Episode 836: Murder, She Wrought

“I thought killing him would help me release from loving him. But it didn’t.”

Terror stalks the great estate at Collinwood this night, just exactly as it has for the last 189 nights in a row. The terrifying specter of Quentin Collins still rules the silent halls, while the family is couchsurfing at the Old House, waiting for it to blow over. Young David is still leaking get-up-and-go, teetering semi-permanently on the brink of death.

Hoping to resolve this difficult problem, Barnabas Collins used an ancient Chinese divination technique to contact the spirit of Quentin, and negotiate a cease-fire. It’s now six months later, and the problem has not been resolved in even the tiniest way. I think Barnabas needs to step aside, and let somebody else take a crack at it.

836 dark shadows julia referral

Specifically, it’s time to get a referral to see Dr. Julia Hoffman: blood specialist, hypnotherapist and secret protagonist of the show. Julia’s been benched for the last six months, cooling her heels in the Old House basement while Barnabas I-Chinged himself back to the late 19th century, where he’s spent the majority of his time formulating plans that get other people killed.

Now Barnabas has been locked up in one of the many DIY jail cells that the Collins family operates at no cost to the public, waiting for the sunrise that will bring his destruction. In a desperate paradoxical Hail-Mary that threatens to swallow time, Barnabas wrote a letter to Julia and concealed it in a writing desk, where it waited patiently for seventy-two years until just the right moment.

Julia’s read the letter — or skimmed it at least, who has the time — and now she’s boarded the abandoned, storm-tossed battleship of Collinwood, ready to assume command.

836 dark shadows julia candle

Clutching a lit candle, Dr. Hoffman gingerly makes her way to the tower room. She’s supposed to be following some uncanny spiritual sensation, but really she’s here because this is the set that has cameras and lights on, which are the only things that Julia truly loves. Every once in a while, she clutches at her chest, to indicate that this is a frightening situation and here she is, being frightened by it.

836 dark shadows julia beth candle

After all this time, Quentin still doesn’t want to appear and talk to anybody, which is just typical for a guy. Instead, we get the ghost of Beth Chavez, Quentin’s spokes-specter.

Beth has been tagging along on this haunting the whole time, looking dour and occasionally intervening to help one of Quentin’s victims, especially if the victim is at least a recurring character on the show. The day players are generally left to fend for themselves.

836 dark shadows julia beth blocking

As we now know, Beth was a maid at Collinwood, desperately in love with Quentin, and apparently doomed to a tragic end. Beth thinks that this episode is her showcase, a big opportunity to be torn apart by conflict and despair. It is actually nothing of the sort, and I can explain why in two screenshots.

First, here’s Julia, telling Beth that she needs to speak to Quentin. When Julia first came in the room, she seemed nervous, but once there’s a real ghost in front of her to talk to, she gets right down to business. She’s seen scarier things than a dead domestic before; this is nothing to her.

836 dark shadows julia beth backacting

Beth turns to face the camera for a moment of dramatic backacting, looking proud and wretched and full of regret, probably. It’s impossible to know for sure, because she’s standing in the wrong place, and we can’t see her face. She’s been on the show all this time, and she still doesn’t know how blocking works.

Meanwhile, you can see Julia’s face, of course, because that is her prime directive. Julia knows the true secret of acting, which is that you don’t need to find your motivation or your sense memory; you just need to find your light, and be prepared to defend it against all comers. That is what today’s episode is about.

836 dark shadows beth window

Julia tries to get her hands around this perplexing situation. “What is Quentin doing?” she asks. “Why does he want to destroy David Collins?”

Beth looks pensive, and says, “He sees David as the reincarnation of Jamison Collins,” while the rest of us go, Really? What a terribly odd thing to think. But I guess on this show, the words “reincarnation” and “grandson” are basically equivalent.

Julia says that she may be able to help, if she knows the circumstances of Quentin’s death, so Beth launches into a Lost-style flash-forward, remembering things that haven’t happened yet.

So we finally get to see the moment that we’ve been waiting for all these months — the tenth of September, the day that Quentin dies and becomes an evil ghost. This episode is a long-delayed reckoning, finally connecting the story that it’s evolved into with a beginning that doesn’t quite fit anymore.

836 dark shadows beth quentin yelling

So the beginning of the end begins with Beth in the foyer, whining and flapping at Quentin. He’s been kind of distant lately, on account of he has several other simultaneous love triangles going on, and she doesn’t even know about most of them. She asks why he’s been avoiding her, and he snaps at her that he’s been busy with family business, which is one way of putting it.

“Quentin, don’t be angry,” she yelps. “I didn’t mean –”

He barks, “I don’t care WHAT you mean! Now, look, I just don’t want to talk about it now. I can’t talk about it!” And then he goes upstairs without saying goodbye. Being rude to people is bad policy, considering this is the day of his death, but this is a soap opera murder mystery, so the victim needs to spend some time pissing everybody off.

836 dark shadows beth angelique murder

Then Angelique pops out of the drawing room, and invites Beth to have a little chat about the facts of life. Quentin has several loose story threads that Beth is unaware of, and this is one of them.

A couple weeks ago, Quentin’s beloved nephew Jamison was on the brink of death, possessed by the spirit of his own grandson, who was dying in the 1960s. I know this doesn’t make any sense, but that’s what happened and it’s not my fault. It was all part of a spell, cast by an evil wizard who we don’t really need to discuss right now.

Angelique promised to break the spell and release Jamison, if Quentin would agree to marry her. He did, so she did, and now here we are. Then they kind of dropped the idea for a couple weeks, while Quentin began another love affair with another pretty young woman who’s also living in the same house.

We’ve already discussed how strange this is, for a soap opera to create these overlapping love stories without bothering to connect the dots. Quentin’s relationships with Beth, Angelique and Amanda have been treated like three separate story threads, all of them taking place in the Collinwood drawing room at irregular intervals.

But Quentin’s love life is a serious problem. He’s now the show’s main romantic lead, a swoon-worthy teen idol with his own record albums, and a reserved parking space on the cover of 16 Magazine. The problem is that he’s burdened with a scene partner who happens to be a terrible actress and can’t find her light.

They have to keep Quentin and Beth together until his prophesied death, because they’re the two ghosts who haunted Collinwood when this whole story began. Lately, she’s become this romantic boat anchor that he has to drag around. So they’ve been doing chemistry tests for several weeks, giving Quentin romantic scenes with Angelique, Amanda and Charity, to figure out which direction they want to go in.

836 dark shadows poison bottle

Beth isn’t that quick on the uptake, but even she can see that she’s being shut out of the storyline. On a soap opera, those whom the gods would destroy, they first take away screen time.

So she does the only thing left to her, which is to grab a glass and a bottle of poison, and get to work.

836 dark shadows beth jamison poison

But we have another item to squeeze in today: Jamison yelling at Quentin. Back in June, we saw a complicated prophetic dream, where Quentin’s future ghost appeared to David, and said there were three important things that happened before his death. The first two items were already fulfilled months ago, and it’s time for number three.

“That was the worst,” Quentin’s ghost said. “The one person in this world that I truly loved turned against me. After that happened, there was practically no time left for Quentin Collins.”

So now Jamison needs to get involved, crossing the third item off the checklist. He walks into the room with a puzzle that Beth gave him, which he wants to show off now that it’s completed. This is because Jamison and Beth suddenly have a super close off-screen relationship, which we didn’t know about until just this very minute. I don’t know if they’ve ever even had a scene together before.

Beth tries to hide the bottle of poison, but she’s not very good at hiding things, and Jamison snatches it out of her hand. Horrified that she’s planning to kill herself, he rushes off to confront Quentin.

836 dark shadows beth gun

Now, I guess Jamison thinks that taking the bottle away from Beth has essentially baby-proofed the room, but he should know that in Collinwood, you’re always about six steps away from a murder weapon. Sure enough, she goes into her junk drawer and finds a loaded gun.

You know how Chekhov said that if you have a gun on the wall in the first act, then you need to fire it by act three? Well, it turns out you don’t even need to put it on the wall. You can just point and shoot.

836 dark shadows quentin jamison turned

So here’s the big scene we’ve been waiting for, all these months. Jamison goes rushing off to tell Quentin that he’s betrayed Beth, and now she wants to kill herself.

Quentin:  Kill herself? What are you talking about? Is she all right?

Jamison:  Yes, but if I hadn’t walked into her room when I did, she —

Quentin:  I’d better go see her. Is she still in her room?

Jamison:  Yes, but she doesn’t want to see you. You’ve got to tell me why you did that.

Quentin:  Jamison… you’re too young to understand some things.

Jamison:  Quentin, I’ve got to know. It’s terribly important to me.

Quentin:  You’ve got to try and understand that — well, that the grown-up world is very different from your own.

Jamison:  All I understand is that you’ve hurt someone — someone that you love very much! I can’t understand why you’d do that, Quentin. Well, I don’t want to see you any more! I don’t want to talk to you, or have anything to do with you! I HATE YOU, Quentin! I HATE YOU!

And happily — despite all the hairpin turns that they needed, to make this work — they pretty much nailed it.

836 dark shadows quentin beth confrontation

The nice thing about this confrontation is that it’s not directly about the wacky supernatural plotlines. This is a human moment, and it’s based on a character flaw in Quentin’s makeup — his selfish ability to turn his feelings on and off as he pleases.

There’s a backstage reason why Quentin is turning his attention from Beth to Amanda — because Amanda is played by a charismatic actress, and Beth is not — but there are repercussions to that decision. The writers have essentially two-timed Beth, promising her a juicy role in the story and never quite delivering on it. No wonder she’s annoyed.

836 dark shadows quentin beth hug

And then Quentin goes and says some words to Beth about how he wanted to tell her about Angelique, but he couldn’t find a way to do it. He still can’t find a way to explain it, apparently, because he doesn’t even try.

He actually hugs her, because he’s Quentin, and he still thinks this is an opportune moment for a sales patch. He even says, “I know you can’t understand this, but I really do love you.” Apparently Quentin thinks that Beth doesn’t understand the grown-up world either. This is a tactical error.

“Forgive me,” he breathes in her ear. “Please forgive me.”

And there’s only one answer to that kind of nonsense, namely: Ka-CHOW.

836 dark shadows beth quentin the end

So that about wraps it up for Mr. Quentin Collins, as an active participant. He stumbles upstairs, while she delivers a crazy rant along the lines of, “I thought I needed to die, but then I realized the truth — that it’s YOU, Quentin, YOU who needs to die. Not me! YOU! Bwah ha ha ha!” And so on.

836 dark shadows beth quentin tower

For some reason, he makes for the tower room, which is not equipped with emergency medical supplies. This leaves a trail of blood all the way up several flights of stairs, so things ought to be pretty easy on the CSI unit. The Collinsport police force is legendary for its inability to put two and two together, but I think even they could figure out that there’s foul play involved, given a good breakfast and a head start.

Beth follows, still ranting and letting loose with the firearm. This appears to be the greatest thing that’s ever happened to her — just look at her face, she’s having a whale of a time.

836 dark shadows julia beth questions

It doesn’t last, of course, nothing truly beautiful ever does. Eventually, Quentin bleeds out, and we have to head back to 1969 for the post-game wrap-up.

“They found his body later that night,” Beth moans. “Here, in this room. And they found mine here, the following morning.”

So I guess I was wrong about the Collinsport PD; they didn’t even detain her. Apparently, it’s possible to roam the house — yelling, shooting off your gun and leaving pools of DNA on all the carpets — and you can still take your time bringing yourself to justice. I swear to god, the Collinsport police department is basically vestigial. Every single time with these people.

By the way, you’ll notice that once again, Beth is emoting like crazy in half shadow, while Julia stays in the light and wins the scene.

“Then you did kill yourself,” Julia says, by way of condolences.

Beth groans, “I thought killing him would help me release from loving him. But it didn’t.” There’s no real way to respond to a statement like that, so Julia ignores it. This whole episode is a referendum on who cares how Beth feels, and Julia is squarely with the majority.

“There’s something I don’t understand,” Julia says, and cocks her head to catch the light better. “If Quentin died in this room, then why was his own room sealed up?” Julia is all business. She’s not here to make friends; she’s here to play the game.

Beth says she doesn’t know, so Julia wraps things up. “Thank you,” she says. “I’m very grateful for everything you’ve told me, Beth. I only hope that there’s time for what I’ve got to do.”

She doesn’t say, “Oh, and thanks for causing all of this in the first place, you’re a real pal,” but I bet she’s thinking it.

836 dark shadows david julia job

So Julia strolls thoughtfully downstairs, planning to rip a hole in space and time to try and salvage this mess. And guess what she finds in the drawing room: David! He’s supposed to be in bed at the Old House, where there are at least four adults who are supposed to be watching him full-time, to make sure that he doesn’t do exactly this.

“Oh, for Christ sake,” Julia says. “Am I seriously the only person around here who shows up and does their god damn job?”

Tomorrow: The Trip.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Beth talks to Julia in their first scene in act 1, Beth poses in a spot where there isn’t any light; she’s facing the camera but in silhouette. Julia stays in the light because that is Grayson Hall’s prime directive.

When Quentin tells Beth that he’s been in his room all day, Beth stands there and stammers for a while. One of them has blown a line, but it’s hard to say which one.

Jamison tells Beth, “I’ll come and — I’ll come back and talk to you, later on.”

When Jamison says that he’d like to speak to Quentin alone, a puff of smoke drifts by behind him, as if someone is smoking just off-camera.

Immediately after that, Angelique holds her hand over her right ear.  When she leaves the drawing room a moment later, she’s stil messing with her ear, apparently concerned that her earring is falling off.

As the gunshot Quentin leans against the drawing room door, Beth takes a long look at the teleprompter.

Beth’s voiceover says, “After he was dead, I went back downstairs. I saw the other woman when she returned to the house.” But Beth isn’t downstairs in that scene; Angelique discovers the bloodstains alone.

The bloodstains in the drawing room are clearly solid pieces laid out on the floor.

David Henesy plays both David and Jamison in today’s episode, but he’s listed in the credits as Daniel, his 1795 character.


Behind the Scenes:

There’s a new fall schedule, and Dark Shadows’ timeslot competition changes. CBS cancels The Linkletter Show, and replaces it with reruns of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. This is a hit sitcom about a character from The Andy Griffith Show joining the Marines; it just ended its fifth season in spring 1969 as the #2 show in America. The Gomer Pyle reruns do very well, especially when Dark Shadows ratings start to fade over the next year. In the “Who Killed Dark Shadows” murder mystery dinner theater, Gomer Pyle is definitely an accessory.

Meanwhile, NBC cancels the game show Match Game after a seven-year run, and replaces it with Letters to Laugh-In, a short-lived game show spinoff of the popular prime-time comedy show Laugh-In. On the game show, viewers mail in jokes that are read aloud and judged by a panel of four celebrities, including two cast members from Laugh-In. It’s a terrible idea for a show, and it’s taken off the air at the end of the year, and replaced by a game show.

Also, as of today, all of ABC’s daytime lineup is broadcast in color.

The iron statue of a wildcat posing with a tree branch, which is often seen in the foyer, is in the tower room today; the camera features it in the first shot as Julia enters the room. The same statue will appear in Quentin’s room on Wednesday.

Tomorrow: The Trip.

836 dark shadows beth zombie

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

18 thoughts on “Episode 836: Murder, She Wrought

  1. I remember watching this as a kid and thinking, “Really? That’s why Quentin wants to destroy Collinwood? Because the maid shot him?” Now if the whole family had lined up with revolvers – always a possibility – that would have been justification for wiping out the bloodline. This?

    1. During the original Haunting of Collinwood storyline, it’s fairly clear that Quentin is out to destroy the family for either trying to separate him and Beth or for sealing him up to die in his own room (that kind of makes you peevish). David and Amy are merely a means to an end.

      This changes once we get to 1897 and discover the amazing chemistry between Selby and Henesy.

  2. I think the moment of Beth back-acting in the dark is intentional since she’s just appeared and her backlight is giving her a glowingly ghostly look. When she turns to a half-lit position it’s a nice progression. When Julia leaves the room at the end of the episode Beth slowly retreats back into into the shadowy part of the room, and back into complete darkness, while delivering her apologetic lines to the absent Quentin. Again, a nice effect. They give Beth a lot of movement through light and shadows. Seriously, how did they do this on a daily show? Their horror cinematography is better than many actual horror films.

    Angelique’s line to Beth, “You’ll get over it in time, my dear, everyone does” is quite ironic considering the centuries-long torch Angelique carries for Barnabas.

        1. I agree that they’re going for a nice chiaroscuro shadow and light interplay, but that’s not the same thing as just standing directly in front of the camera and doing your big emotional scene in silhouette.They were going for the shadow and light thing, and sometimes it works, but Terry Crawford doesn’t know where to stand.

          1. I also agree that the placement was intentional; I’ve done similar ghost effect on stage. And if she had been standing in the wrong place, I’m sure the director would have caught it in rehearsal or during a commercial break.

  3. Hi there:

    We are back at episode 325 and watching a few each morning. Hubby is on sabbatical so this is perfect over coffee and continental breakfast. We are SO ENJOYING your blog.

  4. There’s a bit of laziness on the set, where Quentin’s blood is played by red paper on the carpet….since we will see it three times, and it’s just too much trouble to clean the foyer.

  5. Every once in a while I have to remind myself how much televisions have improved in the last 50 years. Would the paper blood stains have been that obvious on the screens of 1969?

    As for the plot of today’s episode, it still doesn’t explain why the Collins family would seal up Quentin’s room with his his corpse rotting inside it, nor why they’d tell everybody that he’d gone to Europe! Unless, of course, Edward tried to avoid a scandal by hushing up the murder/suicide, and Collinsport PD never got involved.

    1. I don’t think they intended to explain the sealing up in this episode. Julia is puzzled by that very thing, but it’s left to be explained later.

    2. TVs in 1969 were pretty good–hardly 4K but not the fuzzy, wavy pictures that people seem to think (that was the 1940s and 1950s). I was ten years old in 1969 and watched a lot of DS in its original run (and a lot of TV). The “solid blood” would have been noticeable on a halfway decent TV set.

  6. All criticisms aside (and they are valid) I think this resolution of why Quentin is haunting Colinwood is fairly effective. They connect most of the dots and it fits well with the characters as we have come to know them. While it’s not perfect, it far better than say “Lost” Season 6 or “Star Wars” Episodes 1-3. Compared to those debacles, the Dark Shadows writers come off as sheer geniuses.

  7. Also, isn’t Beth the Governess? While they haven’t shown her having a close relationship with Jamison, it’s not unreasonable to assume that she has one.

  8. The ‘sealed skeleton in Quentin’s suite’ thread isn’t resolved, because the writers don’t know how they’re going to resolve it yet.

    Beth is in a different frock than the one she was attired in when originally haunting Collinwood. I know that this is because it’s what she’s wearing in the ‘past’ scenes, but it makes it seem as if the spirits on DS have access to an ectoplasmic wardrobe…

    Super-picky; the bottle Beth is going to use to make her cocktail is simply marked, “POISON”. Perhaps apothecary practices were different back when, but shouldn’t the bottle be labeled with whatever kind of poison it IS, along with a warning that it’s poison? Just so that you’d know whether you have arsenic or strychnine in the bottle? Or maybe the Collins family buys in bulk, and the product name is on the case, not the bottles.

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