Friday, December 21, 2012

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 55

Episode 55: "Life's Black Inevitabilities"
Sept. 9, 1966

Roger Collins might be the most metaphysical character on DARK SHADOWS.

Yeah, Roger. Not the time-traveling vampire, immortal rogue or black-hearted witch who seems to have existed forever ... Roger. The sherry swilling black sheep of the Collins family has one of the most well-rounded philosophies of any character on the show, and I can't think of any immediate examples of the writers having Roger do something that violates the character's central principle.

Let me 'splain: Roger's return home to Collinwood prior to the start of the series wasn't motivated by desperation. He wasn't looking for a cushy job, free rent of some place to stash his son until the boy was old enough to legally abandon. Instead, Roger's return was prompted by the understanding that the universe operates by strict, dogmatic rules that humanity is unable to change. There's not even a consciousness attached to this system to which was can appeal: the world is what it is and we're unable to change it. Roger knows his place in the world is as meaningless as anyone else's, but has committed to the track that he's on. It's as good as any other.

His backstory suggests this wasn't always the case for Roger. But, a crazy wife, a crazier son and a moment when honor demanded he betray his best friend eventually impressed upon him that there was no escaping the horrible Rube Goldberg Contraption that is life. More to the point, there's no escaping Collinwood. He might need the occasional snifter of liquid courage before dealing with his sister, but that's only to help steel himself from life's black inevitabilities.

So, when Sheriff George Patterson arrives at Collinwood and tells him that Bill Malloy is dead, he's justifiably confused when he learns that no arrests are planned. It's not that he believes the guilty party should be arrested, but somebody should charged because that's just how shit works. Guilt is entirely beside the point. It's this kind of conviction (no pun intended) that has put him at odds with Burke Devlin since the start of the show. He knows he didn't kill Malloy, but doesn't believe he won't be charged for it, anyway.

That doesn't mean he wants to go to prison, and he fights (kinda stupidly, really) to keep Patterson from looking for Malloy's body and having an autopsy performed on it. The faster the whole thing is done, the less likely he'll be fitted for prison stripes. He especially likes Patterson's proposal that Malloy might have committed suicide.

Liz, on the other hand, isn't so sure about anything Roger said. "How much of what you told him was true?" she asks her brother a split second after the sheriff's leaves.

Meanwhile, Sam Evans is starting to regret writing his Get Into Jail Card that confesses his role in Devlin's railroading. He tries to get Maggie to return it to him, but she's not stupid. Maggie is probably a better avatar for the show's audience than Victoria, and if there's anything we like more than a mystery, it's learning the solution to said mystery. While there's genuine concern for her father's latest alcohol, caffeine and tobacco binge, she suspects she's in possession of the final few pages in the mystery novel the whole town is talking about. And she's running out of reasons not to take a peek and see how things end.

Sam is doing his usual "I'm not looking suspicious by trying not to look suspicious, am I?" thing at the restaurant when Patterson arrives. There's something of a performer in Sam, who brings his sketchiest A-game when he sees the sheriff, and gets twitchier than Peter Lorre with a pocket full of letters of transit. Luckily for him, the sheriff has other things on his mind. The Coast Guard has found Bill Malloy. Dead.

I'm beginning to lose track of how often we've been given the news that Malloy is dead.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

"More to the point, there's no escaping Collinwood."

Not for Roger or anyone else. That house will never let you go if it thinks you belong to it. Willie Loomis probably could have walked away if the house didn't think he resembled Carl Collins.

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