Episode 712: The Neverending Story

“Tell me what you meant by what you said to me.”

Hey, guess who’s out on parole? It’s Angelique, freshly sprung from the flames of the netherworld, conducting an impromptu lecture tour in other people’s houses.

Barnabas and the gypsies are out at the moment, doing god knows what, so Angelique just lets herself in via Chromakey so she can stand there in the drawing room and express herself.

“It’s been a long time, Barnabas,” she says to Barnabas, who isn’t there. “Long enough to have put me out of your mind. Oh, but you’re still in my thoughts.”

“And so are you,” she spits, turning to address the portrait of Josette, which is hanging placidly over the fireplace, minding its own business. “You, with your innocent eyes, that were always so startled when they looked on evil. Well, here it is again! Look at me again!”

Holding herself erect, she declares, “I am Angelique — and I HATE you!”

So it’s a good thing Barnabas isn’t around, because honestly, imagine coming home and finding this in your front parlor. Seriously, you came all the way over to my house to yell at the decor?

712 dark shadows rachel barnabas music box

But it’s a frustrating situation for Angelique, I get that. You go to all the trouble to claw your way out through the hellfire and back onto the surface of the earth, and you find that everybody is doing exactly the same things they were doing when you left. Angelique was out of town for an entire century, and the night she gets back, wouldn’t you know it, another Josette is getting the music box routine.

“It’s been in the family a long time,” Barnabas says, and he should know; he’s been in the family a long time too. I don’t know where he found the music box this time. I guess it was wherever the last Josette dropped it, just before she threw herself off that iteration of Widow’s Hill.

No matter what time period he’s in, Barnabas always seems to be able to put his hands on Josette’s music box any time he wants it. Have you noticed that? There must be an area in the Old House that respawns the music box every time you walk in the room, like ammunition crates in Ratchet and Clank.

712 dark shadows rachel music box

She’s charmed by it, obviously. They always are. Music boxes are like catnip for Josettes; they go wild for it. You set ’em up with a music box, and they’re good for the day.

This one’s called Rachel, by the way. She’s a governess, which is apparently one of those professions that Josettes are particularly suited for. I think she’s an orphan too, which is also big in the Josette community. You can walk into any orphanage and it’s wall to wall Josettes, all posing for portraits and tumbling over precipices.

712 dark shadows barnabas rachel chair

Rachel opens the lid of the music box, and takes it for a spin. “I loved her very deeply,” Barnabas announces, perplexingly. “Does that surprise you?”

“But, Josette Collins,” Rachel says, “she lived a long time ago, didn’t she?”

He says, “Yes, she did. And in the brief time she was here, she was loved deeply and dearly… by my ancestor. I’ve always felt a kind of commitment to her. I hope you understand that.”

Notice how he keeps checking in with her every few sentences, because this is the kind of courtship where you’re going to want to make sure that it lands. Those questions are basically the equivalent of a gift receipt — if she doesn’t happen to grok his weird obsession with a girl in an oil painting, then he can take the music box back and wait for the next Josette to come along.

712 dark shadows angelique doll

So you can see how this is tough on Angelique. She just came back to town five minutes ago. Her first scene yesterday was exciting, as she bounced off Quentin and Evan in surprising ways. But then the next thing she did was go and do her Chromakey stand-up routine in the Old House drawing room, and then popped over to Collinwood just in time for the latest music box handoff.

Now she’s making dolls with pretty little necks, and honestly, the whole point of having Angelique in 1897 is to see her with 1897 people. This is another example of a self-referential Dark Shadows narrative collision where they’re actually borrowing plot points from themselves, grabbing a chunk of last year’s story and folding it back into the show. But we don’t need an actual rerun. Go find Quentin; make yourself useful.

712 dark shadows rachel barnabas choke

Because the question that we have to ask ourselves is: Do we, in fact, need another Josette?

We’ve already seen three Josettes on the show — Josette, Maggie and Vicki — and now Rachel is #4. We’re supposed to find this romantic and touching, but really it just makes Barnabas even more of a creepy predator than he already is. He’s basically stumbling into an elementary school, finding the skinny teacher with brown hair, and handing out music boxes with his phone number on the bottom.

This is frustrating for me, because I don’t actually think Josette is anything special. Obviously, she’s a vital part of Barnabas’ backstory, an age-old grievance that gives him that melancholy expression that the chicks seem to respond to. But when we met Josette in 1795, she didn’t really have a lot of characteristics to rub together. She was sweet, and pliable, but we never really found out what she liked about Barnabas.

And now it’s hard to say what Barnabas likes about Rachel. If we’re expected to care about the latest doomed romance, then we’re going to need more than a couple pleasant encounters and a resemblance to a portrait. Maybe she’s got a great sense of humor, or she can dance, or they’ve read all the same books. Give her a drum set, and see what happens. Anything, really.

But if this is all about how she looks like someone, then I don’t see how that’s going to scale, because we’re in the past, and everybody looks like someone.

712 dark shadows angelique dirk

This is especially true on this little trip through time, because the 1897 storyline is the moment that they start treating the Dark Shadows cast like a repertory company.

In 1795, Vicki went around saying, you look like Maggie, and Joe, and Burke, and Mrs. Johnson. Part of the premise of that time trip was that the lookalikes might have been Vicki’s muddled perspective. The resemblances could just be the way that Vicki saw them, a metaphor for her disorientation.

But 1897 is what it is. They’re using the theatrical convention that an actor can play multiple parts in a play, and you’re not expected to think that they’re the same character in different costumes. The characters are playing off the correspondences a bit — Liz and Roger are stlll part of the Collins family, Julia and Stokes are a wacky comedy team, and Evan’s resemblance to Nicholas Blair means that he can jump straight into a black mass ceremony with no questions asked.

But Barnabas doesn’t “notice” that these people look like Liz and Roger and whoever. He doesn’t meet Carl and exclaim, why,  Willie Loomis, what are you doing here? He just accepts them as separate characters.

712 dark shadows barnabas rachel lookalike

Except for the Josette lookalike, obviously, who’s Josette, and either you find that thrilling and romantic in a Last of the Mohicans “stay alive, no matter what occurs” kind of way, or you don’t. Personally, I don’t get that excited about it, because Barnabas and Josette weren’t really that red hot to begin with, compared to other scene partners.

Being Josette has never made a character more interesting, up to and including Josette. They just become kind of vague and distracted. It is not an improvement.

But, what the hell. If this is how Barnabas wants to spend his spare time, then I can’t stop him. I wonder what she’s going to say when she finds out that this is just his astral body, and he’s actually sitting in his basement seventy-two years from now, thinking about a door.

Tomorrow: The Staff Meeting.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Barnabas tells Rachel, “You just kept murmuring ‘Widow’s Hill’ time and again, until you — but you couldn’t say any more.”

Edward introduces Barnabas to Dirk Wilkins, saying, “If you need any help of any kind, Wilson — Wilkins is the man to see.”

Dirk completely dries up while he’s talking to Edward.

Dirk:  I asked her name, but she wouldn’t tell me.

Edward:  Did you find out what she was doing there?

Dirk:  (pause, sigh) I — I ask — (sigh, look at teleprompter) — but, uh —

Edward:  (trying to help) Did you —

Dirk:  Yes, sir, I did. She said she was here to meet your brother.

Just after that, Edward blows a line too: “He’s lucky enough to remain on the property himself, and now I suppose he wants her to — be put up with these people who — he attracted to.”

Tomorrow: The Staff Meeting.

712 dark shadows barnabas rachel josette

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

20 thoughts on “Episode 712: The Neverending Story

  1. There’s one more blooper that I love, when Angelique is in the cottage with Dirk. At the close of their encounter, Angelique turns, faces and steps toward the camera – but LP trips, just a bit, and bobbles. Yet she still holds that steely gaze with the camera.

    Also, Rachel recovers from choking before Angelique removes the knot of twine around the doll’s neck. Finally, how did Angelique manage to cast a spell on Rachel? In 1795, she always needed a personal belonging to hex someone. But 1897 Angelique has far more formidable powers – in a couple weeks, we’ll see, she can even raise the dead without a fuss or a muss.

    1. I think when we first meet Angelique in 1795, she’s human being who practices witchcraft, but after she comes back from the dead, and later on “The Netherworld” she’s much more powerful.

      1. That’s been my theory as well, but I added in a dash of “reborn with Miranda duVal’s spirit” to make sense of what happens later in the show.

        Of course, her powers are limited to whatever narrative purpose she needs to serve. 🙂

        1. I could see Angelique in the underworld bargaining for new powers with her master in the “Library”, where the shelves are stocked with Power Files, each with an evil deed attached that must be performed.

          Same for Nicholas, for that matter.

          Pity that they never explored such a story.

          Deals With The Devil. Who has a funny voice. Like a slowed down tape.

  2. Angelique as the vengeful ex-wife who disrupts any relationship Barnabas attempts to have is a classic soap opera trope. The problem is that Barnabas needs to actually be in a relationship we care about. I’ve always preferred the Phyllises to the Crickets and the Brookes to the Taylors but even the “good girls” in a soap relationship have to generate some heat with the male lead. Vicki/Josette/Maggie 2.0… etc. etc… never do.

    I thought that was one of the key weaknesses in the Dream Curse storyline — Cassandra threatening to make Barnabas a vampire again should have been a method of destroying the blissful happiness he had with Vicki, but Vicki never thought more of him as more than her gay best friend while she let herself be pawed by Jeff Clark. So, then the “tool” (Dream Curse) became the whole point.

    Narratively, the Angelique/Barnabas/Rachel triangle “works” in that we are supposed to believe that Rachel likes Barnabas. And we even have another obstacle with Quentin — whose intentions toward Rachel are hardly as “pure” as Barnabas’s. He just wants to have sex with her rather than transforming her into the image of his dead girlfriend… oh wait a minute.

    But although the story at least presents a relationship, the chemistry between the actors doesn’t deliver. This trope winds up playing to better effect between Angelique/Quentin/Charity/Beth/Amanda (wow, that’s quite a party there) because Quentin has chemistry with, well, everyone.

    Angelique and Barnabas work best as exes who have to deal with each other. The scenes between them, especially as 1897 heats up, are wonderful.

    1. Strongly agree! I loved the dynamic between Barnabas & Angélique at the end of 1897 through the Leviathans…and didn’t mind PT-Ang mixing it up a bit. But they screwed the pooch IMO making them enemies again, later.

  3. Aw, I got a tear in my eye when Barnabas gave Rachel the music box. 1795 Barnabas completely convinced me that he was deeply in love with Josette – it’s heart breaking that he keeps finding her and losing her time after time through the centuries.

  4. The thing that Roger Davis, or whatever he’s calling himself this week, seems to be wearing a normal 1970s 3 piece suit? Mustache 70s, Belt 70s, Suit jacket cut 70s. Did anyone check and see if he’s wearing loafers?

  5. Didn’t Roger Davis claim he never looked at the teleprompter?

    There should be a Dark Shadows drinking game involving bloopers.

    1. HAHA! I’ve thought of that myself. Only no one would be able to survive just five episodes, let alone remain conscious through a single DVD.

    2. In the early days, when people were prone to prone to that kind of thing, I used to take a full every time someone said half a line, posed dramatically, and yelled “…and you know it!!!!” Seriously, it happened a lot. It’s cropped up a bit in the last few weeks, but to nowhere near the same level.

  6. Maggie, Joe, Burke and Mrs Johnson were all long time residents of Salem – I can see how they may have inherited some of the Collins ‘blood lines’ – for example in 1795 Josette’s father Andre (David Ford) supposedly survived and may have settled in Collinsport and had another family which morphed into the Evans family. Burke and Joe were both born in Collinsport so could have been been the result of some pairing of the Collins and Forbes families (maybe Millicent got pregnant by Nathan and had the baby after she went crazy) – maybe Abigail had a secret fling with the good Reverand Trask and sent a child away to an orphanage. Willy and Julia were definitely outsiders – Ben Stokes probably started the bloodline which resulted in Matthew Morgan and Professor Stokes. Many interesting possibilities as to who is descended from whom (from a physical resemblance (not doppelganger) standpoint. Also Barnabas originally bought the music box back ‘from the Orient’ with him (that guy really got around in the 1700’s when travel was not only prohibitively expensive but time consuming and dangerous (Maine to the Orient – a year each way perhaps? Would have had to probably go around Cape Horn).

  7. Rather than a repertory company, i thought the show was trying to convey reincarnation, the idea that the Collins’ extended family was trapped in an ancestral circle in their insular world, the same people being born and reborn over and over, connecting in different ways in each lifetime. That includes their sphere of influence: Maggie/Josette/Rachel, Julia/Natalie/Magda, Willie/Carl and now Nicholas/Evan (there are so many more examples).

    B is the constant because he never dies; the same with Angelique, she just gets banished.
    Julia and Prof. Stokes having one lifetime as a gypsy couple still fits in the reincarnation theory. (btw LOVE Magda and Sandor…just had to throw that in there).

    Somebody mentioned the awkwardness of a sister and brother (Liz+Roger/Judith+Edward) being husband and wife in a previous life (Joshua+Naomi). Danny has pointed out that couples take many shapes and not necessarily romantic ones. What constitutes a soulmate? My mom’s soulmate was her sister. The extraordinary bond they shared must’ve have been built over many lives together in different forms.

  8. I was fascinated by the idea that, in 1795, that was not actually how the characters looked; it was just how Vicki saw them, and consequently how the audience saw them through her eyes. That breaks down a bit with Barnabas of course, but it actually holds nicely with Josette, who looks naff all like her portrait (and still does – not sure if that’s a deliberate attempt to convey just that idea, if there’s not the room in the budget for a more KLS-style do-over of the picture, or if no-one on the production team has noticed/cares). It also kind of explains why Barnabas was so ready to ditch all that hard work he put in with Maggie and start over with Vicki; he’s not really seeing their actual faces either – just that moody portrait, superimposed on their faces like dodgy CSO, slightly misaligned and tinged with blue.

    I got the impression, when Carl popped out of the wall, that Barnabas did see a resemblance to Willie – he asked if Carl was a Collins with some degree of incredulity. But really, if he doesn’t, then it’s the same trick from 1975 – we’re not seeing these people as they really appear. It’s just that now we don’t have a Vicki to explain why that might be… unless we’re the Vicki now.

    That must be it. The role has been recast so much that now we’re all Vicki. Every one of us.

    We all am become Vicki.

  9. Ugh! I don’t want to become Vicki. But re: Barnabas and Josette as a red hot couple: We are told that they are a supercouple, but we were never shown that they were. That’s never satisfying. This is the love affair that dominates the show for years, yet we never really saw it happen; we only know it in Jonathan Frid’s melancholy retelling of the story each time he meets a new Josette. Imagine how much more impactful it would have been had we been swept away by their original romance.

    1. I have a theory that in any new relationship you spend the first six months seeing how perfectly the beloved matches you and the next six months seeing all the things that drive you nuts. Barnabas never made it past the first 6 months. So every iteration of his romance is superficial having nothing to do with the object of his affections and everything to do with his idealized version of his grand passion.

  10. Angelique is part of one real supercouple and the other half isn’t Barnabas. It’s Josette. She revealed it herself in the run-up to the curse scene in 1795, when she told Barnabas how she seduced all of Josette’s boyfriends because she hated Josette so much. Then she caught herself and muttered something to Barnabas about loving him, but she’d already let the cat out of the bag. He and his family are collateral damage, her only real target is Josette. This time around she stands in the same room, almost on the same spot where she had blurted out that admission, and shouts at Josette’s portrait “I am Angelique and I hate you.”

    Barnabas is cursed to be Angelique’s shadow. He keeps trying to create new Josettes who will love him, as she keeps trying to create new Josettes whom she can hate. Neither can accept that Josette is dead and beyond their reach. For that matter, neither of them can execute even the simplest evil plan without making some ludicrously basic error. So Dirk Wilkins, an idiot, stumbles upon Angelique, interrupting her Rachel-strangling spell and revealing her presence to Barnabas earlier than she had planned. Pre-vampire Barnabas also seems to have been bad at making and implementing plans, but from the time of Angelique’s curse he has been carrying forward her tradition of incompetent villainy.

    1. That’s a very good observation. I’m reminded that Lara Parker makes Josette Angelique’s half-sister in one of her novels, (unfortunately, not canon), and it could make her motivation an intense case of sibling rivalry. Whatever her reason, I like your analysis.

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