Episode 726: The Comeback

“I would’ve thought it idiocy to assume that a praying bigot could turn a zombie into a man.”

Rounding the turn at the 1897 Dark Shadows Character Invitational, we find track favorite Quentin Collins showing signs of weariness. He got off to an astonishing start in the early weeks of the race, even against seasoned thoroughbreds like Barnabas Is a Vampire Again, and Julia Wearing a Wig.

But Quentin called in dead last week, spending Monday and Tuesday flat on his back, and the rest of the week stomping around as a mindless zombie. That’s been interesting and fun, and his bulging, sightless eyes have made for some chilling-slash-amusing moments. But you can’t rely on a gimmick like that for long, and by the end of the week, he’d taken it about as far as it could go. Quentin needs to get back up to speed if he’s going to qualify for the championship.

Stamina is everything on this course, because it’s a race that never actually ends. The horses just keep running around and around the track without stopping, only taking breaks for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the occasional assassination.

726 dark shadows quentin trask racing

So Quentin needs to find an exit hatch in this zombie story, and I mean now, because there’s a surprise competitor who just walked in and took over. It’s Reverend Gregory Trask, the lookalike great-great-grandson of that lunatic witch hunter who sent Vicki Winters to the gallows in 1795. This Trask runs a Dickensian boarding school for unfortunate children, and he’s hoping to sign up Jamison and Nora as new students.

Arriving at Collinwood smack in the middle of one of the family’s regular supernatural crises, Trask steps up and takes control of the situation. Somebody needs to get Quentin’s spirit out of Jamison, and back into Quentin where it belongs.

And guess what, he’s amazing at it. If Dark Shadows is a five-year televised hollering contest, and obviously that is exactly what it is, then Reverend Trask is the odds-on favorite. He is louder than you, and crazier than you, and he knows more words than you do.

“You must help me now!” he says, to nobody in particular. “Your will must not ignore this desperate child!” You have to love a guy who addresses the Almighty, and uses the word “must” twice in a row.

“LET THE DEVILS WITHIN HIM RETURN TO THE BODY THEY BELONG!” he yells. That command doesn’t really make sense, gramatically or theologically, but the only things that really count in this game are conviction and volume. “GIVE THIS POOR FALLEN LAMB THE STRENGTH TO PURGE HIMSELF! GIVE HIM THE STRENGTH!”

And then they cut to Quentin for a reaction.

726 dark shadows quentin reaction

I know, right? I can hardly believe it myself.

And Quentin has good reason to be alarmed. We are currently five minutes into this new week, and already Trask is way ahead of the pack.

726 dark shadows judith barnabas fight

Out in the foyer, Barnabas is doing his part for civil unrest by developing an instant and abiding hate-on for the Reverend, based entirely on Trask’s resemblance to his great-great-grandfather, which is manifestly unfair, because Barnabas killed Trask and not the other way around. But Barnabas Collins will not listen to reason.

“The so-called Reverend Trask,” he grumbles. “I find it difficult to believe that any church would claim him.” Judith points out that Barnabas has a smart mouth for a guy who only arrived here a short time ago. He retorts, “If I’d only been here a matter of a few hours, I would’ve thought it idiocy to assume that a praying bigot could turn a zombie into a man.”

And they just stand around in the foyer like that, squabbling away. At one point, Judith says, “You have no right to speak to me in that manner!” and Barnabas says, “Someone must!” Everybody in this episode is about two seconds away from socking everybody else in the mouth.

726 dark shadows quentin trask failed

Trask finally opens the drawing room doors, and Barnabas growls, “Well, Trask? Have you FAILED?” And things just get grouchier from there. Pretty much every line from here on is an attack on somebody; I’ll hit the highlights.

Amazingly, Trask’s exorcism actually worked; Jamison is himself, and Quentin is alive again. The last thing he remembers is being stabbed, so he jumps right in.

Quentin:  Did you find her, Judith? Lock her up?

Trask:  (putting a comforting hand on Quentin’s shoulder) Mr. Collins, I would not suggest too much activity.

Quentin:  Who are you? Judith, some new flunky? (Trask glowers.)

Judith:  Quentin, you owe Reverend Trask a great deal.

Quentin:  Reverend? Well. (He smirks.) Have you told him I never pay my debts? I thought you were a doctor. Hasn’t anyone had the sense to send for a doctor? I’ve been stabbed!

Barnabas:  I think you’ll find that time has healed your wounds considerably.

Quentin:  Time? It just happened, in the cottage. Didn’t you find me there?

Trask:  Mrs. Collins, I was not aware that there had been an attempted MURDER here!

Judith:  Reverend —

Trask:  I don’t think this should be discussed in front of the boy!

Jamison:  Who tried to stab you, Quentin? WHO?

Quentin:  (raises an eyebrow) Tell him, Judith.

(Judith looks guilty.)

Jamison:  (to Judith) Did you? DID YOU?

Judith:  JAMISON!

726 dark shadows jamison judith fight

Oh, it’s amazing. Five people, flawed and angry, interrogating each other at top volume. This is why we have soap operas, so that every once in a while you can organize a crowd scene like this.

726 dark shadows trask dominates

And, amazingly, Trask still dominates. He tells Barnabas and Quentin that if they want to discuss the murder, they’ll have to do it in another room. Then he tells Jamison to think about all the wonderful things that Judith has done for him, and makes him wait out in the foyer. And it works; everybody just does what Trask says.

Judith thanks him for what he’s done, and he says, “It was not my power, Mrs. Collins. I am grateful that in His providence, He used me.” It’s terrific. Trask is running the table.

726 dark shadows trask judith camera

You would think, in an episode where Quentin literally comes back from the dead and instantly starts telling secrets about his own murder, that he would be the marquee character for the day. Quentin’s been the most interesting person on the show for five weeks straight, and this is clearly a moment when everybody should be clustering around and paying attention to him.

But the most important person in the room is Trask. He shoos Quentin and Barnabas out of the room — the two of them clearly about to discuss supernatural marital problems — and instead of following them, we stay with Trask. Then he pushes Jamison out into the foyer, and again we stay with Trask.

This is how a television show signals who the audience should be paying attention to. They point a camera at him, and leave it running.

726 dark shadows quentin barnabas conference

We have to wait until after the commercial break, but we eventually get to Barnabas and Quentin’s conference in the study. They both agree that Trask couldn’t really be responsible for Quentin’s miraculous discovery, but Barnabas is cagey about his suspicions. Then things take a turn towards the personal.

Barnabas:  Tell me about your wife.

Quentin:  I married young.

Barnabas:  Did you know she was still here?

Quentin:  A girl… beautiful, quite talented in her own way… a girl of unknown origin, as Edward so succinctly put it.

Barnabas:  Did you drive her mad?

So this is how far they have to go, just to get you to forget about Trask for a minute. Backstory secrets and pushy questions, getting everybody’s temper up again.

726 dark shadows quentin barnabas fight

Quentin’s not having it.

Quentin:  Why this constant curiosity about my life? If I wanted you to know everything about me, I would make you a friend.

Barnabas:  When actually, you’ve been interested in making me an enemy.

Quentin:  Your fault!

This is what Barnabas and Quentin do these days, just stand around and analyze their relationship. The writers seem to think that we have an infinite appetite for this sort of thing, and they are one hundred percent correct.

726 dark shadows quentin barnabas kiss

And they keep setting up shots like this, with Barnabas and Quentin looking into each other’s eyes. Everyone knows that if two people stare at each other for more than a few seconds, they’re either going to make love or kill each other, and on a vampire show, it’s probably both.

Barnabas:  I’m willing to help you.

Quentin:  Why?

Barnabas:  Because you and I can be useful to each other.

Quentin:  Wrong! Whenever I think of you, I only think of one thing: What does he want from me?

The answer to that question doesn’t really matter, of course. The important thing is how often Quentin thinks of Barnabas.

726 dark shadows quentin barnabas simmer

So this is what’s happening on Dark Shadows these days, just twenty-two minutes of simmering aggression, five times a week. This is Dark Shadows, red in tooth and claw. Just the way I like it.

Tomorrow: Nick and Jane.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Barnabas was wearing his overcoat at the end of Friday’s episode. In today’s reprise, he’s not wearing it.

When Jamison falls to the floor during the exorcism, he falls next to an X of yellow tape indicating the blocking.

Immediately after Jamison falls, Trask kneels down next to him, and then you can see somebody’s shadow moving on the right side of the screen.

After Quentin says, “Are you sure you’re still in charge of this house, Judith?” and walks to the door, a boom mic zips overhead at the top left of the screen.

At the beginning of Trask and Jamison’s chat in Jamison’s room, you can hear footsteps of people walking around in the studio.

In Friday’s episode, there was a shot of the clock in the foyer, showing 9:00pm as Trask began his exorcism of Quentin and Jamison. The action continues in today’s episode — the exorcism, the aftermath, several conversations upstairs and downstairs. Then in the middle of act 3, Trask announces that he’ll be back in an hour for the family’s decision. He notes that the time on the clock in the foyer is exactly 9:00.

In act 3, when the camera focuses on the clock face striking ten, you can see the top of Barnabas’ head as he rushes by the clock to get into his place for the next shot.

Barnabas tells Trask, “An authority of our family brought in — someone who knew about witches.” Then he takes a look at the teleprompter before he can go on. The line should have been “brought in an authority on witches.”

There’s a crackling sound over the end credits.

Tomorrow: Nick and Jane.

726 dark shadows trask jamison kneel

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

22 thoughts on “Episode 726: The Comeback

  1. This episode is perhaps unintentionally symbolic, as Trask replaces Quentin as the series heavy/villain (he also replaces him in one other way I won’t reveal here). Trask is a wonderful villain — not a pawn of a witch or warlock like his ancestors but decidedly and willfully evil. He’s also effective in that he’s the type of character for whom it makes sense that Quentin, Barnabas, and even Edward would eventually detest for their own unique reasons.

    Quentin awakes from his “zombie” state as the series “anti-hero.” He has all the same “bad boy” flaws we love about him but his more sinister motivations are gone: No more stealing wills, for example. That sort of intent has been shifted to Trask.

    There is also a battle brewing for control of the storyline. They try to keep Barnabas front and center and even try to remind us again that he’s actually a vampire — that after all is what separates him from Barnabas the Butler. But Quentin has a compelling edge whenever he’s on screen and it’s starting to dominate. Even Barnabas’s hatred of Trask is not truly personal but transferred from another character. Quentin is the one who would truly want to prevent Trask from taking Jamison away.

    1897, at a certain point, becomes completely about Quentin with Barnabas as a strong secondary character.

  2. A better title for this episode is “Old Time Religion” ’cause that is what the dear Reverend is bringing to Collinwood — hallelujah!!! Can I get an ‘Amen’???!!!

    The problem I have with the whole Jenny-Quentin thing is I can’t believe for one second that he’d have ever been attracted to her, much less marry her.
    Marie Wallace is a very domineering presence and Q. seems to go for those weak, pretty little things like Rachel and later, Amanda.
    Jenny would have driven Quentin crazy, not the other way around.

    1. I also don’t entirely buy Quentin marrying young or at all. It’s possible he settled down to remain in his grandmother’s good graces, but that would make more sense if Jenny had been the emotionally unstable daughter of a prominent family and Quentin was pushed into the match. But given what we discover of Jenny, there would have been no gain for Quentin. It didn’t seem like the sort of thing he’d do just to piss off Edward because he’s the one who’d be “stuck” with a wife.

      I do think Wallace, when cleaned up, is a nice match for Quentin (she’s built sort of like Beth) but I don’t see any reason why Quentin wouldn’t have just treated her like one of his “cottage girls.”

      1. This may be one of those story points that only make sense from the out-of-universe perspective. They’re doing Jane Eyre, so they need a secret wife in the attic. They plant clues that it’s Edward’s wife, but they have something else in mind for her.

        And it’s just an irresistible moment: “She isn’t Edward’s wife! She’s Quentin’s wife!” There’s no way that this writing team would let that opportunity slip by.

        The backstory of Quentin being an unfaithful husband is totally in character, and the fact that his conquests included his sister-in-law and his wife’s maid is appropriately reckless. But yeah, it’s hard to imagine him getting married in the first place.

        I think the only way to swallow that is just to recognize the out-of-universe explanation. There isn’t an iin-universe answer.

  4. »The writers seem to think that we have an infinite appetite for this sort of thing, and they are one hundred percent correct.«

    All it needs for my book is to go slashfic, and we’ve got a winner!!

    Love this episode – and love the eventual reveal of Trask’s benefactor in this mess. I have often speculated that not for Barnabas’ intercession, Trask wouldn’t have been a force in the house in 1897 at all, and perhaps, even Minerva would not have died.

  5. The ever-reliable Rev. Trask, who, regardless of what time period it is, or which “parallel time” we’re in, always makes life in Collinwood more entertaining. Unlike a certain present day crusading Christian, no one ever has to say to Rev. Trask, “Do your job! Do your job!”

  6. I’ve always taken it as Quentin married Jenny on a total whim, drunken spree in Vegas kind of thing, played with her til he got bored and then went looking for new toys.

  7. We grew to actually like the first Reverend Trask–not in 1795, mind you, but in 1968 when battling Cassandra and later Nicholas–so much so that we rooted for him as he went after Cassandra and finally destroyed her at the tree of fire, and then again when Nicholas summons him to do his bidding and reveal what he has done with Cassandra and where Nicholas might find her. But instead, the resolution for that incarnation of Trask is victory at last, over the witch and over Blair as he fends Nicholas off with a cross and dematerializes with a triumphant gale of laughter. At least the first Trask had redeeming qualities–he meant well.

    But yet another would-be villain in David Selby’s portrayal of Quentin has become a huge hit with the fans, so someone must be brought in for balance as an antagonist the audience must feel unrelenting opposition toward–and that can’t be Angelique at this point. We have already been rooting for her at times, and we will need to at least like her enough so that we’ll want to have her back again and again.

    So they have written this Trask as someone so despicable that it’s hard to believe that Gregory Trask could be cut from the same cloth as the first Trask, who, at least, had principle and moral virtue. But with Gregory Trask, even his hair is annoying, especially in close-ups. His hair is such an unappealing and deathly powdery gray that it looks as if he sneezed all over himself while cleaning out a dusty broom closet. Even Petofi’s hirsute ball of wool is less annoying than that of Gregory Trask. So, on with the show, as we live through nearly all of 1897 in real time.

    1. Maybe it’s because I just read the autobiography “Mississippi Sissy” by Kevin Sessums, where he tells the story of how he was molested by a minister when he was somewhere around Jamison’s age – but, I found it a bit creepy that the Rev. Trask wanted to have a private conversation with Jamison in the boy’s bedroom. It was also more than astonishing that when they cut to Jamison’s bedroom later (after he and Trask had had their private discussion), that in the opening shot, Jamison is closing up his bathrobe and tying the belt. Was some some of molestation being implied here? My jaw dropped.

      1. Spooky – I was thinking the same thing, and here in the past is my name-twin actually saying it.

        I know Trask is meant to be generally sinister, and I’m not sure how much of the creepiness of his interaction with Jamison was intentional and how much comes from perhaps more modern perspective, but it definitely struck me as disturbing.

        1. I do think they were inviting the audience to suspect that the abuse Trask inflicts on his charges might include sexual contact. After all, 1969 was the heyday of pop culture Freudianism, and audiences were conditioned to read sexually repressed characters as likely to let their pent-up energies out in hideous ways- the classic example is Norman Bates in PSYCHO. Rachel’s story about how wildly severe the punishment was for private contact between a boy and girl (30 days locked in a cupboard!) would certainly cast Trask in that light.

  8. They would’ve been better off to make the original Trask a great great uncle. The original admitted that “physical love” was incomprehensible to him, so I have a difficult time imagining him procreating.

  9. It was way too gross when Trask told Jamison he wanted to take him back to his room to talk to him alone and Judith gave him her blessing! There was no reason for them to have a private meeting unless it was for nefarious purposes. It was good of them to show what happened in the room to relieve our fears. I liked Jamison standing up to him telling him he didn’t want to go to his school and he didn’t like him.

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