Episode 924: Pretty Woman

“We became friends in the past. Please, let us be friends now.”

Mrs. Rumson arrives at her palatial beach mansion on Little Windward Island, and greets her husband of six months, the handsome publishing magnate. She’s found peace at last, after so many years of struggles and schemes. She’s going to go straight, she said, and everyone laughed. But she’s on the level, this time. The dead past will bury its dead.

But nothing ever stays dead, not on this show. At least, not with Dr. Julia Hoffman around.

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So: Ta-dah! It’s another one of Angelique’s surprise returns, appearing by helicopter and public demand. We last saw her two months ago, in 1897, when she tried to cast a spell on Count Petofi, unsuccessfully. Then another vengeance demon showed up and set the house on fire, and we kind of lost track of Angelique.

But here she is! Popping up at the dawn of the 1970s, settled down and sold out. She’s given up on witchcraft, and now lives the glamorous life of a New York socialite. Or at least, she did, until Julia arrived.

Julia’s here for a hot picture — the magical portrait of Quentin Collins, which was forcibly redecorated and now operates under the alias A View from South Wales. She’s following a lead that she found in the house of a man that was brutally murdered by one of her friends, a crime that I don’t believe anybody ever reported. This is exactly the kind of nonsense that you don’t want showing up in your living room, while your husband is right down the hall.

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“I don’t want to have anything to do with you,” says Angelique, and that’s the last sensible thing anybody says all day.

Angelique:  Barnabas would never believe that I’m in love. That I’m loved. Barnabas always laughed at me when I spoke of being human.

Julia:  You’ve given up your powers?

Angelique:  Of course — willingly! That was part of the agreement. If I could find a man who could honestly love me, then I could live as a human. And I am!

Okay, the “agreement”. Let’s discuss that for a minute, because it never really made sense before, and it makes even less now.

882 dark shadows barnabas angelique troubled

Let’s go back to two months ago, the last time that we saw Angelique. She’d been strongarming Quentin into marrying her, and Barnabas was telling her to let him go.

Angelique:  Before I came here this time, I was in the everlasting pits of Hell, where other creatures of my kind live. Only… my stay here on Earth made me dissatisfied with my life there. I longed to come back here — to Earth, to become a human being! I begged my Master for the chance! Finally, he gave it to me — on one condition, and one condition only.

Barnabas:  And what was that?

Angelique:  That I make one man fall in love with me, without any use of supernatural spells or powers. One man. One chance. That’s what I was granted.

Barnabas:  And he is the one?

Angelique:  Yes. So you can see why Quentin is the only man on Earth for me, if I want to remain here on Earth as a human being… and I do. I do!

It’s hard to know exactly where to start with this. For one thing, the definition of “human being” is pretty shaky. As far as we know, Angelique started out as a human being, and it’s not clear when and how that transition was made. I mean, I get that she died several times, and that she arrived in 1897 out of the fireplace, which is not traditional human being behavior. But apparently she can become a human being again by giving up her powers, which means that the distinction is more of an attitude change than a species reassignment.

Next: what kind of Devil’s bargain is that supposed to be? She can stay on Earth as a human if she can get one man to fall in love with her. Why? What does that prove? Is the Devil a secret romantic who wants to see true love conquer all?

And if that was the scenario — find a guy to fall in love with her — why choose Quentin as your target? He’s a lifetime philanderer, who at one point had four concurrent love interests living in his house.

And another thing, re: one man, one chance. It didn’t work. She had her chance, and she lost. But here she is, more than seventy years later, with a brand new guy on the hook. Yes, she successfully got Sky to fall in love with her, and she gave up her powers for him. But why was she on a seven-decade leash?

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But, most important: How hard could it be to get somebody to fall in love with Angelique? She’s gorgeous. She’s intelligent. She’s motivated. She could make ten guys fall in love with her over a long weekend. Why would anybody bet against a guy falling for Angelique? All she had to do was step outside her immediate social circle.

So the Dark Shadows writers are doubling down on this absurd story point that’s predicated on the idea that nobody loves beautiful women. I’m having a hard time getting my head around that.

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Given all that, her story just gets more absurd the longer that she talks about it.

Angelique:  When Sky asked me to marry him, I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know whether I could give all that up. One day, as I was trying to make up my mind, I was wandering through a gallery, and I saw that.

Julia:  You knew that Quentin’s portrait was underneath.

Angelique:  I was in Charles Tate’s studio, the night he covered Quentin’s portrait and began work on that picture. So the picture came to mean, for me, everything my life had been up until now. All these weeks, I was trying to make up my mind about Sky, I would go to the gallery, and look at the painting, and remember.

So, okay. She’s somehow spun out her “one man, one chance” for an extra seventy-odd years, and it still took her weeks to make up her mind? What is she talking about?

Also — there’s always an also, with this story — she wasn’t anywhere near Tate’s studio that night, and he didn’t start working on the new picture the same night that he covered Quentin’s portrait. As I recall it, Tate painted over the portrait with white paint, and then it went up in flames when Garth Blackwood burned the studio to the ground. It’s not clear how the portrait survived in the first place, really.

Although I suppose it’s fitting, somehow, that this impossible-retcon oil painting is the symbol for Angelique’s impossible-retcon storyline. The only thing about this story that makes sense is that Angelique held out for another multi-millionaire.

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But I shouldn’t worry about it too much, because it’s obvious this marriage is doomed as soon as we hear about it. Angelique is one of the Dark Shadows kaiju, the giant monsters stomping through everybody else’s lives, bringing chaos and destruction and story progression with every step.

We know they didn’t bring Angelique back just to give her a sentimental send-off; that’s elementary televisual literacy. It’s Angelique, and they’ve built a whole new set. This is an entrance, not an exit.

No matter what she says, the kaiju don’t get to pick and choose which off-ramp to take. This marriage was made to burn.

Tomorrow: The Wolf of Wall Street.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

David sneezes at the start of his scene with Maggie.

When Maggie returns to her seat in the drawing room, you can see yellow blocking tape on the floor.

Julia tells Angelique, “I know that the painting — the portrait of Quentin — will help him regain it.”

When Julia asks Angelique for the painting, there’s a loud squeak.

Julia tells Sky, “Goodbye, Mr. Rummon.”


Behind the Scenes:

Everybody’s been using yellow paper lately; there must be a huge yellow stationery sale at Brewster’s. Today, David’s essay is written on yellow paper.

Tomorrow: The Wolf of Wall Street.

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Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

35 thoughts on “Episode 924: Pretty Woman

    1. I rewound that bit 3 or 4 times, thinking I must have misheard him. But every single time it came out “shit down, David.” And clear enunciation aught to be a good thing, but for some reason Michael’s “should’ent” “would’ent” “could’ent” really got on my nerves.

  1. Okay, Danny, you’ve convinced me: the Dark Shadows storylines make no sense! I’m going to stop watching immediately!!!

    Well, no, not really. While it is interesting that, after four years of putting this show together, the retcons get no more logical, it all pales beside the fact that Angelique is back! And yes, the Leviathan storyline is about to get really wonky, but the part with Angelique and Sky contains the few wonderful surprises left in this tale.

    I am assuming that the writers didn’t think that school kids would notice or care about these inconsistencies (we didn’t). And since ALL of the big romances on DS concerned vampires, werewolves, man-made monsters, witches, and blobs of earth, leaves and slime, I can totally wrap my head around Satan being the true romantic in this universe.

  2. On the other hand, the situation with Angeique ties with the mythology about fae women, who can get a human soul if they get a human man to love them. Those relationships tend to go south (thin Andersen’s mermaid, Girardoux’ Ondine, and Rusalka, the opera)

    By the way, I saw Rusalka with Renee Fleming who looks a lot like Lara Parker. And in the last scene, when she walks away in a long white nightgown, leaving behind the corpse of her faithless lover, it looked exactly like Angelique…

  3. What I love about Julia’s reunion with Angelique, is that it has an impact that could only be achieved when a show has been on for several years. We know both of these people, and we know that they know each other. We’ve all been through Hell, together.
    This scene reminds me that Julia Hoffman does have at least one amazing magical super power, her ability to LOOK at you.

    Angelique takes one more unintentional step toward martyrdom.

  4. Angelique’s time continuity is way off. As near as I can figure it, she (or her undead spirit) leapt forward from 1795 to 1968, following Vicki back through time to appear as Cassandra and restore the curse to Barnabas. Then she got banished to hell, only to find her way out of the inferno via Evan Hanley’s fireplace in 1897. During that storyline, the continuity works: Angelque remembers Julia and David. But from that point on it goes haywire. If she was wandering around for seven decades, what happened when she got to 1968 and it was time fir Cassandra? The continuity gets worse when Barnabas meets her in 1840. Angelique says she’s been coming to his mausoleum every year since since 1795. Um, no, she actually hasn’t. She didn’t exist from 1795 until 1897. So if she’s in 1840, it should have been that she followed Barnabas there from 1970. I prefer to think that after the events if 1897, Angelique immedately timeslipped to 1969/1970 and met Rumson. Then maybe Judah Zachary, who hated her, stripped her of her memory just as she was heading back to 1840 to help Julia and Barnabas. (Strange the sorts of things that keep me up puzzling at night.)

  5. I like that the supreme leader of an eons-old extraterrestrial secret society has to cheat at board games. The award for Executive Child of the Year, 1970, goes to Michael.

  6. “Goodbye, Mr. Rummon.”

    “Rummon?”

    “You don’t have to put it on anything I’ll take it neatt, thanks. Yesh, I love a good glash of rum, son. Rummon! Hey, that’s you!”

    “That’s right, Sky Rumson…”

    “I DO enjoy a little drinky of Skyy Vodka now and then, but it doesn’t really mix with rum, son. Hey, that’s you! Hey, do you know my friends the Todds?”

    “Todd…”

    “Well, I wouldn’t say no to a hot toddy as long as you’re having one. Wouldn’t want you to start drinking alone. Are you sure you’ve got enough room? I mean rum. Is there enough rum in the room? Rumroom. Ha, ha. Say, do you know my friend Mr. Collins?”

    “Collins?”

    “Well, I wouldn’t say no to a nice rum Collins if you’re having one, Mr. Rumbles. Goodnight. Mr. Rummon, wherever you are.”

  7. This set has always bugged me and I think I finally figured out why. It looks like it could be a lost wing of Collinwood – only for the claustrophobic.

    I don’t believe millionaire mogul Sky Rumson, the guy with his own private plane on standby, would choose to ever live in such cubbyhole. He’d opt for a place with windows, windows, windows to survey his empire and the minions below.

    1. Those “chalice” lamps in the corners of Sky Rumson’s drawing room are a taller version of the ones in David’s room at Collinwood. But in terms of set design, look at those doors on the left, how they are shaped with curves at the top, and the windows, the fireplace, the width of the room — all these specifications are the same as for the east wing parlour at Collinwood (which we’ll be seeing lots of soon):

      http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/darkshadows/images/e/ec/Eastwingparlor3.jpg/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/280?cb=20091222004247

    2. Two things on the Rumson set: First, he calls this room the “gallery,” so it’s essentially a room for his art. We don’t know what the rest of the place looks like. Also, he doesn’t actually “live” here. This is his weekend getaway place on an island off of Maine. It’s his “cottage,” you might say.

  8. Angelique’s “deal” with the Devil works in some Disney fairy tale way in which the Devil knows that superficial beauty alone is not enough to earn “true” love (forgive me while I giggle). Thus Angelique would have to change drastically — perhaps even commit a selfless act — in order to break the Devil’s hold on her. We sort of get the “selfless act” at the end of 1897 but the writers fumble the metaphor and still insist on depicting “true love” as “man-woman-marriage.” We could also still have Angelique living through to the 20th Century eternally young because “humanity” is an “emotional” not “physical” state and so on.

    Oh, and things aren’t quite what they seem with Angelique’s “perfect life,” so there are shades of classic “deals with the Devil” here. He always comes out on top.

    Unfortunately, it’s never clear what Angelique had to offer the Devil. She was already damned. There’s an implication in 828/829 that her interest in marrying Quentin is to deliver his soul to the Devil, as well. That makes more sense, though honestly, the Devil didn’t really need Angelique’s help for that.

    BTW: I much prefer Angelique as a mortal human being with cool powers. I especially liked how in 1795 she’s not even that adept at them. It’s very early Marvel compared to the Silver Age Superman level of powers she displays at some points. Regardless, I find there’s far more stakes with an Angelique who is human and for whom death is an ending rather than an Angelique for whom death is an inconvenience. After all, when she was set on fire by Ben Stokes and apparently destroyed, all it took to bring her back was a five-minute ritual by part-time Satanist Evan Hanley.

  9. I think that the deal works for Angelique on a psychological level. I think she believes she is not capable of being loved. She was rejected by Barnabas and Quentin. She did horrible things to Barnabas. So I think that setting a condition she thinks can’t be met makes sense. That said, I too don’t see what is in it for Satan. I don’t see why he would give her another chance. Basically they can’t get rid of Angelique so he just does.

  10. The real reason they brought Angelique back: ratings. Dan Curtis mentioned in a latter day interview that he would always bring Angelique back when the ratings needed a boost. This episode was recorded in mid-December and by this point the Leviathan story has been ongoing for more than a month and a half. I’m not sure how aware the producers were of ratings on a regular basis, but since the start of the Leviathan story there has been another quarterly Nielsen sweeps month (in November). That they didn’t give much thought as to how Angelique would fit into the present story is evident — it seemed a quick decision, and the main thing was that they just put her back on the show.

    1. They must have been gearing up for the movie at this point too. Perhaps they were already planning for Angelique and Quentin to be the leads while the rest were away filming, so they brought her back early to get her into the world again.

    2. Yeah, good point. We’re just getting up to the point where they’ve clearly made new decisions about storyline direction — a couple episodes from now, Barnabas starts having “what am I doing?” thinks monologues. They haven’t filmed the “emergency episode” yet, but they’re clearly pivoting.

  11. The only way Angelique’s apparent “reprieve” from hell makes any sense to me is if it’s actually part and parcel with her hell. That is, hell may not be all fire and brimstone, but rather specific terrible punishments tailor-made for each individual, thematically linked to their greatest sins. So perhaps Angelique’s customized hell is eternal frustration in love. Satan holds out that little hope to her, tantalizing her, knowing she’ll try to grab it, but also knowing — even making damn sure — that she’ll be doomed (again and again) to failure. Satan will see to it that she loses love, even after having had a taste of it, which will make its loss all the more bitter. And the Devil just sits back and laughs. That’s the only way it makes much sense to me.

  12. My theory: The Devil, like all of us, has a soft spot for Angelique. Yes, even The Evil One is under her spell, and while he has to go through the motions of punishing her for the sake of board members, he’s always giving her a break when no one is looking.

  13. On Dark Shadows like Bewitched there seems to be an odd distinction
    between witches and “mortals”. Not sure what it is though…

  14. Yeh, I was thinking when I first saw this episode, that they had borrowed a bit of Samantha Stevens for this latest Angelique.

    And I remember being kind of upset that after all the nastiness she had caused, that here she was with the perfect soap opera life; handsome rich man with all the trimmings, off the hook for all the misdeeds! All that manure about “begging to be released from torment so she can find true love”. Isn’t that how Hell works? You DON’T get what you want?

    While Carolyn and Maggie didn’t even have boyfriends now.

    “She’s had three husbands, and I’ll be an old maid!”
    Suellen O’Hara, in ‘Gone With The Wind’

  15. I think it’s kinda interesting that this is a Sam Hall episode–I get the feeling Curtis tossed the ball to him whenever it was time to do a rapid retcon or reframe of the action, as Hall was a stone-cold efficient pro with rapid exposition. (He wrote the first Angelique episodes in 1795, too.) Unfortunately, that means Hall was frequently stuck with the lose-lose assignment of trying to persuade us of stuff that flatly made no sense. Angelique’s arc is a series of improvised intrusions, after all. Of course, back in the day, I was such a pushover for Lara Parker’s over-sincere emotional confessions, complete with barely-concealed Southern accent, that I just went with it.

    1. That’s the funny thing about this “Down East’ soap opera — most of it sounds like it comes from down South instead. Besides Lara Parker, you’ve got David Selby from West Virginia, Don Briscoe from Tennessee, Nancy Barrett and Louis Edmonds both from Louisiana, and then filling out points West and Midwest, respectively, you’ve got David Ford from California and Kathryn Leigh Scott from Minnesota — all of whom do little, or are not even encouraged to do, anything about hiding their native accents. Ironically, the only character on the show who actually is supposed to be from the South is Willie Loomis, but who is portrayed by someone who grew up in Brooklyn, New York. And don’t forget Jonathan Frid with his Canadian accent.

      Only two actors did their characters as if they were actually from Maine: Thayer David as Matthew Morgan and Ben Stokes and Frank Schofield as Bill Malloy.

      I suppose we wouldn’t really want to know what the Collins’ of Collinsport would really sound like if they actually did speak like they really were from Maine. The dialogue would be too easy to lampoon, and the whole thing would just be as crazy as clam chowder.

      1. I would add one more actor for the most authentic Maine accent (though the same character already mentioned)–and in fact I would say the BEST New England accent ever on the show–George Mitchell, the original Matthew Morgan.

    2. I should mention also another two actors early on who played it straight, that is, Down East: George Mitchell, the first actor to play Matthew Morgan, and Fred Stewart, who played Dr. Reeves.

  16. I think Diablos was sick of her whining.

    “You’re not even good at witchery. What makes you think you’ll make a good human?
    Tell you what….(sarcastic as Hell)… If YOU of all people can make a human love you without spells, I will let you go, so that I won’t have to listen to you bitch about it anymore!”

  17. “So the Dark Shadows writers are doubling down on this absurd story point that’s predicated on the idea that nobody loves beautiful women. I’m having a hard time getting my head around that.”

    It’s not too hard to understand – Angelique is high maintenance. Extreme high maintenance- I’m talking Ferrari 365 Daytona maintenance. The cost is highand when it breaks down, the consequences aren’t pleasant.

    That being said, I’m not surprised that Angelique continues to get 2nd and 3rd and 4th chances – with those eyes, she could get me to do anything and she wouldn’t need any of her voodoo mind games.

  18. What happened to the episode right before this one? The one that ends with Julia meeting Sky Rumson and seeing the old portrait of Angelique?

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