off to his right at the teleprompter. But he gave great dramatic readings in those days. There were even a couple of memorable scenes where he didn’t peek at the teleprompter once. When he was on, he was really great.

        I hope to launch the blog in early 2017, maybe February or March. I just have to brush up on the technical side of setting up a blog. I’m really looking forward to it, and I expect it will be great fun.

        1. The Beginning was full of great performances. Overlooked by me until now, mostly because of plot line stretched big time, my appreciation grows daily.

          Everyone is professional, skilled, and passionate in every scene, no walking through it.

          Sure, you can see when somebody goes up, and it’s fun to watch the improv.

          As opposed to watching a fridspeak scene. Those bring me frustration and anguish, because they don’t end well.

          But these do end well, mostly. The actors care, and it shows.

          Vicki is smart.

          David is great for a kid that age.

          Roger is one great ahole.

          Elizabeth is grace incarnate.

          Matthew Morgan….completely new to me, and fascinating. Damn, that Thayer morphs.

          Even the sheriff is great, and maybe the only Collinsport policeman who did his job.

          Burke is passionate and professional.

          Ford’s Sam is, too.

          Maggie has fire.

          But….to the surprise of nobody, Carolyn steals every scene.

  11. He was, when he brought Angelique back as a vampire, in his wheelhouse, and THAT was a supercouple.

    There was nothing, this time…. The writers blew this one.

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