Episode 456: An Illogical Explanation

“Unless they are hiding him. They hide people here, you know.”

Daniel comes in through the window. That’s the thing I don’t understand.

Victoria Winters, time-displaced girl governess, is currently on the run after shooting herself in the shoulder, breaking out of prison and killing a guy, in that order. Fleeing the scene of her latest felony, she’s teamed up with ten-year-old Daniel Collins, who’s brought her back to Collinwood to hide.

Daniel enters the house by climbing in through the drawing room window. He looks around in the foyer, makes sure that nobody’s there, and then he opens the front door and motions for Vicki to come in.

Now, there are lots of reasons why this sequence has baffled the finest minds of our generation. For one thing, hiding Vicki in Collinwood is a ridiculous plan. The one person that they’re all afraid of right now is Lt. Nathan Forbes, who lives there. On top of that, Daniel stows Vicki in the study, which is a place that Nathan knows where it is. They have an enormous mansion full of rooms to choose from, and Daniel stashes Vicki behind one of the four doors that you can see from the foyer.

But the thing that gets me is: why doesn’t Daniel just walk in through the front door? All he’s doing is checking that the coast is clear. The only thing that climbing in the window accomplishes is taking the risk that someone will ask him why he’s climbing in the window.

So that’s where we are, as we begin our final week in 1795. We’ve moved beyond characters being stupid, into a whole new realm of nonsensical behavior. There’s got to be an illogical explanation for all of this.

456 dark shadows damaged millicent daniel

Let’s start with the fact that just about every character on the show right now is irreparably insane. The most obvious example is Millicent, who’s been betrayed, disappointed, gaslighted and vampire-bitten-on, and by now she’s a complete wreck of a woman.

And she used to be so much fun — the silly comedy-relief little sister, who was playing out Jane Austen B-stories while everyone else was doing Macbeth. Look at her now.

456 dark shadows late millicent daniel

Millicent:  If you will not tell me who you talked to this late, I shall find out.

Daniel:  I — I was talking to myself.

Millicent:  Oh, dear. And I’ve told Nathan you were quite perfect. Now I shall have to admit that is not true —

Daniel:  Don’t tell him anything!

Millicent:  I will! I will tell him everything! If he were ever at home.

Stung by this, she takes a breath and lashes out in a different direction.

Millicent:  I would not treat anyone the way you all treat me! Even you. You are not the little boy I brought here. You are too big. Something has happened to the little boy I brought here.

456 dark shadows touch millicent daniel

The really devastating thing in this scene is that there are two moments when Daniel tries to reach out and touch his obviously distressed sister, and both times she flinches, instinctively pulling away from any affection or comfort he mght offer.

It’s a subtle bit of physical character-building that’s enormously effective — go check it out, if you’ve got the episode handy. Dark Shadows does a good line in crazy lady, and this is their first sustained effort in that direction.

456 dark shadows worry millicent naomi

Then Naomi enters, sweeping downstairs in her enormous red velvet cape, which looks amazing by the way, especially in contrast to the all-black crazy-lady couture that Millicent has taken to. The conversation doesn’t get a lot easier.

Naomi:  Daniel! You’re back; you’re safe! Are you all right? Where did you go?

Millicent:  Go? He went somewhere? And I didn’t know about it!

Naomi:  Millicent, dear, we didn’t want to worry you.

Millicent:  Nathan says you always say that when you want your own way.

Naomi:  If Nathan said that, he’s wrong.

456 dark shadows lies millicent

Millicent’s eyes flash.

Millicent:  I don’t believe you, cousin! You do lie to me. It is a well-known fact. You are constantly telling me that Barnabas is not back.

Naomi:  Because he isn’t back, Millicent.

Millicent:  Nathan says you are trying to drive me mad. And he’s right. I will not listen to you — ever!

She stomps off to the drawing room, and slams the doors. Naomi is about to go after her, but Daniel stops her.

456 dark shadows cape naomi daniel

He tells Naomi not to go after Millicent, because there’s another breaking news story — Vicki is hiding in the study. So Naomi and Daniel run off to attend to Vicki, and nobody tries to help Millicent.

So that’s where things stand in this family. Millicent was funny and sweet, filling in as comic relief during the storyline’s darkest days. Now she is irretrievably damaged, and the show is zero percent invested in helping her out. Nobody says, “We have to help Millicent break away from her emotionally abusive husband, and find her way back to sanity and peace.” Joshua and Naomi talk about Millicent twice this week, and both times, Joshua simply says that Millicent is mad, as if that’s an immutable fact, and it’s a waste of time to even be kind to her.

456 dark shadows collinwood vicki naomi

So I would suggest that at this point, the storyline has completely broken any allegiance that it had to the characters’ emotional well-being. After four months of non-stop tragedy, the family is in free fall, just stumbling from one crisis to the next, losing people along the way. Millicent just happens to be the one who’s given up first.

456 dark shadows arsenal vicki naomi

But, sure, let’s go check on Vicki, who is now in her third place of confinement in a week. Ever since she broke out of her cell, she’s been shuffled from one windowless room to another. Later in the episode, Nathan comes into the study, and Daniel and Naomi push Vicki into the closet. They’re going to keep stuffing her into progressively smaller and smaller spaces, until she ends up in a shoebox under the bed.

456 dark shadows flail vicki naomi

And hey, check out the addition to the study set — there’s a brand-new wall, which apparently comes with a built-in arsenal. There’s a collection of weapons hanging there, including a crossbow, a couple daggers, some assorted swords, and a flail.

So I know that this family likes to keep several murder weapons in easy reach at all times, but I’m having a hard time getting past the flail. Joshua fought in the Revolutionary War, and he’s understandably proud of his honorable military service, but I’m pretty sure that the United States has managed to keep the flail-related violence to a minimum.

Still, remember Chekhov’s rule of interior decorating — if you’ve got a gun on the wall in the first act, then you need to fire it by act three. Stay tuned to see what kind of Coliseum gladiator battle kicks off by the end of the week.

456 dark shadows sin nathan daniel

Finishing up my survey of Collins family insanity, let’s take another look at Lt. Nathan Forbes, who has undergone a sudden and comprehensive personality change in the last couple of weeks.

For most of the 1795 storyline, Nathan was the other half of the comic-relief B-plot, an affable scoundrel whose simple gold-digging schemes were refreshingly innocent, compared to the supernatural skullduggery going on around him. But something very dark has snapped inside Nathan’s head, and for the last couple weeks, we’ve all been trying to figure out what’s going on with him.

Today is an opportune moment to propose an answer to that question, because this is the day that he puts his hands on a child, which is basically the electrified third rail for soap opera audiences. We can put up with a lot of bad behavior, including murder, grave robbing and fantasy-metaphor rape — but nobody hits kids on soap operas. This is your cue to leave.

So here’s my question: Is Nathan Forbes possessed?

456 dark shadows decisions nathan naomi

Let’s think about Angelique’s curse for a moment. She told Barnabas, “You will never rest, and you will never be able to love anyone… for whoever loves you will die!”

This is a pretty wide-ranging curse, and it’s taken a couple months to get around to everyone who loves Barnabas. This isn’t the kind of spell where everybody just drops at once — they actually have to die through normal, non-supernatural channels. Angelique assisted with some of these, especially Josette’s suicide, but Sarah died because of a chain of circumstances that Angelique had nothing to do with.

We’re now at the point where the curse kicks in for the final target — Barnabas’ mother. And again, her death is set up without any direct intervention from Angelique.

Nathan — resenting Naomi’s interference in his plans for Millicent and Daniel — suggests that she go up to the tower room to see her son, who Nathan’s discovered is the Collinsport Strangler. So she does. It doesn’t go that well.

456 dark shadows poise naomi nathan

From outside the narrative, it’s obvious that Nathan’s personality has changed recently because the writers needed to set up this moment — the final, tragic death that fulfills Angelique’s curse. So I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to make that connection within the narrative, too. Nathan’s heart has hardened, turning him into a controlling puppet-master, who takes active pleasure in the heartbreak he’s creating. I wonder where he could have picked that up?

Sending Naomi upstairs to the tower isn’t really Nathan’s style, at least not until recently. That’s an Angelique move. I don’t think that she’s literally inhabiting him, or that he’s consciously aware that he’s playing out a role that doesn’t come naturally to him. But making that connection might make this final week a little bit easier to understand. Strap in; it only gets crazier from here.

Tomorrow: Misdirection.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In act 1, when Vicki opens the study door to let Naomi and Daniel in, you can see a metal folding chair outside the door.

Act 1 closes on Naomi, as she reacts to Nathan knocking on the door. As the music cue plays and the scene fades, Naomi starts to say, “What do you want, Lieutenant?” That’s actually the first line of act 2; she says it again at the beginning of the next act.

At the end of act 3, Vicki and Naomi both get confused about the kid’s name.

Vicki:  I was in the mausoleum. David — Daniel — ran out to get help, and suddenly I heard a scream. I ran out into the graveyard, and there was a man who had his hands around Daniel’s throat. He was strangling him! I knew I had to do something. So I aimed the gun, as Peter had shown me, and pulled the trigger. He fell.

Naomi:  You had to do it. What else could you do? Thank you, for saving David — Daniel.

Tomorrow: Misdirection.

456 dark shadows coffin naomi

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

27 thoughts on “Episode 456: An Illogical Explanation

  1. The writers are definitely flailing around at this point. They’re writing on the fly with no thought of logic or character development or consistency. I hate to keep complaining about these ‘post Barnabas’ phenomenon episodes (I consider this to be everything from 365 on) but this is really where they lose control. I can even concede that everything up to Josette’s cliff dive was thought out but for some reason they didn’t want to let go of 1795 (seeing what’s in store for us when they get back to the present is probably a good reason why they wanted to stay there). But I thought the purpose of this storyline was to have Vicki learn EVERYTHING about Barnabas – that would have really amped things up when they returned to 1968 and would have given Barnabas a legitimate reason to have Vicki under his control.

    1. Yes it leaves Vicki looking like an utter idiot and makes her no real danger to Barnabas. In the end we, the audience, found out all the answers, but Vicki not at all. Basically all Vicki got out of it was Peter who then became Jeff and really, that wasn’t a bargain for her. I’m still sad that Mitch Ryan had to be fired, I would have loved to have seen them build a story around Vicki/Burke as fated lovers if Burke was interesting and charismatic and not Anthony George. Plus they could have kept the Josette story closer to the original if they hadn’t had to write Jeremiah out early in the story. He could have buried Josette far from the family and had that part of history stay the same.

      1. Exactly how I would have wanted it – I always thought it was too much of a coincidence that Burke was so conveniently gotten out of the way – Barnabas was way too sly to have expected that Burke wouldn’t have been around – there could have been a good story there if they could have gotten Mitch Ryan back. I’ll reserve comment for now on the Peter/Jeff ‘miracle’ plot.

    2. Well, probably one of the best episodes is coming up where Barnabas and Joshua talk before Barnabas is chain but a lot of the other episodes just don’t have it.

  2. Well, Louis Edmonds Joshua is missing from these episodes as well. In fact I would say he was the best character at the end and his performance again with Frid-Barnabas is the best.

  3. The writers always had trouble wrapping up sequences. They had a great storyline in 1897, but in the end it fizzled out. And never mind the Leviathan one. Most dissatisfying resolution. So the bad guy falls in love and mends his ways…. Bleh…

    1. Well, soap operas aren’t supposed to have endings; the format isn’t built for that. It’s supposed to all be one long overlapping story, so when one thread ends, there’s a few others that are still going. Dark Shadows ended up dividing the series into chunks based on the time travel, but that’s very unusual, and they only figured that out as they went along. Their intention after 1795 was clearly just to be in the present day for the rest of the series.

  4. Whether or not we like Roger Davis as an actor, we have to admit that he is more age appropriate than the forty-somethings Jonathan Frid, Mitch Ryan, and Anthony George–especially AG, who looked like he could have been easily into his early fifties.

    Then again, the character Vicky grew up without a family, so who knows? Perhaps she was looking for a father figure, and these characters the show linked her with certainly could have filled a more paternal role.

    But that was just the male-dominated television medium of that time, and her pairing with Roger Davis was the first instance for Vicky of a departure from that model. Maggie and Carolyn got the opportunity to be linked with age-appropriate mates, so why shouldn’t Vicky?

  5. So maybe that’s why there’s no David Collins around that David Collins was named after his name was Daniel David and everyone kept forgetting which came first. 🙂

    1. The first appearane of Laura reveals that her previous incarnation had a son named David so it would have come from her side, not Roger’s.

  6. Here’s what I have always wondered about 1795 — with practically everyone dying, who among these actually lived on to carry on the family tree? 1795 was indeed a bloodbath for the Collins family, I think.

    1. After the massacre, Joshua adopted Daniel, and Daniel inherited the fortune of both the Collinsport branch (through Joshua) and the New York branch (through Millicent). At the beginning of the 1897 storyline in March 1969, we learn that Daniel’s daughter-in-law Edith is the head of the household, and when she dies, the inheritance goes to her grandchildren.

      There’s a complete Collins family tree on Dark Shadows Wiki. It’s full of spoilers, so keep that in mind before you click. 🙂 — http://darkshadows.wikia.com/wiki/Collins_family_tree?file=Family_tree.jpg

  7. I know there’s a falling-apart-at-the-seams, chaos-driven dynamic going on here, but minus the Victoria/Peter part of it, it’s working for me.

  8. Oh yes! This family’s descent into full-on shit storm is marvelous, William. And I’m so glad there’s another reader here in 2016 with me. This plot line was written on the fly, but there is a kind of coherence to it, as the family unraveles piece by piece.

    This is my first viewing of the show and that clearly puts me at a disadvantage. But as I know that the 1795 plot ends soon I want to point out a couple of anachronisms from this narrative (beyond the obvious, which is mostly the whole thing). 1) Although they don’t mention the state much by name, Maine didn’t exist in 1795. It was still part of Massachusetts. And 2) the U.S Navy didn’t exist in 1795 either. It was brought into existence by Congress in 1794 but there were no ships built by this time. Or perhaps Nathan’s original scam was extra brilliant: Convincing everyone he belonged to a non-existent navy.

    1. I too, am watching DS for the first time in 2016 and enjoying it greatly! With respect to your point #1, this issue is actually addressed. When Natalie and Josette are first looking through Vicki’s 1965 copy of the Collins family history, they are surprised not only by the publication date (as were we all since the book looks more than two years old), but also by the location of Collinsport, ME. Natalie ponders out loud something like “But Collinsport is in Massachusetts…”

      1. She actually said Bangor was in Massachusetts. Not really that much of an anachronism since by 1795 that part of Massachusetts was widely called Maine even though separate statehood didn’t come until 1820. More of a problem is that Natalie has ever heard of Bangor. She’s from France and Martinique and Bangor was a town of about 600 people in 1795 fifty miles distant from Collinsport. Yet on one occasion at least Natalie and Josette went on a shopping trip to Bangor, despite living in the then-prosperous seaport of Collinsport.

  9. Angelique’s scattershot curse says ‘everyone you love will die’ (I think). We start 1795 with a boisterous, amorous scamp called Nathan Forbes, and end 1795 with a moody, growling villain who uses the same name and walks in the same skin; but Nathan Forbes is ‘dead’ long before he falls.

    1. Nathan was Barnabus’ best friend. Surely there was love aka philia between the two. So the curse would have twisted Nathan (ratcheting up his greed and ruthlessness) to cause destruction and death.

  10. Vicki also has reason to be afraid of everyone in Collinsport, as they all think she’s a witch. The few people that believe her are in Collinwood (Though the old house does seem like a safer spot, if Ben is there.).

    And I assume David went in the window so that he doesn’t accidentally run in to Nathan. It’s harder to see through closed doors than through closed windows.

  11. This is just priceless.

    I read comments, day after day, about how DS viewers are in denial about Barnabas’ true nature; how he’s not the “reluctant” vampire that fans claim he is. But now, when the topic of conversation shifts to Nathan Forbes, the comments are: how did Forbes become so evil? Maybe he was possessed? Why, he used to be such a funny, charming rogue! Give me a break – Who is in denial now? Forbes is a bad guy; he was always a bad guy. He just disguised it with superficial charm. He went from bad to worse because his plans fell apart, and he got more and more desperate – just like a lot of characters on the show.

    1. “Bad” isn’t an absolute though, is it? There’s a big difference between trying to charm your way into a ditzy heiress’s fortune and plotting to murder a ten-year-old kid.

      He was a rogueish gold-digger, certainly, but he helped Vicki escape to the new house and lied to keep her safe, even though it put him in a risky position and he didn’t get anything in return. A few weeks later he’s gleefully trying to drive his wife mad, kill her brother, and send anyone that irritates him into the hands of the Collinsport Strangler.

      That is a fairly big change – which is admittedly not unheard of. I think it’s the speed of the change people ayre taking issue with – his character doesn’t develop into a monster, he just suddenly is one – because the story requires it.

      Barnabas, conversely, has been deciding to kill his problems from the moment he woke up in 210. There was a dramatic shift to a nicer guy when we first got to 1795; but then he started shooting people in the face rather than talking things through, and blaming his short-tempered violence on everyone else. It was another quick change, but unlike Forbes it wasn’t out of left field – it just brought him in line with the horrible person we saw in 1966, the guy who kidnapped and tortured an innocent woman, jumped to Plan A every time he felt the slightest threat, and took immense pleasure in describing the fate he had planned for Woodard unless Julia agreed to kill him quickly. So the change in him is rather less jarring.

  12. Both Peter and Daniel come in through the drawing room window, and I think they were both being logical. If you come in through the front door, assuming it is always unlocked as it seems to be, you cannot see who is in the foyer until it is too late.

    Someone like Nathan could be lurking in the foyer or the drawing room. The window of the drawing room allows the cat burglar to see in and tell whether Nathan is doing his impression of the lounge lizard of Collinwood.

    If the door between the drawing room and foyer is open, as it often is, you can see at least part of the foyer and tell whether Nathan is likely to be lurking there. So it made a certain amount of sense to look in and then sneak in through the window.

  13. One thing I’ve enjoyed about the 1795 timeline is how lovely and regal Joan Bennett looks with those beautiful gowns and hairstyle. For a woman in her mid- to late 50’s, she is breathtakingly gorgeous, a classic beauty from old.Hollywood. 🙂

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