Thursday, May 2, 2013
Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 82
Episode 82, "A Gift from the Sea"
Oct. 18, 1966
I'm willing to believe a lot of things. Alternate universes? Sure. One-handed, unicorn-slaying werewolf sorcerers? Why not? A time-traveling vampire attorney? Absolutely.
What I refuse to believe, though, is that anybody gives a good goddamn about a silver pen. This arc's MacGuffin has returned in recent episodes with a vengeance, but it's entirely worthless as a plot device no matter how much the cast tries to sell us on its importance. Most of the dialogue in this episode revolves around the pen, a "clue" that may or may not have been left at the scene of the crime during Bill Malloy's murder. The only person who thinks the pen and the death have anything in common is Burke Devlin, but there's no evidence to support his theory. Worse, his theory doesn't even have a point of inspiration. It's important for us to think the pen and Malloy's untimely demise are related, but the narrative task of extending this plot point is dumped on Devlin with no reason. Even though he's a force of destruction in the show, he's also supposed to be sympathetic ... and it's hard to work up any interest in a character who is right by virtue chance.
Roger's doing himself no favors here, either. As soon as he lays eyes on the pen he gets all damp around the collar and channels his inner Gollum. He manages to regain his composure, though, and falls back on the Collins family tradition of subterfuge. He tries to bribe Victoria into taking a job with "friends" in Florida, saying it's in her own interests to get out of Devlin's line of fire. He makes an overture to Devlin to pay for the cost of replacing then pen.
When those ideas don't work, he just decides to steal it.
Actually, stealing the pen was his first plan. While going to answer the telephone, he "accidentally" tries to leave with it still in his hand. Victoria and David remind him of his error, thwarting him. In the final scene of this episode, though, he gives up on outwitting his enemies and just steals the pen from David's room.
Besides that, it's a fairly uneventful episode. We get some fun Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog banter between Devlin and Sheriff Patterson which underlines the show's lack of faith in authority. Patterson is relaxing at the Collinsport Inn at the start of this episode, having a cup of coffee and reading a "detective novel" when Devlin shows up and starts to harass him about progress on the Malloy case. Patterson is understandably at a loss for words: Following the coroner's decision that Malloy' death was an accident, there is no murder investigation to discuss. Also, Devlin's theories about the silver pen are batshit crazy.
Speaking of crazy, David uses his crystal ball to deduce that Victoria discovered the fountain pen at the bottom of Lookout Point, where Malloy is presumed to have died. Victoria's "gift from the sea" might actually be a boon to David, who is still looking for new and interesting ways to get rid of his father. I fail to see how the pen will help, but Robert Cobert's "Drums of Death" musical cue certainly makes the plot point feel ominous.