Episode 399: Hide and Seek

“Please, allow this man to come here and perform his mumbo-jumbo, so that we can keep peace in this family.”

Yesterday, witch-vixen Angelique sent her unwilling henchman, Ben, to steal a hair ribbon from Abigail Collins, the twisted spinster who’s pretty much the last person you want to get caught stealing a hair ribbon from, if you plan on experiencing a single quiet moment in the next twelve months. So guess what happened.

Now, Ben doesn’t appear in today’s episode, so we can’t see what’s happening to him. Instead, we’ve got Angelique standing in the Old House drawing room, staring into space. “They caught Ben,” she reports. “He hasn’t completed my mission. He almost said my name.”

She shudders, and adds, “But he did say one word before I could stop him… Witch.” Ben is apparently live tweeting his interrogation.

399 dark shadows candles angelique

The theremin music starts up, which means Angelique is having another one of her spells. She lights some candles, explaining what she’s doing to the camera, like this is a cooking segment on Live! with Kelly and Michael.

“There is one name which I have made ready,” she says to nobody in particular, “to receive the word witch.

399 dark shadows answer angelique

She blows out the match, and fixes her gaze at a random spot on the floor.

“And what is that name?” she asks. “Answer me!”

She hears a voice from the distance, saying: “Victoria Winters.”

And that’s when the entire audience sits up with a puzzled frown, saying, “Who?”

399 dark shadows right vicki

Oh, right, this girl. The one who’s making the uncertain and frightening journey into the past. I figured we’d all decided to forget about her, and from now on this was just going to be a show about Abigail and Angelique yelling at each other.

Three weeks ago, Vicki was accused of witchcraft by Reverend Trask, an apparently time-displaced minister from 17th century Salem. He tied her to a tree and performed a full exorcism on camera, and after that, we just started thinking about something else, and Vicki faded into the background.

399 dark shadows crowd sarah

Vicki is presumably supposed to be the lead in this storyline; she’s the only person from 1967 who traveled back in time, and that should make her the audience identification character.

But the protagonist of a story is supposed to be the character who wants something. Think of all the Disney princesses, singing “Someday My Prince Will Come,” or “For the First Time in Forever,” or “When Will My Life Begin?” There’s a whole genre of stories about spunky young women in exactly the situation that Vicki is in — isolated, cramped, stuck in a life that’s three sizes too small for their dreams, looking for a way to fly over the rainbow and be a part of our world.

Every once in a while, Vicki says, “I wish I could find a way to get back to my own time,” but she doesn’t even seem that committed to the idea. She settled into 1795 remarkably quickly, stepping into the role of Sarah’s governess so smoothly that she might as well be at home.

399 dark shadows protagonist sarah vicki

The protagonist is supposed to make choices that propel the story forward. And it’s obvious that the only character in the storyline who’s wishing, and planning, and making things happen is the evil soap vixen witch. Angelique is the protagonist of the story right now.

399 dark shadows protagonist barnabas angelique

Over the next week, we’ll finally start to see some competition for Angelique, other characters who can take positive action that drives story development. So far, Barnabas has mostly been a clumsy dupe, but that’s about to change, very soon. We’ll also see Reverend Trask returning tomorrow, and he’ll have a big impact on the course of events.

The combatants are all assembling in the on-deck circle, ready to start the brawl that will quickly spin out of everyone’s control. But Vicki isn’t one of them.

399 dark shadows sit down vicki sarah

It makes me wish that I could sit down with her, and ask her what she thinks she’s doing right now.

This week, the animated corpse of Jeremiah Collins has been wandering through the Old House, terrorizing everyone he sees. That’s what I’d say to Vicki, if I could — Look around you. Even dead people are contributing more to the storyline than you are. You need to step up your game.

399 dark shadows missing sarah

So the key plot point for today’s episode is that Sarah, Abigail and Joshua come to the Old House searching for Vicki — but when Abigail enters her room, Vicki is hiding in the attic. This stops the story cold for the day, and it makes me want to hit somebody.

The new rule of this show needs to be: Show up and do something. Light candles, cast a spell, accuse somebody of something. Just running away and hiding somewhere is no longer an acceptable option.

Tomorrow: Playing with Fire.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Joshua and Abigail enter the Collinwood drawing room, they use an unusual camera angle, which reveals another camera and part of the studio on the left side of the frame.

Tomorrow: Playing with Fire.

399 dark shadows camera blooper

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

13 thoughts on “Episode 399: Hide and Seek

  1. Vicki is a prisoner of her times – the 1960s.

    If you look across the daytime genre at this time, she fits the classic model of a soap heroine: Beautiful. Passive. Waiting for a man to rescue her. Much like, say, “Another World’s” Alice or “Search for Tomorrow’s” Jo, she is only required to endure.

    Only “bad girls” have ambitions. They do things. They seduce men – or cast love spells on rivals.

    Within DS’ story, Vicki’s behavior is frustrating. In the daytime world of the 1960s, it makes perfect sense.

    1. I agree with you to a certain point. When DS started, Vicki was an active protagonist. She had a clear goal – to find out about her past – and she did actively do things to accomplish that goal that propelled the story forward (admittedly to a dead end, but that’s not her fault). Even during the Laura Collins storyline she actively sought answers while trying to protect David and certainly was a key player.

      The frustrating thing now is that she has stopped being an active participant in her own story to the point where she’s literally absent for weeks. I think even in the 1960s people would have been scratching their heads, going “oh yeah, her – whatever happened to her?” To me this seems more of a behind the scenes shift in attitude/direction (and boredom with the character) than the conventions of the times.

      1. I also think that part of the blame for Vicki’s transformation from lively and inquisitive to meek and complacent can be placed on Dan Curtis. Victoria Winters was literally ‘the girl of his dreams’ who planted the seed of the show into his mind. He had placed her on a pedestal and he would never allow her character to be tarnished in any way. Supposedly Mr Curtis honored the requests of actors such as Jonathan Frid, Lara Parker and John Karlen to allow them to play new characters that were the opposite of those they originally portrayed when starting out on the show. However Alexandra Moltke’s request to do this was rejected by Mr Curtis and she apparently became bored with the role. She was simply following the scripts as they were written for her character.

    2. Nowadays, if you wanted Vicky in there, you would need to tweak her character. Given her interest in history, she could be a history buff, doing research in her spare time, and writing articles occasionally for history magazine. Her interest in research would make her oblivious to the danger she may put herself into – the belief that she is the one doing the studying, she in invulnerable. That would allow her to be both more active, and to make stupid mistakes.

      1. Or, have her desperate to find a way back home, maybe even resort to investigating witch craft as a possible means. And then you can have her take risks and deliberately put herself in danger for the chance of getting back. Danny is right when he says she just kind of shrugs her shoulders and goes “oh well, 1795 it is.”

  2. It’s funny, because we see several of the very things you complain about here happening on soaps today. Characters on GH vanish for weeks at a time, often taking their storyline with them. Y&R’s Abby, who is both a Newman and an Abbott, has been reduced to a talk-to, as has Noah, a sexy, wealthy character who should be driving story. As for the shoulder shrug, the upcoming Starz series Outlander has the same problem that the Diana Gabaldon books upon which it is based had: Claire, the lead character, is magically transported hundreds of years back in time, and accepts it as if she got out of a cab that took her to WalMart instead of Target.

    1. Yeah, this will always be a problem in serialized narrative — some characters get the screen time and drive all the story, and some don’t. I’d like to say that in the long run the most interesting characters win, but a determined head writer can marginalize popular characters long enough for them to fade away. In related news, I hear there used to be people on GH named Quartermaine.

  3. As much as Vicki is the through line to the past (oh, haven’t you heard the show’s intro for the past month?) Barnabas is the real through line. This plot’s first function (though it may have shifted in priorities) is to give his back sorry, to show his transformation into the Byronic Barnabas of the 1960s. In some ways, to care about Vicki and her desire to get back to the present day works at odds with the audience’s real desire to learn more about Barnabas. Long story short, the narrative rise of Barnabas has been hardest on the character of Victoria, who has lost direction in his supernatural wake.

  4. It makes sense that Vicki settled into the past so quickly, given how enamored she was with the past.

    I do find it odd that when Sarah said Vicki called her, instead of asking “where were you when you heard her”, they asked where she told her to go. Maybe in the Dark Shadows universe, telephones were invented a century earlier, and they thought she meant she called her on the phone…

  5. Why do the call it “The Old House?” That makes sense in 1967, not 1795. It’s not really that old. Shouldn’t they call it “Barnabas’ House?”

  6. It’s nice to see that Joshua is already rolled back on the “I have no son” statement. He’s still grumpy and unhappy but Naomi seemed to have put the father-son relationship partly to rights just by giving Barnabas the house.

    As for that point and the questions that have come up about women owning property in the 1700’s, I learned something recently. I happen to be living near DC as of the last few years. Sometimes my husband takes it upon himself to drag me to historical sites instead of going for the errands we left the house for. (Yay! August in the Mid-Atlantic Seaboard.) So I get to learn about things like, you know, “The Past”.

    It seems that sometimes there were exceptional women who did hold their own with men. I think they needed the support of high-status men, but if they had that, then a woman could manage financial matters and property.

    Here is an example:

    https://hsmcdigshistory.org/research/history/margaret-brent/

    If you click on the link for the PDF it begins with:

    Born to a gentry family, she immigrated to Maryland in 1638, as a 38-year-old spinster, along with her sister Mary (?-1658) and brothers Fulke (?-1656) and Giles (ca 1600-1672), who were soon to be very influential in Maryland affairs. Margaret and Mary patented “Sister’s Freehold” near St. Mary’s City upon arrival and soon became wealthy planters.

    So it’s what we already know from our own time … If you are in the 1% you can make a lot of your own rules. Naomi was one of the elite and probably was born into a family with money and influence. She may have brought her own property to the marriage an had legal agreements to keep ownership and control of it.

    1. Something similar happened in ancient Rome. Women from wealthy families occasionally became propertied and influential in their own right.

      “Angelique is the protagonist of the story right now.” It is hardly unusual for the villain to move the plot and let the nominal protagonist tread water. This guy named Shakespeare famously did that in his play “Othello” where Othello himself is kind of a pompous drag at the beginning of the play and then his secret enemy, Iago, starts plotting against Othello and making stuff happen.

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