Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 64

Episode 64: "Fight the Power"
Sept. 22, 1966

The Collins family is used to a little chaos now and then, weathering it with the kind of stoicism that would make Hannibal Lecter envious. The Collinses aren't the kind of people to let a little thing like murder interrupt their brooding, drinking and nefarious schemes.

While they've got lengthy experience with mayhem, the people of Collinsport aren't exactly known for coping well with the kinds of calamity that occasionally flow downhill from Collinwood. Right now, nobody knows what to make of Bill Malloy's murder, and any evidence that looks to prove one party's guilt will also be used to prove that same party's innocence. So, it's not terribly surprising that Matthew Morgan's bizarre, violent and extremely public display of assholery doesn't automatically peg him as a murder suspect.

Bolstered by several mugs of Collinsport Stout at the Blue Whale, Morgan bluntly tells Burke Devlin that he's going to kill him if he doesn't leave the Collins family - specifically Liz - alone. Burke responds by vowing to redouble his efforts, and even works in a few jabs at Liz in his pledge. He calls her a "neurotic" recluse while poking the grizzly-bear shaped Morgan with his index finger and is genuinely surprised when the Collinwood caretaker reacts poorly. Morgan tries to strangle Devlin in full view of the patrons of the Blue Whale. Oddly, the crowd seems to view Devlin as the villain in the fight: All eyes are upon him as Sheriff Patterson breaks up the tussle.

Despite Morgan's death threats and Devlin's devotion to vigilante justice, Patterson hauls both men down to the sheriff's office with all of the authority of an elementary school principal. Morgan argues that Devlin is a "troublemaker" and seems put out that Patterson stopped him from publicly executing his enemy. Devlin taunts Patterson, more-or-less calling him an impotent puppet of the town's ruling class.

Speaking of the ruling class, Liz and Carolyn get a little screen time in this episode in one of the show's more disturbing displays of parental manipulation. Liz's sense of maternal duty begins and ends with getting what she wants, and she doesn't hesitate to twist even her own words into new and interesting meanings in order to accomplish the task at hand. In this case, it's discouraging Carolyn from her interest in Burke Devlin.

Carolyn's own sense of character peeks out from behind Liz's foggy reasoning from time to time, realizing at one point that Morgan's creepy behavior at the Blue Whale might have been the end result of her mother's own manipulations. I'm not suggesting that Liz consciously intended Morgan to kill Devlin, but it's not impossible that some part of her knew how Morgan would respond to her earlier concerns about the Devlin's behavior. Carolyn is beginning to catch on to the fact that her mother has Jedi-like skills of manipulation, but still doesn't want to believe it.

The episode ends with the now-familiar "sting" of a surprise visit at Collinwood: Burke Devlin is back, with god-knows-what in mind for the Collins family. I suspect it's more empty vows of vengeance, but I'll have to wait until the next episode to find out.

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