“Poor child. If I had any feelings left, I might pity you.”
It’s been a big week on Dark Shadows. On Monday, crotchety patriarch Joshua Collins found his dead son, Barnabas, sleeping in a coffin in the basement of the Old House.
Learning that Barnabas is the vampire maniac who’s been killing people all over town, Joshua vowed to find a way to remove Angelique’s curse. Now he’s keeping Barnabas locked in the tower room at Collinwood, while he tries to track down an occult customer support line.
So, obviously, this is a super exciting development. Collinwood has a tower room!
And it’s beautiful, too — just look at it! A circular set, which is totally new, with stained glass windows and a dark chandelier.
New architecture is always exciting on Dark Shadows, because the show is basically just the story of this big crazy puzzle box of a house, constructed entirely out of spooky places.
Yesterday, when Joshua was explaining his plan, Barnabas objected that someone might find him. Joshua brushed this aside, saying, “No one ever comes to the tower room.” Which is crazy, because they just finished building the house, like, two months ago. Why would they go to all the trouble of building a tower room if nobody goes there? The Collins family is completely insane.
But the best thing about the tower room — when considered as a utility closet for storing dangerous criminals from the world of the dead — is how amazingly eye-catching it is. We’ve never heard of the tower room before, but apparently you can see it from pretty much any window in the house, including the drawing room, as well as from the front door, the back patio and possibly the basement.
It is, in fact, the single worst hiding place in Collinwood, narrowly edging out the grandfather clock in the foyer, which everybody walks by a hundred times a day.
Millicent comes downstairs in her wedding dress — oh, Millicent is getting married today, by the way, I forgot to mention that in all of the architectural excitement — and she finds Joshua in the drawing room, staring at the tower, because obviously the best thing to do under these circumstances is to draw more attention to the scene of the crime.
Millicent says that she saw a light in the tower room last night, and shadows passing in front of the window. She asks Joshua if he knows who was up there, but Joshua denies that anyone was ever there.
You know how sometimes the moon and the clouds and passing birds and airplanes and weather balloons and tinsel and black helicopters can make it look like somebody’s up in the tower room? Apparently it was one of those.
Everybody assembles for the big wedding day, although obviously they can’t stop talking about the tower room for more than fifteen seconds. Millicent mentions that she saw a light there, and Nathan is immediately suspicious.
“A light in the tower?” he gasps, as if he’s intimately familiar with the traffic patterns in every room in the house. He doesn’t even live here.
Grabbing a moment alone with Joshua, Nathan brings up the mysterious light in the tower.
Joshua — who’s led a pretty quiet life and isn’t used to the stress of being an accomplice after the fact to a serial killer — loses his cool to a noticeable degree.
Joshua: Now, listen to me, young man! Whether there are lights in the tower room or not is no concern of yours! I’m not interested in your observations or your curiosities! So keep them completely to yourself. Is that clear?
I don’t really have much of a reason to quote that line, except that it’s awesome and I wish I could talk like that. Oh, the people I would berate.
Anyway, everybody goes and gets married, and then there’s some Millicent/Nathan drama around whether he’s interested in her money or not. She’s decided to prove that her new husband isn’t a gold-digger by signing over her entire fortune to her little brother Daniel. Naturally, Nathan doesn’t find out about this until after the wedding, and he’s not super thrilled about it.
I’m skimming through this part of the episode because it’s not tower-related, and therefore who cares.
But Nathan is one of those mythological trickster figures that I’m so fond of, and he’s got a scheme to get his hands on the money. He goes upstairs to Millicent’s room, and assures her that he loves her just as much as he did when she was unbelievably wealthy. She is entirely convinced.
But then Nathan swipes one of her earrings when she’s not looking, and when she notices that it’s missing, he swings into action.
Nathan: I hope you haven’t lost it.
Millicent: Oh, no, I couldn’t have. It must be here someplace.
Nathan: All right, now, don’t let yourself get upset.
Millicent (smiling): I’m not upset.
Nathan: But you’re acting extremely upset.
Millicent: But I’m not! I’m really quite calm.
Nathan holds on to her.
Nathan: Then I must beg you to act calmly.
Millicent: But, I… I am!
Nathan: I fail to see any evidence of it!
Then she hears some dogs howling, and things kind of degenerate from there.
So this is some more narrative collision, this time with the 1944 film Gaslight. It’s the story of an irritating man, played by Charles Boyer, who’s trying to drive his irritating wife, played by Ingrid Bergman, insane. He does this very, very slowly. I watched it over the weekend in preparation for this blog entry, and I believe the running time is six hundred and fifty-five minutes.
The missing earring is practically a direct quote; in the movie, Ingrid Bergman loses a brooch. I could tell you more about Gaslight, except I don’t want to.
Anyway, it all loops back to the tower room again, as everything in life does, given enough time. Millicent looks out the window, and she sees a light in the tower. Seriously, Joshua needs to put up some curtains or something. This is going to come up again.
Tomorrow: Something Nasty in the Woodshed.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
When Nathan enters Collinwood in act 1, he tries to throw his cape on the foyer table as he walks by, but it slips, and he has to back up a step and put it on the table.
They run the credits from yesterday’s episode, which includes Barnabas and not Nathan.
Tomorrow: Something Nasty in the Woodshed.
— Danny Horn