Episode 1087: Stranger Things

“What makes you think that you can describe a man from my dream?”

What do you think they were doing, all that time?

Gerard Stiles is an evil pirate-sorceror-ghost, an advanced energy-being with the power to control people’s minds, by either hypnotizing them or, if necessary, dropping heavy objects on them. He’s got a governess gun-moll sidekick who can magically seduce romantic leads, and two teenage enforcers who can convince kids to turn on their own families. He can utterly destroy Collinwood, and kill everyone who lives there, one at a time or in handfuls.

So what do you think he was thinking a year and a half ago, when some young upstart named Quentin Collins kyped his whole strategy? I mean, there’s Gerard, just biding his time until a blonde girl showed up, and all of a sudden, Quentin and Beth jump the line, and start doing exactly what Gerard has been planning to do since fifty-seven years before Quentin even died. And they failed, obviously, because they were noobs who didn’t even have a single zombie.

Now that Gerard’s pushed the button and put his own plan into operation, he can finally show everyone how to follow through on a Turn of the Screw-themed extreme home makeover. But when Gerard goes to his girlfriend’s room, he finds her kissing on — guess who? — Quentin Collins.

No way, Gerard emits. Are you kidding me? Fuck that guy.

Now, if you haven’t been keeping up with current events, I have recently decided that Gerard is my hero, because he does interesting, story-productive things like killing people, which the rest of the cast is finding difficult to pull off these days.

Here’s an example, right off the bat: at the end of yesterday’s episode, he appeared in the hallway in front of David and Hallie. She screamed and ran away at the last second, so when today’s episode starts, it’s just David and Gerard in the hallway. Hallie doesn’t appear in today’s episode, or tomorrow’s either. So Gerard has magical Hallie-repelling powers, and I am in love with him.

The funny thing is that this is the first time David has seen Gerard, and the boy has no idea who this new stranger is. Gerard is the guy who’s been running David’s life for the past three weeks, and the kid doesn’t have a clue.

Granted, Gerard doesn’t actually do much with this particular apparition appointment; he just looms over David, walking the boy into the bedroom and slamming the door, scaring the kid witless. Then he’s gone, which is a shame, but David’s scream sets up what is probably the best haunted-kid scene so far.

Julia rushes in, and finds David entirely out of bed, standing in the middle of his bedroom with the light on, and when she asks why he screamed, he says that he was having a nightmare. Julia is not fooled by this. She’s been lying non-stop since the day she was born — even as a baby, she would push the plate of strained beets off her high chair, and then tell everyone that she’d just returned from France — so she does not believe in this so-called nightmare.

Julia is Gerard-sensitive, as all right-thinking people are, and she can tell that he was in the room. But David just doubles down on the nightmare story, saying that he was dreaming about a war. And then it all kicks off.

Julia:  David, don’t turn your back to me. It is very important that I know if anything unusual’s going on.

David:  What’s so unusual about a dream?

Julia:  Nothing.

David:  Or a kid having one? I can’t do anything around here without one of you jumping on my back, asking me about unusual things! Well, the unusual things around here are you, and Barnabas, and Quentin!

Julia: David, just be calm.

David:  No, you calm down! Pretty soon, somebody’s going to come in here and say, David, why aren’t you asleep yet? How can I go to sleep in a house like this, with all of you people crawling all over the halls?

So that escalated fast, right? I love it. Any scene where somebody says, “No, you calm down!” is a good time. And it’s lovely that David correctly identifies the actual Stranger Things in his life — the monsters and mad scientists pretending to be members of his family. It takes being possessed by several ghosts to get him there, but at least somebody’s figured it out.

But what about Gerard? Let’s get back to Gerard.

We take you now to the green-tinged undersea kingdom of Daphne’s room, the governess’ old spawning grounds. Daphne’s a ghost too, but she’s the badass seductress type, who doesn’t let death get in the way of an active social life. She’s been all up ons with Quentin, partly because she’s confusing him with somebody she used to know when she was alive, and partly because it’s Quentin, and come on. If you had the power to do this, you would also be doing this, and you would be doing it with Quentin.

The show doesn’t really have a strong theory on how ghosts work exactly, but Daphne and Gerard are particularly solid ghosts. These are what we in the horror game call caspers — ghosts who can fool you into thinking they’re alive, especially for the purpose of making out with you. These ghosts are getting more action than you are.

So Quentin and Daphne are having one of their regular Boo!-ty calls, when all of a sudden Gerard apparates on the other side of the room, and gives her the spook eye.

Gerard is not pleased with these shenanigans. I don’t know what his plan is, but I gather this is not a part of it. He makes this known to Daphne by standing on the other side of the room and looking like this. If you’ve never seen a ghost slut-shaming a fellow ghost before, this is what it looks like.

Now, ghost-wise, I have never really understood the concept of a ghost being present or absent in any particular room. Sometimes the people on Dark Shadows will say, I feel a presence! — or a chill, they get a lot of mileage out of random chills — and that means the ghost is specifically paying attention to this room. But ghosts are also sort of generally aware of everything that’s happening anywhere in the vicinity.

Anyway, what I’m getting at is that there’s no way this is the first time Gerard has noticed that Daphne is trying to scoot Quentin underneath her petticoats. He doesn’t have that many direct reports.

He makes it clear to Daphne that playtime is over, so she pulls away from Quentin and signals that it’s time to go by opening the door, and pointing in a hallwise direction. I remember the days when all ghosts could do was write JAMISON on a mirror, or push over a grandfather clock. These ghosts don’t speak, but they’re a lot more direct than the ones we’re used to.

Once the living is out of the room, Gerard points at a quill pen. He wants her to write something. This is a thing that ghosts do, they give each other assignments.

Daphne won’t take the pen, so he reaches out and grabs her roughly by the upper arm, and pulls. She takes the pen. Advantage: Gerard.

You know, half an hour earlier on ABC, One Life to Live was running a very socially aware storyline in the summer of 1970, about teenager Cathy Craig going to Odyssey House in New York to deal with her drug addiction problems. That’s a real treatment center, and they went and filmed some actual addiction counseling scenes for the show. And then Dark Shadows, which had two ghosts from the 1840s, silently grappling over a quill pen.

But this is what I want, from my weird, ghost-riddled soap story. Gerard brings an exciting physicality to the role, which the ghost version of Quentin never really did.

Gerard is violent. Even as a ghost, he’ll grab people, and push them around, and drop stone statues on your head. There’s a sense of immediate physical menace that I don’t think we’ve ever seen from a ghost before, and I like it. Daphne will fill the room with lilacs, and the ghost kids will play dress-up and sit on a rocking horse — but Gerard will seriously mess you up. You are not safe in this house, with Gerard.

And that doesn’t just apply to the living. There’s another scene later on, where Daphne tries to walk away from Gerard, and he grabs her arm and twirls her around to face him. Then he puts his hands around her neck, and makes her kiss him. It’s crazy. They’re not doing this to scare anybody; this is what they do when they’re alone. This is how ghosts work now.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is: look how good this story is when Hallie’s not around. Isn’t there something we can do?

Tomorrow: The Summer of Our Discontent.


Also:

There’s a Halloween contest this week at Big Finish, the producers of the Dark Shadows audioplays. The prize is a complete set of the Dark Shadows: Bloodlust miniseries, which I really like, and wrote about here. They’re asking for 50 words on the scariest Big Finish release, which is obvious, because it’s the one that’s driving and texting at the same time. So go check out that contest, and good luck.

And, a reminder: Dark Shadows Every Day readers get 25% off the entire range of Dark Shadows audiobooks when you use the code DSED25OFF. That offer lasts until December 31, 2017, and you can read more about that (including my personal favorites) on my post about The Flip Side.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Julia trips over the word “vengeful” when she tells Sebastian, “They’re very vengeful spirits.”

When David is yelling at Julia, you can see the edge of the set on the left.

Tomorrow: The Summer of Our Discontent.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

63 thoughts on “Episode 1087: Stranger Things

  1. Another great entry. I like this part a lot:

    “So what do you think he was thinking a year and a half ago, when some young upstart named Quentin Collins kyped his whole strategy? I mean, there’s Gerard, just biding his time until a blonde girl showed up, and all of a sudden, Quentin and Beth jump the line, and start doing exactly what Gerard has been planning to do since fifty-seven years before Quentin even died.”

    I was kind of wondering the same thing — I wonder why Gerard and crew bided their time until 1970. Seems like the Jenny/Quentin/Laura/Edward crowd would have been ripe for spectral screwover.

    We know why Matthew Morgan was unleashed: Bill Malloy was pokin’ his nose in business where it didn’t belong.

    We know why Laura was unleashed: She comes flaming back for the kids every 100 years or every 60 years (but whose counting?).

    We know why Barnabas was unleashed: Willie wanted some quick money and looked in the wrong place.

    We know why Adam was unleashed: Crackpot Dr. Lang had been working on him even before Barnabas met him.

    We know why Cassandra was unleashed: The seance and Victoria’s time trip tipped Angelique off.

    We know why Quentin was unleashed: West Wing is invaded by children, and Amy takes a bad phone call.

    But we never learn why ol’ Gerard and crew came acalling in 1970 vs. any other time. It’s very random.

    1. Nor do we find out happened in the original version of 1840. We can speculate as to how the interference of Julia and Barnabas changed events, but there’s nothing on how Gerard/Judah was neutralised in 1840 and why he returned in 1970. That’s why doing 1840 before 1970 would have been good. The Dynamic Duo neutralise Gerard and return to 1970/1971 to finish him off. Leticia tells them the six things that unlock Gerard’s confinement.

      Gerard, or rather Judah, is defeated and the curse over the Collins family is lifted. This also removes the Roxanne Paradox. Gerard, David and Hallie throw off the forces possessing them (Julia and Barnabas help by convincing Tad and Carrie that it’s the right thing to do). But there’s a price. Someone is drawn into the Parallel Time of 1841, where they inhabit the body of their ancestor’s counter-part.

      1. I think 1840 went basically the same way we saw it (Barnabas & Julia were on the sidelines this time unlike in 1897). Without Barnabas present, Quentin & Desmond are beheaded. Gerard has got his revenge and decides to take those Quentin cared about and kill them, then himself and they live together in the Playroom until Hallie came along and was drawn to it.

        1. Joel, that works for me, except why did Desmond shooting Gerard (in the Barnabas-influenced 1840) change everything in the future 1970?

          1. As for how Roxanne became a vampire, it would have made sense that Gerard/Judah placed the curse on her and made it look like Quentin did it. This would motivate Trask to go after Quentin all the more.

          2. Because Gerard/Judah probably killed himself originally, probably using a powerful spell so that the 4 spirits would remain together in the room, conquering those who Quentin loved.

            1. That works. I guess that it was lucky that Gabriel’s children were away at boarding school, lest the entire family be destroyed with no one left to carry on the Collins name.

              1. Of course, changing the past meant that Tad lived, same as any children Quentin had with Daphne, which means that Gabriel’s children do not inherit. They and their children become sort of poor relations. Which means that in the present time Liz and Roger become the poor relations to Tad’s descendants – more or less what happened in Parallel Time… talk about paradoxes.

    2. All I could figure was that Hallie’s presence at Collinwood provided some sort of link to Gerard. It’s not very plausible, I know. Could something have happened while Barnabas and Julia were in PT or 1995 that we didn’t see being Gerard from his dormant stage? Or was it some sort of weird alignment of the stars? Who knows? The writers certainly didn’t!

      1. The fire in the parallel Parallel Time room, which sent Julia and Barnabas to 1995 regular time, must have triggered Gerard’s Return in 1970, hence why his interference was in that version of 1995.

  2. No way, *Gerard emits. *Are you kidding me? Fuck that guy.

    That’s the general idea, evanesces Daphne, But some third wheel won’t go haunt some other room and give us a little privacy, if you know what I mean.

      1. Carlotta.

        Still sayin’, NODS is based on 1970PT, so there’s no connection to real time, 1970 or 1840.

        Will and Carolyn are Alex and Claire, authors.

        Quentin and Maggie are Quentin and Tracey, with Kate being Maggie as Tracey.

        Hoffman as Carlotta Drake.

        But the movie’s theme, “Joanna”, is from 1840, written for Joanna Mills, and didn’t belong in 1840, since that musical style hadn’t been invented yet, and I think that
        they wrote the piece into 1840 because Cobert had produced something gorgeous,
        and they wanted to use it somewhere, even if it didn’t make any sense. He could have easily written another Ode To Angelique-style piece, call it Ode To Joanna,
        and make musical sense for 1840. That would have been easy.

        I’m guessing that he was working on the NODS score the whole time, and was no longer writing new music for the TV show, but under contract to Curtis, so anything that he produced belonged to Curtis, so they put it on the air.

        Maybe twice, not sure. I think Letitia plays it first.

  3. It was because of the One Life to Live storyline featuring Cathy Craig’s drug addiction and the murder of drug kingpin Artie Duncan that I really began worrying about the future of Dark Shadows: I was enjoying One Life much more. While the teen magazines were still featuring articles on Dark Shadows, especially with House of Dark Shadows premiering, my friends were no longer talking about the show the way they once did – especially the summer before.

    Friends were talking One Life a lot. Cathy’s bizarre drug tripping was exciting. She decided to help get the goods on Artie Duncan, and naturally he wound up trying to kill her. He was found dead and another character was accused of killing him. Cathy had recurring twisted dreams of Artie coming after her. They were well done.

    The worst (for me and Dark Shadows) was one day when an episode of One Life ended and I thought, whew, that was good. Time to go out and hang with friends. Then I realized that Dark Shadows aired next. I HAD FORGOTTEN ABOUT IT! A very bad sign.

    1. Tony, I was just the opposite. AMC had just premiere about six months prior and I watched a few episodes and just didn’t get hooked. But in 1975, I dropped OLTL and started watching AMC religiously.

      1. I had a crush on Richard Hatch and I always felt his Phillip Brent character really got the shaft. When Phillip & Tara finally got together they were no longer played by the original actors who just seemed so right together.

  4. Yes, the paradoxes and anomalies continue to pile up as the storyline moves forward. I’m hoping that this blog and some of the comments reveal some good ideas of resolving them. There are some great brain twisters here and more to come. I had thought for along time that Hallie coming to Collinwood was the trigger to setting free the ghosts of Carrie, Tad, Daphne & Gerard. But since she had already been at the house for weeks (?) before Barnabas & Julia returned from PT & 1995 those ghosts should already have been visible.

    1. I think it’s the first time she is approaching the playroom when Barnabas and Julia return. Originally, she was drawn to it at that time, however in the altered 1970 she found it a little later.

  5. I still say the 1840 we see is yet a different parallel time as it and the playroom keep appearing and disappearing like the Parallel Time room in the other wing did. Here, people can cross over easy unlike the other one, probably Gerard’s doing. The playroom they see is connected to the staircase.

    1. Playrooms connected to the staircase,
      Staircase connected to 1840,
      1840 connected to the closet,
      Oh, hear the word of Gerard!
      Dem ghosts, Dem ghosts,
      Dem ole ghosts…

      Or something like that.

  6. Danny, you say, “Gerard brings an exciting physicality to the role, which the ghost version of Quentin never really did.” But Quentin’s ghost became progressively more physical as he acquired more and more power in the house and over the people in it. Remember when he threatened to strangle Maggie and when he tried to burn Prof. Stokes alive? So Quentin’s ghost did obtain a high degree of physicality — just not nearly as quickly as Gerard.

    I just think Quentin was so much better at being a ghost than Gerard, who has always struck me as a pale imitation: he tries too hard.

    1. Also, Quentin’s ghost touched David’s arm and made the boy feel as though his arm was on fire. He also put his hand over Amy’s eyes and she thought she couldn’t see.

  7. Did Gerard’s ghost ever smile?

    Quentin’s did, and it made for a more lovable ghost.

    Judah never smiled, not even an evil one.

    Evil characters should smile at least once.

    An evil smile is one of the great acting tools that make it all the more compelling.

    Not repelling.

    And James Storm had a great one.

        1. I know, right? When he isn’t glowering, he’s sneering!
          He could use a plate of warm, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, a big glass of milk, and a hug.
          Just not from ME.

  8. My issue is simple – I know that it makes for a thrilling cliffhanger, but why would Gerard need to strangle Quentin? Doesn’t he have the Touch O’ Death? Or is this a “quit messin’ with my chick” kind of thing, that Gerard feels needs a more personal approach?

    Gerard’s only ‘driving’ the plot because everyone else seems to be dragging against it; despite Julia trying to get information to save the family, David and Quentin won’t give any, and Sebastian is just being a prick to everyone. Well, the essence of drama is conflict. But how many more turns are we taking on this carousel?

    1. Of course we know that the reason Gerard tried to strangle Quentin rather than use his touch of death is because the writers hadn’t thought of that one yet.

      1. He was using it left & right (so to speak) in 1995 – I’ll be generous and say maybe his evil powers weren’t up to snuff yet. He’d only just materialized.

  9. The “rules” for ghosts were probably even looser than the “rules” for vampires. Each ghost seemed to have a different operating principle.

    Josette was ephemeral, mysterious and distant. She had a hard time communicating.

    Bill Malloy sang songs and left seaweed behind.

    The Three Widows were single-minded and spoke and wailed on the wind.

    Little Sarah was the first solid ghost. Sam Evans picked her up and placed her on a bench. She left solid toys behind.

    Jeremiah was like half-ghost, half-zombie.

    Some ghosts could come on their own. Others were summoned. Others were “released” by humans. I think every DS ghost had a slightly different — or wildly different — operating manual.

    1. Some ghosts just manifest better than others; it does seem strange that Sarah, only a child (and if memory serves, the ghost with the earliest demise date) could appear in such solidity and communicate relatively well, while almost none of the other spectres had abilities of that level. PT had Joshua and Dameon, who both had reasonable articulation (and marvellous dress sense), but most of the Classique Spirits had a lot of trouble getting a message across. Sarah also seemed to have a lot better understanding of things like the fact that she’d died (though occasionally that was a bit foggy), and was usually able to be of some service to her ‘friends’ among the living.

      1. I had never thought of it before, but in some ways, Sarah was a true ghost leader! She certainly put Barnabas in his place as well as any ghost did.

          1. It was said on the show at the time, by Julia, during one episode in the Old House drawing room when Barnabas was wondering why Sarah had returned and what she wanted of him, and Julia figured that maybe Sarah represented that part of himself which he had lost, and that unconsciously he had willed her back.

            1. Yes, in most folklore, ghost were usually people who died horribly and were thus denied “peace.” In DS, most ghosts, though, were condemned to their fate for a torturous reason. Quentin was an all-around bad guy, as was Gerard. Beth and Josette both committed suicide (considered a mortal sin in some faiths, almost as bad as the murder of another person). Even Tad and Carrie during 1970 seem like they might have “had it coming” (both spirits seem open to straight-up murdering David and Hallie).

              Sarah never really fit this mold. I suppose I could imagine hearing a New Orleans ghost story about a kid who got caught in the elements and died (oh, and her brother was a vampire) but it’s not that spooky.

              1. Many spirits are restless because of unfinished business on “this side”; Sarah, dying so young, had her unfinished life. Oddly, she seems unaware at first of her brother’s wickedness, since it takes so long before she confronts him – but then, she does have difficulty with locating people.
                I wonder how many times through the years little Sarah’s ghost stood in the secret room, by that fettered casket, playing her recorder to comfort her imprisoned brother: then to materialise and find the chains broken, her brother gone…perhaps she thought she could repair what her father had left unfinished, and lead her brother back to being what she had loved so long ago. But bit by bit, she finds how far he has fallen, his menace to the good that she’s contacted in this new time – and to help him, she must reject what he has become.

    2. The ghost that scared the living crap out of me was Rev. Trask when he suddenly jumped into the drawing room with Vicky yelling “VICTORIA WINTERS!” – remember? Jeff came rushing in and recognized Trask’s ghost – which proved that he was indeed Peter Bradford’s ghost!
      That moment always makes me spit my Dr. Pepper out.

    1. I thing Zombie Quentin rocking in the chair in Rachel’s bedroom gave me quite a scare the first time I watched that episode.

    2. This is kind of hard, but DS truly scared me as a child and gave me nightmares. But during my most recent run through, nothing truly “scared” me. There were scenes that I guess chilled me, so I’ll go with that.

      I’m going to name some “chilling moments” that have stayed with me and then maybe come up with a best one later.

      One: Old Barnabas biting Carolyn in the Old House cellar.

      Two: Barnabas biting Millicent in the Tower Room in 1795.

      Three: John Yaeger raping Buffie (I’m not sure what else to call it but rape). That one hits too close to reality vs. the monster stuff.

      Four: Mrs. Johnson turning around and seeing Quentin in the caretaker’s cottage.

      Five: Elizabeth about to jump off Widow’s Hill and Barnabas intervenes.

      Six: Vampire Roxanne trapped in the shaft of light at sunrise.

      Seven: Willie opens the coffin and out pops that hand.

      Eight: Throwing Laura’s portrait into the fire and hearing it scream was downright creepy (1966-7).

      Nine: That first time Adam kidnapped Carolyn — he was very physical with her.

      I look forward to seeing what other people write. It’s hard to remember after 1,245 episodes.

      PS As a child, Amanda getting caught in the spider’s web and then falling on the bridge haunted me for years. It seriously scared me. Then when I saw it again earlier this year, I almost laughed it was so silly.

      1. The scariest moment of DS: when Janet Findlay falls down the steps into the foyer, with Liz and Julia watching, horrified. I don’t know if it was the camera angles or what, but that scene still gives me goosebumps!

    3. Like some, DS was scary when I watched it late nights as a child, but not so much scary now.
      The scene with dead Abigail propped up against the tree stayed with me for years. Also “old Barnabas” really terrified me for some reason. Barnabas biting Carolyn-and Nancy Barrett’s blood curdling screams stand out on rewatch. She has the rare talent of a realistic “screamer”.

    4. All the episodes where Barnabas is menacing David are scary. The worst moment for me is when David gets trapped in the mausoleum and Barnabas & Willie are about to come in – and David has to hide inside the coffin.

      1. David’s dream about Barnabas!

        And, of course,
        “Hello, David! I’ve been looking everywhere for you!
        But now I’ve found you… haven’t I?”

        Personally, I found Maggie’s “London Bridge” breakdown
        quite frightening – that one stayed with me a while.

        (We won’t even discuss the terror
        engendered by a certain filigreed silver pen…)

        1. That entire Maggie kidnapping s/l was chilling. Maggie’s feverish nights at the cottage after Barnabas first bit her were especially well done – with those damn dogs howling nonstop. A couple of moments that continue to haunt me are when Barnabas “punishes” Maggie by closing her up in the coffin. I am always SO relieved when Willie gets her out!
          Then there’s the terrifying sequence when Sarah teaches Maggie the little rhyme about counting the bricks, etc. – and Barnabas chasing Maggie through the secret passageway, telling her she can never escape him!
          It’s no wonder the entire afternoon TV viewing world became obsessed with Dark Shadows!

          1. Samantha, that’s my favorite story line. Nothing else ever came as close. What Maggie (and Willie) went through was a prolonged and terrifying ordeal. Later in the show, taking a vampire bite was a plot point for the day, quickly forgotten.

    5. Best scare was when old Barnabas bit Carolyn. Really, any of the early Barnabas stuff was scary to me as a child because he truly looked scary when he bared his fangs. Part of it was fear and the other part was disgust at how ugly he was.

  10. I was like 13 when the “Quentin and Beth haunted the kids” storyline began. A lot of it was freaky, but one scene that always creeped me out was Jamison’s 1897 dream about David’s “surprise party,” and that evil version of Carolyn playing with that scary puppet, saying, “And I know what the surprise is!” and giggling so cruelly and maniacally. Then David alone with Quentin and trying to cut the birthday cake, but it wasn’t real. “A make-believe cake for a make-believe boy.” Whoa.

  11. And all the horrific things the Hand of Count Petofi could do, back in 1897, like mangle Quentin’s and Evan Handley’s faces, and turn Edward into a homicidal butler. Edward reminded me of Grady, the caretaker, in THE SHINING.

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