“Do you think that what’s happened in this house has deranged my mind so much that I’ll accept your outrageous lies?”
You are asleep, said the voice in the portentous dream. But you hear me. Follow my voice. Follow… Follow… Follow… Follow… Follow…
To be honest, Maggie was already following just fine after “Follow” #3, but voices in portentous dreams usually have a script they need to stick to; a lot of this is automated.
Come in, Maggie, said the voice, as Maggie approached a door. Come into this room, and learn the secret. So Maggie came in.
The table holds the secret, the voice continued. Underneath, beside the ornament. Push the button. Maggie reached the table and found the button, which opened a small oblong compartment.
There before you lies the secret, said the voice in the portentous dream. If your secret is complete, you may wake up now. If you would like another secret, you may select from the following options. Please listen carefully, as our menu has recently changed.
So after all that to-do, it’s not much of a secret, really. Maggie walks over to Angelique’s room, where she finds the table, and she fiddles with the table until the compartment opens, and when she reaches into the compartment, what does she find? Love letters that her husband Quentin wrote to his first wife.
Like I said, not an earth-shaker. Quentin was in love with Angelique, once upon a time, that’s why he married her. Obviously, there was a beginning to that relationship, and it’s not a shock to discover that there are artifacts from that period. And those letters, once Maggie starts tampering with the postal system, are pretty much what you’d expect.
Dearest, they say, for example, when I left you last night, I walked to the docks and sat staring at the sea. How incredible it is to have found you, to know that no matter how long I live, I will never want any other woman but you. So as secrets go, that’s not like a code written on the back of the Declaration of Independence.
But Maggie’s marriage to Quentin has been going through a rough patch which started pretty much right after the wedding, and the main source of contention is the question of whether he’s still in love with his late wife, so even these relatively tame sentiments are somewhat painful for Maggie. This situation is about to get a lot more painful.
Meanwhile, Barnabas Collins is downstairs, dealing with a first wife of his own. The Angelique that he’s talking to today isn’t the Angelique that he married and murdered, back in the late 18th century. This is the alternative version that they’ve cooked up here in Parallel Time, the strange desert otherworld where it’s all the same people, but they’ve made different choices. Barnabas has been trapped in this time band for months now, and by this point, he’s not even trying that hard to get home.
Realistically, he should be keeping a low profile, because a) he’s not from this world and b) he’s a vampire, so maybe don’t go around poking people with sticks. But you can tell that Barnabas isn’t from this dimension, because he’s not making different choices at all. He’s making the same damn choice that he always makes, which is to do the most reckless thing he can think of.
In this case, that means: tease the evil sorceress. This Angelique isn’t quite as witchy as the one that Barnabas knows, but she’s witchy enough. For example, she’s returned from the dead, she’s taken the place of her twin sister Alexis, she sucks the life force out of lawyers, and now she’s sending people portentous dreams.
And Barnabas seems to look askance at that, although ordinarily you’d think that coming back from the dead to return to your lost love would be a super romantic thing to do. At least, that’s Barnabas’ attitude every time it happens to him, which is once every six to nine months.
It’s a fairly low-intensity interaction, really. He finds her sitting by herself in the dark and talking to the fire, and when Angelique gets caught participating in this kind of behavior, she goes into her poor-me Alexis impression, where she claims that she was lonely as a child and her only friends were uncountable nouns, like fire and darkness and advice.
So he asks her a bunch of softball questions like What are you doing here in the dark? and Didn’t it ever frighten you? and Is something wrong? which she can handle without breaking a sweat, and then he rubs his chin and looks at her, and that’s the end of the scene.
But the point is: Barnabas is having scenes with Angelique! There’s another one later on, too, and they’re playing chess in it, which is delightful. Chess is one of those metaphors they use on Dark Shadows when they want to announce We’ve decided we’re using metaphors again! like they do with mirrors and candles and werewolves. This time, Barnabas asks “Alexis” if she brought any of her sculptures with her when she came here from Italy. She says no, and he asks if she’s planning on doing any sculpture while she’s here, and she says she doesn’t know, and he raises a couple eyebrows and says, Isn’t that unusual? as if he expected her to bring several blocks of marble through airport security.
This is the first time that they’ve really pointed Barnabas at PT Angelique, and even if the scenes aren’t super consequential, it’s obvious that they’re positioning him within striking range. So far, the monsters in this storyline — Angelique, Barnabas and Cyrus — have been running on parallel tracks, not really interfering in each other’s business, and it’s time they started mixing things up. As we’ve been discussing in the last several entries, the show is noticeably better this week than it’s been for a while, and a lot of that is due to the writers setting up connections between the separate storylines. So far, they’ve managed to connect both Barnabas and Cyrus to Maggie, who’s been Angelique’s target the whole time, and now Barnabas is having cute chess games with Angelique.
So it’s only fitting that this is the episode when they finally admit that there will be no happy endings, because the central relationship at the heart of the story is fatally, hopelessly flawed. Here’s Quentin, on discovering Maggie in Angelique’s room, reading those damn letters.
Quentin: Well, I seem to have been completely wrong about you, too.
Maggie: Quentin, no!
Quentin: I was just talking about your innocence downstairs!
Maggie: Please, listen to me!
Quentin: Obviously, that “innocence” was something that my deranged mind invented!
Maggie: Quentin, innocence is not the subject!
Quentin: What about trust, or love?
Maggie: Love is something we should talk about.
Quentin: (holding up the letters) Obviously, we have different ideas about it. Now, go to your room!
So: holy cow, right? I’m not even sure what he’s angry about. She looked at a thing that’s in their house. I’m trying to work my head into a space where this is a problem, and I just can’t do it.
Here, let’s have some more.
Quentin: Now, you know how I hate you being in here!
Maggie: I’m sorry I did it, I —
Quentin: So why are you here?
Maggie: I want to understand you.
Quentin: I thought you did understand me. Before we came to this house, before we got married. Obviously, I was wrong.
So that’s three sarcastic uses of the word “obviously” in a single scene, which tells us a lot about how this marriage is going. And the important thing is that this altercation has absolutely nothing to do with the supernatural, or anybody’s wicked schemes. Yes, Maggie got the cheat codes for the hidden table compartment from her portentous dream, but the scene would be just the same if she found the letters any other way.
They’re not being haunted, or hounded by the furies. They’re not being manipulated or star-crossed or voodooed. They just kind of suck, as a couple.
Round two is even worse. He walks into the bedroom, and she says, “Quentin, I’ve been trying to think of something to say that would make it possible for us to be together,” which should work, but doesn’t.
She keeps trying.
Maggie: I think we’ll have to begin by being more open with each other.
Quentin: Are you talking about yourself, or me?
Quentin: You still haven’t admitted to me that you lied about the dream.
And then she tries to establish a couple simple facts — that today is the date of Quentin and Angelique’s wedding, and tomorrow night’s annual costume party began as an anniversary party. He responds by shouting, “Maggie, we’re not going to talk about it! Now, that’s all!” and then he runs out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
So he’s just a jerk. Right? Quentin’s been through some challenging times lately — trying to hang himself, a sudden near-fatal voodoo heart attack — but what’s happening right now is just him being unable to handle his own emotions. This has nothing to do with Angelique’s machinations; she might as well just sit downstairs, play chess and talk about her weird kinship with fire. Quentin and Maggie’s marriage will fail — is currently in the process of failing — because he’s still grieving over Angelique, and he shouldn’t have dragged Maggie into the middle of his problems in the first place. And he’s a jerk.
Now, that’s fine — it’s a more complex story this way than it would have been if they treated this like an adventure story, with a perfectly happy couple torn apart by a wicked space vixen. This stops being a story about Good vs Evil, which I’m always suspicious of anyway, and it becomes a story about what happens to this particular set of haunted, unhappy people, when you drop a reckless vampire arsonist into the middle of their costume party.
Tomorrow: Rebecca to the Rescue.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
This one’s worth watching the episode for: Quentin says, “I wonder I ever got the illusion that an hour or two alone would settle one’s all of problems.” There’s a close-up on Angelique at the time, and she visibly reacts to the mistake.
Hoffman tells Maggie, “Miss Stokes has gotten an att– a trunk from the attic.”
When Hoffman approaches Quentin in the foyer, there’s a boom mic overhead.
Maggie tells Quentin, “I was asleep when you come — came home, I guess.”
When Angelique comes downstairs in her gown, you can see the shadow of Maggie waiting for her entrance. Then everyone talks about why Maggie’s taking so long, when it’s obvious that she’s right there on the landing.
Behind the Scenes:
The Smith Brothers mustache portrait is hanging in Alexis’ room. I believe we last saw it back in January, in Professor Osmund’s office.
Tomorrow: Rebecca to the Rescue.
— Danny Horn