Episode 905: Waiting for Quentin

“The room will undergo a change.”

And then the door opens, and a wristwatch walks in.

See, there’s this mystery man in town who we’re not sure who it is, but he’s tall and dark-haired and possibly sideburned and it’s supposed to be Quentin. Last week, we saw him — or parts of him, anyway — watching Megan and Carolyn through the antique shop window, and then sneaking into Collinwood to silently check out the furnishings. We got a hint of sideburns when he was looking in the window, but the rest of the time, we just saw his trenchcoat, his shoes and his watch. I can’t explain the watch.

So it’s time-tossed werewolf vagabond Quentin Collins, of course, the reckless idol of American youth, who we last saw three weeks ago, at the tail end of the 1897 time-travel storyline. Quentin left Collinsport to search the world for the magical portrait that keeps him alive and young, and now that Barnabas and Julia are back in the present day, obviously he needs to join them again, and resume his leading role on the show.

When we saw the mystery man last week, they made a big deal about his wristwatch for some reason. He kept putting his wrist next to things — a portrait, a doorknob — and holding it there, while the camera zoomed in for a close-up. Quentin was never particularly attached to timepieces, as far as I recall, but I suppose he’s had seven decades to pick up a new hobby.

In Friday’s episode, the silent mystery man walked into the antique shop, and the first thing he did was hoist his wrist up in an awkward position, and leave it there so the camera could give us another thrilling wristwatch shot. I don’t know, maybe it’s a metaphor for something.

905 dark shadows quentin shop

So here’s a true behind-the-scenes story from the making of Dark Shadows Every Day. When I took the screenshot at the top of this post, I couldn’t remember who the stand-in was for David Selby in that scene. So I checked my spreadsheet of Dark Shadows Extras and Supporting Actors — yes, I have a spreadsheet for that, obviously — and I didn’t have anybody listed as a stand-in for Friday’s episode.

I couldn’t figure it out. I knew that last week’s mystery man appearance was Charles Rush, but for this episode, nothing. So I went to the Dark Shadows Wiki, which lists Charles Rush for 902, and nobody for 904. I also double-checked the Dark Shadows Almanac, which says that Charles Rush appeared as an extra in four episodes, and 904 isn’t one of them. So who was the Selby stand-in today?

And then I realized: they had Selby on the set for this scene. He appeared in several scenes, but all you could see was the trenchcoat and the wristwatch. You just got a little glimpse of his face, unconscious, at the very end of the episode.

So David Selby was the stand-in for David Selby on Friday. That is the entire problem that we need to discuss today.

905 dark shadows quentin dead

He gets hit by a car, by the way, that’s why he’s unconscious. When he and his watch walked into the antique shop earlier in the day, Carolyn took one look at the handsome stranger and instantly fell in love, just like everybody does when Quentin’s involved. Later, she told Barnabas that she’d met the most remarkable man, and the guy was coming back for a date when the shop closed.

Barnabas had a problem with that scenario, because he’s under the hypnotic sway of the Leviathans, a time-traveling death cult who have some secret world domination scheme that hinges on Carolyn Stoddard working at an antique shop and not currently dating anybody. They’ve got a very specific book of ancient prophecies, and it is apparently red-alert critical for them that Carolyn has no romantic entanglements. The fact that Carolyn never dates anybody for longer than a month or two anyway has not sunk in for the Leviathans. They’re a deeply strange people, even by death cult standards.

So, in one of the sillier moments in the Dark Shadows chronicles, Barnabas lurks nearby in a car until Carolyn’s mystery date starts walking across the street, and then he revs the engine, and knocks the guy off his feet and onto the sidewalk with a sickening thud. It’s a funny moment, because Barnabas won’t even allow electric lights in his house, and we had no idea that he knew how to drive a car. But here he is, his first time behind the wheel, and he nails a moving target. It’s amazing what you can do, when you put your mind to it.

905 dark shadows quentin knocked out

So what we have on our hands is a non-functional Quentin. He kept us waiting for three weeks, and now that he finally shows up on set, he won’t even get out of bed. This is not the appropriate team spirit.

He spends almost the entire day today unconscious, and when he wakes up on Wednesday, he’s going to have amnesia, a condition that will persist for the foreseeable. I’m not giving anything away here, because he’s a soap opera character with a bandage wrapped around his head. Obviously he’s going to have amnesia, that’s the only reason soap operas have hospitals.

His ID says that this is Grant Douglas, a lookalike nobody from Portland, which means that I’m expected to spend the next several weeks calling him Grant. I categorically refuse to participate in this charade, because it is demeaning to us both. Sorry not sorry for the spoiler not spoiler, but I respect you too much to pretend that this guy might turn out to be one of the Portland Douglases.

This is another moment where you rely on your televisual literacy, the basic understanding of how television shows work. You know who this man is, because Quentin Collins has family, friends and history on the show. He’s connected to the werewolf storyline, and his immortal girlfriend is still around, so Quentin Collins is a story-productive thing for this guy to be. Also, we like Quentin, and we want to see him again. The big reveal that this man is actually noted watch enthusiast Grant Douglas would please precisely nobody.

Unfortunately, once you get amnesia, daytime soap character union rules state that you get at least four weeks to fuss around and not recognize things. So that’s a whole other month of not necessarily having Quentin on the show, which is an odd choice to make.

I mean, the point of making Quentin immortal is so they could keep him on the show, when they go back to the 20th century. Like Barnabas, Julia and Angelique, Quentin is now a permanent fixture — there will never be a storyline that doesn’t have Quentin, in one form or another. So why spend seven weeks intentionally denying the audience this essential ingredient?

905 dark shadows quentin chris julia

There are three prior examples of this trick on Dark Shadows, and the difference between them is instructive.

In early 1968, Roger brought home his new wife Cassandra, who looked like Angelique in a black wig. It turns out she was Angelique in a black wig, for exactly the same reasons that we just discussed. They played the “is she or isn’t she” game for the space of one cliffhanger, and by the end of the next episode, we had confirmation.

There was a similar scenario towards the end of 1897, when there were two concurrent Barnabases — vampire Barnabas, staked in his coffin, and non-vampire Barnabas, who stayed in bed and pretended to be a different person. That mystery only lasted a couple of days; by the end of the week, we knew that the guy on screen was actual Barnabas.

The third example is Jeff Clark, who might or might not have been a reincarnation of Peter Bradford, Vicki’s boyfriend from 1795. Somehow, they managed to spin that mystery out for a full eight months, until they finally decided that nobody cared, and then they wrote Jeff, Peter and Vicki off the show forever.

The real problem with the Jeff/Peter mystery — and this is important, for the Quentin/Grant Douglas conundrum — is that Jeff Clark was just an empty suit of clothes. Jeff had no memories, and he arrived on the scene with no family, and very little in the way of a storyline.

Worst of all, Jeff’s primary characteristic — being in love with Vicki — was also Peter’s primary characteristic, so it was a distinction without a difference. It didn’t really matter whether he was called Jeff or Peter, so they could just let it drift for month after month, with no appreciable impact on story progress.

905 dark shadows quentin carolyn julia

Here’s how you do the amnesia story: Think of it as two people inhabiting the same body, and create a conflict between those people. If Peter’s in love with Vicki, then “Jeff” should be cold and distant. “Jeff” didn’t experience any of the events that brought Vicki and Peter together, so her clumsy attempts to revive his memory should upset and frustrate him.

At that point, you can take as long as you’d like to bring his memory back, because the longer this goes on, the more damage “Jeff” can do to Peter’s life. The ideal way to end that story is to have “Jeff” fall in love with Vicki’s worst enemy, and news of their engagement makes Vicki turn to someone new for support and understanding.

Then it should be obvious to everyone that his memory comes back on the day of his wedding, during or immediately after the vows. Suddenly, “Jeff” is Peter again, horrified to discover that he’s married to someone that he doesn’t like, and the love of his life is involved with somebody else.

That’s how you do the amnesia story.

905 dark shadows quentin carolyn julia barnabas

So when we’re talking about the oncoming Quentin/Grant confusion, the way that we can tell whether it’s a good story or a bad story is how it measures up to that baseline standard. Is “Grant” a noticeably different person who can mess up Quentin’s life, or is he just going to be Quentin without the friends, relationships and reason for being on the show?

The problem is that Dark Shadows has never been particularly invested in making Quentin internally consistent. I’m not going to go through all the hairpin turns in Quentin’s protean character development, because he switched personas constantly, sometimes in the middle of an episode, and if you don’t remember what that looked like, then you’ll have to go and read the last nine months of the blog over again. He was a villain and a hero and a lover and a monster, a dozen different versions of the role, held together by rock-solid plot points and David Selby’s unbeatable charm.

But if we can’t really say who Quentin is right now — if he’s become a wanderer, unstuck in time, drifting through the decades and checking his watch every five minutes — then what is “Grant” supposed to contrast with?

That’s the problem with mystery men; they can’t live on anticipation forever. This guy needs to get his ass out of bed, and report to work.

Tomorrow: Little Caesar.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Someone in the studio coughs when Chris approaches Julia at the hospital.

In the hospital room, Chris steps on one of Julia’s lines, while she trips over it. He begins, “You mean to say –” as she’s saying, “There is a reason that Quentin — a logical reason that Quentin Collins looks young.”

While Carolyn is dusting in the antique shop, something falls to the floor with a small clatter.

Barnabas mangles his dialogue in the hospital scene with Julia and Quentin. His lines include:

“Obviously, you’ve spent a great deal of time making the man identified, but he is not Quentin!”

“How do you expect me to behave, and react to a tragedy like this?”

“Now, Chris, I would like to tell you that this man in this bed is going to bring hopes to you, but he will not.”

Behind the Scenes:

We see more of the yellow stationery that’s been bulk-purchased by everyone in Collinsport today; this time, it’s the envelope that Julia hands Chris to take to Stokes.

Why does the antique shop have four working ceiling lamps in such a tiny space? I know they’re supposed to be antiques on display, but that’s still a lot of functioning light fixtures.

The pig weasel on the back shelf of the antique shop is now facing in the opposite direction.

Usually, people who don’t have any lines don’t get a credit at the end of the show, but Grant Douglas and Alexander are both credited today.

The backstory for the name Grant Douglas is explored in a 2013 Big Finish audio drama, The Haunted Refrain.

Tomorrow: Little Caesar.

905 dark shadows quentin barnabas strangle

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

30 thoughts on “Episode 905: Waiting for Quentin

  1. Great analysis of Quentin’s character through 1897. I guess it didn’t matter which Quentin we got from day to day as long as we got to stare at David Selby. Sadly, Quentin is about to get more consistent, i.e. duller, in comparison from now on. He’s still adorable.

    I think giving him amnesia served to keep Julia alone in her battle against the Leviathans a little longer. The front end of this story is better than the back end, as the forces against Dr. Hoffman pile higher and higher. Still, I don’t disagree with you as to how poorly DS handled the “is he or isn’t he” aspect of this tale. At least we can take refuge in the fact that the one good use of this soap opera staple – the Alexis Stokes question – is yet to come.

  2. That’s what happens when you issue a driver’s license to a vampire. With his cat-like vampire night vision, he shouldn’t even have needed the headlights. Perhaps it was the headlights that got in the way of his superior vampire night vision. I always got the impression that Barnabas was just speeding along, unaware that he was about to hit Quentin/Grant. But then again, why would he be driving at such an excessive speed directly toward the front of a building? At the rate he was going, he should have crashed through the front window and driven right into the middle of the shop.

    1. It’s a little morbid, but that make some wonder how many stories have main characters running down other main characters accidentally. One obvious one is The Great Gatsby.

  3. Presumably Quentin keeps checking his watch in order to try to find out what /year/ it is. Under the circumstances, you can hardly blame him for being confused…

  4. Maybe the appearance of yellow stationery is a harbinger of a Leviathan infestation.

    “The pig weasel on the back shelf of the antique shop is now facing in the opposite direction.”

    It was the pig weasel who knocked over the table!

    What I want to know is, who taught Barnabas how to drive in the first place? Last time we saw him in a car, Vicki was driving him around.

    1. I’m assuming Dr Hoffman taught him how to drive in their spare time. Nights are long. And if Dr Hoffman drives anything like the real Grayson Hall did, this incident is not a surprise.

  5. I might be remembering wrong, but I think the first time Barnabas being able to drive is mentioned is in episode 687, when he drives a transforming Chris from his cottage to the mausoleum

  6. The amnesia storyline is the only time I was ever angry with the show.

    I suppose because they had the whole Dorian Gray portrait, they decided to go with Quentin reaching 1970 the long way around. I’m not a fan of the idea because it means a character who changed so greatly in 9 months doesn’t change at all for 70 years.

    Wish he could have just traveled to the future to escape Petofi. The Dorian Gray plot could have transferred to Amanda Harris.

  7. Those who dwell on the Collinwood estate have a history of bad driving: Roger, Carolyn, Vicki, Barnabas, and Matthew all were involved in car accidents.

    1. I wonder if David had been at Barnabas’s bleeder valve. You should never mess with a vampire’s bleeder valve.

  8. In episode 276 Nurse Jackson at Windcliff is heard to speak, but is uncredited. When Maggie gets hysterical in Julia’s office after Dr. Woodard’s questioning, Julia calls in Nurse Jackson and instructs her to take Maggie to her room. Nurse Jackson, replies, “I will, right.” And when Julia tells her to give Maggie a sedative, as she is leading Maggie out of Julia’s office Nurse Jackson replies, “Yes.” Previously in episode 265, Nurse Jackson had several lines following Maggie’s “London Bridge” breakdown where she advises Joe and Sam that they’d better leave, but is again uncredited. Likewise in 294 she has several lines when Sara helps Maggie escape from her room, but is, once again, uncredited.

    In act II of episode 270, Bob O’Connell as Blue Whale bartender Bob Rooney has a couple lines interacting with Carolyn at the bar, but is also uncredited. LIkewise in episode 156 when he informs Carolyn at the bar that she has a phone call (because her mother has been put in a trance by the Phoenix) he is also uncredited.

    But if you’re a major character, who moves the plot as opposed to just being incidental, and who will be prominently featured in subsequent episodes, you would get a credit.

    My favorite silent, uncredited character is Susie the waitress (aka silent Susie) from the Collinsport diner, who appeared in seven episodes and was played by two actresses (Colleen Kelly in three episodes from July to August 1966, then Carol Crist in four episodes in October 1966). The Bangor Pine Hotel waiter (three episodes in November 1966) was also silent, and therefore uncredited, but at least Susie had a name as well as a personality, albeit a silent one — and that goes without saying.

    1. Also in episode 116, when the taxi driver comes to take Vicki to town, but she’s already been captured by Matthew Morgan. He has a few lines back and forth with Mrs. Johnson about whether Vicki has actually left. His name is Arthur Anderson.

  9. I was going to give my opinion on what makes a good amnesia story, but I can’t remember it.

    Why did Barnabas hit Grant with a car? Grant was driving him batty.

  10. Here’s a conundrum for this episode – How come Grant/Quentin needs a bandage on his forehead when his portrait is somewhere protecting him from physical harm and change? Remember when Petofi shoved that broken wine glass into his face and no harm done? For that matter, one might even expect the portrait to protect him from harm of any sort, even when he’s struck by a car. He should be pretty much invulnerable. (RE the Dorian Gray character in the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen — not that you should take that as a recommendation for the movie, because it’s not.)

    1. Well, the portrait is getting on a bit now. Maybe it takes a little longer to get going in the morning.

  11. Speaking of Quentin, I just finished listening to Big Finish’s story The Skin Walkers, which takes place two years after 1897. It’s a different take on the cult aspect of the Leviathan story and it works better. I highly recommend it to everyone! Although without spoiling anything, it raises a few questions as to what the nature of Quentin’s portrait is (or is evolving into).

    Back to the episode, I’m glad Quentin is finally back in the show! Even if he’s a bit watered down at the moment, he can only improve the story just by standing in the room.

  12. That scene with Quentin and car was very badly staged. Quentin was standing between the lamp post and the antiques shop. There’s no way a car could squeeze between those two. Just a bad job.

  13. Blooper update: There is a tape edit when Julia and Chris are talking in Quentin/Grant’s hospital room. Also, when Megan enters the antique shop, the telephone is on the desk, as it usually is. After she awakens from her trance/visit by Barnabas, the telephone is gone (no doubt because she has to open the desk lid to retrieve the box of clothes David got at Brewster’s).

  14. I’ll guess that the amnesia storyline for Grantin (Quentant?) is because they wanted Selby and his boffo ratings there on the show, but hadn’t thought of a plot for him yet. So just go with an old soap opera standby, car crash / amnesia.
    Yeah, why is he even hurt at all? The painting should have absorbed all the trauma of Barnabas’ reckless attempt at mayhem; the portrait should have amnesia. (Oh, but then it wouldn’t be protecting Quentin any more, since it wouldn’t remember who it’s a picture OF – which is why Quentin has the amnesia and injuries! How’s that for a fanwank?)
    And one would think that Quentin would still be using an old-fashioned pocket watch on a chain, which would have been much more interesting visually than that tatty chronograph he’s got strapped on his wrist.
    Is it explained later just WHY Quentin thinks he’s Grant Douglas? Did he already have amnesia? And now he has double amnesia? (If I remember sitcom amnesia correctly, the second trauma should have reversed the first – but soap opera amnesia may be different.)

  15. Re: Characters inconsistently credited and it not necessarily depending on their having lines: Three episodes from now, we will have an actress playing a mysterious child and she won’t be credited. There is no point in waiting for that episode to point it out. Nobody seems to give her name anywhere that I have looked.

    1. OK, never mind. I was looking in the wrong place. Lisa Ross is credited in the next episode after the one where I expected her.

  16. Old Barn looks like he was driving on the sidewalk. Also people that get waffled by a car don’t fall (land) at the point of impact. 🙂

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