Winding up Dark Shadows 1795

The newly vampired Barnabas falls quickly into the routine of his undead life. He and his henchman Ben Stokes move the coffin to the basement of the otherwise unoccupied old house and Barnabas rises each night to wander the streets of Collinsport in quest of blood. He attacks women who have the misfortune to encounter him. Colonial Collinsport, by the way, has a surprising number of floozies and trollops; it must be because of all the sailors at the port.

He also sinks his teeth into Josette. Not that he intends to at first–he only wanted to warn her away from Collinwood before Angelique’s curse destroyed her too–but now that he’s a vampire, his impulse control has pretty much disappeared. He keeps coming back to her, not simply to feed but to try and make her a vampire as well. Though her family tries to protect her from a danger they don’t fully comprehend, she’s more than willing to go to him, even to the point of slipping out of the house via a secret panel in her bedroom.

Josette as a vampire Of course, this ends badly. Josette can’t escape her fate.

While wandering the cliff top, she encounters the apparition of Angelique, who shows her a pale and ghastly vision of herself as Barnabas’s vampire bride. Horrified, Josette flees and heads straight off the cliff to fulfill that destiny we’ve been hearing about from the first time her name came up in the earliest episodes.

Barnabas is devastated. He doesn’t know about Angelique’s part in his beloved’s death; at this point, he’s only heard a ghostly taunting laugh or two from his late wife and not in relation to this particular event.

Although he believes that Josette rejected him with a suicidally dramatic gesture, he refuses to let her go. Why should death stand in the way of their love? Standing at her newly-dug grave, he uses what supernatural powers he possesses to try and resurrect her. It doesn’t quite work. Josette’s body remains dead, but her spirit is now awakened and cannot return to its rest. She will be haunting and looking after the Collins family for the next two centuries. I suppose these ghostly duties improved her character over time; I liked ghostly Josette much better than live Josette.

Barnabas is glimpsed a few times during his nightly wanderings around the town, the grounds of Collinwood, and the graveyard–which confuses the people who think he’s gone to England, and confuses those who know he’s dead even more.

In the first category are Barnabas’s ditzy cousin Millicent and a ne’er-do-well adventurer named Nathan Forbes. I haven’t gone into their subplot before, although it’s been going on since the beginning of this 1795 storyline. When the young lady first arrived to attend her cousin’s wedding, Nathan was hanging around the old Collins house and his usual flirtation with a pretty girl became much more when he learned that Millicent was very wealthy with no parents to stand in the way of his marrying her. He already has a wife, but she isn’t going to get in the way of his plans either. The present Mrs. Forbes, who is pretending to be Nathan’s sister, wants her share of his second bride’s money to keep her mouth shut about their true relationship, but before this proposed bigamy can get underway, Barnabas makes her one of his victims. She lives long enough after the attack, however, to give Nathan some important information about her murderer.

On top of the numerous Collins family disasters that have been piling up, finding out about the existence of Nathan’s first wife gives Millicent’s fragile mind one more shock than she can stand. When she glimpses Barnabas in the graveyard, she completely cracks. She goes around talking about Barnabas as if he were still present and declares that he ought to challenge Nathan to a duel. To Joshua and Naomi, who are looking after her, she only sounds even more insane than she actually is.

The Collinses try to prevent Nathan from seeing the poor girl, but the dark and nasty side of Nathan’s personality comes to the fore in his schemes to get around whatever obstacles they put up. He even hires his own henchman, a guy named Noah, to assist him in his ploys to bring Millicent to him.

Following up on the death of his wife, Nathan believes he’s discovered that Barnabas is the one who’s committing all the terrible murders in Collinsport (which is true enough), and that Barnabas’s father is concealing him to protect him (which isn’t true, at least not yet); he’s certain he’s got the perfect blackmail material to get whatever he wants.

Foremost in the second category is Barnabas’s dad, Joshua Collins. He knows perfectly well that his son is dead and where he’s supposed to be buried. However, while Josette was going through her final days and secretly meeting Barnabas, she acquired a ring that Barnabas was wearing at the time of his death and burial. Joshua notices it. He goes to the secret room to find it empty. At first, he assumes that grave robbers are responsible, and scoffs at Nathan’s initial blackmail attempts. It isn’t until he goes over to the old house and not only finds the coffin, but sees Barnabas for himself, that he’s forced to face an even more unpleasant truth. He attempts to shoot his son, but bullets have absolutely no effect on Barnabas; Joshua then has a change of heart and Barnabas’s coffin is moved a more secure position in the tower room at Collinwood.

Up until this point, Joshua had been one of the most staunch believers that Vicky was the witch responsible for the destruction of his family, but after his chat with Barnabas, he tries to do what he can to have her freed. Alas, the wheels of colonial justice, such as it is, have been set in motion and even a man of Mr. Collins’s wealth and influence can’t put a stop to it now.

The witchcraft trial has been stretching on all through this part of the story. Now that Angelique is supposedly dead and he is free of her spell, Ben Stokes comes forward to testify on Vicky’s behalf and tries to tell the truth. He isn’t believed. For one thing, he becomes incoherent when he speaks of Angelique’s being dead and his story sounds demented even to people who sincerely believe in the power of witches.

Another thiAngelique's self-portraitng–Angelique shows up at the courthouse just long enough to show everybody that she’s still around after all and a force to be reckoned with.

Uh-oh.

After some additional perjurous testimony from Nathan Forbes, Vicky is found guilty and is sentenced to hang.

Barnabas can’t rescue Vicky, but he spends some time getting revenge on the people responsible for her arrest and conviction. He frightens his old aunt, who was the first person to accuse Vicky, into a heart attack. Then he plays some mind games with the witchfinder Mr. Trask before luring him to the old house to act out the ending of A Cask of Amontillado.

Much as he’d like to, Barnabas can’t touch Angelique, who just laughs at the efforts he or other people try to use to counteract her powers. Joshua and the countess bring in an elderly “white” witch to fight her and break the curse; Angelique just burns the poor old lady up. Bathia Mapes goes up in flames

The creepiest thing she does, right before their astonished eyes, is replace a portrait hanging over the fireplace at the old house with a painting of herself.

Vicky does escape from the gaol (by the way, I love that they spell jail as “Gaol” on the sign outside) with the help of cute law student Peter Bradford, who has been her champion and defender since her arrest. Her first hiding place is in that now-empty secret chamber at the back of the family mausoleum, courtesy of the helpful Ben Stokes.

Now that Joshua is actually protecting Barnabas, he falls prey to Nathan’s blackmail attempts, is forced to give in, and consents to Nathan’s marrying Millicent, even though she’s still more than a little loopy. It’s only after the wedding that Nathan finds out his bride has signed over all her money to her younger brother to prove that Nathan isn’t marrying her for it. Since that’s precisely what Nathan has done, he isn’t terribly happy and makes his own plans to get rid of the boy as well as play Gaslight games with his new wife so the money will come to him.

With the first goal in mind, Nathan instructs his henchman Noah to kidnap the boy. (The boy’s name is Daniel but people–not just Vicky–keep slipping up and calling him David.) Noah does as instructed, but Daniel escapes him and runs off to the grounds of the cemetery near the mausoleum where Vicky is hiding. Peter has thoughtfully left her a pistol to protect herself with and, when she hears Daniel struggling with Noah and crying out for help, she emerges from her hiding place and winds up shooting Noah and killing him. When Peter returns, he sends her and Daniel back to Collinwood, where Naomi Collins, another longstanding defender of Vicky’s innocence, agrees to hide her. Peter is found with Noah’s body and the pistol and is arrested.

Keep in mind that Barnabas has been hiding up in the tower room at Collinwood for awhile too. Millicent’s observed the lights up there at night; she’s been told that the room is empty but has to go and explore for herself. With some encouragement by Nathan, who has a good idea of who’s up there, Millicent goes upstairs to find Barnabas’s coffin, and Barnabas with it. And he hasn’t had a nip of blood for some time. When she tries to tell her husband what happened, he gleefully assumes she’s gone completely mad.

A little later, Barnabas encounters Millicent in the garden and once again sinks his fangs into his cousin’s neck. The worst part of this from everyone’s except Millicent’s point of view is that his mom is there to witness it. Awkward situation all around! Nathan’s been telling Naomi all he knows or guesses about what her son’s been up to, although he still doesn’t know about the vampire thing, and she’s investigated his claims and arrived in the garden just in time to see something too shocking for her to bear.

After settling her affairs, Naomi drinks some poisoned sherry and goes upstairs to die in her son’s arms. Barnabas then kills Nathan, not only over his mother’s death, but also because Nathan was in the process of betraying Vicky once again. Oh, and he tried to kill Barnabas too, first with bullets, then with a wooden stake shot by a crossbow (he missed). I wasn’t sorry to see Nathan go; this guy did as much damage to the Collins family as Angelique, and without having any magical powers at his disposal.

So it’s young Daniel who emerges as the ancestor of the modern-day Collinses, simply because there’s no one else left.

After pretty much everyone else is gone one way or another, Joshua and Barnabas decide what the family narrative will be, and what stories will go into that history book that has caused so much confusion for the characters as well as the viewers. The marriages between Barnabas and Angelique and between Millicent and Nathan will not be mentioned. The story of Josette’s and Jeremiah’s marriage will also be altered. It’s nice when the writers try to tie up all their loose ends like this. We’re finally getting to the end of this 1795 story.

Barnabas now wants his father to kill him. Joshua can’t bear to drive a stake through his son’s heart, so he does what he believes is the next best thing: he chains Barnabas’s coffin shut while he’s inside. The last time we see 1795 Barnabas, he’s inside the chained-up coffin back in the secret room at the mausoleum, waiting for Willie Loomis to free him in 1967.

Vicky's hanging That just leaves Vicky’s story to wind up.

Back at the jail, no one will believe her when she says that she was the one who shot Noah, not Peter. She’s going to hang as a witch, and he will soon follow as a murderer.

As she’s brought to the gallows, the two vow that they will find each other, somehow, regardless of space or time. Then Vicky has a bag put over her head and a noose around her neck.

For the first time since Vicky was sent back to 1795, we now see what’s been going on in 1968; as the opening narration has consistently informed us, time has stood still. Everyone has remained in the Collinwood drawing-room at the séance, staring at the strange young woman who appeared so suddenly and strangely in Vicky’s place.

Then time begins to move again. As Vicky is hung in 1795, the young woman in 1968 falls to the floor, gasping and choking. When the hangmen remove the hood, it is that other woman’s face revealed.

Vicky is back in 1968, still wearing her 1795 clothes.

It’s been so long that I can barely remember what was going on with these people.

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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.