Monday, August 20, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary: Episode 8

Episode 8: "The Devils of Forgotten Times"
July 6, 1966

Liz Stoddard is a lot smarter than anyone gives her credit for.

Well, maybe not smarter, exactly. But she's certainly a lot more manipulative than people are willing to admit. Not only is she clearly responsible for bringing Victoria Winters to Collinwood, but she's also arranged for Joe Haskell to get a promotion at work, laying the groundwork for her daughter's wedding. That's not bad for a woman who hasn't left the house in 18 years.

You might need a degree in Soap Opera Forensic Science to make sense of the show's intricate plots, though. Confounding matters is that the show still hasn't revealed what it all means: We don't know why Burke Devlin has returned to Collinsport, why he hates the Collins family, why Roger Collins is terrified by the turn of events and what, if anything, it all has to do with Victoria Winters. It's a bit like a murder mystery without a murder.

Burke has been sniffing around the family for some time now, and has turned the attentions of his private investigator to the background of Collinwood's new governess. Carolyn's boyfriend, Joe Haskell, also reveals to Liz that Burke offered to bribe him for information about the family. Liz is not terribly interested until Joe implies that Burke knows "all the rest" about Victoria, which means something very different to the Collins family matriarch.

Joe, who is presented as the lone, square-jawed hero of DARK SHADOWS, is just as corrupt as the rest. He makes a big speech to Carolyn about wanting to find success on his own terms, but puts away these ideals after finding out Liz pulled a few strings at work to give him a promotion ... because it means he gets a shot at marrying Carolyn. It's too bad that Carolyn thinks marrying Joe is about as appealing a notion as spending the summer at Con Thien. This relationship was doomed from the start.

While it's hard to dislike Joe, Liz is beginning to lose my sympathy. The first scene of the episode shows her snooping in Vicky's room and reading one of her letters (because it's impossible to pick up a letter from the floor without stopping to read the entire thing, I guess.) Carolyn interrupts her, but neither of them seem to think it's much of an invasion of privacy.

The week's MacGuffin, Victoria's mysterious phone call to the foundling home in New York City, is finally resolved after three episodes. Vicky reaches her former supervisor, Mrs. Hopewell, who tells her she's never heard of Liz Stoddard or Roger Collins before they asked to hire her as a governess. This flies in the face of the line of bullshit Liz gave her two episodes ago about the Collins family having acquaintances at the foundling home. When Victoria confronts her about this contradiction, Liz gets bent out of shape about her credibility being questioned. She tells Vicky that Mrs. Hopewell simply doesn't know everyone at the foundling home, so she's in no position to say who knows who, and how.  Vicky doesn't exactly sign off on this nonsense, but she decides to stay at Collinwood, despite Liz's suggestion that she find work elsewhere.

Burke Devlin is getting closer to the truth, though. We learn in the closing scene that his private investigator, Wilbur Strake, has been asking questions about Victoria at the foundling home.

1 comment:

dmontgomster said...

All you need to know about Burke Devlin's motives comes from reading The Count of Monte Cristo...he is out for revenge against the Collins family because he did time for the crime that Roger committed.

As for Liz, she has the power that inherited wealth and a financial empire bring. It's not often that you see a woman that has both and is in charge of it. I appreciate it more as a woman who is around the age Joan Bennett was then than I did as the teenager I was in the 60s, because I know how rare it is, plus I have an aunt who is very much like her.

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