Episode 89, "The Price of Loyalty"
Oct. 27, 1966
I had a moment of terror at the start of this episode, one which escalated into a momentary bout of despair.
It was all because of that goddamn fountain pen, which keeps returning like something out of an O. Henry story. I'm starting to see why Roger has grown to hate the thing, and I'm a little surprised it didn't reappear later in the series as an infernal tool of Count Petofi or Diabolos. While the pen is DOA as a plot device, it's beginning to create a kind of dramatic tension the writers probably hadn't intended.
Pen of Damoclese continued to hang overhead. Our paths will soon cross again.
That's not to say the REAL Episode 89 was any better, but it represents a strange change of pace for a show that's come to depend in recent weeks on a small cast of characters. After almost a hundred episodes of talk, Burke Devlin is finally beginning his hostile takeover of the Collins family assets, a move that ushered in a cast of characters that would look at home in a Federico Fellini movie. At the top of the Random Cast Member hierarchy of this episode is one Mr. Blair, who I like to think is the less-interesting sibling of Nicholas and Cassandra. Considering his job probably had benefits and a retirement package (and didn't put him at risk of becoming a vampire, zombie or other unholy minion of the night) he probably lead a happier life.
|Ladies and gentlemen, Amos Fitch.|
The strange thing is that Devlin's offer is ... good. He's not only offering Collins employees more money to work for a rival business in Logansport, he's offering them profit sharing, as well. If there's a downside here, it's that Devlin is only interested in fucking over the Collins family, so there's a good chance he'll lose interest in the company (and his new employees) once that goal is accomplished. They're right to be a little cautious, but Fitch's response seems a little servile.
Fitch wanders up to the old house and announces to Liz that he turned down Devlin's offer. He seems to be proud of his decision, and I don't know what he was expecting from his employer. It's doubtful he's ever been invited to Collinwood in the past, and has spent his entire adult life living off the absolute lowest salary the Collins family can get away way paying him. I'd never given the political affiliation of the Collins family any thought but, after this episode, it's pretty clear the family represents a brand of pragmatic, old-school conservatism that's since gone the way of the Dodo. It's easy to imagine the whole lot voting for Nixon, except maybe for Carolyn, who'd vote for Jonathon "The Impaler" Sharkey if it got a rise out of Liz.
Roger has already given up his fight against Devlin. It's hard to blame him. He's spent most of his time in recent episodes trying, and failing, to get rid of a governess who's routinely outsmarted by her 10-year-old pupil. His latest gambit is to paint Victoria as mentally ill, claiming her encounter with the ghost of Bill Malloy was the product of a diseased imagination. "Lord knows what we can expect is she decides to have another vision," he tells Liz, which is big talk from a man who likes to creep around darkened corridors while pretending to be a ghost.