281 Gallery





Alexandra Moltke


Joe Caldwell


John Sedwick


July 24, 1967


July 6, 1967


Complete: Disc 32
Collection 2: Disc 4

281 Gallery
We have 8 images of Dark Shadows 281

The costume party breaks up after the séance. Barnabas gives Victoria Josette's music box, which has an instant effect on her.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]


A strong star has pierced the mists that cover Collinwood. Vague outlines appear, elusive now but soon they will reveal themselves for what they are. But the mists within the mind, and the mists that have protected the present from the past are lifting too. And what there is to be seen will be witnessed by no strong star, but by something as frail and frightened as the human mind.

Despite objections, a séance is being held during the costume party at the Old House. Contact with a wandering spirit has been made, and it has chosen Victoria as its medium. She cries out that she "must run... run...", and then screams out "don't stop me!"

Act I

Cold and terrified, the spirit speaking through Victoria relates her intense desire to flee from someone. She is running toward the cliffs at Widows' Hill and intends to jump into the sea far below. Elizabeth realizes that it is Josette. Victoria begins to scream, and Barnabas, unwilling to allow her to experience Josette's death, stops the séance. Victoria slips into unconsciousness. Roger and Carolyn are frustrated that they failed to learn the identity of the man chasing Josette. But Barnabas, his emotions getting the better of him, says he couldn't let her die again.

Act II

Victoria awakens with no memory of recent events. She learns that Josette spoke through her again, and that her ghost was reliving the moments before her death. Carolyn is curious to know if Josette was trying to tell them something important. But Barnabas dismisses this idea, saying that whomever was chasing Josette is "long dead" and that it is cruel to put both her and Victoria through such torment. Still, Carolyn believes Josette was trying to warn them of danger. Victoria picks up on this, reminding everyone that the Collinsport Strangler is still at large. Burke insists on taking her back to Collinwood when Victoria confesses to feeling as if she has been running. She refuses, instead wanting a little fresh air. As she moves toward the front door, Victoria senses something and glances at the top of the stairs. She sees Sarah turn and disappear into the shadows. Barnabas, alarmed when Victoria calls out to the little girl, checks but there is no one there. Victoria recalls Sarah's dress she discovered in the trunk, and is sure the little girl she just saw was wearing it.


Much later, the Collins Family have returned to Collinwood. Elizabeth still believes it was wrong masquerading as their ancestors, and to tamper with the past. Roger, however, had a wonderful time and Victoria is disappointed in the way in which the party ended. She is haunted by Barnabas' sadness and loneliness and, once she and Carolyn are alone, isn't positive if she really saw a little girl at the top of the stairs or not. Meanwhile, Sarah has returned her party dress to Josette's room only to disappear seconds before Barnabas enters. Disturbed when he finds the dress, he carefully returns it to the trunk. Then, he turns to the Portrait of Josette and explains to her why he halted the séance: she is gone as the past is gone; he must live in the present, and if he is to truly have her again she must be someone from the present. He pleads with Josette's ghost to go away and to never come back.

Act IV

Carolyn relates to Victoria how she's finally gotten over her feelings for Burke, and doesn't resent the two of them being together. But Victoria's mind is filled with thoughts of Barnabas, and she barely registers Burke's name when it's mentioned. Carolyn says goodnight, leaving the governess alone in the drawing room. She answers a knock at the door to find Barnabas, who has come to visit her. He thanks her for attending the party, and for relishing the spirit of the evening. He claims not to believe in ghosts, however seeing Victoria made him believe that Josette had returned for one night. This endears Barnabas to her even more. He offers her a gift: Josette's music box. Barnabas plays the music for her, and Victoria is instantly mesmerized by the melody.

Memorable quotes[edit | edit source]

Carolyn: Last time there was something very specific Josette wanted to tell us. I wonder if she was trying to tell us something this time, too?

Roger: What is the value of suffering if it isn't to be enjoyed?
Elizabeth: Enjoy your own then, not other people's.

Victoria: I believe in a past and a present, and I believe at some time--during a very special moment--they become confused, they meet. And I think perhaps tonight was one of those nights.

Dramatis personae[edit | edit source]

Background information and notes[edit | edit source]

Production[edit | edit source]

  • This episode was recorded out of broadcast sequence. The previous episode to be recorded was 277.
  • The sound warps as Sarah's theme of London Bridge begins to play.

Story[edit | edit source]

Bloopers and continuity errors[edit | edit source]

  • Back at Collinwood, Joan Bennett stumbles over Barnabas' name. Then, after she says, "I'll give him our apologies tomorrow," she obviously has forgotten her next line, and repeats "we should all go to bed", which she said just a few lines earlier.
  • After the séance, while everyone is questioning Victoria about who was chasing her, Jonathan Frid starts to say his line early and is cut off by Louis Edmonds. Similarly, Joan Bennett checks the prompter several times to follow along with who should speak next.

External links [edit | edit source]

Dark Shadows - Episode 281 on the IMDb

Dark Shadows Every Day - Episode 281 - Ancestral Exercises

The Dark Shadows Daybook - Episode 281

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