“But you don’t deny that you would have sent those messages to Daphne!”
Samantha’s first mistake, as she was looming, dagger in hand, and saw that the figure in the bed was Gerard and not Daphne, as she’d expected, was that she didn’t just stab and stab and stab anyway, because there are only two possible outcomes when finding oneself in an enclosed space with Gerard; you’re either going to kill him, or kiss him. She chose not to kill him. A rookie mistake, really, and not in keeping with CDC guidelines.
So, coming back from this extremely long weekend I’ve taken, let’s have a look at current conditions. An invisible enemy has been spreading through Collinwood, infecting people with bad dreams, poor decisions and the occasional decapitation.
Pirate king Gerard Stiles is at the epicenter of the problem, of course, because everything revolves around him. His latest outrage is promoting conspiracy theories that have put an innocent man on trial for his life, charged with breaking laws that don’t even exist anymore.
And after all this time, Gerard still refuses to wear that mask. So what are the rest of us supposed to do?
Well, Samantha has decided to come and loom and stab the governess to death, which is not going to get those schools reopened any faster.
Luckily for the struggling education system, Daphne isn’t there; she’s quarantined herself somewhere, and we won’t see her all day. She received another one of those unsettling letters that have been scattering themselves around Collinwood, presumably written by her dead sister Joanna. The most recent missive read, “Tonight, I will come back. This time I shall succeed.” Daphne, who’s a bit of an alarmist, decided that this meant things were going to get worse before they get better.
So Gerard, muttering that he alone could fix it, has taken Daphne’s place so that he could lie in wait and unmask the real villain. When she arrives, he’s startled to discover that it’s Samantha; he figured it would be China.
Gerard hustles her into a chair and begins one of those big soap opera exposition interrogations, where a character decides that he’s fed up and he’s going to keep on asking questions until the audience understands the storyline.
She refuses to talk, so he shouts, “Would you prefer explaining your actions to a judge, in a court?” He’s all about law and order, all of a sudden.
Happily, this is Gerard leading the investigation, and he always goes entertainingly off-script. “Now, you tell me,” he sneers. “Tell me it all.” Samantha pauses for a full four seconds, which is how I know that’s not her actual cue.
Finally, she says, “I won’t tell you anything,” and he gets back to the point. “The notes,” he insists. “Tell me about the notes.” She claims she doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and he snarls, “Supposing the judge would like to hear more about your — talk on, uh — your testimony in court about the ghost?” This is why people keep talking about the cognitive test.
Samantha asks what Gerard is doing here in Daphne’s bedroom, and his answer is, “When she showed me the note, someone tried to kill me last night.” That is the sentence.
Then he says, “I started to think, who it could have been that wanted to sis – dispose of both Daphne and me… and the only name I could think of was yours. You tried killing me last night, didn’t you?”
She laughs. “No, I didn’t! Not that I wouldn’t love to see you dead.”
“I don’t deny that!” he cries. “But you don’t deny that you would have sent those messages to Daphne!” That first sentence should be “I don’t doubt that.” I can’t parse that second sentence at all.
He finally asks enough oddly-worded questions that Sam just cracks open, and admits everything. It’s like I keep saying, more questions lead to more answers; we need to slow the testing down, please.
“All right,” she snaps, petulantly. “I didn’t want to kill her, I just wanted to frighten her! I wanted her to leave this house desperately, just the way I want you to leave it.” It’s always about immigration with these people.
And then suddenly he’s all smiles, because now he’s found a use for her. He struts over and starts rubbing her on the shoulder without permission, smirking and putting on his “I know what you really want” voice, which he brings out on special occasions.
And he’s Gerard, so he’s irrestistible; everything he says is stop-press news. This is why she should have stabbed him at the top of the show. Once you get this close to Gerard in seduction-mode, it’s already over.
I mean, you’d think if anybody would be good at social distancing, it would be the Collins family, who have effectively been self-quarantining from the outside world since the Revolutionary War. And yet here we are.
“Don’t you think I understand why you’re against Quentin?” he murmurs, settling himself onto someone else’s bed. “Why you’ve been miserable, all these years?”
“Oh, god,” she admits. “I can’t believe that anybody knows what a living hell my life has been in this house. I’ve never been loved. Not by Quentin. Do you understand why I must get even with him for all the misery that he has caused me?”
“Of course I do,” he says. “That’s what I’m trying to tell you. I do understand.”
This is what Gerard does; he taps into white people’s grievances, and convinces them that he wants to help them, when all he really cares about is beheading his enemies.
“We could have a new life together,” he promises, campaigning for a second term.
She smiles, despite herself. “Well, I would believe you,” she breathes, “if you would help me get Daphne out of this house.”
“It’s impossible,” he says, because he can’t help doubling down on his strategy.
She turns on him. “Why? Because you love her?”
“No!” he shouts, and unleashes his totally sensible plan. “Because I want you to write more letters. You see, Quentin will lose everything. And his faith in the letters will disappear if he finds out Daphne is out of the house! So we must keep her here… and then we will put the final touches on Quentin Collins. They will both be gone… and only you and I will remain.”
This is not a coherent testing and tracing strategy. Listening to that word salad, it’s impossible to tell if this is a plot twist that doesn’t make sense, or if Gerard’s just chewing up his dialogue again. It’s usually both.
But let me try to get my head around this. The reason why Gerard is here in Daphne’s room in the first place is that he wanted to prove to Daphne that the letters weren’t real. He’s survived the night, so presumably she’ll know that Joanna’s warning wasn’t true. But now Gerard says that he wants Daphne to get more letters, because somehow that’s going to keep her here, rather than drive her away, which Samantha just said was the point of writing the letters.
And if Daphne stays here, then somehow she and Quentin will vanish; one day, it’s like a miracle, they will just disappear.
I have no idea how that’s supposed to work. But look at what we’ve got, right here: person, woman, man, camera, TV. What could possibly go wrong?
Tomorrow: The Deck Chairs.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
In act 2, Gerard threatens, “I will make sure that you go to the authorities. Oh, I promise you. It won’t be too beneficial for Quentin, because he will still have no acquittal. And as for you, I shall make sure that you are prosecuted, at the highest degree!”
Trask tells Flora, “Well, our spish- our suspicions appear to be unfounded.”
Samantha tells Gerard, “After that, I heard that she was escaped from the asylum.”
Gerard asks, “Tell me, how did Daphne and Quentin… come into this position so easily?” I have no idea what he’s trying to say.
At the beginning of Act 4, the boom mic can be seen overhead when Flora sits down.
When Flora reminds Barnabas, “You broke contact during the seance,” someone in the studio coughs loudly. Then she says, “I had the feeling that you did it deliberately, because you knew more about Ran — Ruh — Roxanne’s death than you cared to admit.” Barnabas replies, “Well, if you recall, I told you that my mother’s name was Rox — was Angelique.”
A little later, Flora says, “I only wish the whole thing hadn’t such — had such a terrible effect on poor Lamar.”
Behind the Scenes:
The Petofi box appears in Rose Cottage in this episode; it was last seen in the upstairs hall at Collinwood all the way back in episode 956 (February 1970).
A note from Danny:
Hey! So it turns out I still know how to do this. I have been away for a long-ass time, sorry about that, but I am committed to getting us all the way to episode 1245, and whatever lies beyond. And there’s lots of fun stuff coming up, as we head into the dying days of Dark Shadows: tomorrow’s post is about Lara Parker’s 1998 novel Angelique’s Descent, and just wait till you see what I have for you for Friday’s Christmas 1970 pre-emption post. Thank you all for still caring about this ridiculous blog. Wear your mask, stay healthy, and I’ll be back with more posts soon!
Tomorrow: The Deck Chairs.
— Danny Horn