“We know you were destroyed by some evil force! Now is your chance to destroy it!”
It’s a situation that only happens in long-running serialized narrative. The main character has run away, never to return, and she didn’t even bother to make up a decent excuse. “I’m going to go and live with my husband’s past-life doppleganger,” Vicki said. “If you need to reach me, I’ll be in the 18th century.”
So what can you do? You hire a new governess, and you move on with your make-believe life. The Collins family has lost their lost princess, and to take her place, they’ve found Maggie Evans, a waitress with no experience in education, and a gaping hole in her LinkedIn profile that she can’t explain.
It hasn’t been an easy transition for Maggie, because the process of Vickification involves stripping away all ties to her old life. In fact, on the night that she was offered the governess job, both her fiancee and her house were torn to pieces by a wild animal. I don’t know how you arrange for an onboarding process like that, but it definitely made the point. Her father and her fiancee are gone, her home is destroyed, her memory is wiped clean, and she has become Vicki.
But that interpretation assumes that there’s only one Maggie, and one Vicki. It’s more complicated than that. There are actually four Maggies, and most of them are Vicki.
I can tell you exactly when all the trouble started — it was on June 12th, 1967, also known as episode 251.
Maggie is spending the summer in the Old House basement, while Barnabas tries to turn her into his dead fiancee, Josette. It isn’t going that well. In fact, Barnabas is about to lock her up in a dungeon cell and keep her there until she goes insane, which will take two weeks. And just at that moment, Vicki shows up at the Old House, and Barnabas suddenly decides that he likes her instead. He shows her Josette’s music box and everything, which for Barnabas is basically a marriage proposal.
So Maggie becoming the governess and turning into Vicki is not the original problem. The confusion started back in 251, when Barnabas turned Vicki into Maggie.
This may, in fact, be the moment when Dan and the writers realized that they weren’t going to kill the vampire after all. Barnabas is popular, which means he can’t just stay in the suburbs torturing secondary characters all day. He needs to hang out with the main character. So they make a hard left, and point him at Vicki instead.
As it turns out, the Barnabas/Josette relationship is the engine that powers the next year and a half worth of story, so this isn’t a minor detail. The midstream switch from Maggie to Vicki creates a disruption in the Dark Shadows narrative that spreads across five decades worth of reboots.
It’s like when you throw a stone into a lake, and the ripples spread outwards, except the stone is Vicki, and the lake is your ability to understand the rest of this blog post.
Anyway, they go back into the past, and what do you know? It turns out Josette really is Maggie after all, and Vicki is just Vicki.
That pretty much puts the kibosh on the purported Barnabas/Vicki romance. When Vicki gets back to 1968, Barnabas still thinks that he wants to make her into Josette, but it’s a half-hearted attempt at best, and nobody takes it seriously. Vicki being Josette is not going to happen and everybody knows it, including Barnabas, so eventually they just forget all about it.
So now Maggie is the new Vicki — and to prove it, here’s a scene from today’s episode, where Maggie is actually saying Vicki type dialogue.
Vicki: Barnabas, I know that you think it was just a dream.
Barnabas: What do you think it was?
Vicki: A warning! A warning to leave Collinwood!
Barnabas: It might have been.
Vicki: Barnabas… you actually think that?
Barnabas: I think it’s possible.
Vicki: Do you think that it’s possible that I actually saw that man?
Barnabas: I think that you actually did see him.
So, there you go. This is clearly a Barnabas and Vicki scene, with “Vicki” crossed out and “Maggie” written on top. I mean, it doesn’t help that Ron Sproat wrote this episode, which means that everybody sounds like everybody else, but never mind the dialogue — even as a general plot point, this is a Vicki thing to do.
Here’s a list of things that Earth-616 Maggie Evans does not do: confide in Barnabas, ask Barnabas for help, stand this close to Barnabas, remember that Barnabas even exists.
Maggie and Barnabas are not friends. They have never been friends. Until now, obviously, once they’ve stripped her personality clean and started giving her Vicki’s plot points.
Pretty soon, Barnabas is going to travel to 1897, where he meets governess Rachel Drummond. Rachel is basically Vicki the Victorian, but she’s played by Maggie, which means that Barnabas thinks she’s Josette.
And then Kitty comes along, and she’s played by Maggie too. Barnabas switches once again and decides that Kitty is Josette, which is a coincidence, because Kitty actually is Josette. I’m not sure who Rachel was. Maybe she was Vicki.
Anyway, after that, Barnabas moves on, and then Maggie is just Maggie and nobody is Josette.
Eventually, Maggie gives up and leaves the show too, and then there’s a new Vicki named Daphne, who’s basically Beth.
To review: Maggie is Maggie and Vicki is Vicki. Maggie is also Josette, but then Barnabas decides that Vicki is Josette, except Josette really is Maggie and Vicki is still Vicki. After Vicki leaves, Maggie becomes Vicki. Then Rachel (who is Vicki played by Maggie) could be Josette, but then Kitty (also Maggie) really is Josette. And finally there’s Daphne, who’s either Vicki, Maggie, Rachel, Beth or Sheriff Patterson. That last one is kind of a long shot.
So there you go, that’s Maggie #1. There are three more of these.
Maggie #2 is the Maggie from House of Dark Shadows, a governess who happens to be a dead ringer for Josette. In HODS, they cut out the middleman, and just have Maggie be both Vicki and Josette. She’s even engaged to Jeff Clark, which is about as Vicki as you can get.
But if Maggie is Vicki/Josette, then they need another Maggie, so they give Liz a secretary named Daphne.
Daphne is played by Sabrina from the show, which is a weird coincidence, because the real Daphne ends up playing Sabrina on Charlie’s Angels. I know, we’re kind of getting into theoretical physics here. Just do your best to keep up.
Barnabas kills Daphne, and then he also kills Carolyn and turns her into a vampire. Carolyn feeds on her boyfriend Chris, who they keep calling Todd for some reason, and then somebody pounds a stake into her, and Barnabas keeps going after the Josette-looking one.
Okay, moving on to Maggie #3, from the 1991 Dark Shadows reboot. In this version, Vicki actually is Josette, and Maggie is somebody completely different. This is the only version of Maggie who isn’t Vicki, so it’s a shame that she’s so terrible, like everybody else on the show.
They have a Daphne in this universe too, so that’s three Daphnes, and they’re all different people. The 1991 Daphne is a cross between the HODS Daphne and the HODS Carolyn. This Daphne’s Chris (aka Todd) is named Joe, who technically should be Maggie’s boyfriend, but he isn’t, because Maggie is somebody else.
They also have a Carolyn in 1991, who is so utterly repellent that I think she may actually be the weird alien parasite recast Carolyn from episode 578, the one that killed Tony Peterson. Look, I’m just trying to be thorough.
Then we get to Maggie #4, from the Dark Shadows movie. The very first thing she says is “My name is Maggie Evans,” and then she winces and comes up with an alias: “My name is Victoria Winters.”
So finally, we get a character who is explicitly Maggie, Vicki and Josette, rolled into one. There isn’t a Daphne this time, and Carolyn is Carolyn again, and that’s why the 2012 movie is the best version of Dark Shadows ever made. Yes, it is, I just proved it.
So those are the canonical Four Maggies. This post is running long, and it stopped being readable somewhere around paragraph six, so I won’t spend time here discussing the Dark Shadows Expanded Universe versions, including Parallel Time Maggie, Paperback Library Maggie, Big Finish Maggie, Earth-2 Maggie, Ultimate Maggie, Days of Future Past Maggie, Virgin New Adventures Maggie, Maggie 2099 or Dark Shadows comic strip Maggie, who does not exist. Maybe next time.
Tomorrow: The Very Last Ron Sproat Episode.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
At the end of the teaser, the west wing door opens, and we’re supposed to see Mr. Jughans, then pan over to a Quentin reveal. But the camera comes in at the wrong angle, and we see Quentin’s feet.
Tomorrow: The Very Last Ron Sproat Episode.
— Danny Horn