Episode 618: Stop Trying

“I hope I disappoint you, and die before dawn.”

Barnabas Collins looks around, and tries to focus.

“Where have you brought me?” he moans. “What is this place?”

His wife, Angelique, drifts to his side.

“You’re near the sea,” she says. “Far away from anyone who may want to find you.”

Unimpressed, he surveys the room, clearly thinking: Near the sea? Dude, we live in Maine. Everything here is near the sea.

618 dark shadows angelique barnabas woman

Angelique is coming up on her Dark Shadows anniversary — she joined the show in late November, 1967 — and it’s been a pretty action-packed year. She’s been married twice, and murdered twice. She’s been loved, rejected, exorcised, resurrected, aged, burned, strangled, worshipped, and shot in the shoulder.

She’s even been turned into a vampire, and now — well, why don’t I let her take it from here.

Angelique:  Regardless of what I am — what I have been — I’m still a woman, Barnabas. I think and feel like a woman. I’ve hated things you’ve done, but I’ve never hated you, yourself.

This “I’m still a woman” thing is a weird, vaguely misogynist trope that turns up in — oh, she’s still going.

Angelique:  How could I? The memory of a certain night in Martinique has never left my mind.

Yeah, evidently.

618 dark shadows angelique monologue

Angelique:  You came to me that night, and I was full of love for you. How else could I have given you so much of myself? But I knew then — that no power on earth could prevent us from one day keeping the pledge we made that night.

Barnabas:  I — I made no pledge.

Angelique:  Not every pledge is made with words, Barnabas.

So it’s a pretty good scene, kind of gloomy and intense, invoking the secret origins of this weird new mythology in order to bring this chapter to a close. I don’t think a hell of a lot of the blocking, but you can’t have everything.

618 dark shadows angelique barnabas gloomy

So the plan is for her to turn Barnabas into a vampire again, so they can go away together and live in eternal darkness or whatever. They have a mysterious little argument about how this works — apparently there’s timing involved.

Barnabas:  Well, it’s too late. You moved too quickly, you’ve been too anxious.

Angelique:  What do you mean?

Barnabas:  You can’t afford to let me die now, before you’re ready. Dawn is approaching…

I don’t have the slightest idea what they’re talking about here, and neither do they. There’s a real lack of clarity around how you turn somebody into a vampire on this show. We’ve seen three vampires so far, and it was completely different each time. None of them seemed to involve a lot of precision timing, so who even knows. As long as they keep busy, that’s the important thing.

It would actually serve them right if it turned out there wasn’t even such a thing as vampires, and all of these people were just super suggestible. It makes just as much sense as anything else.

618 dark shadows angelique barnabas rooster

Then they get a little bulletin from our old friend, the Convenient Rooster, who’s always in earshot wherever you happen to be. He must be from one of those “near the sea” farms that keep popping up on coastlines.

So Angelique has to make tracks for her coffin, which is somewhere else, and she has to leave Barnabas here, wherever this is, and hope that he doesn’t die until the right moment, which I’m not sure when that’s supposed to be.

It’s actually kind of difficult to talk about this episode, as it happens. It’s not exactly an intricate puzzle box of a plot. They’re mostly trying to skate by on atmosphere.

618 dark shadows julia vicki couch

Back at Collinwood, Julia’s been up all night worrying about Barnabas. She knows that he’s been summoned by the vampire, and he’s in terrible danger, but she doesn’t really know what to do about it, which is a terrible waste.

Julia is the smartest character on the show, and a storyline is always 100% improved when she’s involved. We’ve seen Julia stare death in the face, dig up a grave, inject a rampaging monster with sedatives, and lie her way out of several felony charges. She can hypnotize someone and rewrite their memories using a penlght, a medallion, or a piece of crystal. You can basically hand her any small household object, and she’ll hypnotize somebody with it. Julia is a rock star.

She shoud be out there shaking the bushes, tracking down leads. She could at least stand at the front door and yell “Barnabas” for a while. How hard could that be? But instead, she’s sitting on the couch and talking to Vicki, which is pretty much the opposite of interesting. I can’t figure it out.

618 dark shadows barnabas plan

At least Barnabas is on the move. He’s drained and weak, but Angelique left him alone for the day, and he’s still got enough energy to make for the door. Apparently nobody ever explained to him about the honor system.

So I admire the spunk, but I have to take exception to the way he thinks this through. He starts off strong, but his logic takes a weird turn.

Barnabas (thinks):  But where can I go, where she won’t find me? Who can help me? Julia? No — Angelique would think of her, and might harm her. I can’t go back to Julia. Or Willie. Not even Stokes — she’d suspect him, too.

618 dark shadows barnabas help

Barnabas (thinks):  Oh, there must be someone who can help me! Someone…

Then he gets the brainstorm.

Barnabas (thinks):  Vicki! Yes. Angelique knows how I feel about Vicki, and she would think that I wouldn’t go to her in my condition. Yes! Yes, Vicki! She’ll find safety for me!

618 dark shadows barnabas door

And that, I’m afraid to say, is the thought that motivates him to get up off the floor and stumble outside.

Julia gets sent upstairs to bed, and this whole scenario turns out to be another vague handwave toward the idea that Barnabas and Vicki share some tragic romantic destiny, despite all evidence to the contrary.

The last time they even had a scene to themselves was six weeks ago. Since then, Vicki’s been spending time with her actual fiancee, and Barnabas has been hanging out with Julia and Stokes and the other interesting characters.

But they keep coming back to this weird idea that Barnabas and Vicki have anything to do with each other. Every time the writers have some big Barnabas-related plot point, they throw him at Vicki for a couple of days. It’s maddening.

And this time, it’s even worse than usual, because Barnabas just admitted that the obvious person to turn to is Julia. But Angelique would think of Julia, so he has to go through his emergency contact list until he finds somebody that Angelique wouldn’t suspect. That proves that he doesn’t actually have any real connection to Vicki, and that’s why she’s the perfect co-star for the romantic destiny moment. I don’t even know what to do with that logic.

Writers of Dark Shadows: Stop trying to make Barnabas and Vicki happen. It’s not going to happen.

Tomorrow: The Gunslinger.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Vicki confronts Roger about his opinion of Jeff: “Why do you feel hostilities toward him?”

As dawn approaches, Barnabas looks helplessly at Angelique, and forgets his line. He says, “You — you ca –” and then turns toward the teleprompter. “– not going to leave me here,” he adds.

When Barnabas struggles to his feet, he rests a hand on a wooden pillar, which wobbles.

Gordon Russell’s name isn’t fully pasted down on the rolling credits — as the writer credit goes by, you can see Russell’s name flapping, and “Ron Sproat” visible underneath it.

Tomorrow: The Gunslinger.

618 dark shadows barnabas tree

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

19 thoughts on “Episode 618: Stop Trying

  1. WHAT WAS BARNABAS THINKING when he seduced Angelique that night in Martinique (or was it she who seduced him) – there he was staying as a guest at the plantation of his supposed FIANCEE and he goes ahead and does the horizontal twist with her personal SERVANT! Did Barnabas not think that this would get back to Josette somehow – Josette must have had some idea that Angelique was trouble, because Angelique herself bragged about stealing all of Josette’s past suitors – Josette must have had some idea that Angelique was trouble when Josette’s boyfriends suddenly stopped coming around to walk with her in the garden and take tea with her in the sitting room.

      1. I don’t think she had a clue. Although she did accept the marriage between Angelique and Barnabas pretty quickly and with good grace, so maybe a suspicion that there was more here than met the eye.

        Angelique: You came to me that night, and I was full of love for you. How else could I have given you so much of myself? But I knew then — that no power on earth could prevent us from one day keeping the pledge we made that night.>/i>

        Of course the interesting thing about this speech is that back in 1795 Angelique was talking to herself and gloating that she had slept with many of Josette’s suitors, so getting her into bed wasn’t THAT hard a task. For some reason she fell for Barnabas, maybe because he actually fell for Josette, where all the others went away.

        1. I thought she excepted it because she had betrayed barnabas by marrying Jeremiah, and then being the catalyst in his death.
          She was hurt, by felt the punishment just.

    1. I guess its a rule since the dawn of time, that you dont mess with a woman’s mind like that. Barnabas must have been damn good and blew her every loving mind! Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and Angelique but the S in scorned. At least she hasnt cut off any of his body parts. THAT would not have been cool.

  2. Angelique’s backstory is tricky because it’s an established character trait that Angelique lies.

    So, she might have boasted to Ben about stealing Josette’s suitors, but without evidence of this, we only have Angelique’s word and as Ben Stokes said, Angelique isn’t to be “trusted as far as the door.”

    What we do know is that Angelique remained in Josette’s good graces even after she’d married Barnabas. I’d prefer to allow Josette a modicum of intelligence and presume that Angelique never overtly betrayed her. Natalie is also fairly savvy and described Angelique as “dull.” It’s possible that was entirely the case and the arrogant, omnipotent persona she presented to Ben was an act, one far different from how she was prior to committing to her diabolical course of action during 1795.

    Also, I prefer the dramatic reversal of expectations: The “bad girl” heavy actually being a sexually inexperienced virgin who fell hard for the wrong man (Barnabas), gave herself completely to him and was obsessed with him ever since. That’s more interesting to me than the bad girl “frenemy” who sleeps with all of her BFF’s suitors. I think Lara Parker went with the former in “Angelique’s Descent.”

    The overlooked, “dull” servant with a secret dark side is compelling to me, and I think 1795 has more dramatic force if that dark side is emerging for the first time. After all, no other version of the character after this point would have lasted a week as anyone’s maid.

    1. I’m glad you brought this up. I think you are right about how Angelique made her arrival at Collinwood her real debut as a witch. She’d obviously had a little practice, but was not quite at the top of her game, yet. She’s at that special age, when evil first takes wing. Could explain how she got carried away, and cast an evil vampire spell she wanted to undo, but couldn’t. She wasn’t master of her domain.

      I think she easily could have lied to Ben, but it might also be that the writers hadn’t quite figured her character out, yet.

      I greatly prefer the idea that Angelique was a dull dull boring boring virgin, until she met international playboy and fish oil heir, Barnabas Collins, and then became a supernatural slut. Much better from a storytelling P.O.V. It would explain everything, really. He was The One, that tried to get away, and she couldn’t have THAT.

      She crossed the sea, and all sorts of lines of propriety. Nothing was going to stand in her way.

      1. I find it interesting that Nicholas has complete control over Angelique when she’s a vampire while Angelique was terrified of what would happen — mostly to herself but really everyone — once Barnabas rose from the grave as a vampire.

        And for all her evil in 1795, she never really directly kills people. She threatens their lives or creates the chain of events that kills people, but she doesn’t seem all that interested in just killing someone.

        I like the idea that Barnabas was her first love and that she was dull virgin servant girl dabbling in witchcraft.

        Too bad they didn’t play that explicitly back then and let the witchcraft evolve more slowly and with more mistakes.

        1. Yes she only created hell for people, doing absolutely awful things to them. But, in the end she gets hers too. I forget how she disappeared in 1795 but her karma was Nicholas. I love it!

  3. Blooper time: The end of the episode occurs during the morning–Vicki and Julia identify the time as 9:00 a.m., Roger says to Vicki he was in his room all morning when he comes downstairs later, and sunlight flows into the room when Barnabas opens the door to escape. Yet the scenes in the woods–with Barnabas wandering them and then Vicki looking for him–are dark like night. Also, Vicki passes the same tree in two shots during the back-and-forth shots of her and Barnabas in the woods. There is also a long delay on a shot of the empty woods before Vicki finds Barnabas.

  4. Isn’t there a blooper in the basement scene with Angelique and Barnabas? She appears to have said all she’s got to say to him, then goes up to the stairs to the door, appears to fiddle with the knob or lock a bit, then suddenly turns around, comes back down the stairs, and starts talking to Barnabas again. Then she disappears a la Chromakey. My DS-watching companion thought maybe she’d gone up the stairs to lock the door, but later Barnabus pushes the door open, easy as pie.

  5. i like Stephen’s idea too. but there’s one little snag. Miranda. if we’re to believe the revelations of 1840, Angelique ’twas already using her powers a hundred years before any of this.

  6. I loved the scene between Angelique and Barnabas. Great stuff. Good discussion here in the comments on the nature of Angelique’s evil. The question occurs to me, “what do we fans accept as canonical in the DS universe?”. Lara Parker has written novels and done other post-DS work with the character of Angelique. DS itself placed her in several times and alternate-times.

    I suppose it’s up to each of us to accept or reject back-stories, especially if they are mere implications, in the process of deciding who these characters are. Certainly the original writers gave us some contradictory signals on occasion.

  7. Anybody else think that the best line Gordon Russell ever wrote was “Barnabas just hasn’t been the same since Joe Haskell tried to strangle him”?

  8. Wait. The first time Angelique attacked Barnabas, Adam was affected as though he himself had been bitten. That’s why Nicholas told Angelique to stay away from Barnabas. So why isn’t Adam being affected in this episode? It makes no sense.

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