Episode 1027: The Winds of War

“Who are you — or perhaps I should say, what are you?”

The witch stalks into the room, her identity revealed, her plans disrupted, her eyes burning. “How did you discover that I am Angelique?” she demands, advancing on her newfound foe.

“I am an astute observer!” shouts the vampire, and I am still in love with Dark Shadows.

Angelique:  Who are you — or perhaps I should say, what are you?

Barnabas:  A cousin of Quentin’s, and a friend of his and Maggie’s.

Well, we all are, I suppose. I mean, everybody wants to be friends with Maggie, and Quentin has so many illegitimate children that there’s a forty percent chance of just about anybody being his cousin. But we’ve left all that behind, and who knows when we’ll get back to it?

Because this is Parallel Time, a duplicate dimension hidden in an abandoned wing of the house, and the only place in the multiverse where Angelique needs to ask what Barnabas is.

You know what he is. You made him that way. This is basically all your fault.

Angelique:  Any man who can sear my eyes by staring into the eyes of my portrait in another room, and who can stand in my presence completely without fear is more than just a friend and a cousin! He is not human!

But the show’s been going through a rough period lately, I might have mentioned that five or six thousand times. They took away half the cast to shoot a movie, punching a six-week hole in the show that hasn’t healed up yet, and they left us stranded in a parallel dimension where everything is exactly the same except that I don’t care about it.

For example, the current kerfuffle. This is a front-burner storyline starring Quentin, Angelique, Julia and Maggie — four out of five of the most popular actors on the show — and it’s still not really going anywhere. Personally, I’m a lot more interested in how Carolyn and Will are doing, and we only see them about once a month.

But they’re working on it, bless them, and the key is to build Barnabas back up to full strength, setting him up against this world’s villains and proving that he’s crazier than they are. He is not human, he is better than human, and we need him now.

Barnabas:  Let us concentrate on you, for the moment! And tell you my reason for summoning you here.

Angelique:  Very well. What is your “reason”?

That’s a good question, actually. This Angelique isn’t our Angelique; she doesn’t know Barnabas, or have any kind of history with him. So why has she been summoned to our television sets?

Well, again, everybody went to make the movie, and she’s one of the most popular characters who stayed behind. But it turns out that Angelique only works in context; an Angelique without a Barnabas is like a hammer without a nail, and vice versa.

For the last several months, with no supernatural kaiju to oppose her, Angelique has been exclusively fighting people who can’t fight back. Nobody else has magic powers, or even basic powers of observation and deduction, so the only way to keep the story going is for her to keep foiling herself. Her spells shamble out of control, her illusions crumble into powder. She needs someone who can fight back, just to help her pass the time.

Barnabas:  I want you to stop this plot of yours!

Angelique:  What plot?

Yeah, no kidding. What plot indeed. She’s trying to win Quentin’s love, using a convoluted set of traps and triggers to convince him that Maggie is a witch. Why she picks that as the easiest way to break up a marriage is hard to say. Maybe she can’t help sabotaging herself, projecting her own failings onto her rival.

Angelique:  And if I refuse to heed your warning, what will you do then?

Barnabas:  Then I will be forced to stop you myself.

But this is what we need: Barnabas, Angelique and another world war. These two are evenly matched in terms of power set, recklessness and audience appeal — a supercouple, which the show returns to every time things start to flag.

The fact that this isn’t the “real” Angelique doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t even matter what they’re fighting about, it’s the tone that’s electric, their ability to stride like gods through the mess they’re making of other people’s lives.

Angelique:  How? By telling Quentin? He will laugh at you, after he gets over his exasperation! He’s convinced that I am Alexis. If you don’t believe me, tell him that I’m Angelique, and see what he says!

And this is an irresistible twist. Barnabas has discovered Angelique’s secret by using secret powers of his own, which puts them at a stalemate. It’s like Peter Parker and Norman Osborn, alone in a room together — two arch-rivals who can shout and stamp and flash their eyes, but when a civilian walks in, they have to pretend that nothing’s wrong.

Barnabas:  There are other ways of stopping you, I’m sure!

Angelique:  What confidence you have in your powers! Whatever they are.

I’m pretty confident in his powers too, at least as far as this scene goes, but there is a larger question here about the future of Dark Shadows.

The writers have had a surprising number of opportunities to reboot the entire show while the show is still happening, creating new sets of characters and situations using the current actors, sets and music cues.

The first time they tried it was 1795, which gave us mad magical soap vixen Angelique, plus Josette, Reverend Trask and Peter Bradford, and they all outlasted their original storylines to become recurring features of the show. The second time, it was 1897, which gave us Quentin as a regular character, plus some short-term visits from Amanda Harris and Charles Delaware Tate.

But what could possibly survive Parallel Time? How is this period contributing to the long-term success of the show?

Angelique:  But remember, I too have powers, and they are stronger than yours!

Are they? Cause I don’t really see it, from here.

I mean, this moment is sure-fire — Barnabas stern and supernatural, Angelique angry and threatening, both of them silly and beautiful.

But the characters that the show has created over the last six months — Jeb Hawkes and John Yaeger, Maggie Collins and Megan Todd, Aunt Hannah and Bruno Hess — none of them have lasting value.

Barnabas and Angelique started battling two and a half years ago, and it was so thrilling that they’re still engaged in that same war, stretching beyond the edges of the Earth and into a whole different universe. But what are we creating right now, that could power the show over the next two and a half years? Is this a television show that can continue, indefinitely?

Barnabas:  We shall see, Angelique. We shall see. Good night.

Tomorrow: Can’t Stop the Trouble.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

There are a number of abrupt edits in this episode. This includes: an abrupt cut during Stokes’ explanation of Parallel Time, the beginning of the Cyrus/Sabrina scene in act 2, and Barnabas entering Collinwood in act 3.

Stokes is sitting with Angelique at the window seat in Angelique’s room, and a shadow passes behind Stokes when he says, “Tell me about these odd occurrences.”

There’s an abrupt edit during Stokes’ explanation of Parallel Time, hopping awkwardly to the next scene.

Quentin tells Maggie, “Look, I’m struggling very hard to — to get things free for myself. I’m struggling very hard to understand certain things.”

At the end of Quentin and Maggie’s scene in act 2, there’s a studio light reflected in a picture frame.


Footnote:

Last week, the new series of Twin Peaks started airing on Showtime and Hulu, and oh my god, you should be watching Twin Peaks. The new show is a difference engine, in the sense that it is constantly demonstrating the difference between itself and every other show ever made.

Like Dark Shadows, Lost, Star Trek, Doctor Who, The Muppet Show and basically anything worthwhile on television, Twin Peaks is designed to show you the most interesting thing it can think of, until it comes up with something else. Watch it the same way that you watch Dark Shadows, with the same expectations. You’ll see what I mean.

Tomorrow: Can’t Stop the Trouble.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

9 thoughts on “Episode 1027: The Winds of War

  1. “I’m struggling very hard to understand certain things.”

    Like why Quentin keeps storming off in a rage whenever he sees Maggie. Seriously, it’s getting irritating.

    Like why Sabrina doesn’t recognize the guy that attacked her and stole her engagement ring, when her fiance TURNS INTO THE GUY IN FRONT OF HER. (Honey Pie, no man is worth that! Give him a one-way ticket to Dumpsville. But, it’s Sabrina – she’s probably going to show up next episode with a bagful of party hats.)

    Like why Angelique is in that horrible, horrible nightgown. Lara Parker generally can rock any costume they give her, but this is on a par with Maggie’s quilt skirt thing. Put Angie back in that delicious cotton candy pink nightie with the marabout sleeves, and do it now!

    Like why Barnabas doesn’t just bite Angelique and make her a slave. Or won’t that work on her, since she’s dead\alive?

    Like why I’m saying to myself, “was the Dream Curse really so bad?
    Perhaps they should bring back Eric Lang.
    Say, what did become of that pen?
    And what about Vicki’s Seaview House, maybe they could get back to that.
    Let’s go to Belem and look for Burke.
    Where’s that nice Peter Bradford fellow gotten to?”

    1. I struggle to understand the unnecessary waste of David Selby’s potential, too. It’s stunning to realize that Dark Shadows had 1970’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in their cast – but for some inexplicable reason, chose to make him completely obnoxious and unwatchable. Don’t you just know the other soaps salivated at the thought of getting him onto their shows?

  2. Parallel Time is a narrative disaster, which not even Angelique can salvage. The biggest problem I see is that there are no compelling stakes if the villain (Angelique) achieves what she wants. In 1795, we very clearly saw the carnage left behind as Angelique moved closer to her goals: Barnabas’s friendship with Jeremiah was lost; Jeremiah’s life was lost; Barnabas and Josette were torn apart — and unlike PT Maggie and Quentin, we actually saw Barnabas and Josette happy together and regretted what Angelique had robbed the couple. The true “solution” for Maggie is to just leave the house and never come back. You’ll note that Quentin was being an ass and making Maggie miserable long before Angelique came back from the dead.

    I also thought the writers missed an opportunity to take full advantage of what they’d established with Parallel Time and not have Angelique be evil. Or at least have flesh-and-blood Alexis as the true “evil” twin but with different motives from the Angelique we’ve known. It might have been a great acting challenge for Parker. It would also be a neat twist to have Alexis manipulate Maggie using her insecurities about Angelique that she herself shared.

    I was never a fan of the “warmth vampire” version of Angelique so I’d have been fine with her never really returning from the dead.

  3. I’m SO happy you mentioned Twin Peaks! Last week I pulled up next to the TV and watched in pure rapture as the show slowly unfolded. I watched the first two episodes then streamed 3 & 4 and I’ve watched all four episodes over and over. I wish you could do a Twin Peaks Every Week blog so I could read your thoughts on this.I think now that the only way for a “sequel” to Dark Shadows would have worked if they got the old gang back together 25 years later 1995(ironicaly), recreated the same set, and did a daytime mini-series. One last thing.

  4. I was an early critic of Parallel Time and its “Fauxbecca” plot, but I have to admit that when Parker and Frid get going at each other we’re really back on solid ground. It’s missing the “former lovers” undercurrent but it’s still a really good Monster Mash. I don’t think it’s coincidence that they picked Parker and Frid to appear on the ABC “50 Years of Soaps” show in 1994 (if they really wanted names they would have tried to get David Selby and/or Kate Jackson).

  5. Twin Peaks turned into a show without a plan, they winged it in the second season, and hey, that sounds familiar.

    The actors and the music carried the whole thing.

    And we didn’t stop watching.

    Familiar.

    1. Never had a plan. Lynch and Frost didn’t even want to “solve the mystery” — ABC basically forced them to reveal Laura’s murderer in season two, at which point they lost interest and the show declined.

  6. Just wanted quickly to mention that one of the connoisseur pleasures that PT CAN give you is familiar actors doing new stuff. I mean, we probably never really fell for Chris P after seeing him play a monsterbabyman in an awful RT plot, but his shaky intensity as PT’s JekyllHyde is actually kind of engaging, Nancy Barrett gets to amp up the trademark sad eyes and bitterness, you get to see an insecure and out-of-place Joan Bennett, and I so love Thayer David’s seedy, disreputable revision of Stokes, another of his outre collaborations with the makeup department. None of it will redeem hopeless plotting, and it’s all gone on too long, but with Joe Caldwell theatrical dialogue and redemptive confrontations between powerful characters, I actually start to sense, at the last minute, the potential in this story–the potential we’re going to glimpse and then drop like a hot rock.

    1. The Collinsport Repertory Company was always one of my favorite things about Dark Shadows (such a pity that Joel Crothers didn’t stay for more of it); my only issues are with the plotlines they were given. But I am glad they didn’t have anything involving, say, a giant invisible rabbit…perhaps there’s a Parallel Reality where Maggie is a magical governess who takes David and Amy for tea parties on the ceiling.

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