“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.
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.”
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Danny Horn