Monday, December 31, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: DECEMBER 27


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 660

Barnabas may be able to defy the centuries to save Victoria, but can he defy Julia? Julia: Grayson Hall. (Repeat; 30 min.)

Spurred by a photo that Quentin had David plant, Barnabas is convinced that he should go back in time and save Victoria Winters from being hanged as a witch. Stokes and Julia voice doubts, but the appearance of graves from the past convince him that he must proceed.

Finding purpose. It’s an onus for everyone. For Barnabas, even moreso, and the sheer amount of Dark Shadows makes it more than possible for him to explore that question… it makes it essential. At a certain point, what else are you going to do with these people for hundreds of hours. They can’t drink brandy and talk about a pen forever.

For the first time, we really see Barnabas contending with living in the past and present at once. At least, for the first time since his arrival and conversion. Just because he’s no longer a supernatural man doesn’t mean he’s immune to feeling the effects of the supernatural. The show opened the time travel can o’worms when Barnabas was first unleashed. Unusual time travel, but time travel nonetheless. We are all time travelers in a very similar sense, just on a different scale. One of the reasons the show resonates is that the past is always living with us… and living us… whether we like it or not. Conventional wisdom tells us not to focus on that. It’s pointless. But Barnabas has no choice, and here he’s confronted with a chance to do something about it. Will it change him? No. It will change others, and changing others for the better, rather than the worse, is perhaps one small way he can make cosmic amends. With Nicholas Blair out of the way, Barnabas is on the other side of intimidation. After he smashes the equipment to revive Eve, we see a different character. While the past thirty or so episodes have been a warmup, now Barnabas at his best and fullest is striding onto the field. It’s an appropriately timed emerging, since it’s in the service of taking the baton from the retiring protagonist. Fitting that it should happen in 1796, the year he left his home and the year she finally found hers — both in a life after death after life.

The show rarely deals in parallelism and metaphor, but it reaches for something beautifully sophisticated here. Julia takes on the role of parent, telling Barnabas again and   again he can’t will himself through time. Similarly, Barnabas tells the children they can’t go to Boston. David becomes a strange conscience for Barnabas when he complains that adults get to do as they please, only to be told it only seems this way. But this clearly sticks with Barnabas as he realizes that he does have free will, and that living a life where it is inhibited is to live the life of an intimidated child. He’s not even going to be intimidated by his own past, as we see when he comes as close as possible to outing himself to Stokes, only to be stopped by Julia, coughing like a sitcom character in a hamfisted coverup.

This begins a story that both stands independently, like a primetime episode, and connects the beginning of the series to its eventual resolution. Victoria has come looking for a purpose, and Barnabas will end by finding his. In between, they meet. 630 comes roughly halfway through the series. No episode nor arc could be more fitting.

This episode was broadcast Jan. 3, 1969.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...