“How I wish I could confess to you what you’re implying.”
The scary thing — and this is a show about spooks and monsters, so presumably we’re interested in the subject — the really scary thing, if it’s June 1970 and you’re a thrill-seeking housewife and/or teenager, is that they’ll decide to stay in Parallel Time forever, and this is what the show is like now.
Part 1: I Just Don’t Understand It
One of the most bothersome and kind of amazing things about the Dark Shadows storyline as it stands is that Quentin Collins, the presumed romantic hero and cornerstone of the main love triangle, is an enormous dick.
I don’t mean that he has an enormous dick, which maybe he does, I mean that he is an enormous dick. I wish I didn’t have to resort to language, but what else can you say about this guy?
For example: he walks into his bedroom and finds his pretty young wife hanging up the phone. So he stands stock still in the middle of the room, hits her with a penetrating glare, and shouts, “Maggie! Who were you talking to?” at a pitch that’s appropriate for a middle-school teacher catching some seventh-graders smoking behind the gym. And when she doesn’t instantly start testifying, he yells, “Maggie, what’s wrong? I asked you who you were talking to!” All she was doing was talking on the phone. I’m pretty sure women were allowed to make their own phone calls in 1970.
Once they get past the telecommunications issue, Maggie offers an item of local interest — her hairbrush and mirror are missing from the dresser, where she left them.
“I’m sure you’ve just misplaced them,” says the loving husband. She says that the housekeeper hasn’t seen them, and she’s looked everywhere. “I just don’t understand it!” she continues, and suddenly there’s another issue.
“Maggie, I hate that phrase!” he barks. “Everyone who mentions it automatically begins to start talking about the supernatural.”
This is mostly his fault, and oh my god, why are we policing the phrase “I just don’t understand it”? Are there any other common English sentences that are currently out of favor with top brass?
Part 2: Build That Wall
Meanwhile, downstairs and on another planet: dueling impostors.
Angelique: Well, have you come to see me, Mr. Collins?
Barnabas: No, actually, I came to talk to Quentin.
Angelique: Oh? And do you plan to tell him that I am Angelique, returned from the dead?
Barnabas: You’ve already pointed out the danger of that.
Angelique: I just wondered how carefully you listened.
Barnabas: I always listen to an enemy.
So that’s what we’re doing now, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf for the criminally insane. It’s fantastic. This should be the entire show, and maybe someday it will be.
But Angelique turns to another topic.
Angelique: You know, I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately on a very fascinating subject.
Angelique: Parallel Time. Does that phrase mean anything to you?
Barnabas: Should it?
Angelique: Perhaps. The theory is that there are other bands of time besides our own, and that we live in them also. Also, that there are even places where one can move from one band of time to another.
Barnabas: That hardly seems possible!
Angelique: Even to you?
Barnabas: How I wish I could confess to you what you’re implying, Miss Stokes, but I am not a visitor from another time.
Now, the interesting thing about accusing someone of being from another band of time is: where do you go from here? Let’s say you expose them. What then? I suppose you could call Immigration and try to have them deported, but it’s a long shot at best.
Part 3: I Still Don’t Understand Some of It
And then Quentin enters, and says, “Barnabas! How pleasant,” which is a hell of a way to walk into a room.
I have to admit that Shouty Parallel Quentin is growing on me, because he seems determined to say the wrong thing on every occasion. While Barnabas and Angelique are being terribly polite about their mutual predation, Quentin wants to turn every conversation into armed conflict.
I mean, imagine this storyline with Quentin and Maggie actually being nice to each other, it would be intolerable. What would anybody have to talk about? So he conducts himself like a refugee from Monty Python’s argument clinic, just saying the opposite of anything anyone says. He contradicts himself sometimes, because he changes his stance based on whoever’s talking to him, so that he can disagree with them. This even happens within a single conversation.
First, Barnabas says that he’s concerned about what’s been happening lately, and Quentin says, “You’re not the only one, Barnabas,” which is just his way of clearing his throat.
Then Barnabas says that Quentin should take Maggie away, and Quentin says, “That’s being a little melodramatic, don’t you think?”
Barnabas digs in for the inevitable fight. “I think not!” he says, opting for the five-minute argument rather than the course of ten. “What happened here the other night is not to be discounted! I know you doubt that the picture spoke to her.”
Now, Barnabas tried to take the wind out of Quentin’s sails with that line, because what’s Quentin going to do, deny doubting something? So Quentin changes course, and snaps, “Barnabas, how did you know that?” This helps him set up a whole new series of arguments to come. Parallel Quentin is amazing at this.
Outflanked, Barnabas tries another approach. “Quentin,” he announces, “there is a spirit here that means to harm your wife!”
“Yes, a spirit!” Quentin smirks. “A vengeful spirit!” No idea why he’s smirking. Apparently, Quentin doesn’t believe in the supernatural today.
Except that he does. “Barnabas,” he says, “I have a feeling that Maggie herself is responsible for what’s happening around here.” This quick-turn is referring to a baffling plot thread from last week about Quentin suspecting Maggie of being an undercover voodoo princess assassin.
“I haven’t told that to anyone,” Quentin says, “and I probably shouldn’t tell you,” because now he’s even arguing with himself in the middle of a sentence. “But I would be lying if I didn’t admit it. None of these occurrences took place until Maggie got here!” This is not the case.
Barnabas says, “Quentin, you don’t believe that!” and Quentin says, “I don’t know what I believe!” So where does that leave us?
And then Angelique comes in, and says that all she wants is for Quentin and Maggie to be happy. “There, there,” he says, “it’s going to be all right. We all want the best for each of us.” What?
Part 4: And Then the Underwear
Then there’s a thirty-second scene in which the villainous John Yaeger — another spirit bent on wife-harming — breaks into Maggie’s bedroom and steals some of her clothes, so that he can set up house in the basement dungeon he’s constructed for her imminent abduction. Opening a suitcase on the bed, he goes to the dresser, pulls out a bra and panties, and rubs them on his face.
This is a thing now. Christopher Pennock has made the explicit acting choice that his character demonstrates his twisted affection for Maggie by rubbing her clothes on his face. This is going to come up again.
Part 5: The World’s Noisiest Goldfish
Okay, back to the drawing room, where Maggie tells her husband that she’s going into town. “Not before we have a little talk, my dear!” he barks. Everybody in this storyline is desperately in love with him.
He wants a report on why she told Barnabas about hearing Angelique’s voice. Her answer is “Because he was here,” which admittedly is not a well thought-out response.
“Elizabeth found me in the room, and I was very upset!” she explains, and Quentin shouts, “But Elizabeth did not hear the voice!”
“Quentin, you still don’t believe that anything happened!” she cries. “You still think it was my imagination!”
Quentin sidesteps. “I just don’t think you should confide something to a total stranger!”
“I wouldn’t call Barnabas Collins that!”
“And even if it did happen,” he yells, “I don’t want everybody to know about it!” Now he’s just picking fights out of the air.
“Maggie, I don’t want to fight about this again!” he declares, and then he storms out of the room ten seconds later.
Part 6: Misalliance
The dramatics continue upstairs, too. Angelique walks into somebody else’s bedroom for no particular reason, and finds Yaeger packing for Maggie’s compulsory sleepaway camp.
“Who are you?” she asks, and then it dawns on her. “No, you don’t have to tell me, I know! You’re John Yaeger!” Excited, she closes the door and locks it behind her, to make sure that the dangerous psychopath can’t get away before she’s done with him.
They go on to have the most intense conversation they can make up on the spot.
Yaeger: How do you know who I am?
Angelique: I collect information. I know about you and Mrs. Collins. She… confides in me.
Yaeger: That isn’t very wise of her, is it?
Angelique: No, no. You and I can be friends, John Yaeger.
Yaeger: Oh? You make up your mind even quicker than I do.
Angelique: I have the ability to recognize evil.
Yaeger: And deal with it?
Angelique: I’m not afraid of it. Now, either Mrs. Collins knows that you’re here —
Angelique: — or you have a plan, and I want to know what it is!
Yaeger: Do you value your life?
Angelique: I’m not afraid of dying. Now, tell me your plan — and tell it to me now, before someone else comes in here!
Then I guess she helps him pack, offering helpful suggestions about Maggie’s future prison attire. So that makes two spirits who mean to harm Maggie, three if you count Barnabas. Quentin isn’t doing her any favors, either.
Part 7: Again with the Face
And then John Yaeger brings his ill-gotten wardrobe back to the dungeon, where he picks up a string of beads, and rubs them on his face. The end.
Tomorrow: A Room of One’s Own.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Maggie tells Quentin that “Daniel and Julia” haven’t seen her hairbrush; she should have said “Hoffman”.
Quentin tells Maggie, “I hate that phrase! Everyone who mentions it automatically begins to start talking about the supernatural.”
At the end of Quentin and Maggie’s first scene, there’s an offscreen scraping sound.
Angelique tells Barnabas, “The east wing seems to be one of these bands — one of these places where one can move back and forth.”
Angelique tells Quentin, “I still have some letters to write. I’ll catch on them now.”
Barnabas tells Quentin, “I know you doubt that the po– that the picture spoke to her.”
Angelique tells Quentin, “I just heard you talking to Barnabas, and I’m sure his — I’m sure he means me.”
Maggie’s screams and Yaeger’s laughter can be heard at the beginning of the following scene; then someone coughs from the smoke machine.
Behind the Scenes:
The stairs leading down to Maggie’s cell are very recognizable as the stairs in the antiques shop, from the Leviathan story.
Tomorrow: A Room of One’s Own.
— Danny Horn