“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’s 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 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.”
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.
— Danny Horn