“Not anything’s going to keep me from destroying you!”
More than once upon a time, there was a little lost princess…
But this isn’t the story of the lost and foundling, not anymore. This isn’t a fairy tale, with handsome princes fighting wicked witches, and the empty promise of a happily ever after in the ancestral past.
This is a soap opera story, about weddings and secrets and obstacles and choices. This is a story where the young man is a cad — a monster, some would say — and he’s redeemed and rebranded by the purifying power of a woman’s love. This is a story where decisions matter, and the characters remember things that happened more than a year ago. This is what you said you wanted.
For example: Jeb Hawkes and Carolyn Collins Stoddard, two crazy kids on the run. Well, technically, Jeb was three crazy kids all by himself, plus an invisible acid-spitting death machine, but that’s in the past. I suppose everything is, eventually.
Also, they’re not on the run yet, but they’re working on it. Tonight, they’re going to run away and get married, a plan that has never been wildly successful for the Collins family. On Dark Shadows, you can run in any direction you please, but at a certain point, you end up in the woods, or the cemetery, or both. There just aren’t that many sets.
When Carolyn walks into the Carriage House, she hasn’t decided yet if she really wants to run. For weeks, she’s had recurring prophetic nightmares, full of fathers and cousins and police officers and lost children and four-headed snakes, all screaming at the top of their lungs, DO NOT MARRY THAT MAN. She’s still mulling it over.
“Don’t you know it’s too late?” he asks, taking her in his arms and not murdering her.
“What do you mean, it’s too late?”
“You love me,” he says. “No matter what your mother says, or Barnabas, or any of those people.” And then he smiles, and doesn’t murder her.
“Jeb, I’ve had another dream about you,” she says. He doesn’t want to hear about it, but she tells him anyway. You can’t stop people from telling you about their dreams, not in this town.
“In my dream, we were getting married. I had the feeling that my father wanted to be at the wedding. Then, just as the ceremony was beginning, the doors flew open –”
“Honey, forget about those dreams,” he insists. “Everyone has nightmares, but you don’t run your life by them.” Except she does, of course, and so does pretty much everyone she knows.
And somewhere in the dreamtime, doors are flying open, and the lost princess is still choosing a final destination…
She says she needs a little time to think, so Jeb says, “Okay, I’ll give you two hours to pack.” He’s being bossy, but he used to run a snake-worshipping death cult, and habits like that are hard to break.
He offers to walk her home, but she says no. “I really do need to think, and you’re much too distracting.”
He chuckles, and kisses the top of her head. “Now, go on, get out of here,” he says, lovingly wrapping his fingers around her throat. “Before I take back those two hours I gave you.”
And that’s no idle threat, not in this town. People take back hours all the time.
They never really got the hang of weddings, did they, all these lovelorn would-be brides? How many almost-weddings did they have, Maggie and Josette and Millicent and Kitty and Vicki and the other Vicki? Even if they get all the way through “I do,” it usually turns out that they don’t. Or not for long, anyway.
We love each other, Carolyn, Jeb thinks, reflecting on his undeserved good fortune. That’s all that matters. This is not actually the case.
Because then the doors fly open and the lights blow out, and a cold wind whistles through the house.
“Who’s there?” Jeb shouts, because he has a diverse social circle and honestly this could be anybody.
“It’s you, Paul Stoddard, isn’t it?” he cries. “Well, there’s nothing you can do; it’s too late! She loves me! Yeah, your daughter loves me, Stoddard!”
“As much as Victoria Winters loved me?” says the specter. And there’s the Hanged Man, angry and unstrung.
The Hanged Man is one of the most mysterious cards in the tarot deck, says a website I just looked at. It is simple, but complex. It attracts, but also disturbs. It contradicts itself in countless ways. The Hanged Man is a Dan Curtis production.
“You!” Jeb cries. “It can’t be you!” He’s correct, it can’t, but it appears to be happening anyway.
Because this was all settled a hundred and seventy-something years ago, the way I remember it. Victoria Winters married Jeff Clark, who turned into a wristwatch and disappeared, and then she followed him back through the time tunnel to the late 18th century.
By the time we caught up with her, she was played by someone else, and she was hanged by the neck until dead, a closing number that should have sent her tumbling back to the 1960s. But Vicki stayed put in seventeen-ninety-something and married her defense attorney, because she may have survived one death sentence, but you never know when another one’s going to come along.
So Vicki ran off with her prince to a happily ever before, somewhere off-screen. This was technically Phyllis Wick’s happy ending, but Miss Wick was misplaced somehow, hovering somewhere around April 1968, waiting for a ride home. I wonder whatever became of her.
“I’m flattered that you remember, Jebez Hawkes.” This is the specter, again. “It’s been a long, long time. But then you had reason to remember Peter Bradford, didn’t you?”
And all of a sudden we’re connecting dots. “Oh, now I understand!” Jeb cries. “It was you who appeared when I tried to kill Maggie Evans!”
“Yes, and Willie Loomis!” Peter corrects him, reading from the episode guide. “And I was the one who kept you from killing Julia Hoffman. And I burned the book. And I also warned David about you. And I put the noose around Bruno’s neck. And I would have put the noose around your neck, except I knew it wouldn’t do any good! Because it takes a very special way to kill you, doesn’t it? And I know what that way is!”
“I did in 1797, and I was hanged for it!”
The Hanged Man is unsettling because it symbolizes the action of paradox in our lives. It also keeps rubbing its head, and pawing at the female cast members. It’s unsettling for a lot of reasons.
The water shall nourish each grain of sand,
Wedged between ancient sacred stones,
And guide us to a threshold of a time to be,
And restore our flesh and bones,
And on April 2 at about 3 P.M.
Every trace of Wilcox’s malady suddenly ceased…
“You were a living man, then,” says Jeb, impossibly remembering something that couldn’t have happened. “You could kill me then, but you can’t now! You’re only an illusion!” Jeb is four months old.
“Then why are you so afraid?” Peter challenges. “Can you feel my hatred for you?”
“It wasn’t my fault that Victoria Winters killed herself!” says Jeb, which it clearly wasn’t.
“Yes! Yes, it was!” the mad ghoul insists. “You sent her over that cliff, at Widow’s Hill. And then I pushed you over. And I’m going to do the same thing tonight!”
Excerpt from “The Collinsport Debating Society”
The World of Dark Shadows #52/53
WHAT HAPPENED TO VICKI AND PETER AFTER THEY RAN AWAY IN 1795?
From Daniel Horn: In an episode from the Leviathon period, around March-April 1970, the ghost of Peter appears to Jeb Hawkes. It seems there was an incarnation of Jeb in 1797 who lured Vicki to Widow’s Hill and pushed her off. Peter, enraged, shoved Jebez off the cliff and killed him. Peter was hanged for the crime, and he returned in 1970 to take his revenge on Jeb. Not having seen the 1795 period, I don’t know if Jeb was on the show then. Not a happy end to a promising romance, I admit, but apparently that’s the way it happened.
And you know the really crazy thing? They planned this reveal.
It was two weeks ago, when they planted the clues that led to this moment. David was being bothered by a poltergeist (Paul Stoddard) who wanted to stop the Leviathans (who Paul Stoddard hated) before Jeb could marry Carolyn (which Paul Stoddard didn’t want him to do, so obviously this was Paul Stoddard).
But then the spirit appeared in the hall, hanging from a rope, and he was wearing old-timey boots. And then he put a noose around Bruno’s neck, and Bruno said it was old rope, because he can magically carbon-date rope, that’s a thing that Bruno can do. He’s always been able to do that. It just never came up before, and you never asked.
So the ghost wasn’t Paul Stoddard, after all, so who was it? Ta-dah! It was Peter. That means these people had two weeks to think about this lunatic plot contrivance, and they went ahead with it anyway.
That was me, in The World of Dark Shadows, by the way. That was Young Danny, age 18, writing under the pseudonym Daniel Horn, a name which I have never, ever used, so I don’t know why it says that. This may be a continuity error in my own life, and I blame Victoria Winters.
I do remember writing that Vicki and Peter were “a promising romance,” although I have no idea what I meant by that.
But you know what’s cute? I hadn’t seen the 1795 episodes yet. Due to the still-unresolved issue of how do you syndicate a television show that has more than 1,000 episodes (see Hulu), I saw the mythical Third Year of Dark Shadows syndication before I’d seen the entire first year. So I had only a sketchy idea of who Peter Bradford really even was. But most people around the country hadn’t seen the Leviathan story yet, so I thought I’d help.
“You know, I was in love with Vicki,” Peter explains, for the benefit of Young Danny. “I really loved her. People said that they saw that. You ended that for us. And now I’m going to end it for you and Carolyn!”
“If you touch Carolyn, I’ll –”
“What? What are you going to do? I’ve waited a long time — a long, long time — and not anything’s going to keep me from destroying you!”
And that’s all they say about it; that is the last word on this brain-boggling reveal that Jeb Hawkes was in the 1790s for some reason, which he wasn’t, and couldn’t have been. Then they spend the rest of the episode playing with clocks.
A paradox is something that appears contradictory, and yet is true. The Hanged Man reminds us that the best approach to a problem is not always the most obvious. It’s not the second most obvious, either. Sometimes it’s not even in the top ten.
So the clocks, I need to tell you about the clocks. After the Hanged Man disappears, Jeb makes a frantic phone call.
“Listen, it’s very important,” he tells Carolyn, who’s just arrived back at Collinwood. “Don’t go anywhere until I come from here.”
“Why should I go out?” she says. “I just came in.”
“Just don’t go out, no matter what happens. Even if something strange and terrifying happens, don’t go out until I come!”
Carolyn says okay, whatever. Strange and terrifying things happen to her all the time; he’s one of them.
“Look, just believe and accept!” he pleads. “And for God’s sake, don’t go anywhere in that house without me!” This is the man she’s going to marry.
“You’ll be here in two hours?” she asks.
“Yeah, yeah. Two hours. We can synchronize our watches.”
She chuckles. “It’s 1:30, exactly,” she says, listening to the grandfather clock chime.
“Okay. I’ll be there at 3:30, exactly.”
He probably should have been more specific. There are a lot of 3:30s.
Fade in on Megan and Sky, standing in front of some paneling and pretending it’s a room. They’re discussing their vampire/blood-slave relationship, which is hitting a snag or something. Don’t worry about Megan and Sky. They’ll be fine.
By the time we get back to Jeb, it’s 2:30. He’s pacing around the room, planning his getaway. I guess grooms are always nervous on their wedding day. Also, a malevolent spirit keeps making fun of him.
“One hour, Jebez Hawkes,” the spook promises, “until you die on Widow’s Hill, just like you did before.” He didn’t, though. Peter must be thinking of someone else. A lot of people die on Widow’s Hill; it could have been anybody.
Before you know it, it’s ten minutes to three, stay tuned for weather and traffic on the 7s.
Jeb calls Carolyn, and she says, “Jeb, it isn’t even three yet. What’s the matter?” This is what their married life is going to be like, just telling each other what time it is all day.
He says he’s coming over; something terrible will happen if they stay here any longer. “I don’t care if it’s not time,” he says, and she agrees. But if it’s not time, then what is it?
Jeb heads for the door, but he suddenly feels weak; that’s probably because his body isn’t his body, it’s just a shell, a manifestation, and he hasn’t had a tune-up. He collapses in a chair, and then Peter’s there again, muttering about time, like anybody ever does anything else.
The figure on Card 12 has made the ultimate surrender — to die on the cross of his own travails — yet he shines with the glory of divine understanding. The Hanged Man also tells us that we can “move forward” by standing still. By suspending time, we can have all the time in the world.
And now, two moments in Time are Parallel. During one tick of a clock in 1968, months have passed in 1795, and vice versa. Now, only seconds remain.
Here’s where we get into some complicated temporal theory, so bear with me if things get a little tangled.
It was 2:50 when Jeb called Carolyn and said that he was coming over, right? Then he fell asleep, and Peter moved the hands of the clock back to 2:00. Then we cross-fade to the clock in the Collinwood foyer, and it’s 3:30, which means that it’s 40 minutes later.
But Jeb thought it was 2:50, so he should notice right away that the clock is wrong, because now it says 2:40.
Except it doesn’t. Jeb wakes up and looks at the clock, and guess what.
“It’s only 2:00,” he says, in thinks. “I was out only a few minutes.”
Peter appears and tells Jeb that Carolyn’s at Widow’s Hill, but Jeb yells, “Get out of my way!” and takes off for Collinwood.
And then we see Carolyn at Collinwood, and it’s 3:50, so Jeb must have woken up even later than we thought he did — maybe 3:40 Collinwood time, 2:00 Carriage House time, and who knows what time it is in Jeb’s head.
But it doesn’t matter — the only important thing is that Jeb is late, and Carolyn is gone. Jeb waking up and seeing that it’s 2:00 actually makes him think the situation is less urgent; he’d be more worried if he knew the actual time. So why are we watching all this nonsensical clockplay?
It’s 3:00, and Henry Anthony Wilcox is an hour early; it’s 1989, and Daniel Horn is entering the world of Dark Shadows; it’s two weeks ago, and it was you who appeared when I tried to kill Maggie Evans. And this blog post is late, like ridiculously late, a week late almost. They’re always late these days. The site is called Weak Shoddy Adversary, it’s supposed to be an every day experience, but it seems like I have less and less time to spend in the Spook Fortress.
And it’s Vicki, it’s obviously Vicki, I keep telling you, it’s always Vicki. She keeps trying to link her past with her future, no matter what it does to me and Jeb and Phyllis Wick and the shooting schedule.
I mean, Variety said that the feature was skedded to begin in Oct. in N.Y., and here it is Mar. and everybody’s still hanging around ABC Studio 16, messing with each other’s clocks. We’re late, months late. It’s not just me, everyone is late. One tick of a clock in 1968, and months have passed.
That was my first blog post, I guess, back in 1989. That was the beginning of this promising romance, back when I thought that questions had answers. What happened to Vicki and Peter after they ran away in 1795? What do you get if you cross the Atlantic with the Titanic? And whatever happened to Dr. Julian Hoffman?
Something strange and terrifying has happened, and it will happen, and it’s still happening right now. It’s called Dark Shadows.
Tomorrow: The Only Weakness.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
When Megan talks to Sky, people are shuffling around in the studio, and someone coughs.
Jeb and Peter are full of little mistakes and false starts today. Some of them appear in the text above — don’t go anywhere in that house without me, people said that they saw that — and the rest I leave to the reader to discover.
The scene with Philip and Peter in jail seems to start halfway through; Philip is already ranting about something. Also, Peter calls Philip “Todd,” several times.
When Carolyn puts on her coat, intending to go to the Carriage House, the music cue slows down for a second. There’s another minor music malfunction when Carolyn enters the Carriage House and finds that Jeb is gone.
Jeb tells Peter, “I’m not falling for that, Bradford! I’m going — not going to Widow’s Hill!”
When Jeb arrives at Widow’s Hill, a studio light is briefly visible above him.
There was a response to my Collinsport Debating Society post, which appeared in The World of Dark Shadows issue #63/64, published in October 1992. I guess this was my first blog comment.
The response came from Kay Kelly, a fan who we’ve heard from before. I previously quoted her in “That Troublesome Problem“, my post about the Collinsport Debating Society; she’s the one who came up with that baroque explanation for how Barnabas was injured in Vicki’s car crash. (It’s always Vicki.)
So here she is again, heroically tidying up the timelines.
“Kay Kelly: A comment on the Collinsport Debating Society. After all these years, I’d forgotten the appearance of Peter Bradford’s ghost in the Leviathan storyline. According to Danny Horn’s letter, the ghost claimed Jeb Hawkes had thrown Victoria off Widow’s Hill in 1796, and he had then killed Hawkes and been hanged for it. I don’t know what was established beyond that, so I’m ‘winging it’, but here are some suggestions.
“I think when the scene was written, the writers were planning another 1796 sequence in which Victoria and Peter were saved. But the idea was dropped. And how could Jeb have existed in 1796? His 20th century body was the creation of the Leviathans, but the entity incarnated in that body had had previous incarnations as a normal human. His name in the 1790s was Jebez Hawkes. He picked his own name in 1970, and chose that one because he remembered it, consciously or subconsciously.
“The 18th century Hawkes was a witch-hunting associate of Rev. Trask, who came to Collinsport to investigate Trask’s disappearance. He fell in love with Millicent Collins — a love that could have been the salvation of both. But the over-protective Joshua kept them apart. Hawkes came to hate Joshua. He communicated with Trask’s ghost and learned from him that Barnabas was a vampire and the ‘witch’ Victoria Winters was not on ‘the other side’. Then he learned that Barnabas had helped Victoria and Peter — and was now chained in his coffin.
“Hawkes placed advertisements in Western newspapers, and used Barnabas’ name to lure Victoria and Peter into a trap. (This explains why Peter turned against Barnabas.) They were brought back to Collinsport under arrest late in 1796, after Victoria had given birth to a premature infant who was left with friends ‘out West’ (leaving open the possibility of descendants).
“Joshua used his wealth and influence to obtain Victoria’s release on the grounds that a second execution would constitute double jeopardy. The furious Hawkes threw her off Widows Hill; her body was never recovered. Peter killed Hawkes and Joshua was unable to get him off the charges. So Peter was hanged and at his request, his remains were cremated and the ashes scattered off Widows Hill. (This explains why he and Victoria’s graves and tombstones never reappeared in the future.)
“Jebez Hawkes went to his death cursing Joshua Collins — and the Leviathans offered him a bargain. In effect, he ‘sold his soul’ in exchange for a promise that in a future time, he could have revenge on the Collins Family and win the lookalike reincarnation of Millicent as his bride.”
Some of Kay Kelly’s Dark Shadows fan fiction is on a website called The Isle. I haven’t read any myself, cause who has the time, but I bet it’s great. She referred to me as Danny, by the way, even though my post was signed Daniel; that’s another continuity error in my life. Those are starting to pile up.
Tomorrow: The Only Weakness.
— Danny Horn