Episode 445: Generation Gap

“You don’t understand the world, or anything around you. Today, more than anything, has convinced me of that.”

It’s the old story, one of the oldest there is: The young couple wants to dance, and hold hands in the rain, and run away, and fall in love. They don’t care about money or tradition or whatever uptight hang-ups their uptight parents are hung up on. They just want to be free.

And this is early spring 1968, back when being young and free really meant something. I’m not totally sure if that spirit also applies to 1796, but Millicent is going to give it a whirl, and see how far she can get.

445 dark shadows deceit joshua millicent

Millicent has decided to marry the handsome scoundrel Lt. Nathan Forbes, forgiving him for deceiving her, because she believes that he truly loves her. And then here comes the older generation, who’s a touch more skeptical.

“You’re more gullible than I thought,” grumbles Joshua. “Don’t you realize that Lieutenant Forbes is interested in only one thing — your money?”

This is why you should never trust anyone over 30 — all they think about is money. They don’t understand love at all.

445 dark shadows strong joshua millicent

And Millicent steps up, which is a nice surprise. She’s spent her entire life trying to be proper and ladylike. She’s never really asserted herself, because she’s never had reason to. She’s just kind of drifted through her life, chattering away and never really making any decisions.

But she stands up to the authority figure, and declares that she and Nathan are in love, and she’s old enough to decide what to do with her life.

445 dark shadows L7 joshua

Joshua is determined to be completely L7 about this.

Joshua:  Millicent! Don’t force me to take steps.

Millicent:  Steps?

Joshua:  I’ll have you declared insane.

Naomi:  Joshua! What are you saying?

Joshua:  I am saying that she’s not responsible for the decisions she’s been making, and possibly a rest would do her good.

Millicent:  I’m not insane!

Joshua:  Then why did you try to kill Lieutenant Forbes? The man you now say you’re going to marry.

Okay, that’s actually kind of a good point. She did try to stab Nathan with a letter opener a few weeks ago, which was not particularly groovy.

445 dark shadows understand joshua millicent

Millicent tries to keep it together.

Millicent:  I was angry with him. I thought he had deceived me. I did not understand him.

Joshua:  You don’t understand him now. You don’t understand the world, or anything around you. Today, more than anything else, has convinced me of that.

So this sounds familiar, to the young audience of 1968. By this point in the show’s history, Dark Shadows was very popular among teenagers, partly because the wild, boundary-breaking fantasy of the show was an escape from the stern glare of the grown-ups around them.

To be fair, the older generation had reason to be nervous about what was happening to their children in 1968. Free love, LSD, anti-war protests, long hair, dropping out of school, and what the hell was with the sitar music all of a sudden? Young people were turning into something unrecognizable.

There was a widening gulf opening between the generations. Young people saw themselves as the leaders of a revolution based on Love and Peace and their feelings, which would transform the world into something new and beautiful. The older generation saw chaos and anarchy.

So how could the Class of ’68 see the conflict in today’s episode as anything but a tyrannical father who projects his own greed and spite onto everything he sees?

445 dark shadows tyrant joshua nathan

But this is Dark Shadows, a television series that is devoted to upending all narrative expectations.

Joshua is exactly one hundred percent correct. Nathan doesn’t love Millicent, and he is after her money. Millicent is gullible, and borderline insane, and incapable of making her own decisions. There’s not a single thing that Joshua says in the entire episode that’s wrong.

He’s not being prejudiced or unreasonable here. He has wisdom and experience that the young people don’t have, and he sees things more clearly than anyone else.

445 dark shadows value nathan joshua

Nathan invites Joshua into the study for a talk, and essentially dares him to stop the wedding. Joshua is gruff and uptight as usual, refusing to listen to anything Nathan has to say.

But he’s not really prepared for what happens next.

445 dark shadows truth joshua nathan

Nathan says, “I know the truth about Barnabas,” and everything changes.

This is a subplot that’s been building up quietly in the background, for about six weeks — little bits of evidence that Nathan’s collected about Barnabas’ night-time activities.

Millicent saw Barnabas in the woods, after he was supposed to have “gone to England.” Suki was killed, and in her dying breath, she said Barnabas’ name. Maude  was attacked at the docks, and Nathan found Barnabas’ cane at the scene. And just a couple nights ago, Nathan followed Ben from the cemetery to the Old House, and he saw Barnabas through the window.

Now, according to the youth counterculture perspective, this should be a moment when the blind, corrupt authority figure closes his ears to the truth. According to 1968 rules, Joshua — the aging tyrant — should be denying this to the end.

Joshua should bellow at Nathan, saying that he’s just as insane as Millicent is, and chase him off the property with one of the many loaded pistols hidden around the house.

445 dark shadows thunder joshua nathan

But that’s not what happens.

He tries to fit into that formula. “That is impossible,” he moans. “It can’t be!” But when Nathan shows him the cane, you can see all of Joshua’s certainty just shattering to pieces and falling on the floor, because he can recognize the truth when it’s in front of him.

445 dark shadows generation joshua nathan

So this is the point where the audience realizes that Dark Shadows isn’t following the generation-gap script. Joshua isn’t just a stubborn old man. He’s honest, with a strong moral center, and all of the young people around him are foolish and selfish.

Just look at how Peace and Love has worked out for everyone else in this storyline. Josette and Jeremiah tuned in and dropped out, running away from their families and responsibilities. Yes, they were under a spell, but in that moment, they were the young rebels, swept up in a passionate embrace — doing what they felt was right. It was an utter disaster.

Barnabas tried grabbing some Free Love too, making out with Angelique when he was engaged to Josette. But they ended up with nothing but destructive hang-ups.

Now Millicent thinks she’s found true love, and it’s another catastrophic delusion.

And Joshua is the one who sees through it all.

445 dark shadows coffin joshua

And so he does all of the things that the young people around him can’t do. He admits that he’s been wrong. He takes responsibility for what’s happening. He faces his fears.

Maybe it turns out that Joshua’s been the hero of the show this whole time. Let’s meet back here on Monday and find out.

Monday: The Son Also Rises.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

At the start of act 3, when Nathan walks over to the drawing room windows, there’s a quick flash of something passing in front of the camera, possibly a member of the crew.

Monday: The Son Also Rises.

445 dark shadows basement joshua

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

15 thoughts on “Episode 445: Generation Gap

  1. Joshua is the strongest character in the 1795 storyline: he’s had to deal with an alcoholic wife, the death of both of his children (although his son’s actions brought most of the tragedy upon the family), the death of both his brother and sister at the hands of his son as well as the suicide of his son’s fiancee and murder of LT Forbes wife, also due to his ‘ beloved’ son. Now he’s stuck with dealing with this BS. And don’t forget the airhead governess that he’s going to have to try and get sprung fron gaol. Oh yeah and don’t forget the whacked out religious fanatic he’s got bricked up in the Old House basement, courtesy of who??

    1. One more important thing – he also had to be subjected to being turned into a feline for 7 days because his idiot son couldn’t keep it in his pants…

    2. Joane I agree, Joshua because he is the cold and appears uncaring type tries to do the best at the end but some fans still don’t like him because he can be pretty harsh and blunt at times.

      1. I’m also seeing similar qualities in Louis Edmonds ‘1897’ character Edward Collins – initially seeming cold and indifferent then trying to clean up the mess caused by the rest of the family members.

        1. True, Joshua and Edward were more responsible than Roger as characters.Roger takes longer to become responsible.

      2. I like him! He’s a good father! He’s my third favorite character. Louis Edmonds once said that Joshua was his favorite character to play. I think he was the only one with any character growth in the 1795 storyline. Naomi still drinks(but still looks fabulous. Also maybe because he’s so distant and cold towards her. Anyone else notice that whenever​he insulted her, ignored her, or shot her ideas down that she drank more), Abigail is a religious fanatic that refuses to accept the truth even if it’s staring her in the face. Jeremiah was okay, but still committed adultery. Sarah was 11 and Daniel was 12 so they’re not included in my list of lack of character growth. Barnabas was a murderous and bloodthirsty vampire at the end and Millicent was a flighty hypochondriac. Go Joshua! Congrats on being the only character that learns something, sorry it took your only son turning into a vampire

        1. I definitely think Naomi has developed – she still drinks, but she stands up for herself and others now, and it becoming quite forceful. I think it was Sarah’s death that catalysed the change in both of them – Joshua really was just a cold businessman before that heartbreak (hilarious, but cold).

          Millicent started to develop a bit, too – annoyingly it’s a change that has now been reset, so it doesn’t really count.

          And Vicki’s developed an unsightly growth – she’s decided to keep it, and has named it Peter Bradford.

  2. I really enjoyed your description of this episode being about the generational culture clash and then not really. It sure sounds like Joshua had the makings of being a winning character. Do they ever address with pretty much everybody dead without heirs how there are any Collins family members even alive in 1968?

    1. Yeah, the Collins family of the 1960s is all descended from Daniel Collins. When the show goes to 1840 in a couple years, we’ll see Daniel as an old man, with all of his crabby, scheming children.

  3. Considering that letter opener scene, Joshua was probably protecting Nathan from Millicent, not just the other way around.

    The scam of hiring a man to threaten a woman and then “coming to her rescue” actually does go back pretty far. For one thing, you see it in a comical Edgar Allan Poe story called “Diddling.”

  4. It’s funny how deliberate the plotting has been when it comes to Nathan learning about Barnabas. For a show that can really fly by the seat of its pants, they’ve clearly seen Nathan’s involvement with exposing Barnabas from way back and have structured the story accordingly. Nicely done

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