“Why is she so young and beautiful, instead of being a decaying mess?”
“I’ve got to get to Collinwood,” says condemned criminal Quentin Collins, heading for the door of his makeshift hideout.
“No, no,” Joanna urges. “The police are watching Collinwood!”
Quentin considers this. “No, I know what I can do,” he decides. “I can reach the estate through the back forty. The woods are very thick there.”
His wounded sidekick moans, “Quentin, Gerard is at the house. And Samantha would turn you in, if she saw you there!”
“I’ve got to take that chance,” says Quentin, and somewhere in Vienna, an angel gets its wings.
So I have a whole bunch of questions, beginning with: Collinwood has a back forty?
That is brand new information, as far as I’m concerned. Apparently, there’s yet another secret way to sneak into Collinwood that allows you to bypass the police detail that’s been posted around the grounds, who are looking for specifically you, doing specifically this.
I mean, it is the Collinsport police force, who are not celebrated for their powers of observation. Right now, they’re probably all gathered into little clumps and looking up at the sky, just in case another Collins family member decides to throw himself over the parapet, like Gabriel did earlier this evening. Careful, whispers the lieutenant, we’re getting close to the end of the storyline, and they have a lot of villains to get rid of. You don’t want one to fall on you. And then they huddle together, under the lieutenant’s parasol, and pray for the night to pass.
But I know what they’re not doing, namely paying attention to anybody walking in and out of the great estate. Quentin and Desmond holed up here in this deserted fishing shack three episodes ago, following a daring and partially-successful prison break, and since then, people have been traveling back and forth between here and Collinwood so often that they’re starting to set up little souvenir shops along the route, to cater to the tourist trade.
Leticia visited the shack to tell Quentin that Daphne was missing, and then she left the shack to tell Julia that Desmond is wounded, and then she came back to the shack to tell Desmond that Julia’s on her way. Joanna’s been popping in and out all night, first to tell Quentin that she can’t find Daphne, and then to tell him that she found Daphne after all.
In fact, by my calculations, as of this episode, Joanna and Leticia have each made two complete round trips between Collinwood and the shack, Julia came to visit once, and now Quentin’s going out. It’s a good thing the Collinsport authorities have never heard of footprints, or asking people where they’re going.
But Quentin said “I’ve got to take that chance,” which I don’t know why that would be the case. The specific chance that he feels compelled to take is leaving his impenetrable secret hideout, to go and see Daphne at the house where he knows that at least some fraction of the police detail is bound to be awake and standing up, because Joanna has just told him that Daphne is out of danger.
When Daphne was missing-presumed-kidnapped, Quentin was okay with staying put, but now that she’s rescued and her kidnapper has become an abstract art exhibit on the lawn, Quentin has to show up and pay a social call. It would probably be easier and safer for Daphne to come down to the fishing shack herself, rather than sending Joanna to carry messages back and forth, but they haven’t told Daphne where the hideout is, for security reasons.
So here we are in the back forty, where Quentin meets Joanna again, to get more specific instructions on how to find Daphne. “She’ll be waiting in the corridor, by the stairs,” says Joanna. “But be careful! Gerard and Samantha just came in.” And now I guess Joanna is going to run up the stairs and tell Daphne that Quentin’s on his way, then loop back around to tell Quentin that Daphne said that he should hurry.
So I don’t know, maybe it’s me. I know perfectly well why they wanted to get Quentin and Daphne together right outside the Parallel Time room, and it’s to give them a cliffhanger spectacle that is actually pretty great, if you don’t mind the chromakey mishaps. But nothing seems to be making me happy this week.
I mean, I spent all that time wishing that Quentin’s trial would end, and now he’s on the run, which is way more fun than moping around in his jail cell, wondering whether he can really trust Gerard. I wanted the story to move faster, and now they’ve killed Gabriel and they’re moving in on Samantha, and somehow I’m still not really enjoying myself.
I’m just counting up all the improbabilities, and making sarcastic remarks, because I honestly couldn’t care less about this storyline anymore. The only thing that makes me feel better is the fact that the producers of Dark Shadows feel exactly the same way.
So they say, the hell with common sense, let’s give Quentin the unshakeable conviction that he needs to go and make out with Daphne smack in the middle of the Parallel Time room, so that we can do the least convincing Chromakey effect that we’ve done all year. They’ve put the camera in the wrong place, so that it looks like the two characters are standing in a hole about a foot under the floorboards, and they’ve lit them badly, so there’s a little blue line around them, plus there’s some random blue scratches in the bottom right corner and I don’t even know what they had to mess up to achieve that effect.
And then they switch backgrounds, and now they’re standing in a hole in Parallel Time instead. “We’re trapped!” Daphne cries. “We’re trapped in another time!“, which admittedly is a kickass cliffhanger, and I shouldn’t be so crabby about it.
Because this could be our ticket out of this slow-lane storyline: just leave everyone else behind, and follow Quentin and Daphne through the looking glass to another universe, where there’s no more witch trials and fishing shacks and dreams that you can’t remember and Brazilian devil rings and leaving letters for ghosts in oak trees.
They’re planning to run away anyway, out into the night and across the sea where the law can’t reach them. Why not stay here? From what I know about Parallel Time, all you have to do is kill the housekeeper, and then you can stay for as long as you like.
I mean, sure, we’d never know what happened to Desmond and Leticia, but I for one could go the whole rest of my life assuming that they’re probably fine; I wouldn’t lose a wink of sleep over it. I bet by now Desmond’s up and walking around, and he’s realized that there’s a loose tile in the floor of the fishing shack, and underneath is a tunnel to a secret cave, filled with pirate treasure and a Jet Ski. You see? It’s easy.
And look how happy Quentin is; this is the best thing that’s happened to him since he broke out of prison yesterday.
“Weissman theory!” he gasps, and Daphne says what?, which is the cue that he was hoping for. “Ernest Weissman, he teaches at the University of Vienna. Several years ago, he wrote a pamphlet about the possible existence of twin worlds, in a concurrent band of time. I never thought it was any more than a theory.”
And oh yeah, I’d forgotten that Quentin was a dilettante mad scientist, cooking up abominations against Time in his basement laboratory. That character trait hasn’t really been put to use very much, as he sat there in his jail cell, which is a shame; he could have been jabbering away about his crazy time theories, and the latest schools of thought in Viennese coo-coo banana talk. Think of Weissman, releasing pamphlets about time travel and ghosts and vampires and witches, with a huge group of kids waiting outside his door, angling for a photo. Sechzehn Magazin must be going nuts for Weissman.
And now here we are, trapped in another time, hiding behind an inexplicable mid-room window treatment while we watch another trailer for Parallel Time. This one’s got Morgan and Catherine again, and he’s still bugging her about marrying him, so perhaps we should have waited and gotten trapped in another time at another time.
Last time we saw these two, she asked for a little time to make up her mind about his proposal, and now he reminds her that she’s had more than that little time, which is just the kind of thing that Weissman would go ape over. It’s been a week, in fact, because Catherine does not respond well to deadlines.
“Darling,” he says, in his patient and passionless way, “I must insist upon an answer before you leave Collinwood tonight. I’ll leave you alone for a few minutes to think about it.” And then he exits, so she can ponder over night-time train schedules.
Then there’s another knock, and Quentin and Daphne get the bonus experience of seeing a Parallel Samantha, who’s quite different from Regular Time Samantha in the sense that she’s not spitting venom with every breath in her body.
Catherine sits down with Samantha, and they explain another Parallel plot point on the theme of Something Is Terribly Wrong at Parallel Collinwood, like they’ve been doing every day. This time, the trouble is Mr. Justin Collins, who had some kind of mysterious accident ten years ago. “Everyone knows that someday, the paralysis may wear off,” says Samantha, “and Justin Collins will speak again.” So stay tuned for that.
Samantha’s trying to urge Catherine not to live in Collinwood, even if she marries Morgan. “You’ve never lived here,” she says. “You only love what it represents. I’ve lived here for ten years, and I tell you that your conception of it is very far removed from reality. When you live here, you can sense the fear and tension that everyone feels.”
This is supposed to glue us all in our seats for the next eleven weeks, just waiting to enjoy all the unspoken fear and tension. It’s a weird strategy, filling the air with vague promises of anxiety, but we’ve got Justin Collins coming out of his paralysis to look forward to, and maybe he’ll launch into a high-kicking musical number. You never know.
Then Morgan comes back in, to make the show’s most compelling case for Parallel Time so far, about eight inches below the waist. Midway down Morgan Collins is a fairly striking perspective, so Catherine says yes, she might as well go ahead and marry him, since she just got pregnant by looking at his pants anyway.
Once we’ve got somebody else’s plot point out of the way, Quentin and Daphne get another blue line special. Parallel Daphne enters the set, which kicks Regular Daphne out of the twin world, and back into the grim reality of our own.
“I’ve only got one explanation,” says Quentin, who’s just earned a bachelor’s degree in temporal manifestations. “The change took place when the Daphne of that time entered the room, so perhaps it’s impossible for you and the Daphne of that time to be in the same place at the same time.” Now Quentin really has a reason to survive this ordeal; he has to get to Vienna and talk things over with Weissman. Just think of how happy the professor will be, having another crackpot to commune with. Let’s go do another lap around the fishing shack, and see if Desmond’s ready to leave.
Tomorrow: Already Dead.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
When Morgan says “Samantha never has been overly fond of me,” you can glimpse someone walking in the studio, reflected in the mirror behind Catherine.
At the end of Act 1, Morgan heads toward the spot where Quentin and Daphne are hiding. When we pick up at the beginning of Act 2, Morgan has moved back several steps.
There’s another tragic chromakey effect today, with Quentin and Daphne hiding in the Parallel Time room. In act 2, when Parallel Daphne enters the room, there’s a blue line around Quentin and Regular Daphne.
Quentin says, “It’ll take a couple days for Desmond to get well so that he can go wiss — with us.”
When Daphne denies to Gerard that she knows where Quentin is, a studio light can be seen briefly.
Joanna tells Samantha, “You went through my trunk and found the letters that I had written to Quentin, but never used. You had no use for them, then.” She means letters that she never sent; the word “use” is from the following sentence.
Samantha tells Joanna, “You know very well what I, where I, what I mean. And you know where and when we’ve met before.”
Gerard reassures Samantha, “Believe me, you will hear from the last of Joanna Mills tonight.”
When the camera focuses on the letter on the floor, there’s some red marking tape nearby.
When Joanna arrives behind Samantha on Widow’s Hill, there’s another visible studio light.
Samantha says to Joanna, “You tricked me! You wrote those notes!” It was just one note.
Tomorrow: Already Dead.
— Danny Horn