Episode 375: Dangerous Liaisons

“In the tropics, decisions melt like ice.”

When you get down to it, magic is just metaphor. It’s taking a symbol — like a toy soldier — and saying, this toy soldier represents Barnabas. Then you wrap a handkerchief around the soldier’s neck, pull it tight, and see what happens.

Anybody can do that, really, minus the magic part. Your boyfriend is far away, but every night you kiss a picture of him before you go to bed. You get an email from an annoying co-worker, and you roll your eyes and snarl at it, the way you’d like to treat the person if you could get away with it. When someone that you love dies, you light a candle, and leave flowers on the grave — and even if you don’t believe in ghosts or heaven, it comforts you.

But the people who know magic can take that a step further. Angelique isn’t just smacking a toy soldier around. She tricks the universe into believing that the soldier is Barnabas, and when she throttles the toy, Barnabas chokes.

That’s what magic is — you connect the symbol to the real thing that the symbol represents. Then you wish so hard that you punch a hole through reality, grab something on the other side, and pull.

375 dark shadows angelique jeremiah semiotics

When you take a step back and peel the metaphor away, Angelique is just conducting a standard-issue soap vixen disinformation campaign. She has a romantic rival, and she’s trying to make it look like her rival is being unfaithful. This is straight out of the diva / bitch / mythopoetic-trickster-figure playbook, as practiced by Erica Kane, Amanda Woodward, Alexis Colby and probably half the people on Pretty Little Liars.

You could easily do this storyline without giving the trickster-vixen magic powers. There’s probably been at least one soap character running this exact con, somewhere on daytime TV, every single week since day one. Giving the character make-believe demonic voodoo powers just means that the story happens faster.

375 dark shadows barnabas jeremiah pity

Let’s look at it for a minute as if we were doing this story the slow way.

Barnabas goes on a business trip to a sugar plantation on a Caribbean island, and he falls in love, more or less, with the sweet little rich-girl princess he meets there. Their union is blessed on all sides. They’re both amiable, and sheltered. They’re both wealthy, and both families see an advantage in the alliance. And frankly, neither one of them is going to be a finalist for a MacArthur genius grant, if you know what I mean.

So here they are, on the verge of an arranged marriage that everyone is pretending they’ve arranged themselves.

But he’s having a hard time keeping his lips off her maid. There’s no suggestion that Angelique has bewitched him with anything more occult than the usual. She gets close to him, and he starts making out with her. No sorcery required.

375 dark shadows jeremiah josette surprise

So would it really be that much of a surprise, if Josette found herself attracted to her fiancee’s tall, dark and handsome uncle? We saw yesterday that Jeremiah in a stern mood could catch Josette off guard, provoking a strong emotional response.

She’s clearly been sheltered by an over-protective family; it’s possible that she’s not used to having a man speak to her that way. If you squint hard enough, Jeremiah could be Mr. Darcy, or Rhett Butler on an off day.

375 dark shadows jeremiah josette reasons

So Josette got drunk last night, on a combination of spiked rose water perfume and a spider web dress, and now she can’t explain what happened.

Jeremiah:  Barnabas loves you very much. Don’t you care for him at all?

Josette:  Yes, of course!

Jeremiah:  Then why did you come to my room?

Josette:  I don’t know! I can’t understand it. I love Barnabas!

Jeremiah:  Then you must be true to him!

Josette:  I am true to him. I always will be. Barnabas is the only man I love.

Jeremiah:  You have no explanation for last night? You must have! You don’t care for me. It makes no sense to me!

Josette:  You think it does to me?

Well, it sounds to me like you kids never went to college. Didn’t they have spring break on Martinique?

375 dark shadows natalie josette five minutes

Now Josette feels guilty, and confused, and probably still a little hung over. She skips lunch, and she’s avoiding Barnabas. Her aunt, the Countess Natalie, thinks that she understands why.

Natalie:  Are you becoming frightened?

Josette:  Of what?

Natalie:  You tell me.

Josette:  I don’t know what you mean.

Natalie:  Of marrying, perhaps? Of Barnabas?

Josette:  No.

Natalie:  Of this life? I would be terrified, all brides are.

Josette:  No. If I could marry Barnabas tonight, I would be so happy!

Natalie smiles when she hears this, and relaxes, as if the thing that Josette just said didn’t sound like a confession. Maybe Natalie’s not quite as cosmopolitan and world-weary as she pretends to be.

375 dark shadows natalie the ice

Natalie gets closer to the truth in a later scene, when she’s teasing Jeremiah and Barnabas.

Natalie:  Oh, you are all so controlled, it’s fascinating. You all decide what you’re going to do, what you’re going to drink, and that is it. In the tropics, decisions melt like ice. Here, the ice is always firm.

Or maybe not, thanks to the diva-vixen-trickster that you’ve brought with you from the Caribbean. She has a talent for heating things up.

375 dark shadows angelique ben roofie

And so, here we are — one roofie, straight from the witch’s cauldron, slipped into Jeremiah’s drink. I’d start looking into the return policy for those wedding gifts; this is going to get ugly.

Monday: Card Tricks.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

By this point, Josette, Natalie and Angelique have basically given up pretending that they’re supposed to have French accents.

Barnabas loses his place when he’s talking to Jeremiah:

Barnabas:  I think she’s a little jealous of you.

Jeremiah:  How do you mean?

Barnabas:  Of your influence over me. She knows that… but she doesn’t understand what a, what a friend you’ve been to me.

When Jeremiah stops Josette from going up the stairs, someone in the studio has a coughing fit. Also, the bannister wobbles.

When Jeremiah is talking to Josette on the porch, he messes up a line and just says it all over again:

Jeremiah:  It makes no sense to me!

Josette:  Do you think it does to me?

Jeremiah:  You had better find out why you did it. You had better decide why you did it. I will not let you hurt Barnabas!

When Natalie pauses on the stairs to talk to Barnabas, she leans on the bannister, and it noticeably wobbles.

Natalie flubs a line when she tells Barnabas she’s going to play cards:

Natalie:  Now you must not be gallant, and sit up with me. I don’t think — I don’t like being with men when they wish they were elsewhere.

When Josette joins Jeremiah on the terrace, the camera has to duck down out of the way of some leaves on a low-hanging branch. This means the shot is angled slightly upwards, and you can see the top of the set over Jeremiah’s shoulder.

Natalie spies on Josette and Jeremiah’s clandestine meeting, poking her head through a gap in the shrubbery. But there’s a leaf hanging right in front of Natalie’s face, and she has to swipe it out of the way in order to register surprise.

Monday: Card Tricks.

375 dark shadows josette jeremiah he scores

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

27 thoughts on “Episode 375: Dangerous Liaisons

  1. Josette’s French background is an anchor from when the character was a ghost no one expected to ever speak (after all, what were the chances of the show going back in time for an extended flashback?).

    Free of the restriction and aware of the real limitation of using American actors, it would make sense to change Josette’s nationality. I was thinking how put-on French accents sound so much worse than even the most Dick van Dyke English accent (I call it the Pepe Le Pew factor). The 1991 revival treated us to fake French accents. Yikes.

    I don’t think you need Martinique for the witchcraft angle. They could be from Salem, after all. Or the South, if you wish to keep the voodoo connection, though you have the accent concern.

    But it is amazing to see how quickly the show became a classic soap opera. And it is a bold move to remove the vampire entirely (Barnabas as clueless human victim, instead of canny inhuman schemer is a great twist).

    Yet, alas, poor Vicki. The series is written too well right now for her misuse to be unintentional. It would also seem logical for her to react to Jeremiah as Burke, the man he so closely resembles, but they have no interest in that relationship.

    This is all about Angelique, our antagonist, and Vicki fits only as a patsy.

    1. I actually like the first sparks that we see of the Vicki/Jeremiah relationship. There’s a common fantasy/romance trope of “the dead boyfriend coming back through a lookalike who might be the reincarnation/possession of the lover”. They’ll hammer that relentlessly with various “echoes” of Josette, including two who are alive simultaneously in 1897.

      But this version of the story has a twist, because this “reincarnation” of Burke is alive two hundred years before the original. So it’s a nice little romantic mystery, and implies that these two are actually destined to be together, defying time and logic and common sense.

      So that’s the tragedy of Jeremiah Collins — he and Vicki have found each other, and Angelique destroys that romance without even noticing that she’s done it. I think they would have spent more time on that, but 1795 is a runaway train, and they’ve got to keep moving.

      1. It seems somewhat illogical that with Vicki’s personality she wouldn’t have reacted much more emotionally towards Jeremiah when she saw the resemblance toward him and Burke Devlin, especially with the fragile state she was in so soon after his death when she was thrown into the past. It was especially bothersome the way she reacted after she met Peter Bradford later in the storyline. All of the sudden Burke was yesterday’s news and was head over heels for someone else. It makes her seem desperate at the thought of being without a man in her life. This changes her whole character dynamic from being a strong independent girl forced to make her own way in the world with no family to help her (I won’t even comment on her search for her origins storyline at this time and ruin this wonderful weekend for everyone 🙂

        1. Well, Vicki is not in this episode, but she is going to be mentioned by Natalie before she gets back into the action. the main thing about Vicki that got boring before she stopped appearing in episodes this past week is that it took her about six misidentifications of people in the past who look like people in her present before she settled down and said, Oh, Millicent looks like Carolyn, but everybody looks like somebody else to me. Finally she gets it!

  2. Did the make-up artist really think l8th century women wore glue-on black mink eyelashes?

    (Can’t really claim that’s at all unique to Dark Shadows, any period piece filmed in this era is with rotten with anachronisms; kind of like the make-up people on Happy Days thought Midwestern kids in the l950s wore layered haircuts).

  3. Yeah, if they had continued doing accents, it would have started being like Allo Allo. Still, it’s jarring when you watch a number of episodes in a row and their accent disappears (literally overnight).

  4. I don’t know whether it’s a blooper, or just some bleedover on the original videotape due to storage…but at about the 15:55 mark, while the old house slide is onscreen, it sounds like Natalie delivers her first line a title too soon.

  5. It is truly astounding how the arrival and implementation of one character, Angelique, has completely revolutionized the entire show with just about every plot pivot point coming back to her. Looks like we are in for a very fun ride in the weeks/months ahead.

    I had not seen any of the pre #210 episodes where Thayer David was central to the plot but I think he is a fantastic addition here. Not only is it wonderful for Angelique to have a quintessential henchman but I love how conflicted he is with the things that she is assigning him to do. We can’t help but feel his pain as he careens from one awful assignment to another. The having to cut a lock of hair off of Jeremiah’s head would have been nerve-racking enough but to have to realize that you are truly now in the service of a witch who knows her business would be enough to send one right back to Plymouth Rock.

    Another added benefit that ABC probably hadn’t realized that there were getting with DS is the after-school special chemistry lessons that go on daily. Potions and notions and vials and drafts….there’s more mixology going on here than Bob could ever have poured out at the Blue Whale.

    1. Right with you, Barry! I grew up with DARK SHADOWS as a kid, watched the reruns on my local Cleveland TV stations, and later on the Sci Fi Channel. My girlfriend and I are watching them all over again on the Decades Channel.

      A few months ago, I discovered this blog, and, like you, I read Danny’s comments immediately following each episode. His commentary is always so insightful, and his humor so clever.

    2. Barry, if you ever get the time, you should go back and watch the pre-Barnabas episodes. Thayer plays Matthew, the only servant Liz keeps when she decides to never leave Collinwood again 18 years ago. So Matthew is a trusted servant of Liz and he’s very sweet and he keeps all of Liz’s secrets. He’s also a little crazy and dangerous to anyone who is not Liz. In these early episodes, the ghost of Josette plays heavily, too.

  6. Maybe there’s no magic involved at all. Maybe Josette just woke up one morning at thought to herself, “OK, tell me again why I’m supposed to be so madly in love with this awfully dull fellow.”

    1. I hate to say it, but 18th century, human Barnabas comes off as something of a weenie, doesn’t he? Rather effete, a bit of an “old woman”; wringing his hands over his fiancée’s late arrival, almost in tears when she doesn’t make an appearance at lunch. I mean, it’s ok with ME that he’s sensitive and feels things deeply, but I can imagine certain factions today deriding him as being feminized, jelly-spined, a cuck. Being turned into a vampire certainly made him more assertive.

  7. Right with you, Barry! I grew up with DARK SHADOWS as a kid, watched the reruns on my local Cleveland TV stations, and later on the Sci Fi Channel. My girlfriend and I are watching them all over again on the Decades Channel.

    A few months ago, I discovered this blog, and, like you, I read Danny’s comments immediately following each episode. His commentary is always so insightful, and his humor so clever.

  8. My favorite flashback is 1795, and my favorite Thayer David character is Ben Stokes, with Count Petofi a very close second. These are the episodes the Decades Channel is now showing. One of the show’s writers once commented that he loved the 1795 storyline because there were so many story possibilities to work with, and he was right.

    I love Natalie’s comment that “In the tropics, decisions melt like ice.” What a great line! It speaks volumes about the cultural differences separating Martinique from New England. These cultural mores parallel the class conflicts Danny had earlier written about involving Angelique and Ben.

    As for the du Pres characters dropping their French accents, my girlfriend and I are just happy about Grayson Hall’s dropping that ridiculous hairstyle she was wearing as Julia. The Countess had much better taste than that!

    1. They’ve skated right over the religious differences. The Collins family are of Puritan stock and the DuPres are very likely Catholic, but nobody’s talking about that!

      1. For a socially prominent family the Collins are shockingly irreligious even in 1967. We don’t know if they are Puritan, Episcopalians, or Quakers; they don’t go to services every Sunday, they don’t do any charity work, they don’t flaunt their social status in the seating arrangement in the meeting house, they don’t visit the sick, they don’t pray to any form of God-Goddess-Gods when confronted with supernatural menace. They only refer to the Bible when recording intended suicide (which is a sin, by the way.)

        Josette is apparently Catholic, we see her cross herself, and she had a saint’s medallion; but we have yet to see her pray in a crisis, pray the rosary, ask Barnabas to convert, meet the local Catholic priest (if there is one), or ask about attending services. Abigail is apparently some flavor of witch-hunting Protestant, and in her eyes the French Posse should be under the Devils’ control as Papists. Maybe she’s learned to pick her battles when it comes to Joshua and his relentless quest to find rich heiresses for his sons.

        1. I’m glad that you pointed out this discrepancy, Maryanne. I think the lack of irreligousity (for want of a better word) reflects mainstream pop culture’s determination to steer away from identification with any specific religion or domination (understandable, if they are trying to reach a mainstream audience), but, to quote one evangelical pop cultural critic, the old adage “There are no atheists in foxholes” during wartime does seem to address what you’re saying here.

          1. Yeah, religion in that time was pretty much not mentioned, unless it impacted the story. I remember an episode of a legal show called The Defenders, where the case involved a couple trying to adopt a child they had raised since birth and being forbidden by state law because one of them was Jewish and one was Catholic.

            Media acted as if everyone was a WASP, except for priests who would take confession and then not be able to tell anyone what was said or nuns, who were wrestling with leaving the church . Occasionally people were Jewish because the story called for it. But pretty much media didn’t want to be seen as supporting one (presumably Protestant) religion over another.

        2. Maryanne, I agree. I’ve been wondering why in the face of all the strange occurrences, no one is praying or reading scripture, especially with Barnabas almost choking to death, and with what is coming up… but i also dislike when television writers portray all Protestants as witch hunting fanatics. But, I guess loving Christians make boring characters. Hollywood seldom understands the heart of a loving Christian, so instead we get Abigail and Rev. Trask.

        3. Actually, Josette is seen praying at least twice. Once at Barnabas’s bedside when he is choking under Angelique’s voodoo doll spell and once at his deathbed. There is some reference to the Du Pres being practicing Catholics with Josette attending a Catholic school and her parents being married by the bishop in Paris.

  9. Ooohh, now all this talk of religion has me wishing they’d explored that in more depth with these characters in 1795. And talk about a missed opportunity for a storyline: Barnabas, out of his love for Josette, converts to Catholicism, and after he becomes a vampire can’t stop crossing himself. Oh, the pain! The pain.

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