“I want to stay here, and watch them be destroyed one by one.”
So the lesson, I suppose, is don’t murder your wife, because it could turn out that she’s secretly a gypsy, and her siblings will trick you into drinking a magic potion. I mean, there are probably other reasons not to murder your wife, but that’s the one that comes to mind at the moment.
Just ask Quentin Collins, who recently killed his wife Jenny during an argument about whether she should stab him in the face or not. Jenny’s sister Magda, who’s been living on the estate as kind of an all-purpose comedy menial, has risen up in protest, determined to prove that gypsy lives matter. The curse has come upon him, as Quentin will discover when the sun goes down.
There’s something very satisfying about a fable like this, where the powerless turn the tables on their oppressors. Everybody thought they could boss the gypsies around, or buy their silence. Quentin offered them ten thousand dollars to call off the curse and leave town, thinking that the family wealth could insulate him once again from facing the consequences of his actions.
But Magda threw the money back in his face and told him to go to hell, because she has an innate understanding shared by all great soap opera characters that you should always do the most dramatically interesting thing.
So let’s talk for a second about the source of Magda’s power. The idea here is that the dark-skinned people are closer to the earth than the rich white people are, which gives them a special connection to the ancient truths. It’s like all the stories about Native Americans who can whisper into the wind to contact the spirit of the buffalo or whatever, or the Haitians’ voodoo spells that can tap into the fundamental secrets of life and death. Ethnic equals primitive, and primitive equals ancient, and old things are smarter than young things for some reason.
That’s always kind of confused me, by the way — the whole idea of lost civilizations having knowledge that the modern world has forgotten. How would that even work? Yes, empires fall and civilizations crumble, but in real life, the good ideas survive. A language might fall into disuse, the oral stories and culture might be lost, but the useful skills like writing and agriculture and how to ride horses get passed down to the next generation. When a people is conquered, the conquerors don’t say, huh, stirrups, who needs them? and then forget about it.
Besides, the idea that an ancient people is just sitting on their secret power and not using it is kind of bizarre, when you stop and think about it.
The only reason that concept even works is because humans are designed to think that wisdom comes from far away. Respect for the wisdom of your elders is a good survival skill for young people, if you don’t want to have to invent glassblowing all over again every three decades. But then we go and apply that idea not just to old people, but to old civilizations. The ancient Celts built stone circles to amplify the ley lines and communicate with aliens, the ancient Tibetans knew how to meditate and declutter their minds, the ancient Japanese could do whatever the hell reiki is supposed to do.
But like I said, it’s fun to see the powerless win sometimes, and if they need to invent some ancient Chinese secrets to do it, then I say go for it. This episode sets up the increasingly desperate white people as they squabble over money and influence, and then once an act a gypsy walks in the door and laughs at them.
At one point, Quentin gets Sandor on his own, and offers the ten thousand dollars just to him, if he can remove the curse.
“Being a gypsy,” Quentin says, “you know as much about the curse as Magda does. Am I right?” This is basically the equivalent of saying that Black people are all great at basketball, but Sandor goes along with it for a second. He says that he wouldn’t know how to undo the curse, but Quentin presses him: “Sandor, we are talking about Ten Thousand Dollars in Cash. It will all be yours.”
And then Sandor delivers the gypsy pride smackdown.
Sandor: How miserably you fail to understand us, Quentin!
Quentin: Now, you can stop preaching to me, if you don’t mind! You would cut your best friend’s throat for a tenth of what I’m offering you, and you know it!
Sandor: Of course, you are right! It hurts me to see ten thousand dollars slip through my fingers. But it would hurt me even more to lose Magda. That is why I can’t betray her.
So there you go — our people may be greedy and duplicitous, but we care about each other, and we use every part of the deer, and if you throw a soda can out your car window then it makes an Indian cry. Take that, white people, you big jerks.
And so, for a moment at least, the noble savages have the upper hand, and we can dream of a world where the wealthy and heartless get the justice that they deserve.
“When the curse begins to work,” Sandor says, “our lives will be in danger.”
Magda smiles. “No, Sandor. I know of something that will protect you and me. But the Collins family — they will be in danger. Each of them could be a victim of Quentin’s curse. I don’t want to leave Collinwood. I want to stay here, and watch them be destroyed one by one.”
And now that she mentions it, that does sound like fun. Okay, I’m in. Let’s do this.
Monday: Day of the Dorcas.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Judith tells Beth, “It means that your infatuation to my brother has not gone unnoticed.”
The end credits are crooked, and there’s a gray line on the credits roll next to Gordon Russell’s name.
Monday: Day of the Dorcas.
— Danny Horn
23 thoughts on “Episode 750: Gypsy Ascendant”
Actually the one time Barnabas should have interfered, he isn’t anywhere to be found.
Sandor and Magda: the only loving married couple on Dark Shadows.
So far. Later there’s Philip and Megan Todd–for a little while, anyway. 🙂
There has already been Joe and Maggie and later also there will be Carolyn and Jeb Hawkes. But true to form with Dark Shadows, such unions only end in tragedy.
“Yes, empires fall and civilizations crumble, but in real life, the good ideas survive.”
Um, unless we’re talking the Dark Ages….
The Dark Ages was a political and economic collapse. People still knew how to do the useful things like farming, domesticating animals, and making tools and weapons. If they had supernatural abilities to kill enemies with dreams, that would have survived too.
Actually, any historian will tell you that the Middle Ages saw technological expansion in a way never seen before. I refer you to the book “The Medieval Machine” by Jean Gimpel to get a better idea of it.
A short overview of the subject
You touch upon this, but the theme, I guess, is that the desire for power is what holds back most “civilized” people and it’s the “uncivilized” who are the most connected to peace and spirituality. The gypsies’ flaw is their desire for this “civilized” power (money) whereas their nomadic lifestyle is authentic and true.
One thing I really enjoy about BUFFY/ANGEL is that it rejects this perhaps simple view of magic and power. The true movers and shakers are connected to the “dark powers.”
Jenny sure wasn’t bothered by family loyalties – she scraped her gypsy past off the second she got a chance to become a rich Collins. Magda is over reacting with that curse – she should have taken the $10 grand.
Exactly, maybe she was jealous
Passing, particularly to marry-up, is complicated. Your family/peer group can easily despise you for it while actively keeping your secret. You can’t do it while maintaining those family loyalties. But Magda’s disapproval stemmed from not believing it would lead to Jenny’s happiness. Maybe if she’d married someone other than Quentin, Magda would have had more reason to be optimistic.
Johnny Romano would’ve taken the $10K, PRETENDED to lift the curse and, for good measure, taken a magic marker and changed Jenny’s cardboard tombstone from COLLINS to RAKOSI (or whatever her maiden name was). And that’s how you become the King of the Gypsies.
The way old ideas get lost is when invaders come in, see the natives as savages, and assume they couldn’t possibly have superior knowledge on any subject. They set out trying to destroy the native culture–for the good of the “savages,” of course.
And, of course, if the good idea is free but there’s another idea that can be charged for, the good idea will be derided by those selling the other idea.
A good example of that was when the Spanish introduced wheat and discouraged the eating of quinoa and amaranth which have higher protein content.
None of the Collins sibs was very adept at partner picking: Edward got that fire demon and Judith ended up with that side winder, Trask. Carl brought Pansy Fay home and although she WAS FUN, she was just as inappropriate as Gypsy Jenny to mansion living. All the Collins kids were cursed in love.
To me, that “Being a Gypsy” line between Quentin and Sandor sounds less like an ethnic generalization than Quentin just going to work on Sandor’s pride, getting him to show everyone that he can do whatever his wife can do. In a way, it’s right out of a sitcom, especially the “dumb husband” kind of sitcom.
And again, as we will see so many times on DS – despite having been knocked off only hours ago, Jenny Collins’ gravestone is already carved and in place. Guess that ‘One-Hour Cenotaphs’ franchise is really paying off for somebody in Collinsport…
Minor point, to be sure, but I always notice that too. Even in 2020 it can take months to get a tombstone made. But on DS, in the late 1800s and 1900s they’re up in a matter of hours.
I wanted to mention a Judith Collins, er, Joan Bennett acting moment I found particularly entertaining here. When she’s giving Beth the boot and the servant attempts to “innocently” inquire as to why she’s being let go, Judith turns around and gives her SUCH a look! Huge eyes, a stifled gasp, then bright pursed lips…Her expression goes from incredulous (Are you freaking KIDDING me?) to amused (Just how stupid does she think we are?) to triumphantly satisfied (Fine, we shall just both play out this little charade and I’ll soon be rid of you.) Her chin goes up as she turns away snarkily-“Let’s just say that now Jenny’s gone, your services are no longer needed,” which everyone on and off screen knows is a total lie. It’s such a sweet piece of work by Ms. Bennett, I need to keep an eye out to see if she repeats that expression because it just sums up the whole character of any Collins she plays when as the perpetual straight man, she’s faced with yet another absurd situation. And is also just stunning in that gorgeous green dress.
Somebody up above mentioned Carl, who seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth. Maybe he’s playing pinochle with Evan and Angelique.
David Selby’s elocution is slipping a bit as Quentin becomes more frantic. I detected a few occurrences of “outta” and “gonna.”
Rroma lives do matter! Alexandra Moltke did a documentary on Rroma “Parraimos”, and there’s also “The Pied Piper of Hutzovina”. Eugene Hutz is 1/4 Rroma, and his band, Gogol Bordello, advocates for Rroma rights. If the little girl that they interview in the documentary doesn’t break your heart, nothing will.
(I would attach the Rroma flag, but I don’t know how to do that.)
There’s a wonderful moment of shade from Magda in this episode when she says “Ive come to collect Jenny’s things, unless you’ve buried them as well”. #burn