“I’m not going to jail for anything I didn’t mean to do!”
Well, it’s all fun and games until you throttle someone to death, isn’t it?
Poor little rich boy Quentin Collins has been all wound up lately, because he learned that the wife he’d thought he discarded was still living in his house, jilted and angry and mad as a moonfly. So he did what any high-spirited guy would do, namely carry a garrote around in his pocket and tell absolutely everyone that he sees that he’s planning to murder Jenny the first chance he gets.
So guess what? Jenny sees him kissing another woman and comes at him with a knife, and he disarms her and then chokes her to death. There’s definitely an element of self-defense in there somewhere, but it’s excessive use of force at best.
And considering how he’s been telling everybody that he wants to kill her, it’s not going to be easy to convince a jury that it was an accident. Luckily, law enforcement basically doesn’t exist on this show anymore, so it probably won’t come up.
This is a delicate moment in the continuing story of how Dark Shadows gets the audience excited about this new character. We’ve spent months falling desperately in love with Quentin, and he just murdered a woman in front of our eyes.
Now, that’s not uncommon for this show — practically every character is guilty of at least attempted murder at one time or another. That’s just the cost of doing business. But this is a particularly brutal, non-supernatural, on camera choke-a-lady type murder, broadcast to an audience of children at four o’clock in the afternoon.
So they do something interesting here, to soften the blow: they turn Quentin into a child.
He runs away. He sits and looks at his hands. He packs a bag and tries to sneak out of the house. And his defense is “I didn’t mean to do it,” which is the most childish possible response short of putting his fingers in his ears and hiding under the table.
He’s been joking about killing Jenny for a week, but he stops joking now. He’s a scared little boy, who’s never actually had to face the consequences of anything that he’s ever done.
I mean, let’s look at his record. He marries an entirely unsuitable girl, and doesn’t tell anybody about it until it’s already happened. He has multiple affairs, using the cottage as his bachelor pad. He runs off with his brother’s wife, on an all-expense-paid trip to Egypt. While he’s there, he betrays her to some kind of fire cult, and leaves her for dead. And then he comes back home, still smiling, and expects everybody else to deal with it.
And they do, other people just take care of everything. His wife gives birth to twins and then goes insane, so his brother and sister lock her away, give the kids to a woman in town, and tell everyone to keep quiet about it. By the time Quentin comes home, it’s all cleaned up. Jenny’s gone, and he doesn’t even know about the children.
He moves on to a new set of sins — choking his grandmother, stealing her will, practicing voodoo, sexually harassing the domestic staff, and wearing fake muttonchops. People snark at him and give him the hairy eyeball now and again, but he keeps smiling, and he gets away with everything. For all his swagger, he’s never had to actually deal with anything difficult.
And the show continues to enable that behavior, by displacing all of the responsibility onto his brother. Edward looks over the crime scene, and instantly organizes a cover-up — destroying evidence, contaminating the crime scene, inventing alibis, and dictating a cover story that everybody has to learn.
Edward is taking on the adult role here, except obviously not the part about taking responsibility for your own actions and following the law. But he’s got a loud voice and acts paternal, which means Quentin gets to stay the confused little boy.
The cover story is tissue-thin — Jenny tripped and fell down the stairs, and then walked into Beth’s room and died. But Edward insists that they can make everyone believe this, because in his world there’s no such thing as an autopsy and police officers don’t have eyes.
Really, for all his grand speeches, Edward is just as irresponsible and selfish as Quentin is. He thinks he can tell the police anything he likes, and they’ll have no choice but to believe it, and protect the family from scandal. He’s the one who decided to take Jenny’s children away and lock her up in the first place, so he’s not big on facing consequences either.
At this point, the only justice on the show is the justice of the playground — taunting and teasing and giving mean looks. Jenny’s sister instantly figures out that Quentin is responsible, because she’s intelligent enough to look at the crime scene and ask more than one question. But she has no interest in snitching to the police or the principal or whoever’s supposed to be in charge of recess. She has other ways of solving problems.
“I will set a curse on you, Quentin!” she says. “A curse that will last all the days of your life. You will suffer, as she suffered! You will wish that you are as dead as she is! But it will not be possble. It will not be possible!” And then she drops the mic and walks out.
But that doesn’t actually mean anything. Quentin is a rich kid, and nothing bad ever happens to him. According to the law of the schoolyard, sticks and stones can break your bones, but words will never hurt you. Right? Somebody get him a stick and a stone, just in case.
Tomorrow: The Big Break.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Edward tells Quentin, “Barnabas is a member of this family; he has a sense of family pride! Even if he knew the truth, I’m confident that he would remain secret.”
When Magda says she’ll tell the police, Edward snaps, “I would think tice before saying that, if I were you.”
At the end of the show, when Beth runs out of the drawing room, you can see the camera and teleprompter in the foyer.
Tomorrow: The Big Break.
— Danny Horn