Episode 1132: An Armed Society

“How can love change in three days?”

Dr. Julia Hoffman crouches down to examine the body of a man beheaded in the late seventeenth century. “No pulse,” she observes. “No heartbeat. No respiration.” This comes as a surprise, for some reason.

The doctor has been hypnotically press-ganged into surgically reattaching this body to its long-lost head, so it can rise again and wreak a terrible vengeance on its numerous enemies, real or imagined. This impossible medical intervention must take place in a crumbling underground crypt in the middle of the night, without the aid of electricity or common sense.

“At least now we know where we’re starting,” Julia says. “We have a great deal of work to do, before we can start the operation.” Yeah, you can say that again.

Just like yesterday, today’s episode has crypt scenes at the top of the episode and the bottom of the episode, and in between is the soap opera storyline, with people flirting and breaking up and talking about their feelings. Dark Shadows is divided into two pieces right now, like a severed head cut from its body, which they’re trying to join together using Krazy Glue made by actual crazy people.

They kick off the human-related part of the show with a lengthy scene about an elderly woman that we’ve never seen before describing the slow descent into madness and suicide of another character that we’ve never seen, so things don’t really get moving until Daphne shows up at Collinwood. This is fairly momentous, because Daphne’s supposed to be a major player in the supernatural horror that results in the destruction of the Collins family, which is currently scheduled for 1970, and we’ve been hanging around waiting for a whole month until she finally arrives.

This 1840 time trip is basically a prequel for the disaster movie we saw back in July, when Barnabas and Julia found the house destroyed and the family scattered to the winds.  There’s a lot that we don’t know about what led up to that catastrophe, but from what we could tell, the action in 1840 mostly took place in an upstairs playroom that is sometimes a much smaller broom closet, for reasons that have not been sufficiently explained.

The story involved a governess named Daphne and her beloved pupils, Tad and Carrie, who adored her more than their own families. The key villain of the piece was Daphne’s lover Gerard, an evil pirate who buried the undead bodies of his dastardly crew in the graveyard out back, ready at any moment to wave a green flag from the Collinwood tower room and signal the zombies to rise from their graves and burn the house down, presumably while he was still in it.

Well, this prequel’s been going for a month now, and it must have occurred to the writers that Daphne hasn’t met Gerard or even set foot in the playroom yet, and nobody’s buried anybody anywhere, so it would probably be a good idea to get these people together and start moving the plot along. We only have a hundred and thirty years until the catastrophe, and dollhouses don’t grow on trees.

Another fact from the future is that Daphne was madly in love with Quentin, her employer and intended rifle range target, and they’ve got a great deal of work to do before they can start that operation, as well. When she first met Quentin a couple weeks ago, she ended the episode by writing in her journal, “Tonight, I have finally met the man that I am going to kill.” That attitude doesn’t seem to have worn off one bit.

In fact, as soon as they show her to her room, she resumes the journaling. “At last, I am in his house,” she writes. “I must be very careful he does not know how near death is.” She really needs to stop writing that kind of thing down; it’s going to make life very difficult for her attorney later on. Then she picks up her Junior Miss .38 Special revolver for ladies, which she slips into her reticule and carries around the house, just in case somebody starts something. This is what happens when the president goes around saying we should arm teachers.

Now that they’ve finally got Daphne on property, it’s time to get Gerard into her life, so they need to wrap up his current love triangle. A couple weeks ago, when everybody thought that Quentin was dead, Gerard married Samantha, which made it extremely awkward when Quentin turned up at the house expecting his wife to not be married to anybody else. Because this is nominally still a soap opera, the guys agreed that Samantha would choose between them.

The question then was whether Gerard actually loved Samantha, or just married her for the money she’d inherit after Quentin was declared dead. It seemed for a while like his love must be sincere, because he still said he loved her after they discovered that Quentin was alive, and she wouldn’t inherit any money.

But now that Daphne’s arrived and Gerard’s romantic attention is required elsewhere, it’s easier for everyone if they just declare that he never really loved Samantha, and if that means his behavior over the last couple weeks doesn’t really make sense, then who really cares about sensible behavior? So that’s all taken care of.

I mean, if you wanted to construct your own head canon where Gerard really did love Samantha, but she broke his heart when she decided that she needed to stay at Collinwood for the sake of her son, then you’re free to do what you like, but really they just needed to move Gerard from one story thread to another, and that’s all there is to it.

Anyway, once that’s over, Gerard and Quentin are best friends again, and Gerard’s got a permanent standing invite to come to Collinwood and flirt with the help. The second that Daphne enters the room, Gerard starts in on a run of strange pickup lines that either he can’t remember how they go or they started out that way in the first place.

Daphne apologizes for interrupting, but Gerard announces, “Every door should be opened, and of course, you should open every door.”

Quentin chuckles, “He’s mad, don’t believe a word he says,” and then everybody pretends that meant something.

Quentin introduces the new governess, and Gerard takes her hand to kiss, saying, “Well, I am not very well educated, I do hope that I can join all of your classes.”

Quentin groans, and Daphne smiles, “I think you know quite enough already, Mr. Stiles.”

“Well, then I shall have to adopt a child,” Gerard grins, “and steal her from you.”

“No, no,” Quentin counters, “she’s going to be working here for so long, she’s going to become so fond of us, she’ll never want to leave.” This is what life used to be like for female employees, before Twitter hashtags fixed everything.

But the point is that Gerard is cute and flirtatious, and Daphne is a tough cookie who can take care of herself, which is a nice bit of high-speed screwball comedy characterization that only takes about fifty seconds to establish.

Then she leaves the room and Gerard notices that she left her reticule behind, which he instantly rummages through and discovers her pistol. Collinwood is kind of like a video game, where every time you end a conversation you get a new weapon and some experience points.

Eventually Daphne comes back into the room to retrieve her private arsenal, which cues up another meet-cute hostage situation. She grabs her bag, but he lets her know that he’s gone through her personal property and has opinions about it.

“What a remarkably modern-day woman you are,” he teases. “Carrying a pistol!” She turns, startled, and he explains, “Yes, of course, I went through it. I am shameless, and I do whatever I want to do.”

Stepping towards her, he says, “And I do want to know about you. That was the only way. Tell me, why do you carry it?” And now he’s touching her hand and looking into her eyes.

“That is none of your business,” she spits, and tries to turn away, but he grabs her arm and spins her back to face him.

“Oh, but I’m afraid it is,” he smiles, and leans in. “You are my business. There’s no other way.”

She sighs. “I’m sorry, I’m afraid there is.”

“By hating me?” he smirks. “I think it would be far nicer to end falling madly in love with me.”

“Falling in love with you?” she says, shaking her head.

“With me. It will happen, you know.”

And I’m sorry, but that actually works on me. I know that technically we’re not supposed to be grabbing females by the forearm and announcing unwanted updates to their relationship status, but Gerard’s really cute and I guess I’m less evolved as a person than I’d hoped.

This is what the show needs right now, in the quiet moments between monster attacks — two good-looking actors with actual chemistry, being smart and shameless and sexy. We’re not getting that from Quentin or Samantha, I’m afraid, so it’s up to Gerard and Daphne to carry things from here.

Yes, I know that pairing these two means the fulfillment of the prophecy and the end of all things, but it’s not like we have a lot of other options. Somebody go and get me a green flag; let’s do this.

Tomorrow: Low Clearance.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

Mrs. Purdy loses track of a line: “I didn’t really become Joanna’s friend until after you stopped coming there. She was… I did become her  friend, then.”

When Quentin tells Mrs. Purdy, “I kept wanting it not to be true,” a shadow passes by on the wall at the top of the stairs.

When Quentin shows Mrs. Purdy out, he says, “Good evening.” She replies, “Good afternoon, Mr. Collins.” He frowns, puzzled, and mutters, “What?”


Behind the Scenes:

Mrs. Purdy is played by Camila Ashland, in her final appearance on the show. She played three characters in different time zones; the others were crazy bird lady Mrs. Hutchins in the Leviathan storyline, and crazy landlady Minnie Duval in Parallel Time. She also made an uncredited appearance as a party guest in House of Dark Shadows.

Tomorrow: Low Clearance.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

30 thoughts on “Episode 1132: An Armed Society

  1. Danny, when I watch these episodes, I marvel that the series lasted as long as it did. When you describe things (in between mocking the mockable) I see possibilities for plotlines. As if DS could have been written as a redeemable show and I want to reach in and shake things up so that Collinwood stands for another hundred or so years. Go figure!

  2. Up until a couple of years ago, whenever I looked up Camila Ashland on-line, there was no date of death listed for her. I concluded she was going for the record as Dark Shadows’ longest-lived cast member.

    Within the past year or so, her biographies on-line have been updated to read March 24, 1911 – September 12, 2008. Maybe she died ten years ago and no one noticed for almost a decade.

    Dark Shadows wiki still lists her as (Born March 24, 1918) with no date of death. If so, she just turned 100. One of these sets of statistics has to be in error,

    1. I know, he is fun to watch at this point, but I guess it’s because he was set up to be the villain as that’s how he was presented in 1970/1995. Still, he is fun to watch.

    2. They were probably worried that almost lovable rogue Gerard would steal Quentin’s thunder. But Quentin hadn’t been anywhere close to thunderous since 1897.

  3. Finally, Julia is going to get to doing some mad science. And not a moment too soon! (I notice the end credits are listing her as Dr. Julia Hoffman Collins – I know she introduced herself as such when she arrived in 1840, but I’m not sure why the closing titles are keeping up the deception.)

    So everyone is dumping Samantha. Well, I for one am glad, Miss Thang was thinkin’ she had the world by the short hairs, about time she got hers. But this just means a bunch of scenes where she’ll be yelling at the menfolk, and they’ll be yelling back. (Maybe she can borrow Daphne’s gun?)

    OMG! Someone in the greater Collinsport area has got their hands on PURPLE stationery?! Say it ain’t so! (Or is the color on the cameras going off again?) And I’m confused – is the note, which says, ‘Joanna is dead and you are responsible’, supposedly written BY Joanna?

    So Daphne puts a pistol into her reticule, goes downstairs with it, then drops the lot onto the floor when she meets Gerard and COMPLETELY forgets about it. Guess it’s love, alright. And it’s the ONLY thing in the reticule, too – you’d think she’d have a bottle of sal-volatile in there, too, or at least a lacy hankie. (And extra bullets, what if she needs to reload?)

    And why should Gerard be making issue about Daphne having a pistol? Goodness knows, it’s probably one of at least five deadly weapons within twelve feet of him right there in the room; Collinwood has armaments the way that most homes have dust bunnies…

    Yep, just like I thought – Samantha’s going to spend all her time getting crabby with Quentin and Gerard now. Well, the essence of drama is conflict.

    When the scene goes from Judah’s head in the crypt to a closeup of the green lamp in the drawing room at Collinwood, as the camera pulls back from the lamp, an electrical cord can be clearly seen lying across the table – it can be seen again when the second mysterious note appears on the table. (Another note ALSO written by Joanna? How’s she popping in and out like this? Must be using the Staircase Through Time.)

    1. Poor Samantha. First she’s treated shabbily and rejected by the two good lookin’ men in the house and then she’s further humiliated by having to stand on the sidelines and watch them fight over the new pretty girl. I’d be damn crabby, too. Samantha should commiserate with Angelique – A’s been crabby since 1795.

      1. Quentin and Gerard can’t allow a mere female to ruin their bromance…and we do have to keep the door open for the ladies. Having Quentin (or Gerard, for that matter) being tied down to a wife is a nonstarter, unless there’s to be extramarital hanky-panky going on. Actually, I was kind of hoping Quentin would get back to his black magic interest, and maybe try sacrificing Samantha in a Black Mass.

        1. It would be even more fun if Samantha developed some Black Magic skills of her own. Just to level the playing field a bit.

  4. We never learn from history. When you arm teachers, the next thing that happens is, Dark Shadows goes off the air.

    1. Right. And – to be a properly armed teacher at Collinwood, Daphne better have some silver bullets in that little gun. Along with a cross and pentagram on her necklace and a wooden stake and possibly a crossbow in her luggage.

  5. Dr. Julia Hoffman: “No pulse. No heartbeat. No respiration.”

    This was long before science would discover the “pulse beat”. Thank you, Dr. Lang.

  6. I’ve long thought that if they had found Kate Jackson a year or so beforehand, she would have been the ideal replacement for Alexandra Moltke in the role of Victoria Winters. I strongly believe Kate could have successfully pulled off the “transformation,” so to speak, and Vicki would have remained a viable character on DS. I would have loved the resolution of the originally intented plotline of her blood-connection with the Collins family.

      1. What would have been great would be if that plotline could have been suspenseful but without any “supernatural” element. As Danny has suggested, by 1970 DS could have benefitted from some good non-supernatural plots.

    1. Jacklyn Smith, Roger Davis’ then girlfriend, tried out for Vicky but turned down. I always wondered why, was she too pretty for the part perhaps?
      We would have had 2/3 of Charles Angels on DS!

      1. They would have cast her I think. She was stunning. But her accent was too strong and didn’t exactly fit a Maine Gothic. She couldn’t get rid of it in time and it took a few years for her to acquire her satiny purr–which led to a big deal commercial which led to the Angels. (She ultimately married Roger Davis, poor girl.)

  7. Ugh. Sorry, I just can’t share your whatever it is you find compelling about this. He forces her to listen to him, tells her she will love him, then insists on walking her to her room (now he will know where it is). It’s hideous, and all too familiar. She knows she has no way to refuse him, and even if she thought she could, the Collins family would probably side with him, and throw her out – maybe even charge her. With all that, it’s really hard to find him in any way cute. This is worse than when he just stood there scowling at people.

    1. Yeah, how come we never saw Gerard or Quentin pawing at governess Hortense? (Oh, right, she wasn’t PRETTY enough.)

      That’s how ‘romance’ worked, according to the logic of the 1960s & 70s, despite women’s lib; dem broads don’t really know what they want, they need a big strong chauvinistic man to grab them by the…well, whatever they grab – and MAKE them ‘fall’ in love. Chicks dig bad boys. And worse, some guys still think that way.

      Seems that Daphne is gunning for the wrong guy. Well, hopefully she can get more ammo. It is starting to look like Judah Zachery is the best catch of the lot in 1840, followed by Lamar Trask; wonder if there are any Roger Davis types around. This stuff makes Buzz Hackett look like a prince!

      1. So true. It’s a pity Daphne and Samantha aren’t on the same side, because I bet Samantha would love to flatten both of them at the slightest pretext.

        Well Desmond has pretty curls…
        I suppose nobody likes Gabriel. But there will be a couple of new characters coming along. Let’s see how you rate them.

          1. I loved Jeremy!!! That was one of the few pleasant surprises in 1840. But let’s get real, I was 14 years old when it aired and the hormones were kicking in. I didn’t care if he’s studied Stanislovski, he gave good face.

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