Episode 1016: Fire Is Not a Friend

“Fingers of flame, make healthy again what I have diseased!”

Well, here we are, another week in Parallel Time, and the logic deficit is just as bad as ever. We’re four days into an utterly baffling plot arrangement involving a parallel triangle between Quentin, Angelique and Maggie, who are all married to each other and desperately unhappy about it.

Quentin’s first wife, Angelique — who’s dead, but pretending that she isn’t — wants him to fall in love with her again. But he’s already in love, sort of, with his second wife Maggie, who fled the house weeks ago so she could go upstate and make a movie. That left Angelique alone with Quentin to work her wicked wiles, but they don’t really have a hell of a lot of chemistry these days, and she’s getting desperate.

So Angelique keeps doing these supernatural middle-school science experiments, and then getting all angsty when they don’t produce the desired results, which are unspecified. First, she slipped Quentin a magic potion that was supposed to drive him crazy, and it worked. Unfortunately, he went entirely crazy, rather than the 60% crazy that Angelique was apparently budgeting for, and he slipped up to the attic to hang himself. She managed to talk him down, of course, because obviously she doesn’t want her weird magic spells to hurt the man that she loves.

Except here she is twenty-two minutes later, and she’s attacking him again, this time by sticking a silver pin into a voodoo doll and triggering a massive coronary. Then she heads downstairs, and finds exactly what she ought to expect — Quentin lying on the floor, and everybody else standing around, telling each other not to have hysterics.

“Quentin!” she cries, and rushes to his side, horrorstruck by the idea that he might die from the heart attack that she deliberately induced one minute ago. And then she spends the rest of the episode worrying about him, and wondering if maybe she could have handled this differently.

So I don’t even know what to say. The all-powerful living dead soap vixen at the heart of this storyline is hell bent on doing exactly the opposite of what she actually wants, and then she’s unhappy. What’s going on? How is it possible to be this bad at your job?

So Quentin’s on the floor, and Barnabas says, “It would be best if both of you left the room.” This is false, both medically and dramatically, but they spend a lot of today’s episode telling people what set they should be standing in. Once Cyrus comes, he’s going to shoo everybody out of the room again. Then there’s a great moment at the beginning of act 2 when Quentin screams, and Liz rushes into the room, and Cyrus just looks up and says, “Mrs. Stoddard, please,” and she makes a face and walks right out again. There’s a lot of contested territory today.

So here’s Quentin, down but not out. When they’re not squabbling about where people should stand, they talk about how long Quentin is going to live. There is no straightforward answer to this question.

Cyrus tells everyone that Quentin is about to die, and at one point, he announces that Quentin only has a few moments left. But then it’s a few moments later, and Quentin is still alive, and then he just keeps on being alive the whole time, no matter what Cyrus says. Cyrus is not actually a doctor.

So that’s clearly strike two for Angelique’s magic powers, but she doesn’t see it that way. She rushes to the attic for a heart-to-heart with the clay doll, but the negotiations break down almost immediately.

“You have failed me!” she announces, striking the wrong note. “Oh, God, let me undo what I have done! Let me make him well again!” And then she just snatches the pin right out of the doll’s heart, which I guess is the voodoo equivalent of turning it off and on again.

It doesn’t work, obviously; nothing does in this storyline. Quentin just screams louder, and Cyrus refuses to call a real doctor. Liz asks if they could have a consultation, and Cyrus says, “Of course, but I think we would probably reach the same decision,” which obviously he does, and that’s why you have a consultation anyway. Is anybody in this storyline competent in any way?

So then Angelique goes and casts another spell, this time with candles because why not.

“Fire, you have always been my friend,” she says, which is hard to believe. Then she says, “You and I have shared a kinship like no other.” The citation neededs are just piling up today. She starts blotting out candles, which if she’s asking fire for help then she’s going about it in a weird way.

“Be my kinsman now, and help me!” she calls. “Burn the pain from Quentin’s body! Burn away the spell that I have placed there!”

So we all know where this is going, right? In the other room, Quentin will suddenly burst into flame, and then Cyrus can pretend that he’s a fireman.

But she goes on with it anyway. “Fire — free him from what I have done! Fingers of flame, make healthy again what I have diseased!” And then she snuffs out all the candles, and she deposits the candelabra on a side table, mission accomplished.

While we’re standing here in the dark together, there are a few things that I’d like to point out about this slippery ritual.

Number one: That is not a thing that fire does. I don’t even know what metaphor she’s aiming at. Fingers of flame, make him healthy again? Pure applesauce.

Number two: It doesn’t work. No results whatsoever. Quentin is unconscious on the couch for the whole rest of the episode, just like he was before she started. The candles are not her kinsmen, or whatever she thinks they are.

Number three: They don’t even check. There is no follow-up to this candles scene in any way. Angelique doesn’t even poke her head into the drawing room to see if anything’s burning away Quentin’s pain. She just does this, and then Liz comes in, and there’s a commercial break, and after that, they just have a conversation.

Liz asks what she’s doing in the study with the lights out, and the crafty sorceress says, “I was just sitting here in the dark. I thought it would make me feel better. I don’t know why.”

Liz shakes her head wearily. “None of us is behaving as we normally would,” she says, and sinks into a chair.

So, I don’t know, I guess I’m just not getting into the spirit of things. This episode includes a voodoo doll attack and a candle ritual, which I usually like, but everything takes forever, and I don’t know why it’s happening. The only person who’s really doing anything is Angelique, and nobody knows why.

But there’s actual plot development today, which is fantastic. All this back and forth about Quentin’s illness inspires them to get in touch with Maggie, and she comes all the way home from Tarrytown — the final House of Dark Shadows refugee, returning to work. In the episode’s final moments, Barnabas tells Quentin that Maggie is here to see him, and Quentin looks at her, and then he tells her to get out of the drawing room.

Tomorrow: The Struggle.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In the opening shot, the picture of Collinwood is flipped 180 degrees.

In the teaser, when we see Quentin on the floor, there’s marking tape all over the place.

Immediately after Quentin falls, we hear somebody saying “Back!” This might be a prompt from the studio for Angelique’s next line: “She must come back!”

Angelique says that they should call for Maggie. Then Cyrus comes in, saying, “I’m afraid that would be a rather fruitful gesture.” He means fruitless.

In act 2, when Liz and Barnabas leave the drawing room, Angelique is up on the landing, waiting for her cue to run downstairs and ask what’s going on.

When Cyrus says Quentin only has a few minutes left, and the scene fades to Liz and Barnabas in the study, there’s some audio chatter from the studio.

When Angelique crosses the room during her second drawing room scene with Cyrus, her left earring falls off.

There’s a boom mic overhead when Maggie and Barnabas enter the drawing room.

At the end of the credits, the Dan Curtis Productions logo scrolls up a bit too far, and then drops back down to the center of the screen for the fadeout.


Behind the Scenes:

An exciting day for pig weasel fans: our friend from the antiques shop is in the credits, among all the other rubbish in the attic.

Tomorrow: The Struggle.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

48 thoughts on “Episode 1016: Fire Is Not a Friend

  1. Sounds like fire therapy is a low-tech witch substitute for radiation therapy. On the plus side, Frid didn’t mess up any lines so it’s a rare tick in the win column for him. Although it also looks from the photos like he’s mostly just standing around.

    1. Good eye! The afghan draped over Quentin in today’s blog photos is a bi-color afghan which I call “the TWO-TONE Collinsport afghan” or “the OTHER Collinsport afghan,” to distinguish it from the more well-known multi-color afghan featured in more numerous episodes.

      Truth is there were at least TWO DIFFERENT AFGHANS spotted roaming around Collinsport through the centuries from 1795 to 1971, and also appearing (as here) in parallel time bands: (1) the multi-colored afghan with kelly green border (not pictured in today’s blog entry) which is the blanket most fans refer to as “THE Collinsport afghan” — as if there were just one blanket! — because the multi-colored blanket appeared in more episodes of DS; and (2) then there is also this less flashy, bi-color blanket worn today by our model Quettin. With the bi-color afghan, the colors appear to be (a) green (or perhaps it’s a shade of gold?) and (b) red (or possibly it’s a shade of brown?). Hard to tell colors for sure with the various stage lights, reflections, etc. …

      Anyhow I like this two-tone blanket much better than its showy, more well-known rival with top-billing and the ugly green border that everybody calls “the Collinsport afghan.” Sy Tomashoff usually picked only the very best props fo DS. But why the green border, Sy? … Maybe were you in a rush the day you chose it? I need to know.
      🙂

        1. Yes, I think Angelique had this afghan in her bedroom in 1795 … or maybe it was Victoria’s bedroom in 1795. Must be as old as Barnabas!

          1. This afghan was on the show first, it’s in the beginnings episodes. But I detest its colours and am only loyal to the afghan of many colours.

          2. No, Vicki had the colorful afghan in 1795; she used it to try and put out the fire that Angelique caused with her “house of cards” incantation.
            Wasn’t Joe Haskell resting on the Ravioli Afghan when Julia cut his turtleneck sweater off? (I’m not sure, guess I was looking at something else. 😀 )

            1. “Wasn’t Joe Haskell resting on the Ravioli Afghan when Julia cut his turtleneck sweater off? (I’m not sure, guess I was looking at something else).”

              Now, getting back to the props: Yes. And it was episode # 613.

  2. Cyrus is wasting himself as a mad scientist – he’s a walking, talking Cardiac ICU.
    Too bad Dr. Julia Hoffman isn’t there to give Quentin a restorative sedative.

  3. This is a situation where the supernatural elements lessen the inherent dramatic conflict. On a “normal” soap opera, Angelique/Alexis would just use clever means of separating Maggie from Quentin while moving in one Quentin. If that story was written better and snappier, we’d be content with the one supernatural element of Angelique returning from the dead (I don’t give a damn about whatever powers/warmth-sucking needs she has).

    In 1795, I was all for Angelique’s witchcraft — primarily because she was the only supernatural element on the show at the point — and her black magic made sense — she was a far better chessmaster. And when her machinations sometimes blew up in her face, we got cool scenes of zombies coming after her.

  4. Whenever the activity on an episode drags on illogically I venture to guess it’s the writers buying time. Behind the scenes they’re having some sessions trying to figure out how get out of the corner of the room to which they’ve painted themselves.

    Parallel Time Angelique is part of the this problem. She’s not a witch in PT but she practices black magic ..badly. She’s not unlike a parallel time version of Evan Hanley…an incompetent Satanist. In addition her motivations and actions are all over the map. She should have been conceived as a creature living on borrowed time with clear goals. To find out the one who murdered her, punish that person and,whether or not it was Quentin, bring down the House of Collins for revenge before she croaked.

    1. But why are they still ‘marking time’? Everyone has returned from their big-screen Hollywood adventure, the pressure is (long since) off for the writers, yet the storyline is meandering aimlessly. What they need is a séance and a whole load of hatpins. I say pith all of ’em.

      1. 1897 had a clear “stopping” point (a couple in fact): I think the Barnabas is exposed storyline was supposed to intersect with the first “ending” but the storyline got extended and then it was even more obviously extended when Quentin’s fate was averted and there was no real reason for Barnabas/Julia to remain in 1897.

        Of course, “drawing out” the storyline made sense because 1897 was popular. And leaving 1897 would also mean leaving behind their dashing new leading man (as we see, Quentin is never the same afterward).

        Drawing out parallel time feels like something no one asked for. But it doesn’t feel like there’s a feverish rush to either change direction or end the storyline as we saw with the Leviathans.

      2. “But why are they still ‘marking time’? … the pressure is (long since) off for the writers, yet the storyline is meandering aimlessly.”

        Could the “aimless meandering” and apparent “marking time” be due to some simple reason us bloggers are overlooking? Perhaps something new going on with the writers themselves at the time when they wrote the scripts? Just thinking out loud here: Maybe widespread and expanding recreational drug use percolating through most levels of society? Interfering with a writer’s ability to to construct coherent, structured plotlines? Leaving them unable to recall what plot points they wrote last month — nevermind what they wrote last year? Ultimately, leading to increasingly kaleidoscopic, psychedelic dream sequences, plot inertia, and general mental confusion? Followed by a final decision to kill off all the characters in order to make a fresh start?

        Nah! That theory makes no sense! Not in the late 1960’s!!!!!!!!!

        1. I think they were marking time until Maggie came back. Kathryn Leigh Scott was due back on set on Monday for 1016, and they had a week and a half without enough story to fill the time until Maggie’s return.

          1. Any information on how many scripts ‘ahead’ they got before starting on the movie script? And when (after the filming got underway) they got back to the show? When did writing for NoDS begin?

            1. That’s the one mystery about Dark Shadows production that I really wish I knew. Really there are only two dates that I know, both of them from the scripts in the DS Movie Book.

              For HODS, the shooting script says Second Draft, Feb 24, 1970. I don’t know when the first draft was written, or what DS script work it overlapped with. There’s a pretty obvious drop in pace and characterization around Nov 1969 at the beginning of the Leviathan story, so I suspect that’s when things got stressful, and they never completely recovered. Then there’s another super weak period at the end of the Leviathan story in March, that I suspect is due to finishing the second draft and figuring out how to accommodate half the cast leaving the show for six weeks.

              I wish I knew any other dates or details about that period, to know whether those suspicions are true.

              For NODS, the script says March 10, 1971, so the writing probably overlapped with 1841 PT. That drop in quality is pretty obvious.

    2. Yes, I felt like Angelique should have been the instigator of the PT finale, which is still one of the best moments in the series (at least from a spectacle sense).

      It always surprises me when I read/watch something where either the hero or villain doesn’t actually want anything (or it’s not clear what they want). I mean, shouldn’t that be what you decide before you write anything else?

      Angelique working to achieve as “Alexis” all she’d lost in death is compelling but they don’t give her compelling obstacles. Maggie is sort of lost and weak (the RT Maggie of, say, the Quentin’s ghost storyline would be more interesting). And Angelique’s efforts would be more interesting to watch if Quentin and Maggie were actually happy when she arrives.

      1. True. Q and M’s troubled relationship takes away all the suspense. There are all these potentially effective plot points ruined by wishy-washy handling. PT1970 (not to be confused with PT109) would be a lot of fun if it weren’t so baffling.

        1. Maybe their reasoning was that if Quentin and Maggie were closer, it wouldn’t make as much sense for her to leave when she did.

    1. Congratulations!
      Now we all have to go back and read the comments you left in the previous posts. 🙂

      1. I’m afraid my posts are not nearly as witty or insightful as the rest of the gang’s.

        Abbreviated version to spare you:

        Hmmm, pre-Barnabas is pretty good! (And I love Roger/Liz).
        GREAT blog, Danny.
        Danny, please write up the pre-Barnabas episodes.
        What’s up with this fountain pen?
        Thayer David is great as Matthew Morgan.
        Wow — this Laura storyline is good! FIRE! FIRE! Fire’s good!
        Danny, PLEASE write up the pre-Barnabas episodes.
        Maggie/Barnabas as good as I remember. Spooky. This is mind rape. And Liz/Jason is pretty good as a B plot.
        JULIA! JULIA! JULIA!
        Hey Danny — what can we do to get you to change your mind about the pre-Barnabas episodes?
        Carolyn rocks. Nancy Barrett rocks. Old Barnabas biting Carolyn is SCARY.
        Love the build-up to 1795. And the seance! OMG! Love the seance.
        LOVE 1795. But I can’t figure out Angelique’s powers. They’re all over the map (This caused me distress and posted on that several times).
        Danny — pre-Barnabas?
        Adam storyline ain’t that bad.
        Dream Curse — DEAR GOD — it’s that bad.
        Nicholas Blair, the metrosexual warlock, is overrated. More Thayer David please.
        We’re back on track: Quentin’s ghost and Chris the werewolf. (Some of my favorite parts).
        Family driven out of Collinwood is best episode (so far).
        Hey Danny — has anyone ever suggested you do the pre-Barnabas episodes?
        Damn — can’t wait to get caught up to the blog.
        1897! Love it, but man, it’s all over the place. (Love the reading of the will).
        Laura Part Deux — not so much.
        Please let 1897 end. Please.
        Leviathans. Low expectations, so it’s OK. Better than Dream Curse era.
        Danny — I now realize I did a Kathy Bates on you. I will leave you alone about pre-Barnabas.
        PT Carolyn is HOT.

        1. William-
          I am aware of some people having the opinion that the pre-Barnabas episodes are rather slow moving and less exciting. However, myself I find quite a lot to like in the pre-Barnabas episodes.

          Question: If you know, has Danny ever given reasons for beginning the blog with episode # 210 (the arrival of Barnabas) and skipping — at least for the time being — discussion of the earlier episodes # 1 to # 209? I can’t remember if he ever said why or not …

          1. IMO, the pre-Barnabas episodes did move rather slow, especially the episodes leading up to Matthew Morgan holding Vicki hostage in the Old House. What I like about those episodes, however, was the location filming that they did which provided the perfect black and white atmosphere for the show.

            The episode where Burke and Roger rescue Vicki from Matthew at the Old House was very suspenseful.

            While the Laura/Phoenix storyline had its flaws, I really liked it. There were no long, boring scenes discussing Burke Devlin’s business dealings vs. the Collins family business dealings.

            The short stretch of time between Laura’s demise and Barnabas’ arrival was rather tedious. I love Joan Bennett’s Liz, but that story went on for way too long. Yet it’s conclusion (with flashbacks illustrating Liz’s “confession” to murdering her husband Paul) was in my top 5 favorites.

            Once Barnabas arrived and kidnapped Maggie, the show really hit its stride.

            My top 10 episodes are in no particular order:

            Burke and Roger rescue Vicki from Matthew.
            Elizabeth’s confession to murdering Paul.
            Maggie’s escape from Barnabas.
            Angelique cursing Barnabas (1795)
            Vicki returns to 1968 after the 1795 flashback.
            Barnabas has the final dream in the dream curse story.
            Josette jumps to her death at Widows’ Hill.
            Vicki’s return to 1968 from 1795.
            Quentin’s ghost attacks Maggie, resulting in Liz finally believing Mrs. Johnson and Maggie about the children being possessed.
            Quentin’s ghost forces Liz, Roger and the rest of the family to abandon Collinwood.

          2. Pre-Barnabas episodes were before the series hit stride; essentially it was a different show, though with the same characters, rather like Parallel Time. It comes down to not doing what you’re not passionate about (I think – I may be explaining this all wrong).

            Perhaps a “No Pre-210” or “Not Without Barnabas” tag in the weblog is in order…

          1. Well thank you! I’ve enjoyed your posts. Danny and all the contributors make this so much more fun.

        2. I’ve gathered that Danny isn’t interested in 1-210 to full-on blog them, but it would be interesting if he did just the first week, like his “Strange Paradise” review, or selected episodes, like the first episode, or episodes that, taken out of context, could have been from later years due to their special effects, like Vickie’s rescue from Matthew Morgan by the ghosts of the Old House, or Laura’s attempt to lure David into the fire. Some of that stuff is really thrilling in the DS sense we came to know later.

  5. And the Dream Curse was great as an idea in a writer’s head.

    To produce something that bad was unforgivable.

    1. I thought it was tolerable until Julia had the dream. In a way, it mirrors the problem the entire series had: it ran out of spooky/supernatural phenomena to interest its audience.

      My favorite dream sequence on DS: Jamison (in 1897) dreaming that he was a dying David Collins (in 1969). It was more psychologically disturbing.

      1. It just needed connection to each dreamer. Instead, they fell back on generalised “scary stuff” – but in a way, that was necessary. The fear of one might have been nothing to the next dreamer. But granted, it got tiresome, especially seeing the thing over and over; the skull with glass eyeballs just got more laughable as the curse wore on.
        However, we DID find out that Julia is afraid of large pots of dry ice…

        1. The dream curse was one of those DS things I always wanted to fix, but just wasn’t sure how to do it. I think it would have worked better if the dreamer (and the audience) didn’t realize they were having the dream and something totally outrageous happened and then the dreamer would wake up and we, the audience, would be surprised that it was a dream. Of course, after a few times, it would get old.

          1. I’m not sure the Dream Curse is entirely fixable, but I think the best way would have been to 1) tailor each dream to each individual and 2) have each dream give hints about Barnabas being a vampire 3) Don’t repeat the dreams of all the previous dreamers. Start with Maggie dreaming about when Barnabas put her in a coffin as punishment. Maybe have the next person have that dream and then one of their own. When the dream moves on Maggie’s gets dropped and we only see dream 2 which morphs into dream 3 etc. They can all involve death and attacks in the middle of the night. Julia can relive Dr. Woodard’s murder or her failure to cure Barnabas. Sam could relive Maggie’s being kidnapped only this time she is found drained of blood. Vicki can relive the witch trials and being about to be executed with Barnabas looking on and dripping blood from his teeth.

            As a concept the idea of a dream coming closer and closer to Barnabas could have had a real feel of impending doom, but in practice, it didn’t work at all.

            1. When it was covered by Danny, I posted a lot of the same….each dream to the individual, and their personal fears. No generic crap, and no repetition,

              And following Angie’s soliloquy to the letter.

  6. Angelique: Fire friend! FRIEND! Fire friend!
    Frankenstein monster: Arghhhh, argghhhh!
    Angelique: Don’t be frightened! It’s your friend!
    Frankenstein monster: The heck it’s our friend, witch lady.
    Angelique: I mean, YOUR friend, not mine.
    Frankenstein monster: Ohhhhhh. Arggggh!

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