Episode 832: The Triangle Factory

“You don’t seem to be one certain age, the way others are.”

You know, when I started this blog back in April 1967, I figured the format was one episode a day, no more and no less. I would talk about the whole episode from start to finish, and I didn’t let stuff dangle over the side to pick up tomorrow. If there wasn’t a theme or a problem or a story that I wanted to tell, then that’s just how it went — so there are a bunch of posts back in the 200s that ended with “and that’s a really boring cliffhanger, see you tomorrow”.  They had a lot of boring cliffhangers back then.

Eventually I realized, wait a minute, this is my blog and I can write it any way I want, so now I jump around a lot more, pulling things from different episodes together if it helps whatever point I’m trying to make. I think that’s made the blog better, and I get to have more fun without stressing out about the rules.

But that style means that I don’t really spend a lot of time talking about cliffhangers, which is a shame, because they’re incredibly important on Dark Shadows. This is a show that doesn’t just have an exciting story beat at the end of every episode — they build to a suspense moment every six minutes, just to get you through the commercial break. So I should really treat the cliffhangers with more respect.

And yesterday’s cliffhanger is a top-of-the-line nailbiter. Secret werewolf Quentin Collins is locked up in a jail cell, which happens to be in his own basement for some reason. The sinister Reverend Trask has learned Quentin’s dreadful secret, and they’re going to stay down here until the full moon rises. Once Quentin transforms into a slavering man-beast, then Trask can head for the police station and alert the authorities. I guess some people just live for tattling.

So the episode ends with the two of them on opposite sides of the bars, waiting for moonrise. Although now that I think about it, that’s basically the same cliffhanger as the day before, when Trask found Quentin manacled to the wall, and told him they would wait until moonrise. Yesterday, they just said, well, it’s not quite dusk yet, and then they moved locations and said, this time it’s really dusk. So maybe I shouldn’t bother trying to respect the cliffhangers after all.

832 dark shadows quentin trask jail

Anyway, guess what, it all works out. The moon rises, Quentin feels the transformation beginning — and then the pain just drains away. He doesn’t change into a wolf man after all. He feels fine. After four months as a moontime man-beast, Quentin Collins is suddenly and entirely cured.

That could have been kind of an anticlimax, following two days worth of almost-dusk build-up, but Quentin is so delighted with his unexpected reprieve that the whole thing ends up being super satisfying. Trask was just on the edge of a huge victory, and now it’s been snatched away, and nobody even knows why. Quentin gets to strut around and say sarcastic things like, “Obviously, Trask, this eagerness of yours to take over Collinwood has begun to affect your mind!” It’s a nightmare for Trask, the poor lamb, and he was having such a nice time.

Once it’s all over, Quentin realizes that the mad god Count Petofi must be the source of this miracle. Petofi’s been shooting his mouth off for weeks about a werewolf cure — in fact, he’s even said that Quentin is already cured, and just doesn’t know it yet.

So we learn, to nobody’s great surprise, that Quentin Collins is untouchable. He’s clearly everybody’s favorite character, eclipsing Barnabas in sex appeal and plot point potential. There’s no way the show is going to let the star get damaged; they don’t even muss up his hair very often.

And now that I say that, it occurs to me that for all of his poor little rich boy first world problems, Quentin has a long line of characters who are now entirely devoted to helping him. There’s Beth, and Barnabas, and Angelique, and Magda, and Count Petofi — that’s a lot of high-powered characters, all of them eager to support Mr. Q. in any way that he needs it. Reverend Trask is a formidable guy, but against that crowd? Totally outgunned.

832 dark shadows amanda trask secret

And Trask is distracted, anyway. There’s this pretty young woman named Amanda, who’s come to him for spiritual guidance in an unlikely crisis where she needs him to help her avoid some guy that she used to be involved with. It’s obviously a bunch of hooey, but it’s a form of hooey that Trask is peculiarly susceptible to.

This is actually a scheme that was cooked up by Tim Shaw — anybody remember Tim Shaw?  — who’s taking a rather opaque form of revenge on Trask for reasons that I don’t feel like getting into right now. Tim’s idea of a revenge plot is to give the Reverend a new girlfriend, so he picked up Amanda in New York and told her to go be available at Collinwood. At some point this is supposed to turn into justice, although it’s hard to follow exactly how, because nobody really listens to Tim Shaw when he talks.

832 dark shadows amanda quentin meet cute

Anyway, the point is that Amanda has manipulated Trask into thinking that he’s manipulated her into moving into Collinwood, and here she is, standing in the drawing room, available for chemistry experiments.

Enter Quentin Collins, sprung from the big house in the basement of his big house. He hasn’t seen a woman since late afternoon, so naturally he’s thrilled.

“Oh! Mr. Collins,” she stammers, and Quentin smiles. “You remember me,” he grins disarmingly, and she is instantly disarmed.

“I appreciate the honor,” he continues. “I’m sure a girl like you has a lot of names to remember.” That line is about 25% compliment and 75% insult, but he gets away with it. It hardly matters what he says in scenes like this, it’s all about the body language, the eye contact and the tone of his voice. Sensible dialogue costs extra.

832 dark shadows amanda quentin eyebrow

She says something sarcastic about how he doesn’t really know her at all, and he strolls over to her side, the raised eyebrow who walks like a man.

“I know you’re very beautiful,” he purrs.

Looking away, she allows, “And you’re very handsome. And neither of us are very happy, are we?” And then she turns to look at him.

832 dark shadows quentin star

“When you were a little girl,” he smiles, “what did you wish for, when you saw the first star?”

This is apparently a thing that you say to a person when neither of you is very happy. Do not attempt this in your own home; Quentin is a professional driver on a closed course.

832 dark shadows amanda quentin kiss

And then, for Pete’s sake, look at this. He’s been in the room for sixty seconds. This is why they put him on the cover of 16 Magazine, riding bicycles with Bobby Sherman and the Cowsills.

“I’d like to get to know you a lot better, Miss Amanda Harris,” he murmurs. “Perhaps we can talk again someday. I’m afraid I have to go.”

832 dark shadows quentin amanda head

Amanda tries to remember how to breathe. “I must make a phone call,” she offers.

“Well,” Quentin says, and he cocks his head at an angle that should look ridiculous and is absolutely one hundred percent not ridiculous. “You know, it’s been an unexpected pleasure. But then, this whole day has just been full of surprises.”

832 dark shadows amanda quentin what the

Okay. So there’s that. And now the question is: what the hell is going on?

The show has spent the last five months patiently explaining to us that Quentin is in love with Beth, a maidservant of dubious acting ability. We’ve seen him flirting with a bunch of girls, and we know that he used to sleep with pretty much anything, but once he’d hooked Beth, it looked like his final answer. Now they’re bringing in random females for chemistry tests.

Obviously, Quentin is designed to be a heartbreaker, so I’m not complaining. Besides, his devotion to Beth wasn’t really based on anything in particular. Why settle on a servant, and why this one specifically? What do Quentin and Beth really have in common, besides hanging around the house a lot?

646 dark shadows beth quentin pose

As we’ve discussed, the only reason that the Quentin/Beth relationship even exists is that they cast her as his co-ghost back in 1969, when they thought she would just pose silently in the background and give people significant looks. They didn’t know at the time that they were going to jump to 1897 and put these two at the center of a huge ongoing storyline, so the fact that she was stiff and terrible didn’t register as a problem. She looked okay in an old-fashioned dress, and she kept her mouth shut. Now they’re stuck with her.

But lately they’ve started introducing extra females into Quentin’s life — three of them, so far — and Amanda has suddenly jumped into the lead in that race. It’s not a huge surprise that Quentin has several options, since soap operas are basically a love triangle delivery system, but they’re not setting these up in any pattern that I recognize.

768 dark shadows beth quentin selling

The classic triangle is Quentin, Beth, and X, where x = whatever random female they want to throw at him. He and Beth are declaring their love, making plans and promises, and then all of a sudden Madame X comes along, scattering monkey wrenches.

Quentin’s job at that point is to be torn. Maybe the new girl is super attractive, or she has some kind of hold on him, but either way, he’s supposed to be looking over his shoulder, fully aware that Beth’s happiness is at stake.

But today he just sashays into the drawing room for some breathless eye contact with Amanda, as if Beth doesn’t exist. Amanda says, “Neither of us is very happy,” and he agrees, without hesitation.

707 dark shadows rachel quentin crotch

All of this is totally in character for Quentin, so I’m not complaining that the heartbreaker is breaking hearts. But I have a question for the writers: When I’m looking at a Quentin and Beth scene, how am I supposed to feel about it?

This isn’t the same thing as asking “Who does Quentin belong with?” That’s the standard in-universe love triangle question, and the audience is supposed to be conflicted about it. That’s the point of the triangle, that it’s not clear which of the young ladies deserves the prize.

But when I’m looking at a scene where Quentin and Beth are making plans for the future, should I be invested in that relationship, or does it only apply until the next commercial break? I mean, I talked a couple days ago about the Dark Shadows diary that I kept when I was 15, and back then I was totally shipping Quentin/Beth. I was absolutely furious with him for cheating on her. I wrote words in all caps.

Looking at it now, I’m not sure what to think of a Quentin/Beth scene. Is this supposed to be romantic, or this the tedium that he needs to be rescued from? Is Beth an object of desire, or not?

793 dark shadows angelique quentin bargain

If you look at the potential replacements, there are three possibilities — Angelique, Charity and Amanda — representing three different flavors of love triangle.

Angelique is the “blackmail wedding” triangle, where Quentin’s relationship is torn apart by a woman demanding a ring, or else. This is actually a common soap opera storyline, and it often ends with the couple genuinely falling in love with other, a situation which does not occur in nature.

After Dark Shadows, Sam Hall and Gordon Russell moved to One Life to Live, where they raised the blackmail wedding to an art form. Sam and Gordon introduced the Buchanan family, headed by patriarch Asa Buchanan, who got married 14 times to 10 different women over the course of three decades. Almost all of them started as a blackmail wedding, in one direction or the other. It’s just a great story, with lots of frustration and pain and intrigue. I would tell you more about this, but I’ll save it for my 40-year One Life Every Day blog, which I will never have time to write.

804 dark shadows quentin charity performs

Charity is the “crazy stalker” triangle, which is usually a fairly easy type to handle. There’s no real danger of falling in love with the stalker; she’s an external threat who just gives the couple something to do with their time.

812 dark shadows amanda tim smile

But Amanda represents the most dangerous of all — the “I’m strangely drawn to you” triangle. She’s an actual threat to the relationship, because Quentin sees her, correctly, as a step up from his current dance partner.

Now, it’s just possible to do both the “strangely drawn to you” triangle and the “crazy stalker” triangle at the same time, because the stalker is external, and Amanda is the only one tugging at Quentin’s heart. But you can’t do “strangely drawn to you” and “blackmail wedding” at the same time; it just doesn’t make sense. The response to the blackmail wedding is to say, no, I need to be with the woman that I love. If you’re confused about which woman that’s actually supposed to be, then it’s hard to know what you’re actually fighting about. At that point, what the hell, drop all of them and go find a fifth girl.

The whole thing is kind of a mess at the moment, just a sequence of unconnected scenes that can’t be reconciled into a coherent story. The only way that this could possibly work is if the guy at the center of all this romantic geometry happens to be one of the most charismatic soap opera actors of all time. So I guess it’ll work out okay.

832 dark shadows quentin werewolf portrait

Oh, and then at the end of the episode, Quentin uncovers his portrait and discovers that it’s turned into a wolf man. Obviously, this is an incredible cliffhanger; see you tomorrow.

Tomorrow: 3D Printing – The Early Years.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Quentin and Petofi are drinking brandy in the drawing room, there’s a moment where it seems like they’re both holding back a laugh. It appears to start when they start talking over each other’s lines. By the time Quentin says, “If you were, you’d be claiming all the credit for it — putting the stamp of Petofi on it!” they’re both giggling a little.

When Tim tells Amanda what she should say to Trask, he chuckles and then gives a little snort.

There’s something wrong with the lighting on the drawing room set, especially when Trask and Amanda are talking in act 3. It’s not super obvious, but it’s darker at the front of the set than it should be, and their faces are in shadow.

Tomorrow: 3D Printing – The Early Years.

832 dark shadows amanda phone

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

15 thoughts on “Episode 832: The Triangle Factory

  1. I’m glad you brought up Tim Shaw, because now’s as good as time as any to discuss his master plan. Tim has returned to Collinsport to “wreak” his revenge on Trask and Evan Hanley who both forced him to murder Minerva Trask in cold blood. I could get behind that motivation except, well, Tim never really liked Minerva that much and he’s not presented as being torn up over having been involved in her murder on any larger moral ground. He was able to leave Collinsport and Trask’s school behind him after he successfully blackmailed Trask to drop the charges against him. And while in Manhattan, he met Amanda Harris. That seems like a win to me.

    I never paid much attention to this storyline previously but a week or so ago, when Amanda has installed herself at Collinwood, Tim basically implies that his goal is for Trask to fall for Amanda and then marry her, which of course involves getting rid of his current wife, Judith, and then Trask will most likely get offed and Tim — through Amanda — will have control of the family fortune. This is actually interesting. Judith, after all, did kill Rachel, who Tim actually cared about. And it’s a true threat to a non-bad guy (Judith, though she’s not actually on the show right now) and to the “world” of the series (as DARK SHADOWS is Collinwood, so taking over Collinwood is to take over the “world” of DARK SHADOWS).

    But that storyline basically fizzles out in this episode when I think the writers realize that Quentin and Amanda are electric together. As you mention, Beth is only really on the show right now because of what we’ve already seen in 1969 Collinwood. They’ll later tie up that loose end, which really makes Beth superfluous and the writers move quick to sort of put her to the side. Amanda soon becomes the “true” love that Angelique’s “blackmail marriage” threatens. Also, Angelique helps effectively to end the Quentin/Beth relationship so that Quentin can move forward with Amanda with more or less “clean” hands.

  2. Was “One Live to Live” the first soap after Dark Shadows to have time travel storylines?

    I seem to remember General Hospital having a mad scientist/weather machine type of storyline, was that before or after “OLTL” time travel story?

    Curious about the effect DS had (if any) on other soaps in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

    1. Yes, OLTL is the first soap after DS to do time travel. As the World Turns later had some fantasy sequences set back in time, but there wasn’t actually time travel. Yes, the GH “Ice Princess” storyline aired several years before OLTL did their time travel storyline.

      It’s my understanding that the soap, “The Doctors,” had a storyline where a man was obsessing over a woman and basically kidnapped her and kept her in an old house where he lived. It seemed to be inspired by the DS story when Barnabas kidnapped Maggie and tried to make her resemble his long-lost Josette.

      1. No there wasn’t time travel in the early 1980s “As the World Turns” story, but it was kind of similar because Barbara remembered a previously repressed past life in chronological order that put her in contact with other pre-reincarnated characters. They bounced between the past and the present and the past strongly effected present day storyline so it was sort of time travel without trouble. 🙂

        “Guiding Light” told a similar chronologically remembered reincarnation storyline with characters as former versions of themselves with the Tony-Annabelle-Jim triangle also in the early 1980s. I have a strong memory of watching Tony-Annabelle ride off happily and him saying something like “next lifetime she’ll be mine again.” Later GL had a time travel storyline featuring Reva time traveling via painting which was terrible and stupid in the early 2000s.

        That’s actually an interesting question. I’ll have to see if I can remember any other time travel stories on soaps.

    2. One Life to Live’s time travel storyline was in 1988, not long after Sam Hall left as head writer.

      The most direct lift from DS was in 2001 with the GH spinoff Port Charles, which became a supernatural soap halfway through its run. The most popular storyline was a conflicted vampire played by Michael Easton, who had a long-lost love that was a lookalike for a present-day character.

  3. But then again, did Quentin really eclipse Barnabas in terms of appeal? All these years later, even people only vaguely familiar with Dark Shadows refer to it as “the vampire soap opera” and not “the wolfman soap opera”. Think of it in terms of The Doors: 1967 was their big year, not 1969, despite the fact that The Doors were even more popular by 1969 than they were in 1967. Does their 1969 hit Touch Me trump their 1967 hit Light My Fire, in terms of cultural impact? Not likely. The Barnabas storyline of 1967 was the Light My Fire period of Dark Shadows, the signature iconic defining moment that made the show in the public consciousness, their “biggest hit” if you will that would be handed down through the ages. Dark Shadows would be about Barnabas Collins until Jonathan Frid decided that he didn’t want to play Barnabas anymore.

    Further proof of this: (1) Moviegoers didn’t seem to miss David Selby in the movie House of Dark Shadows; and (2) House of Dark Shadows was a bigger hit than Night of Dark Shadows.

    Maybe it was really just the novelty of the supernatural on daytime TV. Teen idols of a certain age may be alluring, but vampires of any age are enduring.

    1. Quentin never eclipsed Barnabas with me and my friends or any of the adults I knew that watched DS when it originally aired. Even now, I watch the 1897 episodes wishing that Barnabas would SHOW UP – I miss him when he’s not around and I’m usually good and tired of Magda and pining for Dr. Julia Fantastic to get back in the game long before she does.

  4. So Danny, you really think that the writers and DC didn’t know when the Quentin/Beth ghost story began that there would be an 1897 time travel story? Even as a kid, watching this when it first aired on ABC, I was pretty sure that they were leading up to time travel. And by the time the Gerard/Daphne ghost story started in the Summer of 1970, I would have bet money that a time travel story was coming up. I dreaded it, too – the trip to 1840.

    1. By the time they went to 1840 they had learned the Quentin-Beth lesson and did not make Gerard and Daphne lovers.

      I can imagine an 1897 version in which Quentin and Beth are not lovers. She is the one who bonded with Quentin’s children and wants to help and protect them. Which means trying to get rid of the werewolf curse before it comes to them. So she and Quentin collaborate to the same end. She, having seen what happened to Jenny, is not willing to believe any protestations of love on his part.

      But the writers were fixated on “Turn of the Screw” where the ghosts were those of two lovers.

      And yet, ghostly Beth can be seen as the children’s protector, as she is instrumental in saving Chris Jennings when he was poisoned.

    2. Even though I don’t always care about great historical accuracy, nearly my biggest problem with 1840 is the idea of beheading as a form of execution in mid-19th Century America! (Or in America at all?) Even though 1795 gives you an anachronistic witchcraft trial, at least it uses hanging, like the Salem ones.

      1. Well, when we talk about beheading, what about Josette going shopping in Paris in 1794? That year was the worst of the Terror. An aristo like her would be very likely be riding the tumbrel any time…

  5. Jonathan Frid said over and over that he was burning out from overuse on the show and begged them to get another character to share the workload. What you see as Quentin taking over the show is just Frid getting some well deserved time off from carrying the show single handedly. Consider the show if Frid was now destroyed and off the show. Consider the show if Quentin died on schedule and was off the show. Which imaginary show looks more like Dark Shadows?

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