“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.
— Danny Horn