Episode 909: Another Alias

“Can you see the center of the stone? Because beyond that center is another center.”

Take Quentin Collins, please. Take away his wardrobe, take him away from his family, and take him out of context. What do you get?

Well, you get David Selby in a bathrobe, which is still better than most of the available alternatives. But then what?

909 dark shadows julia quentin early

Quentin’s still alive, that’s the good news, still alive and on the show. Barnabas and Julia returned from their time travel adventure in 1897, and Quentin followed them home — time traveling the slow way, one day at a time. He’s been kept alive and eternally young by a magical portrait, Dorian Graying his way through the years. Soap opera characters come back from the dead all the time, but Quentin’s managed the even bolder trick of coming back from everybody else being dead.

Unfortunately, just at the last minute, Quentin was hit by a car driven by a reckless vampire who apparently can never be charged with any crime, no matter how hard he tries.

Naturally, this gives Quentin amnesia, which is standard procedure for soap opera characters who feel a little run down. He doesn’t recognize anyone, not even his closest friends, and his friend Julia is having a hard time explaining that he’s actually a hundred years old. She could just talk it over with the oil painting, but I guess that hasn’t occurred to her yet.

909 dark shadows julia quentin depressed

So Julia and Quentin have a conversation that’s frankly bizarre, even by Dark Shadows standards.

“Don’t you think it’s a little early to be so depressed?” she says.

He shrugs. “Why ask me? I’m the last person to know what kind of guy I am. Usually depressed, usually cheerful? Tell me doctor, what kind of a future is there for a — Mr. Nobody?”

Except he says it with a smile. A wry smile, yes, I will concede the wryness of it, but still, more smile than frown by several lengths. He seems especially tickled with “Mr. Nobody,” which isn’t even that good of a joke.

“Don’t say that,” she tells him. “You are not that.”

“Then who am I?”

“Your identification says you’re Grant Douglas.”

“And who is he?”

“That’s what we’re going to try to find out.”

And I have to say, he’s taking this extremely well. Like, you shouldn’t be taking this so well kind of well. Not only is he smiling, but he actually doesn’t seem super interested in asking those questions. He’s giving every indication that he finds Julia’s interest in his identity curious and vaguely amusing.

909 dark shadows julia quentin things

Julia pours the contents of an envelope out onto a counter. This is everything that he had in his pockets when he was brought in — a receipt, a matchbook, a little wooden puzzle and a key. He looks them over.

“Well, there’s not much to go on, is there?” he says, as he picks up the receipt. “Now, this tells us that Mr. Grant Douglas pays a rent of $55 a month, so we can safely assume that he’s not a member of the jet set.”

He chuckles, and looks at the matchbook. “And he seems to spend a lot of time in places like the Hi Hat Lounge, which promises that if you go there, you’ll forget all of your troubles.” Another chuckle. “Brother, that’s nothing compared to what you can forget in Collinsport.”

909 dark shadows quentin rent

“What is this key to?” Julia asks.

“Locker 194.”

“Do you remember putting anything in a locker?”

“No, I don’t. So wherever it is, and whatever it is, it’ll just have to stay there for a while, won’t it?”

And, again, he really doesn’t seem that put out. Every line is a joke. Usually, that doesn’t bother me at all; I’m a big fan of humor in fiction, wry and otherwise. But you’d think they’d want to hit a different note, this far into the scene. Fun’s fun, but this is actually a desperately frightening experience. He has no idea who he is, where he’s supposed to go, or what’s going to happen to him next. But Julia is way more interested in finding out the answers than he is, by a wide margin.

Also, he apparently doesn’t carry a wallet or a house key, which is puzzling. She said that his identification indicates that he’s Grant Douglas, which I guess could be on the receipt, but he doesn’t appear to have a driver’s license with an address on it, or any money, or a Walgreens rewards card.

How did he get here, and how was he planning on taking Carolyn out on a date? How far can you travel on a rent receipt and a matchbook?

909 dark shadows quentin julia wood

He picks up the puzzle and starts absently pulling it apart, and Julia cocks her head. “Do you often do that when you’re upset?”

He chuckles again. “Oh! Is that the sneaky approach? Trying to catch my subconscious off guard?”

She smiles, which, again, why are you guys in such a good mood right now?

“I don’t know whether I do this often or not,” he says. “I told you, doctor, I still consider myself Mister Nobody.”

This is not a realistic approach to the situation, but I’m not complaining about that. I frankly couldn’t care less about realism, on television in general and Dark Shadows in particular. And making jokes is entirely in character; the second most important thing about Quentin is that he’s funny. They’ve taken everything else away — his home, his friends, his wallet, his storyline — and his sense of humor is the only thing he’s got left. That works for me.

But he’s playing this entire scene as if he doesn’t actually care that much. If Julia just left the room and stopped talking about it, he would mess with the puzzle for another minute, put it down on the counter, and then go wander out into traffic again. Somebody needs to give a shit about Quentin’s identity, and call me old-fashioned, but I think it should be Quentin.

909 dark shadows quentin julia screwing around

She says, “Grant what happened to you is horrifying” — is it? — “but if you will cooperate with me, there are ways of waking the part of your mind that’s asleep.”

He keeps on screwing around with the puzzle. “Why? So that I can go back to my 55 dollar a month apartment, and my rollicking evenings at the Hi Hat Lounge? Oh, I don’t know, I’m not so sure it would be worth it all.”

“It is, I assure you,” she says, “because your future may be fascinating — once we find out about your past.”

And she finally breaks through. “All right, Doctor,” he smiles. “How do we find out?”

“Well, if it’s all right with you, there’s one way to start — with hypnosis.”

909 dark shadows julia quentin hypnosis

And of course that’s where you start, with Julia Hoffman as your attending physician. It’s either hypnosis or sedatives, and this is one of the rare 5% of cases where a sedative wouldn’t help.

So she puts him under, and the audience too, for a three-minute sequence that does not illuminate anything. Who are you, she says, and what’s the matter, and why are you waiting, and by the way who are you, and the only interesting thing that he says is Frederick Thorn.

She asks who Frederick Thorn is supposed to be, and he doesn’t say. Then she wakes him up and asks who Frederick Thorn is, and he still doesn’t know, so that’s two strikes on that angle.

And, I don’t know, wouldn’t it be nice if he’d said “Judith” or “Amanda” or “the curse” or something? Cause Frederick Thorn is not helping to engage me in this process. I’m trying, honest I am, but there’s only so much I can do from this end.

Monday: Epistemology of the Portrait.


Footnote:

The most important thing about Quentin is that you want to have sex with Quentin.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Julia hands Grant the locker key, and he says, “Locker ni– one ninety-four.”

In the hospital, Chris forgets a line, and Julia helpfully fills in: “It could only have been Mr. Nakamura!”

When Julia and Alexander watch Paul walk to the stairs, you can see power cables on the studio floor.


Behind the Scenes:

The little girl who plays Carolyn is Lisa Ross, in her only episode. She doesn’t have an IMDb page, as far as I can tell, but Dark Shadows Wiki has a great page with pictures and info on the rest of her acting and modeling career.

Monday: Epistemology of the Portrait.

909 dark shadows hi hat lounge quentin

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

43 thoughts on “Episode 909: Another Alias

  1. Soap opera amnesia is amusing. Quentin’s sense of humor remains mostly intact, which as Danny points out, is one of the most important things about him (he’s also still sexy, so he’s got that going for him). I remember how on MELROSE PLACE, Michael was hit by a car and suffered amnesia that kept his medical knowledge intact while removing all information about his personal life. Me, I tend to avoid doctors who don’t know which college they learned to perform the procedure they’re performing on me.

    Danny mentioned the potential conflict in amnesia storylines in which a character behaves differently than he would with his memory. For some reason, this story potential was ignored: Quentin, as Grant, could have fallen for Carolyn and feel indifferent to Olivia/Amanda, which for reasons we’ll later discover, could amp up the tension in a more natural way. The way it plays out now, there is a horrifying Trump-ness about Quentin, with full possession of his memory, asking out Carolyn, who he has to know is his nephew’s granddaughter.

    This could also directly connect him to the Leviathan storyline as Grant Douglas: He loves Carolyn and wants to investigate (SPOILER) and (SPOILER).

    The great and terrible thing about this storyline is that Julia is the sole plot driver. She’s the only major character who cares about what’s happening. She’s dynamic and awesome and arguably the lead of the show right now (as Barnabas fills a more antagonistic role). But a passive can’t be bothered Quentin is poison. He doesn’t want what we want (which is to confirm that he’s Quentin, find his portrait, and so on).

    1. Re: the Carolyn flirtation, I figure that he was checking out the Collins family before introducing himself, for some reason. There’s no actual rational explanation for what he did when he was just a trenchcoat and a watch — he looked in the antique shop window, walked around the Collinwood drawing room for a minute, and then went back to the antique shop and met Carolyn. You’d think that he would just go and say hi to Barnabas or Julia, or at least spy on them rather than Carolyn.

      But I don’t put much stock in the idea that he hit on Carolyn. He just walked in, showed off his wristwatch and talked to her for a while. Then he said he’ll be back later, when the shop’s closed. She interpreted this as a date because it’s Quentin.

    2. I think this was an excellent episode between Quentin and Julia. Julia is trying to help him remember with good suggestions and tactics. Quentin is sincere in admitting he doesnt know who he is deeming himself Mr. Nobody. I like Julia and Quentin in this episode.

  2. Carolyn is always falling for relatives — first her Uncle Roger, then Chris Jennings, and now Quentin. She’s had more crushes on relatives than she’s had actual legitimate boyfriends. Perhaps this is just the show’s way of lampooning the archetype of the spoiled rich girl from the well-(in)bred family. Recall that blooper in 1967 when Joe and Roger are searching for David, who locked himself in the secret room of the family tomb, and when Roger steps into the mausoleum he tells Joe, “My incestors are buried here.”

    Regarding Grantin’s apparent amnesia, one of the most hilarious lines above is, “I’m the last person to know what kind of guy I am.” It sounds like an oxymoron, because if you know that you’re the last person to know, then surely you know something about what kind of guy you are. And the fact that he knows the difference between a $55 a month rent and the jet set would seem to indicate something. The most revealing bit is when he’s reading off the matchbook about forgetting one’s troubles at the Hi Hat Lounge, musing “Brother, that’s nothing compared to what you can forget in Collinsport.” They should have expanded on that. Julia should have seized on it and pressed, “Forget… what, Grant?” That could be why Grantin, showing at first just a watch, was prowling around the antique shop and then Collinwood — he was searching for his portrait, which he had been seeking for a long time. And, as a man out of his own time, perhaps time was running out. If he didn’t find the portrait soon, then all hope could be lost of his ever finding it.

    Dark Shadows wiki has a page on Lisa Ross, which lists several credits both as an actor and model:

    http://darkshadows.wikia.com/wiki/Lisa_Ross

    1. Oh! I can’t believe I didn’t look there, thanks. It looks like all that info was added to DS wiki by one contributor, who never contributed to any other pages — so that means probably a relative or friend of Lisa’s. Neat; I’ll add that to her note above.

    1. Good point. He might have noticed her resemblance to Charity Trask and surmised she was descended from the Trasks he once knew.

          1. I saw the live performance of “Vengeance at Collinwood” and Jerry Lacy was simply fantastic as the possessed Tony. I went to that convention to see the 2004 pilot so, in hindsight, I experienced two fairly rare DS events that day.

          2. Wow! I love the 2-CD audio play Return To Collinwood, and would have loved to have had this one as well. Perhaps this performance is on video somewhere?

            1. I don’t know. This was before ubiquitous cell phone cameras and they were very insistent on no recording of any kind.

      1. According to Big Finish, Quentin already had his amnesia when he arrived in Collinsport. Being hit by Barnabas had no effect on his memory, it only gave him the superficial physical injuries.

  3. Even if something HAD started between Quentin and Carolyn, I don’t know if I’d have a problem with it. I imagine Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were more closely related than Quentin and Carolyn!

    1. We’re getting close to what I consider the ultimate Quentin Collins moment, where Quentin Collins becomes fully Quentin Collins, and does the one thing that only Quentin Collins could do: pretending to be his own great-grandson in order to bird-dog his real great-grandson away from his grand-niece. I mean, technicallyand I suppose any fellow with a portrait in the attic could do that, but no, you really have to be Quentin Collins to pull that move off to its full effect.

    2. Actually Quentin was Carolyn’s great granduncle; Eleanor and Franklin were fifth cousins. Four generations separate the first, six generations the second. Either way, it’s probably cool.

  4. It just occurred to me — If Quentin is protected by that magical portrait, wouldn’t the portrait rather than Quentin have lost its memory as a result of Quentin being struck by Barnabas’s car? Or maybe since portraits don’t have memories, that wouldn’t work. But, then again, what about the other things that the portrait doesn’t have, such as (ahem) things below the waist? Would they be subject to age, disease, and harm while the rest of Quentin remains immune to harm? And can you see now why people accuse me sometimes of overanalyzing things?

      1. No, I don’t think Quentin’s was full-length. But, yes, in the film versions of Dorian Gray that I’ve seen, I do think it’s always a full-length portrait.

    1. As far as the portrait goes, I think he’s covered. I think as long as we got the face, his essence, we’re in business.
      If only the parts we see in the portrait are covered, that would make for some incongruous and just plain weird story-telling. It wouldn’t be any kind of advantage.

      The portrait is just a conduit for Petofi’s will, anyway. More than anything, the portrait does what Petofi wants, and that is to be a unilateral cure-all and preservative for Quentin Collins, whom he had very much hoped to “inhabit” one day.

      Who knows, someone behind the scenes might have suggested a full length portrait, but the idea would have been rejected, because the painting had to be small enough to be kidnapped on a regular basis.

    2. And can you see now why people accuse me sometimes of overanalyzing things?

      Ha! Well, I was wondering the same thing. When Petofi demonstrated to Quentin how the portrait works, Petofi ran jagged broken glass along Quentin’s face. Quentin felt the pain, but the portrait bled, not Quentin.

      Or maybe since portraits don’t have memories, that wouldn’t work.

      Portraits don’t have blood either, but that didn’t stop Quentin’s portrait from bleeding. Quentin should’ve felt run-down after Barnabas hit him with the car, but the portrait should’ve absorbed the bodily damage.

      IIRC, later we see Jabez have a fight with Quentin and hold a knife to Quentin’s throat. Quentin surrenders at that point, but getting his throat cut would’ve been only a painful sensation. It wouldn’t really damage him.

  5. Anyway, my point is that being immortal isn’t enough. Like, if say, Tim Shaw had managed to make himself Immortal, I don’t think he’d be getting anywhere with Carolyn in 1970 if she was already interested in someone else.

    1. And I deliberately chose Tim Shaw because one supposes in modern dress he’d be at least as handsome as Chris Jennings. But deep down he’d still be, you know, Tim Shaw.

  6. Searching through Mr Wristwatch’s belongings, Dr Julia Hoffman found a business card from a “John Cameron Swayze”, with the unusual caption “It takes a licking, and keeps on ticking”

  7. Another thought about the powers of Quentin’s portrait. In the next few months he’s going to be buried alive twice. If the portrait makes him immortal, then he wouldn’t have died from being buried. I always thought that the portrait kept Quentin from aging, but he could still die in an accident or from murder, just not from aging or disease.

    1. Whatever suits the plot point is whatever the portrait will do. If we were to apply logic to DS storylines (and it’s a ludicrous favourite pastime of mine), Quentin should have single-handedly done away with the Leviathans because they shouldn’t have been able to harm him.

      1. In theory, I suppose Quentin really would be “buried alive” — that is, he would remain alive after burial, trapped in the grave in a living hell of burial for at least as long as the portrait remained intact. Now that’s a horrific thought!

        Then again, Barnabas was similarly “buried alive” in his coffin for more than 150 years, although I’ve always figured that vampires trapped in their coffin in that way would simply “sleep” the whole time without ever waking.

        1. Often a cross is put on the inside of the coffin lid over the vampire, freezing them into some sort of suspended animation, I assume.

      2. We share a pastime! I have an existential question: is a werewolf who doesn’t change on the full moon still a werewolf? That is, does Quentin still possess his intrinsic werewolfness? Because that plus his immortality would definitely have made him the one to go after the Leviathans, those strange Elder Gods who fear only werewolves and…shadows.

        1. I thought it was pretty silly that the Leviathans would fear werewolves, but in the Dulwich Horror, Wilbur (the Lovecraft inspiration of DS’s Alex/Michael/Jeb) was hated by dogs, and it was a dog that killed him. I suppose that’s where the DS writers got the idea of having Jeb fear the werewolf. Makes no sense, though, that a being powerful enough to raise the dead and brainwash people couldn’t just wear a silver pentagram.

        2. Carose, I would think that Quentin would still be considered a werewolf even though his curse is suspended by the portrait. It’s kind of like someone who is an alcoholic; if he or she doesn’t take a drink again, they will not suffer the effects of alcoholism, but they are still considered an alcoholic. Of course by this point in time, if the portrait was destroyed, he’d die from old age.

        3. I have an existential question: is a werewolf who doesn’t change on the full moon still a werewolf? That is, does Quentin still possess his intrinsic werewolfness?

          This issue is addressed interestingly in the Big Finish “Panic” audio drama. Quentin travels into a realm where the portrait has no dominion. While there, his intrinsic werewolfness manifests itself. Whether one accepts that as a definitive answer depends on whether one accepts the Big Finish dramas as DS dogma…. or wolfma.

          1. Yeah, Quentin’s werewolfness (and its impact on his descendants) comes up in Big Finish’s “Bloodlust” series, too. There’s some discussion of how it felt to become the wolf, how seductive that feeling could be, and how terrible it would be to admit that. It’s really interesting stuff, if you’re into the Quentin werewolf plotline.

    1. I think Don Briscoe is fine. And I like his acting as Tom Jennings. He brings some flavor to the series for the time he is there.

  8. Personally, I could happily watch Julia read the phone book out loud. Ditto Quentin. So watching them together is a treat, even if the scene doesn’t really advance the plot. I’ll settle for Quentin’s wry humour and Julia’s 1001 facial expressions.

  9. I actually really liked this episode because I found Quentin’s humour quite disturbing. It felt nihlistic and hopeless, like the Comedian in Watchmen or the Joker. He’s laughing because he’s got nothing, and you either laugh or scream. Quentin doesn’t scream, even when he’s not aware he’s Quentin.

  10. “…it’s either hypnosis or sedatives…”

    More like it’s either hypnosis or seances. One month into the Leviathon storyline, Julia has already performed both.

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