Episode 372: Another Country

“Joshua Collins can think up a whole lot of ways to be cruel to a man.”

Vicki has mysteriously traveled back in time, from 1967 to 1795, and now she has to fit in, because she doesn’t know how to get home. She’s actually doing remarkably well, under the circumstances. Personally, I’m not sure what I’d do if I suddenly found myself in the wrong century; I don’t really have a backup plan for that. I’ve just tried to stay in the century that I’m in, and so far, it’s worked out okay. So Vicki does earn some respect, just for getting up in the morning and dealing with whatever year she happens to find herself in.

That being said, it’s Vicki, and she’s an idiot. So, obviously, when she meets a Collins family servant who looks like the guy who kidnapped and tried to kill her with an axe last year, she doesn’t say, “Aha, here’s another person from 1795 who coincidentally looks like someone that I used to know; I should play it cool and introduce myself.” Nope. She backs up against the wall and shouts, “Stay away from me!” and then she screams and screams and screams and screams and screams.

372 dark shadows vicki ben matthew

This isn’t Matthew Morgan, by the way. Admittedly, he does look a lot like Matthew, but there are some crucial differences, most notably the fact that Matthew lived in the 20th century, which is not where we currently are. Also, Matthew kidnapped Vicki and tried to kill her with an axe, and this guy did not. I’ll admit that these are subtle distinctions, but try to focus.

372 dark shadows joshua ben reprimand

Naturally, employers tend to take a dim view of this kind of breakdown in staff relations. Joshua hears Vicki screaming, and he comes storming in, with a face like thunder.

Joshua demands an explanation, but the servant, Ben Stokes, has no idea what to say. Like everyone on the show, he used to exist in an orderly, peaceful world, and then Victoria Winters came into his life.

Ben:  I didn’t do anythin’. We were talkin’, and I turned round, and she started screamin’. I don’t know why.

Joshua:  You must have done something to frighten her!

Ben:  I didn’t… I swear I didn’t!

Vicki:  He’s right. He didn’t do anything.

Joshua:  Then why did you scream?

Vicki:  Because… because he looks like someone I knew a long time ago. Someone who frightened me. But it was all my fault.

372 dark shadows joshua vicki apology

But Joshua Collins is not a man who backs down, once he’s gotten angry about something. He just glares and shouts even louder.

Joshua is fantastic, by the way. I don’t think I’ve talked about him much so far, because there are so many new characters around, but he’s exactly what the show needs right now. When the show started, Roger was the villain — a moody, vindictive manipulator — but the writing team’s turned over three times since then, and all of Roger’s rough edges were smoothed away. He became a nice guy, which is great if you plan to stand around and drink sherry, but there wasn’t any drama left in the character.

Joshua gives Louis Edmonds the chance to cut loose, and really play the tyrannical authority figure. Joshua is not a nice guy.

372 dark shadows joshua vicki not fair

And even though Vicki is getting more comfortable here in the 18th century, she gets a firm reminder that the past is another country.

Joshua:  He has engaged a young lady of this house in conversation. He has been told repeatedly that he is forbidden to do that. He took a liberty that he was not supposed to take, and he must be punished for it.

Vicki:  But that’s not fair.

Joshua:  I am the master of this house, Miss Winters. I will decide what is fair and what is not fair. Do we understand each other?

In other words: the employers in the 1960s might be okay with backchat from the hired help, but you’re in 1795, and these people are not your family.

372 dark shadows joshua eyes

Joshua turns on Ben like he’s training a willful dog.

Joshua:  Now then, Stokes, about your request for a holiday tomorrow. I have decided to withdraw my permission. You will remain on the property and go about your duties as usual.

Ben:  But I…

Joshua:  Don’t argue with me, man! I have given you an order.

372 dark shadows ben puppy dog

And look at Ben’s little face! It makes me want to cry. I’m thrilled to have Thayer David back on Dark Shadows. He left the show almost a year ago, in December 1966, following the whole killing Vicki with an axe thing. But now he’s back to stay — he ends up playing eight different characters on Dark Shadows, four of them named Stokes. Ben is my favorite, and this expression is why. Sad little mans.

372 dark shadows vicki joshua criminal

When Ben is dismissed, Vicki tries to plead his case, inspiring another Joshua rant.

Joshua:  Stokes must be kept in line. He came here from a prison in Salem; he’s indentured to me for the remainder of his prison term. I allowed him to come here because he’s strong and able-bodied, and I needed able-bodied men to help clear the property. But I don’t trust him, or any of his kind, and I must rule him with an iron fist.

Vicki:  But why was he in prison? What was his crime?

Joshua:  He broke into a farmhouse, and ransacked it. When he was caught, he claimed that he was returning from the war, and he was starving and freezing.

Vicki:  Well, perhaps he was!

Joshua:  You sound like Jeremiah and Barnabas. If they had their way, he would sit at table with the entire family!

So, Vicki — again, not your time period. People are different here. Also, you might want to keep an eye on references to the justice system in Salem. That’s going to be a real pain in the neck for you later.

372 dark shadows angelique tree

And then Ben’s day just keeps getting worse. Outside, he runs into Angelique, who’s gathering deadly nightshade from a tree for some crazy-girl potion she’s planning. This is a pretty good trick, because nightshade usually grows on low bushes.

372 dark shadows ben angelique bay leaves

Ben spots her, and asks what she’s doing. She tells him that she’s gathering bay leaves, to make a special salad for her mistress.

Bay leaves also grow on low bushes, but what the hell. Maybe plants were different back then too.

372 dark shadows ben angelique wait

Angelique doesn’t want Ben to mention her “mistake” to anyone, so she flirts with him, hoping to get on his good side. This just makes him confused.

Ben:  Why are you wastin’ your time talkin’ to me?

Angelique:  I don’t consider it a waste of time.

Ben:  I shouldn’t be talkin’ to you. If anyone sees me, I’ll be punished for it. Whipped, prob’ly. I’m not supposed to talk to the womenfolk… by order of Mr. Joshua Collins.

372 dark shadows ben angelique cruel

Angelique:  But that’s a ridiculous order! Why, I never heard of anything so cruel.

Ben:  Joshua Collins can think up a whole lot of ways to be cruel to a man. Someday, I…  (He clenches his fists, but then stops himself before he goes too far.)

Angelique:  Go on.

Ben:  Never mind. I gotta go. I got work to do.

372 dark shadows angelique prepares

And all of a sudden, there’s a point to Dark Shadows.

This was an unusual thing for a soap opera to have in 1967. Soap operas weren’t supposed to be about anything, other than a strategy to get housewives to leave the television on until the next commercial break.

As James Thurber wrote in “Soapland“, his 1948 series of articles on radio serials for The New Yorker, the recipe for soap operas was simple:

“Between thick slices of advertising, spread twelve minutes of dialogue, add predicament, villainy, and female suffering in equal measure, throw in a dash of nobility, sprinkle with tears, season with organ music, cover with a rich announcer sauce, and serve five times a week.”

That was still the case in 1967. Soap operas expressed a point of view, but it was entirely focused on personal, domestic tragedies, and the message was, essentially: Be brave, take care of your family, and endure.

372 dark shadows angelique potion

But that message was about to get more mature, and more complicated. In July 1968, Dark Shadows was bumped a half-hour later on the schedule, and the 3:30pm timeslot was given to One Life to Live, the first explicitly socially conscious soap opera.

One Life to Live focused on a diverse community, with five core households — a wealthy white Protestant family, a middle class Irish Catholic clan, a Jewish family, a working-class Polish family, and an African-American family. Early storylines focused on interracial dating, drug abuse, mental illness and, of course, class conflicts between the families.

372 dark shadows ben called

But here we are, seven months before One Life to Live debuts, and this entire storyline is about social class. Joshua rules his estate, and his servants, with that “iron fist” he’s so attached to. Barnabas is marrying a wealthy heiress, and Jeremiah is expected to marry his well-to-do cousin, Millicent.

372 dark shadows angelique chromakey

And then there’s Angelique, the class war’s ultimate fighting champion. She believes that Barnabas is more passionately in love with her than he is with Josette, but he’s convinced himself that he wants to marry the family-approved rich girl.

That’s a debatable point, which has been fiercely debated in the blog’s comments section over the last couple weeks, but my point is that Angelique’s frustration and rage is partly due to the deeply unfair class structure that places her, firmly and permanently, in the role of disposable serving wench.

372 dark shadows angelique ben wanted

Nobody says that Dark Shadows has a claim to OLTL’s “first socially-conscious soap opera” title, because people don’t take fantasy/sci-fi storylines seriously. Also, the show is clearly bonkers, and it’s being assembled by people who are essentially falling downstairs every day and hoping to find something interesting at the bottom.

But when Angelique summons Ben to her room, gives him a potion to drink, and tells him that now he’s her slave…

Just keep an eye on the poor people, that’s all I’m saying. Life is about to get pretty hard for anyone with an income.

Tomorrow: The Devil Wears Prada.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

At the end of Angelique’s scene in the woods with Ben, she bends down to pick up the leaves that she spilled on the ground. You can see the burlap that makes the forest floor bunching up at the bottom right of the screen. Also, she picks up leaves that are attached to a twig and puts them in her basket; the twig hangs down from the basket as she picks up more leaves. She pretends that she doesn’t notice.

They almost get the Chromakey right this time. A ghostly vision of Angelique appears in the forest to Ben, beckoning to him. They could get away with her appearing about a foot too short, because she’s meant to be far away, but Ben’s eyeline doesn’t match.

Anachronism alert: When she’s making her potion, Angelique unscrews the lid of a bottle. Screw lids weren’t invented until 1858.

Tomorrow: The Devil Wears Prada.

372 dark shadows ben angelique power

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

24 thoughts on “Episode 372: Another Country

  1. Screw lids weren’t invented until 1858? Next thing you’ll be teachin’ us is that voodoo isn’t real. Insanity, I say, Insanity! And me with all my toy soldiers of my enemies…

    Sweet Vicki. Sweet dumb Vicki. I do want to give her a pass on Ben Stokes, because her reaction in a sense is to mirror and cue the audience’s – as in, that moment of vertigo oh-oh-my-God-that crazy axe wannabe killer is back! And isn’t Thayer David’s return another vital sign of how DS is evolving into an ensemble of players? Not even being haunted to death will keep an actor away.

    Louis Edmonds does his finest work on the series as Joshua, a man who learns his inability to love is the only thing that saved him from the curse that wiped out his family. That all kinds of messed-up tragedy.

    1. Actually, Joshua did care for Barnabas if you study the episodes. In fact he cared about Barnabas more than Angelique. Angelique just had a passionate love which means she didn’t think of the morality of her actions most of the time. Probably with Joshua he loved Barnabas on the subconscious level not the conscious level. In fact Angelique cursed didn’t include all love, it was romantic, parent to child and sibling love not friendship love if it did Ben Stokes would have been died as well.

      1. I’m not insulting folks here that have Aspergers but there are some traits in Joshua Collins that are similar to the more negative aspects of it. Granted, most Aspies are not dominating people. Here’s an interesting lis I found that sounds similar to J Collins.We can be very critical
        We takes things personally
        Single-mindedness
        Likes and dislikes can be very rigid
        Can engage in tasks (sometimes mudane ones) for hours and hours
        Focus and diligence – The Asperger ability to focus on tasks for a long period of time without needing supervision or incentive is legendary.
        Attention to detail – sometimes with painstaking perfection.
        We Can often be distant physically and/or emotionally.May have a hard time saying I love you, showing physical affection
        Often times we will make no motions to keep a friendships going
        Our attention is narrowly focused on our own interestsLack of empathy at timesLack of interest in other people
        Difficulty understanding others’ feelings Rigid social behavior due to an inability to spontaneously adapt to variations in social situations
        Has an urge to inform that can result in being blunt / insulting
        Not saying that Joshua had Aspergers but its interesting and when DS was made it was not known since it was first reported in the 1940’s.

  2. It’s difficult for me to feel any sympathy for Angelique in the role of “disposable serving wench.” Mortal women working in domestic service often did so because they had no other choices available to them. Angelique’s supernatural powers give her other options. She doesn’t need a rich guy to save her from a life of drudgery or the restrictions of an unfair class structure.. She could do that for herself without piling up any bodies along the way.. And so you have to wonder why she is even a maid in the first place?

    1. You are right, Valerie. With her powers, she could be doing a lot more. In 1970 we find her married to Rumsen…. With all her powers, all she can do is get herself a rich husband????

    2. Actually, that’s the best criticism of DS I’ve ever seen. She could be ruling all of Bangor – as she did in Tim Burton film (sorry for bringing that up) – and the 1692 retcon even further complicates Angelique’s motivations and history.

  3. Angelique in 1795 is not the most accomplished witch. We’ll see this when she summons a zombie and promptly loses control over him or utterly fails to remove a curse that will ultimately cost her her life.

    She is more powerful in death. The Angelique of 1897 is a demon from hell, basically, but the one of 1795 is a young woman fiddling with forces beyond her control.

    (It’s sort of like the force in Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back — huge powe upgrades between films.)

    Also, notice how the series plays with our allegiances and sympathies — Barnabas rejected Angelique and there’s a bit of us who might be glad to see him stew a bit in his own juices. And now Joshua is someone we love to hate, so we will be glad to see Angelique unleash her powers on him.

  4. I find it interesting and a little hilarious that the invention of Angelique was meant to be the way Barnabas was shifted from villain to a sympathetic character, and yet so many modern viewers think Angelique was justified in what she did and Barnabas was just a schmuck with a roving eye. Is this just a 21st Century viewpoint or did 1960s viewers feel the same way? If they did, then the predominantly male writing staff at DS missed their mark. LOL!

    1. Interesting contrast, Casey. Danny has been great about giving context to the show, but I want to add that across the soaps at this time – particularly “The Secret Storm” and “Search for Tomorrow” – these b—s who didn’t care who got caught in their crossfire as they went after a man – were common.

      What separates Angelique is her ability to play with toy soldiers, linens and love potions.

      I think right now we’re all responding to the episodes as they unfold on the blog. It will be interesting to gauge reactions in the weeks ahead when the curse kicks in and the bodies start falling. My ability to sympathize with Angelique starts and ends with the fate of Sarah Collins.

      1. Great point, Mark. I say this often but I think it bears repeating. What made DARK SHADOWS unique is that it was daytime soap, Universal horror, and sci-fi/fantasy series simultaneously. Remakes (and even the 1970 film) fail when they try to do just one of them.

        To that point, it’s important to look at the characters in context. Although you can draw a line from Barnabas to Nick Knight to Angel, you can also draw it from Barnabas to Victor Newman. And Angelique is more Erica Kane or Jill Abbott with powers than simply Glenn Close from FATAL ATTRACTION as the 1991 series played her.

  5. Seeing Thayer David again alongside Louis and Alexandra makes me nostalgic for the show’s early episodes. I’m part of the 1% that actually prefers the ‘beginning’ (i.e. pre-Barnabas) shows for reasons too numerous to go into now but will mention as appropriate as Danny goes through the daily episode posts.

    1. I don’t know if I outright prefer the pre-Barnabas episodes, but I did like them and do miss some of the atmosphere of them.

  6. really awesome seeing thayer david again.

    i know i’m going out on a limb here, but why couldnt she have whipped up a love potion for barnabus to stick with her instead of josette? am i missing the point? 😉

    1. That’s a good question, and I think I have the answer. It was Angelique’s intention to have Barnabas come to her willingly, and placing the spell on Josette intended on having Barnabas reject Josette, and of course turn to Angelique

      This was referenced once Barnabas became aware that Angelique was a witch, and Angelique mentioned she could force Barnabas to come into her arms (or something like that) and Barnabas responded that doing such a thing would defeat her own purpose of him coming to her willingly

  7. Bay bushes can grow to 10 feet or taller. Not so with nightshade. So maybe she really was picking merely for seasoning purposes.

  8. Vicky had been possessed by Josette in two seances now (I’ve only seen the one at the Barnabas costume party, I’ve not seen the other one just heard the references) AND was almost ax murdered (missed that part of the show completely) and she’s still there? I assume that time travel won’t be enough to make her leave Collinsport either. Boy, she IS an idiot.

    1. Actually the costume party was the third seance. The first two were both held during the Laura Collins/phoenix plot. Victoria was possessed by Josette in all three. And locked up for a stretch by crazy Matthew in a hidden room in the Old House in between attempts to kill her. David also locked her overnight in the abandoned west wing. Yup, shes an idiot.

  9. Nice to see David back. I do wonder how many Dark Shadows viewers would have recognized him, though, given that he was last seen well before the introduction of Barnabas.

  10. Ah, poor Vicki -she’s not bright enough to figure out that almost everyone in 1795 resembles someone in 1967, but she zeros in on that toy soldier in Angelique’s room.

    BTW, if I heard a woman scream and came into a room and saw a known criminal grabbing a woman like Ben was doing, I think I would act in a very similar manner to Joshua.

  11. That’s a good point about Vicki doing surprisingly well in the past – I think sometimes it’s easy for us as viewers to forget that these people don’t know they’re in a TV show; her reactions to all this weirdness might seem a bit dim, but that’s because we’re seeing it from a privileged position. Slipping back nearly two hundred years is hardly a normal thing; it would take more than a confusing five-minute conversation with the historical doppelganger of a spooky next-door neighbour to convince me it had happened.

    OTOH, it’s been a while, and I generally agree that by now Vicki should have the hang of this “everyone looks like someone from the future” thing – but with Ben I think it’s understandable. Now, no-one’s ever tried to axe murder me (though I’m sure plenty of people have thought happy thoughts along similar lines) but I imagine it’s pretty traumatic; her reaction here’s basically PTSD. I also like that once she’s over the shock, she tries to stick up for him with Joshua, then tracks Ben down in the woods to apologise.

    That thing where she blurts out that Millicent never married though? That’s dumb. Not to mention just generally rather tactless…

  12. I remember watching this with my mom when l was a kid and we were both so sick of Vicki slipping up and announcing the future we would have fought for the chance to hang her as a witch.

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