Dark Shadows: Who’s Got the Hand?

After one last, unexpected night as a werewolf, courtesy of the Hand of Count Petofi, Quentin Collins awakes to find that his face has been restored to normal… but he’s in no position to be happy about it. While he was running around in werewolf form, the highly suspect Victor Fenn-Gibbon and his accomplice Aristede captured him. They want the Hand for themselves and intend to use Quentin as a hostage to force the person who currently has it to give it to them–that would be Angelique. The evening before, she told Fenn-Gibbon that she and Quentin were engaged, so they’re sure his life means something to her.

Quentin under the pendulumTo force the issue, Aristede straps Quentin down onto a table and starts one of those pit-and-pendulum contraptions swinging over him. It’s a complicated clockwork machine with numerous large cogs and gears to lower the sharp blade precisely to cut Quentin in half at a designated time.

I have to wonder: How long have these guys been in town? They must’ve brought this thing with them. When did they have the time to set it all up in the basement of an abandoned old mill, and why go to so much trouble just on the off-chance that it might come in handy?

Aristede then goes to Angelique and tells her that Quentin has 27 minutes to live. This is just about the length of an episode, so Angelique’s, and then Barnabas’s, efforts to find and rescue Quentin play out almost in real time. Aristede is now wearing an amulet that Victor gave him, so he’s impervious to her spells. Barnabas can’t hypnotize him either. It’s only when Aristede thinks it’s too late and no one can reach the old mill in time that he tells Barnabas where Quentin is.

Even though he’s saved Quentin this time, Barnabas continues to fret over how and when Quentin will die. He and Angelique have had several conversations about altering the timeline and changing the course of history–which they then ignore whenever they want to do something. Unless this is the way things have always unfolded, both have influenced the course of events more than once through their actions. For example, Laura Collins’s efforts to take her children would probably have turned out differently if Angelique hadn’t worked against her. Rachel and Groundskeeper Dirk would certainly be alive if it weren’t for Barnabas.

A gypsy girl is sent from Montreal, claiming that she alone has the knowledge of how to handle the Hand and revoke the curse on Quentin, but she’s killed by Fenn-Gibbon before she can do anything. I don’t know whether or not this is due to Barnabas’s meddling with the timeline or was something that was supposed to happen, since it seems to be the second item Ghost-Quentin warned about in a dream: this girl was the person who could’ve saved him, but was murdered.

Barnabas perceives this, and begins to wonder about Quentin’s ultimate fate.

He gets the idea that he might find some clue to the circumstances of Quentin’s death, perhaps even the date when it happened, in that Collins Family History that Victoria Winters carried with her to 1795. He says that it’s still at the old courthouse. I thought that Eve brought it back to 1969 after her own brief visit to the past and gave it to Vicky as a wedding present–but Barnabas sends Magda to the old courthouse and she returns with the book. Unless Vicky took it with her again when she went back to the 1790s the second time, I can’t imagine how it got there; I don’t remember her having it with her when she disappeared with Peter Bradford. It’s another one of those temporal paradoxes.

Not that the book tells Barnabas anything useful. When he looks up Quentin, all he finds is that Quentin went on a trip around the world; Barnabas recognizes this as the same type of fiction as his own “went to England” written in the same history.

Barnabas then wonders about the third warning sign, who the person who truly loved Quentin and turned away from him could be. Could it be Beth? If Barnabas has forgotten how she’s stuck with Quentin through all his werewolf troubles, surely he must remember that Beth is the other ghost who’s haunting Collinwood along with Quentin in 1969. Her fate must be tied up with Quentin’s.

This point is demonstrated when Quentin returns home and sees that Beth has the mark of the pentagram on her forehead, which only he can see. This means that she is destined to be his victim.

BethHe tells Beth so and tries to get her to get as far away from Collinwood and from him as she can before the next full moon. Beth refuses to go. She’s wearing her own silver pentagram and believes that Quentin can never harm her because she loves him.

“Faithful until death…” Quentin sneers. That’s what they’ll put on her tombstone.

In the face of this pending disaster, Quentin sits down to listen to that favorite song of his on the gramophone and sloshes down some brandy. Which is pretty much how he’ll be spending his afterlife.

After awhile, he takes a pistol out into the garden and prepares to shoot himself, but is interrupted when he sees Aristede and Fenn-Gibbon conferring secretly nearby. He can’t hear what they’re saying, but we can. This is where we learn that Fenn-Gibbon was responsible for the gypsy-girl’s murder. He wants Aristede to talk to Quentin about something, but after that whole unpleasant pit-and-pendulum incident, Aristede doubts that Quentin will want to chat with him.

Quentin never saw Fenn-Gibbon during that incident, so this is the first inkling he has that his brother Edward’s guest at the house is connected with what’s going on with the Hand.

Meanwhile, the ghost of the murdered gypsy-girl makes a brief reappearance at the old house to place her own curse–not on her killer, but on Magda for stealing the Hand. Everyone Magda loves will die.

The curse goes into effect right away. There’s a knock on the door and, when Magda answers it, she finds her husband Sandor standing there. He’s been gone from the show for some time, even before the same actor (Thayer David) doubled up as Victor Fenn-Gibbon. Well, he won’t have to play double roles after this one episode, since he falls to the floor with a knife in his back almost immediately.

Magda’s first thought is that her sister Jenny’s children are also in danger. She’s especially worried for her nephew. Thinking of that infant’s coffin Barnabas will find in the woods in 1969, I can’t hold out too much hope for the poor little boy’s future.

Quentin only learns that he’s a father after he loses his son.

To his credit, he asks right away about his daughter. Barnabas is certain the little girl will survive; he’s finally realized that she will grow up to be the grandmother to Chris the Werewolf. The curse will go on.

The Hand Magda then tries to destroy the Hand by taking a hatchet to it and throwing it into the fire, but she can’t get rid of it that easily. The Hand only reappears as a bad special effect and floats around the room, chasing her out of the house.

In spite of his understandable dislike of Aristede, Quentin meets him at The Blue Whale bar down by the docks (except for the absence of the jukebox, the place looks very much as it does in the 1960s). The two come to an agreement about the Hand. Quentin will give it to Fenn-Gibbon…

Only it’s gone. It’s been carried off by Timothy Shaw, who’s been lurking around Collinwood since he’s no longer suspected of Minerva Trask’s murder. Since he knows about Judith Collins shooting Rachel, he blackmailed the Reverend Trask into speaking up for him and calling the police off.

The Count's other handTim doesn’t know exactly what this gruesome object is, but he’s overheard a conversation or two about it and believes it holds some great supernatural power.

The Hand didn’t like Quentin or Evan Hanley; it messed up their minds and their faces. It didn’t like Magda or Angelique and ignored their efforts to wield its powers. But it take a liking to Tim.

After paying a call on Evan Hanley with his new best friend the Hand and gathering more information about it, Tim skips town.

Fenn-Gibbon doesn’t believe it when Quentin, Barnabas, and Magda try to tell him the Hand has been stolen. A fight ensues.

In wrestling with Quentin, one of the mysterious stranger’s gloved hands pops off and his true identity is revealed.

“You are Count Petofi!” Magda gasps.


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.