DVD Review: Dark Shadows, a little more of the Phoenix

Now that Elizabeth Collins Stoddard is out of the way, Roger overrides her instructions to Vicky and Carolyn not to let David near Laura. He is, after all, the boy’s father and he isn’t as intimidated by the two girls as he is by his big sister. He lets David have a sleep-over at the cottage where Laura has been staying. While the boy sleeps in his mother’s arms on the sofa, Josette makes one of her jasmine-scented appearances; Laura sends her away, saying that there’s nothing the ghost can do while she’s holding her son. Nothing else happens. After all their predictions of disaster, Vicky and Carolyn are a little disappointed the next morning when David tells them that he had a nice time with his mom.

Dr. Guthrie, meanwhile, proposes a séance to contact Josette. He’s doubtful that she’ll appear, but I was sure she’d show up. She’s been in more episodes lately than Joe or Maggie. Roger sneers as usual, but agrees to it. Laura refuses to attend.

The séance is performed on a dark and stormy night. Great! I love this stuff.

Given their sympathetic relationship, it isn’t surprising that Vicky is chosen by the ghost of Josette Collins to deliver her message. Vicky enters a trance and begins to moan and groan–but before she can actually say anything, the drawing-room door bursts open with a blast of wind and a flash of lightning. A hooded figure stands in the front hall. It’s Laura. She says she’s changed her mind and decided to come after all.

Josette speaks through Vicky at the seance

Laura makes a few feints at discouraging Vicky from resuming her contact with Josette, but gives up without much of a struggle when Vicky insists. She joins the circle around the table and as the séance continues, stares at Vicky so hard that her eyes bulge out.

Vicky begins to speak in French. “Vicky doesn’t speak French!” exclaims Carolyn, which strikes me as odd. What kind of a governess doesn’t speak French? But Carolyn’s governess, if she ever had one, didn’t speak French either and she doesn’t understand a word of what Vicky says.

From my own high-school French, I pick up a few key phrases: Aside from the expected references to fire, a “petit garcon” who is “morte” is with Josette. There is also a “presence diable” and “personn s’appelle”… but before Vicky can name this diabolic presence, she screams and faints. This ends the séance.

Fortunately for us all, Dr. Guthrie is happy to translate anything we missed or didn’t understand. In addition to the dead little boy and the as-yet-unnamed diabolic presence, Josette spoke of a fire recurring every century; another will come soon. Dr. Guthrie had recorded the entire séance, but when he reviews the tape the next day, he finds it erased. The voices of the participants have been replaced by the sounds of crackling fire. Of course, he could just have put the tape recorder a little too close to the fireplace.

At the Phoenix morgue, the body of the unidentified woman who was found burned to death in Laura’s apartment has disappeared. Dr. Guthrie tells Laura about this just to see her reaction. When he keeps poking, she warns him to leave her alone.

The nature of the accusations the doctor, Vicky, and Carolyn have been making give this part of the story the feel of an old-fashioned witch-hunt; as Laura herself wryly points out when Guthrie questions her, they haven’t had witchcraft trials in New England for a long time. Because of this, I can’t help some feeling sympathy for her. But Laura is, however, capable of precisely the things they suspect she’s done. We’re about to see another demonstration.

A little while later, as she gazes into her fire at the cottage, Dr. Guthrie experiences the same sort of dizzy spell that overcame Elizabeth and eventually sent her to the hospital in a coma. He would no doubt have ended up in the same condition if David hadn’t come see his mother just then and interrupted. The spell is broken and Dr. Guthrie finally puts things together–the 100-year cycle, the phoenix reborn from the ashes. Oh, and he wants Carolyn and Joe to help him open the tomb of Laura Murdoch Stockbridge to see what’s inside.

And that’s the end of the 5th DVD set!

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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.