“According to my calculations, only one more person must have the dream.”
I knew this was going to be hard. When I started this uncertain and frightening journey through Dark Shadows, I knew that the Dream Curse storyline was waiting for me, and it was going to test my endurance more than anything else on the show. But here I am, six weeks into the story, and I just looked at my episode guide, and I’m only halfway through. We’re currently at the beginning of June 1968, and the Dream Curse ends in mid-July.
I know I keep saying “Here’s the problem with the Dream Curse,” but here’s the problem with the Dream Curse: characters just saunter in and out of the storyline, and it doesn’t seem to matter. The allegedly terrifying chain-letter dream sequence moves from one character to another, and once they’ve passed the baton on to the next person, they drop out of the storyline.
Remember when it was a big deal that Mrs. Johnson needed to go to Boston, so she wouldn’t pass the dream on to Jeff? Or was that David? Or Julia. I’m pretty sure it was either Julia or River Song. No, wait, that’s Doctor Who. I’ve got this written down somewhere.
Anyway, now it’s Carolyn’s turn. Willie broke into Carolyn’s bedroom yesterday to tell her about the dream, but then she bit him on the hand, and told him to get out of her room. That is actually my personal nightmare, that people will bite me when I start telling them about the Dream Curse. Readers of this blog: Please do not bite me.
As today’s episode begins, Carolyn is asleep, and she hears a knock at the door. She gets up to answer it, and we see her from two angles at once, a nice visual trick that we haven’t seen before. It looks like she’s doing a musical number on a 1970s variety show.
Willie told Carolyn that his dream began with a knock at the door, but then she got bitey, and she didn’t hear the rest. So when she gets up to answer the door, she refuses to open it, and that wakes her up.
This is a very bold stance for the character to take. Not opening doors goes against everything that Dark Shadows believes in.
She opens her eyes, declaring: “I will not have that dream.” So that’s our conflict for the day: a woman at war with her REM cycle.
Happily, Julia’s on the case. She’s the most interesting character on the show, and she can’t stand to see this boring story go on for one more day.
So she’s called in Professor Stokes, a new and equally eccentric character, who’s supposed to be an expert in the occult.
Julia: The dream keeps coming closer and closer to Barnabas.
Stokes: Yes, I’m sure it does. Whoever started the dream is determined that Barnabas Collins die.
Julia: Or something worse happen.
Stokes: Is there anything worse? Do tell me.
But Julia doesn’t want to give away the real secret — that Barnabas has recently been released from his vampire curse, and the dream is supposed to turn him back into the living dead. Julia is a mythopoetic trickster figure, and all she knows how to do is lie.
Julia: I didn’t mean — it was a pointless remark.
Stokes: I don’t think so. No remark about Barnabas Collins ever is. The more I study the dream — the pattern of it — the more I realize that.
Julia perks up.
Julia: You’ve reached some conclusions, then?
Stokes: According to my calculations, only one more person must have the dream — a woman. And that woman may make it possible for Barnabas Collins never to have the dream.
This is a wonderful and utterly insane thing to say, and look how pleased he is to say it. How could you possibly make calculations about this?
His explanation is classic Dark Shadows necrobabble, pulling random conclusions out of the air. He takes a photograph of Josette’s portrait out of his pocket.
Stokes: Here is something I want to show you. Tell me who this woman is. Do you know?
Julia: Yes, it’s Josette du Prés.
Stokes: But who does it look like?
Julia: Why — it looks like Maggie Evans!
Stokes: Exactly. But it’s not; it’s Josette du Prés, a love of the first Barnabas Collins. This picture was one of the first clues I had. When I met Maggie Evans, I wondered why she should be the first to dream. The witch has a sense of humor. To get at Barnabas, he started with Josette.
Julia gets all stiff and weird again.
Julia: But — Maggie is not Josette, and this Barnabas Collins is not the same one who lived in the 18th century.
Stokes: But they are interchangeable, aren’t they? They look the same… act the same.
Again, that’s an absolutely insane thing to say. How could he know that 1968 Barnabas acts the same as 1795 Barnabas? What could that possibly mean?
Stokes: My curiosity about Barnabas Collins is partly the result of my reflections on the dream. In order to verify my assumptions, I must know certain personal facts about him.
And then he makes a series of weird guesses about Barnabas’ mental and emotional state at the various times when people were having the dream. Here’s the key observation that impresses Julia: “Was Barnabas Collins going through a difficult period in any way, when Dr. Lang and you had the dream?”
This is nonsense, the kind of vague leading question that psychics throw out when they’re doing a cold reading. It’s like saying, “You’re sometimes insecure, especially when you’re with people you don’t know very well.”
Stokes is using that technique for the same reason that the fortune-tellers do — because it’s impossible to say no to a question like that. People are always going through a difficult period, for one reason or another, and that goes double for soap opera characters. So Julia agrees with him, and that means that he’s brilliant, and he can be trusted.
Another thing to note: in all of the lines that I’ve quoted, Stokes refers to “Barnabas Collins” — the full name, every time. He uses it like it’s an incantation, making it sound like a big deal every time he mentions Barnabas.
This is all part of the ritual. It’s the magician warming up with a few card tricks, before calling upon the spirit of the Horned God.
And look at what strange magic they’ve made. They call Carolyn over for a visit, and tell her that they want Willie to tell her about his dream. By now, the most outlandish conversations have become commonplace.
Carolyn: No, I won’t. You cannot ask me to have that dream.
Stokes: But we want you to have it in a controlled situation, Miss Stoddard.
Again, absolute nonsense. What did you say you’re a Professor of?
They actually talk Carolyn into letting Stokes hypnotize her, so that he’ll appear in her dream as the beckoner. Fortunately, this is not even the weirdest thing to happen to Carolyn this week.
It works, of course. Professor Stokes has conjured up a new version of the Dream Curse storyline, where it actually matters what happens in the dream.
Carolyn wakes up, and she tells Stokes about her dream. Now he’s jumped the turnstiles, and taken control of the storyline.
Stokes: When I was a boy, I used to envy St. George, because he had found his dragon to battle.
Julia: And now you’ve found your own dragon, Professor.
Stokes: Yes, the occult is much more interesting than any medieval cave… and much more dangerous.
So there you go, that’s the new plan. He’s going to turn this tepid mess into a story, with an actual conflict at the heart of it.
The mystic warrior settles in for a magic power nap, using actual magic powers. My hero, Professor Stokes.
Tomorrow: Dream Beater.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
The sub-theme that plays over at the shot of Collinwood at the beginning of the show is played at the wrong speed for the first eight seconds. Then it fades out, and returns five seconds later at the correct speed.
When Stokes is talking to Julia about the resemblance between Maggie and Josette, he says, “The witch has a sense of humor. To get at Barnabas, he started with Josette.” Later, when Julia refers to the witch as “she”, Stokes says, “You’ve decided she’s a woman. I rather counted on that myself, but then I’m a romantic.” But Stokes already knows that Cassandra is the witch. Barnabas told him that in episode 488, and tomorrow’s episode hinges on the fact that Stokes recognizes that Angelique is Cassandra.
Carolyn’s dream ends with the sight of her own gravestone. Her birthdate is listed as December 8, 1948. We saw Carolyn’s listing in the family history in episode 267, and her birthdate was listed as July 16, 1946.
Tomorrow: Dream Beater.
— Danny Horn
19 thoughts on “Episode 507: The Spirit of St. George”
Why doesn’t Julia confide in Stokes?? For goodness sake even Willie is up on current Barnabas events. Julia and Barnabas want Stokes’ help but don’t want to give him the info he needs to do anything relevant.
Because the storyline wants Stokes not to be THAT effective. Because if he is, the story is over in two weeks.
I’m pretty sure Stokes never finds out Barnabas is a Vampire. Only his servant ancestor Ben Stokes knows. All other Stokes parallel time, know something is up, but never confirmed. House of Dark Shadows Stokes knows and pays for it.
Yes – I thought the parallel time scenario where he was the father of twins Angelique and Alexis was a brilliant move on the shows part – it added relevance to alot of the actions on Stokes part in that story.
Exactly, Adriana. It would be like having Giles on “Buffy” defeating the weekly menace with an incantation while the Slayer sat around and watched.
Isn’t this the episode with a rare Thayer David blooper, where he stumbles on Barnabas’ last name at one point by referring to him as Barnabas Columns?
I really like Carolyn standing up for herself by refusing to have the dream and frankly I’m sorry they talked her into it.
Stokes’ involvement in the Dream Curse and his confrontation with Angelique is the only time I find the DC storyline remotely interesting. Unfortunately, he then doesn’t want to be bothered with it again (kind of like the viewer).
Also, the only cast member who looks like the Josette duPres portrait is Betsy Durkin.
Yeah, it’s awkward that they draw attention to Maggie’s alleged resemblance to the portrait. Most of the time you can fudge it a bit, or assume it was just a really rubbish painting that Barnabas kept for the memories even though it looks naff all like her… but Stokes explicitly says the picture looks just like her, and we’re all meant to just pretend it does? Odd.
Enough prop continuity has been rearranged, would it have been too much trouble to sneak in a more KLS-like painting and make believe it was there all the time?
Yeah, I feel like that would be the easier of the two options. Both require the audience to just pretend. But just pretending you didn’t switch a painting once is much easier than pretending that the portrait looks like Maggie over and over again.
Did this episode really only have 3 players, or am I mistaken?
Danny, you overlooked a vital piece of weirdness in the Stokes/Julia exchange. Stokes says, “… it’s Josette du Prés, a love of the first Barnabas Collins.” But that’s not Collins history. The only people who should know of the Josette/Barnabas thing in 1968 are Barnabas, Julia, Willie, Angelique and possibly Carolyn. How did Stokes know about it? And why didn’t Julia cast doubt on his observation? He could have easily said something like, “You’re not the first person to tell me about the spirit of Josette Collins haunting this house.”
Ben Stokes journals? Maybe in the part that wasn’t burned in the fire? That would also cover why Stokes said the two Barnabas’ were interchangeable.
RE: Dream curse. “……I just looked at my episode guide, and I’m only halfway through.”
Oh no! That was a bummer to read in the first paragraph, I thought it would end with the Professor (♬ ♪ and Mary Ann.♩ ♫) I was one of those kids who ran home from school to catch the tail end of DS. This would be the plot that is getting close to and into summer vacation! Maybe the two main story lines are why I don’t remember much of this period of the show.
Did wardrobe catch a sale of Old London Fog trench coats? Sam Evens and Joe Haskell looked like the Bobbsey twins arriving at the Old House. Joe looked overdressed above a fisherman’s paycheck in it.
Shuuuush….spoilers! A little ahead of time on the wardrobe comment 😉
it astonishes me that anyone could talk about this episode and not even mention the scene where Julia and the Professor receive the full brunt of Carolyn’s shattering screams as she awakens from the dream. everything about her performance blows me away. having just doubtless run from the in-dream scene, first prone and then rising into a sitting position, the energy she managed to release in who knows what decimals comes right out of the screen and leaves me in tatters every time i see it. i’m surprised this didn’t leave the two beholders in traction.
Yes, every time Carolyn is screaming, my kids come running into the room asking, “what in the world is going on?” Carolyn just had the dream. “Is it scary?” It’s supposed to be scary, but it’s just silly really. “Well, it sounds really scary.” Yes, well that’s because Nancy Barrett is a really great actress.