Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 61

Episode 61: "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"
Sept. 19, 1966

Damn, I'm tired. I've got no reason to be. The most strenuous thing I've done all day was drink a cup of coffee while standing upright, but I'm so not in the mood for this.

That's something to inspire further reading, isn't it? When a writer proclaims their apathy LOUDLY at the start of whatever he/she is writing, how can you expect whatever follows to be anything less than shit? It's a little like throwing a bucket of cold water on somebody just moments before you start flirting with them.

Luckily, Burke Devlin has the answer for my rainy day blues: When all else fails, act like an entitled asshole.Not being an independently wealthy antihero, though, I don't have the luxury of meeting life with a whiskey-fueled swagger. So I have to be content to live vicariously through Devlin ... even when he acts like a cretin (which he most certainly does in this episode.)

Not that Burke shouldn't feel entitled to something. The man is about 51 percent sure he went to prison for somebody else's crime but can't exactly offer up any proof to his own innocence. And, when the one man who thinks he might have a point is quickly struck down with great vengeance and furious anger ... well, Burke ought to be a little pissed off.

His biggest obstacle is that nobody seems to really know what happened the night he, Roger and Laura Collins went for a drunken joy ride that sent someone to the bone orchard. Even though he's not aware of it, he certainly shares some of the blame for what happened. Whoever it was that died (and they haven't told us anything about the victim) didn't ask to be squished like day old Frogger. Sam seems to know something about what happened, as does Roger. But everyone has told so many lies (or has spread accidental misinformation) that nothing can be accepted at face value. Not even a confession would clear the air.

Refusing to embrace the fog of war that perpetually hangs over Collinsport, Burke heads over to the Evans homestead and invites himself to dinner. He's told "no" several times, but that doesn't stop him. He even makes Victoria feel guilty for asking him to leave.

If crashing the Victoria, Sam and Maggie dinner party weren't enough, he also brings up the topic of his manslaughter trial and demands everyone join the conversation. He's a little more charming than Dennis Hopper in BLUE VELVET, but not by much. "I was drunk and don't remember too much about that night. But I do remember Roger Collins taking the wheel," he says. He then apologizes for ruining the dinner party, as though he had anything else in mind when he barged in. (It's also worth mentioning that defenses which begin with "I was drunk ..." rarely covert many people to your point of view.)

Proving he's not as dumb as he sometimes behaves, Sam seizes the first lull in the conversation to get himself a drink from the kitchen. He fails to tell his guests that he's going to the kitchen at the Collinsport Inn, and fucks off while nobody is paying attention.

The episode marks the return of the occasionally reoccurring character of Mr. Wells, the hotel clerk played by Conrad Bain. Sam asks for the sealed confession he gave Maggie, which is locked inside the hotel safe. Wells chats with Sam as he slooooooowly retrieves the letter, then makes a point of calling Maggie to get her permission to give the letter to her pop. Long story short, the letter is locked inside the safe before the scene ends.

The dinner party completely ruined (and no mention of the mysterious portrait of Not-Victoria introduced in the last episode) Burke storms off, probably to refresh his bourbon-scented aftershave. He bumps into Sam at the hotel and finds the artist is suddenly eager to have a "private talk." If this were a movie, the next scene would probably involve Burke getting shot five of six times. But DARK SHADOWS has time to kill and space to fill, so I'm not getting my hopes up for a climactic resolution in the next episode. It doesn't help that the next episode was aired on a Tuesday, which almost guarantees it's going to be talky.


Melissa said...

Somehow I doubt Sam's testimony would have meant much in 1957, unless we're to believe he only took up drinking after the accident. Bribing him could only make Roger look guiltier.

Then again, even if nobody really believed Sam, it still would have cast doubt on the Collins escutcheon (which probably only got cleaned up when everybody old enough to remember Quentin had died).

Cousin Barnabas said...

Yeah, small towns tend to believe whatever the hell they want and never let the truth get in the way of a good yarn. If Sam claimed that Bigfoot, the Mothman and Elvis sent Burke to prison there'd be a line of people ready to believe it.

I suspect Collinsport made a pact to never mention Quentin in much the same way Springfield agreed never to mention that Principal Skinner wasn't the REAL Principal Skinner.

Graeme Cree said...

That's exactly what we're supposed to think. When Burke came back to town, he even commented "I didn't know Sam drank", because he didn't start until he had something big that needed forgetting.

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