Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 54

Episode 54: "The Essence of a Groundskeeper"
Sept. 8, 1966

Matthew Morgan isn't a sentimental fellow. His reasoning for tossing a dead man into the ocean? "He was dead, ma'am. It didn't matter to him." It's a shame Morgan didn't apply himself to writing, because I think he would have made a singular literary voice, equal parts JAMES ELLROY and EUDORA WELTY.

Even though Burke Devlin was created to be the show's first Voice of Cynicism, he's been overtaken in recent episodes by the mysterious, Nietzschean wit of Matthew Morgan. You'll see this kind of violent rationalization a lot more often later in the series as characters (mostly Julia Hoffman) as they struggle to justify some truly horrific behavior. For now, it's Morgan who sees himself as the dark antihero of the series, and his crimes seem so selfless on the surface that they're almost (but not quite) justifiable.

But, for the time being, we don't know that Morgan did anything other than dump a body in the ocean. It still hasn't been revealed who, if anybody, killed Bill Malloy.

There's been lots going on behind the scenes since the last time local law enforcement had to get involved in Collins family business. Apparently, Collinsport Town Council took action to restructure the department, abandoning the "constable" system and contracting with the county for law enforcement services. When Sheriff George Patterson arrives at Collinwood at the start of the episode, Liz seems hardly surprised not to see Constable Jonas Carter. I guess Liz was keeping up with current events in The Collinsport Star and knew Carter had moved on. Still, it begs the questions: How much money is Collinsport paying the county for law enforcement, and will it have an affect on property taxes? Or did they just spent $20 to change the title on the door and make no real changes to the department? Was there room on television to spinoff Patterson into his own police procedural? I guess we'll never know.

Morgan, in his evasively honest way, admits to throwing Malloy's body into the ocean. Much like a lying child, he pretty much avoids answering any question not directly asked. We eventually learn he "found" the body on the beach but he claims he doesn't know how it got there.

Even though the county has changed its law enforcement system, not much else is different. Patterson doesn't think he's got much to charge Morgan with, except for maybe "improper burial without a license." But, he's not convinced Morgan is being entirely forthcoming about his motives for "protecting" Collinwood by relocating the body, and suggests the caretaker might have been covering up his own actions, instead.

Patterson says it's unlikely Malloy drowned at Collinwood, because the body would have washed away in the 24 hours since he went missing. As for where it's gone now, who the hell knows? When it returns, I hope it's covered in travel stickers from Cucamonga and Walla Walla, Wash., like something out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

The episode's B-story doesn't really go anywhere. Burke and Roger verbally spar at the cannery as the show continues to muddy the waters around Roger's perceived guilt in Malloy's death. Burke thinks he did it, but has no proof. Their dialogue results in nothing more or less than the writers finding new ways for them to say "You're a murderer!" and "Nuh-uh!"

Roger is summoned home by Liz to get the bad/good news about Malloy ... and finds himself the focus of the investigation.

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