Episode 394: Rules of Engagement

“You are either in league with Miss Winters and the Devil, or you’re just a schemer.”

Here’s a question that you probably haven’t given a lot of thought to: What do you do when you walk into a bedroom in your house and find that an avenging poltergeist who might be your recently deceased brother has trashed the place, shredding the appointments all the way down to a licked splinter?

Well, I’ll tell you what you’d do if you were Miss Abigail Collins. You’d walk into the middle of the room, and say, “What has happened here?” And then you’d walk over to the only chair in the room, pick it up and put it back on its feet.

This is why I love Abigail. She walks fearlessly into the bleeding heart of chaos and fury, sizes up the situation, and says to herself, I’m gonna need that chair in a minute.

394 dark shadows chair abigail

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, and then Abigail walks in ten minutes later, and gives everyone a stern talking-to. She’s like a sinister Mary Poppins, ruthlessly perfect in every way.

Because she’s figured it all out. She knew there was something fishy about the governess, and the cat, and the family curse. But she couldn’t figure out the motive — why would Victoria Winters want to harm the Collins family? Was she acting alone? Who would actually have something to gain from the relentless string of disasters?

And then she hears that Barnabas is going to marry Angelique, and suddenly everything slides into place with a satisfying click.

It’s not just the choking, or the sudden elopement, or Sarah’s mysterious recovery. It’s the whole thing.

Abigail understands The Whole. Damn. Thing.

394 dark shadows chase angelique abigail

She chases Andre out of the room, and then she barks at Angelique.

Abigail:  And where are you going?

Angelique:  I must go and have someone clean the room, before the Countess arrives.

Abigail:  You will go later.

Angelique:  But the Countess is waiting.

Abigail:  Well, let her wait, young woman.

394 dark shadows wait abigail angelique

She indicates the chair.

Abigail:  You come over here, and sit down. I want you to talk to me first.

394 dark shadows angry angelique

And look at Angelique’s face. She’s thinking, I can make the dead rise from their graves. I can stop a man’s heart with a single word. Someday, the sun will explode, and the seas will boil, and the stars will sizzle and pop, and it will be my hand that lights the fuse.

But I seriously have no idea how to deal with this crazy bitch.

394 dark shadows trickery angelique abigail

So she sits, and Abigail begins the interrogation.

Angelique:  What is it you wish to talk about?

Abigail:  I want you to tell me about your trickery, Miss Angelique!

Which is a fantastic opening line. If you’re a manager and you’ve got a team meeting coming up, try starting with that sentence, and then just see where the day takes you.

394 dark shadows propose angelique abigail

Abigail’s basic conversational strategy is to detonate a nuclear warhead, and then escalate from there.

Angelique:  Miss Collins, I do not understand.

Abigail:  I want you to tell me how you tricked Barnabas into proposing marriage to you!

Angelique:  But I did not trick him!

Abigail:  Nonsense, I know better.

Angelique:  No, I’m speaking the truth!

Abigail:  Do you mean to tell me that Barnabas, of his own free will, asked you to become his wife?

394 dark shadows ouch angelique

Angelique looks away. Abigail’s found a sore spot already.

Abigail:  Well? Answer me!

Angelique:  No, it did not happen that way.

Abigail:  No, of course “it did not happen that way!” You struck a bargain with him, didn’t you? A Devil’s bargain!

394 dark shadows prison angelique abigail

Look at her posture. It’s like ladies’ night in Room 101.

Abigail:  Didn’t Barnabas agree to marry you, because you said you would cure Sarah?

Angelique:  Yes. But —

Abigail:  And how did you go about “curing” Sarah?

Angelique:  I brewed a tea, made of special herbs.

Abigail:  Yes. I want to ask you about that “tea, with special herbs.”

She keeps parroting Angelique’s phrases back to her, with air quotes. It’s a surprisingly devastating conversational maneuver. By now, Angelique is watching everything she says.

394 dark shadows powers abigail

Abigail:  Where did you learn to brew such a concoction?

Angelique:  My mother taught me.

Abigail:  Does your mother have other curative powers?

394 dark shadows she wasn't angelique abigail

Angelique rises, unsteadily, to her feet.

Angelique:  No. Of course not. My mother was a simple woman.

Abigail:  I do not call a woman who can restore a person’s health a simple woman.

Angelique:  But she was.

Abigail:  No, she wasn’t! And neither are you! There’s a lot more to you than meets the eye, young woman. A whole lot more.

394 dark shadows circles abigail angelique

She circles around Angelique, sizing her up.

Abigail:  Behind that “fragile innocence” you try to convey — oh, yes. You may fool some people in this house.

394 dark shadows unreal abigail angelique

Look at the body language here. It’s unreal.

Abigail:  Perhaps someone who can restore someone’s health can also take it away.

Angelique:  What do you mean by that?

Abigail:  Sarah became ill very suddenly, very mysteriously, as Barnabas did, several weeks ago.

Angelique:  You think — I made Sarah ill?

Abigail turns away, in contempt.

Abigail:  The thought has crossed my mind.

394 dark shadows point angelique abigail

Angelique is stunned.

Angelique:  No. No, it’s not true!

Abigail:  If you wanted Barnabas enough, you could make Sarah ill, and then take advantage of him in the emotional crisis!

Angelique:  No!

Except the word that she’s groping for is “Yes.”

394 dark shadows intuition angelique abigail

Yes. You got me. Every single thing that you’re saying is exactly correct. Yes. I’m screwed. God damn it.

394 dark shadows breaker angelique

And here’s the amazing thing. Abigail sweeps out of the room, leaving a dozen threats hanging in the air. Angelique thinks furiously, trying to figure out a spell that will get her out of this jam.

But the spell is for Barnabas. She’s going to bring the Chromakey spirit of Jeremiah back, to torment Barnabas and convince him to marry her immediately.

Which means that Abigail Collins is such a ball-breaker that it doesn’t even occur to Angelique to attack her directly.

394 dark shadows share angelique abigail

In the end, Abigail doesn’t actually accomplish a lot in this storyline. Her only contribution to the plot is to suggest calling for Reverend Trask. She’s more like a walking sound effect, just establishing atmosphere. But she can see all the way into your soul, and she’s not thrilled with what she finds there.

Abigail is judgemental and rude and officious and prejudiced. And I love her. Oh, how I love her.

Tomorrow: Cleaning House.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

It’s David Ford’s last episode for a while, and the Bloopers section will miss him terribly. In this episode, Andre says, “Are you saying that the du Prés family is responsible for all this, and what’s happened?”

When Angelique calls out for Jeremiah, there’s a cough from the studio.

When Jeremiah’s ghost appears to Angelique, they get the Chromakey sync wrong again, and he looks like a mini-Jeremiah.

In act 4, when Barnabas sits down, you can see the camera and a studio wall reflected in the mirror.

Lara Parker doesn’t appear in the credits today as Angelique.

Behind the Scenes

This is Andre’s last episode; after this, he just fades into the background. We won’t see David Ford again until he comes back as Sam Evans in May, five months from now.

Jeremiah’s room in Collinwood is a redressed David’s room.

Tomorrow: Cleaning House.

394 dark shadows chromakey jeremiah

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

30 thoughts on “Episode 394: Rules of Engagement

    1. I wish she had been seen more in this storyline – I think the show is getting into a habit of starting an interesting plot (Abigail clandestinely spying on Angelique) and then just leaving the viewer hanging. Clarice as ‘Mrs Johnson’ got to do more spying on the Collins Family when she was secretly working for Burke Devlin to help him gather intel to clear his name on his old manslaughter charge and send the real perp (Roger) to prison. Also I think it was noted in a later episode that Andre had gone to NYC on ‘business’. However it would have been nice for him to return for his daughter Josette’s funeral…

    2. True, Abigail is right on here like every one said but you can’t get the story line over, so she is sidetracked on the witch. I love what he said about the Abigail character, people just hate her because she makes a big mistake on who is the witch but if she went with Angelique she would have been thought differently.

  1. It is irritating that they bring in a smart character, and then have him or her stall – because if not, the plot would be over in two days. We will see this in 1968 when Stokes does stop Angeiique’s dream curse, but then it starts again, as if he had done nothing.

    DS was full of smart, ineffective people…

    1. Stokes is a classic ineffective character who is presented as the exact opposite. He never accomplishes anything, despite temporary, short-lived “victories.”

      I recall when he states definitively his certainty that Nicholas Blair is not on to Barnabas, Julia, and his plans against them while Blair is actually watching their conversation,

      He tries to exorcise Quentin’s ghost and doesn’t even inconvenience him. And he turns up in 1840 and just sort of sightsees for all the good he does.

  2. you know, I generally disapprove of fanatics, but Abigail does have her good qualities.

    any idea why Anthony George didn’t stick around to play his ghost? it would have been more effective.

    1. What I’ve read is that he was unhappy on the show. It was his first soap job, and he thought soaps were beneath him. I don’t know if he quit or got fired, or some complicated mix of the two. Either way, it wasn’t a happy parting, and I imagine he wanted to get out as soon as he could.

  3. Why are Josette and her family sticking around Collinsport after the stunt she pulled? You’d think they’d want to get out of Dodge as quickly as possible, not be moving with the family to the new house!

    1. Two (fictional) reasons to stay.

      As Joshua mentioned, Josette was now the heir to Jeremiah’s money and there was more of it than Joshua initially knew about. They had details to work out before Josette left. It’s possible the Josette would not be allowed to manage her own inheritance and a male would be assigned that task, but Joshua seemed to assume she was capable of managing her own finances…. or maybe it was assumed her father would be doing that.
      Everyone was waiting to see if Josette was pregnant with Jeremiah’s child. If she was, that would change who got the inheritance, who got to manage the money and where Josette would live until the child was born. The child would be a Collins and even if Josette was allowed to leave, the child would not go with her.

      Okay, there is the third reason alluded to by Nathan. A number of people were assuming that Barnabas would marry her after all. Sounds like a fair number of people thought that was acceptable … to the victor goes the spoils. Even if Josette was pregnant people would think it was just fine for Barnabas to raise his own cousin who would also be a half-sibling to any children he had. If the child were male he’d have the Collins name and be heir to Jeremiah’s fortune so there need be no conflict with children from a Barnabas/Josette marriage. If Jeremiah had no children then Josette would inherit, but as her husband, Barnabas would most likely have full access and control over what Jeremiah had left. With numbers like that, what sensible colonialist would care about love and virginity? Barnabas was the only one who still seemed to be caring about love and he had the decency to not dwell on the lack of the other.

      I liked this episode. If only the Countess had just put aside her elitist Angelique is an “uninteresting girl” long enough to really see her for the scheming bad girl she really was. In many ways, Natalie was such a paper tiger.

    2. Possibly it is because in addition to the reasons below, Josette is in full mourning, which could last up to two years for a widow. Now, I’m not sure why that would delay her departure, so the idea about inheritance also seems right. Besides, she’s a Collins now. The idea of her leaving would seem obscene to them all.

  4. I like Andre and his verbal attack on Abigail (and his previous attacks on Trask). I’ll miss him.

    And good for Abigail for figuring much of it out. I do wonder how she learned that Angelique had forced Barnabas to accept marriage for curing Sarah – or did she figure that out herself?

  5. The fact that AG wanted out explains the shot to the face zombie. Easier to cover up the fact that someone else is playing Jeremiah.

    1. Nah, it just makes for a more interesting-looking monster. I doubt AG’s departure had much to do with it – it’s not like DS was shy about recasting; they didn’t bother to bandage up Sam, or Matthew, or Willie, or Paterson, or Woodard, or the caretaker… or Burke (though perhaps in that case they should have…)

  6. Lara Parker not credited. I noticed that too. What an oversight.

    David Ford, to be generous, phoned in the first half of his brief performance in this episode.
    We haven’t seen much of Millicent lately, either. Are she and David off together?

    Didn’t Angelique score a point here by telling Abigail that Victoria Winters was in Sarah’s room around the time she got better? I think that ploy succeeded in getting Aby off of Angie’s back for a bit. Hence, no need to cast a spell on the spinster.

  7. Wow; I was pleasantly surprised to see Abigail being right for once in her accusations toward someone. Just too bad all that wasn’t followed through with Angelique, the REAL witch, being the one arrested and hung! I mean, it seemed Abigail was usually able to ruin a person’s life with such accusations, so how did this instance get overlooked? Yeah, I know things had to happen as they ultimately did for the storyline to go as it did. Just knowing what all further tragedies are to come makes me especially sad as I’m a big sucker for happy endings.

    Spoiler ahead

    It’s also disturbing to realize his how high the “body count” is in this time segment when you realize that only 3 on-screen characters make it out of 1795 alive (and only one of them is a woman)! Yikes! :-O

    1. CORRECTION: I was wrong about the “body count” in my comment above, and I apologize. Guess I was just thinking of the main familes’ characters and not people like Ben Stokes or Rev.Trask (“Trash”).

    1. I’m surprised too, because how could anyone not notice? It’s all the more awkward because Frid has to snap his head back and hold it at an extreme (and surely uncomfortable) angle to make sure he’s looking at Crother’s EYES.

      It looked like Frid the actor was saying to himself “Don’t look down… whatever you do, don’t look down…”

  8. The scene with Abigail is first-rate all the way. I am sad to read above that she and the storyline really go nowhere because that’s a huge mistake in my opinion. She is too good for Curtis and company to not have thrown her some more major storylines and plot points. I mean, 1795 certainly has given her a lot more air time than 1968 but I think she could have really have proven useful during any kind of Salem Witch Trial-type stuff.

    It just seems so odd that for a brief moment in time, it seems as if everything Angelique has striven to achieve is about to happen. Despite all of her treachery, the only person that is the wiser is Ben Stokes. So I am curious as to whether she is going to be found out or not. We still have to see the Sarah and Josette endings if they are to stay true to the show’s mythology but the biggest unanswered question is whether or not Angelique will get away with it all.

    And does she come home with the show when it returns to modern day????

  9. If I were Abigail I’d be asking some pointed questions about who made Cousin Millicent disappear.

    1. Most definitely, they would all be wearing mourning at this point, just a few days after the funeral, and the closer a person was to the deceased, the longer they would be wearing mourning. Abagail could wear mourning for up to two years!

  10. Barry: I’m really tempted to answer all of your questions, but I won’t. Suffice to do say that Angelique long remained one of the three main characters om the show for the rest of its run ( the other two were Barnabas and Julia).

    Also, I think, at this point, the writers were still figuring out Nathan Forbes’ character. As Danny had mentioned earlier, he had been introduced as a roguish Tom Jones–like cad. Soon thereafter, he starts romancing Millicent for her money. Recently, though, he’s been acting more like Joe Haskell, trying to protect Vicki from Reverend Trask and bring a friend to Barnabas. Soon enough, though, we’ll see him return to his dastardly ways permanently

  11. Anyone who is new to DARK SHADOWS will soon realize that the most frequently repeated question on the show, voiced by at least one character in practically every episode, is “What do you mean?”

  12. In the scene where Jonathan Frid and Joel Crothers are talking in the drawing room, I felt like Alicia Silverstone in “Clueless,” excited to be on a dream date with my handsome boy crush, but all he wants to do is watch “Gladiator.”

  13. Why is there no mention (or screencap) of dashingly handsome Nathan practically thrusting his crotch in Barnabus face? Josette who?

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