“I have a plan. A marvelous, marvelous plan!”
And they ran. Quentin and Desmond Collins, leaders of the notorious occult crime family, slipped the surly bonds of the Collinsport Gaol, and headed east for a week-long beach party. Holed up in a hideout within limping range of the lockup, the crafty pair planned their great escape, evading their mutual death sentence for witchcraft and abetting witchcraft, respectively.
Alone against the world, the fugitives remained undiscovered in an old abandoned fishing shack, hidden away from everyone except Quentin’s girlfriend, Desmond’s girlfriend, Quentin’s ex-girlfriend, Desmond’s mother, their accomplice Dr. “Bones” Hoffman, a couple boat captains, a getaway carriage driver, probably some ghosts, and their sworn enemy, the dread warlock Judah Zachery. And it would have worked, too, if it wasn’t for you meddling kids.
As we learned in yesterday’s episode, the desperate scheme goes as follows: Quentin’s macabre moll, the currently late Joanna Mills, arranges for a carriage to pick them up before dawn. Then she explains the plan to her sister Daphne Harridge, the Collins governess, who is still living at the great estate at Collinwood for some reason, despite the fact that her young charge, Quentin’s son, was shipped off to Boston weeks ago.
Daphne will wait until everyone in the house is asleep, especially the villainous Zachery, who is currently doing business as Gerard Stiles, the master of Collinwood. Then she’ll tiptoe her way down to the docks at 3:00 in the morning, slip into the carriage with Quentin, Desmond, and Desmond’s girlfriend Leticia, and the four of them will trot away to freedom.
Admittedly, it’s not an airtight plan; there are several possible points of failure, especially Leticia, who’s very sweet, but not what you might call stealthy. If it was vitally important for you to sneak away from somewhere with the companion of your choice, a noisy mock-Cockney blonde with a penchant for burgundy feather boas and no specific tactical skills would probably not be in your top five.
Still, if the Collinsport police remain as ludicrously useless as they ordinarily are, then there’s a very good chance of getting away with this, as long as everybody stays calm and sticks to the plan.
Which they don’t, of course. This is a soap opera, which puts the kibosh on escape plans for several reasons. For one thing, it would be much more dramatic for the characters to fail in some spectacular crash of circumstance. Next, if you let your main characters pile into a convertible and leave the state, then they can’t be on your soap opera anymore, and you have to find somebody else to write about. And most importantly, people on soap operas need to cluster up into twos and threes and talk to each other, because that fills up the time between Maxwell House commercials.
So here’s how this best-laid scheme goes agley:
Quentin: What are you doing here? It’s only nine o clock, you were supposed to stay there until everybody went to bed.
Daphne: I couldn’t stay at the house one minute longer.
Quentin: Is something wrong back there?
Quentin: If Gerard finds out you’re gone —
Daphne: I don’t care if Gerard finds out, Quentin. I just wanted to be with you, until it’s time to go.
Quentin: All right. It’s all right, it’s all right.
Except it’s not all right, obviously; you need to care if your sworn enemy finds out about your secret plans. This is especially true right now, because, as it turns out, Gerard absolutely did find out that she’s gone, and then he found out where she’s going, because he followed her, and he’s outside right now.
But this is basically a date, as far as Quentin is concerned.
Quentin: You can stay here.
Daphne: I was sitting in my room, and all of a sudden, I realized that Gerard and I were the only two people in that whole house. I couldn’t stay there, I was frightened.
Quentin: Ah, now… I promise you, you’ll never have anything to be afraid of, as long as you’re here with me. All right?
And he hugs her, which fixes everything, apparently.
Quentin: Hey, look at me. I love you. You know that?
Daphne: And I love you.
Quentin: When we get to Boston… will you marry me?
Daphne: You know I will.
And then they make out, because this is a great idea. They’ll go to Boston, which is really not that far away, and they’ll go to a registrar’s office, and say that they’re Quentin Collins and Daphne Harridge, and they’d like to sign some pieces of paper to prove it. I don’t think Quentin fully groks the fugitive lifestyle yet.
Then the camera pans over, and we see that right outside the door, it’s Gerard, who’s followed Daphne and knows all. And that’s yesterday’s cliffhanger, dunn dunn dunn.
Now it’s today’s episode, and what follows is one of the most confounding sequences in the history of Dark Shadows. In today’s teaser, Quentin and Daphne repeat the last third of the previous scene, starting with Quentin saying, “After tonight, you’ll never be afraid of anything again.”
He doesn’t say “as long as you’re here with me”, and Daphne doesn’t say “I couldn’t stay in that house,” or “I just wanted to be with you, until it’s time to go.” They don’t say those lines, because they’re planning to ignore that setup entirely. Daphne is going back to that house, among other destinations, and if you were paying attention to what these characters said yesterday, then that is specifically your problem.
The teaser continues: Quentin proposes, Quentin and Daphne kiss, we see that Gerard is outside, dunn dunn dunn, they roll the theme song, and then the next thing we see is Daphne all the way over at Rose Cottage, on the Collins estate, aimlessly chatting with Leticia.
“Quentin says we can take no more chances of being separated,” Daphne says, and Leticia says, “And he’s right.”
And he is right, so what are you both doing at Rose Cottage? Now you’ll have to make another trip down to the fishing shack, and it’s very likely that you’ll be spotted and followed, and I know that for sure, because the last time you went down to the fishing shack, you were spotted and followed.
“Oh, Leticia,” Daphne gushes, “I’ll be so happy, just to get out of this village!”
So that’s great, we’re on the same page, but why are you hanging around, talking about it? This is pretty much guaranteed to irritate the audience, and that problem will not be resolved in anything like the near future.
“Now, we’ve got to be very careful,” Daphne says, which is maddening. “Joanna’s arranging for a boat, to meet us at the cove at three o’clock.”
This is brand new information. Yesterday, Joanna said she was getting a carriage; did she get a boat, too?
Apparently, she did. “We’ll sail from here,” Daphne continues, “and we’ll go to Boston and pick Tad up there.”
Daphne grins. “Europe. Quentin says we’ll live in Europe!”
Again, this really does not feel like they’ve grasped the concept of fleeing for their lives. Daphne, dude, this is not a honeymoon cruise. Quentin was convicted of murder. “Picking Tad up” is a kidnapping. You are part of a criminal gang now, and you need to get way better at it.
So at this point, the show becomes an interactive audience participation experience.
Daphne: Now, we can’t bring anything with us. We don’t want anyone to know when we’re going.
Leticia: Where’s Gerard?
Daphne: He’s at Collinwood.
Leticia: Do you have to go back there?
Audience: You do??
Leticia: Oh, be careful.
Daphne: I will.
Audience: Will you??
Daphne: Quentin’s given me the combination to the safe. There’s money in it… money we’ll need.
Audience: What? Why didn’t Joanna take care of that, when she said she was making arrangements for the carriage that you apparently aren’t taking?
It’s baffling; there’s a complete disconnect between what they said yesterday and what they’re doing today, including what they said at the beginning of the scene that they just reprised in the teaser. How does that even happen?
Now, in the past, I might have said that they were taping episodes out of order, and things got confused, but in this case, the tape dates are perfectly normal — they taped yesterday’s episode on January 12th, and today’s on January 13th. But the cast delivered dialogue yesterday that is completely contradicted today, and nobody said hey, maybe we should adjust Wednesday’s script to say “boat” instead of “carriage”.
Gordon Russell wrote yesterday’s episode, and Sam Hall wrote today’s, and obviously they know how to coordinate with each other, and figure out what the story is supposed to be from one episode to the next. Russell and Hall have been writing every episode of this television show since September, when Joe Caldwell dropped out, so by now, they’ve been on their own for 92 episodes.
They’re currently trying to wrap up this storyline and at the same time segue into a completely different Parallel Time storyline, and I think you could make the case that today is the day they realized that they don’t have to actually care.
Leticia asks Daphne, “Do you think I can leave, without telling Flora?” And then Desmond’s mother Flora walks in and says, “Telling Flora what?” which is one of those Can’t Let Me Know What scenes that make soap opera viewing so absorbing.
Flora says, “Leticia, I’ve been very patient with you. I’ve been aware for some time that you know where Desmond is.” And the audience says, yes, of course you have; that’s how good these people are at escaping from prison. “But I haven’t questioned you,” she says, “because I thought the fewer people who knew, the better the chances are for Quentin and Desmond.” That is a very good point which at least one of the people involved in this conversation should be keeping an eye on.
Flora says, “I want you to tell me where Desmond is,” and Leticia looks at Daphne and doesn’t say anything, and Flora says, “But I must say goodbye to him! Surely you both understand that!” So I guess Flora thinks the whole “fewer people who know” concept is something that applies to other people.
This is clearly one of those covid Christmas parties that people are planning here in the waning days of 2020, where it’s really important to see your grandparents, because you never know if this is the last Christmas you’ll ever spend together, so you go over to their house and make sure that this is the last Christmas you’ll ever spend together. Naturally, a mother who actually loved her son wouldn’t insist on traipsing down to his hideout and getting him captured, killed, or infected with the coronavirus, but some people really have a hard-on for Christmas, I guess.
Meanwhile, Gerard is up at the castle snapping at his minion, like the sword-and-sorcery evil wizard that he is.
Dawson wants to know why Gerard isn’t informing the police about Quentin and Desmond’s hideout, and Gerard says, “I feel that he has not suffered quite enough. No, I want him to know who his real enemy is. Oh, I have a plan. A marvelous, marvelous plan!”
This plan involves inviting Daphne to play whist with him. She says no.
And then we see both Daphne and Leticia in the Collinwood foyer, consulting the clock and discussing their secret conspiracy. Leticia asks, “Did you find Quentin’s money?” and Daphne says, “No, I was just going to when you came,” which means that Leticia is not just endangering the plan by showing up, but is actively hindering its progress.
“Well, I got so worried about you,” Leticia says, which is not a valid rationale. “Where’s Gerard?” Daphne says that Gerard left, but he’ll be back.
“Well, you better look for the money while he’s gone!” Leticia says, and Daphne actually gasps, and whispers, “Yes, you’re right!” even though she just said she was about to do that twelve seconds ago. Apparently, any interruption drives the plan entirely out of Daphne’s head.
So Daphne goes upstairs to rifle through the community chest, and Leticia strolls into the drawing room, and sits down on the couch. You might imagine that she would at least want to act as a lookout, but that is a thing that she does not do.
In fact, Gerard opens the front door, walks in, hangs up his cloak, crosses the foyer and enters the drawing room, and she doesn’t even notice that he’s there until he stands right next to her and says, “Why, Leticia!” I don’t know what to do with these people.
It’s the same thing all through the episode, with each conspirator lounging around in places where they’re guaranteed to get noticed and questioned. Daphne even takes a mid-safebreaking break to check out if anything is happening in the Parallel Time room, which is none of her business.
Then Flora has the notion that Desmond shouldn’t travel because he’s been wounded and it’s too dangerous, and Quentin has to explain that being caught by the police and beheaded is dangerous as well. Everyone seems to be assuming that Collinsport works like Grand Theft Auto, where you can run around and be reckless, as long as you wait a little while until your Wanted Level drops, and the police stop chasing you.
Finally, we return to Collinwood, where Daphne — presumably laden with ill-gotten gains — just walks into the drawing room, sits down on the couch and stares into space for a while.
“I couldn’t stay at the house one minute longer,” she said in yesterday’s episode, when people acted like functioning characters and not useless plot monkeys. Personally, I’m willing to stay for at least one minute longer, or fifty-one more episodes at the outside, but yeah, I can definitely see her point.
Tomorrow: The Trask Parts.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
There’s a very brief fault in the camera at the top of Act 1, which makes the screen flash red when Leticia is saying, “And he’s right.”
Gerard tells Dawson, “May I remind you that I am still in charge here? And if I want the police to continue into this investigation, I shall ask for them!”
Gerard loses track of his line when he says to Leticia, “I’ve even changed you, too. You became somewhat, uh, more…” Leticia answers, “Oh, you’ve changed me, I’ll grant you that,” while he’s still struggling with the rest of his line.
When Gerard tells Leticia there will be a wedding tonight at Collinwood, the dramatic sting comes in too early, before we know what’s so dramatic about it.
Daphne approaches the Parallel Time room doors because she hears a piano playing. When she opens the doors, there’s no piano, and the music suddenly stops.
When Gerard looks through the drawing room doors to see Daphne on the sofa, a crew member pokes his head around the door to look at Gerard.
Behind the Scenes:
Charles Reynolds plays Reverend Johnson in this episode and the next; this is his only appearance on the show. His only other credits on IMDb are an episode of Studio One in Hollywood in 1953, and a role in the 1979 TV-movie Gold of the Amazon Women.
Tomorrow: The Trask Parts.
— Danny Horn