By PATRICK McCRAY
Taped on this date: Episode 5
Carolyn enters on Victoria’s first morning to find her packing to leave. David and Roger were just too much for her. As they have breakfast, and as Roger apologizes, and as Carolyn begs her to stay, David vandalizes Victoria’s luggage. Over breakfast, we learn that Victoria took the job because her mysterious benefactor wrote to her and sent her money from Bangor, a town close to Collinsport. An orphan, Vicki is in pursuit of the truth of her past... beyond coming from a cardboard box with a note that said, “Her name is Victoria; I cannot take care of her.” Back up on Widow’s Hill, Victoria runs into the morbidly poetic Sam Evans, who tells her that the wailing heard the night before was Josette, wife of the Collins who built the great mansion (just for her). She killed herself because she was an unliked stranger. Sam also informs her that Liz hasn’t left the estate for eighteen years. He sends her with a message to tell Roger that he was strolling by. She returns to find David taunting her over her dashed luggage, waving about and eventually crumpling the note that introduced Vicki to the foundling home in which she was raised. Carolyn again tries to persuade Vicki to stay, saying that Liz is just waiting faithfully for husband, Paul Stoddard, to come home. There must be more to it. Now, with the challenge of mystery -- perhaps connected to the coincidental timing of Liz’s husband’s abandonment and the appearance of the checks at the foundling home -- she elects to stay.
After four episodes of night, it’s finally morning in an episode that gives America and the new Number Two what they want: information! It’s a font of backstory, shotgunned out. Were the writers afraid that Vicki would actually leave? I have no idea. It’s an episode rich in a mythos that ends up being largely lies, retconned, or both. But who cares? It moves at a great clip and gives us time in the eventually forgotten Collinwood kitchen. What’s most fascinating is Sam Evans 1.0. Actor Mark Allen brings a darker, starker Sam; a true, burnt-out, cynical poet warrior and faded beatnik. He was the perfect father for the edgier, blonde Maggie Evans. A veteran of westerns and noir films like FAREWELL, MY LOVELY, he crafts a slightly threatening, haunted character who portends more doom than the first four episodes, combined. Could he have done what David Ford did? I don’t think so, but that’s a different Sam. This may not be the Sam we want, but it’s the Sam we need. For now.
JUNE 17, 1968
Taped on this date: Episode 523
Having conjured Trask, Nicholas Blair holds considerable power over the phantom witch hunter. Trask is defiant, but Nicholas prevents him from returning to his grave. Nicholas demands to know where Cassandra was exorcised. However, he is held at bay when Trask draws the cross and vanishes. Nicholas vows revenge and now knows that an exorcism was performed. He returns to Collinwood and is met cooly by Carolyn. Nicholas digs for information on Cassandra and why she is unwelcomed. Carolyn tells him to check on Tony Peterson, implying infidelity. It was as if Cassandra wielded odd powers over the lawyer. Nicholas announces that he will visit Tony for himself. Vicki enters and is immediately put off that Cassandra had a brother. After he leaves, Vicki feels faint. How can Cassandra have a brother here and now? Tony is going through papers as Nicholas arrives, claiming to be a fellow attorney. He’s suing the Collinses on behalf of a corporation, and they think Tony can help. Nicholas immediately hypnotizes him with a jewelled cigarette case. Tony sits in a daze and confesses love for Cassandra... and he has no idea where she is. Nicholas tells him to clear his mind and think of an image. He sees the tree at which Cassandra was burned. There is no location, just ropes around the tree. Nicholas releases him by sending him to sleep. When Nicholas leaves, the spell is broken. Back in the drawing room, Jeff greets Vicki after three weeks of investigation, and he still has no trace of “Jeff Clark's” existence. That was just a name Lang slapped on him. He simply needs evidence of one identity or the other. All that matters to Vicki is their future, not the past. After they kiss, he goes to get a gift for her. Trask’s ghost appears and tells her that evil is in the house. Jeff runs in, sees him, proclaims Vicki’s innocence, and that is the proof they need that he is Peter Bradford.
Say goodbye to Reverend Trask… it’s his final episode, and a helluva note to go out on. His battle of wits, nerve, and faith with Nicholas is arguably the best scene either had on the show. Both play with great enthusiasm. The fact that Lacy can keep a straight face as Astredo makes hay with marvelously smartipants dialogue is Trask’s greatest miracle. He then fire & brimstones it up one final time as he warns Vicki of the evil in the house. It’s a glory to behold. The other Trasks were corrupt. Not this one. I think that’s the secret to his dark fascination. As the good reverend departs, Jeff Clark returns after thirty-five episodes away to search for his true identity.
(Episode 515 airs on this date.)
June 17, 1969
Taped on this date: Episode 782
1897. Edward doesn’t believe that Charity is in the basement simply after wandering in through the secret passage by accident. Seeing the bites on her neck, he is certain that she’s the vampire’s agent. But she won’t tell him why he sent her; Barnabas will kill her. Charity begins chastising herself and falls into tears. She again says she doesn’t know why she was sent. She cries, begs for help, and buys time. He takes her to Trask. In Charity’s room, a waiting Barnabas hides from Nora who’s come looking for her. In Trask’s presence, Charity throws herself on her father’s mercy. He will help her, and she will help them. But she still doesn’t know where Barnabas is. She claims to have last seen him in the woods. Edward says that eventually, Barnabas will come for her, and they need only wait. Edward and Trask take her back to her room where they reassure Nora that Charity will be fine. Barnabas looks on as Trask makes her pray for deliverance. Charity glances at Barnabas and starts. She asks Trask to stay with her through the night. And if Barnabas does not appear? It’s proof they’ve won the first around. As the cock crows, Charity asks her father to bring her her mother’s prayer book. But Trask wants to stay through dawn. Charity does what she can to get him to leave, and Trask knows that the vampire is trying to command her. She must drop to her knees and pray again. A scream rings out from Nora’s room. Edward says that a bat flew in through her window and is at large. They leave Charity to find it, and thus, she is alone with Barnabas, who gets the earth he needs from her purse before sunrise. After his exit and later that day, Trask adorns Charity’s room with crosses. Leaving, he asks for Charity to get the cross she kept in her purse. But it’s missing! When Edward comes home, Nora asks when she will be able to see Charity. He doesn’t know, but he will ask Trask. When Nora goes upstairs, Trask enters and Edward reports that all they know is that the coffin has not been touched at the Old House. Barnabas has outsmarted him. Worse than a vampire attack is the threat to the family name if Barnabas’ vampirism goes public. That night as Charity sleeps, Barnabas commands her to remove the cross from the window so that he may enter her room. She puts it in a drawer and he appears. She’s ecstatic to see him. He is safe, thanks to her, and this pleases him. Barnabas enjoys his triumph. Charity suggests that he find a permanent hiding place and then move her in. As Barnabas bites her, Nora enters.
Nancy Barrett is the modern master of “Who, me?” innocent mischief of the most evil stripe. She manipulates the men on the show shamelessly, all the while subtly-but-clearly letting the audience know that it’s all holy smoke and mirrors. It’s a delicate tightrope, and she walks it like it’s a mile wide. There is also a great dash of farce in the episode from Barnabas, too. He spends most of the episode terrified, hiding behind a curtain. It’s only serious until you think about it. Then, it’s something better. At the end, though, she really pours on the desire for Barnabas. It’s sincere, erotic, and disturbing. Barnabas’ look of uncertainty of what to do with it all, before he bites her, is priceless.
(Episode 777 airs on this date.)
June 17, 1970
Taped on this date: Episode 1043
Carolyn believes she knows who killed Angelique, but is so horrified that she goes upstairs and bites her pillow before she can tell Julia. Barnabas wonders if she’s being protective. Did Will do it? Barnabas interrogates Will, almost presuming guilt as Will, stating his innocence, points out that he cannot lie to his vampire master. Using that logic, Barnabas mind controls Carolyn into admitting it was her mother, who hated Angelique for her condescension. The green object Carolyn saw in her vision was her mother’s hairpin, and Angelique was killed with a hairpin. The night of the murder, Carolyn told Liz that she was leaving Will over his infidelity to Angelique. This enraged Liz. But Carolyn says that it’s her own fault if her mother killed Angelique. Nothing can be said to the police until there is more evidence. At Collinwood, Will helps Liz with solitaire, and Liz is terribly paranoid that Quentin is loose in the house. She even wants to stay with Will, who tries to talk her out of it. At Loomis House, Barnabas concludes that they can get to Angelique through the body in Stokes’ lab. If they control the body, they can control Angelique. Julia can experiment with the life force as they did with Adam. To do so, they must bring the girl to Loomis House. But that will bring Angelique, so they will have to store her elsewhere. Julia refuses to help him, and Barnabas states that he will try the experiment with Will’s help. It will happen that night. He and Will go to the secret room in the mausoleum. Someone’s been living there and left in a hurry. Barnabas finds a sketch of the girl used as the body. It’s signed by “Claude North.” In the drawing room, Carolyn visits her mother who asks her to sell her hairpins in Portland. Carolyn asks to speak of the seance, and Liz refuses. Carolyn agrees to sell the pins, eventually. Will and Barnabas break into Stokes’ to get the body. Will feels a chill presence in the room, but Barnabas says he’s wrong. They suddenly hear Hoffman’s ghost’s voice forbidding them to enter.
Will was Angelique's lover, also? That makes half the cast! Two great Barnabas moments in this episode, one serious. One not so. He does a callback to Adam, which was a great nod to loyal viewers, while having what almost becomes a breakup scene with Julia. He can finally do these science things on his own, thank you, and if she’s going to be so defiant, fine. Be that way. There’s just a moment where it authentically feels like the band’s breaking up. The other memorable scene is where he interrogates Will. He keeps feeding him his suspicions so obviously that Will would be able to lie despite the vampire mind control if he really wanted to. There was a point where I thought Barnabas was going to leer at him with an arched eyebrow and say, “My, my, you would happen to be a murderer, would you?” It’s hilarious, because Barnabas is out of his element as a detective, and yet has no idea. He thinks he’s another Dupin. But it looks like the Bobby Brady School of Crime-solving more than THE PURLOINED LETTER. That’s DARK SHADOWS comedy, Mr. Burton.
Episode 1038 airs on this date.
The most important thing I found about June 17 is that every episode is a notable one for Nancy Barrett. Watched in one sitting? Her range is one of DARK SHADOWS' greatest assets, matched only by her commitment.