Episode 1094: An Evening of Champagne and Whist

“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.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

21 thoughts on “Episode 1094: An Evening of Champagne and Whist

  1. I can’t believe that after a year of being behind, I’m finally caught up! (Which kinda sucks, because I have nothing to binge read now.) Here’s what kind of annoys me about the Dark Shadows arcs of the past year or so: Clearly, the writers had a basic idea at the start of each arc. But they seem to take the mere wisp of an idea and lack any sort of follow through. I know they were working by the seat of their pants, but how hard would it be to come up with a beginning and an end point, and then figure everything in the middle out as you went along?

    Years ago, I was interviewing the creators of Farscape (a show I was obsessed with for a while, and not only because of Ben Browder). They said that from the beginning, they had a longterm plan… they knew where John Crichton would end up, it was the journey that they were making up as they went along.

    Any show with a continuing storyline needs a bible. Ideally, one that stretches far into the future. Sure, things may come up that cause you to make changes in those long-range plans, but you at least start out with an idea where each story is going. Even Passions, the bizarre NBC sudser that featured witches and demons and moved slower than me on a Sunday morning, had a longterm plan. Storylines which began during the first week (such as the predictions Tabitha, the local witch, made while posing as a fortune teller at the fair around which the first couple weeks centered) paid off years later. And don’t get me started on the glorious longterm storyline that was Babylon 5.

    So my basic question is this: How hard could it have been to say, “Hey, we’re going to go into a parallel time and at the end of the day, THIS is why, and THIS is what the end game will be.” Traditional soaps do not, of course, have an end, they are a beginning and then a very long middle. But Dark Shadows isn’t traditional, thanks to these arcs. But arcs have beginnings and they have ends. Without an endgame for each storyline, you get… well, the mess we’re currently mired in.

    1. For the first year or so there were usually a couple of storylines running alongside each other, with different characters. While Burke was bubbling away in the background we also have the bleede valve, murder of Bill Malloy as the A-plot. Jason and the blackmail resolved itself while Maggie’s recovery threatened Barnabas.The show did this up to the lead up to 1897, where Chris was dealing with becoming a real dog while Quentin was terrorising the kiddies. By the end of 1897 it became more set season arcs, with Leviathans leading into Parallel Time leading into The Destruction of Collinwood, each with a set of guest characters killed off or written out by the end of their storyline. It’s easy to imagine the final episodes of these arcs being season finales, teasing into the next season and a tantalising see you next Fall.

    2. If DARK SHADOWS had a plan, it wouldn’t be DARK SHADOWS. To stretch a simile, it’s like wondering why improvisational jazz doesn’t have a set structure or plan.

      DS is an insane chaotic experiment.

      1. Well Hell Yeah! Dark Shadows’ “chaotic insanity” is the reason we’re all still watching with rapt attention.
        It’s like Fridspeak – would it have been better if Jonathan Frid spoke his lines with perfection? Uh, no. We love Fridspeak.
        The show is great – as is.

        1. I agree…. Now.

          I hated it…. Then.

          When I saw the shriveled Frid at the 2012 Ball, I thought that he would do
          What all Collinsdo….endure.

    3. Richard, I couldn’t agree more. From the books I’ve read, the production companies and networks used to expect ongoing bibles from the head writers of the soaps which is understandable since the networks were funding these productions via advertising. They’d want something of a “heads up” on what they were buying.

      Henry Slesar’s storylines on The Edge of Night were well planned. When a storyline ended (usually a murder mystery), the conclusion made perfect sense; it was always an “ah-hah” moment and not something contrived.

      That’s what Dark Shadows needed. I think if they’d had someone in place who could be free to write good mysteries with supernatural elements and Gothic romance, the show could have lasted a lot longer.

      1. I soap operas did require a level of planning back then that was very helpful to story continuity. Henry Slesar, however, was at the top when it came to planning his stories. He was pretty unique, and EON was one of my favorite soaps.

        When Danny runs out of DS, I would urge him to go on YouTube and give EON a look, I think he would like it and he could have a whole new blog.

        1. Linda, I really liked how The Edge of Night could keep us in such suspense. Remember the conclusion of the Molly Sherwood story, where Molly was stalking April? It was very creepy and kept me glued to the TV. Dark Shadows did a good job with this kind of thing when Barnabas had kidnapped Maggie. Somewhere along the way, they forgot how to do stories like that.

  2. Here is where an evil smile on Geruda’s face would make things interesting.

    You would get a sense that this is actually going somewhere, that the plan is having great progress, that Geruda’s steps to destruction and acquisition of the house are being realized sucessfully.

    Or….

    That each event is another file being loaded in order for the writers to run a program called 1840.

    And we don’t get that sense at all. It feels like random ghost play.

    One little bit of continuity, on hindsight of 1897, is Carolyn’s song, with the apparently original lyrics, that Pansy rewrote for her show in music halls. That was a gift for viewers
    from the writers, who hope that fond memories of 1897 might perk us up from the doldrums that we’re currently mired in.

    Except, as Barnabas said at one point later, paraphrasing, “Gerard didn’t know Pansy Faye. But I did.” To Julia. Which made no sense to me at the time. It had no impact on the storyline. It kind of hinted at why she sang THAT song, but didn’t lead to anything.

    I don’t recall that Letitia ever sang it. Did she? We’ll see.

    The only music that I associate with Letitia is “Joanna.”

    If I remember correctly.

      1. Let’s see…if I can remember. Not in order, of course.

        The night of the sun and the moon.

        The green flag waving three times.

        The night I sang my song.

        The destruction of Rose Cottage.

        Oh….I don’t own the 1995 disc, so what are the other three?

    1. Yeah, Gerard should have given Quentin a hypno-tap, and made the concert a duet. Might have got the single back on the charts.

  3. And the Gerardnosis has worn off Liz? She probably saw the bust sitting on the railing and wondered what the hell it was doing there and took it away. After all this time you’d think the writers might’ve given Liz a decent plot, not just keep her hanging around in other people’s stories.

    Anybody else getting testy about this “Oh, look! Here’s something in this old book that happened on this very day years ago!” stuff?

    Something about all this that doesn’t seem to be “according to Hoyle”.

    1. Liz has no supernatural connections unique to her and no love interest. Couldn’t Gerard have at least been kept at bay by her maternal stance towards David? She was the only one who tried to see the good in him in the early storylines.

  4. I think Liz should have had supernatural connections. She should have been bestowed with powers to help ward off the evil that surrounds Collinwood and the town of Collinsport. Perhaps she could have kept this a secret. That would have been the true reason she seldom left the estate. She would later pass this power on to Carolyn, though her goal would be to once and for all rid the area of its curse so that her daughter would not have to dedicate her life to the same thing.

      1. Jay, I’d say that if the show had given Liz powers, they wouldn’t be as strong as some of the darker forces in the DS universe. Yet, she’d be a rock that could ultimately thwart them, but they’d still do some damage along the way. And I’d say that she would want to keep as much of the supernatural a secret as to not spread panic.

        I hated seeing her the slave of the Leviathans and later Gerard.

  5. Liz was the rock.

    She held the family, as best possible, from falling to the rocks where Josette ended.

    Although Vicki was meant to be the most normal, it was Liz who grounded the family from the start.

    Any other power than human would not be fitting.

    Everything that ever happened to her was someone else’s doing.

    This is the only time(I think) that we disagree.

    It brings the thought that she could have been a vampire in HODS,
    If you can allow the extension…

    I mean, who wasn’t? Ruined the plot. Roger? Seriously. Awful.

    Make David one, and you’ve got something.

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