Dark Shadows: The Destruction of Collinwood

Dr. Julia Hoffman and Barnabas Collins return from a week-long visit to 1995 with horrible news about the future of the Collins family. Some time before the end of 1970, the following will occur:

  1. Collinwood will become an abandoned ruin.
  2. Most of the Collins family will have mysteriously disappeared, except for:
    1. 13-year-old David, who will die; Barnabas and Julia have seen his tombstone in the graveyard, and his ghost in the garden. A girl about the same age named Hallie Stokes will also die and appear in ghostly form with David.
    2. Carolyn, who will be found completely mad within the house. She’ll spend the rest of her life, which ends in 1995, as an unbalanced recluse.
    3. Quentin, who will be found wandering the woods, also completely mad and going on about someone named Daphne. He will spend the next 25 years in an asylum.

All of this will be brought about by an evil ghost named Gerard and another morally ambiguous ghost in a magenta dress, who turns out to be Quentin’s Daphne (Kate Jackson). Both died in 1841, although who they were and why they want to destroy the Collinses remains a mystery.

On their return to 1970, Barnabas and Julia try to warn Elizabeth Collins-Stoddard and Quentin about the things they’ve seen, but no one seems to care much about helping them to prevent this disaster from happening.

Bad things are already starting.

Gerard's ghost Gerard’s ghost is at Collinwood, even if no one’s actually seen him yet. Carolyn and Hallie sense someone is watching them. At a picnic near the cliffs, David snaps a photo of Quentin and Maggie; when he develops it in his darkroom, thinks he sees a face in the shrubbery behind them. It could just be a trick of light on the leaves, but it does resemble a scowling man…

This Gerard/Daphne storyline looks a lot like a rehash of the Quentin/Beth story that played out a year or so earlier, but there’s enough variation and curious plot points to keep me interested. Besides, I want to see how the destruction of Collinwood came about even if the Collinses are doing precious little to avoid it.

Elizabeth simply refuses to believe that disaster is coming. She has her own personal horoscope projected for the rest of the year and is promised an uneventful August through December, plus one or two cryptic predictions that will become clear to the viewer, if not to Elizabeth, as events unfolds.

Sebastian Shaw and Carolyn

The psychic who cast Elizabeth’s horoscope is new to town. His name is Sebastian Shaw and he looks just like Carolyn’s late husband, the Leviathan monster-turned-human, Jeb Hawkes (Same actor, Christopher Pennock, in extravagant hippy clothes). Carolyn freaks the first time she sees him, then decides that he must be Jeb come back somehow; Sebastian himself firmly quashes this idea. It’s Maggie Evans he ends up dating.

Barnabas has a similar surprise in store for him when he meets Sebastian’s manager: she’s this universe’s counterpart to that Roxanne he met and fell in love with in the alternate reality he and Julia visited just before their trip to 1995. He’s determined to believe that she is the same Roxanne. Even Julia reminding him of how different the people in that other reality were–and how evil her own counterpart was–won’t dissuade him. He gets that same dreamy-eyed, stubborn look he always did whenever he thought he’d found the latest reincarnation of Josette and there’s just no reasoning with him.

Julia is right; this Roxanne is a very different woman. She says she’s Sebastian’s sister, but when the two speak in private, another type of relationship emerges. The two seem like con artists out to get money from Elizabeth, but Sebastian does have genuine psychic powers. Roxanne has some kind of hold over him. She made him write that happy-future horoscope for Elizabeth in spite of visions Sebastian’s received that confirm the disastrous future. He’s seen the two children dead, for example. Roxanne won’t let him warn the Collinses.

Elizabeth does eventually begin to doubt her horoscope, but just as she comes to believe that something evil is in the house and after the children, she encounters Gerard for herself. He passes a hand over her face and she falls under his spell. She doesn’t stand in the way of his plans.

Daphne gives Quentin some lilacs

Quentin and Maggie were working on a romance back before Barnabas went into the alternate universe, but that looks like it fizzled out. Maybe they watched enough of the terrible relationship their alt-selves were having to think twice about getting involved with each other.

Anyway, Quentin is bemoaning his lonely, girlfriendless state when he first dreams about Daphne. She gives him a bouquet of lilacs, her signature scent, and the flowers are still there when he wakes.

After this, he’ll see her often and even locates her old room in the abandoned west wing–but he won’t tell anybody about it. From the minute he sees her, he’s under a spell. He can’t believe such a pretty ghost could mean any harm to the children or the rest of the family, so he lies to Barnabas and Julia and drowns his guilt about concealing vital information from his friends by knocking back huge amounts of brandy. It’s not as if all that alcohol is going to damage his liver; the painting hidden upstairs will take care of it.

The children also see Daphne and, like Quentin, they tell no one. Daphne brings David and Hallie clothing that belonged to the two very similar-looking children who lived in the house in the 1840s, Abner (known as Tad, because wouldn’t you quickly pick out a nickname if you were named Abner) and Carrie. I am unclear if Tad and Carrie were brother and sister, or Collins cousins, or what, but they were in Daphne’s charge when she was governess at Collinwood 130 years ago.

By the way, the other little girl who used to live at Collinwood, Amy Jennings, and her older brother Chris have disappeared from the show without a word. This leaves Chris’s werewolf problem unresolved. I never liked the guy, but after they spent so much time searching for a cure for him, it’s surprising to see it dropped without any attempt at closure. Even Adam got more of an exit.

Daphne shows David and Hallie the location of the playroom, which is a transdimensional sort of place; sometimes there’s only a linen closet behind the door, sometimes the playroom, and once a stairway that enabled Julia and Barnabas to return to 1970 from the future. Julia Hoffman is currently interested in that stairway, but neither she nor Barnabas have seen the playroom in 1970. People can only find it and go into it when they hear the music from a toy carousel in the room playing.

While Julia studies the Collins family history and turns up the diary of an earlier Quentin Collins, great-uncle to the Quentin we know, who had some strange ideas about time and relative dimensions in space and may have designed that stairway, the two children have some weird experiences of their own.

Daphne laughs

Daphne’s prime purpose seems to be to turn them into Tad and Carrie. They feel compelled to put on the old-fashioned clothes she’s provided. One or the other is briefly possessed by the 1840s children at intervals, but not both at the same time… not at first.

The children both have the same dream in which they attend a birthday party in a room with two creepy manikins that have their names. Daphne’s face appears huge at the window and she laughs. This is the first sound we’ll hear from her; she won’t speak at all for some time.

When the children wake, they go to the playroom and find a dolls house that was never there before.

Inside the dolls house Inside are two tiny dolls, seated at a table in a room just like the one in their dream, dressed like the manikins. The kids throw the dolls into the fireplace, but the dolls just reappear in the little house.

When Barnabas and Julia were in 1995, one of the clues Crazy Future Carolyn gave them about the 1970’s disaster was that a place called Rose Cottage would be destroyed. Since their return, they’ve asked several people if they’ve ever heard of this cottage, and no one has. Julia’s searches into local property records over the past two centuries have turned up nothing. When the two children see the dolls house, they know that this is its name.

Rose Cottage dolls house

David thinks the house is too big to be called a cottage, and I have to agree, but Rose Cottage it is.

Both children then have a dream in which Gerard takes them to the entry hall landing to witness what looks like a scene from 1841: the Quentin and Elizabeth of that period (same names, same actors, different clothes) view the bodies of Tad and Carrie laid out in the drawing-room.

Even though the grown-ups have been careful to keep information about their future deaths from them, the 1970s children sense that they too are doomed. David tries to write down everything that’s happened, so that others can learn about it “after we’ve gone.” But the notebook disappears from his room; Tad and Carrie have taken it, read it, and destroyed it.

I don’t know why the adult ghosts remain silent, while the ghost children can speak to each other as well as to the living kids.

The Java Queen Another object that plays a part in the story is a model ship. First seen in the playroom, it later shows up in David’s room, then as an even smaller model inside the dolls house.

The ship is named the Java Queen. Julia’s researches will reveal that this was the name of an actual pirate ship that sank in 1841, “its entire crew of brigands and cutthroats perishing with it… Its master, whose name has never been discovered, survived and attempted to reunite the crew in death to pillage and destroy again.” The crew were buried in an unmarked and fenced-off area of the cemetery.

There’s a legend about a green flag kept up in the tower room. If someone waves this three times out the window, then the pirates will rise from their graves to walk again. David gets it into his head that Gerard wants him to do this. He finds the green flag and waves it once, twice–

In the fenced-off part of the cemetery, the ground starts to heave up.

Dr. Hoffman puts a stop to David’s flag-waving before he can summon up the undead horde. David refuses to tell her why he was doing what he was doing.

Soon after this flag incident, Maggie is attacked by a vampire. When Julia sees the bite-marks in Maggie’s throat she (and I) assume it must have been Barnabas, since he’s been eyeing her neck lately. Julia confronts him about it, and Barnabas insists that he couldn’t have bitten Maggie. Events will reveal that he’s telling the truth. There’s a new vampire hanging around Collinwood. This other vampire appears only as a mysterious cloaked figure, and they have to keep an eye on Maggie every night to prevent her from getting up and going out to be bitten again.

Maggie’s illness means that the two children are left to themselves most of the time, and the ghosts are free to work on them. The next thing Hallie and David are compelled to do is make another little doll out of a clothespin and some scraps of cloth. They place this in the dolls house and call it Leticia.

When Carolyn hears the carousel music, she opens the door to find the playroom–and Gerard is there. He passes a hand over her face, as he did with her mother, and casts a spell over her. She says that she remembers him now, and identifies herself with the Leticia-doll. She develops some empathic abilities, like a proto Deanna Troi; she knows that Sebastian and Quentin are lying and keeping things back, but like everybody else she doesn’t tell Julia or Barnabas this. She also has some clairvoyant glimpses into the near future. Her descent into madness is beginning.

Another one of Future Carolyn’s clues was that she would sing a song just before the disaster. When Elizabeth hears this, she insists that her daughter can’t sing. But that night, Carolyn does. To my surprise, it’s the same song that other clairvoyant singer, Pansy Faye, used to sing: “I’m Going to Dance For You.” Strange, because this is a music hall song that references that big hit of the 1890s, “Ta Ra Ra Boom De Ay” and wouldn’t exist 50 years earlier. Even Barnabas, who probably isn’t all that knowledgeable about popular music of the past century, makes note of this anachronism and thinks Gerard has made a mistake in getting Carolyn to sing it.

Disaster is now almost upon the Collinses.

Roxanne I thought that the ground-upheaval at the cemetery had to do with the new vampire’s appearance, but when Dr. Hoffman and Willie Loomis finally track down the vampire’s coffin, the two aren’t connected at all. The vampire is Roxanne. This explains her power over Sebastian–he’ll show Julia the bite marks on his own neck.

Sebastian wants Roxanne staked so that he can be free. Willie thinks this is a good idea too, to save Maggie. But Julia won’t do it because she knows how much Roxanne means to Barnabas, even if this isn’t the same Roxanne.

When Barnabas hears about it, he doesn’t want her killed, although the fact that Roxanne tries savagely to bite him when he opens her coffin stops him from setting her free. They decide to keep her inside the chained-up coffin, pinned down with a crucifix on her chest, but everyone realizes that this is only a temporary solution.

Sebastian and Maggie, hoping to get beyond the reach of Roxanne’s powers, get into a car and drive away from Collinsport.

In spite of Dr. Hoffman’s efforts to get the children safely away from the house after Carolyn starts singing, David runs out into the woods. Quentin, distracted by Daphne, leaves Hallie unattended so that she can run out too.

The kids are escorted by Daphne and Gerard to an abandoned house not very far from Collinwood. Daphne has thoughtfully left an old sketch of the house behind in her room; when Quentin sees it, he identifies it as the MacGruder house. The dolls house is a model of it.

At Daphne’s insistence, the kids sit down at the table in that room they’ve dreamed about, and fall under Gerard’s spell. The ghostly forms of Tad and Carrie sit in the same chairs and merge with the living children. When they rise, David and Hallie are gone and Tad and Carrie are delighted to be alive again.

They agree that no one must guess that they aren’t David and Hallie, but they give themselves away as soon as they’ve been brought back to Collinwood and speak with Carolyn/Leticia. They all call each other by their 1840s names when Barnabas is right outside in the hallway. He hears them and comes in to announce, “You’re possessed!”

This doesn’t prevent them from performing an occult ritual to bring Daphne back to life. The children and Daphne then try to summon up Gerard in the same way, but the second ritual fails and they’ve got an angry ghost who now blames them and is looking for revenge.

Daphne changes into some circa-1970 clothes, left by Victoria Winters or borrowed from Maggie’s or Carolyn’s wardrobe, then goes into hiding at the MacGruder house. She is aided by Quentin, who has fallen more deeply in love with her now that she’s flesh and blood and he can get his arms around her. This is where Daphne finally starts to speak.

Now that she is alive, Daphne begins to feel hope that she can escape Gerard. She doesn’t quite join the Good Guys team, but under hypnosis she provides Julia Hoffman with some information that might help them to combat Gerard. Too little, too late.

Like Sebastian and Maggie, Quentin and Daphne then make plans to get away from Collinwood, but before they leave town they share some champagne to celebrate their new lives. Then they drop to the carpet. Gerard has poisoned their drinks.

Daphne lives long enough to put her magenta dress back on–Carolyn/Leticia brings it to her–and she tries to the last to protect the children, but Gerard catches up with all three in the playroom. They will be discovered lying on the floor there, the children dead and Daphne dying.

Quentin, under Gerard’s spell, digs up the long-lost grave of his great-uncle with the same name and ends up buried alive on the same spot–which is exactly what the living Gerard did to that earlier Quentin. Barnabas and Julia figure out where he is and rescue him, but between this terrifying experience and discovering Daphne just as she dies, his mind snaps. We last see him at the playroom, and I assume he goes out to wander the woods, where he’ll be found later on.

Carolyn is also mad now. I have no idea what happens to Elizabeth while all this is going on, how or where she disappears to.

After burning down the MacGruder House/Rose Cottage, Gerard goes up to the tower room at Collinwood and finishes the green-flag-waving business. The earth at the graveyard heaves upward as the undead pirates make their way to the surface.

The crew of the Java Queen shambles their way to Collinwood.

The undead pirate horde destroys Collinwood

It turns out that a lot of that destruction of the house we saw in 1995 wasn’t simply the natural decay and weathering of 25 years; the undead pirate horde start tearing the place up when they enter it. They also set fire to the house, although we know it won’t burn completely to the ground.

When they spot Barnabas and Julia on the second-floor landing, the pirates go after them. They chase the pair back to the playroom–which isn’t there anymore, but 1840s Quentin’s transdimensional time-traveling stairway is. Julia flees up it. Barnabas shouts that he’ll follow her, but he’s held back, struggling with the pirates. By the time he reaches the door himself, all that’s behind it is a linen closet.

Julia, meanwhile, has gone up the stairs and come out at the playroom. Peeking out through the doorway, she sees Carrie, not a ghost but a living girl. This is 1841. I knew we’d get to that time period sooner or later.


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.