“No, they do make sense! I don’t know why, but they do!”
So apparently it’s written in the book that the Leviathans only have one weakness, which is werewolves.
Now, I get why the Dark Shadows writers have suddenly come to this surprising decision, because they currently have two monster storylines that have nothing to do with each other. The primary storyline is about ancient blasphemies from outer space, who are attempting to rig the presidential election and install Carolyn Stoddard as a teratologically fabulous first lady. The other storyline is about a guy who turns into a werewolf on a regular schedule, and refuses to take even the most basic precautions to avoid bloodshed.
They want to connect these two storylines somehow, so now the Leviathans and the werewolves have a brand-new long-standing feud that dates back to a time before man existed, when there was only essence and intelligence, and none of these shapes that human beings wear today. That’s not me saying that, mind you, that’s dialogue from Dark Shadows. “Before man existed,” the Leviathan guy said, “when there was only essence and intelligence [and werewolves].”
Therefore: Jeb Hawkes, the teen gang leader who can turn into a giant slime-wrapped tentacle monster with glittering eyes and a thousand razor-sharp teeth, is vulnerable to werewolves. Well, I suppose everybody’s vulnerable to werewolves.
Although the other day, we saw Quentin Collins knock Jeb unconscious by hitting him over the head with a vase, so apparently he’s also vulnerable to antiques. And he lives in a place that’s full of antiques! Collinwood has a lot of antiques too, and so does the Old House. Jeb must fear for his life pretty much 24/7.
But that’s not the problem right now. The problem is Sabrina Stuart, who shows up uninvited at people’s homes with impossible botany.
Sabrina used to be Chris Jennings’ girlfriend, once upon a time, but then he turned into the big bad wolf, completely ruining the surprise birthday party that she thought she was throwing for him. The experience turned Sabrina’s wig gray and rendered her essentially inert for several years, and the only reason she’s walking around on her own is that everybody else in her storyline has either left the show or forgotten that she exists.
When Sabrina was introduced — Christ, it was a year ago, in February ’69 — she was a third wheel in the Chris/Carolyn story, a warning of what would happen to Carolyn if she continued to date this animal who walks like a man. Then the show put her story on hold while they went back in time to the 19th century for eight months, and when they came back, they had other things to attend to.
Sabrina did come to the surface about six weeks ago to yell at Carolyn about death and the moon and unheralded pronouns, but by that time, Carolyn had quietly broken up with Chris off-screen, in order to make herself available for the upcoming apocalypse. So now Sabrina’s just kind of hanging around loose, and she’s taken the opportunity to read up on the latest gypsy journals.
Now here she is at Chris’ cottage, for what I believe is the first non-flashback scene that she’s ever had with the other character in her storyline. She’s been on the show for a year, and if she didn’t have the gray wig, I’m not sure her moon-cursed lover would be able to pick her out of a lineup.
Naturally, the only thing Chris wants her to do is go home. That’s what he said in the flashback, too. “Get away from me” is practically the only thing he’s ever said to her.
But it’s the night of the full moon, and she’s brought him a present, which you’d think she’d be over the idea of surprise parties by now.
It is the moon poppy, she says, and I don’t have a gift receipt.
“You must take the flower, and eat it,” she explains. “I found a journal, a new one, published in England. A study of lycanthropy. The author told of someone being cured. I wrote to him, and he sent me this flower. He’d raised it himself! It’s the only one left that he knows about!”
So that’s great, Sabrina’s been doing some research in the approximately eight minutes since her recovery, but there’s a catch; there usually is.
“If you eat this flower when it blooms,” she says, “you will never become that thing again. But you must eat the flower while the moon is shining! At dawn — the flower will die.”
“If I try,” Chris says, “will you promise to go?”
So that continues this couple’s unbroken streak of scenes about Chris telling Sabrina to go away, and in my opinion, that makes this a difficult couple to ship. This is the first moment that they’ve ever been close to each other — their romance is mainly conjectural — and I’m sorry, but I don’t really care about this girl.
As we know, there are three rules to getting the audience to like a new character — make a friend, make a joke, and make a plot point happen. Up until now, she hasn’t done much in the way of making friends, because we didn’t know her pre-trauma, and since then, she’s mostly been sitting down and staring into space. Chris cares about her, presumably, but the only thing he ever says to her is leave me alone, which doesn’t improve her favorability ratings. She’s also not big with the jokes, unless this moon poppy thing is some kind of April Fool’s gag, which maybe it is. And she’s got a plot point, finally, but it dies at dawn.
So I don’t know, I just find it hard to connect to Sabrina. She was introduced as a spoiler for Chris and Carolyn — and a mute paperweight-style spoiler, at that — and the only reason she’s in the girlfriend role now is that Carolyn is otherwise occupied.
But Chris and Sabrina do have a nice moment, where they look into each other’s eyes and talk about hope, and he promises to try the flower thing. She smiles — her first light moment ever — and says that after moonrise, he’ll come to her, looking the way he does now, and it’ll be all over. And then she takes off, obviously, because that is how romance works.
Still, it’s not a great plan — in fact, it’s so bad that even Barnabas can point out the major flaws, and he’s terrible at plans. If Chris has to eat the flower once the moon is shining, then he’ll already be in his werewolf form, and at that point, he’ll lose interest in gardening.
Barnabas urges Chris to bring the flower to Windcliff where they can keep him in a cell, just in case this biology experiment goes awry. But Chris insists on staying here.
“There’s only one way I can remember,” he says. “That’s to stay here, knowing that I’m going to change unless I do it!” This isn’t particularly logical, but they need him to cross over with the Leviathan storyline, and he’s not going to do that all locked up at Windcliff.
“There’s a werewolf out there,” Jeb says, “the most dangerous of creatures! They were the only creatures we couldn’t tame, the only ones that were more ruthless and cunning than we were! We tried to drive them out; we tried to kill as many as we could! But there was always one left — and it was always howling!”
So behold, ladies and gentlemen, as the moon poppy blooms: the only creature more cunning than a space octopus. It’s currently struggling to remember why it should eat vegetables. Humanity is doomed.
Tomorrow: My Sweet, Sweet Moves.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
In the teaser, the werewolf is reaching for the flower, but he looks to the side for his cue twice.
When Jeb is on the phone with Maggie, you can see Bruno’s jacket through the glass on the door, as he waits for his cue to enter the shop.
Jeb hears the wolf howl, and he says to Bruno, “I was just remembering a poem.” Then he recites the werewolf poem. Jeb is, what, seven weeks old at this point? When did anybody mention this poem to him?
Barnabas tells Sabrina, “I’m trying to help Car — Chris — Chris as well.”
When Bruno pushes the werewolf down, you can see the studio floor, well past where the green burlap of the woods set ends. You can see the floor a couple more times during the scene, and when Sabrina kneels down, the burlap moves.
Angelique covers for messing up a line: “Oh, Barnabas, if something does happen here — if — there’s nothing more I can say!”
The credits spell Violet Welles’ name as “Violet Wells”.
Behind the Scenes:
The poem that Jeb refers to is from the 1941 Universal Monsters film The Wolf Man. Jeb completely botches the poem, which goes like this:
“Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms, and the autumn moon is bright.”
“Even if a man is pure at heart and says his prayers at night, he can become a werewolf when the wolfblane blooms, and the moon is full and bright.”
Megan will recite a similar version a few weeks from now, in episode 961.
Tomorrow: My Sweet, Sweet Moves.
— Danny Horn