“Collinwood belongs to the ghosts now.”
For the first time in two centuries, the Collins family has left Collinwood. Well, the living ones have, anyway. The dead members of the family — the silent majority — are in the same place they’ve always been, and the fact that you don’t even think of them as part of the family is kind of the problem.
But the living Collinses are now living elsewhere, taking up residence in the other enormous mansion on their property. They’re trying to keep their kids out of the clutches of their avenging ancestors, with limited success.
The morning after the great exodus, Chris stops by, and tells Barnabas and Maggie that he saw someone standing at the edge of the woods, staring at the Old House — someone wearing old-fashioned clothes.
Maggie gasps, “Quentin?”
Puzzled, Barnabas asks, “What did you say?”
“Quentin,” she repeats. He frowns, and says, “Where did you hear that name before?”
So these people have been under siege for several months, held two seances, lost a silversmith and a perfectly good medium, staged an exorcism and then scurried off to find other accommodations, and most of them don’t even know that the specter responsible is named Quentin.
Seriously, the living are ridiculous. Can you believe these clowns?
But that demonstrates the level of defeat that we’re talking about here; they were driven from their home, and they don’t even know what’s going on.
On their way out the door, Roger issued a defiant warning to the new occupants — “We’ll be back! Have no doubt of that!” — which is gorgeous and atmospheric, but a completely empty threat.
They can’t go back until they figure out what happened, and the only thing that Roger knows is that the guy who he saw in the drawing room is a ghost who lives in mirrors, and has control of the lighting and sound effects.
The kids are the only ones who know what really happened, and the adults have not done a comprehensive debrief. They can’t even keep their eyes on David, who’s under strict instructions not to go outside, but manages to go outside pretty much any time he wants.
The adults know that David and Amy were possessed, and that their communication with the spirit world involved an antique telephone that they found in the west wing. But when Barnabas hears them talking about “playing the game” — a euphemism invented by their haunted handlers — they just shrug it off, and go to the kitchen for a snack.
But Barnabas is trying to do a deep dive in the data. Maggie mentions that David said the name “Quentin” when she found him on the floor of his room the other day, and Barnabas brings out an old photo album, which in this family is essentially a book of mugshots.
As Maggie and Chris look through the files, Barnabas reads from a family history: “Quentin Collins, born 1870. Date of death unknown. How odd.” Then Chris points out a picture in the album, and we finally have a positive ID on the suspect.
Barnabas, who has now become the lead investigator, reads, “Quentin, just before he left for Paris.”
Maggie and Chris say that his ghost looks just like this picture, and Barnabas starts speculating. “He must have died just after he got to Europe. But why didn’t they know this? And why is his spirit haunting Collinwood now? And why has he decided to possess the children? Why?”
Yeah, good question. Now I’ve got one for you — why do you take your eyes off of David for more than two seconds? We just saw Maggie send him upstairs to study for a history test, and now, alakazam, he’s standing in front of Collinwood. He is one of the great escape artists of our time.
Amy’s followed him here, and she asks what the hell he thinks he’s up to. “Quentin’s in there; you know that,” she says. “He won’t let you come out! Have you forgotten how mean Quentin really is? Have you forgotten how much you hate him?”
He says, “I’ve just got to, that’s all,” and, ignoring her protests, he swings open the doors.
And there they are, the young set, peering anxiously through the doorway at the place that just yesterday they thought of as their home.
This is one of those moments — the conquest of Collinwood — that everyone who watches Dark Shadows remembers by heart, and this shot is basically why. We don’t see a monster about to pounce, or an evil witch casting a spell. The thing that’s scary is the house itself.
The Collinwood foyer is enormous for a television set, especially in the 1960s and even more especially on Dark Shadows, where sometimes “the woods” means two trees, a bush and a brown tarp to stand on. And for the audience, this space is so familiar that it feels like home.
Terrible things happen in the study, of course, or out in the west wing somewhere, but the foyer is supposed to be neutral. The scariest thing here is the portrait of Barnabas, and we’re so used to it that they hardly even point the camera at it anymore.
Now, it doesn’t feel spacious and comforting. It feels like enemy territory, and all of that open space means that you don’t have any cover.
So Amy inches up the stairs — yes, she goes inside, obviously she goes inside, because the adults are completely irresponsible and they need to put leashes on these kids — and then she walks across the landing, and through the door, and she is never seen again. Collinwood is a house that eats children.
Actually, they do make it out alive, this time. Amy comes back downstairs, and Maggie finds them, and they all go back to the Old House, safe and sound.
Except nothing is safe now. Collinwood is under new management. There are no safe places left.
Monday: House Hunters.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Maggie says, “Barnabas, he promised he would go — he wouldn’t go outside.”
When Barnabas shows the photo album to Maggie and Chris, he says, “Now, you people saw him,” realizes that doesn’t sound right, and then stumbles through the rest of his line: “Does he — does he look like anything in here? Now, look through it and see.”
Not a blooper, just something they haven’t figured out yet: Barnabas reads the family history, and finds that Quentin had a younger brother David’s age — Jamison Collins. When we actually see Quentin and Jamison a couple weeks from now, Jamison is Quentin’s nephew, not his brother. Apparently, the 1897 family relationships were still in flux at this point, a week before the time travel.
Monday: House Hunters.
— Danny Horn