Episode 1233: You Make Me Sick

“That may be true, but I have an odd feeling it isn’t.”

Previously, on Dark Shadows:

“Every minute you live is mine,” Bramwell urges, “just as every breath I take is yours! There is no Morgan. There never was! Other people are only shadows that we use to hurt each other with, to frighten each other with! That’s true, isn’t it?”

“Morgan did it for me!” Catherine cries. “He went into that room for me!”

“You and I are the only real ones,” he insists. “You and I!”

It turned out Bramwell’s wife Daphne was hiding in the bushes during this exchange, drinking in every word, and as she lies now on her deathbed, irreparably poisoned by his toxic disregard for other people’s feelings, Bramwell has to wonder, Is there anything that I could have done differently?

The patient has taken to her bed, complaining of fatigue, headaches, hot flashes, low blood pressure and idiopathic melancholia. Her blood counts are low, her allergies are acting up, her love life is entirely in the toilet, and even her X-rays don’t like her. The left side of her body is hardly speaking to the right side of her body. She sees spots before her eyes. Her hair has lost its glossy sheen. She is unable to take any hot liquids after eight o’clock in the evening, and all of her favorite television shows have been cancelled. She suffers from chills, anxiety, dashed hopes, fallen arches, and generalized chronic tsuris. She feels lousy.

Dr. Fletcher has run his tricorder over her several times, and discovered that every single one of her vital life signs are weakening. His professional opinion is that Heaven must be missing an Angel.

“It can’t be true,” says Daphne’s devoted sister Catherine, the one who’s been sneaking off with Daphne’s husband for late-night open-air trysts at the gazebo. “She’s so young. Why, she’s never been sick before in her life!” She must have been saving it up.

“I know,” says the other half of the gazebo sketch. “And if this happens to her, then I will be responsible.” But obviously this is happening to her; that’s what the word “this” means.

“You? Why?” asks Catherine.

“Well, I married her, and then completely neglected her. I’ve given her nothing to live for… and now she’s dying.”

“You mustn’t blame yourself,” says Catherine. I don’t know what she’s basing that opinion on.

“Last night, I came home with such good news,” he humble-brags. “My ship had arrived. I now have as much wealth as I’d ever want.” That must be some fucking ship. “I would gladly give it all up, if it would make her well again!” People always say things like this, secure in the knowledge that no one will take them up on the offer.

Catherine looks gloomy. “Bramwell, if anyone is to blame, I am.”

He turns, in surprise. “You?” These two are not skilled at anticipating other people’s remorse.

“The way I’ve treated her, since she married you… She must think I hate her by now.” The adultery probably also played a part.

“The fact is that you were right,” Bramwell says. “She should have listened to you. I married her, because I was hurt and angry at you. But now, I feel very deeply towards her. Do you believe that?” Yeah, for sure, because that way it can still be all about you.

When we see Daphne later, upstairs in the sickroom, she’s turning the screws on her suffering sister. Daphne is one of those hideously self-effacing incurables who only think about the impact of their illness on other people, and it is giving Catherine the emotional pummeling that she so richly deserves.

“I feel rather foolish,” Daphne says, “taking ill so suddenly, and having to be waited on by everyone.” She turns to regard her sister. “You look very beautiful, Catherine.”

Just that remark by itself would be judo-master level passive aggressive performance, but she keeps on going. “Something troubling you?” she asks, all wide-eyed innocence.

Catherine says, “I’ve just been troubled, ever since…” and an awkward look flashes across her face.

“Since I married Bramwell,” Daphne finishes, hollow-eyed and consumptive.

Catherine has to flee the side of the bed, and take refuge on the other side of the bedpost. “Oh, Daphne,” she admits, “I’ve been so unkind to you ever since you did marry him.”

“No, you haven’t, Catherine,” Daphne croaks. “Not really. I should have tried harder to understand.” It’s a nightmare.

“But I could have tried to make it easier for you,” Catherine suggests. “Couldn’t I?”

Daphne pivots, so that Catherine can’t get comfortable with her inadequate confession. “Bramwell says everything will be different now,” she says. “His ship’s finally come in, did he tell you that? He’s waited and he’s worried about it for such a long time. Now I’m so happy for him. He told me I’m going to have everything I ever wanted.” This party boat is sounding better all the time.

She continues, “We’ll go places together, and do things together, so it’s going to be… Catherine, why are you crying? Oh, Catherine, please tell me what’s wrong.” She is a monster.

The real problem, of course, is that this is the exact opposite of Wuthering Heights, which is what they’re supposedly adapting. In Charlotte Brontë’s novel, neither Cathy or Heathcliff ever feel responsible for anything they’ve ever done. They really are the psychopaths from the gazebo scene, who don’t think that other people exist beyond their own sick obsession with each other.

In the book, Daphne’s role is Isabella Linton, Cathy’s young sister-in-law, who Heathcliff seduces and marries because he thinks it’s funny, which it is. Once he’s got her, he has no real use for her, and he keeps her in his terrible drafty house and tells her to keep quiet. She’s been cut off by her brother Edgar, who threatened to disown her if she ran away with Heathcliff, and now she understands why. In a letter to Edgar’s housemaid, Isabella writes,

“The question I have great interest in; it is this — Is Mr. Heathcliff a man? If so, is he mad? And if not, is he a devil? I sha’n’t tell my reasons for making this inquiry; but I beseech you to explain, if you can, what I have married.”

Heathcliff doesn’t care about Isabella, and he never will; there are no magic boats arriving with luxury vacation packages. After Catherine dies, Isabella taunts Heathcliff with the fact that he’s responsible for the death of the only person he has ever had any regard for, and this leads to a fight, and she runs out of the house and goes all the way to London, where she has Heathcliff’s child, and then she dies thirteen years later, cursing Heathcliff to her final breath.

The entire point of Wuthering Heights is that Heathcliff and Catherine are unredeemed, and irredeemable. They inhabit a nightmare hellscape of their own making, and they force everyone who comes near them to submit to their pointless, destructive passion play, at the cost of their victims’ fortune, legacy, happiness and sense of self. They never feel guilty about anything, because that is an emotion that humans have, and Heathcliff and Catherine exist only to devour and despoil.

So, no, if you were wondering, there is not a sequence in Wuthering Heights where Isabella gets sick for no reason, and Heathcliff moons about her bedside, feeling very deeply towards her. I don’t know where they got this half-baked mellerdrammer scenario from, except maybe every radio soap opera from 1930 to 1950, inclusive.

Now, I didn’t ask for a faithful adaptation of Wuthering Heights, and I’m not going to pretend that I did. As I recall, my request was for them not to do an adaptation of Wuthering Heights at all, and to go make 1971 Dark Shadows, preferably with werewolves. This is what they’re giving me instead.

“I realize now something that I should have known a long time ago,” says fake-Heathcliff. “I love you, Daphne. I love you.”

“You said that to me once before,” she murmurs, “and I didn’t believe you, then. But you really mean it now, don’t you, Bramwell?”

So, wait: he only said that he loved her once, and she didn’t believe him, and they got married anyway? And now look what’s happened. Honestly, sometimes I think that I’ll never understand straight people.

Tomorrow: Last Call.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

There’s a brand-new camera fault today that we haven’t seen before: in the teaser, the camera has a red and green stripe down the left side of the screen.

More throat-clearing in the studio: When Bramwell opens the door for Catherine, the dude clears his throat twice. When he finally gets a chance to say the thing that he’s been trying to say for the last couple weeks, I bet it’s going to be epic.

Kendrick and Carrie trip on a line:

Carrie:  My father told me never to use it again.

Kendrick:  I s-

Carrie:  Especially here at Collinwood.

Kendrick:  I see.

When Kendrick says, “Carrie, put yourself in Melanie’s position,” someone says “ssshh!”

Kendrick tells Melanie, “Well, she was reluctant at first, but when she said — heard it was you, she said she would do it.”

The banister wobbles as Catherine comes down the Old House stairs.

Bramwell struggles with a line: “Well, we can keep on hoping, but… remember, Dr. Fletcher said that the… there was nothing that… (sigh) there was no hope whatsoever.”

Another throat-clearing: After Melanie says it would be a waste of time, and Kendrick asks why.

Melanie says that Julia may be trying to protect her. Kendrick says, “From what, Melanie? From telling you who your real parents are, I mean, there’s no understanding to it!”

Bramwell tells Daphne on her deathbed that he loves her. She says, “You said that to me once before, and I didn’t believe it then. But you really mean it now, don’t you, Bramwell?” So they got married, and he only told her that he loved her once, and she didn’t believe him?

Tomorrow: Last Call.

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

28 thoughts on “Episode 1233: You Make Me Sick

  1. “I would gladly give it all up, if it would make her well again!”

    Perhaps if Bramwell had mentioned this fact to Dr. Fletcher and/or any of his colleagues, they may have come up with an angelica herbal salve, asafoetida and fenugreek tea, or maybe even a wolfsbane and garlic garland.

    Now that Bramwell has as much wealth as he’d ever want, it’s possible he could have asked mommy Josette whether she had any kind of home remedy. Instead, Daphne is given absolutely NOTHING. No “Professor Mack’s Miracle Elixir of Life” nor “Dismal Swamp Chill & Fever Tonic”……..not even “Clark Stanley’s Snake Oil Liniment”. It’s incredible she wasn’t, at the very least, given some brandy or sherry! Those are the Collins’ go to drinks for practically every occasion. Yet Daphne gets nothing but the enjoyment of rubbing Bramwell’s and Catherine’s ignorant noses in a cesspool full of their own guilt and embarrassment.

    How convenient it was for Kendrick to discover a little box filled with exactly the right kind of contents they needed to give Carrie. For a moment there, I thought they might have found a note from Barnabas hidden in a desk explaining all there was to know about Melanie’s truly secret origin. (After all, I’m sure PT Barnabas had sent a note to the future before just like RT Barnabas did in 1897.)

    1. They’ve already used the “hidden letter in the desk” in PT1840; Melanie found a bit of missive in Papa’s study and Julia confiscated and burned it, since it might have advanced the story even a teeny weeny bit.
      That’s how PT Julia rolls.

  2. “fatigue, headaches, … she feels lousy.”

    Tell her to stop watching the rest of the series, and call us on the morning of April 3rd.

  3. As long as we’re sourcing this final loss-lap for the series, perhaps we’d best admit its indebtedness to some more recent gothic fiction adaptations. Certainly its indebtedness is not to the novel Wuthering Heights, but the much less sane 1939 Merle Oberon-Laurence Olivier film, which has no interest in judging the idiot passion of the leads; the thing had just been remade in a much less decorous, more sweatily bosom-heaving adaptation with Anna Calder-Marshall and Timothy Dalton, in 1970–it was in the air. Both films are as addled as the Cathcliff couple, leave out the half of the novel about how much these people make other people suffer, and set the stage for Dark Shadows far more directly than Emily Bronte did. So of course the series is dumber than the novel; most adaptations of that novel are.

    While we at it, we should also acknowledge that the I-dare-you-to-spend-the-night-behind-the-scary-door plot, complete with the forbidden room where a haunting ancestor committed murder against his own, comes from Henry James’s 1892 story Owen Wingrave, IT, too was in the air, as Benjamin Britten’s operatic adaptation premiered on television in 1971–I’m not clear on the exact dates, so can’t infer a direct influence, but it may have been noised about in time to influence Russell. Of course, the lottery part comes from Shirley Jackson and in James you stay in the room and die, you don’t emerge possessed by wicked giggling ancestors. But the premise is James’s, complete with a scary evocation of looming ancestral portraits. (The ancestral murder in James,. however, was about fathers killing sons for not being macho and military enough. Danny’s rhetorical question about the comprehensibility of straight people stands.)

    1. Yes, Bramwell is playing the 1939 movie version of Heathcliff. Many people only know Wuthering Heights from that movie or other adaptations and think it’s about a passionate, doomed romance. They would be shocked if they read the book. Wuthering Heights has been called unfilmable. Dark Shadows, no stranger to time jumps, might have been able to do the decades-spanning novel justice if it had tried a straight adaptation instead of trying to make Bramwell and Catherine sympathetic and failing miserably. Perhaps because her Angelique is so indelible for me, I can’t think of Catherine as a heroine. If they had gone all-in, allowing them to be unsympathetic sociopaths whose love poisons future generations, there would have been real horror and they wouldn’t have even needed the lottery. Plus, they might have had the definitive adaptation of Wuthering Heights.

  4. Daphne is dying from what Roger Ebert named “Ali MacGraw’s Disease:” ‘movie illness in which only symptom is that the sufferer grows more beautiful as death approaches.’ “Love Story” was released approx. 4 months before this Dark Shadows episode.

    Ali MacGraw’s mode of death from Love Story was adapted for Dark Shadows Damwell storyline.

  5. that’s our Danny, proving once again that his wit, wrought in goodly measure of charm and invention, and what i would call his inimical, humorous presence of observance, are easily up to the forbidding task of trudging us through the given up ghost of our insanely favourite show. (heartfelt sigh.)

  6. So I take it that Daphne’s going to go out in the standard Melly Wilkes fashion, unselfish and uncomplaining to the last. We’re not going to have the satisfaction of having her tell off her unfaithful husband and her dishonest sister? Maybe even put a curse on them, that the memory of Daphne will always be a bar to their happiness? Nope, even Daphne must give her blessing to them. (And PLEASE tell me that Morgan is not going to have an epiphany, suddenly step meekly aside, tear up the marriage certificate and release Catherine. Though given the workings of this plot so far, I won’t be very surprised.)

    Couldn’t SOMEBODY just invite Carrie Stokes over JUST for a visit, to have some tea or go on a picnic, maybe a shopping trip into Collinsport? Seems like the only reason anyone talks to her is to take advantage of her nascent psychic powers.
    And on a related subject – – Why is Kendrick having Carrie schlep all the way over to the great house, and treating Collinwood like his own? Couldn’t they have talked at the cottage? Last I saw, Julia (and later, Flora) shoved him out the door and told him not to bother coming back.

    My goodness, Justin’s desk is just chock full of secrets, isn’t it? And naturally they’re exactly what is needed at that moment. I bet that desk may even have a passage through to Narnia up in the top cabinet, and a TARDIS at the back.

    Another note. Unsigned. Oh, come ON! Not even an initial this time? Honestly, this is worse than the damn “incriminating cufflink” bit that was used in earlier plots.

    And apropos of almost nothing, just something I noticed and wanted to kvetch; when Kendrick and Carrie are in Collinwood, no candles are burning yet the foyer and drawing room are evenly and quite brightly lit. While over at Bramwell’s, all the candles are going but it’s very dim. (Probably the shad

      1. “Seems like the only reason anyone talks to her is to take advantage of her nascent psychic powers.”

        You are forgetting Carrie is a very boring person. Her psychic powers are the only interesting things about her. Just as most people wouldn’t invite the Kielbasa Queen over to talk about her political stances on issues of the day, nobody would want to ask Carrie over to talk about her “Have a Nice Day” pinback button collection nor her treasured, extensive assortment of door knobs.

        The reason they couldn’t meet at the cottage was Carrie’s dad had forbidden her to use her powers.

        1. The reason they couldn’t meet at the cottage is because there wasn’t room on the studio floor to put the set for the cottage up. Carrie’s father was not home anyway because he’s not budgeted for today’s episode. Besides that he isn’t going to stay home with his boring daughter and her doorknob collection. 🙃

  7. This, Danny, in the final days of DS, is one of your best, funniest posts ever. One great line after another. My personal favorite: “That must be some fucking ship.” I laughed out loud, and that’s not something the internet makes me do very often.

    1. P.S. – I’ve long known how horrible Heathcliff is in Wuthering Heights, but it never occurred to me that Kathy is as bad as he is. But, yes, she is.

      1. Oh, she is a thoroughly wretched human being, even before she and Heathcliff form the We Hate Everybody club. Just awful.

        Read Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant’s cartoon series on WH; it’s brilliant.

  8. Jonathan Frid seems so very, very tired in the opening scene. As usual, Lara Parker expends enough energy producing eyelid flutters and head wobbles to keep the lights on in half of Manhattan, but by the time they part she, too, is showing signs of fatigue. It’s true that Bramwell hasn’t had any rest in a long time, so Lela Swift may have told Frid to play him as tired. Even so, there must have been a way for him to project tiredness without spending the first several minutes of the episode looking at various spots on the carpet, trailing off in the middle of his lines, and repeatedly wandering off his mark. It doesn’t set a very exciting tone.

  9. Still can’t get past soap opera’s fresh-faced it girl of 1971 wasting away for want of love from Jonathan Frid… Reading this post, it occurs to me that the best way to regard 1841 PT might be Angelique’s dying Wuthering Heights fantasy–she is Cathy and Barnabas is Heathcliff but with a happy ending for both. Instead of that moronic “but it really was a wild animal” finish the camera would pull back from the now-dead blue eyes of Angelique as she expires from Trask’s bullet, a smile etched permanently on her face. And Barnabas sighs and looks and Julia and says, “Well. Where do you wanna eat?”

    On another matter–what day did the cast get the news there would be no May flowers for DS? Maybe today’s show, given the dispiritedness?

    1. That’s one of my two big unanswered questions about Dark Shadows.

      #1) When did Sam and Gordon know that they needed to write House of Dark Shadows, and how did that affect the scripts at that time?

      #2) When did people find out about the cancellation? That question includes the producers and writers: I assume they knew that 1841 PT was going to be the final nine and a half weeks, but when did the hammer fall?

      1. Item in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Fri. 26 Feb 1971: “Cancellation notice – ABC-TV will drop its daytime horror soap opera, “Dark Shadows,” April 2. Much of its popularity was with teenagers.” I suspect the cancellation had likely been announced earlier that same week in Variety and other trade publications, but I haven’t been able to confirm that.

      2. I share your curiosity. With regard to #1, the only HODS related material listed in the finding aid for the Dan Curtis collection at UCLA (https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/kt1q2nc59j/entire_text/) are a reel of music for the film (Box 142) and a plot outline in the material from the ’90 revival (Box 83 Folder 11). With regard to #2, almost all of the contemporary material relating to the original show are set designs/blueprints, audio reels of music cues, and heavily annotated shooting scripts for the episodes (along with some title pages and summaries).

        Possibly interesting (but not directly relevant) stuff includes: Box 1 Folder 1 (“…scripts 1-5 of the original Dark Shadows series. Also included are interdepartamental communications and commercial schedules.”); Box 55 Folder 1 (“memos and schedules for episodes 301-305 of the original Dark Shadows series”); and Box 55 Folder 5 (“scripts for episodes 331-335 of the original Dark Shadows series, as well as memos”).

        What other relevant archival collections exist? Did Sam Hall donate his papers to a library somewhere?

        The interview with Violet Welles (https://darkshadowseveryday.com/2015/08/30/interview-violet-welles/), your obit for Sam Hall (https://darkshadowseveryday.com/2014/09/28/sam-hall/), and your post on #601 talk about how the script sausage got made (would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for the epic 52 hour plot planning session mentioned in the post for #1043). Prisoner’s comment under #1185 says, “Been listening to some early Dark Shadows Festival tapes from the mid-1980s, and Ron Sproat addressed the issue of closure — though he had left in 1969, he mentioned that he still kept in touch with “Gordie”…. Sproat adds that they didn’t get much notice about the cancellation…”

        Unless the timing of finding out about cancellation was really lucky (sic), they had to have gone some ways down the path of planning out post-1840, but if so it’s odd no info on it came out over the last 50 years. Only thing I can think of is that it dealt with JF’s not wanting to continue playing Barnabas in a way they were worried would alienate fans if it came out. 1841 PT makes no sense whatsoever outside the context of show getting cancelled (it has no connection to the main characters in “regular time” whatsoever), so I can’t believe that was the original plan.

        BTW, what the heck is the “Missy and Angelique” music for (“box 148 Audio Reels – Jazz Trio – “Missy and Angelique” undated…This audio reel contains the fully orchestrated music for “Missy and Angelique” from Dark Shadows.”)? Jazz trio? Jazz trio? Who is Missy? Is she one of They?

        Obligatory comment on the episode: note the precognitive narrative collision with Downton Abbey S2E8. Maybe Daphne had an early case of Spanish Flu…

  10. I have a hard time focusing on the troubled Wuthering Heights storyline because I’m so focused on Jonathan Frid’s hair. Until PT 1840 started, I always assumed the Barnabas hairstyle was just a terrible combover. Frid had great hair as evidenced by his coif in this storyline.

  11. I wonder if Daphne is having feverish dreams in which she sees a the image of…Allen Ludden! They should have gotten him for a cameo in the final episode.

  12. I love how Daphne, in her last act in this world, wields her passive-aggressive Kung Fu like the master she is. She’s made a terrible choice in the face of all who warned her, and she’s going to pay for it, but by God she ain’t goin’ down alone. Bramwell and Catherine are going to suffer if she has to drag out her deathbed nobility until the last episode.

    Danny does a marvelous job of pointing this out, as usual; that sweet Daphne can harbor as much rage and desire for vengeance as any kaiju out there.

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