Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 79

Episode 79: "Method Acting"
Oct. 13, 1966

There's a lot of dialogue in this episode, even by the chatty standards of DARK SHADOWS. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because the script for this episode takes a positively Quentin Tarantino-esque approach to attacking its overriding question: "Who Killed Bill Malloy?"

Interestingly, none of the show's principals are directly involved with Malloy's death, which has taken on a different meaning for different people. For Maggie, it's an event that continues to trouble her already troubled father. For Mrs. Johnson, Malloy's death is a grave injustice that needs to be corrected, a sentiment that brings her goals in line with that of Burke Devlin, Collinsport's favorite vigilante. Meanwhile, Roger and Sam are freaking out because Malloy's death might prompt people to ask questions about another crime that took place a decade earlier.

The episode also presents opportunities for the characters to express, quite bluntly, their individual mission statements. Maggie continues to be the show's moral compass (she rightfully mistrusts Mrs. Johnson for reasons beyond the housekeeper's usual creepy demeanor.) Burke's priorities are the most concrete: "To get Collinwood and all it represents," and "to avenge the death of Bill Malloy." Right about now, Burke's enemies list is getting a bit cumbersome.

Mrs. Johnson is the most transparently deceptive, at least to the audience. She's the one character on the show we fully understand because she sincerely wants to find the person who killed her employer. Whatever transgressions she'll later be guilty of were only possible because Burke enabled them. Without him, she's just the community busybody. Burke's ambigous ruthlessness has made her an agent in the show's mystery and has possibly put her life in danger. And she's really getting into her new role, going so far as staging a dramatic accusation for the patrons at the Collinwood Inn's diner by loudly proclaiming Burke killed Malloy. Even he looks a little shocked by the strength of her performance.

Before she can really get wound up, though, David wanders into the scene and makes everyone feel uncomfortable. It's one thing to lie to adults for whatever the revenge du jour happens to be. It's another to set a horrible example for a child, especially one that came pre-loaded with ethical quandaries. Burke later tries to calm David by insisting Mrs. Johnson's outburst was provoked by grief and should be forgiven. He is unaware of the irony of his own advice.

Elsewhere, Sam, Maggie and Mrs Johnson are having a similar conversation, this time about Burke's nature to "upset" people. "We have to learn to forget ... live and let live," Sam declares, underlining one of the prevalent themes of the series. If anyone at Collinsport knew how to do that, though, we wouldn't have much of a series.

1 comment:

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