“I will concentrate on vengeance, and nothing else!”
You know, I’ve been throwing the word “exorcism” around a lot lately, but I’m not sure that’s the correct term for what’s going on here.
This is the situation: A witch was murdered in 1795, but then her restless spirit moved through time to be reincarnated in 1968. A group of well-meaning occult experts held a séance to call on the ghost of an 18th-century witch hunter who was sealed up behind a wall in their basement, and that ghost tied the dead witch to a tree and said a prayer over her to cast out the demons possessing her, which made her crumble into ashes and disappear.
I don’t think there’s a word for that, because it has never occurred to a single person in the history of the world to even imagine that such a thing could take place. Except for the writers of Dark Shadows, obviously, who can’t think about anything else.
Anyway, whatever you call that, just go ahead and stick an “un-” in front of it, because now we’ve got the sorcery supervisor calling upon the powers of darkness to restore the witch to life.
It took him a minute to find the right tree, but once he’s here, the procedure is pretty straightforward. This goes to show that you should always keep the receipt.
So Cassandra reappears, still bound to the tree with rope.
“Nicholas!” she cries. “You found me!”
“With some difficulty,” Nicholas says. “How did you let this happen?”
She looks down, and says, “Untie me, please.”
He says, “All right,” and strolls over to release her, because Nicholas is pretty much the coolest person who has ever lived.
I mean, look at him. He just walked into the woods and turned a pile of ashes into a person, and now he’s doing a performance review.
Cassandra: The spirit of Trask… He brought me here. He destroyed me!
Nicholas: Your power should have been stronger than his.
Cassandra: It wasn’t.
Nicholas: That’s your fault.
Nicholas: Yes. You allowed yourself to feel an emotion.
And oh my god, has there ever been a cooler line than “You allowed yourself to feel an emotion”? Nicholas is a baller.
The great thing about introducing Nicholas at this point in the story is that we get to see Angelique in a completely new environment.
Angelique basically ran the table back in 1795, moving the other characters around like toys, and then smashing them on the floor when she didn’t get her way. But she appeared in the present day almost three months ago, and honestly she hasn’t accomplished much.
She kicked off the Dream Curse, which is one of the most tedious storylines we’ve ever seen, and since then, the only thing she’s done is to jump-start the curse after it stalled. She’s the only character with magic powers, and it’s made her lazy.
But Nicholas brings a whole new dynamic, putting Angelique on the back foot. Suddenly, she’s got a lot more to react to.
Nicholas: You still love Barnabas Collins.
Cassandra: I hate him; I will always hate him!
Nicholas: Yet you love him still, because your power is not as strong as Trask’s.
Cassandra: From this moment on, I will feel nothing but hatred in my heart for Barnabas Collins. I will think of nothing but vengeance!
Nicholas: You must… because I will never save you again.
She looks away, defeated.
Cassandra: I will concentrate on vengeance, and nothing else.
Nicholas: Nothing else is possible.
Such a baller. Unbelievable.
He tells her that he found her by hypnotizing Vicki, and having her lead him to the tree. Cassandra asks what happens if somebody sees the entranced girl on her way back to Collinwood, and he leans against the tree and basically says he doesn’t care. Who pays attention to what happens to Vicki?
By the way: the tree. They’ve spent the last several episodes making a big deal about the tree where Reverend Trask tried to exorcise Vicki, back in December. Apparently, Cassandra was tied to the same tree.
That’s a cute callback to a memorable story point, except Angelique killed that tree, leaving it a smoking ruin. This might actually be a ghost tree.
The two conspirators walk back towards Collinwood, and they agree on Cassandra’s cover story explaining why she disappeared a few days ago.
Nicholas: I don’t anticipate any problems with Roger, but you’ve made other members of the household suspicious. That was a mistake.
Cassandra: I can win them over, with your help.
Nicholas: You should be able to do it without my help.
Cassandra: I need your help, Nicholas. The Dream Curse must continue. Nothing must prevent its fulfillment.
Nicholas: I will help you. But only for the sake of our… bargain.
He leans over her, menacingly. He does this a lot; he’s constantly getting up in other people’s personal space.
Cassandra: Yes. Our bargain.
Nicholas: I answered your summons, and returned you to life… because of our bargain. Our bargain means more than anything else to me. Never forget that.
Oh, I like the sound of that. They just said “bargain” four times in a row, to make sure the audience recognizes that there’s some backstory that they’re not explaining to us yet. I think the last time Dark Shadows kept us waiting for a reveal, the secret turned out to be a huge naked dead guy lying on a table. I wonder what this one’s going to be.
So Cassandra walks back into Collinwood, to reunite with her husband and her visiting brother. She explains that she was frustrated by the family’s hostility, so she ran away to Philadelphia for a few days. This is not a particularly convincing explanation, but Roger’s standards aren’t that high.
The big question for me is where she got the coat from; she was wearing a dress when she was on the lawn just a minute ago. Apparently the powers of darkness also handle express delivery of outerwear.
So, here they are: the new power couple of Collinsport. We don’t really know what their relationship is, or where they come from, or what their bargain is — and based on past evidence, I’d say it’s likely that the writers don’t either. I’m going to allow myself to feel an emotion about that.
Tomorrow: Ride, Car, House.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
In the first scene, when Nicholas tells Cassandra that her powers should have been stronger than Trask’s, she says, “It wasn’t.” He hesitates for a moment, clearly trying to remember his next line. He’s just opening his mouth to speak, when Cassandra gives him the cue again: “It wasn’t.”
The audio cuts in and out for a moment when Nicholas and Cassandra are talking about their bargain.
We see Vicki standing and waiting for her cue before she starts walking through the woods, dazed.
When Jeff finds Vicki wandering through the woods, she’s standing in front of the same tree that Nicholas sent her away from. She’s apparently been walking in circles.
When Nicholas closes the drawing room doors and starts his conversation with Cassandra, you can hear people walking around in the studio.
One of the studio lights is reflected in the mirror in Vicki’s room.
Tomorrow: Ride, Car, House.
— Danny Horn