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Episode 979: Jeb Hawkes Must Die

“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.

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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.”

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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!”

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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.

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Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

20 thoughts on “Episode 979: Jeb Hawkes Must Die

  1. The ghost Nicholas sequence was edited in (listen to how the background music goes away), and it appears to be simply Chromakey with the Chromakeyed Nicholas at a half-dissolve. (Note the tell-tale Chromakey outline.) Sky was clearly pre-taped–you can tell by the awkward overlap (“But you must tell me how”). They kept everything as basic as possible, and the edits are less awkward than usual, so the thing works smoothly, at least on first viewing.

    The thing that works least well is Sky’s voiceover as Nicholas rises from his body–it’s clearly post-dubbed. But at least the pacing is considerably better than in the chopped-together PT scenes.

    When DS first aired, I watched it on a B&W portable, and the Chromakeyed scenes caused picture problems–buzzing, bad picture resolution. And the edits jumped like crazy. I wonder if some of these glitches were compensated for in the reissues, or if it was simply that our TV was completely inadequate to the task of receiving color signals.

  2. As far as sync on that scene, I’d say a stage hand with a script was off-camera to the left, mouthing the Nicholas lines and standing such that dumb Sky would look in that general direction and respond. Humbert just remembered the timing and had a monitor to watch in Sky’s direction.

    Poor Sky. Guys, you picked the wrong actor for THAT scene. But did he HAVE a good one?

  3. Totally diggin’ on Carolyn’s psychedelic dream –

    It’s like, groovy, like Cliff Richards and Roger Daltrey on Ready, Steady, Go!, and they’re gonna sing a duet. And Cliff’s all like whoa, you are SO off key, and Roger’s like, slag off fairycake, and they get into this big fight and Cliff pushes Roger off the edge of the stage. And they never even sing the duet. So Clodagh Rodgers has to come on and sing ‘Come Back And Shake Me’ instead…

  4. I’ve tried to determine if any previous storyline had as long and pointless dragged out conclusion after its natural stopping point as the Leviathans. We’re looking at three weeks here (15 episodes).

    Let’s see:

    Episode 350 (Barnabas bites Carolyn) -> Episode 365 (Seance is held that sends Vicki to 1795)

    Episode 445 (Nathan marries Millicent/Joshua discovers Barnabas’s coffin in the Old House) – > Episode 460 (Joshua has Ben chain up Barnabas in his coffin)

    Episode 621 (Julia confronts Nicholas about Angelique) – > Episode 636 (Adam vanishes in the back room of Stokes’s house)

    Episode 685 (Quentin kills Ezra Braithwaite) – > Episode 700 (Barnabas uses the I-Ching to contact Quentin Collins)

    Episode 869 (Barnabas “returns” fully cured) – > Episode 884 (Barnabas follows Kitty into the portrait of Josette)

    Major stuff happens during the three weeks separating these episodes but nothing important happens during these dying days of the Leviathans. It screams padding. Also, a show that has gone into the past multiple times already has spent far too long explaining what Parallel Time is — as opposed to, say, Barnabas suddenly finding himself trapped there and trying to figure out what’s happening as we do.

    1. Agreed. That’s why I wasn’t going out of my way to put the TV on while I was packing my stuff; this plot had been dragging on, it was pretty obvious what was GOING to happen, I figured I could catch up later. So, okay, it’s a few years later, but I was right, didn’t really miss anything except for the details of who knocked off whom. And now, I have other fans to share the experience with! So it works out, karmically.

    2. The last couple weeks of 1897 are pretty rough. Once the body switch is over, there’s another two weeks of Petofi killing henchmen. This period is longer and worse, but they had a similar problem with the 1897 dismount.

      1. Yeah, the Quentin storyline basically ends once he regains his own body. There’s no reason for him to stick around in Collinsport (Beth’s dead and Amanda’s in New York). The upside, at least, is the Judith/Trask resolution. But, yeah, we don’t need to see everyone die — I mean, sure, you can kill off Evan Hanley since you’re leaving 1897 but there’s no dramatic or narrative merit in it. I don’t really care what happens to Bruno after his whole reason for even being in Collinsport vanishes — same with Sky. If they just shrugged and packed off for greener pastures, the story wouldn’t suffer (quite the opposite).

        There’s also no greater sense of anticlimax than your villain attempting to recreate what he’s already done, which failed (Nicholas made the same mistake at the end of Adam/Eve). Sure, in the real world, this might make sense but on TV/film, it’s disastrous.

        1795, I think, ends well without a sense of padding or waiting around to start the next storyline.

        I’d also argue that if we actually liked Jeb as a character, these last few weeks might be compelling — sort of a supernatural version of a guy trying to leave the mob and live a normal life, but not tragically not being able to escape his past. There are film noirs that pretty much start with the aftermath of Jeb’s defection, but it’s just shoddily done.

        Angelique’s vendetta against Jeb lacks bite, which is unfortunate because she could legitimately blame him for the loss of her “normal” life if we bought her with Sky. Sky like Bruno is presented as a “true believer” — unlike the brainwashed Todds and the Collins. The series also misses the obvious opportunity to have Nicholas himself behind Sky’s conversion to the Leviathans.

        Oh well, Parallel Time will be theoretically better.

        1. Yeah, Jeb’s characterization post cairn-destruction is just a disaster. Having him spend weeks hiding in the dark and not telling Carolyn anything just makes him whiny and unappealing, so the audience is glad when they finally put Jeb out of our misery.

      2. Yes, although the sequence was shorter the introduction of Garth Blackwood so late in the storyline was pointless. I imagine that because DS enjoyed good ratings during the 1897 they wanted to stretch it out. The writers were probably try to but themselves some time, trying to figure out how to bring Quentin into the present day Collinwood.

        1. That’s what puzzles me. The entire last few weeks of 1897 seem tailor made for bringing Quentin Collins to the future or our “present day” Collinwood. He escapes from Petofi’s clutches by doing what Petofi had hoped to do — travel to 1969. No fuss. No muss. And it’s better than Quentin getting there “the long way around.”

          I’m also surprised that no one figured out that just as Barnabas tended to be most popular when he was a vampire, Quentin might be more interesting as a werewolf. “Curing” him permanently made him far less interesting — and there was no way for him to “revert” without dying immediately due to the Dorian Gray Werewolf Away portrait.

          Yes, that would mean 2 werewolves in 1969 but really, just accept narrative Darwinism and write out Chris Jennings.

          1. Petofi’s body-switching and escape to the future scheme was puzzling on its own. If Quentin survived un-aged in the future as Petofi foresaw then Petofi didn’t need to escape. He knew he’d be immortal an unable to be killed. Dark Shadows had at least 6 different modes of time travel so they could have at least come up with one more to transport Quentin to present day. He would have been much more interesting as a man out of time instead of a man wandering the Earth for over 70 years. The savage werewolf premise just doesn’t have staying power.in terms of audience interest.
            By the way in the mid-1980s was a fan-written magazine.book series titled the Dark Shadows Files when interest in the old show was at one of its high points. And they were reporting that an indie production company was trying to get a reunion movie put together. Although you can take this with grain of salt virtually the entire cast were interested in participating and signed letters of intent. But Dan Curtis ultimately said no and would relinquish the rights to get this done. I seem to recall they were going to set the story in present day AND the roaring 1920s with Quentin apparently involved with unsavory gangsters.

  5. I also found Garth of no worth, but I do consider the actor doing the job of performing a bad character, a fantastic job, actually.

    Hard to believe, he was singing as Leviathan to Paul, and selling the chemicals to Cyrus.

    Great character actor!

    The eyes had it.

    1. And also great as a straight, level-headed and compassionate police officer in the Phoenix story (as Lieutenant Costa in episode 174). But, no spoilers if you haven’t seen it.

      1. Great, for me, because I’m two weeks in, and her apartment just went pyre.

        This is the restrained Laura, so far, but I can only love the competition with Carolyn.

        It rivals the same with Angelique, but quietly, so far. In 1897, we got wardrobe!

        Who did she snare in the 1700s timeline? Was she Stockbridge, Murdock?

        Jerimiah? Spelling, who knows…

        But if it’s Anthony George, I can’t bring myself to care, much.

        He was okay in the beginning, but his reads eventually got overly emotional, and
        “Look! What a CARING person am I!!ish.

        Eeeeyew.

  6. The distraction of HODS seems to have made the writers “abandon ship” on the Leviathan story.
    I’m sure that once they came up with the exciting parallel time idea, they couldn’t wait to end the Leviathan story. It just goes flat, although I like the way they always end a story with a high body count. It’s fun, and Shakespearean.

    Once again, Nicholas Blair specializes in catastrophes, calamities, failures, fiascoes, disasters, debacles, and bad ideas.
    Last time, he caught fire. This time, he just sort of croaks, and then finds that death borders on the inconvenient.

  7. The writers didn’t so much ‘abandon ship’ as ‘get painted into a corner’. True, the Jeb\Carolyn aspect should have been worked out better – I needed to see genuine change in Jeb, see him become someone I cared about, and not just because he loved Carolyn; and that’s why I didn’t buy Carolyn loving HIM
    Then, there was the dogpile all wanting to kill Jeb, none of whom had particularly strong reasons going. Peter was pointless, and got shooed off by Angelique; her vendetta made even less sense (if I recall, she’d vowed vengeance on Barnabas if her happiness with Sky was ruined), she would have done better to go after Mr. Strak.
    Philip actually had a pretty good reason, Jeb had ruined his life and (sort of) taken his wife, but I was kinda ‘meh’ about Philip anyhow, so I didn’t mind that he was first cliff diver.
    Nicholas Blair? Please. That bit made the least sense; talk about ‘padding the plot’! He swans in and wants to take credit for this abominable story, and gets peeved when (once more) it’s “Curses! Foiled AGAIN!”
    Bruno and Sky, well, personally I would have liked to have had them pack up and head for Key West…just the romantic in me, I guess. Admittedly, Bruno put in some good work on his attempt, at a point where we really were rooting for someone to kill Jeb, and at least HE didn’t go over the cliff like Sky & Phil…but I was never ‘for’ Bruno. And Sky, well, he was a handsome cuss, but again, ‘meh’ for his reason to murder, heck, just tell Nick’s ghost to do it for himself!

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