Episode 965: Wedding Crashers

“I’m going to destroy that thing that’s me in that room!”

Oberon and Haza Hawkes
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their son
Jebez Hawkes
&
Carolyn Collins Stoddard

Friday, the sixth of March, 1970
at the Altamont Speedway
Tracy, California

The rise of the Old Gods
and the end of all things
to follow

Ia! Shub-Niggurath!
The Black Goat of the Woods
with a Thousand Young!

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Dr. Julia Hoffman is currently mixing colored fluids, and then pouring the concoction from a beaker into a test tube. It’s called science.

She’s just getting started on this new research project, but she’s already set up an apparatus at her workstation in the Chosen Room, which is suddenly an open-plan hot desk co-working space for the criminally insane. Her job, as always, is to take a handful of deflating plot points and make some kind of dynamite out of it, alchemically turning storyline lead into gold.

And she’s got to work fast, because by my count, this story currently has seven different Leviathan-specific villains that need to be eliminated from the show in the next three weeks, before half the cast decamps to Tarrytown, to film a Dark Shadows movie that nobody asked for.

Jeb Hawkes, that secret ancient man, has decided at the last minute that he’s been wasting his time building up and then destroying a bunch of overlapping groups of death-cult conspirators, when he could have been doing something useful, like telling Carolyn that he murdered her father, and finally pulling the trigger on what is obviously the entire emotional core of this four-month Lovecraft boondoggle.

So Jeb’s got Pinocchio syndrome all of a sudden, and decided that he wants to be a real life human, with feelings and dreams and normal honeymoons that don’t involve turning his bride-to-be into a demonic space octopus and laying waste to the Earth. That’s why Julia is here, playing with chemicals; she’s supposed to fix Jeb’s tendency to turn into an invisble acid-spitting teratologically fabulous murder machine. Apparently, it’s a glandular condition.

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And then along comes middle manager and notorious storyline speed bump Nicholas Blair, who takes one look at this story-productive development and kicks it out the door. We are not going to allow this plotline to get any more interesting than it currently is, thank you very much.

Nicholas is one of the true sources of evil on Dark Shadows, by which I mean that he talks like he’s interesting, but invariably grinds things to a standstill. In 1968, he turned the Frankenstein story into an endless series of counter-productive standoffs, and he’s just been introduced into the Leviathan story for the same reason.

So he takes one look at the weird new creative direction that the storyline is flirting with, and he says, “I’m certainly glad that I happened by, doctor, because I believe that your quaint little experiment is about to come to an end.” And then he sweeps all the glassware off the desk and onto the floor.

Which, come on, now you’re fucking with the apparatus. We can’t have that. Leave the apparatus alone.

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Julia asks what he’s planning to do with her, and he basically just dismisses her from the storyline, because core cast members are simply not welcome in this story. “Stay away from us,” he says. “Do not interfere in something that is inevitable. You might impart that same information to Barnabas Collins.” And then he helps her on with her coat.

So here we are, I guess, surrendering to the inevitable. We’re all tired of the Leviathan story, and nobody is more tired of it than the Leviathan himself. He knows that his current path leads to the same place that Count Petofi ended up — a once-dominant chaos engine, reduced to skulking around and glowering at henchmen. He wants an alchemical change, transforming him from a once-off antagonist into an permanent role on the show, like Angelique and Quentin.

Now, one of the principles of alchemy is that whatever happens on one level also happens at every level: as above, so below. Achieving material perfection — turning lead into gold — is a way of achieving spiritual perfection, because a purifying change on the physical plane is reflected on the metaphysical plane as well.

On Dark Shadows, “as above, so below” means that confusion and disorder among the writers and producers ends up reflected on the physical plane as well, in the form of actors forgetting their lines, boom mics drifting into shot, and characters arguing about storyline progress.

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For example, in this conversation, Jeb is speaking directly with the production team, saying that he deserves to move past the sputtering Leviathan plot, and the exhausted writers — represented here by Nicholas Blair — tell him that he’s not interesting enough to become a main character.

Nicholas:  Your childish pranks are beginning to bore me.

Jeb:  They’re not pranks! I happen to enjoy the way that I am now, and I am going to destroy that thing that’s me in that room!

Nicholas:  Jeb, you cannot do that, because that is all you are. You destroy the thing in that room, and Jeb Hawkes will cease to exist!

Jeb:  How do you know that?

Nicholas:  I know more about you than you do! And I feel that if I go on letting you make certain decisions, our entire plan will fail. Therefore, I have just come to a conclusion.

Jeb:  What kind of conclusion?

Nicholas:  We can no longer wait. The ceremony must go on tonight!

965-dark-shadows-jeb-zombie

Jeb wants to pivot, and become one of those morally confused characters that make Dark Shadows what it is. He wants to kiss Carolyn, and confess to Julia, and then stand around in the cemetery, yelling and creating new spectacles. That Thing That’s Me is dragging down his long-term career prospects. But Nicholas explains that it’s too late; Jeb’s power set is already established, and this path only leads in one direction.

Other monsters survive the end of a storyline, because they have transferrable skills. Chris is a werewolf who jumps through windows and chews up extraneous characters; there will always be a place for him on the show. Angelique is a spiteful story engine who conjures plague bats from the sky.

And Jeb Hawkes is a doorknob and a sound effect.

931-dark-shadows-paul-chair

Now, we could talk again about how it’s better not to show the monster because what they show could never live up to what you imagine, and similar horseradish, but the fact is that if you’re not going to show the monster, then this is a time-limited experience.

As Nicholas says, That Thing That’s Me In That Room is all that Jeb Hawkes is — a gimmick that was fun for a while, but wore out its welcome.

965-dark-shadows-jeb-carolyn-take-this-man

Sorry to be such a downer, but you know me, I always cry at weddings. And this is a particularly sad one, because the bride didn’t even show up.

That should be Carolyn standing there, dressed in something blue, confronting the horror of something very, very old. People have been telling her for months that the antiques shop is suspicious, that the people who live there are dangerous, that she needs to run away, as fast and as far as she can, and most of all, for Goat’s sake, do not marry this monster man. Carolyn has rejected all of that sensible advice, and at this moment, this climax, she should see for the first time what a disastrous mistake she’s made.

But Carolyn isn’t here. Once again, Nicholas Blair has hypnotized the most important character in the scene, using his magic neuralyzer to wipe away any memories or feelings that might give this story some emotional weight.

She just stands there at the altar, a runaway bride whose body stayed behind. After all this time, she still doesn’t know what Jeb is, or what he’s done. She isn’t the one making choices today. So she doesn’t get the chance to answer the storyline’s fundamental question: Do you, Carolyn Stoddard, take this man?

Monday: A Happy Ending.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Barnabas opens Quentin’s coffin, there’s a quick glimpse of a crew member and a piece of equipment behind them.

There’s an ugly edit in the third act, when they cut from Maggie and Quentin kissing to the wedding scene. If you watch carefully, you can see the tiny remnant of a shot of Jeb and Carolyn approaching the altar.

During the ceremony at the altar, there are branches hanging down above the altar. This obscures a majority of the shots, especially with Nicholas, and when Jeb smashes the box at the end, the branch gets in his way.

Monday: A Happy Ending.

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Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

18 thoughts on “Episode 965: Wedding Crashers

  1. Meant to bring this up before. Given the general sources used by the DS writers, Jebez might be a reference to “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” where New England farmer Jabez Stone sells his soul to become wealthy and influential. Makes sense given the region, and it having that old-timey, Biblical (apart from spelling change) name suggestive of someone with a corncob pipe netting salmon or whittling. Perhaps the Leviathans thought it would help him blend in (for a certain value of “the Leviathans think,” which applies to the whole plot).

  2. Hypnotized characters who don’t willingly make choices or even remember them are incredibly infuriating and a major problem with the modern day Collins family, which must always be restored to factory settings at the end of each storyline.

    In 1897, Judith killed Rachel while under the spell of a vampire and had to face what she did, even the act of covering it up. Her guilt, compounded with a reckless marriage, almost cost her sanity and the woman who returned from the sanitarium had changed irrevocably.

    Elizabeth, though, can’t change so we’ll never again discuss her part in kidnapping and torturing her ex husband as part of her membership in a death cult.

    This storyline could have been a great one for Carolyn, who as others have pointed out would be a prime target for cult membership — an aimless, idle rich WASP, who gets taken in by the folks at the antique shop and later a sexier Manson himself, who is secretly a monster.

    I wouldn’t mind not seeing Jeb’s true form if we could see his corrupting influence on Carolyn. Instead, she remains oblivious to everything, never knowing that this “man” killed her father in cold blood.

    If you start from a place of trying to figure out what about this cult could appeal to Carolyn, you could come up with a superficially benign motive for membership. Bruno is just evil. So is Sky. And those who aren’t evil are brainwashed. Ugh.

    But what if Paul Stoddard had willingly joined the Leviathans and believed in the seeming positive aspects of the cult and now realized how terrible it was but wanted to save Carolyn? Instead, he was just tricked.

  3. From here on out, as Jeb becomes”human”, I still could never buy into him and Carolyn.

    But, at least his bite scene is fast approaching.

    Something to look forward to.

    1. Given enough time, I think I really could believe in Jeb and Carolyn. She’s always gone for the bad boys and weirdos, as well as being monsterbait. Joe Haskell was the most normal man she ever dated, and the deepest she got involved with him was to use him as a slingshot to throw herself at Burke Devlin. I doubt she would have even dated Joe in the first place if they hadn’t been set up by her mother.

      Yes, there’s the case of Anthony Peterson, Esq., but I’ll never be convinced there wasn’t a rich vein of barely mined weirdness under that trench coat. Shifty eyes, that one.

      1. Let’s not forget that Nancy Barrett’s characters in that last year were mostly paired up with John Karlen’s” Carolyn & Will (PT), Leticia & Desmond (1840), Kendrick & Melanie (1841 PT) and Night of Dark Shadows (Claire & Alex Jenkins). We’ll never know but what if the show had lasted and she and Willie Loomis fell together in 1971?

        1. Although it’s hard to picture Carolyn and Willie, Nancy and John were magic together. Maybe Willie would have discovered an identical twin brother, or just another completely unrelated character. I do think the Nancy/John combination was the closest thing DS had to a supercouple.

            1. Willie would have needed some polishing for sure (a few courses at Collinsport U. maybe) and he would have made a great beau for Carolyn. He’d be ideal, really cause he’s uniquely capable of taking the Collinwood creep factor in stride. Ghosts, vampires, werewolves, Frankensteins – he’s seen ’em all.

  4. Poor Humbert Allen Astredo, always playing witty and charming but ultimately unsuccessful Hitchcock villains. I always appreciated KL Scott’s Dark Shadows memories for succinctly describing Evan Hanley as an “incompetent Satantist”. That same description could have been used for Nicholas Blair and later Charles Dawson. The Netherworld itself was obviously mismanaged.

    1. But I am giving Nicky some points for the wardrobe.
      Whatever else he may not be effective in, he does know how to dress when officiating at a satanic wedding ceremony!
      And who (besides Julia) has hypno-accessories that can instantly make someone into their oblivious robot slave?
      Maybe he doesn’t succeed, but he sure has style.

        1. King Johnny’s coat has its own appeal, but is a sleeveless cape, fur-trimmed.
          Nicholas Blair would NEVER borrow someone else’s finery.

  5. Let’s also review: Nicholas Blair returns and has no scenes with former fiancee Maggie Evans. There’s even a line where Julia mentions Blair is back but Maggie doesn’t want to see him because I guess that’s too storyline productive. Nicholas as the “surprise actual Big Bad” falls flat because there are few compelling references to his previous appearance. There is the brief scene between him and Angelique but it fails to capture how things were left between them: She was at her most powerless when under Nicholas’s control and her eventual triumphant betrayal of him was one of my favorite Angelique moments. Yet, Nicholas doesn’t act as if he even knows that Angelique was responsible for his fall. (I’d hoped we’d at least get a direct reference to Nicholas perhaps corrupting Sky personally in order to destroy Angelique’s shot at happiness.)

    Nicholas serves basically as a “replacement” for the “bad Barnabas we don’t like” as opposed to the, well, “bad Barnabas we do like.” Many of Barnabas’s early scenes in the Leviathan storyline could easily have been filled by Nicholas — especially the key scene with Paul Stoddard at the Blue Whale.

    It’s hard to say what the writers intended for the “adult” Leviathan child, but Barnabas was already wavering once Jeb appeared. The older man trying to maintain control over the impetuous pouty man-teen is already very reminiscent of Nicholas and Adam, so you might as well use Nicholas for it again with Jeb. The still-human Barnabas lacked Nicholas’s powers, which could keep Jeb in check. If they’d wanted to go all the way with the “bad Barnabas,” they could have had the Leviathans turn him into a vampire from the start (he already was one when they “captured” him in 1795) and claim that he’d only be cured if he helped him. That’s actually somewhat in character for Barnabas and a more compelling motive than “they’re holding my already dead girlfriend captive.” If Jeb is powerless against werewolves for story reasons, they could have made the same argument for vampires and we might have seen a spin on the Barnabas/Willie relationship from 1967, which I liked and missed.

    Human Barnabas is a dull Barnabas. If he’d been a vampire all along, I might have enjoyed the early storyline more even if his motives were sinister again. And if Julia helped him build a Bride of Frankenstein, she might have helped him in this “raise a Leviathan child” quest.

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