“How could I dream something that actually happened?”
“Maggie, I hate to see you this upset,” Cyrus says, which is a shame, because being upset is pretty much Maggie’s job.
And why shouldn’t she be upset? She’s just had a terrifying dream in which she saw her new husband murdering his first wife, and wives, as a class, are pretty sensitive on the subject of wife-murdering. So she rushed over to Dr. Cyrus Longworth’s place, for a consultation.
Cyrus holds Maggie’s hands tenderly, to reassure her. “I just wish there were more that I could do,” he murmurs.
She smiles. “I wonder if you know how kind you really are,” she observes.
He looks into her eyes. “Don’t hesitate to come back here and visit me, if there’s anything more that I can do.”
“I won’t forget,” she says, and then asks, “Is something wrong?”
“Wrong?” he asks. “Why?”
“The way you keep looking at me.”
“Oh, no!” the doctor stammers, remembering himself. “I’m sorry, that’s just me! Absent-minded Cyrus Longworth, staring at something, without knowing what he’s staring at.”
She chuckles, and says good night.
And he watches her, the dear wife of a dear friend, as she walks upstairs and leaves the house. Then his glance falls on a pair of white gloves, left behind on a table. Grabbing them, he hurries to the door, but she’s already gone.
Cyrus Longworth looks down at the gloves, and then he takes them and rubs them against the side of his face.
I swear to God, that is the actual thing that he actually does. He rubs his cheek on the gloves, and makes like this is the most sensual experience he’s ever had.
Seriously. Look at this. It’s eerie. I might never get over this.
So I hate to bring this up, but I need to say one word, and that word is: Sabrina.
That’s the name of Cyrus’ fiancee, who — as far as we know — works in this room, where we’re standing now. We haven’t seen a lot of Sabrina lately, but since we haven’t heard about a breakup, a layoff or a fatal accident, she’s presumably standing just past the edge of the screen, tapping on test tubes, and jotting down equations on her science pad.
So whence all this hand-holding and stammering and blushing? We knew that Cyrus was getting himself entangled with a barmaid named Buffie, and Sabrina hasn’t really been a factor in that little subplot, so maybe they’ve decided that Sabrina doesn’t matter.
Now, I’m not saying that I like Sabrina or that I believe in the Cyrus/Sabrina relationship, because I absolutely do not. She hasn’t been on the show for a while, which suits me, and as far as I’m concerned, she can stay wherever she is for as long as she likes. I’m just saying that we spent a month looking directly at Sabrina’s face while she whined and pouted and cooed at Cyrus, and that is not even being acknowledged, which is just so utterly odd.
Plus, as far as I can figure, Maggie and Cyrus have literally never had a single scene together. Yes, Cyrus is friends with her husband Quentin, and Quentin and Cyrus have talked about Maggie — they recently had a conversation where they speculated that maybe she secretly practices voodoo — but he’s never expressed any interest in her. And now the gloves.
The theme of this week is that Dark Shadows starts getting better all of a sudden, probably because executive producer Dan Curtis came back to New York after shooting House of Dark Shadows, took a look at what was going on, and is now in the process of making some much-needed adjustments. While it’s hard to look at Cyrus’ new glove fetish as an advance in storytelling, that’s actually what it is.
One of the big projects of this week is to tie the important characters together more tightly. For the last couple months, there have been three separate story tracks — the Angelique/Quentin/Maggie conundrum, the Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde story, and Barnabas, the main character of the show, trapped in an alternate dimension with no idea how to get home.
They took an important step in this direction last week, when Barnabas declared, out of the blue, that he felt the lust — the lust! — for Maggie’s blood. Yesterday, they established a dramatic connection between Barnabas and Cyrus’ alter ago John Yaeger. And today, they complete the circle by connecting Cyrus with Maggie, which is communicated to the audience through this surprise outbreak of glove frottage.
But that’s just the beginning of today’s Longworth turnaround. After Maggie leaves, Buffie comes over for her usual sparring session. Buffie has been experiencing eruptions of affection for both Jekyll and Hyde, at irregular intervals. So now she’s come over to hassle Cyrus for a while, and he responds by ignoring her and pretending to look into a prop microscope, like he’s super busy with mad science and she is an irritant.
And it was just yesterday that Cyrus stopped by Buffie’s place three times over the course of an episode, stammering and blinking. In fact, she yelled at him and practically pushed him out the door, and then when she called to invite him over again, he was there like a shot, thrilled to get another chance. Now, the silent treatment.
Both yesterday’s episode and today’s were written by the same writer, Joe Caldwell, and these episodes were shot in order. There’s no break in production that might explain why Cyrus would be panting for Buffie’s attention yesterday, and despising her today. It’s not a mistake, or an accident. It’s just an abrupt change in policy, which I interpret as Dan making a new decision.
To Caldwell’s credit, he writes a nice long exit scene for Buffie, who by the way is about to exit. This is her last full episode; she’ll appear in the first scene of tomorrow’s, and then leave the show for good.
Usually, these sudden character exits don’t get any real attention. Adam ran into the back room at Stokes’ place, and never came back out again. Harry Johnson agreed to help Carolyn keep a secret, and then vanished. Tony Peterson walked out of Collinwood, and resolved into a dew. They just weren’t invited back the next day. But Buffie has a little character moment, where she gets to reflect on her imminent ouster.
She’s throwing herself at Cyrus, which is a thing that she does periodically, and he says no thanks. “Miss Harrington again,” she snaps, “and no thanks!” Spotting the gloves on his desk, she sneers, “You wouldn’t have said that to the person who owns these, would you?”
Cyrus jumps to the gloves’ defense, telling her to back off. She asks who they belong to, and then spins off into a little one-woman show.
“Funny,” she begins, “I knew her when she was growing up here, before they moved. She comes back, marries Quentin Collins… and I meet John Yaeger.” She frowns. “I always knew she’d be someone special. So bright, so pretty, so ladylike!” Pacing, she ends up in front of the mirror. “I bet when she looks in the mirror before she goes to bed, she doesn’t hate herself. And there, Dr. Longworth, you have a vital clue to Miss Buffie Harrington… who is no lady at all.” He doesn’t care.
There’s more. She shows off a little string of pearls that Yaeger gave her, and laughs bitterly. “I’ll never be a lady,” she says. “You reminded me of that. I’ll stay in my league, and let Maggie Collins stay in hers.”
And then she hands the pearls to Cyrus, and walks out. He doesn’t rub the pearls on his face. I guess there are guidelines about what goes to the face and what doesn’t.
So the other day, under the episode 1020 post, regular commenter Jason B. said, “I’ve been spreading the gospel of D Horn in the DS groups I frequent. There was no plan, there was no plan, there was no plan.”
And Buffie’s little swan song is the latest example of this principle. Seriously, for real, there was no plan.
Buffie was a critical part of this storyline just yesterday, providing a link between Barnabas and John Yaeger. They obviously had something in mind. And then a day later, with no warning, she hands back the pearls, and she’s out of our lives.
And they’re selling this Cyrus/Maggie thing hard, too. In the next scene, Cyrus goes to Collinwood to return the gloves to Maggie, so she can have another opportunity to smile, and touch his arm, and say that it was very dear of him.
Then Cyrus dashes home to his secret basement murder lab, and makes for the safe with the Mr Hyde juice.
He’s hit with a pang of doubt. “I mustn’t!” he cries. “She’s Quentin’s wife! Quentin’s my best friend!”
But then he turns again. “Buffie’s right,” he muses. “So soft… so quiet… so special… What did Yaeger achieve with Buffie? Nothing! But with Maggie…”
And then he makes a conscious decision to drink the magic potion, and turn into a hairy rage machine, specifically so that he’ll be able to rape Maggie without fear.
“There are no limits for John Yaeger!” he says. “He would never keep saying over and over, no, no, no! His word is YES! Nothing stands in his way!” And then he makes with the chemistry.
So here’s my conspiracy theory. This is the second character in a week to acquire a sudden obsessive interest in Maggie Collins — the third, if you count Yaeger separately — and there’s already Quentin, Angelique and Hoffman, who basically talk about Maggie nonstop. We’ll see a couple more characters later in the week who also seem to spend a lot of their time focusing on Maggie. Dark Shadows seems to be slipping into full-on Maggie worship, and taking us all along for the ride. It’s almost as if they want to interest us in an upcoming feature film that stars Maggie as the female lead. I’m just saying.
Tomorrow: Rage Against the Machine.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
When Angelique picks up the witchcraft book, you can hear someone in the studio — it sounds like they’re saying “Watch yourself!” A few moments later, just before Maggie walks in, someone coughs.
Angelique garbles the word “Besides” in the sentence “Besides, she thought it was the perfect time for Maggie to meet all your friends.”
The title on the spine of The Seventh Level of Witchcraft should be going in the opposite direction.
There’s some confusion about what time it is. In act 2, Maggie tells Cyrus “Good night” while it’s still the afternoon. In act 3, Yaeger tells Maggie to meet him at 6pm on the docks. In the next scene, before Maggie arrives, Yaeger asks Buffie, “Do you always walk the streets this time of night, alone?”
Yaeger tells Maggie, “I hope you know that you’re doing me — that I’m doing you a very big favor.”
Tomorrow: Rage Against the Machine.
— Danny Horn