“I may not know Miss Winters very well, but I can’t believe that she’s possessed by the Devil.”
Yeah, it’s been a rough couple of weeks for Barnabas. He was all set to marry his beautiful and affectionate fiancee, Josette, and then she left him at the altar to run off with his uncle and closest friend, Jeremiah. When they came back, Barnabas challenged Jeremiah to a duel, and then shot him in the face. Now he’s involved in hiding a runaway governess from a witch hunter. That’s a lot to handle.
So as we open today’s episode, he’s relaxing in his bedroom, while his ex-girlfriend Angelique rubs his temples. It’s very soothing, and he —
Dude. Seriously. We’ve discussed this.
I don’t know how many times we need to go over this, but one of the key rules of life is: Don’t let the crazy lady touch you.
I know, Barnabas — it was spring break, and you were on vacation on a Caribbean island. She was the pretty blonde ladies’ maid who worked for your family’s business partners. You spent some adult time together. Now she’s showing up in your bedroom and acting crazy, trying to get you to admit that you’re in love with her.
This would be a good time to institute a one-sided retroactive restraining order. She needs to stay at least a hundred yards away from you at all times, and you need to start forgetting what her name is.
I know that’s going to be hard, and she’s not going to take it well. She’s going to call your friends to tell them what a jerk you are. She’s going to go through your mail, and break something that you own. There’s also a very good chance that she’s going to perform a voodoo ritual in your direction.
That’s why you’ve got to put some distance between you and the crazy lady, starting ten seconds ago.
Or, as an alternative, I don’t know. Do this.
Angelique: She deceived you, Barnabas. She deceived you with a member of your own family!
Barnabas: Stop it!
Angelique: Can’t you bear to hear the truth?
Barnabas: I don’t want to talk about Josette.
Angelique: Why not?
Barnabas: Because I don’t!
And the parade of maturity begins.
Angelique: Why, because the subject is too painful? Because you still love her?
Angelique: You don’t love her?
Angelique: Do you hate her?
Angelique: Say it!
Barnabas: But I —
Angelique: Go on!
Barnabas: I hate her!
Angelique: In time, you will mean that.
Then you do some of this, and before you know it, it’s time for somebody to start killing your pets.
But if it wasn’t for bad choices, you’d never get a soap opera scene started. This is what soap operas are about — watching people make stupid decisions, and then arguing about whose fault it is. We’ve been doing that every day in the blog’s comments section, especially when I say nice things about Angelique.
This has been an essential part of drama from the very beginning; it’s why Oedipus Rex has a group of people standing off to the side of the stage, talking about what a fool he is. Tragedy has always had a comments section.
So that’s why we end up with stuff like this. Josette is desperate to believe that she’s not responsible for the mess she’s made of her life, and she lets Trask talk her into an exorcism that gets unexpectedly handsy.
At this point, the Greek chorus launches into a twelve-part harmony on the subject of What the hell are you doing.
Because these are not emotionally mature people. Barnabas, Josette, Angelique, Jeremiah — nobody in this house has the ability to step back and reflect. They’re impulsive, and quick-tempered, and self-involved.
You could come up with a spirited defense of any one of them — she was bewitched, he was betrayed — but by this point, Dark Shadows is no longer in the business of giving easy answers.
Six months ago, the show was all about Good People and Bad People — Jason was a crook and a liar; Elizabeth was noble and trying to protect her family. 1795 is the storyline where they finally stop spoon-feeding us, and we get the opportunity to make our own decisions. And lo, the internet forum is born.
Tomorrow: It’s Complicated.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Barnabas coughs into Angelique’s hair during their clinch in Act 1.
Tomorrow: It’s Complicated.
— Danny Horn