Monday, June 3, 2013

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 89

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.

Then I noticed that things looked a little "off" in this episode's cold open. Roger and Victoria were driving someplace, talking about that damned pen and trying to figure out what the hell it all means. After a minute of confusion, I snooped around the disc and found my laptop had randomly skipped ahead a full week. It should have been a moment of relief, but it also meant the 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.
We also meet a gallery of characters from the Collins family fishing business, none of which are exactly Benedict Cumberbatch in the charisma department. The homeliest of the bunch is a guy named Amos Fitch, who looks like a cross between THE THING from The Fantasic Four, and MONK MAYFAIR from Doc Savage. He's not the ugliest guy to ever have a speaking role on television, but ... yeah, he's pretty much the ugliest guy to ever have a speaking role on television.

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.


Melissa said...

Every man of a certain generation between Collinsport and Bangor has been in love with Liz for decades, and would kill or die for her. She was probably painted on more than one airplane nose cone during the war.

I can't say as I blame them.

Anonymous said...

Amos Fitch! How I pleaded with the heavens for him to become a recurring character. Best eyebrows this side of Bulgaria - and while he certainly falls outside the bounds of conventional handsomeness, his physical presence commands the screen. Yet after that whole takeover showdown, we get next to nothing. While I was glad to have the storyline of Burke's vengeance come to an end, I expected at least some chipping at the Collins fishing empire. We'd have to wait for Jason McGuire to make any serious inroads on that count. And without having to enlist the aid of the magnetic Amos Fitch!

AngantyrTheKing said...

I agree with 1630. Amos Fitch was one of those interesting characters from the early years who never really got used much and then all but disappeared. Shame really, the early years had a wealth of random characters that could have been used longer.

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