“I’m leaving! I’m going where the action is!”
Hey, guess what, we’re still killing Jeb Hawkes. It’s been three weeks since the royal teen rebel smashed his box and exploded the Leviathan altar, and two weeks since Angelique tagged him with a wiggling shadow of imminent demise, and one week since I really seriously stopped caring about what happens to Jeb Hawkes.
So I’m going to tell you how this all went down, and then we can move on and stop talking about the Leviathans, just like everybody else in the world.
“Thought we would never meet again,” Jeb says to Nicholas Blair, a demonic carpetbagger who means well, but somehow manages to always make a storyline worse.
“I had hoped that would be true,” Nicholas sneers, because he’s upset. Jeb was supposed to have turned into a giant tentacle monster by now, carrying his young wife up the Empire State Building and swatting fruitlessly at biplanes. This was one of those evil plans that supervillains come up with where you can’t quite tell what step three was supposed to be.
“But we must,” Jeb sneers back. “Oh, yes. There’s too much left undone. We must talk… perhaps for the last time.” This rates a big dramatic sting with violin trills, even though that’s pretty much what “thought we would never meet again” means.
And then they both pretend that they’re super stealthy at each other. Jeb pretends that he wants to come back and be a Leviathan emperor again, and Nicholas pretends that he thinks that’s a great idea, and they both drink a glass of pretend sherry, the beverage of choice for the sneering set. And then Nicholas tries to hypnotize Jeb with a cigarette case, and sneers, “Did you really think I would give you a second chance? You will see your death in my eyes, Jeb.”
And then, WHAM! Jeb takes some construction paper out of his pocket and holds it on the spot where Nicholas’ heart would be if he had one, and then he runs away, shouting “No tagbacks!”
And then the spooky shadow shows up and wiggles on the wall for a moment, boogley boogley, and it mambos over to Nicholas and chokes the life out of him, which is a happy ending and everything’s basically okay, and it turns out Barnabas and Julia and Quentin didn’t even have to show up. Sometimes things just work themselves out.
That’s not the end, of course, not quite, but we’re closing in on it. Naturally, Nicholas gets pretty sore about being shadow-sniped like that, so he gets all the way up out of his body to deliver a speech to Sky, his final remaining henchman.
And this is actually kind of a happy ending after all, because it’s another special effect that I’m not sure how they do it. They’ve been doing a lot of these lately. There was a time when I could use my limited understanding of the point-and-shoot Chromakey process to reverse-engineer all of the weird Dark Shadows spectacles — they point one camera here and another one there, and put a blue screen in front of the mirror, and that’s how magic mirrors work.
But now they’ve got a pre-taped Nicholas projected over an in-studio playing-dead Nicholas, and yeah, the visual goes a bit wonky at first, but the sound sync is perfect, and I for one find that impressive. They’ve been doing a lot of pre-taped sequences lately for the Parallel Time previews, and this week, they’ve raised the bar on live-action talking Chromakey spectaculars. The storyline may be deflating like a leaky balloon, but the great thing about Dark Shadows is that when one area of the production breaks down, another team picks up the slack and does something surprising. It could be the props or the lighting or a series of complicated facial expressions, or sometimes they close a door too hard and the window shade commits suicide. You can never tell where the entertainment’s going to come from, which is basically the point of the show.
Oh, plus we get a nice chunk of Somebody Must Die dialogue, which I always find enjoyable.
Nicholas (deceased): You are alone now, Sky! All alone! But I will help you! You must revenge this! Jeb Hawkes Must Die!
So apparently there’s not much difference between Nicholas alive and Nicholas dead. He never really did anything anyway, except berate people and issue instructions, which apparently he can do post-mortem just as well.
Jeb runs back to Collinwood and tells Carolyn that the shadow curse is gone, so they can go on their honeymoon after all. Carolyn doesn’t really have a lot to do with the end of this storyline, unfortunately; she’s basically an ill-informed spectator. I was kind of hoping for a climactic Ripley-style “get away from her, you bitch!” moment from Carolyn, but no such luck. She just hugs Jeb and looks sad, and that’s all there is to it.
“Will we find a place?” she asks. “Will we? Will there be someone there who hates you as much as Nicholas Blair?” He says no. “How can you be sure?” she insists, because it would be nice to get her involved in the story somehow. “Jeb, why did he hate you so?”
He shakes his head, and says, “Oh, Carolyn, that’s all gone now. That’s all in the past. I mean, there’s no point in discussing it. Carolyn, let’s just leave, get out of here tonight!”
So this is how it ends, I’m afraid, this four-month experiment in ambitious disappointment. This is why they brought Paul Stoddard back, and spent weeks hanging around an antiques shop. This is why they turned Barnabas evil, and then let him drift back to his normal baseline of partially evil. This is why they opened the box, and read the book, and cared for the baby, and enchanted all those people.
A dream, a cliff, and a big wet thud, that’s what we end up with. It’s all gone now, it’s all in the past, and there’s no point in discussing it. And there it goes, flying over the precipice.
Tomorrow: Next Stop Keystone City.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
In the teaser, when Jeb knocks on Nicholas’ door, it’s already partly open.
Nicholas says, “You have underestimated me, Jeb. And I, you — I thought you were cleverer than you are.” That means Nicholas overestimated Jeb, not underestimated.
When Nicholas’ ghost leaves his dead body, the corpse opens its eyes and looks around, and he blinks several times.
When the spirit of Nicholas rises from his body at the end of act 1, it looks like he’s kneeling. They do the effect correctly at the top of act 2.
I cleaned up this quote for the post — what Jeb really says to Carolyn is, “That’s all in the past. I mean, there’s not even a — no point in discussing it.” She reminds him that they ran away together before, and he says, “Yeah, but the shadow was on us now. This time, it’s different!”
In the end credits, the camera shows the Parallel Time room, and you can see the top of the set.
Geoffrey Scott’s name is still misspelled Geoffery Scott.
Behind the Scenes:
David Henesy’s leg was broken in January, and he appeared in a wheelchair for four episodes in January and February. This is his first appearance since he got out of the wheelchair.
Tomorrow: Next Stop Keystone City.
— Danny Horn