By PATRICK McCRAY
Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 479
As Lang is about to operate, Barnabas arrives, frightened that his vampirism is returning. Lang reveals his plan to transplant Jeff’s face onto the creature awaiting Barnabas' life force. Barnabas knows that with Jeff’s face, he will never be able to hide the monstrous choices made by the real man who wears it. Lang uses Barnabas’ sense of love for Victoria and fear of destroying her as a vampire to gain his assistance. Barnabas, tortured, begins to leave when Victoria arrives, looking for Jeff. Lang leaves to misdirect her. Alone with the bodies of Jeff and the creature, Barnabas hears her fear of losing Jeff. This is too much for him. Galvanized into heroism and moved by her right for love — even for Jeff Clark — Barnabas releases Jeff from his bonds. The time has come, he decides, "to say enough."
Lang returns to find Barnabas refusing to allow Clark to be Lang’s victim. Jeff overhears their debate. Barnabas suggests that they tell Jeff he is simply delusional. Jeff, actually awake, springs up with a scalpel. Lang claims that it could be another murder on his conscience, and that he will descend into madness. Jeff, confused, is again knocked unconscious by Lang, who says that he will be dead soon. Lang returns Jeff to the table. Barnabas suggests that Julia can hypnotize Jeff into forgetting the events in the lab. Julia can keep Lang’s secrets, and Barnabas knows that he can use Julia’s dark past as leverage to ensure her silence. As Jeff comes back to consciousness, he calls for Vicki. Barnabas calls for Julia only to find himself staring down the barrel of Lang's gun.
Show of hands. I think a fair number of us are here because we enjoy taking DARK SHADOWS too seriously. I know I do. Having said that... There are only five or six episodes of DARK SHADOWS that truly matter to the arc of the story at its most essential. Of those, this may be the most important. No kidding. To invert what's said in THE DARK KNIGHT, "You either die a villain, or you live long enough to see yourself become a hero." Sometimes that takes over 170 years. Just a single year after Willie staggered into the Blue Whale, bitten and humbled — and one year after Joe discovered the calf drained of blood — we find Barnabas saying “enough.” If you want the one episode in which Barnabas reclaims his true sense of self and discovers a sense of grit that he never knew in early 1795, it’s this. For me, this is where Barnabas changes and the series changes. Is it because he’s no longer a vampire? No. I don’t think so. And will he backslide? Many times. But if you’re looking for the true Barnabas Collins, episode 479 is where he lives. 1968 needed him. And so does 2016.