“The spirits keep coming in and out of here, taking things!”
a circle. Do you know what I mean? It’s like
we’re waiting for something to happen, just like David and Hallie, sitting on the stairs in the foyer. They’re talking about the ghosts, which they usually do upstairs in David’s room, but apparently today they got halfway up the stairs, and just couldn’t bear to move another step.
David says, once again, that Carrie promised to tell them what the ghosts are planning to do to them someday, when they get around to it. Hallie offers various contradictory objections, along the following lines:
Hallie: Gerard won’t let her tell us!
David: She promised that she would.
Hallie: Well… if Gerard wants us to know, then he’ll be mad at me if I don’t go. And I don’t want him to punish me again! Oh, David!
David: We’ve got to go!
Hallie: No, David, I don’t think we should! I don’t want to find out what’s going to happen, ever!
Now, that just seems unfeasible. I mean, at some point, you’re going to find out what’s going to happen, because it’ll be happening. Right?
And that’s not really a question that interests the audience, anyway. We don’t care what’s going to happen. We’re just wondering
why it’s taking so goddamn long. It looked like we were going to make some headway on this vampire subplot, but Maggie managed to shake Julia in the woods somehow, despite being only about three steps ahead when they started. This happens a lot with the hypnotized; as soon as they stagger off-camera, they suddenly turn into champion sprinters.
So Julia’s just aimlessly wandering around in the dark, listening to the dogs howling and peering vaguely at nothing in particular, when she runs across Barnabas, who’s doing exactly the same thing. What are the odds?
They talk about locating the vampire who’s attacking Maggie, and then a little Fridspeak festival breaks out.
Barnabas: Go back to the house, Julia! I can protect myself. Now, come, we must hurry. I’ll take you there.
Julia: I’ll be all right, I have the cross!
Barnabas: No — the person who is vicious — now, I can — protect myself. There are many crosses that have been gotten rid of. Now, come.
Which, honestly, makes just as much sense as anything does, right now. This is one of those periods where dialogue is just another
kind of sound effect, something that the characters emit because you can’t just play dramatic music cues for twenty-two minutes a day. It doesn’t really matter what they say, because two minutes later, they’re going to switch sides and start over.
David says, “Maybe it won’t be as bad as we think, what they’re going to do.” They’re still on the stairs, stressing out.
“You don’t believe that!” Hallie yells. “Sometimes you’re just as frightened as I am! And you are right now, aren’t you? Admit it!”
“All right,” David says, “I am a little frightened.” This is what they do all day, just sit around and quantify how frightened they are.
Then David hears the spectral voice of Carrie, aka Dead Hallie, saying, “David… David…” which is exactly what Live Hallie says all the time.
“Where are you, David?” says the ghost. “We’re getting ready now. David… David…” Sometimes I wonder if it’s even worth trying to keep track of which one we’re looking at. It doesn’t seem to make
much of a difference. They made a song and dance about whether Julia should wait at the house, but Barnabas walks in a minute later anyway, dragging Maggie by the shoulders. “She’s very weak, we must get her to her room!” he says, because sure, why let her stay down on the first floor, where she might recover? Might as well haul her upstairs. Characters are just
props these days, arriving in shipping containers wherever they’re supposed to be. David and Hallie apprehensively enter the playroom, where they discover: nothing. The room is empty, except for the usual toys and bric-a-brac. I thought Dead Hallie said they were getting ready. I guess this is one of those “on-time arrivals” where they take off forty-five minutes late, and then pretend they’re going to make up the time by taking a shortcut.
“Carrie, where are you?” David cries. “Why won’t you come to us? We want to see you! We want to know what’s going to happen! You told us that you’d come!” It really is an extraordinarily rude way to treat invited guests, but there’s nothing much they can do, I suppose, except wait
and see if something happens. This is strike two for Barnabas and Julia’s attempts to keep the vampire from attacking Maggie, and there may be nothing they can do except prepare for the next one.
She needs a transfusion, but obviously they can’t take her to the hospital, so Julia says, “I’ll go to town and get what I need.” Julia has her own private blood supply that she keeps in her safety deposit box.
Barnabas wants to talk things over, but Julia says “We can’t waste time, Barnabas!” which I have to admit is
pretty hard to believe, because here we are, openly running out the clock.
“Why don’t they come to us?” Hallie wails. “What kind of a game are they playing? They don’t intend to tell us anything! They just want us to come into this room!” The producers are apparently under the impression that Hallie shouting about nothing is inherently dramatic.
David and Hallie do a whole sequence about the lights coming on in the dollhouse, which doesn’t seem to go anywhere in particular. It’s not clear why Carrie wanted them to cool their heels in the playroom for the whole episode, but that’s how the story goes, these days.
The only possible excuse for this kind of narrative incompetence is that waiting scenes are
supposed to be suspenseful, except that’s not how suspense works.
“Suspense” means that the audience knows something is going to happen that will change the story in a meaningful way, but we don’t know what it’s going to be. You build up suspense by violating formerly-established rules, like sending your main characters to 1995 for two weeks and killing all their friends.
When Barnabas and Julia discover that they’re in 1995, it’s a suspenseful moment, because the audience has no idea whether this is temporary, or an actual change in the status quo of the show. The show signals that this moment is important by filling the sets with trash and timbers and fallen branches — we know it isn’t just a dream sequence, because they’ve clearly gone to a lot of trouble to make this special.
It was the same with the crazy mad-science experiments that resulted in Adam coming to life, or when Barnabas first discovered Angelique’s suite in Parallel Time. The show obviously invested time and money in those special effects, and therefore something important and dangerous is about to happen. In the case of the Adam experiments, they actually made a convincing case that Jonathan Frid might leave the show, and get replaced by Robert Rodan.
In today’s episode, unfortunately, they keep trying to signal that
something important is going to happen, and then they negate it. The ghost of Carrie directly calling David was something we haven’t seen before, but it just leads to another static playroom scene. And then there’s the supernatural awareness.
Julia: You’ve always had the ability to summon those that you control. Isn’t it possible that there’s some link between you and whoever is controlling her, some supernatural awareness?
Barnabas: No, I don’t think so. There would only be a link if I caused that person to exist.
Julia: Barnabas, if you concentrated, do you think you might be able to summon the one who’s controlling her, to come here?
This is actually a new power for Barnabas — we’ve never seen him try this before — and that’s a signal to the audience that maybe there’s going to be some plot development after all. They let him get all the way to the window before Julia stops him.
He actually says, “Let me try, Julia,” but she’s determined to avert suspense today.
“I can’t let you do it,” she explains, “because then that person will know about you. We can’t take that chance.”
Yeah, because that would have been interesting, and today is all about
giving up, and accepting that nothing will ever happen again. David and Hallie are just sitting there in the playroom, staring into space, hoping that someone will write a script for them.
“There’s nothing we can do!” Hallie screams. “Nothing!”
And David says, “Just wait. That’s all.”
So this is the opposite of suspense; they’re suggesting that we
should lose hope completely. Julia sits down and starts to read another book, a regular pastime that has so far failed to turn up anything of consequence.
Julia: If we only knew what Gerard’s connection with the family was! If he wasn’t a servant, he wouldn’t be living here. But the original Quentin’s diary doesn’t mention him as a friend. I’ll go into town and check the real estate records again. I am sure, of all the clues, Rose Cottage seems to be the most important.
Barnabas: I’m not sure it is. The murder fascinates me. You’d think there’d be some record of it in one of the diaries, but there hasn’t been.
Julia: If we find out about Rose Cottage, we’ll know about the murder, too. I don’t know why I feel so strongly about it, but I do.
And then they sit back and listen to the dognoise some more. Boy, I can’t wait until morning, when Julia goes to check the real estate records.
That dialogue is super opaque, because they appear to believe that “the murder” — one of the clues that Carolyn wrote down in 1995 — is supposed to be something that happened back in the 1840s, while all the rest of the clues have described events in 1970. But it’s hard to grab hold of anything, because the characters keep
flip-flopping on everything. David finally gets tired of waiting and says he wants to leave, and Hallie objects, “But you were the one that wanted to stay!” Right, he was, but you’re the one who wanted to leave, so now that he agrees with you, shouldn’t you be heading towards the door?
Carrie’s promises turn out to be a letdown, anyway, when she finally shows up and says something. “Don’t go,” the voice suggests. “They’re ready now.”
“We don’t want to see!” David yells, because some people are born to be speed bumps.
“You must,” Dead Hallie commands. “Look in the house. Rose Cottage. You asked what would happen to you. Find out.”
They don’t look, so Carrie starts repeating herself. This is another bad sign. “Find out,” she insists. “You must, now. Look through the window. Look through the window.”
So they look through the window, and what they find out is
that they’re going to sit around, looking bored. This isn’t what’s going to happen; it’s already happened, and it’s happening right now. The whole storyline is gently revolving in
Tomorrow: The Shrinking Shares.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Hallie puts a weird pause in “Are you sure Gerard will let her, tell us?”
Barnabas says, “Julia! Why aren’t you with Ju– with Maggie?”
Julia almost clocks herself with a bedpost as she walks around Maggie’s bed.
At the beginning of act 3, Hallie yells, “What makes the light, David?” She’s supposed to say “what makes the light go on?” She says it correctly about twenty seconds later.
Julia tells Barnabas, “The police will think this is — will link this up to the other cases.” She also says, “I keep thinking that perhaps we misread some of Carolyn’s things, in 1995.”
Hallie blows a line, and David has to prompt her. He says, “It doesn’t make sense,” and then she looks at him, helplessly. “Remember?” he prompts. “Remember our dream?” And then she says, “In our dream, when we were in the dolls’ house…”
When David and Hallie try to leave the playroom, they open the door and then stand in the doorway, waiting for the sound clip of Hallie telling them to stay.
Tomorrow: The Shrinking Shares.
— Danny Horn