Dark Shadows: Leaving 1840

And leaving behind Dark Shadows in the 1970s too…

I stopped the last time with Daphne and Quentin finding themselves in that alternate reality that intersects with an empty room in the abandoned east wing of Collinwood.

They don’t stay there very long–only a few minutes, enough to witness Catherine accepting Morgan’s proposal and hear the alt-Samantha’s advice that the couple live somewhere else once they’re married. Alt-Samantha takes care of someone named Justin, who apparently isn’t able to talk but the family hopes will speak again someday. Then the alt-Daphne comes in, and Quentin and Daphne are suddenly back in the empty room in their own reality.

What’s amusing about this is when Daphne tries to explain to Quentin what’s just happened, repeating what Professor Stokes told her about “parallel time”. Quentin responds, “Yes, of course! The Weitzman Principle!”

Because a man who builds trans-dimensional staircases would immediately grasp these complicated concepts.  “But that was only a theory…” He’s read about the possibility of alternate universes and is fascinated at being in one, however briefly.

Desmond and Quentin face execution“This is the most incredible thing that’s ever happened to me,” says the man who’s been accused of witchcraft by his best friend, who happens to be possessed by the severed head of a 150-year-old warlock in a glass box.

Once he’s back in his own Collinwood, however, Quentin is in danger of being recaptured and executed.

Gerard has been following the comings and goings of Daphne, her sister Joanna, and Dr. Julia Hoffman (who is going by “Julia Collins” in this time period) to the warehouse by the docks,  where Quentin and his wounded cousin Desmond have been hiding since they escaped from jail. Julia has patched up Desmond and says that he’ll able to travel soon. Quentin wants Daphne to come with them.

But Gerard has other plans. He puts a spell on Daphne so that she accepts his proposal and the wedding ceremony is performed right away in the drawing room. When Quentin hears about this, he falls into the trap set for him and rushes back to Collinwood to put a stop to it. He’s too late. Gerard and Daphne are married.  She’s free of the spell once she’s his wife; she knows that Gerard is really the warlock Judah Zachary, but she’s helpless to do anything about it.

Lamar Trask was waiting for Quentin behind the drawing-room door with a gun.  Not only is Quentin taken back to jail, but the police get Desmond too.

Poor Desmond never had a trial, but since he’s been consorting with a convicted warlock, the judges decide summarily that he must also be guilty.  Both men will be executed the next day.

Barnabas hasn’t given up hope to save his cousins. He wants to find the Head of Judah Zachary and use it to show that Gerard is the warlock, not Quentin. He asks his wife Valerie/Angelique to use her own powers as a witch to help him do this, but she refuses to risk herself against Zachary’s greater powers. Even though the two have been all lovey-dovey the last few weeks since she took the vampire curse off him, he tells her now that he could never really love her. Being what she is, she simply isn’t capable of feeling sympathy or mercy for other people or wanting to help them at a cost to herself. As a human being no longer a vampire, he can.

This speech of utter rejection strikes home for her. Angelique does want his love, and so for Barnabas’s sake, she exerts herself to try and destroy Gerard using one of her little voodoo dolls and a pin–but he catches her at it.

Quentin at the blockSince Judah Zachary was the one who gave Angelique her powers back in the 1690s, he can take them away from her now. He brings her to the house of his friend and co-coven member, Charles Dawson, with instructions that Dawson will keep her prisoner there until after the execution, when he’ll have the time to deal with her personally.

But even as a mortal woman, Angelique isn’t exactly helpless.

Getting Dawson off guard, she hits him over the head (accidentally killing him), then searches his house until she finds the Head in its glass box.

This, she takes to the courthouse and presents just as Quentin is putting his own head on the block to have it chopped off.

Angelique and the HeadThe judges remain doubtful even after they see the Head and hear what Valerie / Angelique has to say about it. To try and convince them that she’s telling the truth, she’s forced to admit that she is actually that witch Miranda who betrayed the coven and testified against Judah Zachary in 1692.

Gerard and Lamar Trask, who has come along to the execution to gloat, both argue against her. In short, they’re ready to accuse anybody who stands against them of witchcraft as long as it gets Quentin’s head cut off and thwarts Barnabas.

It’s up to Desmond to make an irrefutable point. Grabbing a gun from one of the guards, he shoots Gerard in the back.

Skeleton Head The Head in the glass box turns into a skull.

Gerard, no longer possessed by Judah Zachary but dying, admits to everything and asks for Quentin’s forgiveness with his last breath.

Exonerated, Quentin and Desmond are now free to go home, each to the woman he loves: Desmond to Leticia and Quentin to Daphne (Quentin’s wife fell off the cliff at Widow’s Hill a couple of episodes earlier, so he can remarry). Happy endings all around!

Barnabas is at first worried that Valerie / Angelique / Miranda will be arrested for witchcraft in light of her confession to being a 170something-year-old witch, but the judges release her. She too is free to go home–but this couple doesn’t get a happy ending.

Lamar Trask is the one living person who isn’t happy about all of this. Bursting into the drawing room at Collinwood, he shoots Valerie / Angelique and she dies on the sofa before Barnabas can tell her he loves her after all.

After that, the rest of the story wraps up very quickly. Barnabas chases Lamar through the house and they fight in a corridor in the east wing. Lamar stabs Barnabas in their struggle, but Barnabas manages to wound Lamar more seriously. As he dies, Lamar stumbles into the empty room, which shifts very briefly to that other dimension, then back again, taking Lamar’s body with it.

Barnabas would like to stay on for his wife’s funeral, but his friends Julia and Professor Stokes (who really did very little in this time period apart from explaining the concept of alternate dimensions to Daphne) want to return to their own time–now early 1971–as soon as possible.

They tell Desmond that they came from the future and explain about the transdimensional stairway. It’s a pity Quentin didn’t get to hear this; he would love to know that the thing actually worked. Especially since Stokes advises Desmond to tear the stairway down after they go.

Barnabas, Julis, and Prof. Stokes depart via the psychedelic doorwayBarnabas, Julia, and Professor Stokes go up the stairs and through the psychedelic doorway…

They emerge in a Collinwood that isn’t in ruins. Elizabeth’s been looking for them–they are all going out to attend a charity event at which Roger will be giving a speech. Everything’s fine. It’s a been a lovely and quiet winter with no evil ghosts, undead pirate hordes, vampires, or dead kids ruining the 1970 holiday season.

Okay then.

Some time travel issues that occur to me while I’m watching this:

  • 1970 Barnabas arrived in 1840 by taking over the body of his former vampiric self. He didn’t come in via the transdimensional stairway, but he’s gone back to the 20th century that way, no longer a vampire, taking his 1840 body with him. There’s no vampire body to be shut up in the coffin in the secret room at the back of the mausoleum for Willie Loomis to find and set free in 1967. So how could Barnabas go through the steps he has the last few years to end up as his 1971 self?
  • Tad didn’t die as a boy, so unless he gets killed in the Civil War or another shipwreck or something, presumably he’ll grow up to become the master of Collinwood during the late Victorian era instead of his unseen cousins. Therefore, if the 1890s Collins family–Edward, Judith, Quentin, and Carl–are born, their lives will probably be very different. Will the events that led 1897 Quentin to become a werewolf and have his Dorian-Gray-like portrait painted to keep him young for over 70 years occur? That Quentin does exist in 1971; Barnabas asks after him and Elizabeth says he’s there.
  • As long as I’m obsessing over the identity of the Granny Collins who died in 1897, I suppose that she was Edith, but she didn’t get murdered in the original timeline.
  • Lamar Trask never married or had a son, so he can’t be the father of the 1890s Reverend. Did the Rev. Trask exist?
  • Vampire Roxanne was staked in 1840, so I assume that that chained-up coffin in the old house in 1970/71 is empty, if it’s even there.

The conclusion of the 1840 storyline also has some problems. In an interview on one of the last DVDs, Sam Hall, who was one of the show’s writers (and also husband of Grayson Hall, Dr. Julia Hoffman), complained that they went through their final stories too quickly. I can certainly see that here. It feels like the writers weren’t interested anymore and were eager to resolve this plot without giving much thought to how any of it fit into their previously established history of the Collins family.

A lot of the elements that were used to build toward the 1840 story were never developed once we went to that earlier time period, which leads to some confusing gaps:

  • I mentioned this one before: So much of the build-up in 1995 and 1970 had to do with the deaths of Tad and Carrie, but the two children were rarely seen when they were alive in 1840 and they had only a tiny part in the plot. There was a vague sense of a threat to Tad’s existence once he became heir to Collinwood–his parents were afraid he wouldn’t live to see 21 with Gerard as his guardian–but Gerard never actually tried to kill him nor Carrie.
  • The playroom never came into play at all.  It was an ordinary room when Julia arrived in 1840. Why and how did it become transdimensional? I assume it was somehow connected with Quentin’s stairway, but we never saw it after the earliest episodes of the 1840 story.
  • It’s a small point, but we were informed that in the original timeline, Gerard buried 1840-41 great-uncle Quentin alive as he did 1970 grandnephew Quentin. This time, from the moment Judah Zachary possesses him, Gerard’s plan is to have 1840 Quentin beheaded just as he was himself.
  • The ship, the Java Queen, and the pirates and their unknown captain (presumably Gerard) were never, ever once mentioned in the 1840 story. Nor was there any set up for that green flag business.
  • What was the deal with the blue blobby thing that appeared in the ruins of Collinwood in 1995? Again, I assume it had something to do with the transdimensional stuff, but never heard another word about it. Elizabeth was the one person who disappeared from 1970 Collinwood without explanation; since she was last seen in the drawing room, I half expected her to show up in 1840, transported from her own time via the blue blob–but no.

The blue thingNot that any of this matters.

Julia’s, Barnabas’s, and Timothy Eliot Stokes’s return to the pleasantly quiet Collinwood of 1971 represents the end of Dark Shadows and its characters as we’ve known them, even though the show still has about 40 episodes to go.


Author: Kathryn L Ramage

Kathryn L. Ramage has a B.A. and M.A. in English lit and has been writing for as long as she can remember. She lives in Maryland with three calico cats named after the Brontë sisters. In addition to being the author of numerous short stories, reviews, essays, and period mystery novellas, she is also the author of a series of fantasy novels set in a dukedom called the Northlands on an alternate Earth whose history has diverged from ours somewhere during the medieval period.