Episode 1169: This Wonderful Little Gathering

“We cannot love at will, any more than we could prevent our love.”

Oh, it was such a good idea at the time.

When Dark Shadows went to 1795, the show discovered that they could shake up the soap by traveling back into the past, using the existing cast but dressing them up in old-time costumes, and giving them new names and storylines. It was a spectacular way to move forward, interrupting a story that didn’t have anywhere to go, and breathing new life into the premise. While they were in the past, they figured out that you could have more than one monster on the show at the same time, and once they came back to the present, they started piling them up in heaps.

Problem is, they’re now doing time travel for the fourth time, and it turns out giving everybody a new character name every six months doesn’t automatically refresh the show; you also need to think up some new storylines. In fact, traveling to another time means that it’s possible to rehash the same plot points with a freshly neuralyzed set of family members, and there’s nobody around to say, wait a minute, this already happened, fifty-seven years from now.

Well, live and learn, I suppose, although on this show, it’s more like live and die and come back to life and then learn the same stuff over again.

So we find ourselves in the abridged version of The Thwarted Vampire Hunt storyline from 1897, which occupied five weeks worth of episodes back in fall 1969 and takes maybe two episodes this time. Yesterday — was it only yesterday? it feels like two months ago — possessed pirate Gerard Stiles and his ward, Lamar Trask, smashed their way through the wall in the basement of the house of eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins and found the skeleton of Lamar’s dad, which proved that Barnabas is a vampire, which he is, even if that didn’t actually prove it.

Now, Gerard has returned to the house with a shootin’ iron loaded with silver, prepared to take the “un” out of the undead. He knows that Barnabas is sleeping in a box in the secret vault behind the bookcase, and he’s planning to make a withdrawal.

And then he’s there, impossibly: Barnabas Collins, awake in the afternoon. “Gerard!” he crows. “Looking for a book?”

It’s always a delicious moment, thwarting someone, and Barnabas knows exactly how to play it. He’s weaseled his way out of his vampire curse somehow, made an offering to some dark deity who watches over imperiled predators, and he’s snatched away Gerard’s moment of triumph, and now he’s rubbing it in by being unflappable and urbane, the hound.

“You’re standing right before me,” Gerard gasps, “in broad daylight!”

Barnabas affects a puzzled look. “Why do you think there’s anything unusual about that?”

“You know what’s unusual,” Gerard scowls. “Vampirism!” He thinks he’s still in the Hammer horror movie, and he’s the one holding the hammer; it hasn’t sunk in that they switched channels while he wasn’t looking.

“Vampirism?” Barnabas boggles. “Well, what on Earth makes you think that I’m a vampire?” He hasn’t offered Gerard a glass of sherry yet, but it’s hovering in the air.

“You know my answer to that, Barnabas,” Gerard growls, entering the final stage of the thwarting process.

“Well, as far as I understand it,” Barnabas chirrups, “vampires cannot survive during the daytime. And isn’t it also true that vampires’ images cannot be reflected in mirrors?” He takes a step toward Gerard, and smiles. “Would you like me to stand in front of a mirror for you?”

And this was going to be such a fun day for Gerard, too. He’s been possessed by a warlock from 1692, it’s taking forever to get his best friend executed, and this is the only thing he had to look forward to.

Cornered, Gerard takes refuge in his favorite pastime, which is garbling his lines. “So it’s obviously that you’ve had assistance from someone,” he says, “and if I find out –”

Barnabas smirks; he’s been waiting for this cue. “Of course I’ve had assistance!” he says, brightly. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have someone nearby, offering a kind hand.”

And then there’s that little bomp-bomp surprise music cue, as Angelique enters the room, completing the loop.

She’s freed Barnabas from his curse somehow, probably by sewing together a bunch of dead people, hooking them up to machinery and electronically transferring part of Barnabas’ elan vital into some half-formed mockery of a man, then letting it loose to prowl the night, to everyone’s lasting detriment. Or maybe she just waved a wand and clicked her heels together three times; the chronicles don’t specify.

“Did you want me, darling?” she says, and then she gives the guest a smile. “Why, Gerard!” she cries. “How nice to see you. Well, won’t you sit down?”

He won’t.

“Would you like some tea?”

“No, thank you.”

“Well, what about a glass of sherry? Although it is a bit early –”

So they swarm in, surrounding him, the last great kaiju convention, and the weird thing is that this isn’t a Gerard plot point.

The bomp-bomp surprise cue only works if Gerard understands that Angelique is a witch, and she’s the one who helped Barnabas escape. Drat, I hadn’t thought of that, he should be saying to himself, to make this a truly satisfying scene. But he doesn’t know that this is Angelique; he thinks that her name is Valerie. He’s kind of aware that she’s a witch, because he knows that she was casting a spell to discover who’s possessed by Judah, and he’s kind of aware that she looks a lot like Miranda from the 1690s, but they haven’t really made a point of it. Two weeks ago, he had a brief scene with her where they talked about Judah Zachery’s journal, but then Daphne interrupted them and Angelique left the room, and Gerard didn’t give Angelique another thought.

In yesterday’s episode, Gerard and Trask were in the basement speculating about Barnabas’ vampire past, but it was Trask who figured out that there was a witch named Angelique who was married to Barnabas, and like I said, Gerard doesn’t even know that this is Angelique.

Except that he does. “Your composure is beautiful!” he spits, at the enemy he doesn’t know that he has. “Enjoy it while you can, because I swear that this wonderful little gathering won’t be going on for long!”

It’s a Count Petofi scene, really, circa 865. This is a plot point from a time when everybody knows who everybody is, because they extended the storyline a few extra months and they’ve run out of aliases. In the parallel universe of this scene, Gerard sees Angelique walk in, and he instantly appreciates, as we do, the bittersweet irony of the scenario. And, in that cloud-cuckoo otherworld of story logic where this scene apparently takes place, Barnabas, Julia and Angelique are fully aware that they’ve foiled their arch-enemy, instead of — as things really are, on ABC-TV’s Dark Shadows — just confused one of Quentin’s friends.

And the weird thing is, I’m not sure whether Gordon and Sam can even remember at this point which character knows who’s a time-traveling witch and who isn’t. They don’t sweat the small stuff in late-stage Dark Shadows.

Gerard exits, and then it’s time for some fantastic but entirely unearned fanservice for all the Barnabas and Angelique shippers.

“Angelique,” Barnabas begins, “when I came to you for help, I knew you would want something in return. You didn’t tell me, then. Tell me now what you expect.”

“I expect nothing!” she announces, determined as always to surprise everyone she talks to. “For once in my life, there is no price.” And she sticks to that story, all the way through a withering burst of skepticism from Julia. Angelique loves Barnabas, apparently, with a true and unselfish love that only makes sense if she remembers the last two years of storylines, which they’ve specifically made clear that she doesn’t.

This iteration of Angelique comes direct from 1795, having spent the last forty-five years drifting in circles and waiting for Barnabas to wake up. She didn’t follow Vicki to the twentieth century, she doesn’t know about Adam or Roger or Dr. Lang. She didn’t bite Joe Haskell, she didn’t fight a phoenix, and she didn’t marry Sky Rumson. She doesn’t remember any of the experiences that would lead her to this tender reawakening of simple, unselfish love.

Except she does. “Barnabas, I don’t expect you to believe me,” she says, “not after all we’ve been through. I have only myself to blame. Only myself.”

“Angelique, you are extraordinary,” he sighs. “I’ve seen you play this scene before, many times, but I have to confess that I’ve never been so convinced.” I agree with him, it’s a good scene, and it’s nice to have a little reminder that Dark Shadows can put a couple together that I care about. But it’s hard to shake the feeling that this was dropped from a passing helicopter, stolen from a storyline that I wish we’d been watching, instead of whatever actually happened over the last month.

He shakes his head. “Spare me the charade,” he says. “You do not love me, Angelique! You only want power over me.”

“Well, then, why would I lift your curse?” she says, the big blue eyes doing their stuff. “You’re free of me now. I have no hold over you. Barnabas, I did want you for myself, but rather than see you dead, I would see you free of my power — and free of me.”

And he is free now, free of conflict and complications and storyline requirements. If Barnabas isn’t a vampire, then Lamar Trask has no hold over him, and the Roxanne story is over. If Angelique isn’t threatening him, then he has no romantic story thread, either. And as he and Julia demonstrated yesterday, he has no idea that Gerard is possessed by Judah Zachery, so he doesn’t have a lot to offer there either. They have nerfed him completely.

If he’s not in danger from Gerard and Trask, and Julia’s not in danger from Angelique, then I think the only thing that Barnabas specifically cares about is Quentin’s witchcraft trial. Maybe that’s why they want him in daytime scenes, so he can show up at the courtroom and defend Quentin. Oh, dark lord, I think they’re planning to turn Barnabas into Peter Bradford.

“I believe you, Angelique,” he says. “I cannot say that I love you, but — I understand your love, for the first time since you came here from Martinique.”

“Does that make any difference?”

Barnabas looks thoughtful, and pained. “I don’t know,” he says. And it does make a difference, eventually, but they’re not going to put a lot of time into it. I’m afraid, just like in the last post, that I have another episode-guide gut punch to deliver, namely: we don’t see Barnabas and Angelique in the same room together for another six weeks. They both stay on the show and participate in the current storylines, but they don’t have an episode together until well into January, at which point it’s entirely too late.

This really has been a wonderful little gathering, getting Barnabas and Angelique and Julia and Gerard all in the same room together, a last little assortment of interesting scenes. Enjoy it while you can, as Gerard said, because it won’t be going on for long.

Tomorrow: This Place Is Not a Place of Honor.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

When Julia opened the door at the end of yesterday’s episode, Gerard said, “Well, Julia, that’s some — some answer. Did I frighten you?” In the recap today, he says, “Well, that’s some frightening welcome, Julia. What’s the matter, did I frighten you?” I wonder what the actual line was supposed to be.

Gerard tells Barnabas, “So, it’s obviously that you’ve had assistance from someone.”

I cleaned up the quote in the post, but what Gerard really says to Angelique is, “Your composure is beautiful! Take it while you can. Enjoy it while you can, because I swear this wonderful little gathering won’t be going on for long!”

Tomorrow: This Place Is Not a Place of Honor.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

38 thoughts on “Episode 1169: This Wonderful Little Gathering

  1. The scene in today’s episode where Barnabas surprises Gerard by appearing during the day seems kind of like a rehash of that scene from House of Dark Shadows, when Professor Stokes shows up with the intention of destroying Barnabas and then is shocked almost to the point of speechlessness to see Barnabas in the light of day, with Barnabas regarding Stokes with the same casual tone of bemusement over the accusations of vampirism as he does with Jurardah here in this episode.

  2. This episode is the second to last where Barnabas and Julia share a scene together, the last one of course being the farewell from this time band in 29 episodes time, episode 1198. It’s kind of sobering to be seeing these Lasts.

  3. Doesn’t this kinda take the air out of Angelique’s beautiful balloon too? The main point of having her around was her crazy idea of ‘punishment as love’ where Barnabas was concerned, and that’s gone along with the curse.
    And if lifting the curse was such a breeze, why couldn’t she do that in 1795? Or was it something that she picked up in the intervening 45 years, while she was making her annual pilgrimages to make sure the curse was still in force and Barnie was chained up? Ah, l’amour, toujours l’amour!

    1. It must have been something she picked up through the years. Apparently she had been absent at witch school the day they taught how to remove a vampire curse. She must have gone to summer school sometime before 1840.

      1. In 1897 it took her a month to cure him with Julia’s injections after being a witch almost 150 years! In Leviathan, she’s actually horrified Jeb turned him into a vampire again. They could have easily continued the character development here but chose to stop it and continue from a plot point three years ago.

        I consider this to be “The Sugar Episode”.

  4. And on my above thoughts, doesn’t this ruin Angie going forward, too? What’s the point of 1897 Angelique, or Cassandra, or Vampelique either? Here we’re worried about Edith…

  5. This is where the show really starts to fall apart for me. Angelique POISONED his sister to get Barnabas to marry her. Her curse KILLED his sister and his mother. HE ended up murdering perfectly innocent women because of the curse. Not to mention the whole “love of his life, lets keep trying to turn people into her” Josette fixation, who Angelique really pushed to suicide. I can accept that he fixated on Josette because he was stuck in a box for close to 200 years and she was what he thought about, so the whole “love of his life thing” wasn’t true, but COME ON! Angelique wrecks havoc on his life and everyone he “loves” and her releasing him from the curse suddenly makes everything hunky dory?

    I will admit that Parker and Frid had the most chemistry of all of Frid’s pairings. I understand why they wanted to get them reconciled, but it violates every bit of backstory. Plus, she tried to reverse the curse when she first put it on and failed. NOW, suddenly she can do it? This part of DS makes me crazy.

    1. You can choose a theory that suits you I suppose. It’s possible that if they’re doubling back on their own timelines that they’re actually un making their own memories.

      I like to think that time travelers have their own personal timeline and then there’s the timeline and the rest of us experience. So for the person who’s time hopping no matter how many branches they take they retain memories of everything and perceive it more or less linearly just like we perceive regular time. If that were the case then Barnabas and Angelique remembered everything but maybe in this “present” time they had been through a lot more individual and joint time branching than we, the audience, knew about. I can only imagine what a person would do confronted with all these contradictory experiences. Personally I think I would just shove them in a mental drawer and go on with the present.

      The writers were still aiming this at a younger audience, right? This has the feel of a rather juvenile wrap it up and make it a happy ending sort of plot line. Or maybe it’s just the romantic 70’s housewife who wanted to see that sort of thing. It’s a soap opera, they could always become enemies again.

      1. The writers were also giving a conclusion to everyone and even the whole time band, which is a rarity given soap operas rarely go in for series finale type conclusions where everyone gets written out. Barnabas was leaving soon with no sign of coming back and the reconciliation wound up being bittersweet anyway.

        Dark Shadows is interesting, at least in my experience, for adopting a more seasonal approach to the storylines as opposed to the usual model once 1795 kicked in, very few overlapping storylines and only one familiar character crossing over. There are storylines that occur within this, but all end by the time Vicki returns to the present day. You can tell when a time travel storyline is ending by the storylines suddenly reaching a conclusion and the body count suddenly rising.

    2. Exactly right – Angelique deserved a reckoning befitting her crimes. Too bad the writers didn’t have little Sarah’s ghost pop into the room while Angelique was batting her big blue lamps at Barnabas. Bet that would have snapped him back to reality.

  6. So glad you’re still writing!
    It takes real grit to stick out the death rattle that is the late stage Dark Shadows, let alone write about it. It’s a nice accompaniment to the experience of being a fan of this crazy damn show. It’s almost like a confirmation that the whole ride wasn’t just some bizarre fever dream.

    1. Thank you, I love you all too. There have been circumstances keeping me away from writing blog posts for a while, but we are still heading for 1245, and there are more posts coming up. The reports of my death are mildly exaggerated. Thanks for hanging in.

  7. Thanks, Dan. Maybe when the CW version continues from the Bramwell storyline or the Zachary storyline, this & the Nicholas Blair guide will be the place to go, for filling in past details.

  8. It’s too bad the CW waited till now, to approach a Dark Shadows continuation. If it was already in motion, they could use the CW’s Infinite Crisis storyline, to merge together all of the contradictory characters in DS, into one Angelque and Barnabas and Julia etc., with the memories of all of their alternate timelines.

  9. During 1968 and onward, as the show was gaining higher and higher viewership… is it possible there were viewers NOT aware there was a Sarah Collins?

    Seems unfathomable, given the syndication package of the 1970s-1980s mostly consisted of the 1967-early 1968 episodes, including the 1795 storyline. Sarah is very prominent and familiar to us “syndication repeat” viewers – however, her last and effective appearance aired at the time January 1968. Was she ever reference again, or did she go quietly into that good night (or that good upstairs), as did Chuck Cunningham or Judy Winslow?

    Crazy as it sounds, and with the exception of faithful original viewers from 1966/1967 onward, there may have been many late comers to the show, later 1968 onward, who had no memory of Sarah, or what Angelique had done to her? This may explain (vaguely) how a Barnabas/Angelique reconciliation – however brief – could originally be considered acceptable this late in the series?

    Then again, explanations and Collinsport pretty much cancel each other out.

    And, none of this really excuses what Angelique did to Josette, something recent viewers would remember. Luring and tormenting her atop Widow’s Hill. That is just plain rude.

    1. Yeah. I know that Josette isn’t a beloved character on this site, but what Angelique did was terrible. Not quite as bad as Barnabas not telling her what he was turning her into, but still terrible. I know way back when, someone said that Josette killed herself because Angelique showed her that she wouldn’t be pretty anymore. I saw it as Angelique showed her turning into a bloodthirsty monster who would kill people that made her kill herself rather than be with Barnabas. He was the one that turned her away when he saw her face after he brought her back.

      In any case, I have little sympathy for Angelique and really disliked that the whole redemption arc involved Barnabas deciding that he did love her.

        1. I didn’t hate that Angelique was redeemed, I hated that once she was, Barnabas decided he loved her. Angelique was pretty abusive, although that wasn’t something that was even thought about back in those days, so Barnabas going back into the situation seems really awful to me. I didn’t mind her finding love with Sky. I could accept a friendlyish relationship with Barney, but having him deciding he always loved her was a bridge too far, for me.

    2. Sarah is mentioned once in a scene with Vicky and Carolyn not too long after 1795 ended. At least she kept her word she would never appear to anyone ever again.

      Angelique did mention her at the beginning of 1840 when Julia was pretending to be his sister and she says “I know you had only one sister, and her name was Sarah”. Barnabas then said “I will never forget you were responsible for her death”.

      1. Thank you Joey. Surprised they even mentioned Sarah, after such a long absence, but glad they did.

        Made the direction they took with Barnabas and Angelique all the more baffling.

  10. So I’m really the only one who bought the redemption of Angelique? At least, back in the day? Ah, well. My insane crush on Lara Parker might just possibly have had something to so with it . . .

    But I have to admit that it made a kind of sense to me. Angelique was the constant, as Barnabas’s hopeless crushes on this-or-that young auburn-haired or brunette girl came and went, the actresses drifting out of the show and out of my memory. (And Barnabas was no angel, folks–even before he became a vampire he shot at his uncle with full intent to kill–and once he had his vampiric powers, he didn’t let a lot of conscience get in his way.) And the Parker-Frid chemistry was a real thing. And no other Angelique ever captured Parker’s pathos in the role. To me, after so much experience together and apart, their weary and wary turning to each other reminded me of Hugh Wheeler’s line in A Little Night Music (which premiered only two years after DS closed)–“Finally, rest, after so many years of muddle.”

    (And by the way, Barnabas was doing defensive memory when he accused Angelique of killing Sarah–she did threaten Sarah’s health, and that’s reprehensible, but Sarah died from running from vampire Barnabas–that was deflection.)

    I expect no agreement. I remain Team Angie.

    1. I will note that when Angelique cast the curse, she didn’t say “you will become a monster” she said, “anyone who loves you will die” which is why Barnabas and I blame him for Sarah’s death.

      I think this is an agree to disagree situation. I like Angelique, I just can’t get behind Barnabas deciding he loved her, if for no other reason than if he had decided that earlier a TON of deaths would have been avoided. After all, she originally didn’t want to marry him, just be his mistress.

    2. Yes, and further – Love doesn’t always make logical sense. We can ignore our own families because of some transgression against us. But if they suddenly pass away, we cry as if we lost someone valuable.

      The way I’ve always thought of the Angelique character, is she’s the same as any other woman who has been scorned – except that she wields the corruptive influence of magical powers.

      If she DIDN’T have those resources, then maybe she would do some initial damage out of jealousy, and eventually move on. But with those powers, there are fewer consequences, and it becom

      1. … it beomes irresistible to punish your enemies, or those you blame for your failures.

        We’ll see if the new CW series, respects this redemption or ignores it, much like Lara’s novels.

  11. I don’t like most of 1840, but I like Barnabas and Angélique making amends – even if it doesn’t make any sense.

    But that’s because I hated that this Angélique – unlike every previous RT incarnation – was a blanked version from the past.

    Glad to have a new entry.

  12. Just chiming in, I’ve been rewatching the 1795 storyline nightly on Decades, and no way do I see these 2 as “romantic” at all. Sexual chemistry sure..that’s what got him in trouble in the first place. I’m actually in the minority I believe, as someone who liked the Barnabas/josette pairing, and would have like to have seen him end up with some version of Josette. The two had a genuine fondness it seems for each other, imho

    1. I’m a big Barnabas & Josette fan, too. KLS and JF convinced me that B. & J. truly loved each other. That’s why Barnabas was so hell bent on finding her again – their love never died!

  13. Jonathan Frid, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Nancy Barrett, Lara Parker… among the long term actors, through various eras and story lines, each had their own very unique chemistry, and each character (characters) would at one time or another claim some sort of close or reciprocal relationship with Barnabas.

    Among other details, was amazed to discover the story of Josette atop Widow’s Hill was written and performed not once, but twice. Both versions mostly utilizing the same dialogue/back-and-forth between Josette and Angelique’s voice-over. The growing majority of original viewers probably never saw the early February 1968 version, but more than likely did experience (and never forgot) the November 1969 version! Both versions still insanely effective, and as throughout the series, done with minimum special effects, on a minimum budget. As far as broadcasting and story telling goes, there is a lesson in there, somewhere.

  14. A Christmas Shadow

    Having suffered through the abysmal, lackadaisical, even soporific 1935 film of Scrooge, ‘starring’ Seymour Hicks, I knew that somewhere, in some Parallel Time, there was this much better production.

    Starring:

    Barnabas Collins as Ebeneezer Scrooge
    Willie Loomis as Bob Cratchit
    Roger Collins as the Ghost of Jacob Marley

    Joe Haskell as Scrooge’s Nephew
    Victoria Winters as Mrs. Nephew
    Thayer David as Fezziwig
    Elizabeth Stoddard as Mrs. Fezziwig
    Carolyn Stoddard as Mrs. Cratchit
    David Collins as Tiny Tim
    Maggie Evans as Scrooge’s Former Girlfriend Whose Name No One Remembers
    Mrs. Johnson as Mrs. Dilber, Scrooge’s housekeeper

    Peter Bradford, Jeb Hawkes, Chris Jennings, and Substitute Burke Devlin, as assorted players

    Dr. Woodard as a very testy Ghost of Christmas Past
    Sam Evans as a befuddled Ghost of Christmas Present
    Julia Hoffman as a terrifying Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

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