“There was one night I concentrated very hard, and tried to reach you.”
So Quentin is still on Dark Shadows, which is a huge surprise to everyone except the people who watch Dark Shadows. There’s always a Quentin, and there always will be, even after there isn’t a Barnabas anymore. And decades later, when the show turns into an audio download, you click play, and what do you hear? Quentin. The guy has a portrait; there’s nothing you can do.
So this I guess is Quentin number three, who’s the identical great-uncle of the original Quentin, or the other way around, if you want to be strictly chronological about it. Number two was the Parallel Time Quentin, and number four is the Parallel Time Quentin of number three, and then there’s Quentin number five in Night of Dark Shadows, and on and on, tumbling through time in endless iterations. It’s Quentins, all the way down.
It’s an awkward time to see him again, of course, especially for ill-fated fortune hunter Gerard Stiles, the man of a thousand sneers, who just married Quentin’s rich widow about fifteen minutes before it turned out she wasn’t a widow anymore. Quentin’s great-uncle Quentin was lost at sea, but apparently they found him again, and he walked all the way home from Brazil, which is more than four thousand miles away if you don’t mind swimming a lot of the time.
So Gerard and Samantha are post-nuptially preening when the door opens, and all of a sudden there’s Quentin, out of a clear blue sky and too late to make a difference. Ta-dah!
The ta-dah! moment is usually the province of Angelique, who comes back from the dead at least a couple times a year, but really any of the four major characters can create a stir just by opening the door and walking into the room unexpectedly. It’s part of the job description for the kaiju.
Startled and emotionally confused, Samantha runs for cover, and Quentin charges after her, harrying her halfway up the stairs. “Oh, so that’s how you looked forward to my homecoming!” he shouts petulantly, so great, it’s one of those. I was worried about that.
I was hoping this would be one of the fun Quentins, like the real Quentin from 1897, who drinks and flirts and schemes to get the family money, the charming con artist we fell in love with eighteen months ago. But it turns out that he’s the other kind of Quentin, the kind that already has all the family money, so he spends his time stomping around and being impatient with women.
We first ran into this subgenus in Parallel Time, and overall they’re depressing. The bossy Quentins are nice to look at, cause they’re David Selby, and every once in a while they relax and you get a little romance moment that you can add to your internal collection of Quentin fantasy scenes, but mostly they just scowl and jump to conclusions, which is unhelpful.
There’s one nice Quentinish moment in this episode, when Gerard admits that he just married Samantha this afternoon, and instead of exploding or smacking the guy in the face, Quentin bursts into a delighted laugh.
“Quentin!” Gerard cries, astonished, and that’s exactly what Quentin should be like all the time, astonishing. Having surprising reactions to things is one of Quentin’s major assets.
He follows it by vaulting up the stairs two at a time, and declaring, “It has become a comedy! I thought when the storm came, it would all end up in a great tragedy, but no, fooled again.” He offers Gerard a cheery “Congratulations!” and then he’s gone, off to locate his wanton wife.
So that’s a lot of fun, but it also underlines a major flaw with these sub-Quentins: they’re not very good at being in love with people. The original Quentin was a three-ring tragic romance flea circus; he could have scenes with several different girlfriends in the same episode, and each of those relationships would be epic and iconic. Each one was the one, and if you wanted to follow along, you had to accept that a guy like Quentin could have multiple simultaneous destinies. Not that there are a lot of guys like Quentin, unfortunately, including this one.
“You must hate me,” Samantha says, and he just shakes his head and says no. “Don’t pretend, Quentin,” she continues, and he sighs, he actually looks her in the face and sighs. “I never pretend,” he says, and then he looks at her like he’s trying to figure out how to extricate himself and get back downstairs to put a dent in the brandy.
“I can’t believe it, why didn’t you write?” she asks.
“I did,” he says, and sighs again. “From Brazil, Chile — if the letters didn’t get here, then you can blame the towns I was passing through.”
“There must have been some way you could have let us know!” she cries, and all of a sudden, we’re discussing the South American postal service. Also, if you’re heading from Brazil to the United States, then Chile is in exactly the wrong direction. What were they playing at, down there? Did nobody in the party hablo Brazilian, or were they just too embarassed to ask for directions?
He says some words about how one night he tried to contact her via thought transference, and he thought he had, but apparently he connected with the aura of the lady next door, because Samantha didn’t feel a thing.
“You always fall back on the occult, don’t you?” she says, which doesn’t really mean anything, and by the way, look how badly this shot is framed. It looks like the set dresser just got a new four-poster bed, and they asked the director to make sure to feature it. The director couldn’t think of anything better to point the camera at, so she said sure, as long as the actors are in the shot somewhere, and now it’s on television.
But you have to spice up a scene with Samantha somehow, because she’s super bland and kind of a drip. She’s been on the show for three weeks now, and I can’t remember a single interesting acting choice. She’s fine, and she does whatever’s on the page, but Gerard and Gabriel have been doing all the heavy lifting when they’ve had scenes with her.
So it’s not surprising that Quentin is so nonchalant about whether they’re still married; he hardly seems to care one way or the other, and neither do I. If the show wants me to invest in this relationship, then they need to make the first move; I can’t do it all from this direction.
“Are you ready to talk about us?” Quentin asks, and she replies, “Are you?” And then he sighs, and turns away, and starts talking about something else.
So I know this is just my personal taste, but I think Quentin has way more of a spark with Gerard than he has with his wife. If this was a normal soap opera chemistry test, where they put a male character next to a female character to see if it’s interesting, then this would be an unenthusiastic dud.
“You married Gerard,” he sighs. “You must have a feeling for him.”
“But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a feeling for you,” she counters, and he says, “I know that,” and then they just look at each other, and as for me, I don’t have a feeling for either of them.
So I don’t know, call me old-fashioned, but I liked Quentin better when he wanted to have sex with everybody in the world, including me. If he’s finally run up against the one woman in Christendom who bores him so much that he runs out of energy halfway through a conversation, then I say let’s cut our losses, get him back downstairs, give him the keys to the drinks cabinet, and keep him occupied while we dash out for a couple of gypsies and a treasure map. I mean, the guy’s a Quentin, there’s got to be something we can do with him.
Tomorrow: The Lost World.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
When Quentin reaches Samantha in the upstairs hall, she says, “Quentin! Where is Tad? Something’s happened! You lied to me!” What is she talking about?
Gerard cries, “What happened to those psychic — psychic — why didn’t I have a premonition?”
Behind the Scenes:
A very exciting thing (for me) in this episode: in Trask’s chapel, we see the Ralston-Purina lampshade on a lamp hanging from the ceiling. It was last seen in September, in the Collinwood study.
Great news for folks who have Amazon Prime: every episode of Dark Shadows is now available for streaming, free with your Prime subscription!
Tomorrow: The Lost World.
— Danny Horn