Episode 1097: Dawn of the Honey Badger

“Why can’t I understand my own behavior?”

They died young, is the problem. I don’t know what they died of, but the leading cause of death for children at Collinwood is ghosts, so I assume that Tad and Carrie were probably possessed by a matching set of identical ancestors from the 1720s. Eager to pay it forward, they’ve lurked in the crawlspaces and hidey-holes of the great estate, waiting for another pair of gullible travelers to happen by. And so the cycle of life continues, in a way.

So David and Hallie are now Tad and Carrie, with no available backsies. The ghosts of Collinwood have been running a flawless covert operation that’s claimed five family members so far, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to stop their relentless advance. The poltergeist power couple Gerard and Daphne have been puppeteering various Collinses for weeks, and now their lilac-scented plan is building to a cataclysmic crescendo.

Daphne was Tad and Carrie’s governess back in the day, and apparently promised them that when they died, they would be restored to life in a later century, at the expense of a couple of other kids’ souls. It’s not clear why a governess would ever promise such a thing, and it indicates a warped mentality that has yet to be explained. It’s also not clear why Gerard would want to turn those kids into these kids, but presumably it all pays off somehow.

Although we know that in 1995, all four of them will be ghosts again, so Tad and Carrie coming back to life must be a temporary situation, probably. I’m not sure we’re running on linear narrative logic anymore. Also, I don’t care.

Anyway, here are the new kids, restored to life in this weird embiggened dollhouse mansion called Rose Cottage. Tad sounds pretty much the same as David did, but the pitch of Carrie’s voice is a bit higher than Hallie’s, and also she might be mildly brain-damaged.

Carrie:  Where are Daphne and Gerard? You — you don’t suppose they’ve gone, do you?

Tad:  Oh, Carrie. You do become alarmed so easily. She hasn’t left us. Don’t you remember? She promised us that she never would.

Carrie:  Then where is she? She’s our governess, isn’t she?

Okay, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to intervene this early, but roll that line around in your head for a while. What about the world would have to change, in order for that to make any sense at all?

Tad:  Carrie, you’ve got to be more careful than that.

Carrie:  Whatever do you mean?

Tad:  She was our governess. That was a long, long time ago, in a different life.

Carrie:  Yes, you’re right. I’m sorry, I mustn’t forget that.

So that’s who we’re stuck with for the foreseeable, I’m afraid. I’m grateful that they’re using contractions, which sometimes get left behind when people play fake nineteenth century, but “whatever do you mean?” works my nerves pretty ferociously. Also, she’s only been alive for a minute and a half, and she’s already having a hard time remembering what’s going on.

Now they’ve come all the way back to life at great expense, and all they can do is complain. They don’t like the clothes, they don’t want to talk differently, and they’re annoyed that they have to assume the identities of the children that they’ve effectively murdered.

David:  It’s like a secret game!

Carrie:  We only play it front of others, though. When we’re alone, can we act as we really are?

Tad:  Perhaps, but even that can be dangerous. If we were overheard — one little mistake like that, and the game will be over!

And then they go back to Collinwood, two black ops field agents, ready for tactical insertion.

Meanwhile, our heroes are where they always are these days, parked in the drawing room, reviewing the case. This is the real catastrophe that hits Collinwood in 1970: that the monster characters are now the ones sitting around discussing other people’s mysteries like they were Burke and Dr. Woodard, instead of digging up corpses or lopping off people’s hands or setting fire to somebody’s portrait.

Barnabas and Julia are justifiably worried about the children, but they’re not making a lot of headway.

Julia:  Barnabas, we’ve been assuming that they were taken somewhere on the grounds. Perhaps we were wrong.

Barnabas:  Are you thinking they’re somewhere off the grounds?

Julia:  Why not?

Barnabas:  Well, it doesn’t make any sense, Julia! When they were alive, Daphne and Gerard were a part of Collinwood, so their spirits would necessarily be confined to Collinwood!

Julia:  Or to someplace close by. Remember, we don’t really know what Gerard’s function was, in the Collinwood of 1840.

This is spectral hair-splitting, of course; I don’t know why these two think that they’re qualified to practice ghost law. But this is how far out of the loop they are; after six solid weeks of upending every dusty old pile of books in the house, they still don’t know who Gerard is, or why Carolyn was singing, or what happened at the picnic, and at this rate, they never will.

Part of the problem is that they’re having a hard time following up on clues. At the end of last week, they realized that Carolyn has been possessed by Leticia Faye, a possible ancestor of possible Cockney songbird Pansy Faye, who they knew posthumously in 1897 through the medium of another Nancy Barrett character. Don’t worry if you can’t get your head around this particular plot nugget, which relies on a Cockney showgirl dynasty that bounces back and forth between Collinwood and Cheapside every generation or so. It doesn’t really matter.

Because here comes Carolyn, still mildly possessed, and Barnabas and Julia have forgotten that two episodes ago, they were saying that knowing Pansy Faye was the key to disrupting Gerard’s whole operation. They just watch her, puzzled, as she floats into the room and announces that a) David and Hallie are gone, and b) the children are alive and well. Then she brushes off their follow-up questions, and goes upstairs to bed.

And she doesn’t even have an English accent, which is frustrating, because why would you go to the trouble of sticking an 1840 Faye into Carolyn’s body without giving her the funny accent? Supernatural possession seems to have made her even more blasé, which is not the direction that this storyline needs people to go.

After she leaves, Barnabas and Julia give her another ten seconds of thought, and then go straight back to the conversation they were having before she came in.

“Julia,” Barnabas asks, urgently, “do you suppose it’s possible that the children have found the playroom?” This is astonishing. Are they seriously that far behind the times? They should have been staking out the west wing 24/7; the kids have been running back and forth to the playroom every fifteen minutes. This is going to take forever.

So Barnabas rushes off to the playroom, arriving seven weeks too late, plus it’s a linen closet, and then he has the most extraordinary scene with Carolyn. She comes wafting down the hall, humming the Pansy Faye signature tune, and Barnabas asks what she’s doing here in the west wing.

Smiling, she explains that she’s just getting something from her room, which is down the hall. When he says that her room is downstairs, she laughs, “Don’t be absurd. You know perfectly well I’ve always lived in the west wing. I do think it the most enchanting part of the house.”

Flabbergasted, Barnabas says, “Carolyn!” and she raises an objection. “May I ask why you keep calling me that?” He says it’s her name, and she chuckles and says, “You know very well my name is Leticia, and I live in that room just down the hall.” And then she walks away, en route to whatever dusty, unfurnished room she’s decided she lives in.

Now, that’s not particularly shocking as Dark Shadows scenes go, but the extraordinary thing is that Barnabas just watches her walk away and doesn’t do anything about it. When he talks to the kids a few scenes later, Carolyn enters the room and makes smart remarks, and he hardly seems to notice.

Now, we’re accustomed to occasional visits from goldfish on this show, who swim around the bowl a couple times and then need to relearn basic facts about the storyline they’re standing in. But this isn’t quite goldfish behavior; it’s some other genus.

Barnabas and Julia don’t forget about Carolyn’s possession, per se; they don’t get shocked every time they go over the same clue. They just don’t seem to think it’s very important. There are a limited number of things they’re concerned with — where the children are, where Rose Cottage is, how strong Gerard has become — and everything else is of passing interest.

There are a bunch of scenes where Julia knows that Quentin’s being manipulated by Daphne’s ghost, but sometimes it’s relevant and sometimes it’s not. She knows that they can’t really trust him, but she doesn’t try to question him very hard, and most of the time, they just talk about whatever minor mystery is on tap at the moment.

Even Quentin doesn’t really seem to care that much about his own predicament. He’s got a drawing of Rose Cottage folded up in his pocket, and he even found the place earlier today, and he just doesn’t bother to tell anyone.

“Maybe Julia was right,” he muses. “Maybe Daphne has some kind of hold over me that I’m not aware of.” He is entirely aware of it.

So the questioning of the children, when it comes, is a strangely low-key affair. Barnabas tries to catch them off guard by barking “Gerard and Daphne!” at them, but Tad doesn’t bat an eye.

“Gerard and Daphne?” he considers. “Well, I don’t believe we’ve ever heard those names before. Do you think we have, Hallie?” And oh my god, are we really still at a place where Barnabas has never said “Gerard and Daphne” to the kids before? How is that even possible?

“I’m sure you can see we’re all right,” Tad beams. “No harm came to us. And I feel that if everybody would stop worrying, everything will be as it was.” Then Carolyn comes in and dishes out another helping of super-chill non-Cockney Leticia. She thinks everything’s fine too. Maybe it is.

So nobody’s really very good at whatever they’re trying to do. If they want to keep anybody from knowing that David and Hallie are possessed by Tad and Carrie, then why is Carolyn going around telling people she’s Leticia? And then as soon as Barnabas turns his back, they all start calling each other Tad and Carrie, and isn’t that exactly the thing that they said they mustn’t do at the beginning of the episode? Why can’t Julia leave the drawing room? And where did all these honey badgers come from?

Tomorrow: The Lie Lock.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Carrie says, “You’re right, I’m sorry,” somebody in the studio coughs.

In Rose Cottage, when Quentin unfolds the drawing, he bumps the flashlight, which begins to roll off the table. He catches it just in time.

Julia says, “Carolyn, we believe that some, they’re in some terrible danger, the children!”

Julia says to Barnabas that they can’t find the playroom. Barnabas says, “I know, but we found it in eighteen — nineteen-ninety-nine! And we found the ghosts of — David and Hallie there, in that time.”

A little future continuity error: Carolyn, as Leticia, tells Barnabas that she lives in the West Wing of Collinwood. As we see in 1840, Leticia is staying at Rose Cottage.

At the start of act 4, Quentin trips as he walks away from the window.

Twice in the final scene, a voice from the studio shushes somebody.

Tomorrow: The Lie Lock.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

24 thoughts on “Episode 1097: Dawn of the Honey Badger

  1. …this is how far out of the loop they are…
    This is an understatement – J&B are now the goldfish, and swimming backward. Why would Gerard and Daphne as ghosts necessarily be “confined” to Collinwood? Quentin appeared to Mrs. Johnson in the caretaker’s cottage, Beth went outside to reveal the grave, Josette wandered about a bit, Jeremiah roamed, and Sarah ranged all over Collinsport as far away as Windcliff! Ghosts get around on DS – why should they suddenly have confinement?
    It will need a miracle now for these two to avert the destruction of the mansion. They still can’t decide whether Rose Cottage is real or not, and all that’s left for that place is its immolation. (And OMG, who the hell tilts a grandfather clock against a wall before they abandon a house?!?! (Sorry, it’s my OCD. Again.)) Place looks like a firetrap anyhow, couldn’t someone tack some moldings up around that door and the windows? Seriously cheesy set. And we really have to have a scene where Quentin goes into the house, lights a candle, sits down, takes out the drawing of THE HOUSE HE IS CURRENTLY SITTING IN, and gives a thinks monologue, then folds the picture back up, blows out the candle and leaves? That scene shrieked of “filler”. But the lighting on David Selby was very nice, and good catch with that rolling torch!

    Talking of “spectral hairsplitting” – so, the children ARE possessed, but Carolyn isn’t. We saw ghosts ChromaKey in and sit on David and Hallie; then they went on about how possessed they are and must hide it at any cost. Carolyn just thinks she’s Leticia because of Gerard’s “Domination Lite” touch. And evidently the rules are totally opposite, she’s permitted to broadcast the change to any and every body. (And with all the time J&B are spending recapping, Barnabas MUST know that Gerard and Daphne have been mentioned to the children! It’s just an outright stupid stumble on the part of Tavid and Carlie to deny this.) Of course, it’s moot by the end of the episode, when the kids blow their cover. But thank Heavens, Barnabas FINALLY got to make a miniscule bit of forward movement in the plot! Even though we know they’re going to stonewall this at the start of tomorrow’s show.

    I wonder how Maggie’s doing? I hope somebody has brought her up a dinner tray, or at least remembered to fill her bowls with water and Governess Chow.

    1. It’s tough enough watching the summer 1970 episodes the first time but once you know that they really don’t matter in the overall 1840 story and that many plot issues raised are not resolved, it’s almost impossible. It’s just a waste of time.

      1840 is basically a sequel to 1795. It’s more important to have seen 1795 than 1970 to enjoy and appreciate 1840.

      1. I may be in a minority here, but I actually don’t mind the poor writing and aimlessness. Don’t get me wrong–I MUCH PREFER good writing and a strong narrative in DS, but that’s not the only reason for me to watch DS. To me, soap operas were about hanging around a place and people (I would watch “As the World Turns” with my mom when I got a chance as a kid). Just as in real life, not a lot happens all the time, but I still want to be there. So even if not a whole hell of a lot is happening at Collinwood or if people are just talking in circles, I’m happy to be there. So even when I rewatch the show, I still won’t skip anything–I don’t see it as a waste of time. It’s just a different kind of day (or week…or month…or story line) than the firing-on-all-cylinders days.

        1. It’s true. I just wish there was more hanging around discussing/recapping things by the fire in the drawing room over glasses of brandy… or at the Old House. I really miss the Old House.

    2. Barnabas’s only experience with Ghost Law is as a defendant, and if I remember rightly that didn’t go so well.

  2. Okay, so David is a Special Case. There is a reason for him having a governess at his age. But Tad? In 1840? We’re going to have to get out the fancy, sunday-go-to-meeting fanwanking for that one.

    1. They wrote this story around 10 yr olds even though they knew they were dealing with high school aged kids.

      In 1840, Tad wouldn’t be caught dead in a playroom at his age. Nor would he likely still have a governess. He’d likely be apprenticing with his dad.

      And Carrie? She’s Ben Stokes’s granddaughter, so even more likely socially to be married by her age.

      Carrie probably would’ve been a target for corruption by Gerard, but obviously the show wouldn’t go in that direction.

      1. Murders, mutilations, raising the dead, satanic rituals, possession, and various ghouls; but one has to draw the line SOMEWHERE.

      2. SER, no doubt Carrie being a target for Gerard’s corruption would have been the direction they would take if DS was being shot today. And let’s face it, with Gerard as hot as he is, some of us would’ve dug seeing that. I was a teen girl in 1970 and that would’ve fed my fantasies.

      3. Been had become a gentleman farmer, and as far as we know, Ben’s Son/Carrie’s Father may have done even better for himself. The teenage daughter of a prosperous country squire in the early Victorian era being looked after by a governess doesn’t ring at all false to me.

  3. Hey guys, right now (7pm EST) on Cozi, Michael Maguire ( who played the head of Judah Zachary in the 1840 storyline) is on the COLUMBO episode, “A Friend in Deed.”

  4. Tad as David does a nice bit of anachronistic speech in his otherwise correct answer to the question, “What year were you born?”

    “Nineteen hundred and 56,” he says. That is numerically correct, but a quaint locution because the real David would have said, “Nineteen fifty-six.”

    Barnabas certainly is more interested in the fact that Carrie as Hallie cannot do math in her head fast enough to answer the same question. (1954 BTW.)

  5. “here’s the new kids”

    I’ve noticed a continuing grammatical issue in these essays. I point it out not to be a dick, but because poor grammar like the phrase above knocks me out of the narrative every single time–which is unfortunate, as I absolutely love these essays. You’re such a gifted writer, so it surprises me that this even happens. 🙂

  6. We’ve taken to turning the color off on the television when we watch Dark Shadows, and I can say that it really helps. For all the weaknesses of these episodes, in black and white they have a spooky atmosphere and an elegant visual composition. Looking at the color screen caps in this post, I can’t imagine much of that carrying through.

    1. I’ve sometimes done that but it can’t really match the scratched film & motion trails of the honest-to-God kinescope episodes.

  7. Tad: Perhaps, but even that can be dangerous. If we were overheard — one little mistake like that, and the game will be over!


    On one hand it’s a relief because the only thing more exhausting than the current plot would be watching “Tad” and “Carrie” scamper around trying not to say “shan’t” and complaining about modern undergarments while every single adult ignores them. On the other hand, they could not get through one damn day without revealing their possessed state. Morons.

    1. Barnabas doesn’t even remark on them calling Carolyn Leticia. “You’re both possessed!” Silly, they’re all possessed!

    2. Yeah, unbelievable. Barnabas is not yet five feet away from the door. Some people just want to get caught.

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