By PATRICK McCRAY
Taped on this date in 1971: Episode 1244 (the penultimate episode of the series)
Catherine finds herself locked in the haunted room with Bramwell. Although Julia and Kendrick eventually find out where the lovers are, no key can be found. Alternately possessed by Brutus and Amanda, Bramwell and Catherine attempt to destroy one another. Nonetheless, each shows a sense of willpower strong enough to overcome Brutus, who eventually surrenders. Had they been in the room alone, no survival would have been possible. But now they must face an insane Morgan.
In a show that caters to lonely and isolated people, this ending is both the ultimate fantasy and an accidental affront. From the very beginning, DARK SHADOWS is a world that moves because love has soured, been withdrawn, or was an illusion. I think that’s why it resonates so deeply with so many people. And let’s not kid ourselves; soap operas of the era were aimed at a relatively powerless, stymied, and arguably (voluntarily) enslaved underclass of society. I can’t imagine being an ensnared domestic technician -- saddled with several bawling infants responsible for my dysmorphia -- and NOT wondering where the love went. In essence, DARK SHADOWS can often be a you-are-not-alone survival kit for the loveless. But any story is the journey of someone trying to fill the vacuum in their life… or to die trying. This can only end one of two ways for the Frid and the Parker avatars. We’ve seen so much relentless tragedy and failure in the series that, if only in the name of variety (though it’s more than that), the show is cosmically obligated to balance its own scales.
And Keith Prentice yells a lot.
On this day in 1971, Russia performed underground nuclear tests. The mine shaft gap was closing.