Episode 709: Forget You

“What would her spirit be doing wearing a glove?”

At the end of yesterday’s episode, Barnabas finally drew a line in the sand.

“YOU have the will, Quentin!” he said to Quentin, who did.

“I will leave you now,” he continued, raising several eyebrows. “There’s only one thing that you have to decide in the next hour — how to give it back. Because if you don’t — I will have to do something about it. Something drastic!And then he walked out the door.

So David can suck it, I guess, is the current attitude of the program.

709 dark shadows quentin barnabas exit

Because Barnabas should not be getting involved in local politics like this. He’s a time traveller, here on a specific mission that he has no idea how to complete. In 1969, Collinwood is being haunted by Quentin’s malignant spirit, who’s trying to turn David into his beloved nephew Jamison. Barnabas is supposed to stop Quentin from doing that somehow, but he hasn’t really gotten his hands around it as a problem space.

Besides, his own intrusion here in this time is a much bigger threat to the 1960s family than anything Quentin’s ghost could possibly do. Jamison — the little boy who screamed and ran away from Barnabas earlier this evening — is Elizabeth and Roger’s father. If Barnabas makes the wrong move, the family he knows won’t even exist anymore. This has probably already happened.

And it’s pretty obvious that Barnabas is taking exactly the wrong stance on the Edith’s will issue. In 1969, Quentin’s ghost is furious with the family because he was angry and disenfranchised when he died. If Quentin is poor and alone, then it’s more likely that he’ll die upstairs in the west wing, and start planning his post-mortem revenge. Giving him a bunch of money might encourage him to cheer up, and go die in somebody else’s house.

But Barnabas never has a plan, except for when he decides to kill somebody, which in this case would be one hundred and eighty degrees counterproductive.

709 dark shadows barnabas judith plan

But you could say the same thing about the writers, who are two weeks into this storyline and have already lost track of what their protagonist is trying to accomplish.

Today’s episode opens with Barnabas accompanying Judith into the study to view her grandmother’s body, so I guess after his big dramatic exit yesterday he just swiveled around and came right back in. I’m assuming this is still part of the hour that he gave Quentin to bring the will back, although this might be a different hour. It’s hard to say.

According to Edith’s letter, her will was hidden in the lining of her coffin, but when the family looked for it, it was gone. Now Judith is asking Barnabas if he thinks that someone stole the will.

His response: “Well, your grandmother, certainly, from what I’ve heard, was not the sort of woman who said, when she was going to do something, that she didn’t do it. She certainly wouldn’t have placed the will in a special place in her coffin, and then… and then forget to have it put there.” So that clears up everything.

709 dark shadows barnabas settled

But the real question is: Why is Barnabas concerned about this? Isn’t this settled history for him?

Barnabas was supposed to be this big history buff who knows everything about the Collins family, but he doesn’t know anything about these people. Maybe by “history” he just meant his generation. He certainly doesn’t seem to know the events that he’s insinuated himself into now.

But even if he can’t remember the details, he knows that it all works out, doesn’t he? The Collins family fortune passes down to Jamison and then to Elizabeth. Barnabas can stay entirely out of this hidden-will malarkey, just keep his head down and try not to interfere. Although now that I think about it, the sequence of events that gives the money to Jamison also ends with Quentin’s skeleton sealed up in his room. So is Barnabas trying to change things, or not? No wonder the Fridspeak is getting out of hand.

709 dark shadows quentin barnabas figure

But that’s nothing compared to what happens next. In the next scene, Barnabas knocks on Quentin’s door, and Quentin lets him in with a friendly, “Come in, won’t you?”

Once he’s in, Quentin muses, “You’re a very odd man, Mr. Collins. I find it hard to figure out exactly what you want in this house.”

Yeah, me too. I’m also wondering why neither of you remembers the “one hour” thing from yesterday. Am I the only one who cares about this?

Barnabas asks, “Did you ask me to your room just to have me explain myself, or are you interested to find out why I have accused you of stealing Mrs. Collins’ will?”

And then Quentin chuckles. “Oh, that,” he grins. “Well, I’m used to being accused of everything that happens. Everything bad, that is. Won’t you come in?”

709 dark shadows quentin barnabas i ching

Now, technically, Barnabas already came in, but now he’s coming even more in. Quentin has two rooms now — the one that we’ve been thinking of as “the storage room” is Quentin’s front parlor, and this one I guess is supposed to be his sitting room, or something. My architectural vocabulary is not what it once was. The point is that Quentin has two front doors, which makes him twice as important as anybody else on the show.

As soon as Barnabas gets in the room, he spots the I Ching wands, and snatches them up, gasping, “I Ching wands!” Now, you’d think that he would try to avoid mentioning the method he used to transcend the boundaries of time, but again, Barnabas and planning.

709 dark shadows quentin barnabas will

Quentin says, “I picked them up in the Far East. One of my trips when my family and I thought it best for all concerned if I saw more of the world. I know nothing about them, of course.”

“Don’t you,” Barnabas says, peering at him closely, and it’s a good thing Quentin changes the subject, because otherwise Barnabas was about to give a demonstration, and they’d probably both end up in the 17th century somewhere.

Then Quentin says, “Why did you accuse me of taking the will?” which is exactly the question that he said he wasn’t interested in forty seconds ago. Honestly, I don’t know why I worry about them ignoring yesterday’s cliffhanger; these two can’t even remember what they said earlier in the scene. What is going on?

709 dark shadows quentin barnabas what

Now, consulting my notes for the rest of the scene, it’s just a list of things that Barnabas says, with the word WHAT?? written next to it.

Barnabas:  I believe your grandmother is still on this earth.

Danny:  (WHAT??)

Quentin:  What do you mean?

Barnabas:  Where I come from, there is a theory that when someone dies with business unfinished, their spirit lingers to finish what has been left undone.

Danny:  (WHAT?? Why are you explaining to Quentin that a ghost with unfinished business can haunt the house, while you’re standing in the exact room that he’s going to be haunting?)

Quentin:  The grandmother I knew would hardly be quiet this long.

Barnabas:  The Mrs. Collins I knew wouldn’t let anyone ruin her plans for that will.

Danny:  (WHAT?? You knew her for five seconds, and all she did was scream at you.)

Barnabas:  She will not rest in peace until it is found. You will discover that, Quentin.

Danny:  (WHAT?? You are an impostor and a vampire; why are you openly threatening people with your knowledge of the supernatural?)

709 barnabas rachel josette

And then the very next thing that he does is go downstairs to the drawing room and meet the new governess, who he says looks just like the portrait of Josette Collins at the Old House. (WHAT??)

He gives her a thumbnail sketch of Josette’s life — she came from Martinique to marry his namesake, she married his uncle instead, and Barnabas killed his uncle in a duel. Then they have a little moment, reflecting on this tragic story.

Rachel volunteers that she’s fascinated by the past, and he gets all flustered and choked up about that, and HOW IS THIS HELPING DAVID??

709 dark shadows quentin shambles

But Barnabas can’t help it. He’s getting sucked into these stories, for the same reason that we are: They’re good stories. The characters are funny and sexy and complicated, and they all have secrets which are being slowly revealed to us, scene by scene. We want to know more about these people, and Barnabas is our way in.

At this point, we’ve forgotten David too. Either he’s doing fine or he’s not doing fine, but Barnabas and Quentin are yelling at each other right now, and who is David again?

When you’re in the middle of a story, there is a higher law than common sense. It doesn’t matter whether stirring up an exaggerated conflict between Barnabas and Quentin is logical or not. Barnabas is the main character and Quentin is the antagonist, and they both look fantastic when they’re glaring at each other. Let’s make them fight.

So, as always, Barnabas does not have a plan, because the writers do not have a plan — or if they do, it’s an emergent plan that arises naturally out of the scripts that they’re writing this week.

Sam Hall wrote yesterday’s script, and decided that it would be exciting to end the episode with Barnabas giving Quentin a one-hour deadline and then marching out the door. And he was absolutely correct; it was a fantastic, very Dark Shadowsy moment.

But then Sam started writing today’s script, and realized that there was nothing to do with that one-hour deadline except to have Barnabas walk back into the house an hour later for a progress report, which is not compelling and kind of makes him look silly. So Sam skipped that part, and put Barnabas in a scene with Judith instead.

709 dark shadows quentin barnabas smile

So I always think it’s funny when Dark Shadows fans get all worried about big-picture contradictions, like whether Edith died in 1840 or 1897. This is a television show that is riddled with contradictions, all the way down to the micro level.

Barnabas and Quentin forget about the one-hour deadline, which means they can’t stay consistent from one episode to the next. Then Quentin flip-flops on whether he cares about Barnabas’ accusations, which means they can’t stay consistent within a single scene. And then Barnabas opens his mouth, and contradictions tumble off his tongue and fill up all the empty spaces with sentence structures that almost, but don’t quite, make sense.

Because, as the man said, your grandmother, certainly, from what I’ve heard, was not the sort of woman who said, when she was going to do something, that she didn’t do it.

I couldn’t agree more.

Tomorrow: Been Caught Stealing.


Footnotes:

There wasn’t a place in today’s post to discuss this, but today’s episode introduces Dirk, the estate’s groundskeeper, and he’s played by Roger Davis, an actor who cannot keep his hands to himself if there’s a woman around. He has a scene with Beth where he grabs her and pushes her around like a sack of potatoes. Actually, if you saw a guy doing what he does to a sack of potatoes, you’d still probably tell him to take it easy.

Also, at the start of act 2, Quentin tells his sister Judith, “You always were a scaredy-cat, I remember that. I always hated playing with you.” Joan Bennett was 31 years older than David Selby.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Judith explains to Barnabas, “She didn’t believe in showing emotion. She said we simply had to live through what we had to go through, and hold our heads high.”

Somebody coughs as Barnabas enters Quentin’s room.

When Quentin comes out of the drawing room to surprise Dirk, you can see a studio light at the top of the frame. They’ve been having a hard time keeping boom mics and studio lights out of shots, because David Selby is so tall.

When Dirk tells Quentin that he heard someone in his room, Quentin steps on his line.

Tomorrow: Been Caught Stealing.

709 dark shadows quentin barnabas shambles

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

14 thoughts on “Episode 709: Forget You

  1. Why does Quentin not have a bed in either of his rooms? Does he have /another/ room that he sleeps in? Does he have a whole suite of rooms in the west wing?

  2. I will say that Barnabas’s concern for David doesn’t ring very true. He waffles about that a lot, going from wanting him dead, to not caring, to wanting to save him to forgetting all about him. What does stay true is his desire to find Josette 2.0. I figure his concern for David was mostly because Maggie actually cared about David, so he had to make the effort. Once Vicki was gone he needed another pretty young thing to turn into Josette and with Maggie he doesn’t even have to leave the property. Then he hits 1897, meets Rachel and has a Josette look alike who he never kidnapped and tried to brainwash and therefore can’t suddenly remember that he’s a monster and run screaming from him. So David is yesterday’s news and it’s time to have a go at Rachel.

  3. This period in 1897 is interesting because as pointed out Barnabas is actively antagonizing Quentin. Sure, when they met Quentin tried to kill him, but it would be useful to try to gain his confidence or at least his mild tolerance. It would also prevent Quentin going and doing something desperate like accidentally summoning the ex-wife from hell literally from hell.

    So, yes, Barnabas has no plan, and we don’t care because the story is so much fun. Basically, 1897 at this point is a reboot of Barnabas’s arrival from 1967 but far more engaging — the Collins family is cooler, the governess he loves is more fun, and there are gypsies. Heck, Quentin is a Victorian version of Burke Devlin.

    And when a werewolf shows up later, it’s mostly because the werewolf in the present day had been great. The writers even bring back two classic female villains. It’s a true greatest hits but done beautifully.

  4. The one thing to remember is that when it comes to make plans, Barnabas consistently channels Baldric, and so he thinks that his plans are “cunning”.

    The way he interferes with past history, it would not surprise me that when he got back, he found that humanity had been enslaved by a 100 foot giraffe.

  5. In keeping with the theme “DS is a comedy” it makes sense to make Barnabas a busybody who is discovering the joys of poking his nose into everybody else’s business. Also he begins to show Felix Unger tendencies… all he needs now is an Oscar Madison, and we are set.

  6. At least in 1840, he stands on the sidelines for the most part until the moment when its the right time (being Quentins lawyer). Although that turned out to be helpful as the same verdict happened as originally. For all its faults 1840 does appear to be a tightly constructed storyline like 1795 was.

    Barnabas should realize he that he doesn’t have to do anything but watch events proceed.

    In 1988, One Live to Live sent Clint Buchanan to his family’s past, in 1888 Old West. He also interfered with everything and almost wiped his wife’s family out of existence.

  7. I always got the feeling that Quentin just sort of “spread” over the whole West wing. I remember he gets peeved when Judith moves him to the Green room near the end of the sequence.

    As to the age difference, it’s pretty clear that Judith is much, much younger than Joan Bennett is. I can’t imagine Judith is much older than 40. If they wanted to keep her Joan’s age, they could/should have made her an aunt or something. But what fun would that be?

  8. They may have given Barnabas back his “bite” in returning him to the role of vampire, but what is missing in this 1969 retread of his 1967 “arrival” at Collinwood is his range. That is, his gifts as a Shakespearean actor are being wasted so that instead he can stand hapless before the point of a sword as Quentin puts on his histrionic show as guardian of the estate, or being the straight man in Carl’s practical joking.

    David Selby may be the new and enduring teen idol on the show, but as for acting expression he is all bluster and sideburns. Jonathan Frid, on the other hand, is all about elocution. The range is all in the voice. Frid may have missed or garbled every other one of his lines, but when he was on, he was truly on. Like when Julia keeps goading Barnabas about why Sara won’t appear to him and he comes after her to strangle her, expressing the full menace of which Barnabas was capable with the gruff and dramatic words, “No more words, doctor! You’ve done them too much!” Or in 1795 as Sara is dying in his arms and he utters, “Sarah, no!”, his voice crackling with the depth of his ultimate loss.

    Jonathan Frid could do more with a mere three syllables than David Selby could do in a whole week’s worth of bellowing rants. There is a reason why Dark Shadows is widely known as a vampire soap opera and not a werewolf soap opera. It can be summed up in one word: elocution.

  9. I have to disagree with a lot of what was posted. Barnabas never planned to time travel to 1897 – he just wanted to contact Quention. So, the fact that he is flailing around is quite understandable. He never had a plan and never claimed to have a plan.

    Also, there is no way to know for Barnabas to know if he is changing history or is just a part of established history – he doesn’t have enough facts. That’s the ultimate question in time travel stories. Take, for example the will. Danny says Barnabas should stay out. But, he’s already involved – he set this in motion when he met Edith and frightened her. Maybe, originally, she died later and Quention never got the will. Or maybe, this happening exactly as it originally did. We don’t know and neither does Barnabas.

  10. One other blooper–When Quentin runs upstairs after Dirk tells him he heard someone in his room, you can see David Selby’s legs stop halfway up the stairs, most certainly because he needed to come back down to hurry over to the set for the next scene. The landing remains in the shot for the rest of the scene between Dirk and Beth, so we never see Quentin complete his walk upstairs and through the door to the second floor.

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