Episode 374: The Wedding Presence

“Anyone who would do a thing like that is capable of anything.”

Today’s episode opens with — guess who? — Angelique, the villainous lady’s maid, who has basically just walked up and pulled the show out from under everyone else. This storyline was supposed to be about Victoria Winters, girl governess, and her uncertain and frightening journey into the past. But Vicki is off screen today, quietly governessing somewhere, and Angelique takes center stage again.

And, naturally, Angelique is — guess what? — talking about herself, and how great her plans are. She’s recently acquired an unwilling sidekick, the heavily indentured Ben Stokes, and his primary duty appears to be standing by as Angelique delivers a spontaneous TED talk on the subject of how awesome she is.

374 dark shadows angelique ben perfume

They’re in Josette’s room, and Angelique is helping herself to the toiletries.

Ben:  You shouldn’t use the mistress’ perfume.

Angelique:  Why not? I’ve worn her clothes, stolen her suitors.

Ben:  I don’t like to hear ya talk like that.

Angelique:  Oh, Ben, you are a child. You still like to think that everyone is good, don’t you? It’s not true. Why, in Martinique, things that are natural and right seem wrong here. Your trouble is, you’ve lived by their rules too long. And look at you, a convict working out his time.

374 dark shadows angelique ben rules

She chuckles, as she pulls a vial out of her pocket and spikes the perfume with a concoction of her own.

AngeliqueTheir rules. I make my own.

This really is her favorite subject, and happily, it’s mine too. Angelique is essentially developing a party platform for all of the interesting characters to come.

Dark Shadows used to be a show where there were official Good People and Bad People. The Bad People were blackmailers, grave robbers and leather-clad beatniks; the Good People mostly stood around in small groups and worried about the Bad People.

But Vicki’s been picked up by a passing tornado, and deposited in this Technicolor wonderland where all of a sudden people are a lot more complicated.

374 dark shadows jeremiah josette selfish

For example, let’s check in with the Good People for a minute. Barnabas has been laid up in bed since his unexplained illness the other day, and now he wants to hang out with Josette in the drawing room and open wedding presents. But Jeremiah snaps at them, reminding Barnabas that the doctor wants him to rest.

374 dark shadows josette barnabas pout

Jeremiah leaves, and now Josette’s upset.

Josette:  He makes me feel very selfish, as if I shouldn’t have asked you to come down. He’s very protective of you, isn’t he?

Barnabas:  I suppose he is.

Josette:  He orders everyone around.

Barnabas:  Oh, that’s just his manner. Actually, he’s very, very nice, and very sensitive. You like him, don’t you?

Josette:  Yes. I suppose so.

This is not the correct answer. She would know that, if she bothered to pay attention.

374 dark shadows josette barnabas you must

Barnabas:  Well, you must, you know. He’s my closest friend; he has been all my life. I could always talk to Jeremiah about anything.

And look at her, she’s not even listening. It’s not like Barnabas has a huge social circle; there’s only seven people in the whole family. She should know that he and Jeremiah are close.

374 dark shadows josette barnabas you

And then this happens.

Barnabas:  Why are you frowning? What do you really think about him?

Josette:  Well, I’ve really never thought about him.

Barnabas:  Who do you think about?

Josette:  You.

Which is really just another way of saying that she thinks about herself, pretty much non-stop.

So I hope the emotional core of this storyline isn’t based entirely on these two, because at the moment, they’re acting like the kind of smug, self-satisfied couple that makes you wish somebody would send them a skull wearing a wig as a wedding present.

374 dark shadows skull present

So they open up a box, and guess what? It looks like they’re registered at Bed, Bath and Bewitched.

374 dark shadows josette bewitched

Now, that kind of thing is fairly upsetting, and they spend some time wondering who could possibly hate them enough to send this present. Unfortunately, they don’t consider the most productive line of inquiry, which is: Let’s figure out whose head this used to be, and work backwards from there.

374 dark shadows ben barnabas offer

Barnabas asks Ben to help protect Josette from whoever it is that wishes them ill — and he promises that when he and Josette are married, Ben can serve out the rest of his time with them, rather than with Joshua at the new house.

Ben is overwhelmed with gratitude, and there’s something he has to get off his chest.

Ben:  There’s somethin’ I gotta tell ya. I swore I wouldn’t, but… you been better to me than anyone. I don’t know nothin’ about that package, that’s the truth. But there are other things that —

374 dark shadows ben chokes

That’s as far as he gets. At that point, he starts to choke — can’t talk, can’t breathe — and he rushes out of the room.

374 dark shadows ben angelique power

It’s Angelique, of course, because everything is Angelique now.

This isn’t the first time that a disruptive new character has come in to change the direction of the show — there was Barnabas in April, and then Julia over the summer — but their impact wasn’t this immediate, and all-consuming. It took months for their influence to grow to this level; she’s only been on the show for six days, and she’s the driving force behind everything that’s happening.

Angelique has become the author of this story — or at least a very determined and ruthless editor. We’ve traveled back to an earlier chapter in the Collins family history book, and there’s Angelique with a black magic marker, scratching out the old story and writing in something new.

374 dark shadows angelique josette author

This isn’t the story of Good People fighting Bad People anymore. If you’re still asking questions like “Is Angelique sympathetic” or “Are we supposed to be rooting for Barnabas and Josette”, then you’re not paying attention to the fundamental narrative shift that’s happening here.

Yes, Angelique is Bad. Ten points to everyone who’s figured that out. But Josette is selfish, and Joshua is a tyrant, and Abigail is a fanatic, and Barnabas is a horny kid who can’t stay away from the beautiful temptress.

1795 is a crucible, and Angelique is the flame. The Good People and the Bad People will all be tested, and in the end, everyone fails.

No, Angelique is not sympathetic, and no, you’re not supposed to like her. Nobody likes the tsunami when it’s heading for your coastline. Don’t waste time trying to figure out how you feel about her. Get to high ground.

Tomorrow: Dangerous Liaisons.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Josette’s portrait is hanging upstairs in her room, just as it is when Barnabas renovates the house in 1967. But it’s too early for the portrait to be here — there’ll be an episode later on, when we see it arrive.

When Angelique is talking to the speechless Ben, there’s an offstage crash.

When Jeremiah puts the skull back in the box, it doesn’t quite fit.

This isn’t really a blooper, but… where did the skull come from? At one point, Barnabas confronts Angelique about it, and she says, “Where would I get it? You know I haven’t been out of this house since the day I arrived!” Even if she had been out of the house — where would you pick up a loose skull?


Behind the Scenes

A note from resident prop-spotter Prisoner of the Night: The Petofi box appears on the top shelf in Jeremiah’s room today. It’ll move to the new house in episode 421.

 Tomorrow: Dangerous Liaisons.

374 dark shadows josette jeremiah attraction

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

14 thoughts on “Episode 374: The Wedding Presence

  1. The wedding gift skull is one of the great DS non sequiturs. Just a month ago, we would have had a month of story around it – who sent it, where did it come from, what does it mean? Now it arrives, the box is opened, Josette screams, and you can practically hear the director snapping his fingers: “People: We’ve got more story to get to today. Keep it moving.”

    Angelique never even takes credit for it privately and she does love to crow about every damned thing she does.

    1. I’ve been thinking about this. I imagine it was just a broken off storyline that was never followed up on, but in the context of the story it might be that someone else had it in for Barnabas and Angelique just finished him off before they could. After all we’ve seen that Barnabas is the king of bad decisions and his first reaction to a problem is to try to kill somebody even before he became a vampire. That kind of thing tends to tick lots of people off. It makes you feel bad for whoever sent it. Here they had come up with this great revenge plan & instead he merrily “sails off to England” first. I can even picture them hunting madly through England trying to find Barnabas and always missing him, like the reporter always did with “The Incredible Hulk.”

  2. When discussing this storyline, I’ve offen referred to the antagonist as “Hurricane Angelique.” She really is a force of nature.

    I love 1795 because it feels like one of Shakespeare’s tragedies on daytime TV. Angelique, like Iago, manages to keep people unaware of her villainy for most of the story. (She is less effective as Cassandra in this regard.) And her contempt for those around her makes her somewhat of an attractive Richard III (her deformity is the disfiguring curse of poverty).

    MACBETH ends with the bad guy vanquished by a good guy. 1795 is more like Hamlet — pretty much everyone is dead. The only ones left standing are Joshua and Ben — the tyrant and the servant joined in one last act of affection.

    1. I think of it more like the Greek plays than Shakespeare since it deals with myth and like tragedy fate works against you. More in the line of Oedipus Rex and Medea than any Shakespeare play. Barnabas is kind of an Oedipus Rex where things are fated against him.

  3. Angelique probably had it with her other voodoo supplies, powders and oils that she brought with her from Martinique. She seemed to favor the ‘skull with hair’ motif, which was also included as part of the ‘dream curse’ images in later episodes. It would have been nice to have had a storyline focused on Angelique’s origin’s and her relationship with Barnabas in Martinique, complete with Chromakey images of the beautiful tropical island backdrop.

    1. I think that the nature of the 1795 storyline gave the writers the freedom to create characters who were more complex than the 1967 cast that they inherited from a previous administration. The 1795 characters are a mixed bag; they all have strengths and flaws.

      I’m trying not to project too far ahead with the characters, so I’m not judging Josette on the basis of what she does or doesn’t do later on. She’s only been in three episodes so far, so I’m taking her as she is. So far, we know that she’s very sweet and she smiles a lot; she was very attentive and worried when Barnabas was sick; she likes big hats and wedding presents; she thinks that Angelique is her friend; and she tries to avoid thoughts that are difficult or upsetting.

      1. There’s always something suspicious about anyone who considers someone completely subordinate to them as a “friend.” Friendship requires equality, one can argue. And if you are defining friendship as the extent to which someone serves you well and loyally, you are describing a pet. I won’t project too much based on the people I know whose closest relationships are with their pets.

        It of course would be impossible for someone like Josette to not be a total narcissist. The world revolves around her and we don’t hear anything about her actual friends. The closest people in her life are her mother figure (Natalie) and her maid.

        Someone I know once worked for a self-absorbed loon. She was efficient and thus well liked but hated her job and left at the first chance. When she told her boss she was leaving, the boss felt “betrayed” — although if she’d been able to see past herself for five minutes, she’d have known her employee was not happy.

        So, when someone like Angelique (the schemer) betrays someone like Josette, the reaction from the sweet young thing and even from some of the audience is that the schemer is a wonderful actress who kept her seething contempt well hidden. To an extent that might be true, but it can also be more complex — Josette was clueless to a viper in her midst because she couldn’t comprehend anyone’s motivations but her own.

        (We see a version of that with the Vicki/Julia/Barnabas triangle. Vicki is clueless to Barnabas’s affections, despite his going above and beyond reasonable courtesy for her, and she even has a boyfriend/fiancee, so you’d think she’d draw stronger boundaries. She rejects Burke and Julia’s concerns about her relationship with Barnabas and blindly claims they are “just friends” because that is the relationship she wants and thus that is what it must be forever.)

  4. RANDOM THOUGHTS:

    — Man, there are lot of people living in the Old House right now: Joshua. Naomi. Sarah. Barnabas. Jeremiah. Abigail. Victoria. Angelique. Josette. Natalie. Andres. Millicent. And Daniel is soon to come. I know it’s a mansion, but it’s tiny compared with Collinwood. No wonder they wanted a bigger house.

    It’s got to be feeling a little cramped in there, although no more than three people seem to occupy the main living room at any given time. And there’s no shortage of tiny new bedroom sets.

    — Given the vastness of Angelique’s powers, she sure takes a twisted road to get where she wants to go. I wish they had toned down the abilities some or had her in even less control of them than she does.

    — Angelique and the du Pres clan arrived too soon. We needed a week to flesh out the Collins brood first.

    — The whole cast benefits from the 1795 flip, but none more than Louis Edmonds.

    — Josette is something of a flop. It’s not Kathryn Leigh Scott’s fault either. Just the way the played her — or didn’t.

    — It’s really nice having Thayer David back.

  5. Kudos to Lela Swift and Sam Hall that more happens in this episode than usually does. I second Mark Perigard’s observation that the skull-in-the-box is dealt with awfully (and happily) quickly and that it is because there is so much more story to tell. DS usually belabors and recaps everything, and much of what happens today IS explained, but the point is that there is story to tell, so we get on with it.

    Sometimes I stop and think about what it would be like to see an episode as the first episode of DS one ever saw. I think this one would make more sense from beginning to end than most single episodes of this or any other soap. I could be wrong since it wasn’t my first, but this one would probably have made me want to watch the next episode, as it still does.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s