“You turned this hand cold, as my heart turned cold toward you!”
“Why didn’t you stay in that room? We could have done so much together!” laments the hopeless romantic Gabriel Collins, struggling with his girlfriend as she tries to pry herself loose from his grasp. “Do you think I want to do this?” he says, adjusting his grip on her larynx. “Do you think I want to?” I think she probably does.
Eternally beset governess Daphne Harridge has recently torn herself away from one of those dank hideouts that honeycomb the secret interior of the great house at Collinwood. Gabriel was keeping her in lockdown until she fell in love with him, or until he could get Gerard to cough up some money, or possibly some third option that never quite came together. These kidnapping courtships rarely work out to anyone’s satisfaction; that’s why you don’t see a lot of wedding photos where the bride is tied to a chair.
Daphne thought, as everyone did, that Gabriel was differently-abled, but it turned out he was even more different than that. He can walk after all; he’s just been sitting in the chair all this time to rack up frequent-flyer miles. That’s why nobody suspected him of killing his father, or his wife Edith, or that wet sap Randall Drew, until Daphne found a blood-spattered monogrammed cufflink that blew the case wide open. Now she’s outside on the lawn in a dry thunderstorm, with one hundred and ninety-five pounds of Gabriel’s fury compressing her windpipe.
Fortunately, a car pulls up just at that moment and out pops the deceased Daniel Collins, standing erect in a sea-green spotlight and informing his incel son of some upcoming changes to the arrangement. “I told you I would come back,” he thunders. “I’ve come back for you! You will kill no more!”
Now, if Daniel had stepped in a few days earlier, he could have stopped this reign of terror one murder ago, but I guess he just didn’t like Edith very much. I mean, I never cared for her myself, but if I was in Daniel’s place, I would have intervened to save her life, probably, two tries out of three.
For some reason, Gabriel decides that the best way to escape from this ghost is to run back inside the house, as opposed to heading for the horizon, as I would have advised. If you’re already outside the haunted house when it starts haunting you, then you’re in a fairly strong position; you can go in pretty much any direction, and the house is still going to stay where it is. Practically anyone can outrun a house, on even terrain.
But Gabriel — who up until now has been unbelievably successful, as a serial killer — makes the rookie mistake of running inside and hiding behind a door. You can’t hide from a ghost behind a door, especially when the ghost has made special arrangements with the lighting director. Once they start setting up spooky spotlights, you haven’t got a chance; they’ve already thought of all the popular places in the house to run to, and you’re just going to carom from one to the next like pinball bumpers.
Plus, the ghost is going to get all the good lines. “You cannot run fast enough, Gabriel!” is a good one, and “Die, Gabriel, die! That is your mission, your punishment!” is also pretty effective. You can’t compete with that. You can try “I promise you, father, I’m finished with murdering people,” but that’s a dramatic dead end. What’s he going to say, okay, I guess I’ll give you another chance? It’s not going to happen. The other ghosts would never let him live it down.
Although as much as I question Gabriel’s crisis protocol, I have to admit that Daphne’s is just as bad. She finds herself lying on the grass, not strangled after all, and does she run all the way downtown to organize a mob of frightened villagers to storm the castle and take arms against the parasitical ruling class? She does not. She doesn’t even break a stick off a tree to defend herself.
Instead, she goes back inside the house and closes the door behind her, as if that’s going to accomplish anything. Then she goes and buries her face in her dead sister’s dress, and sobs that Gabriel’s insane, he killed everybody else and now he’s going to kill them too, and then she just sits there and waits for something else to happen. It’s a good thing that Daphne’s currently under the protection of two independent vengeance ghosts, because if this is what she learned in her feminist self-defense class, then she needs all the help she can get.
Meanwhile, Gabriel heads skyward to the parapets, I guess under the theory that maybe he can start a signal fire and get rescued by a helicopter.
“Look, Father, I know you never loved me,” he says, which isn’t a promising start. “For God’s sake, I know that Edith didn’t, that Quentin didn’t…” It’s maybe not a good idea to start listing other victims.
“You, Gabriel!” the specter says, raising its arm dramatically. “You turned this hand cold… as my heart has turned cold toward you! Now, you must die!” So that’s how you get that done.
This is the Great 1840 Wrap-Up, the last week and a half before we head off to Parallel Time, and cancellation. As they do at the end of every storyline now, the Dark Shadows writers start killing all the villains, and if you don’t find this railing-kill dramatically satisfying, then just wait, there’ll be another one coming along in a few minutes.
As far as I can figure it, the villains in the 1840 storyline are Gabriel, Gerard, Samantha, Trask, Dawson, Angelique and, in a sense, Joanna, and all of them are going to have to get tidied away in the eight episodes between now and the middle of next week, so that we can return home to our own time period, secure in the knowledge that Collinwood in the mid-19th century has been scrubbed clean of ancestors, except for a couple invisible children who are tasked with repopulating the Collins family.
I wish that I could say that Gabriel is the only one of those characters who is killed not for any specific plot reason, but simply because a supernatural being suddenly decided that this would be a good time to murder them, but that is not the case. There’ll be another one coming along sooner than you’d think, and when they go, slipping over the precipice and plunging to their eternal rest, you will hear the telltale sound of the writers high-fiving each other, and then wondering who’s next.
We’ll see how it all turns out, but the one thing you can be sure of is that there will be no possibility of tying up the loose threads that we left back in 1970, all that stuff about Tad and Carrie and their beloved governess promising them that they would return to life someday by taking possession of a pair of lookalike patsies.
“Let the light from the star that guides the destiny of Daphne Harridge touch the flame that we have lighted in her name!” the kids shouted into the darkness, completing a ritual that they’re going to need to be informed about, sometime this week. Daphne doesn’t have time to get kidnapped and strangled. She needs to be running drills with the children, so they know what to do a hundred and thirty years from now, when they return to life and need to enact the vengeance that Gerard will probably be swearing on the Collins family any minute now.
I don’t think they even know where the dollhouse is yet; they probably don’t have the slightest idea. Come on, kids, we’re burning daylight. The lease on this time period runs out next Wednesday, and we’re going to have to end this storyline, with or without you.
Tomorrow: The Weissman Theory.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
During Gabriel’s struggle with Daphne, they’re briefly picked up by the mic with the reverb that Daniel’s going to speak into in a moment. Gabriel’s “Now!” and Daphne’s scream both echo a bit. Then Gabriel turns around and starts choking Daphne to the ground, and the rest of his dialogue is slightly off-mic.
Just before Daphne gets up, a lightning strike shows the edge of the burlap that they’re pretending is the ground, as well as the base of a prop tree.
There’s some background chatter when Gabriel rushes through the hallway door to approach the Parallel Time room.
Joanna grins at Quentin and says, “Joanna’s safe! Guess what — Daphne’s safe!”
Joanna reads off the teleprompter: “He thought, after you were dead, Gerard would give him money in exchange for Daphne, that we could have — that he could have enough to get away!”
When Joanna tells Quentin that the police are watching Collinwood, he takes a step back and stumbles against Desmond’s cot.
Quentin tells Joanna to tell Daphne to meet him… but then he can’t quite remember where.
The effect of the room changing around Quentin and Daphne is pretty raw. In the first shot, they’re not positioned correctly, so it looks like they’re standing about a foot under the floor. There’s also a studio light at top left, and a messy chromakey artifact at bottom right, and there’s a blue outline around them. When the room changes, it’s a little better but not much.
The credits say that Louis Edmonds plays “Ghost of Daniels Collins”.
Tomorrow: The Weissman Theory.
— Danny Horn