“You will never rest, Barnabas… and you will never be able to love anyone… for whoever loves you will die!”
Angelique’s eyes flash, and she says, “You have made a great mistake, Barnabas!” and then the world turns upside down.
Because today is Curse Day! We’ve been on this uncertain and frightening journey into the past for two months, and it’s all been leading up to this. Which is weird, because Dark Shadows is a soap opera, and soap operas aren’t supposed to have “leading up to” moments.
Soap operas are the neverending stories, built to run five times a week for decades, with no long-term plan. A structure like that needs lots of overlapping A-stories and B-stories. An individual story thread might result in a status quo change — a character gets married, or gives birth, or gets arrested, or takes over the company. But those are just changes, not endings. There’s no “happy ever after”.
But Dark Shadows has done something that I think is entirely unique in the world of daytime soaps — they’ve created a little five-month bubble, which exists outside the normal ebb and flow of the show’s main story progression.
We’ll get back to the present-day story eventually, and this 1795 detour will be comprehensively strip-mined over the next three years to provide story points whenever the writers run dry. We’ll see Josette again, naturally, and lots of Angelique, but we’ll also see Peter, and Ben, and Reverend Trask, and Nathan, and Zombie Jeremiah, and practically everyone, in one form or another.
A couple years from now, when we look back at the 1795 trip, it’ll look like just a regular part of the ongoing soap opera story structure, rather than the radical, experimental hail-Mary pass that it was at the time. After a while, “returning to the 1960s” becomes just another status quo change.
But right now — smack in the middle of this Easter-egg bonus level — they get to do things that nobody else has ever done in an ongoing soap opera, namely: have a beginning, a middle and an end.
Outside the normal soap opera narrative rules, they can borrow a story structure from a whole other form of storytelling. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll say this: it’s one of the two classic theatrical genres, and it’s not comedy.
So here’s the current state of play: Barnabas knows that his scheming wife, Angelique, is actually a merciless witch who’s been running a scorched earth campaign to win his love. She’s told him that if he tries to oppose her, she’ll kill Josette, the woman that he really loves.
But Barnabas is reckless and impulsive, and instead of playing it safe, he’s openly defying her — sneaking off to court Josette, and even hanging Josette’s portrait above the fireplace in the drawing room. This is where the not-comedy aspect really starts to kick in.
So we end up in the big dramatic confrontation that we always knew was coming.
Angelique: You have made a great mistake, Barnabas.
Barnabas: Mistake? I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Angelique: You tried to betray me, but you shan’t succeed!
You can tell they’re going for a big moment, because they’re using the word “shan’t”. Nobody ever says “shan’t” on their way to a peaceful family picnic.
Angelique: Do you think by sending Josette away, she will be safe? No, you’re wrong, Barnabas.
Barnabas: That remains to be seen.
The theremin music starts up. That’s never a good sign.
Angelique: I have more powers than you think. You don’t believe me? Look behind you. Go on, look!
He turns — and sees the portrait over the mantel begin to change before his eyes.
Oh, yes. They’re going there. In fact, they’re going to a “there” that we didn’t even realize was there.
He says that her trickery won’t help, because she doesn’t know where Josette is. Eyes still flashing on a regular rhythm, she says that she could force him to tell her.
In a lovely bit of dramatic, accidental Fridspeak, he declares, “Then you would be defeating your own purpose. Force me to do anything against my will, and I will never be what you wanted to me.”
That’s it; she’s had enough.
Angelique: Oh, Barnabas, you are a foolish man. Do you think by sending her away, you can prevent me from keeping you here? Oh, your Josette may be safe — but no one else is!
Barnabas: What do you mean?
Angelique: I’ll show you what I mean!
She runs upstairs, and Barnabas steps over to the box of loaded pistols which is sitting right out there on the hall table. This is actually the third murder weapon we’ve seen this week that Barnabas apparently keeps within easy reach, right by the front door.
But Angelique has weapons of her own, and she comes back downstairs with Sarah’s doll, which she’s used before as a voodoo fetish object. She sticks pins savagely into the doll’s chest, and says that Sarah is experiencing that pain right now.
Horrified, he reaches for a pistol, and…
He shoots, he scores!
Right in the left shoulder, which — as everyone knows — is a sorceress’ most vulnerable spot.
“Oh, Barnabas — what have you done?” she gasps, as she leans against the column and collapses to the ground.
Barnabas rushes over to pull the pins out of Sarah’s doll, but this isn’t the end of our little pocket melodrama.
Angelique: You didn’t do the job well enough, Barnabas! I am not dead yet! And while I can still breathe, I will have my revenge!
Angelique: I set a curse on you, Barnabas Collins! You wanted your Josette so much? Well, you shall have her! But not in the way that you would have chosen.
Angelique: You will never rest, Barnabas… and you will never be able to love anyone… for whoever loves you will die! That is my curse, and you will live with it — through all eternity!
And then she’s out. It’s one of the all-time great mic drops.
There’s the sound of shattering glass… and then this happens.
Monday: Unbreak My Heart.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
When Barnabas closes the music box and gives it to Josette, someone in the studio coughs.
There’s another nice chewed-up Fridspeak line during Barnabas’ confrontation with Angelique: “Now she is safe, and you have no way of telling me what to do, and I may leave as just as when I like.”
As Barnabas bends over the lifeless Angelique, you can see the shadow of a flapping bat wing on the chair behind him, before the bat has entered the house.
When Barnabas sinks to the ground with the marionette bat at his throat, the pole holding the bat’s wires is visible at the top right of the screen.
Monday: Unbreak My Heart.
— Danny Horn
29 thoughts on “Episode 405: Ever After”
By now, how many mistakes has Barnabas made? So it comes as no surprise that the stuff really hits the fan.
Yes, it is not a moral reboot, but something else. People finally understand him. They understand that he makes abysmally poor decisions, and is always making plans that never turn out as he expects.
So when he kidnaps Maggie and tries to turn her into Josette, it is, of course, just one more of his loopy plans.
And there will be more loopy plans coming, because he cannot learn from experience.
Yes, DS managed to give us something unheard of, a vampire for whom his fangs are the least interesting thing about him. No, what makes him really dangerous is his plans…
Can we talk about that curse for a second? Because it’s pretty darn epic: “You will never rest, Barnabas… and you will never be able to love anyone… for whoever loves you will die! That is my curse, and you will live with it — through all eternity!”
So not only is Barnabas doomed to become a vampire, anyone who gets close to him is doomed as well. And Angelique whips that curse off her lips as if she’s been practicing it for years, just waiting for the right moment to let it rip. She doesn’t need any tree leaves, toy soldiers or rose water.
Just Wham! Bam! Devil be damned! Now that’s witchcraft.
Does anyone notice that Angelique does not say “when” they will die? Because not only will those who love him will die, so will those who do not…
Nice escape clause if they wanted to forget about that part of the curse..
Barnabas can shoot Jeremiah straight in the eyeball from 10 paces but all he can manage from across the room is a graze to Angelique’s shoulder?
He was blinded by her beauty…
Wasn’t it established that Barnabas was a great marksman? Or was that in the 90’s reboot?
In the revival he is the best shot in Collinsport.
There have been a lot of Baldrick “cunning plan” references, but Baldrick’s plans are always creative. Barnabas plans are always basically kill somebody, which even when he succeeds rarely makes the situation better.
And as I understand it, to be made a vampire, being bit by any old bat won’t do, it has to be a vampire. If you kill the primary vampire all the ones in his control die. So if this is a vampire Angelique has had under her control (for her bat camera trick before) who is he or she and what happens to them? And why would they continue to follow her orders after she’s dead, but not yet a ghost.
The rules for how somebody becomes a vampire vary a lot from one piece of fiction to another, and even on Dark Shadows there’s an evolving/contradictory set of rules.
For Dark Shadows at this point, we only know one about one vampire, and he became a vampire because of a witch’s curse. So I don’t think that bat is necessarily supposed to be some other vampire — it’s just the physical representation of Angelique’s curse.
The Dracula/Varney the Vampire rules suggest that anyone who’s ever been bitten by a vampire will rise as a vampire when they die, but that idea may have fallen out of favor — it’s based on the extremely problematic 19th-century idea that rape and sexual abuse survivors are forever “tainted” by their assault.
Anyway, this all gets more complicated once we start getting into summer 1968 and there are more vampires running around.
My takeaway from Dark Shadows (and maybe some other vampire folklores) is there are three levels of getting bit:
Bit and drained of just some blood so that you’re very tired and possibly under the thrall of the vampire but stay human.
Bit and drained of so much blood so quickly that you simply die.
Bit and drained almost to the point of death, but then you get the vampire disease and become one yourself because you fell in that middle area.
This was the first episode of Dark Shadows I ever saw, in third grade, after (Saint Barnabas!) school, at a friend’s house. DS has been an obsession Ever After. My previous infatuation with the Universal Monsters became nothing after this, as if watching the curse be placed on Barnabas placed me under an eternal spell as well. I missed only three episodes thereafter, two of which I listened to on AM radio at the beach. Great blog, Danny! Appropriately, I’ve been hopping from one time line to another. . . My 1st post.
is it wrong that i was LMBO at the very end (barnabas vs bat)? does that make me a bad person?
I couldn’t help laughing either. 🙂 But it was tempered by admiration for Jonathan Frid’s willingness to scream his head off as he’s being attacked by a bat puppet on a string. Nobody can say the man didn’t give it his all.
The bat attack really did have me laughing out loud. I do give Frid credit for playing it through to the end. 🙂
If it does, I’m right there with you. I found this episode to be a fantastic mix of strong drama with hilarious absurdity, as only Dark Shadows can do.
This episode is a lot better on a grainy black and white TV set.
A little disappointing to me. Angelique deserved a more majestic death scene ( What a world) and Barnabas’ curse combined with the bat bite is a bit of a cop out to get to vampirism. He should have been forced to watch old Dracula movies while having his eyeballs pried open a la Clockwork Orange.
I was really impressed with the painting special effect – one of the better effects I’ve seen on the show.
This was the first episode of Dark Shadows I ever saw, in third grade, after (Saint Barnabas!) school, at a friend’s house. DS has been an obsession Ever After. My previous infatuation with the Universal Monsters became nothing after this, as if watching the curse be placed on Barnabas placed me under an eternal spell as well. I missed only three episodes thereafter, two of which I listened to on AM radio at the beach. Great blog, Danny! Appropriately, I’ve been hopping from one time line to another. . .
Fridspeak…it’s really a thing! Lol!!
Logically, after his off-center first shot, Barnabas should’ve grabbed the other pistol and plugged Angelique between the eyes before she had a chance to utter another spell or incantation. Of course “logically” is not a word often applied to this series.
I absolutely LOVE this episode; it’s one of my all-time favorites! It builds so dramatically to the pay off, the beginning of Barnabas’ vampire curse. Lara Parker’s acting was never better, from her outrage over her husband’s defying her, to her vindictive tormenting of Sarah, and, finally, to her desire for revenge in placing the curse on Barnabas. Jonathan Frid’s mounting fear and desperation when he finds that Sarah is in danger, his decisive response, and his panic and screams of fear when being stalked and bitten by the bat are all unforgettable.
On a fashion note, I love Angelique’s blue robe, which she’ll wear in the next episode, too.
Okay, so I promised I
wouldn’t rant about the clothes anymore, but the blue robe got to me. It’s lovely, but it’s nightwear and she’s been wearing since the night before. She even receives a visitor (Abigail) in it. I have a pet peeve about people wandering around Collinwood in their jammies and this is just one more instance. Put on some proper clothes!!!
Okay, the bat scene is ridiculous in 2021. But I saw this scene when it originally aired, and it certainly was NOT ridiculous then! All of us had to pick our jaws up off the floor and sit in stunned silence. There was nothing like this on television at the time, not even remotely, and I daresay that is still the case. Bloopers and fumbled lines aside, Dark Shadows was way ahead of its time. Thank you for creating these insights into each episode. I truly enjoy it and plan to read every one of them.
I would like to think that, if a bat tried to bite my throat, I would in turn try to bat it out of the way.
Was anyone else reminded of the martians from Mars Attacks when Josette’s painting changed to the ghoulish version? It’s great, though, in that Dorian Gray kind of way!
Why didn’t Barnabas at least fight back? Couldn’t he just punch the bat? He couldn’t even try?
Just watched this episode for the first time and thought it was frigging brilliant, especially Lara Parker.
Re: the box pistol box–we see Barnabas taking it downstairs and placing it on the table, so it’s not “apparently [kept] within easy reach, right by the front door.” Even so, it was rather ballsy of him to just walk it downstairs in plain view and set it on the table in front of Angelique and Abigail.
And I’m not so sure about the bat being just a symbol of Angelique’s curse. Barnabas is not a vampire yet and doesn’t become one until he actually “dies,” in the typical Dracula/Varney vein (no pun intended). I think the intent was that the bat (“vampire bat,” I presume) did in fact physically turn him into a vampire, just as it does again in the Leviathan story line.