Written by James Goss, Directed by David Darlington and Darren Gross
In which Maggie Evans (Scott), on the verge of ending it all after the traumatic events chronicled in Beyond the Grave, is prevented from doing so by the recently resurrected Nicholas Blair (Baker), who then offers her the opportunity to live happily ever after…
Throughout Dark Shadows, Maggie Evans has always been a scrappy fighter, which makes Kathryn Leigh Scott’s initially defeated performance in this story all the more haunting. Bereft, shell-shocked and above all else weary to the bone, it’s a side of the character we’ve rarely glimpsed, and Scott really rises to the occasion.
Except for flashbacks involving the recently deceased Sheriff Jim Hardy (Marx) and his never-quite-the-right-time attempts at courting Maggie, The Harvest of Souls is essentially a two-hander focusing on Maggie and Nicholas Blair. Unsurprisingly, Colin Baker channels much of the arrogant hubris of his days as the Sixth Doctor on television, but just as he’s tempered “Ol’ Sixie” over the years in his Big Finish Doctor Who audios, so he convincingly conveys a previously unhinted-at side to the warlock – a desire to be a force for good…!
Somewhat sprawling and far-ranging for an intimate character piece, this story touches upon such subjects as the origins of the Stairway Into Time as well as the reason why the Leviathans have taken such an increasing interest in Collinsport (not to mention the effect this has had on the area and its human inhabitants over the years). It’s an ambitious script that resonates with regret and consequence and the unsettling notion that not only do some people not believe in happy endings, but even if such things existed, they believe they wouldn’t be entitled to them…
Verdict: An intense character study that doesn’t flinch from going to truly dark places. At times it may feel more like an episode of The Twilight Zone than Dark Shadows, but in this case that’s no bad thing… 8/10
John S. Hall