Episode 562: He’s Just Not That Into Being Supernaturally Controlled By You

“I don’t love you. I love Maggie Evans. I don’t even know you.”

Oh, it’s the same old story. You invite a guy over, you spend the night together, there’s an exchange of body fluids, and the next day, he doesn’t even want to see you anymore.

Joe Haskell looks out the window at the approaching dusk. “It’ll be dark soon,” he thinks, “and she’ll want me to go to her. I’ve got to resist her. I’ve got to!”

Spoiler alert: He doesn’t resist her.

562 dark shadows angelique joe need

Joe is a sweet, charming, handsome and entirely innocent guy, the last surviving member of a vanishing species on Dark Shadows — the good guys.

Joe’s the ideal boyfriend, practically perfect in every way. He’s been dating Maggie for two years now, a pretty girl-next-door who he’s absolutely devoted to. He’s got a steady job at the Collins cannery, where he’s steadily working his way up the ladder by being a dependable, hard worker who earns everyone’s respect. He’s very handsome, but acts like he doesn’t realize it. He’s protective of Maggie, without being smothering or controlling. He is the world’s least-flawed citizen.

Naturally, that means he’s entirely superfluous on a soap opera, and especially on Dark Shadows, where they’ve spent the last year and a half investing entirely in monsters and eccentric occult experts.

But even on a normal soap, they wouldn’t be able to do a hell of a lot with Joe. There’s nothing to work with — no ambitions to thwart, or quirks they could hang a story on.

Lately, he’s become one of those empath chameleons that always occupy the outer fringes of a storyline, who exist in order to facilitate other characters’ emotional decision-making scenes. When Sam is worried about Maggie, Joe’s worried too; when Carolyn is puzzled about Jason, then Joe’s puzzled too. He picks up on the other person’s emotional state and reflects it back, so that the lead character in the scene can arrive at a decision in full view of the audience. I don’t think he’s had a story point of his own since before Barnabas came out of the mystery box, a year and a half ago.

562 dark shadows joe need

But look at him now. Satanic confidence man Nicholas Blair has taken a shine to Maggie, and wants to get the perfect boyfriend out of the way. So he’s given the assignment to Angelique — former witch, eternal soap vixen, and currently Nicholas’ pet vampire. Angelique’s job is to feed on Joe, screw up his life, and get him out of the way.

So here we are, the evening after Joe’s first bite, and he’s rapidly deteriorating. Lately, the rule for vampire victims has been to get up the next morning, tie a scarf around your neck, and go on with your day, but Joe’s really feeling it. This boy is tore up from the floor up.

And worst of all, he’s losing track of where he put his self-control. He’s doing a lot of dramatic clarification lines, transitioning from “I’ve got to resist the call. I’ve got to!” all the way to “I can’t resist her any longer. I can’t!” within twenty-five seconds.

562 dark shadows joe willie grave

On his way to Angelique’s place, Joe gets a minor hero moment, discovering a crime against nature currently in progress.

Willie’s out tonight too, digging up a fresh grave so that he can bring the corpse back for Barnabas and Julia’s latest mad science experiment. Joe catches Willie in the act, and announces that he’s going to call the police.

This kind of thing happens all the time when you’re a good guy on a soap opera. Well, not the grave-robbing part, which is Dark Shadows-specific, but calling the authorities is standard operating procedure.

562 dark shadows angelique hurry

But Joe gets the hurry-up sign from the vampire, who expects her food delivered within thirty minutes or less. He abandons his hero moment, and takes off to Angelique’s place, leaving a baffled Willie behind.

562 dark shadows joe angelique understand

When he arrives at the house, Angelique gives Joe a moment to collect his scattered thoughts.

Joe:  I don’t understand why you have this power over me!

Angelique:  It’s only the power of love.

Joe:  I don’t love you. I love Maggie Evans. I don’t even know you.

Angelique:  My name is Angelique, and yours is Joe. That’s all we need to know about each other.

So that’s what our hero has been reduced to. He’s not the perfect boyfriend anymore; he’s just a name and a blood type.

562 dark shadows joe angelique useless

She allows him to struggle for a second, and then holds out her hands. “You know it’s useless to resist,” she urges. “Come to me.”

562 dark shadows joe struggle

And then we get a shot of Joe’s horrified, fascinated expression as he finds himself stumbling forward towards her embrace. They linger on this shot for a full twelve seconds, as he pants, and twitches, and then succumbs.

Now, on a practical level, they’re pausing so long on this shot to give Angelique the chance to put the vampire fangs in her mouth. They film Dark Shadows live-to-tape with no stopping, so they need moments like this, to fill up a little time.

But the impact on the audience here is that we’re looking into a man’s eyes as he suffers, and turns into meat.

562 dark shadows angelique bite

The bite itself is over in two seconds — a flash of fangs, a dramatic music cue, and then cut to commercial.

It’s really just the punctuation to a sequence that’s actually focused on a good man — your dream boyfriend — as everything that he cares about crumbles to ash.

562 dark shadows joe blood

So here’s the question: Why is this so much fun to watch?

We like Joe. According to all of the time-tested rules of television, it is impossible to dislike Joe. There are characters on this show who have literally tried to create the perfect man in a laboratory, and Joe is better than that guy.

But the audience is being invited to enjoy the spectacle of a good man falling to ruin. The camera lingers on his drawn and haunted face, the show’s primary hottie pulled down from his pedestal.

As we return from commercial break, Angelique is pulling on Joe’s turtleneck, making sure the audience can see the blood dripping down his neck. It’s a sick detail that I don’t think we’ve seen on the show before, and it’s delivered to us on a platter.

562 dark shadows angelique joe pretty

This is a technique that I’ve referred to before as “pretty girl in peril” — a sequence that lingers on a helpless woman who’s trapped and terrified. You’re expected to feel sorry for her, and to hope for the best in a general long-term way, but you specifically turned on this television show because, at some level, you enjoy watching her suffer.

We could be watching a game show right now — The Match Game is airing on NBC, if anybody wants to switch over — where the worst thing that happens to a person is that they don’t end up with more money than they walked in with. We could be watching a show where nobody gets physically assaulted. There are less-gruesome options on 1968 afternoon television.

But Dark Shadows is the breakout hit, and it gets more successful as it becomes progressively more sadistic.

562 dark shadows joe angelique torture

And really, the physical assault isn’t even the problem that we linger on. Joe isn’t clutching at his neck and saying “ouch”; he doesn’t even ask for a Band-Aid. The real torture, which the audience will be enjoying all week, is what this is doing to his relationship.

Joe:  Maggie…

Angelique:  What about her?

Joe:  I should be with Maggie.

Angelique:  Forget about her.

Joe:  No, I can’t!

Angelique:  You will, in time.

Joe:  No. I’m in love with her.

Angelique:  But you need me.

562 dark shadows joe angelique feelings

Joe:  Yes. I need you.

Angelique:  In time, your need for me will prove stronger than your love for Maggie.

Joe:  I wish I could think when I’m with you, but I can’t.

Angelique:  Don’t try to think. It’s useless. Just as it’s useless to try to resist me.

Joe:  I’m beginning to believe that.

562 dark shadows angelique joe delicious

It’s just delicious — a strong, sexy, spirited man, eviscerated for our entertainment. They spend days doing this.

Dark Shadows has just discovered “pretty boy in peril”, a new taboo area to explore. Last week, we saw the new hottie, Tom Jennings, victimized on his first day on the show, then the vampire seduction of a handsome police officer, and now we’re going to spend a solid chunk of the next few weeks watching Joe’s will dissolve.

They’ve stumbled on to something important — that the audience likes watching the people we find attractive being degraded and punished. Angelique is treating Joe the way that we secretly want her to.

We don’t really want to hurt an actual guy — this is a mass-market network TV show, not a snuff film for clinical psychopaths. As messed up as this dynamic basically is, the pleasure of this spectacle is one hundred percent dependent on the fact that we all know this is make-believe, and at the end of the show, “Joe” wipes off the eye liner and fake blood, and the actor walks away unscathed.

That might be one of the reasons why Dark Shadows’ many on-screen bloopers don’t ruin the show. It’s actually the opposite — the mistakes enhance the show’s appeal. The “suspension of disbelief” is shattered on a minute-by-minute basis, every time a boom mic shadow appears, or an actor consults the teleprompter. We’re constantly reminded that it’s all pretend, which makes it a safe space to explore our deepest and darkest fantasies.

562 dark shadows nicholas joe thrill

Oh, and by the way, it’s totally gay.

This isn’t actually the female empowerment moment that it could have been, if Angelique was in charge. She’s the one who’s technically sucking the blood out of Joe’s neck, but she’s being directed by Nicholas, who’s carefully stage-managing the entire experience. Every time Angelique spends some adult time with Joe, Nicholas is there — appearing silently in the room, having watched every moment.

Nicholas is supposedly motivated by his burning passion for Maggie, but honestly, they’ve only had a couple of tepid scenes together. If the purpose of this sequence was to show Nicholas seducing Maggie, then she would be the character on screen. This scene is about Nicholas seducing and destroying Joe.

That crazy, sadistic, dude-on-dude violation is what makes this the super-exciting taboo thrill ride that it is. That’s the thing that appalled and fascinated the audience of straight girls and gay boys, who watched this on daytime television in 1968 and collectively decided: Best. Show. Ever.

Tomorrow: A Sense of Themselves.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In act 2, when Willie says, “Wait a minute, Barnabas; that’s not fair!”, the camera pulls back too far, and you can see the top of the set, and one of the studio lights.

In act 3, just before Nicholas appears in the drawing room, the camera pulls back from Joe and Angelique to reveal a wire dangling on the left side. After a moment, the camera pans slightly to the right, to get the cable off the screen.

Tomorrow: A Sense of Themselves.

562 dark shadows nicholas joe taboo

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

19 thoughts on “Episode 562: He’s Just Not That Into Being Supernaturally Controlled By You

  1. The exchange between Joe and Willie in the graveyard always cracks me up.

    Willie’s all: Wait I can explain!
    And Joe like: alright, what is it. I want to hear your explanation.

    And Willie splutters and figets while joe look on expectedly, until he decides that the best corse of action would be to tell Joe it’s none of his business

    1. And then from Willie’s point of view, Joe basically gets bored and gives up on the conversation. It’s a perplexing moment for Willie, even by the standards of Dark Shadows graverobbing excursions.

    2. I, too, enjoy that graveyard exchange between Joe and Willie, one of the truly comedic moments on the show.

      Joe is forgetting that he was involved in not one, but two illegal grave disturbance diggings in his time, back in the Phoenix storyline when assisting Dr. Guthrie in discovering the secret behind Laura Collins. But they were only browsing, whereas Willie is out shopping. Speaking of which, at what supermarket is Willie looking for groceries? Is it Eagle Hill? Hasn’t Eagle Hill been desolate and unused for a good 50 years? Already he has bungled the job he was given.

  2. Wasn’t this also around the time that Joel Crothers (along with Alexandra Moltke) were starting to get antsy about their futures on the show now that they weren’t part of the ‘core cast’ anymore. This storyline is really heartbreaking in the way that Angelique leads Joe on (probably the most exciting experience in his whole existence, since he never got beyond the boundaries of Collinsport). He spent most of his teenage years being Carolyn’s doormat and was unceremoniously dumped by her for the worldly Burke Devlin. Now he has this mysterious experience with another woman he probably deems ‘out of his league’ and again gets ‘tossed aside’ for the worldly Barnabas Collins. He and Maggie really deserved happiness together and they both get crushed by the ‘elite’ Collinsport with sadly no happy ending or justice for either.

    1. I think this storyline is the best thing to happen to Joe in a long time. Nathan was so much fun, but coming back to ’68 means that Joel Crothers is suddenly back to the good guy talk-to. Getting bitten and suddenly being Tom’s cousin brings Joe into the A-story for the first time in forever.

      I would question the characterization of this as an exciting experience. The dude’s getting raped, and having his brain scooped out with a melon baller. The fact that his rapist is pretty is kind of incidental.

      1. I think what I’m really trying to say is that Joe comes across as so naive and inexperienced that Angelique the ‘woman’, not Angelique the vampire would have seemed new, and therefore mysterious and alluring to him. He does experience jealousy later when he’s cast aside for Barnabas which leads to despair – just like Carolyn felt about Burke – he was new and therefore novel. I was looking more from that human angle than the vampire attacks.

        1. Yeah, I think the metaphor here is less rape and more “lust.” Angelique has a “hold” on Joe that he can’t resist and one that ultimately destroys his life. Joe is very much ashamed of his “relationship” but can’t “quit it,” so it also almost plays as the “tragic closeted gay” character from a film of the period. In fact, when Maggie later walks in on Angelique and Joe, her “horror” comes off less as simple jealousy and betrayal.

  3. I don’t think this is exactly the first time they’ve discovered “pretty boy in peril” — it’s just that not many readers of this blog seem to see Barnabas as pretty. For those who do, though, there have been bits of this kind of dynamic along the way for a while now. The episode where Trask tied Barnabas up in the basement was clearly staged as eye candy for the fangirls — or as a friend of mine put it appreciatively, “It was quite — picturesque.” True, though, that this sustained exploration of “pretty boy in peril” hasn’t been conducted to such a degree before.

  4. Us straight guys want to be Joe.

    What a triangle THAT is,

    and Lara is Screen Glue.

    Although the first triangle, with Barnabas in 1795, was equally good, and I could watch Josette and Angelique speak Francais on endless loop for a whole day.

  5. This gay boy didn’t have time to rush home from school! I had to head to the mall next to my high school and pretend to be buying TV sets. I can only imagine the clerk seeing the same kid with his girlfriends “shopping” for a set every day for nearly three years, taking a half hour to check out each model and get my DS fix. I can only imagine that the clerk was watching, too!

    Dark Shadows was my introduction to men being vulnerable (yes, they were getting violated by female witches and vampires, but it all translated into something deeper for me) . While none of them was labeled gay in the show, of course, many of them became the stuff of my fantasies, and Joe was the first! Watching him become a victim of Angelique’s bit was more painful – and exciting – to me than the whole Josette/Maggie/Vicki/Barnabus story. When Joe betrays Tom in the hospital in the next episode, I really felt his pain . . . and wanted to comfort the guy in some way! 🙂

  6. re: the grave robbing thing…

    Collinsport is not exactly a metropolis, in fact it’s a fishing village. How many graveyards can there be? And unless folks are ‘dropping like flies’, there can’t be all that many fresh graves to violate (plus which, Willie is presumably digging for lady parts – narrowing down the candidates even further). Plus, after the first exhumation, the (admittedly ineffective) Collinsport Police would be alerted, and could post a deputy at each cemetery.

    Willie would do better to follow the lead of Burke & Hare, or Karl in Bride Of Frankenstein, and cause a few “accidents”. The dockside always seems to be well stocked with females. Fresher product, without formaldehyde…

  7. You do realize that straight guys are into female vampires, right? We would all love to be one of Angelique’s victims. After Dark Shadows went of the air, I graduated to reading Vampirella – nuff said.

    1. Exactly! I grew up reading Vampirella, and she’s still my favorite fantasy female. Angelique’s biting scenes are always extremely erotic.

  8. This comment is a few years late – but I finally have to mention.
    Since nobody else has.

    That AWFUL gown that Lara Parker is wearing; I’m guessing it’s an overstock from Ohrbach’s from either their prom dress or bridesmaid’s collection that someone found still lying around after two years and just gave to DS to use. I can’t decide if the gauzy ruffles are a pale blue or a gray, and that giant belt at the waist just makes me shudder… especially attached to that hideous floral skirt. Hopefully it’s going to the back of Angelique’s wardrobe and we won’t EVER see it again! Truly terrifying, and not in a good way. Generally Ms. Parker can make any frock she wears look good, but this…
    (Maybe it’s just me, I know that she’ll be wearing another light blue number as Mrs. Rumson that also makes me blanch.)

  9. I was on pins and needles, waiting for Willie to snap. To just clock distracted!Joe with the shovel, and bury him right there in the graveyard. Especially since Willie just said a few episodes back that he wished Joe was dead. Oh well.

  10. It has been said on some previous occasion that Eagle Hill has not been used for burial in years. There is some other cemetery that is in use and therefore has fresh bodies in it now and then. Of course, everything in Collinsport is flexible including local geography. Eagle Hill used to be far away from Collinwood but now it’s a hop, skip, and jump away from the front door. So putting it back in use for contemporary funerals is no big deal.

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