Episode 1207/1208: A Duel’s House

“Are you aware that you’re looking in the direction of the Old House?”

You know, I hate to be that guy, but if you can’t even do a duel properly, then I don’t know why you’re on television.

I mean, I remember the days when a Dark Shadows character could walk ten paces, turn and choose not to fire because they were being noble and heroic, and in return they would be shot in the face and die, like a man. And then they would come back as a revenant with an eyeball hanging out of their face and a different voice and they would say I WANT IN DEATH WHAT YOU WOULD NOT GIVE ME IN LIFE and people would be afraid of them and run away, and it would be crazy-looking and fun to watch. That’s what I expect out of a duel, some spectacle and excitement, and most importantly, an actual plot point that facilitates story progression.

But this? Bramwell stands there and lets Morgan shoot him in, I don’t know, the shoulder or something, and now he’s just saying sullen Bramwell stuff while he’s horizontal instead of vertical.

This is not romantic and noble. It’s not even story progression. This is just lying down and moping.

I mean, there isn’t even any blood, which is the least they could do in the service of dramatic verisimilitude. When Morgan shoots, Bramwell should clutch his shoulder and burst a little handful of stage blood, just to give us something to look at. What I see when I look at the instant-replay duel footage is Bramwell Collins walking across the lawn, standing still and then falling over. There’s not a scratch on him. In fact, I’m not even sure it had anything to do with the duel; it might just be a coincidence.

When Morgan tells Catherine and Daphne that Bramwell was wounded in the duel, he makes a puzzled expression on his big face, and says, “He raised his pistol, but never fired it. I’ll never know why…” Well, you could walk over and ask.

So as far as I’m concerned, Bramwell is just lying there and taking a nap, on ABC’s dime. When he wakes up, he pretends that he’s going to get up, and then he pretends that his shoulder hurts, and then he’s in bed for the rest of the week.

Catherine’s sister Daphne is the current attending physician; she says that she examined the wound and put a temporary dressing on it. She also must have dragged him out of the woods and all the way to the Old House and up the stairs and into bed, because Morgan just left him to bleed out on the pavement, and nobody has a cell phone to call for an ambulance. Bramwell asks if his mother knows, and Daphne says yes, you can’t really drag a grown man up two flights of stairs by his shirt collar without other people in the house wondering what all the noise is about.

Fortunately, Daphne is dressed properly for emergency medical care; her PPE consists of a dress made of about three times more fabric than seems strictly necessary, even for the mid nineteenth. There might actually be more than one person back there. If you ever wanted to break somebody out of prison and smuggle them to safety, that dress would be the perfect ensemble; it might even be bulletproof. Bramwell’s lying there and thinking, why wasn’t I wearing that during the duel? It would have been like shooting at a continent.

Now, the whole reason why he went into the duel in the first place was because he kept insisting that Catherine couldn’t possibly marry Morgan, because she loved Bramwell so much that it would take her a couple minutes between the time he broke into her house until the time that she told him to go away and never come back. Presumably, if he won the duel, then Morgan would be dead and Catherine would marry Bramwell, although they never checked in with Catherine about it and she may have had other plans.

Now that the duel is over and they’re both still more or less alive, Bramwell doesn’t really know what to do with himself. “Morgan made a great mistake in not killing me,” he says. “Everyone would have been better off, with one of us dead.” This is probably true, but it’s too late now.

“Catherine no longer has anything to do with it,” he continues. “She and I, we’re through. She is my enemy now, and always will be.” We may need to set up a follow-up duel.

Still, he’s not entirely without human feeling. “You are very kind, to come here,” he says. “I’m very grateful to you.”

“I didn’t come out of kindness,” she replies.

“Then why are you here?”

“Because I want to be here,” she says. “And because I want you to go on living.”

That means that she did come out of kindness, and I’m not sure why she’s trying to deny it. For people who talk about their feelings pretty much non-stop, they are really not very self-aware.

So I think that Daphne might be Isabella Linton, which is not a good thing to be if you find yourself in Wuthering Heights. My advice to young women starting out in life is to figure out whether you’re Isabella Linton or not. That is a thing that you need to ascertain.

Meanwhile, the guy who won the duel isn’t happy either, so I don’t know why they went through with it, if it was just going to piss everybody off.

Morgan walks into the drawing room and stands right next to Catherine and shouts, “I’m still waiting for a direct answer!” and if you have to wait all the way through a scene for a direct answer then it’s not likely that you’re going to get one.

“I can’t stop thinking about it,” she says, getting to her feet and looking pained. “I’m just so sorry it all happened.”

“Well, I’m NOT!” he hollers. “Maybe this incident will bring him to his senses!” And it’s true that getting shot by someone is a good opportunity to re-evaluate your life choices, except if you’re in literature and you’re a symbol of something.

Catherine looks around at nothing in particular. “If this feud goes on,” she says, “it will end in tragedy! You know that, don’t you, Morgan?” He says yes. He seems to be in favor of it.

She crosses to the window, and he observes her for a moment before saying, “Are you aware that you’re looking in the direction of the Old House?” This is all-time champion mansplaining, which would be incredibly annoying even if he wasn’t showing the entire shaft of his cock through the front of his trousers. The answer is yes, Catherine is aware of the direction that she is looking in. That is a thing that people are often aware of.

“Is that where you’d like to be, Catherine?” he badgers her, and she indicates I’m conflicted so hard that they might as well put it on the closed-captions.

“I’M WAITING FOR AN ANSWER!” he shouts —

— and then the next thing you know, they’re kissing, and I have to admit that I did not see that coming. I guess sometimes attempted murder works, as a problem-solving tool.

So it turns out that there’s plot progression after all, thank goodness. I was afraid that we were going to have another week of aborted wedding plans, but Catherine and Morgan slipped away and got married during a commercial break. I guess that’s what I wanted, although now we have to hear them call each other “darling” all the time, which is going to wear on me something fierce.

But I have to say, I still prefer doing it the other way, with zombies and dream sequences and champagne bottles full of blood. I’m just an old-fashioned romantic, I suppose.

Tomorrow: Birdland.


Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

They shoot the reprise from yesterday’s finale again, and make the same mistakes: when Morgan and Bramwell are taking ten paces, you can see the edge of the burlap on the floor, and a studio light.

After he shoots Bramwell, the camera can’t get Morgan’s face in focus. Then they cut to a partially obscured view of Bramwell on the ground.

I cleaned the quote up in the post, but what Bramwell actually says to Daphne is, “Catherine has no longer anything to do with it.”

Gerard doesn’t disappoint, still serving up Gerardspeak: “But if you’re wrong, she could be a thousand miles away from now— by now.”

As Morgan pours champagne for Catherine, the camera swings too wide, and you can see the edge of the set.

When Daphne tells Bramwell that Catherine and Morgan are married, there’s a clank in the studio.

Tomorrow: Birdland.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

17 thoughts on “Episode 1207/1208: A Duel’s House

  1. I screamed with laughter at the riff on Daphne’s dress, I must admit. If my roommate can’t get up for work in the morning because I woke him, on your head be it, sir.

    And speaking of heads and articles of clothing…oh, God. If only they had 4K back in 1971… Of course, then we could see the other phallic objects, those boom mikes, in even more of their unholy glory. (Then again, that’s not a phrase I should be using right now.) Had they never heard of athletic cups in the 18th century or whenever the hell we are right now?

    The worst part is? Frid is taking a nap on ABC’s dime, and he STILL flubs a line. How is that humanely possible?

  2. Danny,

    “But I have to say, I still prefer doing it the other way, with zombies and dream sequences and champagne bottles full of blood.”

    I distinctly got the feeling from a few hundred of your remarks about the dream curse that you DIDN’T like dream sequences. Perhaps I misinterpreted them…..

    I’m also a bit surprised you didn’t mention Catherine’s dress. When I first saw it, I thought she had marshmallows on her sleeves. It took me awhile to make out they were actually flowers. I have a 65″ TV, and it was still difficult. I can only imagine what those flowers looked like on 19″ standard definition televisions with rabbit ears back then!

  3. Well, at least we can be confident that Main-Universe Barnabas will never bother attacking Parallel-Universe Bramwell. There’s no blood in it, for him.

    When Poverty-stricken Bramwell says “That’s too Rich for my Blood”, he’s talking both figuratively and literally. He literally doesn’t have any blood to compare to.

  4. A couple episodes ago, was Melanie wearing the blue continent dress with mainsail collar that Daphne’s wearing in this episode? Or is my memory cheating?

    And Catherine’s dress is gorgeous, even with the pink and white marshmallows on her sleeves!

    1. Melanie’s gown was darker blue. Daphne’s is more of a teal and seems to have several more yards of fabric.
      Perhaps the ladies are wearing their larger dresses in reaction to the protrusion of Morgan’s Organ. If his “historical costume” continues in this fashion I may need some sal-volatile myself.

  5. Weren’t both Morgan and Bramwell counting off their paces in yesterday’s closing? Only Morgan is counting in today’s reprise.

    Morgan needs to chill! Catherine’s never going to stand for him always throwing Bramwell in her face.

    During their exchange in the drawing room when Morgan goes to get champagne, both Daphne and Catherine stumble a bit with lines.

    Parallel Gerard Stiles! So is he also just pretending, and his real name is Parallel Ivan Miller?

    Aw, see now? When he’s not bellowing, Morgan is really quite sweet.

    What’s so romantic about Bramwell that all these ladies are crazy about? Just not seeing it at all. He’s petulant and moping (no, he’s NOT “brooding”) and really doesn’t have any right to be pestering Catherine. She needs to get a restraining order to keep him away. No means no. I’m starting to think this story might have been better off with Frid as Morgan and Prentice as Bramwell.

    What’s the piece of cloth that Gerard has? I’ll assume it’s Stella’s, it’s just confusing that he doesn’t show Kendrick so he can confirm it.

    And Kendrick’s got to wake up and smell the Parallel coffee here! He should have been asking questions when they went to the shed and got the shovels.

  6. Since we’re talking about dresses … Mary McKinley (1840PT costumer) was a guest at a DS convention that I attended in the 1980s, and she talked about creating original costumes for the women on a limited budget. Her solution was to make one or two plain dresses for each character and dress them up or down with interchangeable collars and cuffs, jewelry and yes, fake flowers too/

  7. We’re currently watching episode 1231, set in 1680. Much of it takes place in Collinwood. The problem here is that Collinwood wasn’t built until 1795.
    Kind of a big oopsie.
    No one seems to have noticed. Did I miss something?

    1. Apparently in this band of Parallel Time, Collinwood was somehow built over a century earlier than in the main timeline…

    1. Yes, it’s all relative. Back then, the pie was not sliced too thin.

      At the time of the Dark Shadows cancellation, All My Children and A World Apart ranked even lower. ABC canceled A World Apart a few months later, but they stuck by All My Children. I guess this was mainly because Agnes Nixon had done such a good job with One Life to Live that they wanted to give AMC a fighting chance. It certainly paid off.

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