“I’m not going to be inside any pentagrams. I’m going to be doing something that makes sense!”
In the morning, Beth finds Quentin stumbling into the house, exhausted and dirty, his clothes ripped to pieces, and with no memory of what happened to him.
“Quentin!” she cries. “Where have you been? How did you get like this?” Yeah, and how do we get you to do it again?
Because I know we’ve discussed this before, but when a handsome guy is all sweaty and dirty and beat up on, I don’t know, it makes him look kind of accessible. You want to clean him up and comb his hair and change his shirt, and then get him all beat up again. That would make for a pleasant and instructive afternoon.
And this is especially exciting during the 1897 storyline, because going back into the past means that all the guys are in jackets and ties and high collars again. We were just getting to a place in the present-day story where dudes were taking their shirts off on camera just for kicks, and then all of a sudden there’s a moratorium on casualwear. So getting a little shirtless Selby time is appreciated, at least over at this house where we are apparently all middle-school girls. I swear to god, I love werewolf stories, there is not a single thing about them that I don’t lke.
But the funny thing about this moment is that we know this is a werewolf story, and the characters don’t. All Quentin knows is that Magda hit him with a gypsy curse, and at sunset he blacked out. Beth went out of the room for a second, and when she came back, there was a shambles and Quentin was gone. Now he’s dragging himself back home, all dazed and messed up. It’s probably tequila and Red Bull, this has all the signs of a tequila and Red Bull-infused evening.
So now they’re back in Quentin’s room — still torn up and disheveled, thank you Dark Shadows — and they’re trying to figure out what happened.
“Magda said something would happen to me last night,” Quentin says, “and something did happen to me last night!” Today’s episode was written by Violet Welles, so there’s a lot of these little well-phrased emotional utterances. Fun things to look at and fun things to listen to; this is shaping up to be a good day.
So Beth gets into the act, delivering what I think might be her first really enjoyable dialogue.
“It was the GYPSIES!” she says. “They drove you out of your mind with fear — and then sent some gypsy fiend to pursue you! Something that made you go running out into the night, terrified! Stumbling blindly through the woods!”
This is Beth’s idea of a logical explanation. People are always blaming gypsy fiends for everything; you should see how hard it is for them to hail a cab.
Beth says, “But the night is over, Quentin. The fiend is gone. And you must try to get some rest.”
He just sits there, dazed and decoratively blood-spattered. “No. It’s not over quite so easily, Beth. I don’t know what’s to come next — but I do know it’s not over.”
And I hope it’s not, because look how cute he is when he’s all messed up. A powerful woman is unleashing the Furies on a misbehaving heart-throb; it’s basically Greek tragedy meets Beatlemania.
Downstairs, Judith is all dressed up like a lavender wedding cake with something on its mind, thank you again Dark Shadows, this is another thing that I never realized that I always wanted to see.
She’s complaining to her lawyer Evan that Quentin promised that he would leave the house forever, and he’s still here. This is a big problem at Collinwood; it seems like they’re always trying to evict somebody. Unfortunately, it’s a tough real estate market, because they don’t have that many sets.
Beth comes downstairs just in time to hear Judith get a call from Reverend Trask’s school. Some wild animal smashed its way into a classroom last night, and tore a teacher to pieces. Beth runs back to Quentin with the news — it must be that gypsy fiend again! Ugh, they’re everywhere these days.
So Evan goes upstairs to talk things over with Quentin, who’s still haunted and upset. You know, I try not to do these faithful synopsis type posts where I describe every scene, because I haven’t done all this work just to become a sarcastic episode guide. But there’s fun dialogue all over the place today that I can’t leave out.
Like this one: “Yes, there’s something in my face. And something in my mind, and in my heart. I’m sick, Evan. Sick with fear!”
Quentin is so banged up and disquieted that he has to confide in Evan, the least scrupulous person that he knows. Evan has some knowledge of the occult, like everybody in this town, and Quentin begs him to talk to Magda and find out what’s going on.
Evan sees the bloody and torn-up clothes that Quentin and Beth forgot to actually hide someplace, and he agrees to help, for a price.
“But you’re my friend!” Quentin says.
Evan tuts. “Quentin! Perhaps you don’t remember the events of last night, but surely you do remember some of the basic facts of life. There is no such thing as ‘friends’.” Well, then get the hell out of my room.
So then it’s over to the Old House, where Evan questions Magda about the curse. Delightfully, she decides to turn the confrontation into a comedy scene.
“All right,” she smiles. “I was angry. I put a curse on him. I said it would be a terrible curse. But what does it mean? I said a few words, lots of people say lots of words.”
Evan scowls, “Then you admit that you put a curse on Quentin Collins.”
She sticks her lower lip out. “I admit that I tried.”
Evan and Magda pose by the mantelpiece, their faces so close it looks like they’re about to kiss. I think this is a blocking trick they picked up from Quentin; he’s always doing this.
“All right,” Evan says. “If you’re so sure it didn’t work, why don’t you tell me? All you’d be telling me would be words. Empty, meaningless words.”
She smiles. “Mr. Hanley, you are a lawyer, I am only a poor ignorant gypsy. I know you could take my words and twist them to make them into whatever you want them to. No, I don’t tell you nothing.”
“You’ve already told me quite a bit,” he growls.
She makes a face. “You’re trying to trick me, Mister lawyer!” It’s just a really good episode, is what I’m saying.
And that’s when Evan comes back to Quentin’s room to ruin the carpet, drawing on the floor with chalk. He saw a pentagram on a chain around Magda’s neck, and figured out that she’s trying to protect herself from the effects of Quentin’s curse.
Amusingly, he tells Quentin that as the sun sets tonight, he should take two black candles and place them at the bottom points of the pentagram, and then stay inside the symbol.
The thing that I find funny is that a pentagram doesn’t have “two bottom points” if you draw it on the floor. The characters live in a three-dimensional world, where you wouldn’t have a mutually agreed-upon top and bottom. The only reason those words make sense to us is that these people are living on a stage, where stage front is the bottom and the back wall is the top. I may be the only person who thinks this is funny.
Then they bust out some more overwrought dialogue.
Evan: Sometimes the pentagram holds, and is strong enough to contain the evil and break the curse. That is what I am hoping will happen tonight.
Quentin: And other times?
Evan: Other times, it doesn’t.
Quentin: And then what?
Evan: Let’s just wait and see.
Quentin: No, we won’t, Evan. I haven’t got time for pentagrams! Can’t you see? I’m a frightened man!
Evan: Yes! I can see that quite clearly.
Quentin: Tell me what I am!
Quentin: Tell me, or get out of here with your insane talk of pentagrams and evils!
So that’s awesome. “I haven’t got time for pentagrams” is a wonderful thing to say; they should have put that on T-shirts.
Evan runs through the consequences of being in the pentagram, which are all of them. The curse might be lifted, or it might not, or you could die. All we know is it’s going to do something, because otherwise we’ve wrecked a rug for no reason.
And that’s the point, really — the point of this episode, and the point of this show. All of these visuals — the pentagram, the black candles, the wedding cake, the gypsy’s facial expressions — they’re all here to invest this crackpot storyline with power. A good strong visual can carry the silliest idea.
We’re entering into a storyline where the basic facts of life are entirely irrelevant. When Quentin turns into a werewolf and runs out the door, how does he get all the way outside without anyone seeing him? How does he even find the door? Why did he bust into Trask’s school, mutilate Dorcas, and then run out again before anybody could come in and see him?
Nobody cares, don’t worry about it. Werewolf geography is not your concern. They’ve gone to all the trouble of making a television show with pentagrams and gypsy fiends and shirtless David Selby. Just enjoy yourself, that’s what it’s for.
Tomorrow: Dog Days.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
When Judith crosses the drawing room to answer the phone, the boom mic swings by overhead.
At the Old House, when Evan puts his arm on the mantelpiece, he knocks into some decor, jangling some crystals.
At the start of act 3, Beth is clearly waiting for her cue to start acting.
Tomorrow: Dog Days.
— Danny Horn