“How do I remember all those lovely times we used to have?”
Gerard touches you, and you remember a life you never knew, a life of short concerts and strange hats, with impossible, inevitable rooms full of rocking horses and despair. The ghost has been systematically working his way through the Collins family, touching faces and changing lives.
Currently, things are about as bad as things get. As of this morning, six people at Collinwood are now possessed by malign forces — David, Hallie, Liz, Quentin and now Carolyn are working with the ghosts, and Maggie’s under the spell of a vampire. We haven’t seen Roger or Mrs. Johnson in months, so the unpossessed are basically surrounded.
So consider this: Barnabas and Julia are the only normal people left in the house. Shit just got unreal.
The unquiet shade of Gerard Stiles appears to be working his way through the list of Dark Shadows villains, stealing powers as he goes along. He started out as Quentin’s ghost, glowering silently and messing with the children, and now he’s Count Petofi, touching people on the face and giving them new abilities and personalities. Before you know it, he’ll be marrying Barnabas, and opening an antiques shop.
So Carolyn is a timeshare now, and someone named Leticia moves in. Leticia is fond of Gerard, which is nice, because I am too; he’s the only one who gets anything done around here. She’s kind of dippy about him, actually, cooing and smiling and looking up at his face with shining eyes. Getting hypnotouched by Gerard is apparently a deeply pleasurable experience; I wish I could get a turn.
Plus, the upgrade comes with new features. “You’ve given me the sight, haven’t you,” she asks, “so that I can see a past I never knew, yet feel I was a part of, just as Leticia was?” She also gets new armor and a bunch of experience points.
Speaking of a past we never knew, Julia’s downstairs in the drawing room, getting all excited about a diary. She’s been spending a lot of time reading books lately, looking for clues about an impending disaster that she already knows quite a bit about. She and Barnabas have been researching the 1840s for weeks, and so far it has gotten them precisely nowhere.
“Isn’t that funny?” she gasps, opening the diary of a previous Quentin. “I just opened to a page which was exactly this same day in 1839!” This is not particularly sensational. It’s the same day in a lot of places.
Besides, nothing really happened on that day. He had a vision of the future, apparently, which wasn’t interesting enough to write down, and then he got a package of books about witchcraft. After dinner, there was a concert in the drawing room, and then they settled down to an evening of champagne and whist. I kind of wish we were there right now, we could use some whist. An evening of whist would perk this place right up.
Elizabeth is also possessed by Gerard these days, although it doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference. She says that Julia is wasting her time trying to avoid a future that she doesn’t believe in, but she was saying that before she got possessed. She’s still fascinated with astrology, and her position on taking the children out of the house is unchanged. I feel like we need a brighter demarcation between the possessed people and the non-possessed people.
But this is life in the upside down, where everything’s turned up to eleven. At this point, everybody understands that they live in a world of prophecies and unseen forces; the uncanny is just a part of their lives now, something to keep calm and carry on about. There was once a time on this show when just the sight of a ghost would send somebody into a blind panic. Now we’ve got ghosts essentially puppeteering the entire household, and nobody’s noticed, even the characters who are currently researching the ghosts.
And now that almost everyone is possessed, there isn’t much you can do except have the possessed characters get in each other’s way. Intent on pleasing Gerard, Carolyn runs off to one of Collinwood’s infinite number of dusty old storage rooms so she can rummage around in a trunk of other people’s stuff. Liz follows, and asks Carolyn what the hell, and Carolyn, elbows-deep in the recycling bin, tells her to get lost.
Now, both Elizabeth and Carolyn are possessed by Gerard, so I don’t know why they’re arguing with each other. Shouldn’t Liz be trying to help Carolyn, or at least recognizing that Carolyn is acting weird for the same reason that she’s acting weird? But today Liz appears to be restored to factory settings, and if somebody mentioned this on the Gerard Fan Club email list, then Liz hasn’t read it yet. These people need to coordinate better. Maybe Gerard has too many direct reports.
So Carolyn’s psychic now, I guess, which I’m sure will lead to all kinds of fascinating twists in the tale, once they figure out what they want to do with it. At the moment, she’s looking at astrological fraudster Sebastian Shaw, and coming up with the unstartling intuition that the horoscope that he gave Elizabeth was all made up.
This insight isn’t very insightful for two reasons: first, all horoscopes are made up, because astrology is nonsense; and second, we already knew that anyway. We’ve known for a couple weeks that Sebastian gave Liz the wrong predictions, thanks to a thinks from Sebastian himself. What we don’t know is why, or who cares, and Carolyn’s second sight doesn’t advance the plot in either direction.
Once Sebastian leaves, Carolyn forgets all about it, so there you go, yet another plot element which ought to lead somewhere but doesn’t.
I don’t know why Gerard bothered to bestow extrasensory perception on Carolyn just to rattle an astrologer’s cage, but why does Gerard do any of the things that he does? He’s fitted almost the entire Collins family with strings, and he can make the puppets dance any way he wants to. But how does getting Carolyn to present an impromptu concert in an empty drawing room get him anywhere, especially when there’s no champagne and even less whist?
We already know that Gerard has a pack of zombie pirates out there in the graveyard, buried about half an inch deep and ready for action, just waiting to bust out and go crazy as soon as somebody waves a green flag from the tower room window, which somebody almost already did, until Gerard stopped him, and I have no idea why. How do any of these events relate to each other, and why is it important that the concert Quentin wrote about took place on this day in 1839?
So this is the night that Carolyn sang her song, and if anyone was wondering how that would fit into this intricate puzzle box of a storyline, then here’s the answer: it doesn’t. It’s just another thing that happens.
And Julia comes running into the room, yelling, Carolyn, stop, STOP! And I agree, of course, but what can any of us do about it?
Tomorrow: The Hallie Parts.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
When Julia walks downstairs and approaches Liz in the drawing room, the music cue cuts out abruptly.
There’s an awkward edit during Julia and Liz’s conversation; it suddenly cuts from one close-up of Julia to another. After the cut, Liz says, “Why hasn’t Maggie gotten better?” and then “Well then, why can’t she be left alone at night?”
Julia tells Carolyn, “Anything that happens strange in this house is my business now.”
Tomorrow: The Hallie Parts.
— Danny Horn