“A man doesn’t just suddenly choke to death for no reason at all!”
“I’d like to get it over with, all right,” says Quentin Collins to the detective, “with Bruno, and with my bare hands!” This is during an interrogation about the death of Quentin’s first wife, who he strangled with his bare hands. She didn’t die from being strangled — the murderer was actually a rogue hatpin, acting alone — but also Quentin was simultaneously strangling her at the time, which it’s been months since they’ve established that but I still can’t get over it.
So it’s probably not a great idea for him to start shouting about his bare hands in front of the gendarmes. Everybody has bare hands, anyway; it’s nothing to brag about. Sadly, this Trump-tweet level of self-incrimination is a common problem in soap opera towns, which are populated almost entirely by petulant narcissists with no impulse control.
Anyway, Quentin storms over to Bruno’s cottage — that’s his preferred mode of transportation, storming — and accuses him of turning evidence over to the police. This obvious obstruction of justice is just another Trumpian turn for a guy who I swear used to be one of my favorite characters.
“You’re not going to get away with it this time!” Quentin says, and then he hits back ten times harder. He grabs Bruno around the neck and starts choking him with — well, the sleeve of his coat, actually, so I guess he’s not using his bare hands after all. Maybe they’re too small.
Getting bored, Quentin flings Bruno across the room and spits, “What’s the use? You’re not worth killing!” except apparently he is, because the next thing you know, somebody’s killing him.
It’s Angelique, of course, it’s always Angelique these days; she’s the only self-actualized character on the show. She’s got one of Bruno’s terrible ascots, and now she’s tied it around an object that for some reason everybody is going to spend the entire week calling a voodoo doll. They actually had a little clay voodoo doll prop a couple weeks ago, but maybe they’ve lost it, because now they’re using this bust-statuette thing instead, except they keep saying it’s a voodoo doll. Good Lord, says a random character who picks it up and looks at it, this is a doll, which was recently used for the purposes of voodoo. I have no idea who they’re trying to kid.
Anyway, Angelique is in a different house, but somehow she knows the exact moment that Quentin decides it’s not worth killing Bruno, and she does it herself, via remote control. Bruno chokes, and then he falls to the ground dead, and that’s another item crossed off America’s collective bucket list.
As Quentin tries to come to grips with the scenario, in rolls Inspector Hamilton, Collinsport’s most blasé cop. He lost track of Quentin in the middle of their interrogation, and let him run over to a nearby cottage to commit another atrocity. He has no feelings about that one way or the other.
“Mr. Collins,” says the inspector, “I hope for your sake that he isn’t dead.” Quentin says that he doesn’t know, so Hamilton rolls his eyes and says, “Suppose we find out.” Then he kneels down to examine the remains.
Straightening up, he delivers the verdict. “He’s dead, Mr. Collins,” the detective says, in the mildly disappointed tone you might use when you get ten dollars from the Community Chest for winning second prize in a beauty contest.
“You quarreled with him, and killed him,” says Inspector Ham-L-10. “A man doesn’t just suddenly choke to death for no reason at all.”
Then he says, “I’m placing you under arrest. The charge is suspicion of murder. If you wish, you may call your attorney.”
Quentin sighs and picks up the phone, and the justice machine says, “Mr. Collins, I derive no pleasure from having to do this.” Yeah, no kidding, Data.
But he’s not the only replicant on the premises. He strolls over to the main house with Quentin for some reason, and delivers the bad news. Angelique is the only one who expresses any emotion, and she’s faking it.
Angelique: Bruno’s dead?
Hamilton: I’m afraid so, Miss Stokes.
Angelique: I don’t believe it! How did it happen?
Hamilton: That’s what we intend to find out when we question Mr. Collins.
Quentin: The Inspector thinks I did it.
Angelique: Oh, no!
Hamilton: Mr. Collins, the charge is only suspicion of murder. I haven’t stated flatly that you did it, because I don’t know. But I did discover you standing over the body.
Angelique: I don’t believe that Quentin could have murdered anyone!
Hamilton: I sincerely hope you’re right, Miss Stokes. But you must admit, his position is rather shaky.
Which is just — what? Is Hamilton supposed to choose up sides like that?
In fact, the only sign of life that we see in the whole conversation is the weird erotic tension between Hamilton and his handsome prisoner.
Hamilton: Shall we be going, Mr. Collins?
Quentin: Can I have one last request before we go?
Hamilton: Depends what it is.
Quentin: I’d like to take something with me, if I’m going to be the guest of state overnight. I’d like to go up to my room.
Hamilton: By all means. But I’ll have to accompany you. You do understand.
Quentin: Of course. Don’t you want to handcuff me?
Hamilton: I’m assuming — or should I say, hoping — that there’s no reason why you should try to escape.
And everyone smiles, and makes wry remarks, and then Quentin goes to prison. He knows that there’s no way to prove his innocence — he actually was choking Bruno, right before Bruno died — but all he cares about is packing a toothbrush.
So I’m sick of Parallel Time, is the basic problem, and I’m pretty sure Parallel Time is sick of itself. They’ve had three months to convince me that I should care what happens to this little pile of miserable people, and they have not used that time productively. The characters aren’t even bothering to care about themselves, much less anything else, and I have run completely dry on both curiosity and give-a-shit.
Barnabas and Julia know that this is their fault — if they’d destroyed the lady in the back parlor like they were supposed to, Bruno would still be alive — but all Barnabas can say is, “Well, all right, perhaps we were wrong, but there’s no point in going over that now.” Now they have to get Quentin out of prison, on top of everything else they have to do, and the whole thing is just a huge hassle. When are we going home?
Tomorrow: Still Another Murderer.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
In the teaser, when Quentin kneels down next to Bruno’s body, he bumps it with his knee, and the body rocks back and forth in a way that makes it really, really obvious that it’s a mannequin dressed in Bruno’s clothes.
What is going on with Hamilton’s office? It’s the next room over from the main police office set, but half the room is wood and the other half is brick.
Behind the Scenes:
David Selby has been working nonstop since everyone went to film House of Dark Shadows, so now it’s time for a two-week vacation. Quentin escapes from jail in this episode, and we won’t see him again until episode 1051.
Hamilton is now using the desk that Cyrus had in his laboratory.
Tomorrow: Still Another Murderer.
— Danny Horn