“If I were a ghost, as I assume someday I shall be, I would not let mere words drive me away from my home.”
This morning, occult expert and exorcism consultant Professor Eliot Stokes woke up to the sound of a crow perched on his windowsill, muttering Russian slang words with the voice of a human child. Touching each of the eight protection stones that surround his bed, Stokes got up and went about his usual routine: selecting an amulet, sweeping away the animal bones that appear each night in his fireplace, and reading the news in the swirls of cream in his coffee.
The omens weren’t particularly favorable, although he made a mental note to brush up on his Russian. Apparently, by evenfall, he would do battle with a powerful energy source for the soul of a young person whose name begins with the letter D. The encounter would end in defeat, fire, and the irreparable loss of innocence.
Still, you never know, he mused, adjusting his necktie. You might get lucky.
So here we are, post-exorcism, and it appears that angry ancestor Quentin Collins did not, in fact, depart in haste the confines of this house, as per request. What he did was lurk in a mirror for a while, and then set fire to the curtains. This is how Quentin expresses himself, through the language of property damage.
Stokes grabs a nearby candlestick and smashes the mirror, which is the only sensible thing to do. That means another seven years of bad luck, but who would even notice in the Collins family. Just tack it onto the end of their tab.
And then here comes Roger, a Scully in search of a Mulder, and he asks just what in the name of heaven has been going on here.
Stokes: I just received an answer to an ultimatum I issued. Though, why should I be surprised? If I were a ghost —
Roger: There are no ghosts in this house!
Stokes: If I were a ghost, as I assume someday I shall be, I would not let mere words drive me away from my home. Even the words of the exorcism.
Roger: I agreed to that because I hoped it would stop my sister’s concern. And I hope you will now stop this aimless eccentricity. Tell her that the ghost has gone!
But Roger has to know that’s not going to work. Telling Stokes to stop being aimlessly eccentric is like telling Miley Cyrus to stop sticking her tongue out. It just won’t happen, no matter how often you try.
Now, Roger is not actually a born skeptic. In the past, he’s found the idea of ghosts amusing, and he set up the seance that sent Vicki into the past. But the way that he’s barking at everyone today makes him sound more like Joshua, from the 18th century. Louis Edmonds is playing the wrong character.
But they’re enacting a specific ritual in today’s episode, and it requires the sacrifice of a skeptic. Today is the day that the Collins family abandons Collinwood, the most significant event we’ve ever seen on the show. They can’t go down without a fight.
When the show began, the audience may have believed that Dark Shadows was the story of the Collins family, their friends, their servants and their secrets. But then the show traveled back in time for four months, keeping all of the current Collins family members frozen between two ticks of the clock. Everyone in the cast had a different name, and a whole new character to play. The only thing that stayed constant was the house.
And over the last few months, we’ve seen Collinwood exerting a magnetic pull on every character on the show. All the characters who lived off-property either died or went to a mental institution, with Maggie, Chris and Amy as the refugees who made it safely onto the estate before the drawbridge closed.
Elizabeth died, and then came back from the dead and showed up at the front door. Vicki died, and she signaled for help by appearing in a photograph taken of the front door. Jeff returned to the 18th century, and just last week, his new incarnation showed up again at the Collinwood front door.
Collinwood is a refuge, the only safe place in a world that has literally included an emissary of Satan building an army of the living dead, just down the street. The night has grown darker, and this house is the only source of light. It’s also the only permanent standing set, so if we don’t use it, then it’s kind of a waste of studio space.
And now, the house is broken. David and Amy broke the seal on another mystery box hidden in the west wing, and let another dangerous creature loose to grab hold of the show, and shake everyone else off the screen.
Quentin appears anywhere he likes now — in the drawing room, outside the Old House, right in front of Roger, or anybody. You can’t hit him, and you can’t shoot at him. You can’t negotiate with him, or scare him, or bully him. He can strangle you with a curtain sash, or give you a heart attack, or send you tumbling down the stairs. The only thing you can do is die, or run away.
So that’s what they do. They pack up some suitcases, and they turn out the lights. And for the first time since the late 18th century, the Collins family leaves Collinwood.
This is the house where Victoria Winters once lived. This is the house where the scary intruders were Burke Devlin and Jason McGuire. This is the house that Art Wallace built, where Ron Sproat and Malcolm Marmorstein spent their afternoons moving the Collins family around in lazy circles. They’re all gone now. Something new has taken over.
Collinwood belongs to the ghosts and the monsters now, to the mad, the cruel, and the aimlessly eccentric. Now it belongs to Sam and Gordon and Violet. Let’s see what they can do with the place.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
When David dashes from the drawing room through the foyer and out the door, the boom mic can be seen hanging above the foyer.
Barnabas, confused about who he’s addressing, says, “Now, Roger… now, David, tell him.” Roger replies, “He’s frightened! And you have made him responsible, you and the Professor.”
— Danny Horn