“Well, at least there’ll be no more murders.”
Angelique returned from the dead to destroy her ex-husband Quentin, and between you and me, she’s done a kick-ass job. Quentin’s on the run from the law, accused of several murders that he’s only partially responsible for, all of his friends are dead, and a minute from now, either he’s going to murder his second wife or she’s going to murder him. This is about as destroyed as a person needs to be.
We’re down to the last week of the Parallel Time storyline; there’s just a few more people to kill, and then Barnabas and Julia can go back to their own dimension, satisfied with a job well done. Everything Must Go, says the sign in the front window, and here it is: everything. Let’s see how it goes.
Angelique herself is only seconds from destruction — her vitality depends on sucking the life force out of a woman named Roxanne, and if the mysterious Claude North can get Roxanne to speak, then it’s lights out for Angelique.
But Barnabas offers the witch one last shot at redemption, handing her a confession to sign that would clear Quentin’s name. She won’t even touch it. Screw you, she says, if you people don’t appreciate me, then I’ll go down, and I’ll take the whole goddamn show down with me.
Then Roxanne speaks — and Angelique dies with a curse on her lips, as Angeliques should. Really, at the core, she’s saying: I don’t want to live in a world where Roxanne has dialogue. You’ve got to admit she has a point.
Continue reading Episode 1056: The Parallel Sky
“I’m in the curious position of knowing the criminals, but not the crime.”
There’s a popular myth that vampire Barnabas Collins is “redeemed” at some point during the run of Dark Shadows, and becomes a “sympathetic” character. In fact, that myth is so popular that pretty much everyone believes it except me, and even I believe it sometimes.
Still, it’s difficult to identify a moment in the series when he isn’t willing to murder someone, or cover up a murder, in order to protect himself or further some goal that he has. It is true that sometimes the person he’s planning to murder is not very nice. Whether that counts as “sympathetic” depends on your opinion of mass murder as a lifestyle choice for fictional characters.
At the moment, Barnabas is participating in a conspiracy led by the Leviathan people, an ancient and perplexing time-traveling death cult that appears to be mostly interested in Carolyn Stoddard’s love life. This cosmic conspiracy now includes several members of the Collins family, as well as the people who run the antique shop where Carolyn works.
As a collective, the Leviathan-minded characters have done the following:
- Opened a box
- Adopted a baby
- Boarded up some windows
- Read a book
- Bought some clothes
- Gave medicine to the baby
- Stayed out later than they were supposed to
- Talked to somebody at the Blue Whale
- Pretended that a weird noise was the radiator even though it wasn’t
- Invited their ex-husband to move back in
- and drew circles on a couple of calendars.
And that, I think, is the extent of the current reign of terror. Except for Barnabas Collins, of course, who intentionally ran somebody down with his car, and is now planning to finish the job by choking the life out of the unconscious victim in his hospital bed.
As usual, the only person who’s even thinking about murder is Barnabas. Everybody else is basically fine.
Continue reading Episode 907: Barnabas v Julia: Dawn of Justice
“Are you trying to make us doubt our senses? We saw you fling a man over the sea cliffs!”
So that’s where we find ourselves, halfway through this special feature on the 1971 Dark Shadows comic strip — on the knife edge of a story untelling itself. Starting just a few weeks before the television show jumped into a gypsy caravan and drove off into the night, the daily comic strip stayed behind, performing a dark ritual of — well, what’s the opposite of summoning? Cause that’s what the comic strip is doing.
Distilled down to three characters and a house, the Dark Shadows comic strip was the remains of a party, after most of the guests have gone home. Gee, look at the time, they all said, glancing at the calendar. See you all next week, on Ryan’s Hope. Then they were gone, chased off by the dreadful chimes of the church bell tolling April Third, April Third.
Now, only Barnabas is left, accompanied by the pale shadows of Elizabeth and Carolyn, performing his dark ritual of dispersing.
Continue reading Dark Shadows Comic Strip, part 6: The Thousand-Year War
“Having Charity Trask drive a stake through his heart was a stroke of genius.”
They say that the DEATH card in the Tarot deck doesn’t really mean death — not the actual literal physical death, as in: this card means that you’re going to die. In the deck, Tarot enthusiasts say, DEATH is sort of a generalized shorthand for change, or transition, or the end of something old, which brings new life in the spring. DEATH means quitting your job, or ending a relationship, or selling your couch. Or changing your mind. It’s a metaphor. DEATH is a magazine subscription about to expire, or finally dropping that karate class you never go to. DEATH is giving up on the idea that Joss Whedon will ever make another decent television show. DEATH is running out of coffee, but Starbucks is closed, because there was a gas leak and all the baristas died. Wait, that’s a bad example.
They’re wrong, of course; Tarot people are idiots. DEATH means death. You know what death is; it’s the thing that you mean when you say the word death. If you’re talking to someone who’s passionately explaining why death isn’t really death, you should probably remove sharp objects from their immediate vicinity, just in case they want to demonstrate.
Continue reading Episode 847: … And Carry On
“If he dies, the whole future of the Collins family will not be existing!”
Well, it’s another August afternoon, and everybody on Dark Shadows is down in the basement, wasting a perfectly nice day. I can remember a time on this show when people would take a walk in the woods on sunny days, and have genial chats with little girls who they didn’t realize were ghosts. It was awful; I hated those walks. Turns out all the cool stuff was happening in the basement. Take that, mothers of America!
Continue reading Episode 817: A Night in Casablanca
“I have a small nagging wonder at your even being here.”
When we last left Quentin, he was strapped to a table under a slowly descending swinging axe, not at all in danger of being brutally killed. Quentin was trapped in this entirely non-lethal predicament by Aristede, who rigged up some “Pit and the Pendulum” machinery, and then left him here to not die.
The clock was not winding down and time was not running out, and the pendulum was not inching ever closer to our hero. It was inching, yes. I will concede the inching. But towards what?
Continue reading Episode 796: Death and Taxes
“I don’t understand it any more than you do, but I believe it.”
Okay, let me see if I have this right.
There’s a God — a Great Sun God named Amen-Ra — and he really exists, because it turns out the ancient Egyptians were right on the money. Tens across the board for the ancient Egyptians. They looked up into the sky, and they said, the sun is a boat, and Ra crosses the sky every day and looks down on the world that he created, before high-tailing it back over to the east so he can do it again with the moon. The moon is a boat too; they’re both boats. Everything in the sky is a boat.
Also, there’s a giant serpent named Apep that lurks just below the horizon, who tries to attack Ra’s solar boat, stopping it with his hypnotic stare and threatening to eat the sun. Luckily, every evening, the serpent is defeated by Set, the god of the desert, as described in The Books of Overthrowing Apep, which includes chapters on Spitting Upon Apep, Defiling Apep with the Left Foot, Taking a Lance to Smite Apep and Putting Fire Upon Apep. That will teach Apep a thing or two, is the basic attitude of the ancient Egyptians.
And according to the vampire soap opera that we’re currently watching, all of that is totally true. That is the way that the world works. The boat, the snake, the left foot, everything.
Well, I’m sorry, but I just don’t see it. With all due respect to the ancient Egyptians, there’s something about that story that doesn’t quite ring true for me.
Continue reading Episode 743: Stand Next to Barnabas
“Lots of things happen in this house that no one can understand.”
It always starts with a box.
You take your fears and your crimes and your regrets, and you bury them deep in the earth, and you tell yourself that no one will ever know. Nobody has a key, and nobody knows where you buried it, and nobody knows that it even exists. The mystery box is hidden forever.
But you know that it’s only a matter of time. Boxes open. That’s pretty much the whole point of boxes.
Continue reading Episode 684: Barnabas Collins and the Mysterious Ghost
“So we’re at the mercy of a ghost.”
Let us put aside speculation, and confine ourselves to the facts.
On Monday, the unresting spirit of Quentin Collins directed young David to remove a small vial of strychnine from his rolltop desk. The next day, an unseen spirit entered the cottage of Christopher Jennings, uncorked his whiskey decanter, and decanted several tablespoons worth of strychnine into it. Chris helped himself to a glass, and now he’s flat on his back, thinking things over.
At Collinwood, Julia’s sleep was interrupted by the ghost of a sobbing woman, who led her downstairs and out the front door. Picking up Barnabas along the way, Julia followed the ghost, who led them to the scene of the crime.
Now, I’m fairly certain that we know whodunnit — it was the muttonchops that walk like a man, last spotted fleeing the scene and shouting, “You’ll never catch me alive!” The questions that we need to resolve are more along the lines of whythehelldunnit.
#1. Why did Beth go to Julia, rather than anyone else?
#2. Why is Beth suddenly trying to stop Quentin’s plan?
#3. Why does Quentin want to kill Chris?
There are solutions to all of these mysteries, which regular readers should be able to work out for themselves, without resorting to time travel by way of the DVD box set. Don’t bother with the head canon; all the evidence that we need is right here in this room. As the man said, You know my methods, Watson. Apply them.
Continue reading Episode 678: Chris Jennings Must Die
“No matter how dangerous it is, I’ve got to have a showdown with Nicholas Blair.”
Really, the thing that everybody wants to know is: why can’t the Stormtroopers shoot straight in Star Wars? It turns out there are three simple answers.
#1. Stormtroopers shooting laser bolts are more interesting to look at than Stormtroopers who stand around complaining.
#2. Shooting Luke Skywalker in the head halfway through the first movie is going to leave a rather obvious gap in the trilogy.
#3. “Strong Guy Kills Weak Guy” is not headline news.
This ends the lit-crit theory portion of today’s post; we will now spend the rest of our time watching Dr. Julia Hoffman act like an unbelievable badass.
Continue reading Episode 619: The Gunslinger