Monday, August 26, 2019

The Dark Shadows Daybook: August 26


Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 1092

Julia’s plan to put Maggie into intentional danger results in Maggie being put into intentional danger. Maggie: Kathryn Leigh Scott. (Repeat; 30 min.)

Julia uses Maggie as bait to find her attacker, but the plan fails. As she and Barnabas continue to decode prophecy and study Rose Cottage, the children are drawn to the playroom by Carrie’s taunting voice. There, they see themselves as dolls in the dollhouse.

1970 is Collinwood but not Collinwood when Barnabas and Julia return from Parallel Time and 1995. Roger and Liz are gone, as are any outsiders who are not menacing weirdos like Roxanne and Sebastian. I didn’t know how much I would miss Sam and Burke and the Blue Whale, which is the Drawing Room for the Common Man, quite so much. The stories have been so exotic that we really haven’t had time to mourn them. But the bread and butter of so much of the show was playing off rich from not-rich, isolated from urban, sherry from Stroh’s, etc. This perhaps became irrelevant with the introduction of Quentin, a man of pretty common sensibilities with an aristocratic last name. Losing that chemistry is a shame because it grounded the show and the family. Take that away, and disorientation sets in. Never before has the Collins family felt more isolated and helpless. Are these things even going on? Don’t bother to look, the mirror was blinded a year ago. The Collinses always saw themselves as the saviors of the commoners, but it’s the other way around. The last of the townsfolk, Maggie, is finally being sacrificed. It’s the price she pays for climbing Mt. Olympus. She was right to warn Vicki and a chump for ignoring her own advice.

1092 begins with Maggie being allowed to wander the Collins estate so that Julia can track down her assailant. When that fails, she and Barnabas refuse to alert the authorities, which might have been a lifesaving move. It’s as if they and the series want her to die. Maggie has been astonishingly indestructible, and it takes a team effort of malice, hunger, and negligent friends to finally pour her into Sebastian’s car. But with sensible average folk around, there is no way that the Collinses would have stayed in that house. I mean, it’s Quentin, the kids, Barnabas, and Julia. Carolyn, too. That’s a double room at the Collinsport Inn and a couple of sleeping bags. It might be close quarters, but Gerard can have the house. Doesn’t happen. In a vacuum of pragmatism, this is what we’re left with, and it’s intentional. Horror may be the ultimate expression of art because both are about stripping down the essentials until the only remaining choice exists by default.

The children fight inevitability and are victimized by it all at the same time that they symbolically enact it. (Kathy Cody’s best acting on the show is her eerie voice work as the gloating voice of Carrie.) Another element that makes this Collinwood-not-Collinwood begins with David Henesy’s narration. He’s not supposed to be doing this, and his voice is not supposed to be that deep. He and Hallie even argue over whether or not she’s a guest, and David gives her the bad news that she’s become a lifer. So… is she the next Vicki or Carolyn? Yes, no, too young. All answers apply, ultimately making her another element that doesn’t quite fit, and doesn’t quite fit… on purpose. It keeps Collinwood alien to us. Because this upcoming trip is not about saving David or Collinwood. Whether he knows it or not, this trip will ultimately be about Barnabas saving himself.

Barnabas continues to wander through a liminal forest, and in the words of Michael Corleone, every time he thinks he’s out, they pull him back in. 1897 seemed to be the forest, and 1970, home. It was a specific place to which he could return after Parallel Time, but nothing’s the same when he does. The household is different. Even Julia’s hair is different. The forest has followed him into a present that may be more unfamiliar than Parallel Time. By the time he returns home to 1971, Collinwood is finally the familiar same, but he is not. That’s the irony, and it’s not a nice one.

Is he being manipulated? We all are. Viewers and our sympathies. Heroes and their supposed true loves. 1092 is talking about this is loud silences and a final image both chilling and satirical when we realize we are in the dollhouse with them.

This episode hit the airwaves Sept. 1, 1970.

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