Episode 1044: Weekend at Barney’s

“No, she is not! But her spirit is.”

“But we can get to Angelique through her!” he says, and she says, how? which seems like a fair question.

“If we control some of her condition — slightly! — Angelique will collapse,” he says. “Then — well, we can control her then, and she can do nothing! That will give us time!”

So that’s the plan, I guess; all we have to do is control some of her condition, slightly. We finally got that all figured out.

We’re currently parallel parked in Parallel Time, a nearby exospace where everything is basically the same as our world except that I’m entirely sick of it. Barnabas and Julia have travelled on purpose to this strange otherworld in order to save the concurrent Collins clan from soap vixen succubus Angelique, a freeze-dried ice witch who’s come back to life thanks to a proprietary formula that nobody quite understands.

Angelique’s father, an underqualified humbug named Timothy Stokes, has resurrected his beloved daughter using some fateful combination of medical science and black magic that he can’t really explain, because he is neither a doctor nor a magician. I’m not sure what he is; he seems like a grifter who hangs around the dog track. But he has successfully rebirthed his wicked stepdaughter, using syringes, black candles, a nameless female houseguest on semi-permanent sleepover duty, and maybe a couple rolls of masking tape. There must be a trick to it, that’s all I can figure.

So there’s this young woman over at Stokes’ place who’s lying face up on a table, unable to move or speak or eat or do much of anything, except send her life force to Angelique via the candles. If Barnabas and Julia can get her to wake up and take charge of her life force again, then Angelique would fall on the floor and die, which would be great, because then we could go home and play with our own Stokes, who drinks sherry and makes fun of people.

But here’s the complicated part. Quentin is currently on the run from the police, accused of choking lunatic pianist Bruno Hess to death, which he didn’t exactly do. I mean, Quentin choked Bruno — he chokes a lot of people — but he didn’t actually choke him all the way to death. Quentin got him maybe two-thirds of the way, and then Angelique did the rest.

It’s a fraught scenario, and it’s hard for me to explain it to people, because in every single episode, they make an unexpected tweak to the audience’s mental model of what’s going on. I’m not talking about a plot development, which would be nice; I’m talking about the main characters taking a slightly different angle on what they think the story is about.

For example: this “control her condition slightly” business, which is a whole new idea. A couple days ago, Barnabas and Julia wanted to wake Roxanne up, because then Angelique would die and everyone would be happy. But now, they’re concerned that if Angelique dies, they’ll never be able to prove that she killed Bruno, although I’m not sure how they’re going to prove that anyway. So suddenly Barnabas wants to try this weird time-share concept where they weaken Angelique by a certain percentage, just long enough to secure a murder conviction.

Julia’s being a sourpuss and doesn’t want to play, so Barnabas says fine, he doesn’t need her anyway. “You forget, Julia,” he announces, “that I’ve had work transferring life force into Adam. It would be easier if you helped. If you won’t, I will do it alone.”

So there you go, apparently everybody’s a sorceror supreme today. Y’all need to step back for a minute and figure out your areas of expertise.

But if there’s one thing that Barnabas knows how to do, it’s break into a place and fool around with unconscious young women. That is actually a Barnabas Collins specialty.

And what do you know, it turns out Stokes doesn’t even lock the door; Barnabas just turns the handle, and walks right in. Then they make their way through the drawing room, and the door to the mad science lab is unlocked too. And there’s Roxanne, or some Roxanne-shaped object, lying face up on the table.

Now, between you and me, that’s not actually Roxanne under the sheet, because they didn’t need the actress to show up today. All she does is lie there until Barnabas and Will load her into the car, and then she still just lies there, somewhere else. This is not actually a story about Roxanne.

Roxanne is a MacGuffin, an object with no inherent value that motivates the characters in a story to make decisions and take action, like the Maltese Falcon, or the blueprints to the Death Star. You could replace her with a mannequin, as they do today, and it doesn’t make any difference. The only thing that matters is that she’s the key to destroying Angelique. Roxanne is basically an off switch that Barnabas inexplicably falls in love with.

Now, the mechanics of the kidnapping are a bit hazy. Barnabas mentions that they’ve got a car waiting outside, and they’ll have to carry her, which is easy to say. Have you ever carried an unconscious person out to your car? It’s not easy. There are a lot of doors between here and the Old House, and somebody has to hold them open. Grown humans just aren’t that portable.

But Barnabas doesn’t give it a second thought, he just leans over like he’s going to pick her up and carry her under his arm. He’s about to learn some important lessons about anatomy.

But this kind of thing happens all the time on Dark Shadows; they’re always moving a coffin from one location to another, sometimes single-handedly, through a series of secret tunnels. We don’t see it happen, of course; they just say, “Let’s move this coffin,” and then the next thing you know, it’s somewhere else, like they beamed it up to the Enterprise. This is one of those.

But there’s a moment in the middle of this heist sequence that we have to discuss, because it’s jaw-droppingly odd.

Barnabas is about to liberate Roxanne, when Will says, “Are you sure she’s alive? She hasn’t moved since we’ve been in this room.”

“Stokes has somehow put her in this state,” Barnabas says, which isn’t really an answer. He looks around helplessly, and then gestures at a pile of notebooks on a nearby desk. “Will,” he says, “take a look in those books, and see if he has any records on her.”

I know we’re all busy these days, but take a moment to appreciate that line. I don’t even think that’s Fridspeak, that’s actually a line in a script that was broadcast on television. See if he has any records on her?

And then Will, bless his heart, walks over to the notebooks. He picks up two of them, flips through them for literally four seconds each, and then slams them down on the table, yelling, “Barnabas, we’ve been here too long!” So that’s the end of that research project.

And then, ta-dah! The next thing you know, she’s all the way in the secret room behind the bookcase in the Old House, presumably none the worse for wear. This tiny crawlspace is where Barnabas stores the coffin that he sleeps in, except if they have a scene where they need something else to be there, which is most of the time. So I guess they’ve teleported the coffin into self-storage, and Barnabas has lined up an AirBnB somewhere.

Now, obviously, I don’t expect gritty realism in my psychedelic supernatural science-fiction comedy soap opera, so all of this warping of time and space is fine. This is fairy-tale plot construction, where the handsome prince is a vampire, and if he can awaken Snow White with true love’s kiss, then the mean witch will die, and the dwarfs can all go home to their own dimension.

Naturally, Angelique shows up looking for Barnabas, so Will has to go out in front of the bookcase and pretend that Barnabas got called away unexpectedly. She says that she’ll wait, so he makes a big deal about how he’s decided to stop drinking and start writing again, and he’s just about to start his new best-selling novel.

But it’s actually not clear why they have to hide Roxanne from Angelique, because what would she do if she knew they had her? She can’t drag Roxanne away by herself — there’s three of them and only one of her, and she doesn’t even have a car outside.

And you can’t call the police, and report that somebody stole the unconscious life-force donor from the back room at your dad’s house. This is an area where the police can’t really help you. You are no longer part of their customer base.

And then, just when they’ve got that scenario under control and you think you understand what’s happening, they make another unexpected change in story direction.

“You’re neglecting one vital point,” Barnabas says, beginning a new scene out of entirely nowhere. “We know that Alexis is Angelique. All we have to do is show Quentin that body in that room.”

Will objects; apparently we’re talking to Will about something. “But even if we did find him…”

You will find him!” Barnabas declares. “Tonight!”

Will says, “That’s impossible,” but nothing is impossible for Fridspeak.

“He needs help,” Barnabas says. “Angelique is helping him.” This is not the case. He starts over. “I know he must be somewhere on the estate, somewhere the police haven’t looked. You know the house, you know the grounds, go start your search, Will!”

So that’s got to be the third bank turn in story-progression this week. We started the day with the idea that we were going to steal Roxanne and partially revive her. Now the problem is that we need to prove to Quentin that Alexis is Angelique, and somehow showing him Roxanne is going to help.

I mean, telling Quentin the truth about Angelique would be a perfectly understandable narrative goal, but it’s not the one that we’re currently aiming at. If they wanted to do that, they would have done it by now. This is the one time in the last several months when convincing Quentin that Alexis is Angelique would not actually help in any way.

So what we’ve got here is a herd of Schrödinger’s cats. Angelique is both alive and dead at the same time, and Roxanne is too, from the other direction. It’s no wonder the Fridspeak is flaring up. Barnabas is straddling two worlds, with one foot in “Quentin needs help” and the other in a parallel dimension called “Angelique is helping him.” He can’t actually make progress, because every time they establish what his goal is, they shake up the Etch A Sketch and start over. Maybe Will could check the notebooks again? I’m sorry, I’m just trying to help.

Tomorrow: We Belong Dead.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Will is shocked when he sees a purple drape hanging up at Stokes’ place. Barnabas takes it down, says “Will, it’s nothing,” and tosses it on a chair. What is that, and why did Will (and the music cue) find it so alarming?

When Amy runs into the drawing room in act 1, there’s a boom mic visible at the top left.

Will tells Angelique, “Well, really, you know, it’s really rather very embarassing for me to admit.”

Angelique shouts at Julia, “The one night that you should have followed Barnabas Collins everywhere he walks — he goes!” Then she tells Julia to find her father: “Take him back to the cabin with you. Explain to him what happened. Maybe he knows what happened.”

Tomorrow: We Belong Dead.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

41 thoughts on “Episode 1044: Weekend at Barney’s

    1. She’s gorgeous but I still wish they’d have let her wear her hair down during modern era “time bands.” She would have seemed so much younger – and sexier.

      1. I guess I’m thinking about her hairstyle in the DS box set interviews. Also, she wore her hair down in that movie she made with Peter Fonda, Race with the Devil.
        The French twist is very classy but, Angelique would have looked smashing with an updated 70’s look. That swept up and sprayed hair makes her seem too old for Quentin.

  1. “Have you ever carried an unconscious person out to your car? It’s not easy.”

    That’s OK. Barnabas is one of those vampires who have super-strength. Have you seen him strangling someone? He just puts one hand up to their throat and about 2 seconds later, they’re through.

    1. Which kind of begs the question about Barnabas being able to pull off anything that ought to be done. He has enormous power, but uses it inconsistently.

      1. Maybe his powers are inconsistent too. Locks may have been meaningless to him. Then again DS doesn’t seen to have made use of that old vampire rule: “In order for a vampiric being to enter any house owned by humans, witches, werewolves, or (human) doppelgängers, they must be invited by the owners of the home.Once invited, the vampire cannot be uninvited, unless the ownership of the house changes.”

        1. When he first arrives at Collinwood in 1967, Mrs. Johnson invites him in. He was also invited into the Evans cottage.

      2. Yeah, it’s totally inconsistent. It would’ve been great if they’d used this one consistently, so it was an annoyance to him. Like when he was a vampire he had the super-strength, but was disadvantaged in that way when he wasn’t a vampire. And if it was really obvious. But they didn’t even manage to make him super-strong as a vampire consistently. They make him normal-strength whenever it is convenient to the plot.

        1. It’s frustrating when they make a point out of following a convention about vampires in some episodes and not in others. I think we just had the single worst instance of this inconsistency a few episodes ago. When Barnabas is rummaging around in Cyrus’ lab and finds Yeager’s clothes, the scene opens with a closeup of his reflection in Cyrus’ mirror. So, OK, they’re telling us that they’ve decided to give up on the “vampires do not cast a reflection” trope. But then, TWO DAYS LATER, Miss Hoffman looks at the mirror in Carolyn’s compact and sees that Barnabas doesn’t cast a reflection, confirming that he is a vampire.

          In the case of the “can’t come in unless invited” convention, that’s one it’s a shame to lose. In the scenes where people do invite him in, they often do it for reasons that will lead to trouble- Maggie invites him into the diner when the place is supposed to be closed and she would like to go home, but she can’t think of a socially acceptable way for a working-class woman to say no to a high-status man making an unreasonable request. She then invites him into her house, again at a time when it is not really appropriate for him to present himself and she would rather he not come in, but she seems to feel that she must let him in.

          In these episodes, it would solve a story problem if Barnabas can enter only where he is invited. Once he knows that Stokes is keeping Angelique alive by physically abusing Roxanne in the back room of his place, his plan is obviously to revive Roxanne and murder Stokes. If he doesn’t need an invitation, this plan provides no basis for suspense- Barnabas could at any moment materialize inside Stokes’ living room, strangle him, and carry Roxanne out the door to whatever kind of mumbo-jumbo procedure they’re going to use to hand-wave her back to life. All the vague and confusing stuff this week fails to paper over the question of why he doesn’t just get on with this. If he needed Stokes’ invitation, on the other hand, we could have a battle of wits leading up to Barnabas tricking Stokes into inviting him to cross his threshold (or more likely, Julia tricking Stokes- let’s face it, when Barnabas engages in a battle of wits he is limited to small-arms combat.)

          1. And what about putting people under psychic control? He could have done that to Hoffman. He hypnotized Daniel. His powers come and go just like his reflection.

            1. There could have been a plot development where he tries to put Hoffman under his control, only to find that Angelique has some kind of hold over her that he can’t quite break. They might have spun that into a whole week of suspenseful episodes!

            2. Hell, he set Angelique’s eyes on fire, metaphorically speaking–that’s why they have to keep pretending he’s vulnerable instead of all powerful. If he could use his powers consistently, Angie would be in the grave again and everyone else would have forgotten him, her and Hoffmann.

  2. Danny, do you think that perhaps Will thought the purple drape might have been Hoffmann’s ghost, since he and Barnabas had encountered it the last time before at Stokes’place?

  3. “Will is shocked when he sees a purple drape hanging up at Stokes’ place. Barnabas takes it down, says “Will, it’s nothing,” and tosses it on a chair. What is that, and why did Will (and the music cue) find it so alarming?”

    I think it is supposed to be that Will thinks he is seeing a ghostly figure (given ghost-Hoffman’s voice), but it turns out just to be a purple cloth hanging there.

    1. Ha! My page didn’t update before posting this, to see that someone had just said the same thing.

  4. You may be tired of parallel time but this has resulted in some well-written and witty posts. After than brainstorming meeting with Dan Curtis and the writers I’m willing to bet they were told to wrap up parallel time post haste. I imagine there were daily last minute script changes that that didn’t gibe with what happened before. I’m sure that David Selby’s vacation didn’t help matters either (was it scheduled in advance? Was it REALLY a vacay?)

    I always get a chuckle watching Barnabas claim that “I’ve had work transferring life force into Adam” makes him an expert. That’s like saying some who had bypass surgery can perform open heart surgery. He really shouldn’t bring up the Adam experiment anyway because it was basically a flop and the “Bride of Adam” was an unmitigated disaster. In fact DS is a chronicle of failed experiments and medical treatments, magic spells gone awry, unintended results from dabbling in the supernatural arts, etc.

    Not sure I agree that Roxanne was intended as a maguffin. Like Amanda Harris she was introduced as new love interest for the “hero” toward the end of a storyline. But expediting the plot meant Roxanne got even less time to flesh out her character. More on her later.

    1. I agree. I don’t think they could have imagined people in 2017 dissecting these episodes…which, when you think about it, is somewhat hilarious. I have read references to fan fiction wars between different characters of the show. I had NO earthly idea.

      I am actually still in the 400 episodes of this blog with time-traveling girl governess Victoria Winters but every now and again I get sucked into a new post by a first line or a quote from Danny or I think about the writers and producers of the episode. I was actually ALIVE when this show was on and thinking my friends had lost their minds running home from school to watch it and I heard all about Quentin and Angelique until I was ready to scream (and the songs were on the radio!). I turned OFF to everything DS with this incessant chatter about it. Now, I’m fascinated.

      I started watching it LAST FALL (only 50 years late…who’s in a hurry?) and still haven’t sorted it all out for myself so I have no idea what a post like this is even about or who are all these people. Last fall, I was googling Dark Shadows because the sci fi channel started on some random episode and I wanted to see what I’d missed when I fell upon this blog and have been SLOWLY reading and savoring ever since. I commute into and out of NYC and sometimes this blog is the only thing that keeps me from murdering someone on the MetroNorth. (thanks Danny!) Though I have laughed out loud on the Quiet Car and that is frowned upon.

      I’m still waiting to find out how Vicky gets back to the 1960s without meddling so much in the past that when she returns the world isn’t being ruled by a giant giraffe (that is what doesn’t happen, right?)

      But I thought I’d pop into the latest blog and say hello, even though I have no clue what is going on. Back to 1795 now. One day I’ll catch up….

    2. There’s a big buildup to Claude North and he appears only in a few episodes before he is gone.

  5. It’s just occurred to me that no dogs have been heard to howl in PT Collinsport.

    Whenever Barnabas sets his mind on a sudden new romantic interest, or is set to do something decisive, you would always hear the dogs howl, but apparently not here in PT.

    1. Sorry, guess there are no dogs or canines of any kind in PT…instead, badgers and giant voles are kept as house pets.

      1. Not to mention the tame pigweasels. David and Amy had a house-trained little cutie named John Wellington Wells, but the little dickens mistook the Ralston+Purina lamp for a container of Purina Pigweasel Chow and got the shock of his life.

      2. And stuffed cockatiels. They show that poor moth eaten thing every time they go to Stokes’s house, which makes me wonder what part of Collinwood Aunt Hannah is buried in.

  6. “If we control some of her condition — slightly! — Angelique will collapse,” he says. “Then — well, we can control her then, and she can do nothing! That will give us time!”

    Can anyone guess what the line above was supposed to be? Would it track if we corrected for Fridspeak? Honest question.

    1. I think they’re trying supernatural blackmail. If they can figure out a way to bring the girl under the sheet back to the state where her eyes were open and she seemingly was conscious, that will weaken Angelique. And they might be able to manipulate Angelique and.or keep her from any more dirty work as they try and prove Quentin’s assumed innocence.

        1. Yes, I think that is the meaning or as reasonably close as one can get, Danny having made it clear that clarity is not the aim. But what could the actual line in the actual script have been? It would have to have been much longer to get the point (such as it is) across…

          I did a lot of speed in college (more than three decades ago) and it just reminds me of what happens when you write yourself into a corner and hope the actor can give it a convincing thrust… and then the actor blows it and half a century later Danny Horn does the final alchemical spin into Theatre of the Absurd.

          1. My guess is that the first “control” shouldn’t be there – perhaps it was supposed to be “alter” or “change” or something like that. But when he went on to the second part of the statement, he realised he was screwed so started stammering.

          2. Alice felt dreadfully puzzled. The Hatter’s remark seemed to have no sort of meaning in it, yet it was certainly English.
            – Lewis Carroll

            And the White Knight is talking backwards…
            – Jefferson Airplane

  7. I love the part where Will is telling Angelique that he thinks Barnabas might have a girl somewhere and that he’s very secretive, then they cut to Barnabas and Julia listening and Julia seems to think that is highly amusing. I swear it is Grayson Hall having a chuckle, not just Julia.

  8. Coffins in Collinsport are easy to carry because they’re made of balsa wood. That’s the only explanation for how easily zombies are able to stick their hands up out of the grave right through the coffin lid and intervening layer of earth.

    Maybe it’s the mustache, but to my eyes PT Stokes has a stronger resemblance to Sandor than to RT Stokes.

  9. It’s a fraught scenario… Your statement makes me think of a great lyric from “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”: The situation’s fraught, fraughter than I thought…

  10. So what happened to Angelique’s need to absorb someone else’s body heat at regular intervals? Did she get over that somehow? Or have the writers just forgotten?

    Will’s line about Barnabas having “a girl somewhere” is about as close as they ever come to real humor.

  11. Wouldn’t it’ve been great if Hoffman’s “ghost” had turned out to be our Julia hiding somewhere in the house projecting her voice in an effort to dissuade Barnabas from pursuing his harebrained schemes?

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