Episode 1108: The Way Out

“Sebastian, I don’t understand your vision at all!”

“Barnabas, everything is happening so quickly!” Julia says, which just goes to show you how  wrong a person can be.

So I’m sorry, but this is one of those episodes where I just hate the world and everything in it. Yesterday’s episode was a weird, dreamlike fugue state that escaped from a black box theater and savaged its keepers, and tomorrow’s is the big crash-bang Everybody Dies finale, but today is Wednesday, and nothing ever happens on a Wednesday.

Except that it’s Maggie’s last episode, although Maggie isn’t a big deal anymore anyway. She was one of the three leads in the Parallel Time story a few months ago, and she’s the female lead for the new House of Dark Shadows movie which was just released, so you would imagine that she’d take an important role in the current Turn of the Screw-based storyline, on account of she’s the children’s governess and that’s how The Turn of the Screw is supposed to work. The whole story is about the governess; doing T of the S without a governess is like doing an Agatha Christie murder mystery without a detective, where the murderer just keeps killing people until they get bored and decide to stop.

But Maggie hardly knows anything about what’s happened to the children; she’s just letting Quint and Miss Jessel do whatever they want, while she goes and plays Mina Harker with an offstage Dracula. So that’s all been kind of a damp fizzle, and now she’s driving off into the sunset, where she can get her hair done and then move forward with her life.

There are only four characters in today’s episode, none of them really prepared to do anything consequential. We’re just getting to the rousing finale of this storyline, and it feels like everyone’s vacated.

As for the main players, the children are upstairs polishing their skis, Quentin’s been buried alive, Daphne is crying and Gerard is plotting. We’ll catch up with them tomorrow, but everyone else is gone.

Roxanne’s chained up in a coffin behind the bookcase, Professor Stokes is in Europe, Roger is god knows where, Willie is fretting about Roxanne, and Carolyn, Elizabeth and Mrs. Johnson are missing presumed possessed. At this near-climactic crisis point, the Collins family has basically just given up, leaving Barnabas and Julia to comb through old diaries, in lieu of anything useful they can do.

“Barnabas, I found something in the original Quentin’s diary,” Julia says. “It worries me.” This is not a promising opener.

Barnabas flips through the book. “Well, why should this worry you?” he says. “It’s nothing but blank pages.”

“Yes, but look at the last entry! It’s on this date — this very day, in 1840!”

Barnabas is trying to follow. “You think the original Quentin Collins died on this date?”

“Yes, I do.”

“But that wouldn’t have any meaning for our Quentin.”

Julia frowns. “Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn’t, but I have a terrible feeling that it might.”

So that’s where we are right now. Dr. Julia Hoffman has analyzed the situation, and she suspects that Quentin’s great grand-uncle died exactly one hundred and thirty years ago. This doesn’t help them find Quentin or advance the plot in any way, but she decided to take forty seconds of national television to issue an FYI. When the most interesting character in the history of fiction is reduced to sitting in the eye of the storm and researching anniversaries, then I think it’s time to re-evaluate what’s happening on this program.

Meanwhile, Maggie’s in her room at Collinwood, drifting off to sleep. She’s dying, kind of, thanks to some frequent plasma leaks on behalf of Roxanne, the fiendish vampire who’s currently chained up in a closet. Roxanne’s been sending her urgent dream-telegrams asking for assistance, but her sort-of boyfriend Sebastian is making sure she doesn’t go anywhere she shouldn’t. I wish I could think of a way to make this recap interesting, but nothing is really presenting itself. Life is like that, sometimes.

So I don’t know, maybe they should destroy Collinwood after all. The show was way better when it was Barnabas and Julia walking around in the future, dodging falling sculpture and strangling sheriffs. Everything since then has just been a drag, one slow step after another towards a climax that hardly changes anything.

I mean, we’re technically supposed to be afraid for Collinwood and the Collins family, but we haven’t seen them put up any kind of a fight, so it’s hard to get worked up about it. Liz, David and Carolyn have all been possessed, and they’re not even working together; they’ve all wandered off in different directions. Roger’s been completely absent, Quentin’s been mooning over the scent of lilacs, and nobody’s done anything the least bit helpful.

This would have felt threatening, if there were any real emotional stakes in protecting the status quo, but it just feels empty. I have way more feelings about Gerard than I do about anybody in the Collins family, and they’re mostly positive. If he’s going to usher in an age of catastrophe, then I don’t personally see any reason to try and stop him.

So the only thing to do is say goodbye to Kathryn Leigh Scott, who’s been on the show since episode 1 and is beloved by all. I honestly can’t think of an example of anyone saying anything negative about her work on Dark Shadows. She’s not always been given good material, but she’s done her best with whatever she had.

Maggie was the lead attraction in episode 250, one of my all-time favorites, where she was on-screen basically the entire time, trying to convince Willie to kill the sleeping vampire in the basement. Her appealing performance made Barnabas’ villainy work, and she’s a mostly-unsung hero for her work in getting the audience to accept the show’s swerve into the supernatural.

And then there’s Josette, who basically did the same thing for Barnabas’ origin story. I’m on record for not really liking Josette as a character — I think she’s spoiled and dull, and hardly ever makes a competent choice. But somehow, I’m not tempted to blame Kathryn for the performance, in the way that I absolutely blame Alexandra Moltke for making Vicki dull and annoying. Josette was always defined by her tragedy — the girl who threw herself off Widow’s Hill, and into legend — and there’s only so much you can do.

And then there’s Kitty Soames from 1897, who I absolutely adored. They finally gave Kathryn a bad-girl role — not a supernatural villain, but a drawing-room comedy golddigger, running her own personal storyline that had very little to do with anything else. Kitty was her diva role, written for her as a special present from the production staff, and I think it was her best.

So I don’t know why they didn’t give her any decent character work after that; I have no theories. She was an occasional visitor during the Leviathan storyline, and she was back in good-girl victim mode in Parallel Time — and then completely sidelined over the last two months, when Maggie should have had a leading role in The Return of the Turn of the Screw.

It’s easy to track the progress of the four major kaiju on the show — Jonathan Frid, Grayson Hall, Lara Parker and David Selby. Each of them showed up in a minor role, and quickly dominated everything happening around them. Barnabas, Julia, Angelique and Quentin forced their way into the saga of the Collins family, and basically took over — the outsiders replacing the core family. That’s why the Collins family is represented in the current storyline by Barnabas, Julia and Quentin, while the “real” family is scattered and absent.

But Kathryn Leigh Scott wasn’t a discovery, as the kaiju were. She was just always there, reliable and appealing, capable of more but rarely given the chance to prove it.

It was her choice to leave, of course; they didn’t always use her well, but they weren’t dumb enough to fire her. Kathryn was getting married and moving to Paris, so Dan and the writers gave her an exit — sending Maggie to Windcliff again, to recuperate after her second bout as vampire chow.

Kathryn figured that she’d be back someday — she and her husband would come home from their soujourn in Paris, and she could return as Maggie, sprung from Windcliff, straight into whatever supernatural nonsense the show was doing at the time. In her 1986 memoir, My Scrapbook Memories of Dark Shadows, she says that she was stunned to learn from a newspaper that the show was cancelled. For Kathryn, at least, the writing wasn’t on the wall yet; she didn’t realize that Dark Shadows only had another six months to run.

After tomorrow’s season finale, we never return to Collinwood in the present day; the show takes us to various iterations of the 1840s, and leaves us there. So Elizabeth, Roger, Carolyn, David, Quentin and the rest of the 1970 cast just fade away, with no meaningful closure. They just go on, presumably, freed from their demons and living to fight another day.

But they gave Maggie an ending, or at least an interesting place to stay. Roxanne, who’d taken Maggie’s place as the new object of Barnabas’ affection, would just get packed into a box in the closet and forgotten. Maggie deserved more, and it’s a mark of respect for her character that she got her own personalized big finish.

“I just realized,” she says, as a sympathetic stranger drives her to the airport, “that if we keep going like this, we’ll never see Collinwood again, or any of the people I love.” The driver tries to reassure her, but she’s right. She won’t see those people again, and neither will we, after tomorrow. We’re all going to Windcliff, eventually; Maggie Evans is just getting a head start.

Tomorrow: The Last Straw.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Maggie wakes up screaming from her dream, we can see past the edge of the set, and somebody’s hand waving.

Barnabas says, “I know that, Quentin — uh, Sebastian!”


Behind the Scenes:

The story of what happens to Maggie Evans and Sebastian Shaw at Windcliff is told in a 2012 Big Finish audio play, Dreaming of the Water. Her return to Collinsport is revealed in The Ghost Watcher, and then she’s in a bunch of stories from 2014 on, including Beyond the Grave, The Harvest of Souls, and most recently And Red All Over.

Dark Shadows Every Day readers can get a 25% discount on Big Finish’s Dark Shadows audiobooks range, by using the code DSED25OFF when you check out. This offer is valid until Dec 31, 2017.

Tomorrow: The Last Straw.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

33 thoughts on “Episode 1108: The Way Out

  1. We do see the present day briefly in 1198, but it’s a five minute scene where Joan Bennett puts on her Elizabeth clothes and the drawing room and foyer are redressed for modern day (so basically a quick touch up because it usually had a timeless feel to it).

  2. That second to last image where Sebastian is driving Maggie to Windcliff, that scene was always perplexing — what is that white and yellowy-orange thing on the hub of the steering wheel, a fried egg sunny-side up? Then watching the episode one more time, I realized it was just a design on Maggie’s dress, kind of an old lady’s dress actually. And that head scarf, typical for the 1950s into the early 1960s, but certainly out of fashion by 1970. Such an odd choice for a closing scene, since the actress playing Maggie was so fashion conscious in real life and even a clothes designer in her own right.

    Since this is Kathryn Leigh Scott’s final episode, it’s worth mentioning that she brought onto the show the unique look provided by Junior Sophisticates. This past summer, The Collinsport Historical Society unearthed a 1970 interview detailing how this came to be:

    http://www.collinsporthistoricalsociety.com/2017/07/kathryn-leigh-scott-and-junior.html

    1. Thanks for posting this article, Prisoner.

      “On a recent whirlwind visit to Birmingham, Alabama, for the Antique Charity Auction Fair, she made seven personal appearances, including a visit to the mayor to accept the key to the city, and all her luggage went on board the plane in one leather satchel and a dress-bag containing one dress.”

      I attended the antique show in Birmingham back in ’69. I was 12 years old at the time. Kathryn was the first celebrity I ever met. DS associate producer George DiCenzo was with her on the trip. She signed autograph pictures, plus gave out View Masters featuring the Dark Shadows storyline about vampire Angelique attacking Barnabas and the Diablos calling Nicholas Blair back home.

      I didn’t notice much about the outfit she was wearing, but my dad and I both noticed that she was showing off her gams big time.

  3. “she says that she was stunned to learn from a newspaper that the show was cancelled. For Kathryn, at least, the writing wasn’t on the wall yet; she didn’t realize that Dark Shadows only had another six months to run.”
    I figured anyone over the age of 13, even if they hadn’t abandoned the show, would realize the gig was up. Down to two writers and floundering plot-lines should have been a clue.

  4. I remember reading that Maggie last seen going to Windcliff was an injoke with Dan Curtis, that Kathryn would be crazy to leave the show.

  5. There’s a reason there’s no emotional stakes here. We know how the show works. There is a disaster and Barnabas and Julia go back in time to fix it.

    We know everything’s going to be alright in the end. Present-day is just a stopover until another time trip. Present-day members of the family don’t grow, don’t change, or have any lasting relationships. Dark Shadows has become an adventure story rather than a soap opera.

  6. I don’t know. I was in my senior year in High School and I didn’t know it had been cancelled until they announced it in TV Guide.

    DS was a product of a turbulent time in my life. My Dad remarried the June of1966 and we moved into my stepmother’s house. I got to see the end of Never Too Young and started watching DS from episode 1. I remember Vicki on the train to Collinsport and Burke Devlin being on that same train. For my senior year, my dad got a new job in a new city where I knew no one. I graduated from HS in June 1971 and went off to college in September. Ending in 1971 worked into my life in an odd way. For the entire run of the show, I got out of school in time to catch DS. It got me through some difficult times of trying to adjust to a new family and was one constant thing in my life. The timing for both the beginning and ending happened to fit into the changes in my life and I was truly shocked to hear it was ending. It had always been there. Barnabas would go from being a vampire to not being one and back again. Julia and her unrequited love for him. Angelique with HER unrequited love for him and her unending attempts to have him love her and destroying any and everything when she didn’t get her way.

    I loved KLS and Maggie from the start and when Maggie left, it left a big hole in the show for me. At 17 I didn’t realize how marginalized her character had become. All I knew was the character I loved was gone.

    I have often wondered if KLS had known the show only had 6 months left, would she have stayed, if for no other reason than loyalty. She was an actor I liked playing characters I liked. I even have sympathy and compassion for Josette, who lived by the rules of her time, never tried to hurt anyone and really never wished ill on those who hurt her, yet got so thoroughly screwed by Angelique and forces she (Josette) didn’t know about and couldn’t control. Jeremiah pretty much announces he’d rather be dead than married to her. Angelique marries the man Josette loves, and Josette wishes them well. Barnabas speaks in half truths about having to live in a world of darkness and she is so desperate that she buys into the dream. When she finds out that the cost is turning into a blood thirsty murderer, she kills herself rather than become that.Or possibly falls accidentally trying to get away from Barnabas and so she DOESN’T turn into a blood thirsty monster. Then, as per the early part of the show, she sticks around and tries to protect the Collins family out of some sense of duty. So, yeah, I feel for Josette.

    KLS did the best she could with parts that had less and less substance. I will never forget her trying to kill Barnabas in the early part of the his story. I will always remember when Joe came to her, after being controlled by Vampire Angelique and Maggie remembered her victimization by Barnabas. I remember Kitty Soames and even Governess Rachel.

    Mostly I thank her for keeping the flame of DS for so many years. I read her books on the show and they brought back a time in my life when it was important. Thanks KLS for being on the show. I missed you in the last six months.!

  7. What happened to Sebastian’s dramatical bite marks? He’s back in his collarless top, with not even a nibble on his nape. At least he could have had a turtleneck.

    Frankly, at this point I’ll be glad to see this promised destruction; J&B obviously won’t be preventing it, so let’s just get it done. It’d be nice to have them get Liz and the rest out of the way of the cataclysm; well, at least they got Maggie out. (Say, did anybody call the fire brigade about Rose Cottage burning? Hope it hasn’t started a wildfire or anything.)

    Yet another ‘happened this very day in 1840’ moment…(sigh) these coincidences are just too convenient for me.

    Don’t get the “children’s clothes” thing, except as padding a few minutes into the show, since Gerard obviously took them away to drop them off on his own anyway. (You want something done right, do it yourself.)

    Great cliffhanger, though – loving that Barnabas has only TWO possibilities, either Quentin’s a prisoner or he’s been (Dunnnn-dunnn) – Buried Alive! Couldn’t have gone to the Blue Whale for a short one, or run down to the liquor store because he’s out of brandy. (But then, that heartbeat is coming from the portrait, unless there’s a raccoon in the attic.)

    So we say farewell to KLS – I will miss what she brought to Dark Shadows, from the wonderful chemistry with Joel Crothers and all the facets of ‘early’ Maggie, doomed Josette, sweet Rachel, Kitty, and still more Maggie (only blander), Kathryn always tried to give something interesting to watch – which isn’t always easy going if you’re playing the “good” character. And the show lost something I think it would never really get back.

  8. I love KLS, too, but 20/20 hindsight is a bitch. Maggie was played out and we had an unbelievably fresh new governess in Kate Jackson, who had the kind of soft face that made us want to look at her more and more. And 1840 is fun, damn it, starting from tomorrow’s episode on. (It’s not 1897 but what is?) Like Percys Owner, back in 1970-’71 I had no clue DS was doomed until TV Guide delivered the awful news. There was still the potential for more monsters, more time periods… if not as you’ve often pointed out more interesting romances. (Probably the most damning thing is that opposite Lara Parker, Frid was a block of wood. She plainly had to conjure up an image of a great lover in her own own pretty head.)

    1. Barnabas must have been a fantastic lover. It’s a shame most of the history between him and Angelique is just story for her to cling on to and for him to regret. Lara’s novel Angelique’s Descent, and the audiobook reading Big Finish released, fills in a few of the details but there’s still room for more stories of their dalliances on Martinique.

    2. I’ve only watched the show in reruns; I didn’t catch it live. From my binge-watching perspective, I found Maggie a lot more interesting than Daphne, though the writing has a lot to do with it.

  9. Danny, I don’t know if you were going for that emotion, but that’s a truly touching and beautifully bittersweet end to your column.

    That last scene with Maggie in the convertible really moved me and was the best minute of the entire storyline. For me, it was like a little minute of poetry somehow. It felt lonely and promising at the same time, and it kind of reminded me of the way Vicki arrived on the train in 1966, only in reverse. But both scenes — traveling in the lonely night, not knowing what’s ahead — evoke real emotion in me. Something like a sad longing.

    It was a very rare send-off for a DS character, who usually either met a violent end with little subsequent remorse or they’d simply just not be there anymore. So I think you’re right when you say that might have been based in part or whole to affection for KLS.

  10. The first time I saw KLS’s final scene in the convertible, I didn’t realize it was her final episode as the fan magazines in 1970 had not reported this. I kept expecting that she and Sebastian would be in an accident since (quite often) the show didn’t bring a car into the studio unless there was going to be a car crash.

    A side note: We will see the 1970 characters of Barnabas, Prof. Stokes, Carolyn, and Quentin in a short couple of scenes that airs on an upcoming episode.

  11. KLS’ turn as governess Rachel Drummond in 1897 doesn’t get nearly enough appreciation. She had a past right out of Dickens, a personality similar to Jane Eyre and spunk borrowed from Anne of Green Gables.

    KLS’ final episode bothered and moved me in ways a nine-year-old couldn’t explain. As the governess Maggie, she was the protector of the children, a force for good in a mansion overrun with lunatics. Her struggle against Ghost Quentin for David’s soul in the Fall of Collinwood story is one of the single best moments in the series for me.

    Now, when I re-watch the show, I typically stop here. Nothing that came after interests me.

  12. Agree with all of you about the lovely and talented Kathryn Leigh Scott. Maggie wasn’t Kaiju but she was the warm heart of the show. Her romance with Joe was the only believable love affair Dark Shadows ever produced and their tragic ending was heartbreaking. Her relationship with her father, Sam was loving and – real. Even her friendship with Willie rang true, despite the fact that they were both suffering Barnabas’ tortures for most of it.
    As Josette, she completely convinced me that she was in love with Barnabas and her final scenes leading up to the jump from Widow’s Hill were hauntingly sad.
    We owe a great debt to KLS and even though she doesn’t always spring to mind when wething of the show’s Greats, her performances were every bit as important to the success of the show.

    1. Yes, heartbreaking is definitely the word for Maggie and Joe. That’s one reason why I’ll never consider the Big Finish stories canon, because I reject a universe in which there’s no hope of a reconciliation between Joe and Maggie.

      1. There’s Joe and Maggie in the Big Finish story …And Red All Over, the one where Mitch Ryan returns as Burke Devlin. They even put Joel Crothers into it, by “copying and pasting” his voice from the show.

  13. Episode 70 (September 1966) is a favorite, an early episode capturing the mood and flavor of what the series would eventually become, though clearly no one at the time could have imagined. At show’s end, Kathryn Leigh Scott descending as Josette’s ghost (accompanied by theremin) is moving and memorable as anything they did 1967 forward. The outdoor scenes with David taking Vicki to the Old House are filmed very well, and that theme with four main notes playing throughout (The “four-note theme”… does it even have a name?) makes it all the more effective.

    Maggie Evans was an early crush. Future viewers will probably say the same.

    1. John Hammes: I also love Episode 70. I know Willie, Barnabas and the coffin was a pivotal moment, but Josette coming out of the portrait was also magnificent and laid the groundwork for everything else.

      I wish they could have somehow kept a least some of that ethereal mystery feeling that episode conveyed. Their first ghost appearance remains my favorite.

      My second favorite is Quentin laughing at the top of the stairs after driving everyone out of Collinwood.

    2. Episode 70 is both pivotal and memorable. It’s the first appearance of the Old House, but there’s also a great scene at the beginning with some great ambiguity involving an altercation between an eavesdropping David and Matthew Morgan, who catches him out. While David’s claims that Matthew hurt him are consistent with previous lies David has told (he’s accused Vicki of hurting him when we saw nothing of the sort), but Matthew has been behaving highly erratic (thinking that killing Burke Devlin is the right thing to do), so the truth is unknown.

  14. Maggie never went to Wyncliff. She was never victimized by Roxanne. Sebastian never left NY. There is nothing behind the bookcase…no coffin …no Roxanne. Gerard and Daphne never haunted Collinwood. I know this because Elizabeth told us (after J and B returned from 1840) that there had never been such a peaceful summer (autumn?) at Collinwood! I myself witnessed Randall Drew FRY his vampire sis Roxy in a crypt in 1840. Maggie is like…grading papers right now up in Davids room. Or… am I the only one who thinks this?
    Or……am I the one they sent to Wyncliff/Wyndcliffe/Windcliff/Winclif ?
    Help!

  15. Thank you all for clearing up my confusion and restoring my sanity. I now know what I must do. I broke into the Wyndcliffe records office and there is NO evidence of Maggie being admitted here in Sept.1970! We are prisoners of a diabolical conspiracy, Will get help,
    Will come back for you, Will find out whose behind all this…

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