Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary: Episode 4

Episode 4: The Fear of Darkness
First aired June 30, 1966

Collinwood is haunted! Duh.

Even if you were watching this episode as it first aired in 1966, this probably wasn't much of a surprise, though it's the first instance where a mysterious phenomenon couldn't be blamed on a bit of beef, a blot of mustard, or a crumb of cheese (Roger's pet names for David.) Vicky is roused from her bedroom by the sounds of mysterious crying, which lead her downstairs to the drawing room. It's not the first time she is dragged out of bed during this episode, or even this same evening ... it's revealed that these first few episodes all take place on the same night. Victoria and Burke's arrival by train, the bar fight at The Blue Whale, Roger's hunt for Sam Evans, etc. THE SAME NIGHT. Shit's been hectic.

So, Collinwood has ghosts. It also has sexual predator stalking the corridors in the form of Roger Collins. He's interrupted by his sister at the start of the episode as he's letting himself into Victoria's bedroom shortly before midnight, and Liz's attitude implies this is a long-standing problem for the family. Insisting he was "merely trying to talk to the girl," he still manages to bring Victoria downstairs to grill her about her association with Burke Devlin.

Roger is convinced Burke wants to kill and/or destroy him and doesn't believe his arrival on Victoria's train is a coincidence. He later gets Vicky alone (where he can better intimidate her) and offers her a glass of brandy. She declines, saying the drink "burns," to which Roger answers "Pain sometimes precedes pleasure, Miss Winters. Or are you too young to have discovered that yet?"

If the rapey vibe of this episode wasn't icky enough, Vicky's answer is equally disgusting. Instead of getting angry, shocked or offended, the writers use the moment to declare her virginal bonafides: "I'd rather avoid the pain for as long as possible," she tells Roger, as though they were friends.

Carolyn, in one of her many visits to Victoria's bedroom this night, casually mentions that Roger's wife (and David's mother) is not as dead as the new governess was lead to believe. She quickly changes the subject, but the absent wife's status will become much more important later in the series.

The episode comes to a close with the reveal of Victoria's charge, David. He's been mentioned throughout the week but has yet to make an appearance, and his debut doesn't disappoint. After following the ghostly sobbing to the drawing room, she sees that David has followed her down stairs. His first words to the new governess are "I hate you." Welcome to DARK SHADOWS you loveable little sociopath scamp.

You might have noticed a name change for this feature. I was never sold on the idea of THE LEVIATHAN BOOK as a title, and have changed it to DARK SHADOWS DIARY. It might be a little on-the-nose, but it does the job.


A Friend of Judah Zachary said...

I rather liked 'The Leviathan Book' as a title, it has nice connotations for a project like this. In terms of superior powers in the Shadows world they were top of the totem pole, so to speak, even the Devil didn't know about them.

Time does pass slowly in these early episodes, it takes 70 episodes before we get past Vicki's first week at Collinwood.

Will McKinley said...

I have to say I agree with your change. I'm enjoying these reports. Don't tell anyone, but I've never watched these early episodes...

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