“I don’t understand it any more than you do, but I believe it.”
Okay, let me see if I have this right.
There’s a God — a Great Sun God named Amen-Ra — and he really exists, because it turns out the ancient Egyptians were right on the money. Tens across the board for the ancient Egyptians. They looked up into the sky, and they said, the sun is a boat, and Ra crosses the sky every day and looks down on the world that he created, before high-tailing it back over to the east so he can do it again with the moon. The moon is a boat too; they’re both boats. Everything in the sky is a boat.
Also, there’s a giant serpent named Apep that lurks just below the horizon, who tries to attack Ra’s solar boat, stopping it with his hypnotic stare and threatening to eat the sun. Luckily, every evening, the serpent is defeated by Set, the god of the desert, as described in The Books of Overthrowing Apep, which includes chapters on Spitting Upon Apep, Defiling Apep with the Left Foot, Taking a Lance to Smite Apep and Putting Fire Upon Apep. That will teach Apep a thing or two, is the basic attitude of the ancient Egyptians.
And according to the vampire soap opera that we’re currently watching, all of that is totally true. That is the way that the world works. The boat, the snake, the left foot, everything.
Well, I’m sorry, but I just don’t see it. With all due respect to the ancient Egyptians, there’s something about that story that doesn’t quite ring true for me.
But here’s Barnabas Collins, standing near a lit candle and calling on the power of Amen-Ra — prince of light and radiance, creator of all things, bright flame of fires mighty in splendor — and wouldn’t you know it, it totally works. Amen-Ra is still in the office, and he takes Barnabas’ call. It’s the damnedest thing.
Unfortunately, having opened up a communication channel with the creator of all things, the only thing Barnabas can think about is his weird feud with Laura, a fire demon who’s been prowling around the grounds recently, pretending to be a woman. It’s like if suddenly Leonardo da Vinci is on the phone, and you ask him if Dancing with the Stars is an elimination episode tonight. You can’t think of anything else to talk about?
Anyway, Barnabas manages to summon one of Laura’s past incarnations to appear in living Chromakey right here in the drawing room. This apparition scares Barnabas’ friend Charity so much that she rushes out of the house, passing Quentin, who’s rushing in. The spell breaks and Laura disappears, so the whole exercise was pretty much a waste of time. On the up side, now Quentin is in his house, so maybe Barnabas is smarter than I thought he was.
If you’re joining us late, Quentin is the smoking-hot charisma machine who recently joined the show, and he is basically the reason for television. He’s sexy and funny and exciting, and everything he says is interesting, so according to the fierce natural selection pressures of serialized narrative, he needs to be on screen as much as possible.
Barnabas arrived in the late 19th century two months ago, and so far, he and Quentin have been uniformly hostile to each other. Barnabas knows that Quentin’s ghost is going to haunt the Collins family in 1969, murdering people and rearranging their hairstyles without permission, and Barnabas disapproves of that kind of behavior. It’s taken him a while to come around to the idea that Quentin is awesome, and he can murder anybody he likes.
But his attitude changes this week, and specifically in this episode, and even more specifically in the next five minutes.
“You began the evening by stealing a book from my room,” Quentin says, fixing Barnabas with one of his panty melting smirks.
“I borrowed the book,” Barnabas replies, except on the inside he’s going oh my god oh my god Quentin Collins is in my house, he’s totally in my house right now!!!
“All right, you borrowed the book,” says Quentin. “Why?”
Barnabas turns away, not sure what to say. I bet he’s already forgotten what they’re talking about; he’s just thinking about what he’s going to tell the Great Sun God Amen-Ra about this, the next time they see each other.
“I’m interested in your subsequent activities,” Quentin says.
“Yes, I’m sure you are,” says Barnabas, thinking oh my god he’s interested in my activities!!
Quentin puts his hands in his pockets — another killer pose — and says, “Would you mind very much if we lighted a few more candles, since your curious ceremony is over? We don’t need to be in darkness, do we?” The answer to that question is no. Or yes, whichever. It doesn’t matter. Light more candles. That sounds like a really good idea.
Now, Quentin saw Charity run out of the house as he was coming in, so he asks Barnabas what she was doing here.
“Miss Trask and I happen to be nothing more than good friends,” Barnabas says.
“Oh?” Quentin asks. “Do you often use your ‘good friends’ in strange ceremonies, that send them shrieking off into the night?”
The answer to that question is yes, actually, he does do that quite often. That’s practically the only thing he ever does these days.
And then the flirting just gets ridiculously out of hand.
Quentin: May I please have my book?
Barnabas: Why? You’re not leaving, are you?
Quentin: There’s no reason for me to stay, is there?
Barnabas: I think so. I think we’re in a position to help each other, for once.
Barnabas: I’ll answer your questions, if you answer mine. Unless you’re afraid to tell me what you know about Laura Collins?
Quentin: No, I’m not afraid. But I would like to know why you are so interested in her. And what exactly were you doing, when I came in here?
Barnabas: I will tell you that in a moment. But first, you must answer this question: why you lied to me the other night.
Luckily, at this point Quentin actually starts saying things, because it seemed like we were heading for a stalemate. I’ll answer your questions, if you answer mine! Well, I’ll tell you that, but first you must answer this! But I would like to know… and so on. I mean, at a certain point you run out of candles.
Barnabas wants to know what happened to Quentin and Laura in Alexandria, and he asks if Quentin is afraid to talk about it. “No,” Quentin says. “Afraid that you won’t believe me.”
So Barnabas settles down in a chair and looks attentive, and Quentin tells him the story — that Laura was completely consumed in flames, and there’s no way she could have survived. But here she is, at Collinwood, apparently in perfect health.
Barnabas: That is astounding.
Quentin: I know. You think I’m mad.
Barnabas: No, Quentin. I believe you.
Quentin: You do?
Barnabas: I don’t understand it any more than you do, but I believe it.
And that’s what Barnabas offers to this partnership right now: belief. He doesn’t actually tell the whole truth — that he’s a vampire, and that he knew Laura in her 18th century persona. But for now, all Quentin needs is for someone to listen to his insane story, and believe it.
They both agree that Laura is a danger to the Collins children, and Barnabas suddenly decides that there’s an emergency.
Barnabas: Now, there’s something we must do immediately.
Barnabas: If my theory is correct, then the ceremony I performed should have a serious effect on her. We must get to the cottage immediately! It should be easy for us to determine if she’s had a severe shock this evening.
And then, without another word, Barnabas walks to the door, and Quentin follows him, which means that Barnabas and Quentin are playing Junior Detectives!
This is an extremely exciting development. Up until now, Julia is the only person who’s played Junior Detectives with Barnabas; it was their special secret game. If Quentin is playing Junior Detectives too, then that means they’re in love and this is the perfect television show.
Now, if you’re not familiar with Junior Detectives, this is how you play. First, you stand around and talk about how you think that somebody is totally fake and untrustworthy. Then you decide that you need more evidence, and you rush off somewhere to either confront them directly, or just break into their house and rummage around. Then you go back to starting positions, and talk some more about your suspicions. It’s basically just gossip, with time out in the middle for a fact-finding mission.
This round of Junior Detectives goes pretty much the way they usually do, which means they don’t actually learn anything but it’s nice to get some exercise. Laura’s had plenty of time to recover from the effects of Barnabas’ ceremony — maybe they shouldn’t have spent so long on the “no, first you answer this” phase of the evening. So when the Junior D squad gets to her cottage, there’s basically nothing to see.
They smirk at Laura, and Laura smirks back. It’s been a big week for smirking.
So they go back to the Old House for the post-game wrap-up, which they deliver while standing really, really close to each other.
Now, when they left, Barnabas said that it was super urgent that they get to the cottage immediately, so they could confirm that Laura really was affected by the ceremony. As far as they could tell, she wasn’t, but they still think she was anyway. That’s the great thing about the Junior Detectives, they don’t let a little thing like evidence get in the way. That’s the mistake that other detectives make, getting hung up on facts.
Quentin: What are we going to do?
Barnabas: We must find another answer.
Quentin: Where? How?
Barnabas: I was able to summon a ghost once. Perhaps it should be possible to do it again.
Quentin: In the same way?
Barnabas: No, it wouldn’t work a second time, but you are well-versed in the occult, Quentin. You are familiar with ways of exorcising ghosts.
That’s an interesting postulate, by the way, that it wouldn’t work a second time. I guess the Great Sun God Ra gets bored easily.
The wrap-up concludes with an inspirational pep talk.
Quentin: I’m not sure I’m that well versed in it.
Barnabas: Well, think about it, because we haven’t got much time!
Quentin: Why not?
Barnabas: Well, if she’s a person of the supernatural, then she is truly dangerous. We’d better do something about her, before she does something about us!
So there you go; that’s the Junior Detectives motto right there. “We’d better do something about her, before she does something about us!” They should put that on T-shirts.
It wasn’t actually urgent to rush over to Laura’s and find new evidence. The urgent need was to give Barnabas and Quentin something to work on together. And that’s how it’s done; Barnabas and Quentin: best friends forever. The only game that’s really worth playing on Dark Shadows is called Stand Next to Barnabas, and it looks like we have a new world champion.
Tomorrow: Crazy Little Thing.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
There’s a brief shot of the boom mic at the top right when Quentin walks across the Old House drawing room to light candles.
When Quentin tells Barnabas about Alexandria, there’s a clanking sound in the studio.
Before Laura reappears in the cottage, the camera pulls back on a shot of Dirk, revealing the boom mic hanging above him.
Laura says that they can’t see the portrait, and Barnabas asks, “Has it been gone somewhere?”
When Laura begins her incantation to contact Jenny, there are lots of footsteps in the studio, followed by a brief shriek of feedback.
Tomorrow: Crazy Little Thing.
— Danny Horn