“I say that Lucifer is trying to undo the good that I have done in this house, and that you and all the others are acting as his accomplices!”
Today, I walked into the drawing room and found my daughter reading something on a piece of paper. I said, “Good morning, my dear Charity,” but as she turned to face me, I saw not the smiling, placid face of my beloved child. In its place was a startled, hunted look, the shocked visage of an innocent staring into the endless fiery pit, and recoiling from the grisly sight. My eyes darted to the page that she held in her nerveless grip — and there saw the cursed document that Evan Hanley tricked me into signing last night — the paper that I saw burning in the fireplace not ten hours ago! This terrible, damnable lie — somehow, it survived the furnace, and now, my Charity — my dear one, my own — looked at me with eyes filled with hatred and revulsion. “It’s a confession,” she gasped. “It says that you and Mr. Hanley murdered my mother!” #FMyLife
And so, in this moment of crisis, Gregory Trask reacts the same way that he does to pretty much any given stimulus — he shouts at the top of his voice, accusing everyone in earshot of everything he can think of.
So let’s see how familiar you are with the wretched reverend’s modus operandi. Of the following five statements, which one does Trask NOT say to his daughter in this scene?
#1. How dare you give credence to this foul and libellous attack on your own father!
#2. For I say to you, Charity Trask, look to yourself before you have ill feelings about others!
#3. I ask you, Charity, where — when you were reading this scurrilous document — was your reliance on the Almighty? For if you had relied on Him, Charity, then you would have known that this so-called confession is nothing more than the rantings of some foul and evil person!
#4. Once again, Charity, you have been unable to resist doing the Devil’s bidding!
#5. Pray, Charity, pray for the deliverance of your soul! Pray that I may find the strength to defeat the forces that threaten us!
It’s a trick question, of course — he says all of those things! Ranting is like breathing for Trask, and when he’s in the wrong, he just ups the volume and keeps on going.
Trask actually did conspire with Evan Hanley to murder Minerva, as it happens, and now the mad god known as Count Petofi is punishing everyone who lives at Collinwood by exposing their shameful secrets. He’s doing this for some obscure reason that basically shakes out as it’s more fun than anything else we could be doing right now.
Once Charity’s left the room, Trask tears the indestructible confession into pieces. Suddenly, the room grows dark, and an epic thunderstorm unleashes its fury about eight inches above where Trask is standing . The window blows open, and we hear one of the craziest sound effects they’ve ever done.
It begins as your standard rushing wind sound cart, and adds a second rushing wind effect on top of it, and then a third, each in a slightly different key. Then sound effects hero Ed Blainey starts fiddling with the knobs, tuning the different layers up and down to create an eerie whine, and adding a bed of constant thunderclaps. It’s basically every storm sound effects record played all at once for almost two minutes, creating an unholy racket specifically designed to bring your mother into the den to say, Why aren’t you kids playing outside?
This brings Reverend Trask to his knees — literally, he falls to his knees, clutching his temples and begging the spirit of Minerva to stop tormenting him. And then it stops, as a visitor walks into the drawing room. Trask explains that he was just meditating when he was startled by the sudden storm. The man smiles, and says that he just came in from outside, and there wasn’t any storm. #FMyClimate
The stranger is Charles Delaware Tate, the world-famous artist, who says he was hired by Edith Collins to paint a portrait of her grandson, Quentin. This is a terribly unlikely thing for Edith to do, especially because she died three months ago, but here’s Tate, another grabby-hands Roger Davis character, and we appear to be stuck with him.
Quentin refuses to sit for a portrait, so Tate needs a photograph to use as reference. And for some reason, instead of saying that’s your problem, I’m busy being haunted right now, Trask chirps, “Why, yes, I believe there is a photograph of Quentin here, in this desk. I remember Judith showing it to me one time.” And then he rummages around in the top drawer of the desk, scattering loose papers everywhere until he finds the photo.
So here’s my question: Why would they keep a photograph of Quentin in a desk with a bunch of papers? Also, why would Judith show Trask a picture of Quentin? She doesn’t even like Quentin.
Obviously, none of that matters, because the point of the scene is to make sure the audience knows who Tate is, and to give Trask an opportunity to find the signed confession intact for another fantastic #FML moment. Still, it conjures up the odd image of Judith and Trask spending a quiet evening together, scattering family photographs around the house.
Upstairs, Quentin’s having his own #FML moment. He’s sulking in an armchair, listening to his hit single available now from Ranwood Records, when there’s a knock at the door, and Charity asks if she can come in. Quentin rolls his eyes and says fine, c’mon in, and she comes on in.
She’s recovered from the whole foul and libellous attack on your father thing, and she’s got some recreational activities that she’d like Quentin to participate in. He lies back and closes his eyes, and says no thanks, I’m super busy today. This is how people behave on Dark Shadows now.
Then she tells him that the last time she came to his room, she overheard him talking to Barnabas, the fugitive vampire that everybody’s forgotten they’re supposed to be hunting. “All right, what are you going to do?” he asks, sipping on brandy and no longer in the business of giving a shit. “Tell your father?”
“I should,” she says, “but I’m not going to. You might remember that, the next time I invite you somewhere.” And then she leaves the room, having lightly blackmailed the man that she’s supposed to be in love with into going for a walk in the woods sometime. The characters on this show have now evolved into full-time chaos engines.
And here’s the dread Count Petofi, the author of all their sorrows, trapped in the body of an eleven-year-old who’s trapped in a jail cell, hidden away in the Old House basement. Barnabas locked him up here until he learns how important it is to respect other people’s feelings, but it’s not working. He’s just getting angrier.
Look at that little face! He just stands there, scowling away, because he wants to talk Quentin into letting him out of the cell, and Magda has explained how this obvious trick is obviously a trick. So Petofi isn’t getting out of lockup today, and he’s fuming.
To be honest, every single character on the show is entirely exasperated with the Collins family, up to and including the Collins family. Petofi’s “know thyself” spell means that it’s no longer possible for someone to sit on the sidelines, going on with their daily routine. Jamison’s possessed, Judith’s locked up in a sanitarium, Edward’s locked up in the tower room, Trask’s being haunted, Charity is alternating between blackmailer and slattern mode, Quentin’s working full-time on restoring order, which is not his strong suit, and Nora…
Hey, hold up a second. What happened to Nora? Petofi’s hit everyone in the family with his self-awareness hex, and we’ve left the daughter of the house all on her own with no caregivers. Her governess died of a gunshot wound a month ago, and all of the adults in the house are occupied, one way or another. Now that I think about it, Nora’s L is pretty comprehensively F’ed. Should we send a Saint Bernard upstairs and see if we can get a status report?
Tomorrow: Dickens Without Poor People.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
When the document magically appears on the desk in the drawing room, something’s gone wrong with the Chromakey shot, creating a dark static fuzz in the bottom third of the screen.
In the teaser, while Charity reads Trask’s confession, someone in the studio coughs.
When the window in the drawing room blows open, you can see a cable on the floor between the desk and the Oriental rug. Also, the corner of the rug is folded underneath for some reason.
Trask tells Tate that it’s a pleasure to have such a famous guest at Collinwood, but Tate says, “Actually, I won’t be staying at Collinsport — or Collinwood.”
When they’re talking about Tate’s accommodations, the camera wobbles back and forth very noticeably for about ten seconds.
When Magda pulls Quentin away from Jamison’s jail cell, the camera remains on Jamison, who’s looking on as Magda and Quentin are continuing the scene off camera for ten seconds.
Magda says, “Quentin, you ain’t thinking. You’re so desperate, because you know that there will be a full moon tonight, that there — you’re — you’re not thinking of the foolish things!”
When the portrait changes in the final moments of the episode, the camera filming one of the portraits moves up and down slightly, trying to get the eyes to line up — which spoils the effect somewhat. They do a better job in tomorrow’s teaser, although that effect has a different problem.
Tomorrow: Dickens Without Poor People.
— Danny Horn