“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.
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.
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.
She indicates the chair.
Abigail: You come over here, and sit down. I want you to talk to me first.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
Abigail: Where did you learn to brew such a concoction?
Angelique: My mother taught me.
Abigail: Does your mother have other curative powers?
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.
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.
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.
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!
Except the word that she’s groping for is “Yes.”
Yes. You got me. Every single thing that you’re saying is exactly correct. Yes. I’m screwed. God damn it.
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.
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.
— Danny Horn