“Will you feel the pain when this enters his body?”
Well, once again it looks like London Bridge is falling down; that’s today’s headline. We’ve got Maggie all locked up in a basement, so if anybody’s looking for her, then that’s where she’ll be. You can’t let these governess types run around loose for too long, or they get into mischief.
So it’s another setback for women’s lib, I’m afraid; I thought the 1970s were supposed to be more evolved than this. But here’s Maggie Evans Collins, whisked away to her new home in the basement of an abandoned farmhouse, which is one of those pretty-girl-in-peril reeducation centers where you’re supposed to sit and think things over until you recognize that your captor is the man of your dreams. And somewhere in the world, a fish finally gets that bicycle it’s always wanted.
Her new landlord is John Yaeger, a vicious brute who’s visiting this fictional universe from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Special Victims Unit. He’s the Hyde. The Jekyll is Dr. Cyrus Longworth, Maggie’s close friend, who goes around rubbing his face on her underwear when she’s not looking. That’s Dark Shadows for you; even the Jekylls are a mess.
But everyone can see that Maggie’s not being treated well by her new husband Quentin, who shouts at her and blames her and suspects her of being a vengeance-minded voodoo priestess, which she isn’t. He doesn’t actually hit her, which is nice, but he ignores her a lot, and when she says something that he doesn’t want to hear, he tells her to go to her room. Well, she’s done that, I suppose; it just happens to be a different room than he expected.
Yaeger, who’s getting more delusional by the day, thinks that Maggie’s going to settle into her new environment and start playing house. He’s stolen some of her possessions — clothes, a hairbrush, whatever accessories he felt like rubbing on his face — and he expects her to thank him for being so thoughtful.
“You know, I thought I would take the trouble of making your change here less traumatic,” he chirps. “Some of your own things always adds a bit of security.” And look how pleased he is with himself; he thinks he’s nailing this.
He says that he’ll let her go at the proper time, ie: when they walk out together, as a united couple. “You know, Maggie, I seem to be more confident in my charms than you are,” he smirks. “You’re going to love me! I promise you that!”
So this is another example of that rape culture concept of women falling in love with the strong, powerful man who shoves his way into her heart. It’s one of those cartoons where the caveman bashes the woman over the head with a club and drags her by the hair to his cave, which used to be hilarious for some reason.
The charm offensive doesn’t last, of course. Within minutes, she’s defying him, and he screams, “You will do as you’re told!” He can’t tell her to go to her room, of course, because she’s already in it.
So she’s been reassigned from one abusive man to another, given clothes and food and a room to sleep in. It’s kind of a rape crisis center, except it’s pro- and not anti-.
And the worst part, in a scenario made up entirely of worst parts, is that this guy is actually Cyrus, who she thinks is a close friend. He knows what she likes to eat, he knows that she’s been fighting with her husband, and he even knows her deepest fears, because she confided in him and asked for his help. This is even more of a betrayal than she can imagine.
There are three men in Maggie’s life — the emotionally trigger-happy husband, the friend who kidnaps her and steals her clothes, and the other friend who periodically decides he needs to sneak into her bedroom and drink her blood. Maggie has not been not super fortunate in her choices about male companionship.
And the interesting thing is that this is what Barnabas did to Maggie, three years ago. It’s exactly the same plan — abduct her, keep her locked up in a room, train her on the finer points of pleasing her man, and then wait for Stockholm syndrome to kick in.
In both cases, the men see the relocation as both a sleepaway camp and a punishment, depending on their mood. When Yaeger’s feeling optimistic, he expects her to think of this as her new home. When he gets angry and storms out of the room, it’s a prison cell.
Now, when Barnabas did all this three years ago, Maggie didn’t fall in love with him, but America did. He’s the hero of the show now, a teen-dream star with his own board games and Halloween costumes. I suppose by 1973 we’ll have forgotten all about this first encounter, and the world will be filled with John Yaeger model kits.
This version of Maggie is especially susceptible to treatment like this, because she doesn’t actually have a life outside her marriage and the one-sided supernatural war that she doesn’t realize she’s engaged in.
In Rebecca, the novel that inspired some of this storyline, we see the narrator in the days before she marries the charming millionaire and moves into his flammable mansion. She’s the paid companion to a rich woman visiting Monte Carlo, which isn’t a great job, but at least she gets to travel. But Maggie Collins shows up on the screen already married to Quentin, with no past to speak of, and nothing to ground her character. Maggie is a wife, and a victim; that’s her entire identity.
She doesn’t have a job. She doesn’t even have a hobby. The evil undead creature who lives in Maggie’s house likes gardening and flower arranging, she has a piano and a diary and an active social life. Maggie literally has no interests in anything outside of her marriage, her relationship with her stepson and her own feelings.
And honestly, even her sister in New York — the only healthy relationship that Maggie has — is basically just another place to stash her when she’s not wanted. When Maggie runs away from Quentin, she goes to stay with Jennifer, who acts as doorman and prison guard. During that period, Quentin accused Maggie of acting like a child, and she kind of was, running home to hide behind her big sister.
So the concept of “Maggie on her own” is unthinkable. If she wanted to leave Quentin and live on her own, what would that even look like? She has no source of income, and no way to live independently. I’m not saying that she’d be helpless like this if she were a real person, but that’s the way this character has been constructed. She’s a victim, she’s an object of love and subject of gossip, and she’s a target for witchcraft and vampire blood-feeding.
Maggie is entirely alone. Yaeger and Angelique want to convince her that she has no connections, no hope — that without Quentin, she’s nothing, she might as well fall out a window, or attach herself to another abusive man.
And then, just when you thought you understood the psychosexual rape-culture politics of this episode, the ice witch comes along to give the rapist a pep talk.
Angelique — Maggie’s only female friend — is actively conspiring against her, encouraging her abductor to buck up and keep trying. Yaeger comes over to whine about the way Maggie looks at him, and Angelique basically rolls her eyes, unable to believe how lame and childish this caveman actually is.
“She has more spirit than I thought she had,” he crabs, and she snaps, “And you have less than I thought you had!” So that’s 0-2 in Yaeger’s stand-up-to-women plans for the evening.
But Angelique knows the way to get to Maggie. “Every tie she has with Collinwood must be broken,” she insists. “She must be made to feel completely alone — that she has no life to go back to at all, because that life doesn’t exist for her anymore! You must rob her of every defense that she has — and when she’s completely vulnerable, then she’ll turn to you, because you’ll be all that she has. Don’t you see?”
So that’s the real question of this storyline — what would Maggie be, if her ties to Quentin and Collinwood were broken? A couple weeks ago, Angelique used that idea to talk her all the way out an upper-story window, and it almost worked.
But that applies to pretty much all the women in Parallel Time. What would Sabrina be, without Cyrus? This week, she found out that her fiancee is a murderer, and she’s still sticking by him. And how about Buffie, who literally got beaten and raped during a commercial break, and still wanted to go out with Yaeger? Carolyn doesn’t show a lot of interest in quitting her miserable marriage, and Hoffman and Hannah are both under the sway of Angelique. Most of the female characters in Parallel Time are not in control of their own lives and destinies, except for Angelique, who’s trying to spoil it for everyone else.
Parallel Time is an alternate Earth where things are different, because people have made different choices. Except the women, of course, who hardly make any choices at all.
Monday: The Last Day of Parallel Time.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Yaeger drops some silverware on the floor when he brings in the champagne. He picks it up, but then another piece falls to the floor.
Maggie tells Yaeger, “You’re not going to get away from this!” She means away with this.
When Angelique sees Yaeger at the window, she turns to Liz and calls her “Mrs. Collins.”
There’s a little audio fault when Angelique tells Liz that she wants to find Maggie.
The scene at the gazebo isn’t lit properly; Angelique is entirely in shadow. There’s a long close-up shot of her, where you can hardly see her expression.
Yaeger says, “There’s something I want you to do!” and then there’s a long pause before Maggie replies, “I won’t do anything!”
When Liz talks on the phone to Jennifer, you can hear Yaeger putting the sword back into his cane.
As Liz and Roger talk about Maggie in the drawing room, Angelique can be seen crossing the foyer, heading upstairs for her cue.
Monday: The Last Day of Parallel Time.
— Danny Horn