Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Dark Shadows: Bloodline, Episodes 5-6


Klaatu Barata Nic-Spoilers Ahead

“Someone in this town is responsible for the deaths of 13 people and I’m going to make sure that they pay for what they’ve done!”

Welcome back, lovely cultists! I hope everyone’s weekend resurrection rituals and/or sacrifice offerings went great! I, myself hopped a bus to Bangor and holed up in their cinema for the weekend, topping that off with a riotous discussion down the Blue Whale with one Patrick McCray, he of The Dark Shadows Daybook! That boozy chinwag you should be hearing quite soon, BUT enough about my drinking habits, SOMEONE BLEW UP COLLINSPORT HOSPITAL! And we are here to get to the bloody bottom of it, aren’t we?

First up, we have the tense and claustrophobic episode 5 written by Alan Flanagan. When we last left our goth heroes, Collinsport Hospital has just suffered a massive explosion. With many of our central cast inside! What follows is this series’ first “bottle episode” with the action set mainly in the burning hospital as Barnabas, Julia, and Dr. Hill attempt to save the patients already admitted, plus the recently injured Cody and David Collins.

This thing seriously moves like a bullet, and Flanagan is constantly upping the stakes. Either by allowing another mainstay to leap into the fray, like Adam Hall’s Nu Burke, or by putting another “Towering Inferno-esque” obstacle in their way. This leads to some great tension between the two doctors Hill and Hoffman as well as a bit more sauce for the goose that is the “Vivian Bell Problem”. That’s right, in a canny opening gambit, Flanagan shows us the very seconds before the explosion for a certain set of characters and it’s revealed that Viv was ALSO in the hospital moments before the explosion. No doubt hoping to continue to put the squeeze on David, on the heels of a beating from Jamison Selby’s Ed Griffin.

It really is all around great stuff. Literally putting our cast through the fire makes for stellar listening and the sound design of David Darlington really amps of the terror and threat of the looming, rapidly spreading fire. We don’t get much headway toward a resolution (obviously) aside from some lampshading about how it had to have been a planned attack. Nor is this the most substantial episode on the Rosier front (if you’ll remember he was the Daniel Collard played demon who tried to end David and Amy’s relationship before it even started in Tainted Love). BUT it is a real belter of a listen with it’s constantly rising stakes, fantastic performances, and almost relentless pace.

And in the aftermath of this tragedy, the Big Day arrives for Amy and David in the Rob Morris scripted episode 6! Finishing on this first volume on a grand cliffhanger, one which finds the whole town FORGETTING David even existed, Morris, the cast, and the rest of the production staff rise admirably to the big occasion.

While the actual ceremony is the big headline here, this episode is surprisingly plot heavy for a volume “finale”. For one, we get plenty more headway into the Viv and Harry’s contentious relationship, beautifully acted by Georgina Strawson and Scott Haran. We also get some more insight into Barnabas’ lingering bloodlust and lack of viable food options which is driving him deeper into his monstrous side. I have spoken a lot here recently about my growing admiration for Andrew Collins’ portrayal of Barnabas and as this series goes on, I’m increasingly convinced this series might be his finest hour(s) as the character. Finally there is also the newly introduced thread of certain characters feeling a sense of unease rippling through their minds, all leading up to David literally ghosting on the altar. This is the kind of stuff that made us keep watching the next episode and Bloodline seems to be leaning into the more cruel cliffhangers of the show. In. To. It.

From a burning hospital to a disappearing groom, Dark Shadows: Bloodline episodes 5 and 6 have it all, ending this first volume on one hell of a mic drop. This series has been so, so fun so far because it seems that literally ANNNNYthing can happen. With Bloodlust it was just quaint little murders and witchcraft. But this thing? It’s on a whole other level. Until next time, goons, I’ll be seeing you.

(Editor's note: Episodes 5 and 6 of Bloodline are available HERE.)

Justin Partridge has always loved monsters and he thinks that explains a lot about him. When he isn’t over analyzing comics at Newsarama or ranting about Tom Clancy over at Rogues Portal, he is building Call of Cthulhu games, spreading the good word of Anti-Life, or rewatching Garth Marenghi's Darkplace for the dozenth time. He can be reached at the gasping Lovecraftian void that is Twitter @j_partridgeIII or via e-mail at Odds are he will want to talk about Hellblazer.

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