“What could there possibly be new about falling in love?”
At this point, Count Petofi has just about had it. All he wants to do is get away from this crummy burg, with his legendary magical hand still attached at the wrist. He’s tired of being stalked by aggravating gypsies who shake tambourines and threaten him with scimitars, and he wants a ticket out.
He happens to know that Barnabas has the ability to travel forward in time to 1969, and if Petofi can tag along, it would give him a nice seventy-two year cushion when maybe the gypsies could calm the hell down. But Barnabas insists that he doesn’t know how to travel in time, despite the fact that he absolutely does know and I have no idea why he keeps saying that he doesn’t.
And now one of Barnabas’ friends pops up — having traveled exactly through time, thank you very much, like she can obviously do — and she still won’t tell Petofi how it works. I mean, at a certain point, they’re just being dicks about it.
Among all of Count Petofi’s persuasive gambits, the most dangerous is the one he calls “honesty”. He’s the guy who says what everybody’s thinking, especially if they’re thinking about how stone cold scary Count Petofi is. And in the other corner, we’ve got Dr. Julia Hoffman, the all-state liesmith champion of our time. She produces a constant internal scrolling feed of lies at all times, so she always has something ready in case somebody asks her a question. At the moment, she’s leaning on the “I don’t know why you think I even know anything” angle, which is baseline for her. That’s what she says when somebody asks her if there’s any coffee in the morning. She can do this all day.
But Petofi has no interest in mendacity, plain or fancy. “Tell me,” he says, “why is your hair so short? Is it the fashion in 1969, or have you recently had fever and had it cut off?” She waves away this bulletin from the barber shop, but he doubles down.
“You were found sitting on the steps of Collinwood, wearing a ridiculously short skirt,” he says, providing a helpful recap of the day’s events. “From there, you were taken in a state of shock to the old Rectory, where you were assisted by Barnabas and Quentin Collins.”
Julia realizes Quentin must have told him, but Petofi says, “No, Dr. Hoffman, I do not rely on humans for my information, which is why you will find it impossible to lie to me.” I’m not sure what you say to somebody who doesn’t rely on humans for information. I suppose you congratulate them on their resourcefulness, and then you say, gee, look at the time.
But then Petofi has to bundle Julia off into another room for a minute, because Charles Delaware Tate is coming over for a chat, and the guy is exhausting enough without involving him in your cross-time kidnapping adventures. Charles Delaware Tate is a famous artist with three names, and like David Foster Wallace, Neil Patrick Harris and John Cougar Mellencamp, he’s very talented but you probably wouldn’t want to spend a weekend with him.
Tate is all het up today, quelle surprise, because he’s under the impression that when he draws something on a sketchpad, it suddenly pops into existence. This is an absurd theory, and the fact that he is exactly correct does not make it any less ridiculous. So far, he’s created a beautiful young woman named Amanda and a crummy antique vase, which amounts to a tie score.
Now, as far as he knows, the only way he could have acquired this power is through Count Petofi’s magical touch, which gave him his talent and did absolutely nothing for his social skills. So he’s come to Petofi’s not very secret lair to shake some info out of the mad Count, which he’s not going to get. Petofi basically chuckles at him, and tells him to go play in traffic. Like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Haley Joel Osment and Billy Ray Cyrus, Tate probably hears that a lot.
Meanwhile, in what is practically an entirely different television show, immortal dreamboat Quentin Collins is hanging out in the Collinwood drawing room planting smooches on Amanda, who’s staying here as part of someone else’s sting operation.
The issue here — and there’s obviously an issue, because this show is only interested in plot points that don’t make sense — is that Quentin was temporarily killed earlier this week by his fiancee, who found out that he was also engaged to another fiancee. Now he’s kissing a third girl in the drawing room, and acting like she’s the only woman in his life. All three of these literal femme fatales live in the same house.
I mean, I get how dreamy he is. He arches an eyebrow, and looks directly into her eyes, and asks her to meet him in the garden. So she’s going to say yes to that. Anybody would say yes under these circumstances, up to and including dead people. Yes, I will meet you in the garden. Just name the garden. I will meet you there.
But then somebody knocks on the drawing room doors, and he says, “That’s what I mean. I’m not going to hide the fact that we’re together!” And the only possible audience response is: You’re not? Do you watch your own television show?
Because the other two ladies in his life have something of a track record in the cell block tango area. As I said, Beth either shot Quentin or was interrupted in the middle of shooting him, depending on which side of Schrödinger you’re standing on, and if you blow off Angelique, she will conduct a scorched-earth campaign that carpet-bombs your family back to the Stone Age.
So all I can figure is that there’s more than one Quentin on this show. There’s Romance Quentin, as seen here, and Tortured Quentin, who deals with werewolf curses and Count Petofi, and then there’s Blackmailed Quentin, who’s in charge of handling Angelique. When two of those Quentins collide — as happened earlier this week — then they both end up bleeding out on the rug, but the third one still exists as a fallback plan.
Then who should bust in but Charles Delaware Tate, who’s come over to tell Amanda that he’s figured out why she can’t remember anything before March 11, 1895. It’s because he had a dream that night about a woman he’d never seen before, and then he drew a sketch of her. That snapped her into existence, with a name and a personality and everything.
This is not a good thing to tell a woman that you’re romantically interested in, even if it’s true. Women take exception to this kind of thing.
So then he tells her about the vase that he created the other night, by drawing it on a piece of paper. He starts getting excited, waving his hands around and really going into detail. This does not help. Gentlemen, a word of advice: if you’re ever in a similar situation, don’t talk about the vase. Leave the vase out of this.
She doesn’t believe him, so he gets even more excited, yelling, “I’m telling you the truth, and I can prove it! Now, look!” Then he charges over to an innocent end table, which is sitting quietly by the window with some books and knick-knacks, minding its own business.
“This table,” Tate says, and then he sweeps the objects off the table and sends them crashing to the floor.
Then he says, “There’s nothing on it, is there?” as if he’s the worst magician in the world. I mean, I can see what he’s getting at here, but as an opening act, that trick needs some workshopping. It does not inspire confidence.
Now for my next trick, he says, and he whips out a pencil and a sketchbook. He draws a glass on the table, yelling the whole time that Amanda should watch the table.
Nothing happens. A glass does not spontaneously spring into existence. He doesn’t understand what’s gone wrong, but I think it’s obvious. The glass saw what happened to the previous occupants of that table, and it’s decided to lock itself in the dressing room until Tate goes away. Glassware is fussy like that. It has to be.
So Amanda flees from the crazy man, and then he gets kicked out of the house. This also happens to Seann William Scott, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Malcolm-Jamal Warner; it’s an occupational hazard.
Then it’s back to the mill for some more yelling. Petofi is losing his patience. He needs information, and Julia has decided to use the silent treatment, so he ups the volume to balance things out.
“HOW DID YOU TRANSCEND TIME?” he yells. “HOW DID BARNABAS COLLINS?”
She keeps her trap shut.
“WHAT IS THE METHOD YOU USED?”
“I MUST KNOW IT NOW!”
At this point, your mom pokes her head into the den and says, What the hell are you watching? And you’re like, it’s Dark Shadows. They’re being loud today.
So your mom says, What is this show even about? And she walks in, just in time to see a throaty centenarian waving his hand in front of a woman’s face, and saying: “Do you see this hand? Shall I pass it over your face, Julia, and then bring you a mirror?”
Julia is cringing, and shrinking back against the wall. “Would you like not to recognize yourself?” he insists. “Shall I cast a spell on you?”
As the hand draws closer, Julia suddenly cries out, “I Ching! That’s how we came here — the I Ching!”
Then they cut to commercial break, and your mom says, Seriously, don’t you have homework?
And everybody just keeps on hollering at each other for the rest of the episode, it’s just one crazy confrontation after another. Petofi goes over to Quentin’s place to score some I Ching wands, and Quentin yells that he’s through doing favors for Petofi.
“You are a petulant little boy, Quentin,” says the Count.
Quentin gets louder. “I am a MAN who has betrayed a FRIEND! And who let you kidnap a woman who did nothing to you!”
“Yes, a conscience can be a very troublesome thing,” Petofi purrs. “Shall I rid you of yours?”
Quentin goes up to eleven. He screams, “Did you hear me? I said GET OUT!” as you turn the volume knob down because honestly, if it keeps up like this, there’s going to be a domestic situation.
So the mad god explains the facts of life. He’s removed the werewolf curse — for now — but he could bring it back if he wants to.
“You won’t control me,” says the petulant little boy, but Petofi shouts, “I DO control you!” They’re really big on shouting today.
Petofi wraps up with a killer closing line. “You are a slave, Quentin,” he says. “You didn’t used to be, but you have become a slave. I, on the other hand, have always been a master.” Then he walks out chuckling, leaving Tortured Quentin alone with his thoughts. Things are tough on Tortured Quentin; maybe he could ask some of the other Quentins for backup. They’re usually cool about it.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Early in act 2, they cut to a camera that’s still zooming in for a closeup on Tate.
When Petofi tells Quentin that he controls him, you can hear people walking around in the studio, and the scrape of a chair on the floor. There’s more studio noise when Julia and Petofi discuss the hexagram.
As Petofi approaches the I Ching door, the camera pulls back too far, and shows the edges of the set.
Behind the Scenes:
The gypsy hand holding the scimitar today and in Monday’s episode is played by Jim Hale, who also played the gypsy executioner in Charity’s vision a month ago. These are the only three Dark Shadows episodes that he appeared in, and I don’t know anything else about him. Apparently, if you’re an actor who specializes in silently waving around a prop scimitar, there aren’t a lot of parts to go around.
— Danny Horn