“Is it possible that we traveled through time while we were on those stairs?”
One cannot choose but wonder. Will he ever return? It may be that he swept back into the past, and fell among the blood-drinking, hairy savages of the Age of Unpolished Stone; into the abysses of the Cretaceous Sea; or among the grotesque saurians, the huge reptilian brutes of the Jurassic times. He may even now — if I may use the phrase — be wandering on some plesiosaurus-haunted Oolitic coral reef, or beside the lonely saline lakes of the Triassic Age. Or did he go forward, into one of the nearer ages, in which men are still men, but with the riddles of our own time answered and its wearisome problems solved?
Barnabas Collins and his trickster pal Dr. Julia Hoffman have wended their way from one dimension to another, falling forward into the timestream and then paddling their way back again, laden with unanswered riddles and wearisome problems. Two weeks ago and twenty-five years from now, they teleported out of a parallel lava storm straight into a desolate mid-90s Mustn’t See TV hellscape, where Collinwood was destroyed, their friends were all dead or mad or missing, and an evil ghost coyote kept trying to drop anvils on their heads.
Barnabas and Julia spent two weeks trying to learn how they could prevent the catastrophe that befell in 1970, but it didn’t work out very well; all they know is that it involves a pack of wild ghosts, and it can’t be prevented because hello, here you are in the future and it’s already befallen.
Trapped in a toxic playroom, the pair were finally released by a blonde girl, who walked through the wall and created a spontaneous escape hatch. Now they’re stepping through that impossible door, out the back corridor and up a set of time stairs, and they’ve landed in yet another unknown destination. I don’t know if it’s Oolitic or not. It probably is. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s Oolitic and what isn’t.
Anyway, the point is that it’s Monday, and Sy Thomashoff has had the whole weekend to get all the dirt and trees and roof beams and burlap out of the drawing room set, which means that we’re home! After four months in Parallel Time, six weeks in Tarrytown and two weeks partying like it’s 1995, Barnabas and Julia are finally back on their own turf, safe and sound in 1970. Three cheers for Mondays!
But they still have one obstacle to clear: a blonde girl named Hallie, who threatens to destroy all the work they’ve done over the last couple weeks to make Dark Shadows a good show again.
So here’s the thing. Hallie Stokes is the replacement for Amy Jennings, who’s gone off to Munich to visit a chocolate factory for the foreseeable. We’re doing The Fucking Turn of the Screw again, with a male ghost and a female ghost messing around with a young boy and a young girl, so with Denise Nickerson gone, they had to find another sad-eyed orphan girl to move unnecessarily into Collinwood.
And she’s terrible. Just the worst.
Traversing the timeways, Barnabas and Julia have come to a stop right here in this hallway, where it would be great if someone could confirm that this is Collinwood in 1970, so we can go downstairs and see if any of the other characters are around. But here’s Hallie, standing in the way and breathing weird.
I don’t know exactly how I can explain why I have a problem with the way that Hallie breathes, but it’s tremendously upsetting and she does it a lot. It’s like every line she delivers is a difficult chore, pushing the words out of her mouth while she stands there, exhausted and panting. She’s always afraid and she’s always whining, in a way that makes you feel like she’s overreacting, even when she’s reacting to something that’s objectively petrifying. This is a girl who could open a door to find a room decorated with the internal organs of the people that she loves, as an eight-foot-tall fire-breathing serial killer squirms towards her on his tentacle legs, and she’d say, “Who are you?” and you’d think, oh my god, calm down.
And the bad news is that she’s in 24 of the next 30 episodes. Hallie is terrible and she is inescapable and I am not emotionally prepared for this. I thought that I would be, but I am not.
“I’m going to tell Mrs. Stoddard!” she cries, but Barnabas tells her not to be afraid, and introduces himself.
She says, “I’ve heard them talk about you,” and then she just stands there and breathes, categorically refusing to let the scene progress another step.
“Is it possible, Julia,” says Barnabas, addressing Julia, “that we traveled through time while we were on those stairs?”
“I don’t know, Barnabas,” says Julia. “Young lady, what year is this?”
Hallie’s eyes get wider. “Don’t you know?” she asks, and then she just keeps on breathing. They say no, you horrible child, just tell us what year it is, and she finally says that it’s 1970, and continues to look like an unhappy chicken.
She tells them that her name is Hallie Stokes, and Barnabas asks, “Are you any relation to Professor Stokes?” She flinches, like that’s the worst thing she’s heard someone say all day.
“He’s my uncle,” she explains. “My parents were killed in an accident, and he brought me here. Mrs. Stoddard invited me to stay at Collinwood.” She doesn’t say what kind of accident. I have my own suspicions.
Eventually, we’re released from Hallie’s company, and we hop downstairs, and there’s Quentin and Elizabeth, in the drawing room! The room’s all cleaned up, and they’re the real Quentin and Liz, and everything’s back to what passes for normal in Collinwood.
And delightfully, they’ve been watching Dark Shadows, although they’re a couple weeks behind. Quentin was just looking at the rift in spacetime they keep upstairs in the west wing, and he saw Parallel Time Collinwood, where a young woman was trapped in a fire and calling Barnabas’ name.
At least for now, Elizabeth believes in the supernatural science fantasy constantly bubbling under the surface of her childhood home, and she’s ready to discuss it. “Do you think that it’s possible that Julia and Barnabas were trapped in the fire?” she asks.
“That’s the only conclusion that I can come to,” says Quentin. “And if it’s true, then we shall never see them again.”
And then the doors swing open, and Barnabas announces, “Elizabeth! Quentin! We’ve returned!”
And oh, the look on Quentin’s face is precious. After all these months, he gets to be friends with Barnabas and Julia again, which means fun scenes with charismatic actors that people actually want to watch.
So they jump right into it, explaining about the future catastrophe they witnessed from the other end. “We just have a very short time before something happens here!” Barnabas insists. “A disaster!”
Quentin asks, “Barnabas, exactly what do you think is going to happen?”
Barnabas sighs. “I wish I knew.”
And that’s basically the current status of Dark Shadows, right there. They have a very short time, and no idea what to do. All they know is that a disaster is imminent, and surprise, it involves Hallie Stokes.
Tomorrow: Something Terrible.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Quentin tells Barnabas that he saw the Parallel Time room filled with smoke “right after Julia and you got here.” He means right before.
Barnabas tells Liz and Quentin, “Unless something is done very soon, we’re going to find there’s going to be a disaster here, right here at Collinwood!” Liz cries, “A catastrophe? What are you talking about?”
Then Barnabas says, “Elizabeth, you must listen! We don’t have very much time to prevent what’s going to happen.” Quentin asks, “Time for what?” and Barnabas says, “Well, we just have a few — a very short time, before — before something happens here, a disaster!”
A moment later, when Barnabas strolls away from the others, the boom mic doesn’t keep up with him, and a few words are slightly off-mic.
When Barnabas says, “She died of fright, right here in this room,” the boom mic is visible over his shoulder.
Barnabas reads to Julia about Daphne: “She was the governess in nine — in eighteen-forty!” Then he tells Julia he’s going to the cemetery: “When she was Daphne’s spirit, when we saw her, she looked as she did when she died!”
Quentin tells Barnabas, “When you were telling us the story downstairs, you left out one very important detail.” Barnabas replies, “Well, there was so much to tell, I — I let some of it out, several things.”
Later, Barnabas tells Quentin, “And then, Hallie disapp– well, she appeared.”
Behind the Scenes:
They bury people in strange patterns in the Eagle Hill cemetery. Gerard and Daphne, who both died in 1841, are buried next to Tom Jennings, who died in 1968.
Tomorrow: Something Terrible.
— Danny Horn