Episode 373: The Devil Wears Prada

“If I ever leave this place, it will be in my own carriage.”

The first day at a new job is always a trying experience, even if it’s 1795 and you don’t have to switch to a new email address. Ben Stokes just met Angelique earlier in the day, and now she’s cast a spell on him, and made him her slave. So now he probably has to fill out a W-4 form, and give her a cancelled check to set up the direct deposit.

But Angelique has no time for onboarding; she’s got some ambitious first-quarter deliverables. We’d better get started.

373 dark shadows ben angelique prada

Ben’s only been in the job for thirty seconds, and already they’re having a staff meeting.

Angelique:  Do you know the forest here?

Ben:  Aye.

Angelique:  I must have a spider’s web.

Ben:  What for?

Angelique:  You must get it from an oak tree. You must be very careful when you remove it. Not a single strand of the web can be broken. Bring it to me. Go.

Ben:  I can’t, now. Mr. Collins…

Angelique:  He’s not your master now! I am. Now, hurry. I must begin my work.

And then we cue up the montage from The Devil Wears Prada, with Angelique throwing her coat down on Ben’s desk and giving him a series of baffling orders. “That spider web is from a maple tree,” she barks. “I said oak tree. And pick up the Polaroids from the lingerie shoot. Where’s that piece of paper I had in my hand yesterday morning?”

373 dark shadows ben angelique web

But Ben manages to bring back a spider web successfully, which isn’t bad for his first day on the job. And look how proud he is! So cute. This is basically the last happy moment he’ll ever have, so I hope he’s enjoying it.

373 dark shadows angelique action figure

Angelique’s got another doll today. Apparently someone’s been leaving the supply closet open in the arts and crafts room.

She explains, “My mistress Josette’s handkerchief will be a dress… and the spider’s web will cover the dress. And they will be held to the figure by a lock of her lover’s hair.”

Ben asks, “How’re you gonna get a lock of Mr. Barnabas’ hair?” Ben isn’t really in touch with the company objectives yet.

373 dark shadows angelique ben objectives

Angelique gets to work on the doll, and tells Ben that her mistress will soon be in love with Jeremiah, Barnabas’ uncle. She wants Barnabas to hate Josette.

Angelique:  Oh, I can see the look in his eye when he sees her after she’s been with Jeremiah. I can hear his voice, sending her home. And I will be the one who comforts him. Here, in this room.

373 dark shadows angelique ben questions

Ben says that he won’t let her hurt Barnabas, and she shoots him one of those Prada looks that says: Please bore someone else with your questions.

Ben:  I won’t let it happen!

Angelique:  Yes, you will.

Ben:  I’ll tell him! I swear it. He’s been kind to me. He’s the only one around here who has.

Angelique:  If you say one word…

Ben:  Nothin’ can stop me from tellin’ —

373 dark shadows angelique ben bore

And then she lifts her hand, and suddenly he can’t speak anymore. This is a nice, inexpensive special effect, which goes some way toward explaining why the show’s new monster had to be a witch. They’re getting all the spook value of having another supernatural villain on the show, for the overstocked-warehouse-discount price of a spider’s web and a headless action figure. They don’t even have to break out the fog machine.

By the way, you remember what I was saying yesterday about critiquing the class structure, and Angelique bringing some social consciousness to the show? It turns out she has her own way of approaching those issues, namely: They only apply to her. She doesn’t really have a problem with the concept of giving orders to powerless servants. She just needs to be on the other end of it.

373 dark shadows millicent jeremiah hat

And then, just when you think you’ve got a handle on the episode, a hat walks in, and there’s a girl under it.

This is Millicent Collins, a cousin from New York. Her parents died five years ago, leaving a parcel of New York City real estate to Millicent and her ten-year-old brother, Daniel. Joshua’s opinion is that the wealth should stay in the family, which means: this is Jeremiah’s new wife.

373 dark shadows millicent lunatic

And, lucky us, she’s a giggling lunatic.

Jeremiah:  How are you, cousin Millicent?

Millicent:  Oh, I’m much better, thank you. The quiet has done my nerves much good already. New York is a very noisy, hectic city, and I find that noise affects my nerves.

This is good news. Over the last few weeks, with very little warning, Dark Shadows has become a show that’s produced by, for and about the lunatic population. As we settle into the new storyline, we’re seeing all of the nice, sane characters like Joe, Mrs. Johnson and Carolyn, transformed into weird, ghoulish cartoons.

When I put it that way, it doesn’t sound like much of an idea, but we were so bored with Sam and Joe and Burke and Dr. Woodard and Sheriff Patterson, and getting the oddest feeling, and reviewing the case. After all of that, I think we deserve some funny hats. You know what I mean?

373 dark shadows vicki jeremiah gossip

But Jeremiah isn’t having it. As soon as Millicent and Joshua are out of the room, he’s gossiping with the pretty new governess. She’s still claiming that she can’t remember anything about how she came here, and he says that he envies her.

Jeremiah:  You’re free, in a way. No past you can remember, no family obligations, no one trying to decide your life for you.

Then he catches himself.

Jeremiah:  Why do I think I know you well enough to say that?

Vicki:  Because you do.

Jeremiah:  Yes, but… I rarely say anything like that to anyone. We’ve talked only four or five times, and — I have the strangest feeling that we’ve know each other, some other time, some other place. Of course, I don’t believe in that sort of thing.

And then she looks at him. And it’s like a whole new show.

373 dark shadows vicki jeremiah romantic

I mean, I hate Vicki and Burke. I am on record as a card-carrying Vicki/Burke hater. But here’s Vicki and Jeremiah, and they’re having romantic meet-cute scenes, and it’s all based on subtextual resonance from Vicki/Burke, and… I’m actually touched by it. I’m supposed to be immune to these two, and here I am: touched.

The main problem with Vicki and Burke was that they had exactly no obstacles. He liked her, she liked him, he had oodles of money, and neither one had any family members to get in the way. Now, they’ve been recast in a story where class and money and pride and time and basic common sense should be keeping them apart, but they’re drawn to each other. I kind of like these two.

And obviously, it’s perfectly safe for me to get interested in a developing romance on Dark Shadows, because this couple is destined to have a long and thrilling future together.

P.S. Not really.

373 dark shadows ben angelique

So let’s get back to the hat party. Angelique has swiped one of Josette’s hats, and she’s trying it on as Ben brings her Jeremiah’s hot toddy. (Link provided in case you’re rusty on your 18th century bartending skills.)

She adds a little something to Jeremiah’s drink, which will put him to sleep, and then Ben can get that lock of Jeremiah’s hair, for the action figure.

373 dark shadows angelique hat

So we’ll close today’s episode with one more bulletin from the front lines of the class war.

Ben:  I wish you could do it.

Angelique:  Why, Ben — a lady doesn’t go into a gentleman’s bedroom. I may not be a lady yet… but I will be. Barnabas is never going to be ashamed of me. I study, Ben, and I watch. Why, my table manners are as good as Josette’s, and I can tell the finest silks — and not by looking at the price, either. You’ll see, Ben. If I ever leave this place… it will be in my own carriage.

Oh, this is going to be so much fun. I can just tell. Hats for everyone!

Tomorrow: The Wedding Presence.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Angelique bobbles a line when she shows Ben the doll. “My mistress… my bris — my mistress Josette’s handkerchief will be a dress…”

When Joshua and Jeremiah stand by the stairs and talk about Millicent, a fly buzzes around Joshua’s face. You have to look closely to see it. At one point, it lands on his nose for a moment.

When Angelique is delivering her “table manners” speech to Ben, the camera follows her as she crosses the room to her mirror. As she’s walking, the camera is completely out of focus.

Tomorrow: The Wedding Presence.

373 dark shadows millicent face

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

13 thoughts on “Episode 373: The Devil Wears Prada

  1. I love the carriage scene because it underscores that Angelique is not interested in Barnabas because of his wealth and standing. She wants to be viewed as a lady because she deserves it and also because it’s what is necessary to be with Barnabas.

    This, of course, gives us a glimpse into the hypocrisy of the American class system. Joshua might balk at Natalie’s inherited title but Josette has the inherited “title” of her father’s wealth. Joshua will, as he say, never forget that Angelique was a servant, and when he tells her that, he is telling us that despite what he says about “all men being equal,” he doesn’t fully buy into the American “dream” of “reinvention.” That dream is such that it doesn’t matter who Angelique and Ben are today, only what they can be tomorrow.

    Is Angelique any different from Jay Gatsby, pursuing her own “Daisy Buchanan”? Just replace witchcraft with bootlegging (hardly an innocent business at the time) and junk bonds.

    I only wish Josette had been a more fascinating character — more the female Tom Buchanan we want to see Barnabas reject. However, she is still irritatingly perfect, enough so that we find ourselves rooting for Angelique. This is where the show truly reminds me of classic soaps — the “bad girl” is often from the wrong side of the tracks and the “good girl” is often the debutante who everyone loves and everything turns out well for. The soap pries into the part of ourselves that really hate Miss Perfect. Phyliss/Cricket, Brooke/Taylor, and so on. These are classic almost primal pairings,

    1. It is the “Betty and Veronica” dichotomy, only Betty, the girl from the wrong side of the track is the virtuous one, and Veronica, the debutante, is spoiled and manipulative…

      Or the Ginger and Mary Ann dichotomy…

  2. This episode has an amusing bit of dialogue when Angelique, preening in her stolen hat, brags to Ben that she’s worn Josette’s clothes and stolen her suitors (plural). It would seem from that exchange that Barnabas wasn’t the only one of Josette’s gentleman callers who took a detour in Angelique’s arms. That may also answer the question of why Josette is still unmarried at 21. That was teetering on the edge of spinsterhood for a wealthy heiress in the 18th Century.

    1. I think they’re just talking about hats. Here’s the hat dialogue:

      A: How do you like my new hat, Ben?
      B: It sure don’t go with the rest of ya.
      A: Well, then, I’ll change the rest of me. Everything from Paris, France.
      B: That where the hat come from?
      A: Especially made…
      B: You took it from Miss Josette.
      A: She’ll never miss it. She’s got lots.
      B: You’ll get caught someday.
      A: If I do, you’ll be caught with me.

      And then they start talking about the toddy. Is the dialogue you’re talking about from another part of the episode?

  3. Lara Parker posits a fascinating argument for Angelique’s loathing of Josette in her first DS novel. I won’t spoil it, but after I read it, it seemed to make perfect sense.

    And I don’t understand the idea that anyone could root for Angelique. She’s a ruthless killer, and at one point, she even keeps Sarah on the brink of death to keep Barnabas by her side. Unlike the soaps then and today, Angelique never had much, if any, of a comeuppance. She was never held accountable for her actions.

    The writers do a disservice to Josette in this triangle in that we never get her viewpoint. Nor do we ever get a moment in which she is ever armed with enough information to confront Angelique, which would have seemed mandatory for a story like this, regardless of the tragic outcome. Instead, she’s Angelique’s pawn and victim.

    1. True, Mark, but if you look back at Phyllis/Cricket or Phyllis/Sharon on Y&R, you’l see audiences rooting for Phyllis even when she does some outright awful things.

      Angelique’s actions toward Sarah are terrible, but they are never from outright malice (i.e. Just for the hell of it). Barnabas has betrayed her, she thinks, so much like Barnabas himself, she believes that justifies any action she might take.

      I agree about Josette. She’s never fleshed out. At one point, she’s just as dedicated to destroying Victoria as Abigail and Trask. It would have been great irony to see Josette play a key role in Vicki’s conviction.

      But, as it is, she is just a pawn and victim.

      1. I think Josette does testify against Vicki, just offscreen. Not a key role, though, I agree.

        But I have to disagree with you on the rooting for Angelique thing. Though there are times when audiences do root for villains (JR springs to mind), don’t think I ever felt that way about Angelique. Her grievances may come from some place that’s relateable, but her actions are grossly inappropriate and often malicious. Example: when her “ghost” testifies against Vicki later on. No reason for her to do that (since she isn’t even alive at that point!) except to cause trouble. Don’t get me wrong, I think Angelique is a great character, but I don’t think she’s particularly complex or sympathetic.

        1. Angelique’s tragic flaw is her consuming jealousy and rage when she feels the former is justified. It undermines her ability to think rationally. The devil’s advocate position is that if Barnabas had loved her and not betrayed her, she would have “sinned no more” and been a loyal wife.

          Her life, from Angelique’s perspective, unravels once Barnabas discovers Vicki is innocent and that Angelique is the witch. She is then “forced” to commit the terrible actions afterward. And it ultimately costs her her life.

          So, she has reason to see Vicki hang. Not noble reasons but it’s not just for “the eviluz.”

  4. Danny I know you dislike the Vicki/Burke duo but I enjoyed them much more during the ‘Mitchell Ryan’ days. I would have been nice if they could have brought Mitch back in the later episodes. I would have much preferred if he and Vicki could have wound up together (I personally hate the Vicki/any character played by Roger Davis combinations). Also Mitch would have made a good vampire in one of the Parallel Time storylines. He bears a resemblance to Ben Cross of the Revival series (especially in the jawline area). The potential plotlines for this series could have been limitless with all of the great actors that passed through the Collinwood doors..

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