“Those strange feelings I had earlier this evening, they must mean something. And your reading of the Tarot cards just now, and this blood that keeps appearing on my neck.”
On Friday, Barnabas Collins decided that he was sick and tired of his witch-vixen wife, Angelique, interfering in matters that were none of her business, namely: his plans to leave her, and run off with his ex-girlfriend. This was a tricky interpersonal conflict to navigate, and in situations like this, Barnabas likes to express his feelings through the medium of bullets.
So Barnabas shot Angelique, winging her in the shoulder. As she lay bleeding on the floor, she fired back a curse, at point-blank range:
“You will never rest, Barnabas… and you will never be able to love anyone… for whoever loves you will die!”
Which pretty much sets up the plot for the next three years. Now, it’s not super clear what malevolent force is going to power this curse, once Angelique is gone. There’s a bunch of people who love Barnabas — he’s got parents, a sister, a fiancee and at least a couple of close friends that he hasn’t shot in the face yet. That’s a lot of clean-up work for Beelzebub or whoever to take care of.
Oh, and then a magical killer bat smashed through the window and tore a hole in Barnabas’ jugular vein as he screamed and screamed and screamed. Apparently, that was part of the curse too.
It’s actually a super-complicated curse; I’m surprised that Angelique was able to come up with it off the top of her head in the middle of bleeding to death. I can’t imagine she had a curse like that just sitting in her back pocket this whole time.
Meanwhile, on the road somewhere, Josette is fleeing the scene with her aunt Natalie, at Barnabas’ instruction. Being the incurable romantic that he is, he’s planning to catch up with Josette after he’s murdered his wife, and engage in some make-up marriage.
But then the bat attacks, and in a roadside inn, Josette suddenly touches her neck.
Josette: I just had a strange feeling of vibration.
Natalie: What was it like?
What do you mean, what was it like? It was like a strange feeling of vibration, what do you think it was like?
Josette explains, “I just had the strange feeling that someone or something was trying to communicate with me,” which isn’t really the definition of “vibration”, but what do I know; it’s been years since the last time I vibrated.
Apparently, this is a result of the curse too, although I don’t remember Angelique mentioning this part. It used to be that someone would need to cast a spell, or at least make some dogs howl, to deliver this kind of person-to-person instant messaging.
I don’t know who’s responsible for supervising these details now that Angelique is dead; Beelzebub’s tech support is really going to get hammered if they have to attend to all of this fine print.
Back at home, Ben reports to work to find both of his employers bleeding out on the carpet. He takes it in stride, even though he’s probably the one who’ll have to mop up all the blood and entrails.
Looking down at Angelique, he says, “He’s killed her. Somebody’s finally killed her.” And that wraps up that subject, as far as Ben is concerned.
But Barnabas is still breathing, so Ben considers his next move. It’s hard for a known criminal to pull off the “I walked in and found them this way” routine even under the best of circumstances, and Joshua’s still mad about Ben’s recent ribbon-related crime spree.
So Ben decides to get Barnabas upstairs to bed before he calls in a doctor. This isn’t good first responder protocol, but at least Ben is trying to think things through, which is more than you can say for the other two.
Meanwhile, Natalie tries to soothe Josette’s fears by reading the tarot cards, which so far has never turned out to be a particularly soothing experience.
The current layout is fairly upsetting — the Lovers are in the middle, surrounded by Death, the Chariot, the Moon and the Tower of Destruction. Natalie says, “I’ve never seen the arrangement of the cards like this,” although as far as I can tell, this happens every single time. Her deck is clearly stacked with disaster; she might need to get an expansion pack if she wants to give people a break once in a while.
By the way, this is still off-the-books spellcasting as far as I’m concerned. We’re meant to accept this vague-but-accurate fortune-telling as a quasi-magical power, but there isn’t a clear distinction between Angelique’s demon-haunted repertoire and Natalie’s white-hat supernatural hacking.
Anyway, Josette’s convinced that Barnabas is in danger, and to prove it, she starts bleeding from the neck with no visible cut or scratch. Okay, does everybody have a hotline to Beelzebub today?
Maybe Reverend Trask has a point; there do seem to be a lot of unlicensed psychic phenomena popping up everywhere.
Then it’s back to the Old House again. There’s a lot of “meanwhiles” stacking up today; we’re going to go back and forth between these two locations for the entire episode.
Ben’s managed to drag Barnabas’ carcass upstairs to the bedroom, and the invalid begins to stir.
Ben: Mr. Barnabas —
Barnabas: Who is it?
Ben: It’s me, Ben.
And man, Barnabas must be in really bad shape, if he can’t recognize Ben. How many Ben-shaped objects can there be in your life?
Barnabas isn’t exactly bouncing back from recent events.
Barnabas: A bat, I saw a bat… tried to get away. She made a bat appear…
Ben: She won’t be up to her tricks anymore, Mr. Barnabas.
Barnabas: She made the bat appear, Ben!
Ben: Now, you lie back and try to rest.
Barnabas: She made the bat attack my throat!
I mean, I can’t blame him. If I was bitten by a magical curse bat, I’d probably be telling people about it too. You don’t get a good story like that very often.
But Ben has a story of his own; he updates Barnabas on Angelique.
Ben: I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to kill her.
Barnabas: You mean — she’s dead?
Ben: Aye, she’s dead. Anyone who’s lost as much blood as she has… would have to be dead.
But then guess who stumbles through the door, bleeding shoulder and all — Angelique! Ta-DAH!
This is the first example on Dark Shadows of the classic supervillain trick of turning up alive after an obviously fatal injury, ready to start the mayhem all over again. The Master used to do this all the time on Doctor Who, and Ben Linus from Lost was noted for all the times he could take a lickin’ and keep on trickin’. On soaps, there are lots of examples, including Stavros Cassadine from General Hospital, Stefano DiMera on Days of Our Lives, and One Life to Live’s Mitch Laurence.
We’ll see Angelique do this several times on the show, and the routine basically goes like this:
Barnabas: Angelique! You were shot with a silver bullet, drowned in holy water, and then sacrificed in a voodoo black mass! You couldn’t possibly have survived!
Angelique (arriving by parachute): But I did! Ta-DAH!
Anyway, apparently she’s not dying anymore, and now that she’s had a few minutes to think it over, she feels bad about cursing Barnabas.
Angelique: I thought I was going to die, Ben. That’s why I set the curse on him. But now I’m not going to die, I don’t want him to be cursed.
Women, right? What are you gonna do.
So now she wants to lift the curse.
Angelique: We must find some way of keeping him alive. Because if he dies, there’ll never be a way to remove the curse. After he dies… something much more terrible will happen to him.
She probably should have thought of that before she cursed him in the first place; you should always save the receipt. On the other hand, getting shot in the shoulder would probably make anyone overreact a bit.
Meanwhile, back to the road trip. Josette is still vibrating, and the throat stigmata are still acting up. She wants to head back to Collinwood right away, but Natalie persuades her to wait until daylight.
Also meanwhile, there’s a bat skittering around outside the inn’s window, for no particular reason and following nobody’s instructions. They’ve realized recently that you can always close an episode with a squeaky bat, and it’ll feel like an ending. Tune in tomorrow for more of the same.
Tomorrow: Bram Stoker’s I Love Lucy.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Natalie tries to reassure Josette that she saw Barnabas before they left Collinwood, and Josette says, “That was three hours ago!” Assuming that she didn’t see him the very second before she left, and knowing that the party is currently settled in at the roadside inn, with the servants all asleep… How long could they possibly have been on the road? How far could a carriage possibly get in two hours?
Approaching the Old House, Ben looks through the window and sees the carnage inside. He rushes to open the door. As he enters the house, the brick wall on the left side of the door wobbles.
Tomorrow: Bram Stoker’s I Love Lucy.
— Danny Horn