“It’s time I start finding some of the lost world that we can’t understand or even see.”
Time-tossed vampire Barnabas Collins is leaving his family’s mansion, when he catches sight of a pretty young woman who looks like someone from Charlie’s Angels. This is Daphne, the mystery ghost who is destined — a hundred and thirty years from now — to collude with an angry fire god to destroy Barnabas and his entire way of life.
So obviously he wants to stop and say hi, and find out what the hell is going on, with an eye towards possibly not having this girl embark on her weird post-mortem vengeance spree. He approaches her at a traffic stop, and asks for her license and registration.
Now, when we saw Daphne’s ghost in the future, she was a governess, which is one of the all-time most destructive professions in history. Barnabas asks why she’s here in the woods, and she says that her carriage broke down, which is exactly what governesses always say. A governess’ carriage breaking down is basically a prelude to a wave of terror that she will blame on everybody but herself.
He accuses her of waiting for Gerard Stiles, a name that she doesn’t recognize, because Barnabas doesn’t know where this moment is in her personal timeline, and he wasn’t fully briefed before embarking on this irresponsible time cop assignment.
“But you haven’t told me your name,” he points out, and she says she doesn’t want to. “I’d hate to have to force you!” he growls, and then another character emerges from the underbrush.
“Why would you do that, Barnabas?” Desmond asks, and why indeed? Barnabas already knows her name. It’s practically the only thing he knows about this entire decade.
It’s hard for Barnabas to explain why he’s so interested in Daphne, because all he knows is that in the future she’s going to be a ghost, and that’s not really evidence of anything in particular. He’s in the past; all of these people are going to become ghosts at some point. The planet is chock full of future spirits, which probably explains why the world is in this sorry state; it’s inhabited entirely by potential poltergeists, just waiting to die and unleash their psychic anger on everybody else.
So he’s not really prepared for the intrusion of Desmond, who appears to think that he’s handsome and rich and can do basically whatever he wants with the random female prowlers who show up on the grounds, hoping to be discovered and become main characters. Desmond’s got an unearned swagger that I don’t believe in yet, given that the only thing we know about him is that he just got back from the Far East, and he brings home lousy souvenirs.
Daphne ends up leaving the scene with Desmond, preferring the preening bachelor to the weird undead time-traveling traffic cop who knows her future, but doesn’t understand her present. Desmond considers this a lucky break, but it’s hard to stay lucky in this town.
So Barnabas scurries back to the house for a bracing round of Junior Detectives with his life partner and co-impostor, Julia Hoffman. They line up in the drawing room, each consulting their own personal teleprompter, and start in on the speculating.
“Why didn’t she know Gerard’s name?” Julia wonders. “Why would she be staring at the house? If her carriage had broken down –”
“She would have come here, exactly.” Barnabas shakes his head. “No, she was here for some other purpose.” This is how the Junior Detectives behave; they make snap judgments and then invest faith in them. I’m not sure why Barnabas doesn’t believe in carriages breaking down. It was probably the transmission, it usually is.
“In the present, we thought that Daphne and Quentin were in love,” Julia sighs. “It’s such a jigsaw puzzle.”
“And Daphne is the last missing piece!” Barnabas declares. He loves making speeches like this. “Now, the drama will begin to unfold. We must change it, Julia — you and I — or else Collinwood in 1970 will be destroyed!”
Meanwhile, at Rose Cottage, the drama is unfolding, in its own crackpot way. Desmond the ladykiller is currently surveying his new acquisition, a magical decapitated head that he’s not quite sure what to do with.
This is what he brought back from the Far East, as a present for his best friend Quentin. He thinks it’s a carving of a head, and I think it’s a real head, but either way I’m not sure why you’d bring it back from somewhere, or why you’d want to keep it in a glass case and hide it behind a curtain. I’m also not sure why you’d have a curtain in the middle of your drawing room that you can conceal heads behind. There’s got to be other places you could stow a head in a box, although I can’t think of any off the top of my — well, you know.
And how far was the Far East, anyway? Maine is already about as East as you can get, except for Nova Scotia.
When Quentin comes over to play, Desmond closes the curtains and pretends the head isn’t there, because he’s decided not to give it to Quentin after all; he wants to keep it and glare at it and eventually get possessed by it.
Quentin’s here to establish a couple more characteristics, if he can, because he’s probably important and so far we don’t really understand him that well. Things that we currently know about Quentin include: he was lost at sea and then backpacked from Brazil to Maine without passing a post office; he’s pretty chill about his wife marrying another dude; and he’s interested in the occult, whatever that means.
“Desmond, you know,” Quentin sighs, “I think it’s time I get back some of my old interests. It’s time I start finding some of the lost world that we can’t understand or even see.”
So that’s perplexing. I’m actually not sure I can understand Quentin; he’s kind of a lost world himself.
I mean, Julia spent a lot of time in 1970 studying Quentin’s old diaries, but she doesn’t seem to know anything in particular about him. Being lost at sea and South America for six months is a big life event, but apparently that wasn’t important enough to be mentioned in his journal — she’s surprised when he comes home, and she doesn’t know what’s going to happen next. If he’s a jigsaw puzzle, then she got a pretty good look at the picture on the front of the box, but she doesn’t seem to recognize anything she sees.
But her research did uncover one important clue — a blueprint for a Proposed Stairway Into Time, which apparently works, because that’s how she got to this century: a wormhole opened in the continuum right in front of her, and she hopped on board. We haven’t seen Quentin working on this yet, and we don’t know if he ever used it to get anywhen, but he drew up that blueprint this year and it’s already October.
And there’s another unexplained mystery hiding in plain sight, which is: Why did he go to sea?
I mean, he took his son on a ship, and sailed someplace within swimming distance of Brazil in the company of a notorious gun runner that he considers a close friend. Was this a business trip? A fishing expedition? Where did he think he was going, and does it matter that he never got there? And why does he have two best friends that don’t seem to know each other?
There is a lost world, and it’s right behind him, just past that curtain. Desmond knows about it, and so do we; the only one who’s in the dark is Quentin, who’s the most interested of all.
And he’s about to be contacted by the unknown, because Daphne sneaks into Collinwood to leave an anonymous message for him. She’s the last missing piece of this jigsaw puzzle, and she apparently has an unending supply of broken carriages, taking her back and forth to wherever mystery governesses come from.
When she breaks in, she overhears the Junior Detectives conspiring in the drawing room, just declassifying information with the door open.
“Oh, Julia, how long can we keep up this charade?” Barnabas asks. “Pretending to be people that we’re not!” And Daphne just backs out of the foyer and lights out for the territory. As far as she’s concerned, this is exactly the kind of problem that belongs to somebody else.
“You know I think I’ll go to Quentin, and tell him everything,” Barnabas says, in a rare moment of potential candor.
Obviously, Julia says, “Absolutely not!” because she’s one of those mythopoetic trickster figures that you hear about, like Anansi the spider, Reynard the fox and Amanda Woodward from Melrose Place, and she knows that the first rule of imposting is that you don’t go around telling people everything.
“But he’s the only person that would understand!” Barnabas cries, and he’s right — if Quentin is drawing up and constructing Proposed Stairways Into Time, then he would probably be thrilled to know that his first customers are already here, leaving positive Yelp reviews before he’s even finished building the thing. But he would also be thrilled to know that there’s an occult head in a glass case right behind him, staring moodily at the back of his neck, or that Sabrina from Charlie’s Angels is sneaking into his house and leaving him cryptic valentines.
Quentin is already in the lost world; he’s surrounded by it. There are secrets and mysteries just on the other side of any door he walks by, it’s just that nobody wants to tell him about it. It’s dreadfully unfair, and I wouldn’t blame him if he refuses to build the Proposed Stairway after all, leaving everybody stranded in a paradoxical never-was. See how they like it, for a change.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
It looks like Daphne jumps a line when Desmond approaches her in the woods. As he’s saying, “My –” she blurts out, “My carriage has broken down near the main gate.” He chuckles, and continues the scene.
Then Desmond says, “Well, she mustn’t walk through the lo– woods alone, must she?”
When Gabriel mentions that Julia might look at his legs, you can see marking tape on the floor behind him.
Quentin says that Gabriel was asleep when he returned, and Gabriel cries, “Well, you could have waken me!”
When Desmond walks around the head, you can see past the wood-paneled wall to another plaster wall behind it, which juts out at an odd angle. I do not understand the architecture of the Rose Cottage drawing room.
Barnabas tells Desmond, “I’ve come here on something very important to me. I want you to tell me everything you know and found out from that girl last night.”
Behind the Scenes:
We hear Judah Zachery’s voice for the first time in this episode. Michael McGuire is playing the Head, but Keene Curtis plays Judah’s voice in two episodes — this one, and 1140. Curtis won a Best Supporting Actor Tony in 1971 for The Rothchilds, and he performed voices for several cartoons — Scooby and Scrappy-Doo (1979), Space-Stars (1981) and The Smurfs (1981). In the mid 1980s, he starred on Broadway in La Cage aux Folles, and he also had a recurring role on Cheers as Sam’s rival barkeep, John Allen Hill.
— Danny Horn