Dark Shadows: Back in 1968

After being hanged as a witch in 1795, Vicky finds herself back in 1968, lying on the floor of the Collinwood drawing-room with a group of concerned people gathered all around her. The whole time-travel sequence might have been a dream, except that she’s wearing the same old-fashioned dress she was wearing in 1795 and she has a bandaged bullet wound on her arm. (She was winged while escaping from the jail.) Plus, everybody else in the room saw that other woman who said she was the Collinses’ governess.

Vicky back in 1968In her first moments of disorientation. Vicky speaks to the people around her as if they were their 1795 counterparts. Most of them are merely confused, but one of them is actually the same person.

When she speaks to 1968 Barnabas as if he were 1795 Barnabas, it disturbs him very much. When he learns that she’s actually been living in 1795, he’s certain she knows more about his past than she really does. Being shut up in jail during all the goings-on up at Collinwood, she missed out on a lot, especially the part where Barnabas became a vampire.

While watching the 1795 storyline, I wondered if modern-day Barnabas remembered Vicky from that earlier time and why he didn’t recognize her when he was first freed from his coffin. But it turns out that the woman Barnabas recognized was the other governess; he tells Dr. Hoffman that she was the one hanged as a witch, and that somehow Vicky must have taken her place. Not that this really makes sense: what made Vicky so vulnerable to the witchfinder was her odd behavior and foreknowledge of the future. The other governess wouldn’t have done the same things that Vicky did to lead to her arrest, trial, and conviction. Vicky herself will poke holes in this premise. She doesn’t believe that Peter Bradford would have fallen in love with that other governess as he did with her.

Her memories of her adventures in the past are blurred and muddled. She isn’t clear on a lot of what happened. But she doesn’t forget Peter and she feels sure he will keep his promise to try and reach her.

While she’s waiting, other parts of the past have followed her into the present.

Angelique's self-portrait Soon after her return to 1968, Vicky goes out for a little shopping and brings home a painting she found in an antique store–that same self-portrait that Angelique created of herself in the old Collins house.

Barnabas recognizes it at once. He tries to destroys it by tearing it up and putting it in the drawing-room fire… but when he turns around it’s back on easel again undamaged. And we hear Angelique’s mocking laughter.

Roger Collins becomes enamored of the painting and spends hours staring at it and admiring it. In the midst of one session, he addresses Dr. Hoffman as “Countess.” A little later on, he speaks to his sister as if she’s his sherry-sipping wife (Elizabeth does not appreciate this) and treats Vicky as if he were Joshua and she were the governess in 1795. Vicky brings him back to the present by waving a telephone in his face.

It’s at this point that Professor Stokes shows up–a descendant of Ben Stokes, who I’m happy to learn was freed from his indentured servitude after Barnabas was coffined up and Angelique no longer ensorcelled him and went on to live out the rest of his life in peace. I knew who the professor was right away, not only because he’s played by the same actor, but because this character featured in the Dark Shadows film I reviewed a few months ago. He’ll be our go-to local occult specialist, for those occasions when the people at Collinwood need some advice on supernatural subjects, but he first comes to Collinwood to buy the portrait. Angelique, however, has other plans.

Roger in one of his lucid moments takes the painting to the professor’s home and tries to give it to him, but when they open the package, the canvas inside the frame is blank. When Roger returns to Collinwood, the portrait is back on the easel. Nobody’s getting rid of that thing easily.

Barnabas meanwhile has been fussing over what Vicky does and doesn’t know about his being a vampire. To neutralize that threat without killing Vicky, he finally bites her and tries to use his powers to make her elope with him, but it doesn’t work out that way.

Normally, once Barnabas bites someone and makes them his minion, they don’t have the will to resist him and are compelled to do whatever he says. That’s how it was with Willie, Maggie, and Carolyn. But not with Vicky. Before they go off and get married, she wants to visit the old Collins family mausoleum and see if that secret room where she was hiding really does exist. It’s one thing she does remember clearly and it will prove to her that at least that part of her past adventures was real. Barnabas, who connects that room with his long-hidden coffin, is afraid that once she’s there, Vicky will recall his secret (although she doesn’t know it anyway).

I really liked this little scene. Barnabas keeps trying to influence her by telling her “You don’t want to go to the cemetery, Vicky,” and Vicky’s like “No, no, we’re going to the cemetery,” brushing off his insidious mind-control attempts. And she’s the one driving the car. He’s been in the 20th century for a year now and still hasn’t learned how to drive.

Barnabas and Vicky

It occurred to me while I was watching this that Barnabas has spent most of his vampiric existence dominated by strong-willed women who are smarter than he is. I wouldn’t have put Vicky into that category, but this scene in the car made me wonder what sort of vampire she might turn out to be if she did become his bride and if it was really a good idea for him.

So, anyway, they’re driving to the cemetery when suddenly a man appears in the headlights in the road before them. It’s Peter! Vicky swerves to avoid hitting him and the car crashes.

avatar

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.