Monday, September 17, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 25

Episode 25, "Shell Game"
July 29, 1966

There's been some method to this week's (sometimes) tedious madness. As it turns out, the last few episodes weren't just spinning their wheels out of laziness. Instead, it's been a matter of misdirection as the series builds up to its inevitable Friday cliffhanger.

Let's cut right to the end of the episode for a moment. Having lost a letter from the foundling home, Victoria Winters suspects David has stolen it and begins to search his room from the missing macguffin. During the search, she finds the car part taken from Roger's vehicle. It's unclear if she understands what she's found, or if she even suspects David of the crime. We'll have to wait for the next episode to learn what this new discovery really means, but I'm a little impressed that DARK SHADOWS played such a deft game of misdirection that I'd forgotten this clue even existed.

The episode extends this misdirection by returning to Vicky's letter from the foundling home, which has been an occasional topic of conversation during the previous week. David is caught reading the letter in Victoria's room at the start of the episode and is reprimanded by Roger, the one member of the Collins family who doesn't make a habit of reading other people's mail. The boy, still worried that he's headed to the hoosegow for trying to kill his father, continues to lobby his suspicions that everyone in the house would be happier if he'd just go away. Victoria is starting to see through his charade, though, and is a little concerned when David insists he didn't try to murder his father ... even though nobody has accused him of it.

The letter proves to be worth more than its weight in misdirection this episode. We finally learn that Liz is indeed hiding something about Victoria's invitation to Collinwood, and enlists Roger's aid in selling her story. She proposes to Roger that he tell the governess the family learned about her talents through an anonymous donor to the foundling home, and punctuates her proposal with an "or else" at the end. Uninterested in looking for a new place to live, Roger knuckles under to his sister's demands and regurgitates the story, plot holes and all, to Victoria.

During Roger's badly staged alibi, David returns to Victoria's room and takes the letter, leading the governess to find the car part in the boy's room. It seems cut and dry to us (because we've seen a lot of things the cast has not) that David is the guilty party, so it will be interesting to see if the little monster is able to talk his way out of this one.

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