Episode 435: Next Stop Kansas

“It can’t be! That woman is dead!”

The sun sets, the coffin opens, and guess what, there’s more bad news. It’s like every time Barnabas gets up, there’s some depressing new development. He’s got to be wondering why he ever bothered to rise from the dead in the first place.

This is probably the first truly original concept born from this unholy union of monster movie and daytime soap opera — the idea of a vampire waking up and saying, Man, this has been such a crappy week.

435 dark shadows basement barnabas ben

You see, Barnabas killed his crabby old fussbudget aunt on Tuesday and dumped her body in the woods, just sitting up against a tree. It turns out that if there’s a string of suspicious deaths, after a while people start wondering who’s responsible. This is news to Barnabas, who was under the impression that he could just leave the corpses out front for the recycling pickup, and nobody would mind.

But the really bad news is that they’re blaming Vicki, the time-traveling governess from the 1960s. This is bad news because it means we still have to pay attention to her tedious witchcraft trial.

So now we’re sitting through a whole scene of Barnabas insisting that Ben has to testify at the trial, and tell everyone that the real witch was Angelique. Ben says that the judges won’t believe him — after all, he has a prison record — but Barnabas assures him that everyone will have to believe him, if he tells the whole story.

This is what vampires do on television, apparently; they lurk in basements and give legal advice.

435 dark shadows courtroom judges

So here we are again, for the third day in a row, watching the same people having the same arguments, in an obviously trumped-up kangaroo court scenario where there’s no clear sense of who’s winning, or what we have to do to make it stop.

And this is one of those episodes where the show is just sitting on my head, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I started this trial sequence with a handful of cute things to say about TV courtrooms and Perry Mason and standards of evidence and so on, but this is the fourth trial episode since last Wednesday and I am clear out of ammunition.

If I’d known it was going to drag on like this, I would have saved a couple jokes, or called in sick, or started a blog about something else.

435 dark shadows oz ben vicki

So it’s time to tell Dorothy to wrap this up; I think we’re done here. Say goodbye to the Lullaby League, and let’s grab the next tornado back to Kansas.

This weird little journey through Oz has been fantastic, a really worthwhile trip — we got to shake off the tired old 1967 storylines, and try out a whole new bag of tricks. Now we can head back to the present, with some new story points to explore.

435 dark shadows simple ben vicki

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple; apparently, tornadoes don’t come around that often. We’ve still got five more weeks here in 1795. Five weeks! It’s late February 1968 right now, and we’re not heading back to the present until April Fools Day. In fact, we’re not even getting a break from the courtroom until the middle of next week.

So it turns out the 1795 storyline was really all about Josette after all. Or, at least, it was about the Barnabas/Angelique/Josette love triangle. But now all three characters are dead, more or less, and everything else is running out of steam.

I can understand why they want to keep the time travel gimmick rolling for a few extra weeks. It’s been an extremely clever and story-productive idea, and it’s brought the show a lot of well-deserved attention. The little soap opera that couldn’t has become a bona fide hit by now, surprising everyone, even the people making it.

435 dark shadows courtroom ben trask

But now they’re about to do something that proves that 1795 is basically over. Ben has come to Vicki’s trial, and announced to everyone that Vicki is innocent, and the real witch is Angelique.

Ben describes the spells that the witch cast to snare Barnabas as her husband, and Peter puts all the pieces together. Vicki didn’t have any motive to hurt the Collins family and break up Barnabas and Josette’s wedding plans, but Angelique obviously had something to gain. And she got it, too — she married Barnabas.

Now Vicki and Peter understand what’s been going on this whole time. All those mysterious incidents fit together; the case is solved. Let’s pat everybody on the back, congratulate them, give them a medal or whatever we need to do, and then hustle Vicki outside to find out when the next tornado is leaving for Kansas.

435 dark shadows enter angelique

And then Angelique appears. I have no idea why.

Seriously, there’s not a single reason why Angelique would show up in the courtroom. Yes, Ben is telling everybody all of her secrets. But who cares?

Angelique is dead. Barnabas is a vampire. Josette is gone. That story is over — or, at least, the phase that takes place in 1795 is over. Yeah, Angelique is still determined to have her revenge on Barnabas, even after she’s dead, but that goal is starting to get a bit abstract now that she’s driven Josette off the cliff. That was the match point. Angelique won.

435 dark shadows courtroom angelique

Plus, she has absolutely no reason to interfere in Vicki’s trial. I’m surprised at this point that she even remembers Vicki’s name. As far as Angelique is concerned, Vicki was a pawn that she used and threw away weeks ago. She has nothing to gain from punishing Vicki.

But we’ve entered the era of the Wicked Witch, where Angelique does mean things just for the thrill of being bad. The only justification for today’s appearance that I can think of is that Angelique is popular, and the producers want to make sure that the audience knows that she’s not off the canvas for good. She’ll be back, and she’ll find a whole new way to be amazing all over again. But not today.

435 dark shadows hell angelique

So, the hell with it. Vicki’s going to have to take care of this mess on her own. Let’s go find some Munchkins, and see if they’ve got an outbound hot-air balloon. There’s got to be a shortcut around here somewhere.

Monday: Quivering with Emotion (Backup Plan, part 2).

435 dark shadows kansas peter vicki

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

16 thoughts on “Episode 435: Next Stop Kansas

  1. Now it’s to the point where Angelique is actually anti-climatic. Go away and don’t come back until the next storyline. By the way I actually like Barnabas better when he’s doing mundane, everyday things, such as ‘hanging out’ with the locals at the Blue Whale or squabbing with his ‘adopted’ family Willy and Julia. It makes him more human and likable than when he’s portrayed as the avenger of the Collins family and creator of human life a la the upcoming Adam and Eve storyline (groan)…

  2. Only reason I can think of for Angelique’s appearance is simply, Barnabas wanted Vicki to go free and was trying to help her – and Angelique is determined to block Barnabas’s plans as much as possible (and punish Ben for exposing her). A stretch I know, but really only thing that makes sense. Plus she’s nasty.

    Still, Angelique’s ghost testifying in court is absolutely bonkers and totally in keeping with how crazy DS has gotten. I tried to wrack my brains to see if I could come up with another example of a ghost/undead person showing up in a live-person court (not a dream/ghost court/zombie court/etc.) and couldn’t come up with anything – so props to them.

    1. Afraid not. He testified the accepted belief that Angelique just left town the day after Barnabas left for England. Ben obligingly discredited himself when she appeared, shouting “She’s dead!” repeatedly.
      The funny thing about Angelique’s testimony was that every word of it was absolutely 100% truth. Not a word of a lie and it still damned Vicki. Very clever.

  3. The show needed the eye candy. KLS was disfigured, AM never smiled, Millicent was nutty, and I was grateful for the gratuitous appearance of my favorite character.

    My only complaint about Lara is, she rarely showed her teeth when smiling…….

    And it would have made her evil SO much more compelling….a great evil smile.

    The kind that makes a comedienne much funnier after a caustic joke delivery.

  4. Bradford really turned up the screaming to 11 today. As for Angelique the writers obviously have something in mind for Vicki’s trial ending, but as usual are too lazy to use different stories to further the plot. Just drag out the Angelique card and play it tell they get to the finale.

  5. “[I]t was about the Barnabas/Angelique/Josette love triangle. But now all three characters are dead, more or less, and everything else is running out of steam.”

    Excellent point. Except, of course, the three won’t quite stay dead. Today we saw B. and A.

    “Angelique is popular, and the producers want to make sure that the audience knows that she’s not off the canvas for good.”

    Another Exlept!

    Barnabas is a fool to think that Ben will have to be believed if he testifies. Ben turns out to be right that his court appearance might go wrong in ways that Barnabas can’t anticipate. It is not news to anyone who has been paying attention that Ben has more common sense in his pinkie than Barnabas, Vicki and Peter have in their entire bodies combined.

    I had thought that Ben still would not be able to say Angelique’s name, but somehow her ghost can’t prevent his tongue from working today.

    Trask forgot to ask Angelique where she has been hiding. Maybe he has not been thinking of her because he did not realize that he needed her testimony.

    Neither Bradford nor Trask seems to question his remarkable luck when each needs a witness to support his case, and one just happens to walk right into the courtroom at that moment. You’d almost think that witchcraft might be behind it.

  6. I don’t really understand the confusion over Angelique”s motive. This Angelique is from the future. She knows that Barnabas is in love with Victoria in 1967. In fact I would argue that is the entire reason Vicki went back in time. Angelique orchest rated it to get rid of Vick either as part of curse or to get Barnabs when she return’s to 1968.

    1. The reason it has to be Angelique from the future is this never happened the first time. So obviously thI’d Angelique is from the future. The only way this storyline makes sense!

    2. Yes, brilliant. It’s all Angelique. She is responsible for the time travel in the first place! Someone get this man a cigar!!

  7. Angelique had no other motive to testify against Vicki than to thrwart Barnabas’ wishes–reinforces her villainous role.

  8. Here’s a better idea than to just send in poor old Ben. Of course we all know, as Ben knows, that no one is going to believe him. He’s not a credible witness. So how about this:

    Barnabas writes a letter in his own hand, pre-dating the letter to the day before his death. In this letter he writes what really happened with Angelique and Josette/Jeremiah. Basically, everything that Ben said, but it’s all by testimony of Barnabas and in his own hand. Signed and dated.

    The letter has been entrusted to Ben to bring to court in the event that Ms. Winters’ troubles with Trask escalate, especially because Barnabas is dying and he really thinks she is innocent and he won’t be around to aid her fight.

    Now the letter must be authenticated, and they can do this by using Joshua. He recognizes the handwriting and says it is Barnabas’ handwriting, which seems to get Vicki out of the hot water she is in. And then Angelique comes in to thwart Barnabas’ plans… Then it’s not so convenient that she is there. She is there to stop Barnabas. Always to stop Barnabas.

    At least the audience wouldn’t be knowing right off the bat, the minute Ben stepped into the courtroom, that the plan was doomed to failure.

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