“She isn’t anywhere anymore, not anywhere at all.”
“Barnabas!” Maggie yells, sprinting down the Old House stairs with an antique telephone in her hand.
“The children!” she cries. “They’re gone! They’re GONE!” There’s two kids, so that makes one gone apiece. Yeah, the math checks out.
Now, viewed purely from the host’s point of view, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The entire Collins family evacuated Collinwood last week, to escape an outbreak of ghost hostility. So everyone’s crashing at Barnabas’ place for the indefinite future, which is very neighborly and a nice boost for the sharing economy, but it’s got to be hard on the guest towels.
I mean, if you’ve ever had four relatives come to visit all of a sudden, bringing along adopted children, itinerant blood specialists and assorted domestics, then you can forgive Barnabas wondering, just for a moment, if misplacing a couple houseguests might help to thin out the traffic around the bathroom facilities.
Quentin Collins, the angry ancestor and current King of Collinwood, has been slaving away at this project for months. He’s been possessing young David and Amy, and using them to scare the rest of the family out of the house. That’s been accomplished, so now he’s taken the kids, and Barnabas and Maggie need to figure out how to get them back.
This process ends up taking pretty much the entire week, passing various characters back and forth between Collinwood and the Old House, and we’re going to get a lot of late-breaking updates on the subject of who’s gone. Later this week, Julia tells Barnabas that Maggie is gone, and the very next thing that happens is that Maggie runs into the room, and tells them that Amy is gone. At a certain point, you want to tell them to just get together and decide on who’s gone and who’s not gone, and they can let us know whenever they’ve got it figured out.
This is actually a very exciting point in the storyline, because taking the Collinses out of Collinwood is such a big deal that it forces the writers to answer some of the questions we want to know, like: Who is Quentin? How did he die? Why is he so angry? Why does he want David? And what the hell happened here, 70 years ago?
We’re finally going to get some of those answers, but it’s like the last couple seasons of Lost, where you get a clue about the larger mystery maybe once an episode, and then the rest of the time is just walking back and forth between the jungle and the beach, trying to rescue people.
So today’s episode starts with Barnabas and Maggie ganging up on Willie, and telling him that he has to go on a snipe hunt in a spooky, dark and literally haunted house. Willie is not thrilled.
We haven’t actually seen Willie in more than a month; he opened the coffin when Barnabas got back from the 18th century, and then he kind of faded into the background. This must be his contractually-mandated cringing time.
You know, I remember the days when Willie used to get a storyline on this show. I could use a good Willie vs the werewolf episode. I suppose it’s too late to make requests at this stage; I should’ve brought it up before.
Meanwhile, Quentin is orchestrating some kind of spectral skullduggery at Collinwood, instructing Amy to bring an old dress into the drawing room.
He senses Barnabas and Willie approaching the house, and he motions for Amy to be quiet, which is adorable. I like it when Quentin does things that ghosts aren’t supposed to do, like enter the room through a secret panel, or communicate with the possessed children via hand signals.
At this point, he’s a very hands-on ghost, personally supervising where other spirits might just focus on the big picture. Quentin takes the time, and he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty.
Jokes aside, this actually helps to reinforce how serious the problem is, and how powerful Quentin’s hold is on this family. He’s just living in the house now, the new master of Collinwood.
Barnabas and Willie make their way cautiously into the house, shining their flashlights and looking around, like something’s going to explode any minute.
I love the way that people are acting when they enter Collinwood these days; they’re taking the situation completely seriously, and it really helps to sell the idea that the foyer has become a scary place. I’m a big fan of characters holding a flashlight and peering around corners. That visual on its own tells the whole story.
Once the heroes go upstairs, Quentin appears to Amy, and whispering instructions into her ear. This is another great example of things that ghosts probably don’t need to do, but it’s adorable and at this point, Quentin is completely real.
This is such a silly situation — grown adults creeping around the house, terrified of a ghost who’s stolen the children — but they’re one hundred percent committed to this situation, and it works.
They did a lot of these “I wonder if there’s a ghost around?” moments in the early days of the show, and those scenes never had this kind of punch, because for the most part, the answer was no, and the audience knew it. Now there really is a ghost strutting around in the drawing room, and he’s cunning and powerful, and he will kill you if he gets the chance.
So the episode just rattles on like this, perfectly content to spin this out for another week. Quentin sends Amy to lure Maggie out of the Old House, and then when Maggie goes to Collinwood, Quentin abducts her and makes her put on the old-fashioned dress, as if Maggie ever does anything else.
Barnabas and Willie find Amy, and Willie takes her back to the Old House, and now Barnabas has to keep poking around Collinwood to find Maggie. As I said, this prisoner swap goes on all week, as they try to figure out a way to communicate more directly with the guy taking hostages.
So this is what happens when somebody finally brings a telephone into Barnabas’ house. It turns out he was right; it’s a total disaster. I hope those flashlights are powered by candles.
Tomorrow: The Young and the Restless.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
In act 1, when the scene shifts from the Old House to the west wing storage room, someone stands in front of the camera for a second and then backs away.
When Quentin hypnotizes Amy with the music, there are lots of footsteps in the studio.
Someone in the studio coughs as Willie tells Barnabas that the kids aren’t dumb enough to go to Collinwood.
When Quentin motions for Amy to be quiet, she says, “I don’t hear anything,” but she’s a little bit late — we’ve already cut to the next shot, outside the house.
When Maggie enters Collinwood, there’s a light reflected in the foyer mirror.
Amy tells Barnabas, “He’ll let me go now. I know where I — that I belong here.”
Tomorrow: The Young and the Restless.
— Danny Horn