“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.
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.
“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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
— Danny Horn