“He said God is dead — long live Lucifer!”
“You were once named Miranda!” he says, and suddenly she was.
We’re in the past, of course, we usually are, and if you look around the drawing room, you’ll see the fixtures and fittings of the Collins family of eighteen hundred and forty. Barnabas and Julia have slipped back in time, thanks to a magical and still largely unexplained staircase, and they’re struggling to understand the root causes of a calamity that’s destined to tear through town in September 1970, or possibly April 1971, depending on which curse we’re talking about.
Sorcerous soap vixen Angelique is here too, coming at this century from the opposite direction. She’s been walking in circles since we last saw her in 1795, looping back to Collinwood once a year to check up on how cursed the family is. On her most recent annual inspection, she found that Barnabas had slipped his bonds and risen from the dead, so she decided to rise right back at him. She’s in the big house on the hill now, pretending to be someone called Valerie.
This is a new past for Angelique, naturally, because nobody on this show can maintain a sensible backstory from one century to the next. This must be an Angelique who knew Phyllis Wick, and never met the strange governess from the future.
In the version we saw, Angelique tagged along on Victoria’s magic carpet ride from 1795 back to 1968, where the witch established herself with a spurious Collins husband and went on to wreak her revenge. She died and became a vampire, and then she went to Hell and got tossed back to 1795, if I’m remembering this correctly.
“I am forced to remain in this century,” she said, which I’m not sure what that means. “I am consigned to this time forever! And I want you to stay here with me.” And then Barnabas and Ben threw a torch at her and she burned up and died, end of story.
But this Angelique can’t be that Angelique, because she doesn’t know Julia and never traveled through time. She must be an older model from the Wickiverse, who traveled into the future the slow way, one year after another. This Angelique never wore wigs, didn’t have fangs and only killed Josette once. Unconsigned, she walks in the world and writes her own story.
Except this one isn’t that one either, at least not the one that we thought we knew. The Angelique that we met was a pretty servant girl raised on a Caribbean island, a French maid who worked on the DuPres sugar plantation and learned simple homespun voodoo from her mother. But today, thanks to Gerard and Judah Zachery, that story is being unwritten again.
“You were once named Miranda!” Gerard says, and with those five words, he inserts a prequel into Angelique’s backstory.
So it turns out Angelique is even more from the past than we thought she was. All of a sudden, it’s 1692, which is earlier than we’ve ever gone before, back to the days when they actually did hang witches along the Eastern seaboard. This is Collinsport in prehistoric times, when the Old House was the New House, and the Blue Whale was just a calf. And somehow, impossibly, Angelique was there.
“Wittingly or unwittingly, you have done Satan’s bidding!” thunders Louis Edmonds, who’s good at thundering. “You realize that the penalty for your sins is death. And yet you refuse to bear witness against Judah Zachery!”
That’s the root of it all, of course, the reason why we’ve taken the black magic marker and started crossing out bits of the family history again. Judah Zachery is the new Big Bad of the series, and so far we’ve only known him from the neck up, except for one fleeting glimpse of the man himself before his head fell off again, and rolled into a corner. He’s the guy who’s going to bring about the end of the Collins dynasty, so it would be great if we could figure out how to connect him to one of the main characters on the show.
Enter Miranda DuVal, and the secret origin of Angelique. This is her, apparently, more than a century early. I don’t know if this is Collinsport or Bedford or where it is, but it’s somewhere within the reach of the Collinses, who are already in charge of everything.
They’ve taken the vicious Judah Z into custody, and they’re trying him on a hundred and nine counts of witchcraft. And Miranda, here, is the key witness. She’s been aiding and abetting on at least a few of those counts, and if they can get her to flip, they’ll have the case all locked up.
So there you go, that’s the new continuity. Amadeus Collins promises to give Miranda safe passage out of the country, which presumably means a ship bound for the West Indies, where she can change her name, learn French and pretend to be somebody else for a hundred years.
That means she was already a practicing witch when she worked for the DuPres, and she already knew about the Collins family when she met Barnabas. And maybe that’s the reason why she seduced him and followed him back to America, although it doesn’t really seem to add up. As far as I can tell, Miranda doesn’t have a kick against the Collins family; Amadeus just beheaded Judah and let her go free. So why would she come back, in 1795?
She’s obviously a pretty accomplished witch here in the 1690s, because she doesn’t age between now and the 1790s. Why did she take a job as Josette DuPres’ maid? Was it a coincidence that she fell in love with Barnabas, or was that part of a plan to hitch a ride home to Collinsport? It’s a perplexing revelation that basically eviscerates everything that we thought that we knew, and doesn’t replace it with anything.
It appears that Lara Parker is as baffled as I am, because she doesn’t know what to do with this scene. She’s playing it completely straight, as if Miranda really is a more or less innocent young woman who got caught up in Judah’s dastardly schemes, and all she wants now is to reject witchcraft and get on a fast boat to the West Indies. When Angelique was in a similar spot in 1795 — questioned by Reverend Trask, and accused by Vicki — Parker knew exactly who she was, and what she was doing. I don’t see that here.
What we need from this scene is a twinkle in Miranda’s eye, a secret smile that shows us that she has a plan. We need to see a link between Miranda and the Angelique that we know, something cunning and wicked in her performance.
The script has one hint in that direction — after her testimony, Judah shouts that she’s lying, that she came to him of her own volition, and took a willing part in the satanic ceremony — but Parker doesn’t play it that way. She just gives her testimony, and walks off the set, cringing.
Which is fair enough, because this isn’t about Angelique. This sequence is about building up Judah Zachery, seeing him talk and shout and move about, and curse the Collins family. “Miranda” is just a way of giving Judah more connections to the main storyline, so the Collins-killer isn’t just a guy who stopped by to tear down the house and end the show. The damage to Angelique’s arc is incidental.
In fact, when Lara Parker returned to the character in 1998, she forgot all about Miranda. Parker’s novel, Angelique’s Descent, tells the complete story of Angelique’s life, from her sad childhood on Martinique to her voodoo training, her job on the DuPres plantation, her love for Barnabas, and the terrible events at Collinwood.
She doesn’t mention Miranda, of course. Why should she? It’s a prologue with no purpose, propping up Judah’s story while adding nothing to Angelique’s.
But Dark Shadows used time travel like other soaps use long-lost illegitimate children, rewriting the past to open up new story options. If you read Angelique’s Descent, one thing that you’ll notice about it is that it has a last page. Soap opera stories aren’t supposed to stop; they need to keep rattling along any way that they can.
Angelique has been reinvented and reinterpreted time and again — first Cassandra, now Miranda — and if the show continued past Judah’s curse, there would be more Angeliques to come. She’s consigned to something, all right, and this is it.
Monday: 13 Reasons Why.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
Miranda mentions Andrew Bronson, and Amadeus asks, “What did the accused have against Andrew Du — Bronson?”
The head wobbles amusingly when Gerard clutches Judah’s case and cries, “Why don’t you open your eyes, and speak to me?”
Louis Edmonds is credited as “Louis Edmunds”.
Behind the Scenes:
Michael McGuire has been playing the Head of Judah Zachery so far, with Keene Curtis providing the voice. In this episode, when they needed a talking Judah Zachery on screen, they put a bag over Curtis’ head and had him do all the dialogue. At the end of the scene, there’s a cut to a shot of McGuire, pulling the bag off his head.
Monday: 13 Reasons Why.
— Danny Horn