“I summon you in the name of the charred and blackened stars that reigned at my beginnings!”
Angelique has had enough. She lights a candle.
Prince of Fire, she says, I call upon the flame to summon you. I call up all the dark creatures of nature to summon you here to me.
I summon you in the name of the seven plagues, in the name of the charred and blackened stars that reigned at my beginnings, to rise out of the darkness of the earth!
I call you forth from the mouth of the dragon, and of the beast, and of the false prophet! I call you forth from the subterranean rivers of blood, from the smoke of torment which rises forever and ever!
In the name of every evil spirit — evil, and obedient only to you — I invoke you! Appear to me NOW!
And then she erupts into a furnace of psychedelic Chromakey flames, screaming and pleading for her life.
This is Wednesday, by the way. This is what we do on Wednesdays now.
So here’s what all the racket is about.
Angelique, the sorcerous soap vixen, used to be an independent contractor for the Lord of the Flies. But right after she became a full-time employee earlier this year, the org structure changed, and she started reporting to a new manager.
It hasn’t been a great fit. Her quarterly objectives have changed several times, with very little warning. She was moved into a new position that’s outside her core competencies. She’s been alternately unsupervised and micromanaged.
Now, I know that it sounds like I’m just doing a funny riff on the situation, but I’m not. Angelique calls on the Prince of Fire, in the name of the seven plagues and the subterranean rivers of blood — and when we see him, he’s sitting behind a desk. This is actually what’s happening on this television show.
So today’s entry is going to be a bit of a struggle for me, because my usual lit-crit comedy tricks may not be sufficient to account for the head-baffling conceptual chaos of this moment. Angelique literally has the boss from Hell.
So: this guy, right? What in the wide world of sports is this even supposed to actually be?
They never say his name on screen; they just call him “Master” and “Prince of Fire” and similar horseradish. In the script, he was referred to as Balberith, but in the end credits he’s Diabolos.
Ba’al-berith is a name that goes back to the early Jews in the Bronze Age, and more or less means “God of the Covenant,” although who even knows with the early Jews. The name was picked up in Christian demonology, who described Balberith as one of the princes of Hell — Satan’s secretary, basically, and the keeper of the public archives.
Or something like that. It’s hard to do research on this, because all of my Google searches just bring up characters from Final Fantasy games.
Basically, he’s a shouty guy from Inhuman Resources, and Angelique is tattling about her hostile work environment.
Angelique: Well, you know Nicholas was sent to save me, when I had been exorcised by a man called Trask.
Diabolos: YES. AND YOU WERE TO BE PUNISHED FOR YOUR INEPTITUDE.
Angelique: I was! But after that, Nicholas became vindictive… unreasonable! Instead of helping me, he continued to punish me — to torment me!
Diabolos: FROM WHAT I KNOW, YOU DESERVED IT. YOU BROKE YOUR PACT WITH HIM. YOU FOLLOWED YOUR OWN SELFISH WILL.
Which is a problem how, exactly? This is the hard thing about fictional depictions of Evil with a capital E — if your core business values are about being unkind and spiteful and traitorous, then it’s difficult to follow any kind of rational staff development program.
So there’s not a hell of a lot that you can do with henchmen, in the long term. Bond villains and wolves of Wall Street are always betrayed by their own employees. This is not a surprise.
So Angelique’s going to have to try harder than that. Luckily, she was born crazy, so this is her area.
Diabolos: I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ANY MORE. HE SERVES ME WELL. HIS PLAN FOR CREATING A SUPER RACE WHICH WILL FOLLOW ONLY ME IS EXCELLENT.
Angelique: But that’s what I came to tell you about! He is failing in that plan — failing miserably!
Angelique: Yes. Because of his stupidity, one of the beings chosen for the plan has destroyed the other.
You can tell that this scene is super urgent and exciting, because Angelique is using a lot of dramatic clarification, repeating the word that she just said, but with greater emphasis.
Diabolos: HOW COULD HE LET THAT HAPPEN?
Angelique: Because of a weakness — a human weakness!
Diabolos: SAY IT.
Angelique: Love — human love!
That hits a nerve.
Diabolos: LOVE? HOW COULD ONE OF MY FOLLOWERS LOVE?
Angelique: He has learned. There is a woman in the town of Collinsport. He thinks only of her. He spends all of his time with her — a human! He was away with her when the murder occurred.
Diabolos: HE LEFT HIS TWO PEOPLE ALONE?
Angelique: Yes. The experiment is no longer important to him.
Diabolos: WELL, IT’S IMPORTANT TO ME! I WILL NOT BE DEFEATED BY LOVE — THE MOST CARDINAL OF SINS!
So if this wasn’t already in the top three weirdest depictions of the Devil, that would have clinched it.
There’s a bitchy little edge to that line — “Well, it’s important to me!” — and it reminds me of Bunny Breckinridge’s alien leader in Plan 9 from Outer Space, all eyerolls and satin curtains. I guess the Devil really does wear Prada.
But the thing that I love the most about this entirely bonkers sequence is that Diabolos is the only character in this entire fictional universe who has rules for how people are supposed to behave.
This is a world where people are assaulted, murdered and turned into cats on a weekly basis, and no one is ever arrested, and justice is never done. The legal system hardly exists — the only trials that we ever see are kangaroo courts for trumped-up witch hunts. Crimes are solved by ghosts, or not at all.
So this is what we have, instead of laws and morals and values. We have Satan, and the cardinal sin is love.
Tomorrow: In Many Somber Colors.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
There’s a boom mic overhead during Angelique’s scene with Diabolos, right after the “love, human love” part.
There’s so much smoke in the Hell set that it drifts over into the set for Nicholas’ house, which appears to have a developing weather pattern in the drawing room.
Julia and Adam talk over each other in act 2. Julia says, “Eve was an evil, vicious woman, and I’m glad she’s dead,” and then Adam says “You’re glad?” at the same time that Julia says “Do you believe me?”
Behind the Scenes:
Diabolos is played by Duane Morris, who appeared in May as the headless body that was later brought to life as Adam. He came back for an episode in July, when Nicholas raised the spirits of two guys whose bodies were scavenged for the Frankenstein experiment. He plays Diabolos today and tomorrow, and that’s his last time on the show. He appears in nine episodes total, and we never see his face.
Tomorrow: In Many Somber Colors.
— Danny Horn