“This possession is only part of a larger plan.”
Dark Shadows is trying to fracture the cosmos, I think; that’s the only possible explanation. Their movie just came out and they don’t really want to be on TV anymore, but they’re too proud to admit it, so they’re going to burn down the world and take everything else with them. Somebody ought to do something about this. Not me, obviously, I’m too busy arguing with my television.
“You are POSSESSED!” Barnabas cries, and he’s right, they are. The two children on the great estate are now inhabited by the spirits of two previous children who didn’t make it to adulthood the first time, so I don’t know why they think they’re qualified to take over now.
Their names are Tad and Carrie, and they’re such amateurs that they cheerfully called each other by their real names while Barnabas was still in earshot. “Possessed, cousin Barnabas?” Tad says. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Sure he does.
Barnabas starts a round of Lightning Fill in the Blank.
Barnabas: Tell me the name of your mother!
Tad: My mother?
Barnabas: Also the date when you were born!
Tad (calculating): Nineteen hundred… and fifty-six!
Barnabas: Who was your governess, before Maggie? Tell me her name!
Tad: I… I…
Barnabas: What about you, young lady? When did you come to Collinwood? Under what circumstances?
Carrie: There was an accident!
Barnabas: That’s right, involving your mother and your father. What were their names?
Carrie: Oh, stop it! Stop!
Barnabas: Why should I stop? I’m asking you perfectly simple questions that you should be able to answer without hesitation. But you don’t!
And the kids just fall to pieces. Carrie cries out, “Oh, Daphne, please help us!” and Tad snaps, “Stop it, Carrie!” These people are terrible at this. How can the ghosts be winning?
But nobody is good at anything, not this week, up to and very much including the writers. Desperately concerned for the children’s safety, Barnabas gives Tad and Carrie a very stern look, and then walks out into the hallway to have a story conference with Julia. Obviously, the kids are listening at the door, so this is essentially the previous scene in reverse. These people have a lot to learn about security best practices; they keep getting hacked through eavesdropping.
“If the possession is complete,” says Julia, “then Gerard has already won!”
“This possession is only part of a larger plan,” says Barnabas, and that plan is part of an even larger plan, and so on. This could take all night. Then he says that they should go and talk to Professor Stokes, which I don’t think they do, because we don’t see it and nobody ever mentions it again. This might actually be an attempt at counterintelligence, which is the only kind of intelligence anybody employs all day.
For example: Tad and Carrie, discussing their next move. Carrie points out that they’re living among strangers, in their own home.
“Is that what we wanted?” she asks, and he says, “Try to remember. We’re not here because of what we wanted.”
“Then why are we here?” she asks. “I can’t seem to remember.”
“We don’t know yet,” answers Tad, so why is he telling her to remember something that they don’t know?
Then they have a philosophical discussion about what happened to David and Hallie, and Tad points out that they don’t exist anymore.
“I suppose it sounds strange,” Carrie says, “but I do hope nothing bad has happened to them. I liked them, both of them.” But obviously something bad has happened to them, and it’s you, you psychopath children. You’ve killed them both, and you’ve killed the show, and you’re currently doing a number on my personal will to live.
“How odd,” Carolyn says, seconds after walking into Quentin’s room, “I came here to tell you something, and now I can’t remember what it was.” I think this is Carolyn now and not Leticia, but it’s not easy to tell, especially with all these memory problems that come up about once per scene.
“I think you ought to go back and get some rest,” he says, and she has another strange interlude. “Rest,” she says, “yes. Sleep. That’s what we all need, if we just knew where to find it. Our minds are so troubled, but we don’t quite know why.”
“What are you talking about?” Quentin asks, and I don’t think we ever find out.
Downstairs, Julia’s got a theory to share, which as far as I’m concerned is the final straw on this whole depressing storyline.
Barnabas: The children have been possessed, meaning that Gerard has a stronger control of Collinwood than ever. What is this hold he has, and why can’t we break it?
Julia: Because someone in this house is helping him!
Barnabas: What do you mean?
Julia: Oh, Barnabas, it’s easy enough for one of the spirits to take control of the children, but to be allowed to do it so easily and so successfully, they couldn’t do it without the help of an adult!
Which is just — what are you talking about? Of course they could do it without the help of an adult. That has nothing to do with anything.
So they’ve taken away Julia’s most important narrative advantage — that she’s a smart character, and everything that she postulates is true. That’s what gets us through the dark times, plotwise. If they ever need a magic leap of logic to get things moving again, Julia is the primary motive force. But now she’s just saying nonsense.
“Quentin has been the reason we have failed at every step!” she announces. That is absolutely untrue. You have failed at every step for so many reasons.
“I mean, Quentin, that the children have been possessed!” Barnabas thunders. “Possessed, Quentin! They have been possessed!” He’s trying to make a point. Quentin is pretending that he doesn’t know anybody named Daphne, and he manages to pull it off, for about half a conversation.
“Would you like to see them?” Barnabas challenges. “Would you like to talk to them? Would you like to witness what Daphne and Gerard have done to them?”
“Now, she told me that no harm would come to them!” Quentin shouts, crossing the room for dramatic effect. “She gave me her –”
“– her word, Quentin?” Barnabas concludes, and he means it to sting. Quentin is bad at this too. Everybody on the show is bad at everything!
Because then they go and leave Quentin alone with a candle and a lilac-scented handkerchief, like that’s supposed to improve matters. He says that he’ll burn it, that he’ll send Daphne away, that he’ll undo the wreck of this desperate cry for help that we perceive as a storyline. And he fails, obviously; the candle blows out spectrally, and he can’t try again because how are you supposed to find matches in the dark?
“Feel the earth turning through eternal space!” Tad exclaims. “Let it turn itself towards the stars that guide the destinies of us all!”
He indicates a candle. “Let the light from the star that guides the destiny of Daphne Harridge touch the flame that we have lighted in her name! Let the light from the star that guides the destiny of Gerard Stiles touch the flame that we have lighted in his name! Let the earth turn in eternal space, until we are touched by the light of their stars!”
I’m pretty sure he just made that up, but it turns anyway, the earth turns in eternal space, and the light of the star hits the flame in her name. She told me no harm would come to them, and that is the reason that we have failed at every step. This plan is only part of a larger plan, and they couldn’t do it without the help of an adult. We’re not here because of what we wanted, but I came here to tell you something, and now I can’t remember what it was.
Our minds are so troubled, but we don’t quite know why. Would you like to see them? Would you like to talk to them? Would you like to witness what Daphne and Gerard have done to them, to all of us?
Dark Shadows, I’m asking you perfectly simple questions that you should be able to answer without hesitation. But you don’t!
Tomorrow: Damsel of the Damned.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Standing in David’s bedroom, Barnabas says, “David and Hallie did not leave here under their own volition. They were lured here by the spirits of Gerard — ” What is he talking about?
When David gets up from the bed to announce, “There’s nothing you can do to stop it,” he’s got some of Hallie’s hair. She brushes it back before she gets up.
When Carolyn tells Quentin that he’s acting strangely, he says, “No, really, I’m very fine.”
David tells Hallie to place the shawl “there, at that star”. He means at that point of the star.
Tomorrow: Damsel of the Damned.
— Danny Horn