Episode 707: Another Jane

“I know Collinwood more intimately than anyone else in the family.”

Her name is Rachel Drummond. Her journey is beginning, a journey that she hopes will open the doors of life to her, and link her past with her future. A journey that will bring her to a strange and dark place, to the edge of the sea, high atop Widows’ Hill, a house called Collinwood — a world she’s never known, with people she’s never met, people who tonight are still only shadows in her mind, but who will soon fill the days and nights of her tomorrows.

And, man, talk about linking the past with the future. Here we are three years later, and we’re still doing Jane Eyre.

707 dark shadows edward rachel arrival

I mean, don’t get me wrong, Jane Eyre is a good story. It gets a bit wobbly around chapter 34, when Jane’s creepy cousin St. John tries to hypnotize her into marrying him and becoming a missionary in Africa, but overall, it’s great. It’s certainly more readable than The Turn of the Screw.

But we’ve been down this road before. Dark Shadows began with Victoria Winters, the innocent orphan girl, showing up for governess duty at a big, fancy house filled with romance and furniture and terrible secrets.

It’s possible that Roger’s name was meant to be an echo of Mr. Rochester, Jane’s brooding employer with a missing wife, and if you really wanted to stretch the point, Roger’s car accident in episode 15 might be the DS version of Rochester getting thrown from his horse in chapter 12. I’m just tossing that out there as a possibility.

I suppose that’s the point where Vicki and Jane parted ways. Rochester’s horse accident was kind of an 1847 meet-cute, back before they’d figured out the cute part. That’s how Jane and Rochester meet, and they end up falling in love, which certainly didn’t happen with Vicki and Roger.

For one thing, Vicki might have ended up being Roger’s niece, if Elizabeth turned out to be her mother, so a Roger romance was nixed from the start. Although St. John turned out to be Jane’s cousin, so who knows.

But that’s how things go with these narrative collisions — you take the bleeder valve out of Jane Eyre and crash it into a tree, and anybody who survives gets to be on your soap opera.

707 dark shadows rachel edward arrival

Anyway, Rachel. She’ll actually get more bona fide Jane Eyre material than Vicki did — see especially chapters 7, 15 and 26 — so it’s a bit of a shame about her personality.

Personality matters here, because Jane Eyre is really about Jane’s developing consciousness, and the book is generally regarded as the first novel to really express a character’s thoughts and feelings as she moves through the world. Jane is smart, sassy and strong-willed, and her relationship with Rochester develops along the same lines as Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, meaning they tease and berate each other mercilessly until somebody proposes.

So it’s a shame that Rachel appears to be operating entirely on autopilot. She’s wide-eyed and overwhelmed when she first enters Collinwood, as anyone might be, but the writers forget to take her out of first gear.

707 dark shadows edward quentin rachel

Rachel was in three scenes in Friday’s episode, and the first scene in the train station is really the only one where she’s an active participant.

In her second scene, she wafts into Collinwood — wide-eyed, overwhelmed — and doesn’t get a single line. Quentin gets to do a whole monologue, walking around her and evaluating her, and she just stands there, not even reacting very much. The scene is actually about Quentin being funny and pissing off Edward, and Rachel is just a prop.

There’s a little break for a scene in Edith’s bedroom, and then we return to the foyer for Rachel’s third scene. Quentin addresses her like a person this time, and she gets to say three sentences — I’m Rachel Drummond, I’m the new governess, and Yes, of course — before the real characters walk into the drawing room and have an actual grown-up scene.

707 dark shadows rachel fountain

That brings us to today’s episode, where Rachel wanders out onto the terrace and instantly forgets why she went out in the first place. She walks up to the fountain like she’s never seen one before, and she’s not sure what it’s supposed to do. Then she gets bored and sits down on a bench, staring off into the middle distance and going over the TED talk on particle physics that she’s planning to give later in the evening.

707 dark shadows rachel quentin crotch

And then here comes the wolf man himself — Quentin Collins, Dark Shadows’ answer to the declining birth rate in America. He walks right up to her, puts one leg up on the bench, and basically gets his crotch as close to her face as he can manage.

He offers to take her on a tour of the house, boasting, “I know Collinwood more intimately than anyone else in the family.” He puts some extra stress on the word “intimately,” because it’s Rachel, and if she doesn’t understand this body language, then there’s really no need to be subtle.

Then he asks her to call him Quentin. She says, “I don’t think your brother would approve of such familiarity,” and he says, “No, I suppose he wouldn’t.”

707 dark shadows rachel quentin common law

Then he sits down on the bench, practically on top of her, and says, “But then, he doesn’t have to know about it… Does he, Rachel?” And he raises an eyebrow. I believe by 1897 standards this means that she’s already pregnant.

707 dark shadows rachel quentin unsure

She gets up, and he asks, “Are you frightened of me?” She chuckles, “No, of course not,” which is exactly the wrong answer.

He says, “What, then?” and she says, “Well, if anything, perhaps it’s — it’s just because I’m so new, and… and still so unsure?” And then she looks at the guy who’s five seconds away from ruining her entire life, and she gives him a shy smile.

And, you know what? I would love it if somebody could show this to Charlotte Brontë, and tell her that this is supposed to be Jane Eyre. I’m not sure what she’d do, but I would like to be there when it happens, with a camera and maybe a couple of EMTs, just to be on the safe side.

707 dark shadows quentin rachel looking

Then they have a conversation about the tower room, which she finds picturesque, and Quentin tells her that nobody’s been in that room for a hundred years, since a woman took poison and died there in 1796. He whispers this directly into her ear from so close behind her that she’s probably going to need a penicillin shot tomorrow.

707 dark shadows tower room

Anyway, the point of all this is that later on in the episode, she sees a light in the tower room, which is a big mystery. She goes inside and tells Edward about it, and he gets all flustered and weird, and Judith scurries off somewhere, and by the time Edward and Rachel get back out to the terrace, the light is gone, which means it was probably a reflection or her imagination or a weather balloon or something, because she didn’t see a light up there, how could she, what tower room, where would she get the idea that we have a — a what is it, a tower? Tow-wer, what an odd sounding word, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard it before. What does it mean?

Now, this is setting up one of the Jane Eyre plot points, but it’s by way of Gaslight and those dreary paperback gothic romances with titles like The Dark Shore or The Secrets of Hillyard House.

Jane never saw any lights in any towers, so you can’t pin this one on her. The “you didn’t see a light in the tower room” scenario is actually a reference to Nathan Forbes trying to drive Millicent insane last year, in episode 448.

So they’ve done it; they’ve finally done it. Dark Shadows has started borrowing plot points from itself.

Tomorrow: Will Power.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Edward closes the drawing room doors for the family conference, the boom mic can be seen overhead. You can also see the mic in the terrace scene, when Rachel gets up off the bench.

The camera’s aimed too high when Quentin says that Barnabas is a possibility, and you can see the top of the drawing room set.

When Rachel talks to Quentin about a tour of the house, you can see a studio light reflected in the windows.

Someone coughs in the studio when Quentin says, “I like you, Rachel.”

Sandor tells Edward that Barnabas is away for the day. Edward says, “Where would he go? He doesn’t know anyone in Collinwood.” He means Collinsport. Right after that, Sandor says, “He told me not to answer no questions, so I can’t tell you what you want to know.” He means ask no questions.

Edward tells Judith, “I have washed my hands of the entire affair. I want nothing more to know about it.”

Tomorrow: Will Power.

707 dark shadows house of secrets

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

26 thoughts on “Episode 707: Another Jane

  1. Dark Shadows was only Jane Eyre in the sense of Victoria Winters as dreamed into existence by Dan Curtis. Otherwise it was Shadows On The Wall, and Roger Collins was the name and character created by Art Wallace. Some of the names were changed by Curtis and the writers–Walt Cummings became Jason McGuire, for instance.

    Wallace’s Roger Collins is paranoid and volatile–as originally portrayed by Louis Edmonds during the 1966 manslaughter storyline. You can see how he is constantly on edge and erupting at Vicki initially when learning that Burke Devlin has returned to town. But Art Wallace had a far more tragic fate planned for Roger, who was to be driven to madness once Vicki takes up with Burke Devlin and Roger comes to believe that she and Burke are plotting against him. He completely blows his top when he learns that Vicki has taken David over to meet Sam Evans. Roger storms in and pulls them out of the Evans cottage. Once back at Collinwood he persuades Vicki to walk with him up to Widows’ Hill, where he proceeds to tell her the legend of the three widows, that a third governess was expected to die there. Then he grabs her by the arm, but David has followed them and calls out to his father. Roger turns in surprise, then loses his footing and goes over the edge. The death of Roger was to have been how the manslaughter story was supposed to have been resolved. After this “catharsis”, as Wallace describes Roger’s death, Sam would admit his role of ten years before and that was to be that. And then Walt Cummings shows up, to stay at Collinwood for a while….

    Had anyone else besides Louis Edmonds been cast into the role of Roger, this is how it might likely have played out. Most of the other story points in Wallace’s series bible were closely adhered to in those early months, to the most minor detail. But something changed along the way. It seems to have happened when Roger learns that the death of Bill Malloy is ruled an accident. From then on he becomes the wry-witted, wisecracking, and generally carefree version of Roger most viewers remember–the point where Roger Collins becomes Louis Collins. The makers of the show must then have realized what a talent and definitive personality they had in Louis Edmonds, finally realizing that he was just too good to dispose of.

    1. Art Wallace and Dan Curtis were not the only sources for the Dark Shadows story. Check out the movie The Uninvited (1944), with Ray Milland. Brother and sister live in Windward House overlooking the sea where a gypsy beauty jumped to her death and haunts the mansion with her perfume (mimosa), cold spots, etc. Other familiar story elements include a signature piano tune (Stella by Starlight), a powerful, devious woman named Holloway who runs a sanitarium, seances, the town doctor who seeks to solve the mysteries at Windward House, and many, many more resemblances to Dark Shadows than I can recall off the top of my head.

      1. Oh, that’s interesting. I hadn’t heard of The Uninvited; I’ll have to check it out. From your description and the Wikipedia article, it sounds like it may have been a formative influence on Ron Sproat. He was 12 in 1944, and it sounds like The Uninvited made a big impression on him.

        The giveaway is people determining that there are ghosts in the house because occasionally they feel a chill. Sproat was big on the localized-temperature-fluctuation theory of ghost hunting.

      2. Thanks! The full movie is on YouTube, so I’ll view it over the weekend. Jonathan Frid was working with Ray Milland on a cross-country theater tour (Hostile Witness) just before getting the call from his agent about this TV show….

      3. The Uninvited is #3 on Martin Scorses’ (or however the hell you spell it) Top 11 Favorite Scary Movies list.

    2. Well, well, well, at 24:22 in the movie we see the waves crashing on the rocks below a cliff, then at 24:34 we here the voice of a woman sobbing in the night somewhere in the (Windward) house downstairs, something no one in the house can explain, but which goes away by dawn. Now, where have we heard that before? Not only that, but the way this Mr. (Rick) Fitzgerald talks, he sounds an awful lot like… Jason McGuire. Love it also how at 8:30 when the grand-daughter expresses to her grandfather her reservations about selling the house to the people who have arrived she closes behind her those double drawing room doors. We’ve seen that before also, haven’t we, the closing of double drawing room doors to talk privately with people just outside?

      I suppose it proves that whatever a writer writes–no matter who the writer is and what said writer has written–it’s always derived from earlier sources.

      So, I’m convinced. The 1944 movie The Uninvited is the very roots of Dark Shadows. And, despite being something of a ghost story, it also has moments of humor and comedy as well.

      1. I have seen this movie dozens of times and never made that connection.
        But if I remember correctly Ray
        Milland being a bit of a sceptic and a bon vivant. Always enjoyed The spooky comfort of the movie on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

  2. Rachel would have probably been treated with mercury since penicillin wasn’t discovered yet.

    Maybe the person in the tower room has an advanced case of the disease after years of Quentin’s whispering/bench posing/eye brow raising.

  3. Thank you, because I’m now primed to watch maybe 10 eps from DVD 1, this weekend.

    Pretty neat to see….character origins for those whom we thought we already knew intimately.

    Who don’t blow every third line.

    Of course, I’m always way in love with Nancy Barrett…..and I even married a Nancy, sheer coincidence, but true.

    Early Carolyn was fantastic.

    I only wish that Nancy could have played more characters of power, like when she became temporary Mistress of Collinwood, or Pansy Faye.

    Too many DS women were victims.

    Which is why I love it when they Go Vampire.

    Nancy didn’t until HODS, but I wasn’t a fan of that vampire.

    I prefer the Vamp style of Roxanne Drew.

  4. I saw something else in that scene in which Quentin circles Rachel. While she has no dialogue, KLS makes a fascinating acting choice, one your screen grab comes close to capturing. The look on her face seems to say, “Take away your mutton chops and you’re just a silly little boy. Also, your breath stinks and you need to floss.”

  5. Wow, I’d never say “Pride and Prejudice” was like “Jane Eyre” at all. I could understand if not like Jane’s relationship with her cousin (marrying cousins was an upper class British thing in real life and very, very common in their literature), but Rochester is horrible to Jane from beginning to end and she is basically set up to believe that nonsense about how he’d bless the touch of hands trying to tear his eyes out if she went crazy like his first wife. Rochester was abusive of Jane in many different ways from the get-go and would continue in the same path where as Darcy and Elizabeth changed and developed a true partnership. I know people say all sorts of wonderful things about Jane Eyre, but honestly I think Jane ended up with a miserable life.

    Other than that great stuff today. I particularly liked the shot about the TED talk and the Tower – never heard that word before stuff.

    You’d really think that even a really wronged version of this Quentin wouldn’t have taken revenge on his family if he came back as a ghost. I see him messing around in women’s showers and coming up with gimmicks to pull on ghost hunters and mediums. Maybe
    “ghosting” an image on 1960s TV (which if you’re the right age you’ll get the joke). If he doesn’t have to worry about money anymore since he’s a ghost, I don’t think he’d really think his family of any generation were worth his time. 🙂

    1. Not only was Quentin murdered, his body was not given a proper burial. His spirit was trapped in the West Wing, festering for over 70 years. It was not Quentin in ectoplasmic form haunting the house, corrupting the children, driving away the family, but his malignant spirit. As I have learned from the documentary series Supernatural (on the CW television network), even benign ghosts turn malevolent over time.

        1. Has the show determined yet that Quentin would be the werewolf? There was the coffin with the pentagram, but not even Barnabas immediately suspects Quentin when he learns there’s a werewolf in 1897.

  6. Nobody did Jane Eyre better than Alexandra Moltke, period…She had the innocence and mannerism to pull off the ingenue role perfectly. KLS not so much, especially after her Flo Kastleberry persona in the early days.

    1. I agree with you on Jane Eyre, as I’m on ep 17.

      But VW was a no-range character.

      KLS was allowed to play what, seven maybe?
      Different roles.

      Good for KLS. Bad for AM.

      Still loving her, but……

      She got stuck, like Frid, into one part only.

      When he got to play another, the show got cancelled.

      Not his fault, but the writers’.

      But she made the right choice in leaving when she did.

      Of course, viewers like me wanted to throw stuff at our TVs when Betsy Durkin took over. I mean, good actor, but you can’t be SERIOUS!!!

      Julianka would have been a better choice!

      Timing what it is, Carolyn Groves starting in 1966, probably would have been just as good as AM.

      1. Agree – also too bad Kate Jackson didn’t come along until later – she would have been perfect as the new Vicki or any other governess/ingenue role they gave to her (but having her fall for Bramwell in 1841 PT was not a good choice). Julianka was a good character and got killed off too soon (much like Suki Forbes) – Betsy was terrible!! And Frid as Bramwell was atrocious..but I guess they had to cater to Frid when he threatened to leave DS if they didn’t let him expand his acting range by playing another character – too bad he was already typecast by that point.

        1. Betsy wasn’t bad at all, just miscast, as though she was an understudy who never expected to be thrown into the show at the last second after somebody died.

        2. I was interested to see Danny saying that the reason Rachel is a dull character is that THE WRITERS DIDN’T GIVE HER ENOUGH TO DO. Somehow this doesn’t apply to Vicki.

          I do agree that Kathryn Leigh Scott’s greater experience and training gave her a bigger set of tools to use in keeping a scene alive than Alexandra Moltke Isles had at her disposal in 1966-1968, but there were plenty of scenes in those first 200 episodes where she does rise above weak material. And she does get as much out of her 1968 screen time as Scott gets out of Rachel Drummond.

    2. Moltke was boring and one-note. She was incapable of emoting, other than shaking her had back and forth uncontrollably like a Bobblehead. The best thing that ever happened to DS was her leaving it.

  7. DS forced KLS to play her roles in a dumb mode, but she had two things going for her: her exceptionally good looks and her first-rate acting chops. She’s just a joy to watch. As much as I like Moltke, I don’t think she was on KLS’ level, acting-wise.

    1. I’d add that, whereas Moltke often (and understandably) conveyed an attitude of, “Is this for real??” KLS is always totally into the action, no matter how absurd. If anything, she looks highly amused. Similarly, Don Briscoe always looks like he’s fighting down laughter. Selby’s amused attitude works so well for his character, it’s hard to tell if it’s him or Quentin.

      1. Amused KLS scene, with Louis Edmonds, Collinwood foyer, he goes with the wrong word, and in a close up, she scrunches her face, and does a silent “Whew.”

        Might have been Rachel and Edward, but I’m not sure.

        Worth repeat viewing!!

  8. Edward comes down the stairs with a black mourning armband, looks at himself in the mirror, and fusses with his mustache. There is a good reason why Jewish people cover the mirrors when a family member dies. Edward could use some external help in forgetting about his appearance at a time like this.

  9. I love Judith’s mourning dress!

    And Quentin is such a rogue! I laughed when I read “ And he raises an eyebrow. I believe by 1897 standards this means that she’s already pregnant.”

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