“I do not need you now! Can’t you understand? Go back to your grave!”
Last week, Angelique needed yet another stick to hit her rival Josette with, so she called poor dead Jeremiah from his grave, and sent him off to haunt his widow. Now, he’s showing up at the house when Angelique doesn’t want him, like a stray cat that somebody fed once, and now it comes by every day to beg for scraps.
The witch tries to send Jeremiah away, saying that she doesn’t need him now. But he just laughs, and stumbles toward her.
Which brings us to today’s topic: How does “the dead” work?
Because it’s not exactly clear what Angelique has unearthed here. This entity is supposed to be Jeremiah Collins, and at first glance, you can see the resemblance. He’s wearing Jeremiah’s weird embroidered leaves jacket, and there can’t be many of those in circulation.
What we can see of his face doesn’t look a lot like Jeremiah — but Jeremiah looks like Burke, and we know that Burke changes his face occasionally, so it’s not completely out of character.
Plus, we saw this guy climb out of Jeremiah’s grave — or, at least, Jerimiah’s grave, which is practically the same thing — so I’m ready to give this guy the benefit of the doubt and say, okay, that’s Jeremiah’s corpse. I’ve seen worse recasts than this.
The problem is, he doesn’t sound like Jeremiah. And I’m not talking about his voice, which has a deep, scratchy reverb that makes it sound like he’s announcing train delays on a New York subway platform.
What I mean is, he doesn’t say the kind of things that Jeremiah would say. Jeremiah was a gentle and thoughtful man. Even when he was under Angelique’s spell and believed that he loved Josette, his basic personality didn’t change — he was the same guy, just making new, worse choices.
And here he is at the duel, closing his eyes and spending his last moment in forgiveness and love, refusing to harm Barnabas any further.
We know that on Dark Shadows, a personality can persist after death. We’ve seen Sarah’s ghost in 1967, and she’s the same sweet kid. And if personality didn’t last after death, then what would be the point of a ghost? What is a spirit, if not the embodied personality of the dead man?
Last week, Jeremiah — or whatever this is — had an excuse for acting out of character when Angelique woke him up and sent him off to pursue Josette. He was under the witch’s control, doing her bidding.
But now he’s off the leash, showing up and menacing Angelique during his time off. I’m not sure where Angelique thinks he should go during these rest periods — he might as well take up smoking in the break room, it’s not going to do him any more harm than a bullet in the face — but she definitely doesn’t want him following her around, glaring and chuckling. He’s being animated by something else, and we’re supposed to believe that that “something else” is named Jeremiah Collins.
I know it’s the understatement of the century, but I think there’s something slightly off about this guy.
I mean, I get that he has a legitimate grievance. Angelique set this tragedy in motion, casting a spell that made Josette and Jeremiah fall in love and run away together, breaking Barnabas’ heart. And now, through a combination of treacherous sorcery and sorcerous treachery, she’s cornered Barnabas into marrying her.
So, yeah, if Jeremiah’s unquiet spirit pokes its head through the wall and sees Angelique twirling in front of the mirror like Wedding Dress Barbie, he’ll probably be upset. I could see him rolling his eyes, at least.
But how annoyed would you have to be, to come up with something like this? She looks in the mirror, and sees her white wedding dress spattered with blood.
Metaphorically, it totally works — she’s definitely got blood on her hands, and lots of it. But this doesn’t feel like a thing that Jeremiah would do.
It’s the kind of middle-school “mean girls” logic that inspires you to send someone a human skull wearing a wig as a wedding present. This is how she thinks.
Desperate to get away, Angelique starts packing her clothes up in a suitcase, and she tells Barnabas she wants to get married somewhere else. But when Barnabas looks in the suitcase, he finds Sarah’s doll, and some pins — the tools Angelique used to make Sarah sick a couple weeks ago.
This is also a total Angelique move; she loves giving people little ironic passive-aggressive clues like this. It’s not like Barnabas is going to look at these and say, Aha, now I realize that you’ve been practicing voodoo on my relatives. It’s just there to rattle Angelique’s cage a bit more.
Again, this isn’t Jeremiah’s style; it’s hers. I think Angelique is haunting herself.
Finally, the revenant prankster stops beating around the bush, and gets down to business. What follows is an extremely Dark Shadows-y conversation.
Angelique: What do you want? Why are you haunting me?
Jeremiah: You summoned me.
Angelique: No, I did not summon you, and I do not want you here!
Jeremiah: You summoned me!
Jeremiah: You summoned me from my grave!
This happens when you talk to spirits; they tend to get stuck on one idea, and they can’t let it go.
Jeremiah: You disturbed my rest!
Angelique: That was before; I needed you to do my bidding.
Jeremiah: You robbed me of my rest! I was at peace until you called to me!
Angelique: I do not need you now! Can’t you understand? Go back to your grave!
Jeremiah: Not now! My rest has been disturbed! By you!
Okay, we get it. She disturbed your rest. Your rest has been disturbed by her. Disturbed is what she did, and your rest is what she did it to.
And then the conversation takes a weird turn.
Jeremiah: You brought me back from the land of the dead, and you must be punished!
Jeremiah: For disturbing the dead! Those who disturb the dead must be punished!
Which is very strange. I mean, it makes sense if you figure that this is a manifestation of Angelique’s unconscious guilt about the confusion, heartbreak and carnage that she’s brought to the Collins family. Deep down, she may believe that she deserves to be exposed and punished.
But if this is actually supposed to be Jeremiah — sweet, forgiving Jeremiah — then it’s just not him.
Because this is a deeply odd thing to do. He screams, “You must learn what it is to live in the land of the dead, and know no peace!” And then he picks her up, and carries her to his open grave.
And that’s just setting a bad precedent. If he buries her alive — which he then attempts to do — then how does that help his situation, exactly? For one thing, if he kills her, then there’s a good chance that she’ll become a walking ghost-thing and haunt him right back. I’m not sure this is a game that anybody wins.
Plus, the whole problem that he’s complaining about is that she called him up and disturbed his rest. Once his vengeance is complete, and he’s ready to return to his grave… there’s no more room, dummy. Ocupado. Now what?
But the really strange thing about this haunting is that he’s focusing entirely on the rest-disturbance, rather than any of the crimes that actually led to him being in the grave in the first place.
Technically, I can see how that would feel like the presenting issue at the moment, but is raising his corpse really the worst thing that she’s done? I don’t think it’s in the top five.
She did a lot of stuff that put him in the ground; that’s the main set of crimes that he should be addressing. Compared to that, calling him from the grave is just bad manners.
It’s kind of like if somebody steals your car and crashes it into a tree, and the thing you’re really upset about is that he messed with the radio presets. You’re not looking at the big picture.
But this rant sounds familiar. Have we ever met anyone who goes on and on about disturbing the dead, and leaving them in peace?
Of course — the caretaker! The crazy old man from the Eagle Hill cemetery, who tells everyone that the dead need to rest. I bet if we could snatch the bandages off this guy’s face, we’d find out he was the caretaker the whole time. And he would’ve gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!
Tomorrow: Lord of the Flies.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
When Barnabas finds Sarah’s doll, he asks Angelique, “What’s it doing in her suitcase?” He means “your suitcase.”
Behind the Scenes:
That’s a double for Angelique when Jeremiah’s ghost is carrying her to his grave, played by fill-in actor Arlene Sand. I can’t find a single other piece of information about Ms. Sand; she is otherwise unGoogleable.
The scene of Angelique seeing a bloody wedding dress in the mirror is an unusual effect for Dark Shadows in this period — a pre-recorded film segment, played in live while they were taping. Angelique reacts silently during that sequence, mouthing “no”, because Lara Parker couldn’t tell when the pre-recorded clip started and ended, and they wouldn’t be able to sync the words with her mouth moving.
Paul Kirk Giles plays Reverend Bland in this episode and tomorrow’s. Giles appeared a few weeks ago playing Reverend Brook, the minister who was supposed to officiate at Barnabas and Josette’s aborted wedding. My guess is that these aren’t necessarily supposed to be different characters — they probably didn’t really expect that the audience would pay much attention to the minister’s names.
Also, there’s a video clip on YouTube from a Dark Shadows convention panel, where Lara Parker (Angelique) explains the Dark Shadows acting style. She uses the sentence “Go back to your grave!” as the example, so it’s a perfect description of what she does in today’s episode. It’s only a minute long, and it’s one of the great convention moments, so go take a look.
Tomorrow: Lord of the Flies.
— Danny Horn