Episode 1077: The Scent of Lilacs

“I know it’s wrong to love the dead.”

This is what we currently know about Daphne Harridge:

She’s pretty.

She doesn’t speak.

She died 130 years ago.

She’s a governess.

She smells like lilacs.

Her hobby is encouraging living children to wear dead children’s clothes.

And she is partly responsible for killing everyone that Quentin knows.

So you can see why Quentin likes her so much, she’s a real catch. And it’s not like there’s anyone else who would want to date Quentin, except for one hundred percent of the population of the world.

So what can one say about the unbearable emptiness of Quentin and Daphne? This is the latest in a string of thoroughly unconvincing romances, concocted by a writing team that has lost all interest in love stories.

The last time they really made a big deal about romance was back in January, when Quentin braved a trek through the underworld to save Amanda’s soul. In retrospect, I wish I’d appreciated that storyline more, because that was the end of Love with a capital L on Dark Shadows. They tried to generate some sparks from Jeb and Carolyn, and Chris and Sabrina, but they both fizzled out, with no real resolution. Then the only female writer left the show in April, and they just stopped trying.

Quentin and Daphne is not a love story in any meaningful way. You need two people to make a love story, and Quentin plus Daphne adds up to less than one. Quentin hasn’t really been a convincing character himself since — well, since Amanda and the underworld, actually — and deciding that he’s in love with a Chromakey effect is not making him any more well-rounded.

The problem, obviously, is that she’s silent, because they think they’re doing The Turn of the Screw again, and the ghosts in The Turn of the Screw don’t talk. Every other ghost on Dark Shadows talks a mile a minute — try having a heart-to-heart sometime with Julianka, or playing a quick round of catch with little Sarah — but T of the S spooks don’t say a word. It’s called sonic branding.

So Quentin has a dream where he’s introduced to a girl who looks pretty and smells like a flower, and has no other discernible characteristics. And then he decides he’s in love with her.

And this is especially frustrating, because it’s not even a month since the last time a main character suddenly and inexplicably fell in love with a mute woman who he knows absolutely nothing about. We just endured the bizarre and unsatisfying spectacle of Barnabas going goofy over Roxanne, who was asleep at the time. They failed to nurse this non-starter into much of anything, so at the end of the Parallel Time storyline, they decided to leave Roxanne behind and forget all about her, which was the correct thing to do.

But here we are, three and a half weeks later, with a story that has more in common with Barnabas and Roxanne than it does with The Turn of the Screw. Roxanne and Daphne are both mute, pale and uninteresting, and they both have an unspecified connection to an openly malevolent male.

I mean, when you think about it, is there any real difference between Claude North and Gerard Stiles? Dark, curly-haired guys with weird dress sense who glower and hypnotize people and don’t make a lot of sense. In both cases, we don’t really know why these girls are involved with those guys, and the ladies both jump at the chance to attach themselves to the first pair of pants that happens by.

In yesterday’s episode, Quentin made a point of telling Julia how lonely he is these days, with no woman in his life, and that was the beginning and the end of his motivation for falling in love with a girl who doesn’t talk. The way I figure it, he’s already had sex with everybody at Collinwood — that’s what they were all doing, while they were waiting for Barnabas and Julia to get back from Parallel Time — and now he’s ready to move on.

So here’s the meet-cute: he’s sitting in the drawing room sipping on brandy. “Daphne Harridge,” he thinks, “the scent of lilacs.” Those are the only two things he knows about her so far. Then he gets up and sits in another chair, and grins in a weird way, and says “the scent of lilacs” again, and then he leans back and loses consciousness, just like the rest of us.

In his mind, he sees a bunch of lilacs — they’re flowers, by the way, we won’t get anywhere if you don’t know what lilacs are — and they start whirling around the screen, to indicate that we have just crossed over to the lilac zone.

We see the drawing room doors in his mind open, revealing a pretty brown-haired girl in a long burgundy dress, and guess what she’s holding, that’s right, lilacs. She stares at him as she deposits her bundle on a nearby accent table.

He gets up. He’s entranced. He’s never seen anyone put down flowers quite like that. He looks at her, and she looks at him, and she smiles, for once, and he says, “Daphne?”

She looks at him, and she twitches her lip, and then she turns and walks out of the room. He asks her to wait, but she doesn’t, and then more whirling lilacs, and then he wakes up, and there’s a bunch of lilacs on the table. So now he’s in love with her.

What do you even do, with a scene like that? One of the two romantic leads of the show has fallen head over heels in love with the way that a flower smells. It’s possible that he’s actually in love with the flowers. Maybe when he was young, his parents tried to teach him about the birds and the bees, but they got distracted in the middle and he never really grasped the full picture.

Dark Shadows has completely forgotten what a love story looks like. They’re vaguely aware that there are supposed to be obstacles, so they’ve constructed a story that’s nothing but obstacles. The girl is dead, she can’t talk, she can’t stay in the room for more than twelve seconds, she doesn’t like him, and she’s imaginary. This is not the foundation of a happy marriage.

Later on in the episode, Quentin loans young David his camera, and they have an unbelievably annoying scene. It starts, naturally, with the scent of lilacs.

Quentin sniffs around, and asks David if anybody was wearing lilac perfume in here. David says that Maggie was in the room earlier, and Quentin says, well, it could be that. David just looks at him. He hasn’t really given it a lot of thought.

“David,” Quentin says, “do you want to know something interesting?” He does. We all do.

“I’ve heard it said,” he relates, “that a scent like this — one that seems to fill the whole room, for no reason at all — indicates that a spirit is present.”

David gasps. “A spirit?”

“Yes. You’ve never heard that?”

David looks around. “You’re trying to tell me there’s a spirit in this room? If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were trying to scare me.”

Quentin makes it worse. “Would it frighten you, if you knew that there was a spirit here?”

“Of course it would!”

“Well, I don’t mean to scare you,” Quentin says, patting the boy on the shoulder, as if he wasn’t an angry spirit a year and a half ago, appearing in this exact room to scare this exact child.

I mean, my expectations are pretty low for the amount of continuity I expect in a daytime soap opera, and there are a lot of people in the audience who weren’t watching the show a year and a half ago. Besides, it wouldn’t make sense to acknowledge the mostly-erased timeline where Quentin haunted the halls of Collinwood, and it wouldn’t add anything to the scene. And yet, this conversation makes me feel like hitting somebody. How do you account for a thing like that?

And then there’s the note; I can’t even with the note. There’s a whole sequence where Quentin sees Daphne in the hall somewhere, and follows her to a dank, abandoned room, somewhere near the lilac patch.

She disappears, and he looks around, and then he spots the note, left behind on a dusty desk at some point in the past.

He lights a candle. He reads the note.

I’ve tried not to tremble, but I couldn’t help myself.
Nothing in my life has terrified me more than the thought that you love me.
Nothing in my life has —

And that’s it, it breaks off. Apparently, she found herself halfway through that note, and then she just left the room and never came back. That is a career-ending note. Her supervisor came by, told her that her services were no longer required, and escorted her out of the building. She didn’t even get to clean out her desk.

My question, which will not be answered in this life or any other, is: what kind of message is that supposed to be? Why would you ensorcell somebody, hook them on lilacs, and then deliberately hand them one of the world’s most unfinished notes?

So, I don’t know what I’m going to do with this girl, except hang around until they figure out she’s dead weight, like they did with Roxanne. Then they can leave her in a burning building somewhere, and she’ll leave show business, and nobody will ever hear of Kate Jackson ever again.

Tomorrow: Everyone Must Leave This House at Once.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

After the dream, Quentin opens the drawing room doors, and there’s a black thread hanging down, apparently part of the ghost doors effect.

When Daphne appears to Quentin at the end of the teaser, the Chromakey isn’t synched right — she’s about a foot too short, and there’s a blue line around her.

Quentin grouses that David’s wanted to use his camera for the last year. Quentin only showed up in present-day Collinsport eight months ago, calling himself Grant Douglas. We don’t know exactly when he moved into Collinwood, but it couldn’t have been any earlier than six months ago.

At the picnic, Maggie starts eating something, and then she has to get up so that David can take her picture. Her mouth is still full, and she mumbles a line. Quentin chuckles as he helps her up.

Behind the Scenes:

Today they mention the 1840s Quentin Collins for the first time, the brother of Quentin’s grandfather Gabriel. Quentin refers to him as his “great grand-uncle,” but he’s pretending to be his own descendant. I think 1840 Quentin is the 1897 Quentin’s grand-uncle, not that anybody really uses that word very much.

During the Quentin/Beth haunting in 1969, Barnabas and Julia were trying to find information about Quentin Collins; it’s funny that they didn’t run across the other Quentin in their research. There’s more info about the various Collins generations on Dark Shadows Wiki’s Collins family tree page.

David’s room is a bit less crowded today. He’s got a new model ship, and some of the other toys are gone. Partly, this is because his dresser’s been replaced with a smaller model, so there’s no room on it for anything but the football player, and the dog and girl cardboard protestors. He’s got the concert posters, and today the cat picture shows up again — it was missing last week. He’s also got the crummy globe, the ship in a bottle and a few cars. The robots may have gone off on their own somewhere.

Tomorrow: Everyone Must Leave This House at Once.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

37 thoughts on “Episode 1077: The Scent of Lilacs

  1. I always took the Quentin/Daphne relationship as Daphne exerting some sort of influence over him, that the dream sequence was just the beginning of a spell/possession and that her hold just gets stronger and stronger over him as time goes on.

  2. Kate is right out of school.

    First job.

    Like KLS?


    Lilacs, not coffee.

    Got a patronizing male to bother her.


    Is Quentin a Joe Haskell? No.

    At least, there’s fishing in the family.

    When you find a Kate, it doesn’t matter what you write.

    She’ll make it worth your time, eventually.

    Beth certainly did not.

    Kate is a find, and everybody knew it.

  3. So David has a darkroom, but no camera? (Okay, maybe Quentin’s camera is way cooler than David’s Instamatic.)

    Quentin’s camera takes pictures similar to but not matching reality – must be Parallel photography. The cooler (aka Quentin’s ‘brandy to go’ carrier) has moved between the posing and the picture.

    Where is the darkroom? Last time David took an interest in photography (when Vicki photobombed Carolyn and Barnabas), he did the developing in his bedroom. Has the Dave Cave gained an annex?

    David’s robots saw the writing on the wall and left the doomed mansion; they got jobs as artist’s models for the Transformers cartoons.

    Future Mrs. Johnson told of how happy and loving everyone was before the evil descended. Doesn’t seem all that rosy to me…perhaps she was speaking comparatively. Or she was just crazy.

    And Quentin; if you’re interested in finding a woman for your life, perhaps you could pay a visit to Boston, or try the Blue Whale, even head down to the Collinsport docks (I understand Barnabas finds a lot of action there). Lady ghosts, even those bearing lilac bouquets and looking like Kate Jackson and leading you to their bedroom, don’t seem like healthy choices for relationships. (Besides I think she may already have a boyfriend.) I mean, I know you have some supernatural baggage yourself, but that’s not a good reason to be looking on “the other side” for a date. Take Maggie out to dinner, for Pete’s sake!

    1. And to think, all that destruction could have been avoided if Mrs. Johnson hadn’t fogged every room in Collinwood with Glade Aerosol Lilac Room Spray.

      1. Mrs. Johnson never figured out that the source of the foul odors at Collinwood was actually Rev. Trask’s body in the West Wing, so she just sprayed lilac Glade everywhere she could to cover up the big smell.

        1. Wouldn’t have been so bad if Elizabeth hadn’t been going to the basement room and doing the same thing, to cover the smell of Paul that she thought was down there.
          Vicki used it in her room, she liked the scent. (All the Vicki’s.)

          It was even leaking in from Parallel time, with Bruno covering up down in that basement from Dameon Edwards’ rot.

          Don’t know what they were doing in the Old House basement to cover the Trask odour, maybe that’s why the restless shade of Josette was misting jasmine about?

    2. David’s robots got a deal for their own spinoff, but it died in development. They had Kaiser Aluminum lined up as a sponsor, but the numbers showed that robot housewives just didn’t watch that much TV.

      Quentin’s been watching Barnabas and thinks that romance in 1970 is all about unrequited stalking. All he would have to do to revive his love life is stand in the town square and say, “Come and get it, ladies!”

    3. The idea that Quentin Collins couldn’t find some strange is the most ridiculous one since the concept of Angelique taking fifty some odd years to hook a millionaire.

      I wonder how those pictures came out at all, since the lightning flashing through the uncovered stained glass window should have ruined them.

  4. In my family’s terminology — and, I believe, in most English-speaking people’s terminology, though I concede I may be wrong about that — Quentin from the 1840s would be the “great-uncle” of Quentin from the 1890s. I’m a great-uncle four times over via my brother’s two grandchildren and my sister’s two grandsons. I do think some people use the term “granduncle,” but nobody I know.

  5. I’m not sure what the rules of time travel are here–and I recall that you have made of DS’s murkiness in that area–but didn’t Barnabas change history so that Quentin never haunted David in the first place? So the idea of Quentin having a conversation with David about whether he’d be scared if he knew there were a ghost in the room might not be so inapt. On the other hand, how great would it have been if he’d said, “Would it frighten you, if you knew that there was a spirit here–not that I’d know anything about spirits trying to kill little boys, nudge-nudge-wink-wink?”

    1. Yes, technically, Quentin’s ghost wouldn’t have haunted Collinwood in 1968-69 because Barnabas changed history. But the writers didn’t seem to use that logic in their scripts, what with David and Amy reacting to Quentin’s “return” during the Leviathan story.

      1. I think that people at the centre of events that are altered remember both versions. That’s how the audios play it with Gerard, Hallie and David. David has a phantom momory of Quentin’s haunting because Quentin killed him, while Amy wasn’t killed. The sequence of the dead David waking up was a time ripple, smoothed over later (Barnabas still spent time in 1897 after Quentin’s death was prevented).

        Because the events around this haunting are stronger, the phantom memories are stronger.

    2. I’m not sure what the rules of time travel are here–and I recall that you have made of DS’s murkiness in that area–but didn’t Barnabas change history so that Quentin never haunted David in the first place?

      If memory serves, someone fanwanked that the ghost haunting Collinwood changed from Quentin to Trask, who had been bricked up instead of Quentin. I am pretty sure they continued to acknowledge the haunting for a couple eps but didn’t seem to recognize Quentin.

      1. They clearly changed it to Trask being the body in the hidden room rather than Quentin’s, but the whole haunting business was never adequately dealt with — surely because they didn’t know how to deal with it and felt it wasn’t worth dealing with anyway. If it had been Trask haunting Collinwood, then Barnabas’s journey into the past wouldn’t have done anything to change that. So I suspect it just wiped the “haunting slate” clean, so to speak. Don’t ask me to try to make sense of it. If the DS writers didn’t feel the need to, then I certainly don’t. 😉

    3. Regardless of the ghost of Quentin/Trask conundrum, David was introduced early in the show as being sensitive to spirits and was always cavorting with the ghost of Josette and Sarah.

      1. That’s what makes me crazy when David is skeptical about anything supernatural–that kid was hanging out with Josette before it was cool! How could he NOT believer in just about anything spooky???

  6. Thanks bunches for the link to the Collins genealogy! I’ve wondered if there was one floating around out there. If i was to ever rewrite the plots (and the thought has crossed my mind) this would be my go-to.

  7. Danny writes: “During the Quentin/Beth haunting in 1969, Barnabas and Julia were trying to find information about Quentin Collins; it’s funny that they didn’t run across the other Quentin in their research.”

    I’ve found their knowledge of the ancestors to be remarkably fluid. When the show first started, they all seem to know a good bit about the 1790s Collinses — they knew of Josette, the “first” Barnabas and even Naomi, Joshua and Jeremiah.

    And at various points on the show, they thoroughly went over that history book.

    But then 1897 happens, and they seem to know very little about people who had live only 70 years earlier and almost clueless about where to start. And then the same thing happens for 1840.

    1. I guess we could assume that if the 1840 Quentin was beheaded as a warlock, the Collins family did it’s usual thing: rewrite history to hide embarrassing facts.

      1. Gabriel wouldn’t have amounted to much, and Edith didn’t make that much of a mark either. Apart from Flora’s literary endeavours it wasn’t a generation that would have been remembered for anything other than the witch trial. Samantha would want as little as possible to do with the Collins name after what would have happened originally, and I can see her taking Tad away from Collingwood after Quentin was beheaded.

  8. The scene between Quentin and David, like the whole Re-Haunting of Collinwood story, makes it abundantly clear that the writers were counting on the viewers not remembering the previous year’s episodes. But the actors seem to be operating on a different idea. When Maggie tells Carolyn that it isn’t good to be in love with someone who’s dead, Carolyn gives her a look, a “You don’t know the half of it, sister” look. At this point they’re peddling the idea that Maggie is hung up on Barnabas, and they’ve never told us that Carolyn forgot that Barnabas was a vampire. She clearly remembered her experience with him when he was first cured in 1968, but it remains ambiguous from that point on whether her memory vanished or she still knows and has just decided never to bring it up. So I’d say that look counts as an Easter egg for longtime fans.

  9. This whole business of Jeb being the love of Carolyn’s life just rings incredibly false. It’s a case of “You’re an abusive jerk without redeeming qualities but I love you anyway” disease, the same malady that PT Maggie suffered from.

    It’s really cheesy when they have David click his tongue to make the sound of the shutter closing on the camera. Couldn’t they have just loaded a roll of film and let him take a few real pictures?

    1. It is SOOOOOO dumb. Nancy is this show’s secret weapon, but even she can’t make me buy that she deeply loved whiny pants Jeb-topus.

  10. “they decided to leave Roxanne behind and forget all about her, which was the correct thing to do.”
    If only they had forgotten about all Roxannes!
    The 1970 Quentin/1840 Daphne story never made any sense to me.

  11. I can’t believe Carolyn would be pining for Jeb! Or even think the new hippie astrologer could be him (I’ll be so mad if it is).

    Kate Jackson is probably the most beautiful brunette to grace the DS screen! I wish she would speak and get in with the story.

  12. These episodes have to be the worst of the worst. It’s so difficult slogging through them. They’re frustratingly dull and uninspired. I’m almost on the point of quitting my re-watch, and just reading the rest of this blog instead. Did I say that already once before? If so, sorry to repeat myself. But DS apparently had no qualms about doing the same. At least now I know the reason behind the decline in the quality of writing: the departure of Violet Welles.

  13. This whole Quentin / Daphne thing reminds me of when I was a 12 year old girl in love with Heathcliff after reading Wuthering Heights. It’s just about as real. Sheesh

  14. Just how many dank abandoned rooms are there in Collinwood? These folks are WAY overdue for a lawn sale. Just ask Marie Kondo. As I see it, none of that detritus is sparking much joy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s