Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary: Episode 5

Episode 5: A Ghostly House of Tears
First aired July 1, 1966

Not only do we have ghosts, we've got Josette! We heard our first definite signs ghostly activity at Collinwood during the last episode as Victoria followed the sounds of phantom sobbing into an empty drawing room. In episode 5, Sam Evans discloses to Victoria that the mansion is haunted by the spirit of Josette, a French woman brought to Collinsport to marry the builder of Collinwood. The details of this story change a little over the years, but the bullet points remain the same: shot goes bad, Josette throws herself of Widow's Hill (formally named in this episode) and hang around the grounds of Collinwood to spook things up. Of course, there's no mention of Barnabas Collins and his involvement in her death.

This version of Sam Evans looks and sounds little like the character we'll get to know over the year. Mark Allen plays Evans for only 7 episodes in the series and is an imposing presence on the screen, more so than David Ford, who will soon replace him and continue the role for the rest of series. Evans makes a short appearance on this episode, stopping by to warn Victoria away from Collinwood, and to ask her to deliver a mysterious non-message to Roger before lumbering off to wherever he came from. I don't much like this version of Sam, who comes across like a pretentious thug.

Victoria has already begun packing her bags and intends to leave Collinwood after shaking down the Collins family for a free meal. As she has breakfast with Carolyn, David finishes packing for her, carelessly tossing her clothes into her suitcase while muttering something about his mother. To add injury to insult, he defaces her luggage by scratching her initials off the casing.

While trying to talk Victoria out of leaving, Carolyn learns the new governess was raised in a foundling home and is (presumably) an orphan. This nugget of information is delivered to Carolyn as she's whining about being young and rich, and she Victoria's disclosure as an invitation to compete in a "Who's Life Sucks Hardest" contest. Carolyn reveals that her mother is a shut-in who hasn't left home for 18 years, and that her father has been absent her entire life. It's like a gothic paperback version of 8 MILE.

During this epic rap battle we also learn that Victoria received $50 a month from a mysterious benefactor until she turned 16, after which she was expected to get a job or something. Carolyn notes those payments started to arrive around the same time her father vanished, but the idea that doesn't really lead anywhere. Not just in this episode, but ever.

Victoria discovers what David's done in her room and finds him waiting for her, hiding behind a curtain. He plays a quick game of "keep away" with the note left with Victoria as a baby when she was abandoned at the foundling home. David crumples the only connection she's got to her real family and throws it to the ground (about a foot away from a piece of tape on the floor identifying the actor's "mark.") He then begins an elaborate bit of performance art to illustrate how crazy he really is: Ghosts have told him to get rid of Victoria. Granted, we KNOW there are ghosts at Collinwood, but David's galloping mental illness and the haunting of Collinwood aren't mutually exclusive concepts. The combination of David's mommy issues and his proclivity for rummage around in Victoria's drawers means Victoria might find herself participating in a reenactment of the shower scene from PSYCHO.

Having been confronted with a maniac for a student, a sexual predator for a housemate, a chronically depressed employer and the promise for unwanted drama in the future, Victoria is uncertain of her future at Collinwood. "I'd be a fool to keep on staying here," Victoria says about 30 seconds before she decides to keep on staying here.

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