Episode 1129: Windmills, and How to Tilt at Them

“Each time it reappears, murders follow in its wake!”

Well, this is what happens when you try to un-inevitable the inevitable; shit gets messy. Time-climbing ghostbusters Barnabas Collins and Julia Hoffman have peeled back the layers of the fourth dimension, visiting the undiscovered country of 1840 in order to avert a tragedy that they know perfectly well is going to happen a hundred and thirty years from now, right in front of their faces.

Their plan is to figure out how everything got this way in the first place, and then use that knowledge to make it not happen the way that it’s currently happening before it happens, which it already has. So it’s not going that well.

For one thing, there’s a headless corpse wandering the woods, heedlessly tugging at people’s neck area. This is a whole other subplot that Barnabas and Julia haven’t even heard of yet. The dead head of a 17th century warlock is reaching out through the ether to animate its body, which is taking its revenge on the world at large by running across people and then trying, unsuccessfully, to decapitate them.

In this case, the victim is a governess named Hortense, who approached the wrong ominous leaf pile at the wrong time. Barnabas and Julia find the remains after the fact, and Barnabas cries, “What happened to her? It looks as if someone tried to tear her head off.” It’s left up to the audience’s imagination what that would look like, although I’m having trouble picturing it myself. A broken neck, I guess, although I’m not sure how you’d tell the difference between a strangling and an incomplete head-tearing.

Anyway, it turns out Hortense is actually still alive, and she manages to eke out a few last words before she succumbs to whatever it is that happened to her. They built governesses to last, in those days.

I don’t know why the corpse is going around trying to get a head collection started. The creature’s currently zero for two, and what would it even do if it succeeded, stick Hortense’s head onto its neck hole and start a new life as a governess?

Julia and Barnabas head to Collinwood to tell everyone not to expect too much in the way of an education experience for the foreseeable, and obviously Quentin is alarmed when he learns that the governess is dead. A dead governess on the lawn is bad luck, and if you leave the body out there for too long, it attracts novelists.

Julia reports that Hortense managed to scrape her way back to consciousness long enough to say that she was attacked by a headless man, which is even more alarming, in its way.

Quentin cries, “No!” and heads for the door, presumably with some kind of destination in mind. Barnabas offers to help him scoop up the remains, but Quentin says, “I’m not going to see her!” and then he keeps on walking, out into the night.

Barnabas and Julia follow as far as the porch, and Barnabas even shouts, “Quentin, wait!” which is one of those things that people do on TV shows when they’ve gotten to the edge of the set and they still have stuff to say. They always say stop, come back, but imagine how dramatically deflating it would be if the other person actually stopped and came back.

Instead, they stand on the stoop and ask each other urgent questions, like “Where could he be going?” and “A headless man, how could there be such a thing?” They don’t bother to follow Quentin, because he’s probably not going anywhere in particular.

And that turns out to be the case, because three minutes later, he walks right back into Collinwood, and we never find out where he thought he was going. A couple laps around the estate, I guess, and then home in time to catch his wife trying to take their son away at gunpoint.

This is related to a whole other soap-opera subplot about Quentin and Samantha’s terrible marriage, which they discuss at the top of their lungs for the next three minutes in a row. They’re unhappy.

One of their problems is that Samantha’s in love with another guy, and she’s trying to take her son and run away. Quentin says that she’s free to go as long as she leaves Tad here, and she says that Tad isn’t Quentin’s son anyway, and then, wham! Quentin slaps her across the chops.

Now, I’ve already discussed how upsetting and unromantic this version of Quentin is, so this is really just putting a period at the end of that sentence. This is not what you do when you want people to invest emotionally in a lead character’s story arc. The optics are bad.

So I don’t know, maybe we should be out hunting for the mad killer stalking the estate. At least, that’s what Barnabas wants to do, and it sounds like it could be fun.

But first, he has a long series of questions that Quentin doesn’t want to answer.

What did she mean by headless creature?
Why did you leave the house so quickly?
Where did you go?
Why didn’t you go to the police?
Is there a headless creature?
Is there?

And Quentin just stands there and takes it. He’s probably thinking about smacking Barnabas in the face. This could be the epic Barnabas/Quentin slap fight we’ve all been waiting for.

Instead, Quentin breaks down and confesses that there is a headless creature, and it’s all Desmond’s fault. Desmond found the head of Judah Zachery in Macau of all places, and then — under the head’s influence — dug up the body and set it loose on the community. Desmond is not currently in prison because nobody’s thought of it yet.

Quentin explains the whole weird backstory, which dates back to 1692 and involves decapitating a dude and then putting his head on public display, which didn’t turn out to be as hot of an idea as they’d hoped. They buried Judah’s body in a secret place, which it turns out was in a graveyard anyway, because they were afraid that if the head and the body were put back together then he would spring to life again and they’d have to start over from the beginning. I don’t know where people get these kinds of ideas. I’d say violent video games, but it was 1692 and all they had was Wii Sports.

Barnabas recommends that they find and destroy the head, but Quentin grouses that people have tried that in the past, and no one has ever succeeded. Then Barnabas suggests that they grab some weapons and go hunting for the body.

“No, no, no,” Quentin replies. “Desmond and I have already searched, and we didn’t find anything.” Quentin needs to be part of the solution.

They grab guns and go traipsing around in the woods for a while, until they get bored and come back defeated. Yesterday, Hortense walked outside and found the monster under a pile of leaves, but Quentin and Barnabas don’t have that level of tracking skill. Besides, there are leaves everywhere; you can’t look under all of them.

So Barnabas returns to Collinwood to confer with Julia, who decides to grab the episode and take it in another direction. “Barnabas,” she asks, “you know what Hortense’s death means, don’t you?” He does. “It means the position of governess in this house is now open,” he says, and then they stand around and worry about it.

That’s how things go in the 1840 storyline; the scenes just kind of wander like headless creatures, echolocating for random victims. A minute ago, this episode was about Quentin and Barnabas working together to destroy the body, but every time somebody walks outside, they walk back in with a completely different agenda.

The issue they’re concerned about now is that in the future, Collinwood was haunted by the ghost of a governess named Daphne, who made a series of terrible decisions that resulted in the house falling down. If they can keep Daphne from taking the governess position, then maybe they can un-impend the disaster.

So Julia goes and visits Daphne like the opposite of a corporate recruiter, cold-calling her to say that she shouldn’t accept a job offer that she didn’t apply for. It’s basically the invention of LinkedOut.

“You must leave Collinsport immediately,” Julia urges, “because if you don’t, you will probably die.” As an opening line, it definitely gets Daphne’s attention, but it doesn’t do much to build trust.

Julia continues, “Sometime soon, you will be offered a position as governess in Collinwood. I promise you it will happen. If you accept that position, it will lead to your death!”

Naturally, Daphne’s next line is, “Who are you?” which is a good question. Julia usually has more sense than this; she should be able to think up a strategy that involves sleight of hand and costume changes. But all she can do today is go and tell the truth, which isn’t her strong area.

“All right,” sighs the weird mad crone from the future, after everything has failed. “I’ve done what I can. Please don’t tell anyone anything that we’ve said. If you do, I will say that we’ve never spoken to each other.”

Okay, fine, Daphne says. I seriously have no idea who you even are.

So Julia returns to Collinwood, side-stepping the headless monster and the spousal abuse and the mystery of Tad’s parentage, and all the other issues that have come up during this half hour of perplexing television.

“Barnabas, I failed,” she explains. “I tried to convince her, but I couldn’t. What will we do now?”

Barnabas looks morose. “Wait for the next step, and try to prevent that,” he offers. And meanwhile, behind them, Quentin walks down the stairs and out the door, wandering off into the night, in search of who knows what.

Tomorrow: Nevertheless, They Persisted.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

In act 1, when the scene shifts from the woods to the Collinwood drawing room, there’s a banging sound with a bell; it sounds like someone smacked a telephone.

Barnabas rushes up the foyer stairs and heads for the door, but then apparently stops on the landing and waits about ten seconds for Julia to come in and tell him to come back.

When Barnabas and Julia follow Quentin out the front door, there’s a creaking, scratching sound that’s apparently coming from someone desperately trying either to get the smoke machine to work, or to get it to stop working. There are random billows of vapor throughout the conversation.

During the conversation, Barnabas tells Julia, “Quentin seemed to know everything, and understand it. He seemed to know something!” Then he exits the scene while Julia still has three more sentences to say to him.

When Barnabas joins Quentin in the drawing room, you can see one of the studio lights.

When Quentin and Barnabas are near the drawing room window, smoke is going by and a tree branch is swinging in the wind in a very distracting way.

Barnabas tells Quentin, “If you’re holding something from us that we must know, you will be jeopardizing the lives of everyone at Collinwood!”

Quentin steps on Barnabas’ line when he says that no one has ever succeeded in destroying Judah Zachery’s head. Barnabas tries again, “Has anyone ever tried to destroy the — destroy the body?”

When the scene in Daphne’s room begins, there’s blue marking tape on the carpet.

Behind the Scenes:

The colorful afghan makes another appearance, this time on Daphne’s bed. We last saw it two weeks ago on Daniel’s bed, in the Collinwood tower room. By the way, if you’re starved for entertainment, try saying “Daphne’s afghan” a bunch of times in a row.

Tomorrow: Nevertheless, They Persisted.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

47 thoughts on “Episode 1129: Windmills, and How to Tilt at Them

    1. They had electric lamps/lights at Collinwood for the first few episodes of 1840, and then they disappeared. Mysteriously.

      1. Oh, they’re pretending those are oil lamps and gaslights – the bit where Daphne gets up and ‘turns up’ the lamp in her room, and the lighting in Quentin and Samantha’s room all look electric to me. No flickering…

        Say, did they just leave Hortense out there in the woods? Well, I guess Hortense was hard to locate what with all that smoke billowing in the forest…
        We never seem to see any of the aftermath of these murderous sprees, no funeral, just ‘well, we need a new governess now; how about that girl, that Daphne? Didn’t she say she was a governess?’ Sure is convenient.

        And far be it from me to spoil Danny’s next post, but…Angelique! The freak from Martinique! Back to cause more mayhem – hooray! (At least I hope she is. We’ve gone without crazyface for FAR too long. Almost as long as we’ve been away from mad science. At least they’re still having séances fairly regularly, and waving firearms about.)

        1. “We never seem to see any of the aftermath of these murderous sprees, no funeral, just ‘well, we need a new governess now…”

          It reminds me of the recurring “As the Stomach Turns” sketch on The Carol Burnett Show, when Marian’s (Carol) long-lost daughter (Vicki Lawrence) would show up at the door with her newborn. After a brief exchange, Vicki was off and Carol just put the baby in the umbrella stand – never to be heard from again.

            1. Prisoner, in an future 1840 episode a character will be murdered inside Collinwood. This will not be a supernatural event. Just before it happens the character is standing in the foyer. The lights suddenly dim to darkness. I wonder how the murderer achieves this.

              1. They probably bribed Tad to do something to do it. He’s got bugger all to do in this storyline besides be a pawn in the Quentin-Samantha marital dispute. Even Carrie gets a love interest. David Hennessy deserved a love interest storyline at this point in the show.

        1. The writers missed a trick with Flora. She could have been possessed or something in the past and written a murder mystery that’s being re-enacted at Collinwood. She’s ashamed of it, and that’s why she writes fluffy romance novels. It gives Joan Bennett more to do and gives Flora more depth.

  1. Why in the hell didn’t Julia just hypnotize Daphne? Or at least attempt to. Better yet, let Barnabas do it. I don’t think they’re all that commited to preventing the destruction of Collinwood.

    1. Let’s face it: They wanted Hallie to die! It’s just unfortunate that Liz and David have to go as well, but sometimes you have to take one for the team.

      1. My husband accidentally drove his vehicle into our garage wall, damaging our kitchen which is on the other side of the wall. One of the repair men asked me if I’d had him do it on purpose just so I could remodel my kitchen. Maybe that was Liz’s plan – she wanted to give Collinwood a much needed redo but the Zombie Pirates she hired took the demolition phase of the remodel too far.

  2. I get a kick out of a line like, “A headless man, how could there be such a thing?” on a TV show such as this. I mean, these characters are intimately acquainted with ghosts, vampires, witches, warlocks, werewolves, human phoenixes, revenants, 150-year-old sorcerers, succubi, zombies, Cthuluesque entities, time travel, and parallel dimensions, among other supernatural oddities. Just between you and me, I’d say a headless man walking about is hardly the most unbelievable of occurrences. 🙂

  3. Back a couple of years, Julia and Barnabas were driving plots – now it seems they’re chasing after the plots. Since PT, they’ve had people throwing speed bumps their way, and nobody takes their advice or helps them out (except possibly T. E. Stokes). And they seem to be less interesting when they’re trailing the plot. I keep expecting them to be able to get on top of the story, but after 1995 and 1970, I’m beginning to guess that they won’t. Nevertheless, I’ll stay hopeful, Angelique has appeared and she’s always good for some good twists – even if it’s only so Barnabas can hiss, “ANGELIQUE!” (And since there are no sibilants in her name, hissing it is very challenging.)

    Daphne’s Afghan.
    Daphge’s Afpagn.
    Daghle’s Aphnan.
    Dapfge’s Anghan.
    Dafhe’s Anpghan.

    1. Daphne’s Afghan.
      Daphge’s Afpagn.

      Daphne’s afghan
      Daphne’s afghan
      Daphne’s afghan

      … but then I was always pretty good with tongue twisters. One workday at lunch when tongue twisters came up I said “I slit the sheet, the sheet I slit and on the slitted sheet I sit” (which I learned from Steve Martin’s “The Jerk”) and someone said “You’re brave.”

    1. The hand of Count Petofi. The writing staff now reduced, Petofi hanging around the studio, now bored, with nothing to do. The position of script consultant now devised to keep him (or the hand) busy, and out of everyone’s concern.

      1. I thought it might be The Body of Judah Zachery, studying the new script to see whose head he gets to detach next week.

        1. I’d say Gabriel’s, but he’s actually an interesting character. Shame Mordecai Grimes doesn’t show up yet, or his son Jeremy.

          1. Oh, great. Jeremy Grimes, Daytime Emmy winner.

            Would have been fine without a speaking part.

            Slocum and Powell look like genius material.

    1. They plainly forgot the events of the 1995 & 1970 storylines, so I’ll go with ‘yes’ to the 1840 question. (Not that the story they’re telling isn’t good, but it doesn’t tie in to the previous tale.)

  4. Forget disconnected storylines. Loving Collinwood as I do, I am quite impressed that the carpet on the stairs held up as well as it did over the years. It’s been walked on, bled on, fallen on and it still was holding up in 1990. The front doors held up good, considering it endured two centuries of Maine weather. I have a house built in 1878 and am facing the sad truth that eventually I will have to replace the outside doors. Never mind the carpet!

    1. The carpet probably soaked up more than a little sherry and brandy over the years. And don’t forget that graveyard dirt – SO tough to get out of the pile! Whatever Mrs. Johnson got paid, it wasn’t enough. (Of course, you mustn’t lean to hard on that bannister…but maybe they could get Willie in to work on that. Too bad Tom Jennings wasn’t around very long, he was good with his hands.)

      1. OOPS! TOO hard, where’s that spellcheck when I need it? My high school English teacher is probably turning in his grave…

  5. What I always wanted around this time was a 1970s break episode at the Blue Whale where Willie Loomis and Sebastian Shaw talk to each other at the bar about the ups and downs of a career as a vampire henchman. With Banabas in a mind-transfer coma and Roxanne all chained up, they have alot of free time on their hands.

    Willie talks about how he had to rebuild the entire old house on his own. Sebastian talks about how lucky Willie is that Barnabas at least has money and that home remodeling is better than spending all day talking to old women about their futures to make money for a vampire. Then he talks about what we went through saving Maggie Evans. Willie comes back that when he did the same thing, he ended up getting shot and then locked up in Juila’s private jail of a hospital.

    Sebastian comes back with “well….at least you don’t have Carolyn Stoddard mooning after you thinking you look like her space-octopus husband”. Willie: Yeah. I just had her draw a gun on me once. And consider yourself lucky that Roxanne doesn’t own a cane.

    Sebastian: She doesn’t have a cane, but she has her ways. If I so much as glance at a woman under sixty, I’ll be digging a grave next morning. Willie: Yeah. The grave digging is always the worst part of the job. That and the stuff with the cows.

    Sebastian: You do cows too??? I though me and Roxanne had invented that. Its disgusting but its better than digging graves and the police don’t care. Willie: Yeah. But farmers have shotguns.

    But all in all, there is a lot worse out there than working for a vampire. We could be sleeping on the floor in the back of an antique shop like all those leviathan people or digging graves for Dr. Lang…..Yeah. Whatever happened to that Jeff Clark guy?

    Last I saw him he was walking around the estate with a noose around his neck. Just doesn’t pay to get involved in stuff like that.

    1. @James B.

      Excellent post! I love your Willie Loomis/Sebastian Shaw post, and your keen sense of humor! Wonderful. Your post is a glimpse of what DS could have been if you been writing the scripts!

  6. A number of primary and secondary ABC affiliates dropped Dark Shadows by this point. Surprisingly mine did not. They were noted for doing such things.

    1. It was around this very time that our local affiliate didn’t drop Dark Shadows, but they did move it to a late-night time-slot, after the late news. I wasn’t allowed to stay up that late except on Fridays and Saturdays. So starting around this time I could only watch DS Friday nights — and even then I would often miss it on account of getting home late from high school football or basketball games. In short, I essentially stopped watching about halfway through the 1840 sequence. I didn’t see it until many years later when the show ran on the Sci-Fi Channel.

      1. Interesting. So they started showing black and white kinescopes? AFAIK only black and white kinescopes were made of DS for distribution outside of the network feed. If it was still color video then they must have been taping it themselves, though videotape machines and the tape itself were expensive. So, if I may pry a little:

        Was it shown in color or black and white late at night?
        What TV market were you in?

        1. No, they weren’t black and white — they were full color. I was in the area of Richmond, Virginia. For a while they ran the shows late nights, as I noted, and then, toward the very end, they compiled each week’s episodes and ran them as a long block very late (like after midnight) either Friday or Saturday, I don’t recall for sure which. It was a fatal blow, at least in that market.

    2. A number of primary and secondary ABC affiliates dropped Dark Shadows by this point. Surprisingly mine did not. They were noted for doing such things.

      Interesting! I did not know affiliates had the option of dropping network shows.

      1. They were already doing that before the first episode of Dark Shadows went on the air. Affiliates announced they would no longer carry network programming, in favor of developing local programming effective over an 18-month window to make the transition. In the meantime, many affiliates were showing Dark Shadows at odd times, like eleven at night. The sudden popularity of Barnabas changed all that.

        And now reading here that affiliates were again either moving it out of its competitive afternoon time slot or dropping the show altogether indicates that, for a growing number of viewers, Dark Shadows had run its course.

        The vampire soap became a unique phenomenon in 1967, with the popularity of Barnabas perhaps peaking the following year, but it would only be a matter of time before the novelty began to wear off.

        It could be argued that the arrival of David Selby helped, to its younger teenage fanbase, extend the half-life of the shooting star that was Dark Shadows for a while longer.

        But by the later months of 1970 — a new decade for what was then becoming an old show — we seem to have found the answer to the numerous speculations here about what might have/could have saved Dark Shadows: nothing.

      2. “Interesting! I did not know affiliates had the option of dropping network shows.”

        Oh yes, they could and did. If you grew up in a city where the network OWNED the station, then they couldn’t drop a show. At one time they even had to air the show in pattern with the network schedule.

        In large cities where affiliates were not owned by the network, they did all kinds of weird things with network shows.

        1. It still happens today. My CW affiliate drops all shows on Thursday in the months of October to early November to show High School Football.

        2. Did the networks provide (or at least allow) blocks of time for the affiliates to air local programming? I seem to remember a lot of ‘local’ broadcasts all through the day on the local stations for ABC, NBC and CBS (I’m talking Detroit here – we also had indie stations, which generally showed syndicated reruns, but also had movies.)

          1. It differed depending on the network. In the case of ABC, there was no network programming at all before 11:30AM (EST) in that era. The other networks blocked off 9AM-10AM and 1PM-1:30PM for local programming (usually news). 4:30PM to 6:30PM was also blocked off for local stations.

            In certain markets with certain stations, the afternoon movie (with local host) was considered important and preempted network programming.

            The thing about Dark Shadows cancellation is that it cancelled with no real plans for what to do with the timeslot. They dumped Love American Style reruns into the spot for a couple years as a sort of holding-pattern Then they stuffed game shows in the time slot for a while.

            Finally they picked up “Edge of Night” which ran in the old Dark Shadows timeslot until (I think) ABC gave over the timeslot to local programming in 1984.

            My theory has always been that Dark Shadows ended because Dan Curtis lost interest and wanted to do other things. The show was doing well enough not to be cancelled, but not well enough for anyone to want to go in there and try to replace Dan Curtis.

            1. ABC actually replaced Dark Shadows with Password, but then they moved it to 12:30 p.m. (EST) after a few months. That when reruns of Love, American Style started airing at 4 p.m. on ABC. Ironically, Joan Bennett appeared in one of the episodes.

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