By PATRICK McCRAY
July 1, 1966
Taped on this date: Episode 15
At last, we have plotsign! We have plotsign the likes of which even god has never seen. Okay. I exaggerate, but only a little. David really comes into his own with potential patricide on the menu. A car crash with stock footage is nothing to sneeze at. The supernatural undertones work also. It’s hard to know to what degree David is actually speaking to the spirit of Laura, but it’s a marvelous prelude for what’s to come.
July 1, 1968
Taped on this date: Episode 536
Having survived the dream, Barnabas is confident that he is victorious over Angelique. He sends Julia to fetch Willie, and immediately thereafter, there’s a knock on the door. He answers it, only to be attacked by a bat just as he was in 1795. Angelique’s laughter rings in the background. In the root cellar, Carolyn finds Adam clutching his neck in symbiotic pain with Barnabas. Adam refuses to go to a hospital. As Adam calls Barnabas’ name, Carolyn comforts him with the knowledge that Professor Stokes will soon be there. As Barnabas writhes in pain, he instructs Julia to follow the emergency plan. Willie is to use the stake and hammer on him. He doesn’t want to. All Julia wants is for Willie to help her carry Barnabas into the house. At the root cellar, Adam passes out just as Stokes arrives. Stokes learns that Adam kept repeating Barnabas’s name, and tells Caroline that Adam hates Barnabas for unknown reasons. Barnabas appears dead, and Willie cries for him. Julia knows that she is supposed to stake him, but she is equally agonized with indecision. Willie brings in the stake and hammer, and Julia reluctantly takes them, ready to do the deed. At the last minute, she pulls back. Willie is thrilled. But what now? Too many people know if his original hiding place. She orders him to dig a grave in the woods. Elsewhere, Stokes finds that Adam’s heart has stopped. Carolyn is distraught and confused. Stokes’ intuition tells him to wait before acting. At the graveside, Willie and Julia wonder if they are doing the right thing. Julia realizes that he has only done what he was driven to do, and that he was always a good man. It is a touching eulogy. Willie begins to cast dirt into the grave, but Julia feels that some sort of ceremony is necessary, and they pray. At the root cellar, Stokes concludes that there is nothing left to do, and leaves. He advises that neither of them will be around when the police investigate. There is too much for them to find out. Back at the graveside, Julia cannot bring herself to cry because she cannot imagine life without Barnabas.
Sometimes, it takes your protagonist being bitten into unconsciousness by a spectral bat to allow the other characters a chance to savor their greatness. That’s certainly the case, here. This episode redefines both Willie and Julia. In the space of a year, Barnabas has earned their loads, friendship, and admiration. That feat of storytelling shows the tremendous dimension of the show ended these characters, and I defy any other genre program to better it. I know that BABYLON 5 and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA pride themselves on surprising audiences with character reversals and evolutions, but this is just as bold and twice as believable. It’s also one of the few times in the series that characters pray. We don’t actually see them doing it, so we don’t know what sort of prayer it is, but one can imagine it’s of the Judeo-Christian variety. That’s strange because, other than brandishing crosses this is a relatively secular show, demons aside. They never celebrate Christmas. They use the Bible to record family names and lifespans. But that’s about it. Maybe the prayer is silent. That would be the most logical thing. DARK SHADOWS gains much of its spark from presenting characters who redefine themselves based on new discoveries of love and possibility. This is one of the most important episodes for Barnabas Collins, and he’s barely in it.
July 1, 1969
Taped on this date: Episode 793
1897. Angelique encounters Aristede, sent to fetch the hand from him. To persuade him, she wraps a cloth around the statue. Thinking it a mere game, he underestimates her power. He begins to strangle. Terrified, he reveals that the hand is buried in the cemetery. She resumes her strangulation, giving the cloth a good tug and then dropping it into his unconscious hand. At Collinwood, Edward informs Beth that she will be accompanying him to Portland tomorrow to help confine Judith to a hospital. That night, however, Beth is going out to find and help Quentin. By the docks, Petofi awakens Aristede and chastises him for not getting the hand. He blames Angelique and her powers. The Count concludes that the hand is vital to someone there, and they must be located. At the old house, Beth enters looking for Barnabas. Instead, she finds a hideously disfigured Quentin. She screams. He calls to her. She recognizes his voice. He reports that he transformed into this hideous figure at the end of the his wealth cycle the prior night. He orders her to leave, citing the truth that they have no future. She vows to free him. Back at Collinwood, Edward informs Angelique that Evan Hanley was unable to clear her name. She has known all along Barnabas was. He also feels that she knows where he is. She claims to have been his victim also. She had neither choice nor power, or so she tells a sympathetic Edward. She likens her experience to what happened to charity. Edward insists that she stay at Collinwood, and then goes to answer the door. Angelique smirks and Count Petofi enters, claiming to be Victor Fenn-Gibbon, the Earl of Hampshire. He even has a letter of recommendation. Edward is impressed. He even invites him to stay at Collingwood. Angelique senses the presence of a fellow magic user. She is holding the box with the hand, and he gazes longingly at it. She excuses herself, and he is immediately obsessed. He and Edward relax over brandy. Edward is charmed. At the Old House, Angelique presents Quentin met with the hand. Beth wants to see the hand, but Angelique sends her back to Collinwood. Alone together, she opens the box, revealing the hand. Later that night, Petofi thanks Edward and bids a good night. Meanwhile, Angelique has a price for helping to heal Quentin: marriage. He accepts. She holds the hand aloft, and begins her ritual. She suddenly feel the hand pulling away from her. It lands on Quentin’s chest. He feels the pain of a transformation, even though there is no full moon. He transforms into the Wolf. From outside, Petofi gazes in at the spectacle.
Enter Count Petofi! Need I say more? Sure. As “Victor Finn-Gibbon,” this is Thayer David’s fifth character on the show, and it’s a marvelous reintroduction after a 42 episode absence. Terry Crawford is back after 21 episodes. “Fenn-Gibbon,” boasts of knowing Lord Kitchener. Who was he? It’s odd. Although he is one of the great military figures of that era, his most famous exploits would take place after 1897. Was Petofi already time traveling?
July 1, 1970
Taped on this date: Episode 1053
1970PT. Angelique is on to Julia. But Julie argues that she is still Hoffman, her servant. Angelique agrees, but what is her game? She summons her back to Collinwood. There, Roger continues to fret as Elizabeth cautiously approaches from upstairs. She says that she awoke from her sedatives for a reason. She could feel her daughter’s presence in her room. The brutality of her murder prevents her spirit from resting. The communication can only be happening for one reason – Carolyn is trying to tell her who the murderer is. Barnabas enters. He advises Elizabeth to get some rest. Julia and Angelique enter, and the former acts just as her evil doppelgänger. Upstairs, Roger speaks to the portrait of Angelique, saying that she will do anything to have her final word. He was foolish to think that everything would be changed once she was gone. The only thing changed is him. He confesses to her murder. Only to the air. And he is stunned that she is back Liz overhears this, stating that he killed Carolyn. He confesses to all of it. She tries to strike him with a statue, and he fights back. He wraps his hands around her neck and she collapses. Julia and Angelique explore far below the house. It is the new hiding place for Quentin. Angelique triggers a secret door, and has Julia go in the first. Closing the door, she reveals that the place is not for Quentin. She still knows that this is Dr. Julia Hoffman. The plot is simply to low her into a false sense of security. She could kill Julia, but she’s more valuable alive. Where is Hoffman? Julia tells her the truth. Angelique decides to keep her in the room until she reveals the secret of Barnabas Collins. Roger deposits Liz’s body in a window seat just before Barnabas comes in and asks what he’s doing there. Roger claims is trying to get his thoughts straight. Barnabas is concerned about was wandering around the house. He sees the broken statue that Liz used to attack Roger. Roger wants to go down to the drawing room, and Barnabas persists in asking what is wrong. Roger finally persuades him to go downstairs. Meanwhile, in the secret room, Julia feigns innocence. Angelique brandishes an amulet and asks Julia to turn around. Julia knows how to resist hypnotism, however. Up in the drawing room, Barnabas suggests that Liz might need a permanent nurse. Down below, Angelique threatens black magic, but thinks that isolation and imprisonment might ultimately be the most effective technique. No food. No replacement candles. No water. With that, Angelique exits, shutting the door. Julia is trapped.
Again, things just keep happening. As always, the villains are a little sharper than the heroes, but not by much. Especially in this case. The revelation of Angelique’s murderer is so muted, I feel like I’m watching an episode directed by Robert Altman. For me, this is Julia’s arc. Never issued braver. Never did she take more risks. And never have we seen her so close to real Grayson Hall. Commanding. Wise. And, as they say in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, always with a touch of humor. What’s not so funny? The last appearance of Liz Stoddard in Parallel Time. Although it’s strangely fascinating to see Roger kill her, does it really count?