Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 19

Episode 19: Search Party Like It's 1999
July 21, 1966

So, what the fuck is it with Carolyn, anyway?

I mean, I kinda get David. He's a warped little sociopath, which really doesn't make him that much different than any other child his age. He's just a bit more ... motivated than other children. It's hard not to admire a kid who applies himself through research and education in order to accomplish a goal, even when that goal happens to be murder. When I was his age, I wanted to change my name to Han Solo, spent my days drawing the Phoenix from BATTLE OF THE PLANETS in my notebooks and thought "superhero" was a legitimate career path.

Carolyn, on the other hand, has some issues that are no less pressing. While David overtly tried to kill someone, Carolyn has already antagonized her boyfriend into starting  a bar fight, and invited her family's arch-enemy home for drinks. She might not be tampering with someone's brakes, but she seems determined to get someone killed, if not seriously injured and/or arrested.

The feminist overtones of DARK SHADOWS have always been a little murky. While contemporary shows like BEWITCHED and I DREAM OF JEANNIE seemed engineered to offend anyone who doesn't actively hate women, DARK SHADOWS had a progressive attitude about gender politics. The male characters are almost always dependent on female characters, if not literally (like Roger) then emotionally (Barnabas, Adam, Quentin, Jeb, etc.) And, if you took a head count for the characters who are gainfully employed, you'll find that most of them are women. Whether or not they actually go to work (Dr. Hoffman, I'm looking at you) is another story.

So, back to Carolyn. After gleefully jerking Joe around since Episode 2, she musters up a half-assed apology to him that sounds less sincere than the apologies offered by most serial killers after their convictions. "I'm sorry that I hurt your pride," she tells him. "But I have to live my life my own way." There's a mixed message here, and it might have resulted from credited writer Art Wallace's misunderstanding of feminism. Carolyn's veiled apology implies that she didn't hurt Joe at all, and that she wouldn't much care if she did. It might be nothing more than Carolyn being a selfish brat, but I smell a little resentment toward "women's liberation" in the script.

Carolyn is M.I.A. for a good bit of this episode. Last seen leaving the Blue Whale with Burke Devlin (the man suspected of trying to kill her uncle that same night,) Liz is frantic that her daughter is in danger. She has Bill Malloy out combing the docks for her. Malloy tells Liz "Carolyn isn't going to do anything foolish," suggesting he's never actually met Liz's daughter.

Bill spends most of his time "searching" for Carolyn at the Blue Whale, drinking with Fake Same Malloy. Fake Sam is trying to pry information about Roger and Burke from Malloy, but is having no luck. He even splurges for a 15 cent(!) beer, and bluntly tells Malloy "That entitles me to something." That comment doesn't go over well with Malloy, and might explain why Sam doesn't get many dates.

Malloy spots Carolyn at the diner of the Collinsport Inn with Joe Haskell, and advises Liz that all is well. Joe might not have agreed with the assessment. In keeping with the show's apocalyptic themes (which get less symbolic and more literal as the show goes on) she says Joe's taking her random flirtations like they were "the end of the world." Even though Victoria has already been rousted from bed twice this evening, it's apparently still early enough for the two to order hamburgers at the restaurant, and discuss their failing relationship.

Liz calls her daughter on her bullshit when she gets home. Carolyn continues to deny her interest in Burke (as well as her passive-aggressive abuse of Joe) and seems disinclined to believe that anyone tampered with Roger's brakes. Liz reveals that their fear of Devlin has some basis in reality: as he was being hauled out of court and taken to prison, he vowed revenge on the entire family.

Roger, meanwhile, has headed into town with the intention of confronting Devlin about the car wreck.


Lauren said...

Just wanted to mention I've really been enjoying this series. Always insightful and funny!!

Melissa said...

I always thought it was straight-up Freudian father abandonment issues with Carolyn. I recently watched an episode where Adam's reading Freud and suggests Carolyn do the same.

A Friend of Judah Zachary said...

I hate to sound like the president of the Art Wallace fan club... memberships currently open... however he was much more than the 'credited writer', he practically created the show. Yes, Dan Curtis dreamed the dream, but it was Wallace who put the meat on the bones. Wallace himself felt that Curtis should have received a 'concept by' rather than 'created by' credit. I've noticed you refer to 'the writers' in previous posts, but all of the first 40 episodes were written by Wallace alone. I can't help but feel this guy doesn't get the credit he deserves when the history of this show is written. Without these episodes there would be no Barnabas.

Please don't take this as a rant, I'm greatly enjoying reading your opinions on these episodes.

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