Episode 1053: Whodidn’tit

“I know about hypnotism. I know how to resist it!”

It was Roger!

And just like that, the mystery is solved. For the last three months, Dark Shadows has been asking us Who Killed Angelique, and we’ve said, we don’t know, how about giving us a couple hints? And then the show would go and do something else for a while.

Angelique died at a seance, in the company of her husband, her lover and a couple of cousins, plus a mad scientist and his assistant. Almost all of the participants are dead now, killed by each other, and nobody knows how, or why.

They were sitting around a table, trying to conjure up the spirit of Phyllis Wick. Months ago, young Daniel awakened in the middle of the night, and found a ghostly governess standing at the foot of the bed, holding a cat. My name is Phyllis Wick, she said. My journey is beginning, a journey that I hope will open the doors of life to me. And she came back again the next night, with more stories of an impossible Collinwood, and again the next, five days a week for months and months. Something had to be done.

So Daniel’s mother called a midnight meeting, hoping to dial up the governess and tell her that nobody cared. But they reached someone else instead — a different lost soul named Dameon Edwards, who’d been murdered months before, and nobody had even noticed. He was sealed up in some catacomb down in the basement, another unsolved mystery, and his spirit floated around in the airspace above Collinwood, getting more and more depressed.

He told them a thing or two about Angelique and her multiple ongoing love affairs with half the town, which made her husband Quentin leap to his feet and start strangling her. This was nothing out of the ordinary. But then it happened — a hatpin, wielded by who knows who, pressed into the base of her skull with lethal force. Angelique always drank too many hatpins, everyone said so, and it finally caught up with her.

The medical examiner ruled it a suicide, of course, or a brain aneurysm, or a drive-by shooting. It was probably just one of those things. Sometimes people die, even blonde people, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

After all, nobody had a motive, as far as we know. There was no reason for that night to be particularly hazardous for Angelique. She hadn’t threatened anyone, she wasn’t blackmailing anyone, she hadn’t just broken up with anyone or announced she was having somebody’s child. She didn’t have money that anyone would inherit.

I mean, maybe there was a reason, but if there was, then maybe the television show should have made that information available to the audience some time earlier than now, because it was Roger, and there’s no explanation for why.

They actually did have a moment two weeks ago when Carolyn realized that her mother might have had a motive. Carolyn had just told Elizabeth that she was leaving her husband because of his relationship with Angelique, and Liz was very upset — maybe upset enough to grab a hatpin from her extensive hatpin collection and jam it somewhere it didn’t belong. It was almost like the show realized that a murder mystery needs means, motives and opportunity, but then they instantly tacked away from it, because it wasn’t Elizabeth after all. It was Roger!

“I should have known all along that you would do your utmost to have the final word,” says Roger, apropos of nothing, to the portrait of the person that we’re about to find out that he killed. “How my life has changed, and what I have become, because of you!” There will be no further information about how Roger’s life has changed.

“I was foolish to think that everything would be changed once you were gone,” he continues. “Nothing has changed, except me. You’ve dominated our lives more than ever.”

“I believed I’d done the best thing, even though I loved you!” Roger announces, which is brand-new information. I didn’t know that Roger loved Angelique; I thought he was gay. Also, he doesn’t seem to have liked her much.

“I thought that it was a good thing to be rid of you,” he explains. “But you found a way to return, bringing with you more suffering and tragedy!” And that’s why I loved you, he doesn’t say.

But this quickie-confession needs to wrap up, apparently. “And then, it became necessary for Carolyn to die,” he croaks, and Elizabeth is at the door, horrified and angry, shouting, “YOU! You killed Carolyn!”

And that’s it. The whole thing takes less than a minute, and it’s solved via casual eavesdropping. After all these months, that’s the beginning and the end of the solution to the mystery. It was Roger!

And so, as Roger chokes his sister to death and stuffs her into the window seat, I have to ask: why did I ever expect anything else?

A real murder mystery is fiddly and complicated; it involves planning and consideration. Mystery writers have to draw diagrams, and read up on rare poisons and interesting tricks you can play with locks. They plot out misdirections, and plant red herrings. It takes ages.

Meanwhile, the Dark Shadows writers had no plan at all, besides getting half the cast members out of the door so they could go make House of Dark Shadows. When they set up the re-enactment of the seance in episode 990, it was Elizabeth and Roger’s last episode before they left for Tarrytown. Carolyn and Will had already left, the day before. There wasn’t any time for people to hang around and establish motives; they had to go put on scuba gear so they could film the movie’s funeral scene.

That’s how this story started, as a hurried jumble of leftover ingredients, and it’s ending that way, too. There’s no detective to put the pieces together, because there aren’t any pieces. The characters would occasionally show some interest in this story thread, but then they’d get distracted by their own problems, and drop the subject before they’d reached any conclusions. It was really just a background for the Quentin/Angelique story, a wedge that the witch could use to drive Quentin and Maggie apart.

And you can’t really take this seriously as a mystery, because the whole setup is ridiculous. They established early on that Quentin got angry during the seance and started strangling Angelique, and by the time they turned the lights on, she was dead — but Quentin didn’t do it.

There’s no way to resolve that and feel good about yourself in the morning, so they don’t try. If there was a detective on hand to review the evidence and walk us step-by-step through the murder, what could they possibly say?

Roger decides somehow that it would be best for everyone if Angelique was out of their lives, so he comes to the seance with a hatpin up his sleeve, figuring if you’re going to kill someone, you should do it in a crowd of seven people, packed around a small table. Then Quentin gets up and starts strangling his wife — which, admittedly, Roger could have seen coming, because that appears to be Quentin’s answer to everything — and Roger says, Here’s my moment! and stealthily positions himself on the other side of Angelique’s skull.

So never mind, it’s probably best if he just randomly decides to issue a forty-five-second confession to the decor, and then just keep on killing until we run out of characters.

But who done it, really, in the end? Was it Violet Welles, the writer who left the show a week into Parallel Time? Was it Robert Costello, the producer who left in October, just around the time that the show stopped being good? Was it Dan Curtis, Sam Hall, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer or Daphne du Maurier? Or was it all of them, Murder on the Orient Express-style? Is there a detective clever enough to piece together clues that aren’t there? And what did Phyllis Wick want, anyway? And why the cat?

Tomorrow: Another Day in the Desert.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Liz walks into the drawing room and says, “I woke up for a reason,” there’s a little glimpse of a camera at the right side of the screen.

Roger tells Liz, “Speaking of death has alwhen — always been disturbing to me!” A minute later, when Liz says she won’t go upstairs and rest, Roger sighs, “Very when, then.”

When Liz tells Barnabas, “When the time comes, I’ll get all the rest I need,” we can see electrical cables on the floor at the left side of the screen.

Liz accuses Roger, “Quentin didn’t murder Car- Angelique! It was you!”

Liz is clearly breathing when Roger looks at her corpse in the window seat.

Angelique tells Julia, “You have no food, no water, and no chance of a stake — escape.”

Tomorrow: Another Day in the Desert.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

38 thoughts on “Episode 1053: Whodidn’tit

  1. For anyone interested The Dom does a series called Lost In Adaptation, where he compares books to films based on them. He recently did Rebecca. It’s an interesting look at the original story. He concludes that Maxim, the character that became Quentin is pretty much a bastard. You can find it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hPQ6EvHZ_Q

  2. I like this column for several reasons, but mostly for Phyllis Wick.

    I’m hoping you can work in a Dorcas Trilling reference before PT ends.

  3. Suppose we should have known. More clues might have helped – maybe a goatee, or a big Yaeger moustache. But the clincher, the one vital piece of the puzzle, is that he’s about the only one left in the cast!
    But honestly, it’s the mechanics of the deed that I have the most trouble with…a hatpin would be tricky (at best) to use as a murder weapon, especially when Quentin was strangling Angelique at the time. I’ll guess that all the menfolk jumped up to try and pull Quentin away, while Sabrina screamed and screamed (and screamed) in her super fake way (and Liz just rolled her eyes and shook her head, or else yelled, “GO QUENTIN! GO!”); and there were only candles for lighting since it was a seance, so kudos to Parallel Roger for managing it. I wonder if he practiced his technique beforehand, say on a couple of honeydew melons? Do we suppose this was his first murder?

      1. Of course. Never, NEVER trust the guy(s) in the ascot(s).
        Unfortunately, that includes almost every male in Parallel Time (and a few in Regular Time as well).

  4. I like Very when then. I think it might have real world applications. It’s not as good as incestors but Edmundspeak was pretty lively.

  5. The gay subtext here could have provided both a twist and rationale for murder. Unfortunately this was 1970 where gay characters or situations were virtually non-existent on television..and certainly not on daytime TV dramas. In movies gay characters were either flamboyant and mocked or tortured, twisted misfits..and sometimes homicidal. So, a closeted Roger, in self-denial about his homosexuality, probably had a grand old time with Angelique. They say around mocking everyone. He deluded himself into thinking he and Angelique were much better suited to each other. But DS and ABC could only hint at it. Had they been more progressive they would show in flashback an incident in which Roger made a clumsy pass at Angelique. She not only turned him down but mocked him, laughing at him calling him queer or a fag. Maybe she even intimated she would spill his secret to the family or gossip about him to all her straight suitors. Scorned by her he wanted her dead but didn’t have the balls. However at the seance he saw his chance and did it with the hat pin he had kept in his pocket for weeks trying to get the gumption to get her. How else to explain why Roger wanted her dead? To shut her up.

    1. And what pushed PT Roger over the edge? Just before the seance, when Angelique sidled over and murmured in his ear, “Say, is that a hatpin in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?”
      Nobody insults Roger’s codger.

    2. That rational for Roger killing her rings a bell for some reason, but I cannot rationalize the murder weapon being a hatpin used while Quentin was throttling Angelique.

      1. I think that by making the murder weapon a hatpin the writers were trying to “feminize” the crime, perhaps as their way of saying a man wouldn’t kill someone that way. Again the pervasive view of gay men then that still exists is that they’re not masculine, but sissies. He-men just can’t be gay!

        1. I wonder at what point the decision was made that Roger would turn out to be the serial killer? It may be that the choice of hatpin as murder weapon was made long before the murderer’s identity was chosen.

    3. I think it’s inspired by the relationship between the Clifton Webb and Gene Tierney characters in Laura, which, along with Rebecca, has been an inspiration for the whole Angelique storyline.

      He didn’t love her romantically or desire her sexually, but he became obsessed with her and put her on a pedestal. Not only did he not want to share her time and attention with her lovers or her fiance, he hated the thought of her “throwing herself away” on men he believed were unworthy of her.

      (In the movie, it was set up in such a way that audience members who either couldn’t see [or preferred not to admit seeing] the gay subtext in Webb’s performance could tell themselves that the impediment between them was an age difference rather than a difference in sexual orientation.)

        1. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! It’s one of those movies I never get tired of. In addition to the superb writing, direction, and leads, it has a perfectly evocative musical score and a young, pre-horror-icon Vincent Price!

  6. Despite that many here do not enjoy the parallel time characters, you can be sure that Louis Edmonds was enjoying it immensely.

    He lamented that Roger Collins was made to be nicer as things went along, when in the beginning he was playing more of a villain.

    So no doubt, as he mentioned in interviews, he enjoyed the time travel stories where he could be more of a malefactor.

    It’s ironic that the less popular Dark Shadows storylines (Dream Curse, PT 1970, PT 1841) feature some of Louis Edmonds’ better performances.

    The worst of Dark Shadows is the best of Louis Edmonds.

    1. Big Lou always seemed to be enjoying himself whenever he was on. Even after Roger’s rough edges came off, and he was just one of the goldfish, he was fun – and then when he got to do all the Collins in- er, ancestors, he delivered. He had a good time, but (as a good actor should) we enjoyed the performances. He even “sold” PT Roger as a murderer!
      I wonder if he ever went to the director or to Dan Curtis and said, “See here, Roger (or Joshua, or Edward) simply would not do this! Can’t we work the scene like this instead?”
      But I suspect that he just took what they gave him, and made it work.

    2. I really miss the character of Roger during the upcoming storyline depicting the destruction of Collinwood. It made no sense that Roger was nowhere to be seen. He was so needed to provide some balance.

      I think Big Lou really enjoyed his stint on All My Children as Prof. Langley Wallingfored because he got to do a lot of drawing room comedy with Ruth Warrick, Eileen Hurley, James Mitchell, and Dorothy Lyman. What I wouldn’t give to re-watch the stories of Langley and Opal carrying on behind Phoebe’s back, Opal and Langley running for city council, and Langley being revealed as Carol Burnett’s long-lost father, Lenny Vlasic.

      1. Roger was so often the voice of reasonable skepticism, and instead of him, we got Quentin. Now, I love Quentin, but even as an 11 year old, I found it ridiculous that an immortal werewolf was being skeptical about supernatural events. When you’re a werewolf, you don’t get to be skeptical about the supernatural! Roger’s skepticism was a much better fit.

    3. Even after Roger’s character was “redeemed,” he was the true heir to his Great-Uncle Quentin’s legacy of standing around the drawing room, drink in hand, cutting the world down to size with the sharpest tongue in New England. And, also like Quentin, he didn’t balk at pointing out his own flaws in his moments of brandy-laced philosophy.

  7. ”Angelique tells Julia, ‘You have no food, no water, and no chance of a stake…”

    Well, if there’s no food or water, of course there’s no chance for a steak. What? Oh, nevermind.

  8. I can wrap my mind the idea of Roger being gay. He couldn’t “love” Angelique with a fistful of viagra and a viewing of Cabaret.(Unless there’s something about Angelique that has been waaay back in the closet.) So Roger had to be well and truly psychotic. The distressing thing is that if this had been planned out, even by a high school drama team, PT could have been an incredible concept and Barnabas wouldn’t even have to use his teeth. Imagine… murder at Collinwood!

  9. I’ve argued that DS has very little in common with soap operas.In fact, much of what I thought it did 20 years ago has faded as modern TV dramas have become more serialized, as DS was. The amusing irony is that DS “feels” more like a modern drama than the more episodic STAR TREK.

    With this in mind, it makes sense that DS would not have a major “who killed X” murder mystery storyline (though I presume that might not have been as prevalent in the soaps of the 1960s). Even when Quentin is killed (briefly) during the first few weeks of 1897, there is no focus on “who” might have done it. We just moved on to the zombie plotline.

    1. They sort of have a “who killed X” murder mystery in 1840 when a few people are murdered and it’s pinned on one character, but later on we find out that the killer was somebody else. But you’re right, DS certainly didn’t bother with murder mysteries as did The Edge of Night.

      1. Also, my favorite soap opera murder mysteries involve the death of a character you love to hate, which is why Angelique would have been an excellent example if we’d arrived in PT earlier and seen her at her worst.

        SOAP parodied this (though somewhat straight) with the “Who Killed Peter Campbell” storyline. Campbell wasn’t a JR Ewing type, but he was someone for whom everyone seemed to have a motive to kill. Fun.

    2. There was some fuss about Bill Malloy’s death, but that was more about whether he was murdered or not; and it was mostly overtaken by the thrilling saga of the lost pen, as I recall.

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