“I ask you to believe one thing, because it’s as true and as real as anything you’ll ever hear.”
Well, that scoundrel Nathan Forbes is at it again, manipulating the wealthy and naive Millicent Collins into marrying him, and giving him access to the Collins fortune. Exposed as a liar and an aspiring bigamist, Nathan is banned from Collinwood, plus Millicent tried to stab him with a letter opener, so figuring out the seating chart for the reception has been pretty decisively moved to the back burner.
Right now, the emotionally fragile Millicent is walking around with a box full of duelling pistols, looking for someone who’s willing to shoot Nathan in the face. It was that kind of breakup.
But Nathan, ever resourceful, has come up with a completely bonkers drawing-room-comedy-style plan, where his associate Noah attacks Millicent, wielding her cousin Barnabas’ cane. It’s all very fraught and complex.
Then Nathan jumps in and delivers some Batman ’66 style punches, and with a WHAM!, a POW! and a ZOK!, he chases the nasty bad man away. Millicent is overcome with emotion, and the whole production is a runaway success.
That’s pretty much all the plot they have for us today, but unfortunately, they’ve still got time to fill. This is what they fill it with.
Noah: You took your good sweet time, didn’t you?
This is Noah. He’s Nathan’s new, reluctant henchman, and by reluctant I mean annoying, and by annoying I mean that I want to hit him with something heavy.
Nathan: I told you it might take a little while.
Noah: What did you do out there, anyway?
Nathan: Had to make sure that the lady was all right, didn’t I?
Noah: And it took this long?
Holy cow, what is your point? Is your car double-parked or something? You just pretended to menace a girl, so that Nathan could get close to her. How do you not understand the importance of the post-menace phase of the operation?
But Noah only thinks about himself.
Noah: Did she see my face?
Nathan: She saw just what I wanted her to see — the cane. Nothing more.
Noah: But you don’t know that she didn’t see my face.
Nathan: She thinks it was Barnabas who attacked her, so stop worrying.
Noah: Well, if there’s nothing to worry about, why are you packing all those things?
Oh, man. We are currently 45 seconds into this sequence, and already you just want to smack the guy. Nathan keeps saying things like, “Because it’s part of the plan. Don’t you remember?” The answer, apparently, is no.
I mean, admittedly, it’s a shaky plan. I wouldn’t trust Nathan either. But try to pay attention, at least.
Noah: Why don’t you just give me the money you promised me?
Nathan: I don’t have any money.
Noah: You don’t have any?
Nathan: Of course not, I told you. I won’t have it until the plan’s been fully executed.
Noah: What does that mean?
It means that the plan is the thing that’s going to get us the money. You’ve been over this several times. We really have to go through this again?
So this is me, just yelling at the television now. I can be patient sometimes — I watch Dark Shadows, being patient is a survival skill — but conversations like this just drive me crazy.
It doesn’t help that the actor apparently read the script, and said, okay, petulant. I can do that. I’m not sure what other acting choice you could make with this particular scene, but I’m not an actor on television, and it’s not my job to figure that out.
Nathan: So far, everything that I have planned has gone exactly the way I planned it.
Noah: But something could go wrong!
Nathan: Well, if it does, then both of us will leave Collinsport penniless. Is that what you want?
Noah: What I want is my money.
As we’ve discussed before, it’s not that hard to get the audience to like a new character. There are three steps — make a joke, make a friend, and make a plot point happen.
That “make a friend” step is more important than people might think. Conceptually, if you watch a television show regularly, then you start to see the cast as a group of people that you know. This is especially true on soap operas, where you invite the cast into your home five times a week. You have to really like those people if you have them over that often; that’s a group of close friends.
So when a new person joins the group, you need to see the existing characters accept the newcomer. If Nathan likes and trusts Noah, then he must be okay. But if Noah only exists to drive Nathan crazy, then why did we invite him over?
Nathan finally says the thing that I’ve wanted him to say the whole time.
Nathan: Now, look, I want you out of my room.
Nathan: Because I’m expecting a visitor.
Oh my god, seriously? It’s like dealing with a four-year-old. It’s been a while since I’ve been this exasperated with a Dark Shadows character.
They actually blow all the way through an act break — and when they come back from commercial, Nathan is still waiting for Millicent, and Noah is still being a dick.
Noah: Why don’t you sit down?
Nathan: I don’t want to sit down.
Noah: You’re getting a little nervous.
Nathan: Why don’t you be quiet?
Noah: Also a little edgy. What’s the matter, Lieutenant, have you decided that I was right and you were wrong?
Okay, you’re just the worst henchman ever. Seriously, I’ve seen a lot of henchmen. It’s not an inspiring list. You’re at the bottom of it.
Finally, they hear footsteps approaching down the hall. Nathan speaks in an urgent whisper.
Nathan: Listen! Someone’s coming. Now, you’ve got to get out of here.
Noah: How do you know it’s her?
How do you… Really, dude? We’ve spent the last five minutes doing exactly nothing but waiting for Millicent to show up. She’s now right outside the door. The only thing standing in the way of scene progression is you.
So that’s it. I’m done with Noah. Didn’t Millicent have a box of guns? Maybe she’s brought it with her.
Tomorrow: Generation Gap.
— Danny Horn