This audio drama begins with Maggie Evans speaking, “I remember when it all started. Quentin Collins… came home, and brought the darkness with him.”
Her voice is interspersed with those of other characters–Quentin’s, Angelique’s–but the focus of the story’s introduction remains with Maggie as she summarizes the events of previous audio-plays in the Legend Reborn series, alluding to the “The Lost,” “Charlotte Howells,” and “the Professor and his army” (which settles my question of when the Christmas Presence occurs).
“But the day I’ll always remember,” Maggie concludes, “is the day the Collins family perished.”
She isn’t referring to the Collinses who disappeared mysteriously before this series began, but to those two who are still around: Quentin and Barnabas.
The story proper begins one evening in Collinsport just as it’s beginning to rain, with Quentin meeting up with Susan Griffin (who was one of the Lost souls in House of Despair, but she’s all better now). He offers to walk to the Blue Whale with her, even though he knows her husband Ed, the bartender, despises him; he doesn’t care.
While they are walking, the pair hears what sounds like masculine laughter and gruff voices singing the words of an old sea-chantey, “Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum.”
Quentin says that this must be some customers at the bar getting an early start on their drinking, but when he and Susan go inside, the only music is that same Ventures-esque surfing tune we’ve heard from the jukebox a hundred times.
Susan’s husband Ed tells them that the sheriff has received reports of people hearing that nautical singing from all over the town. He recalls an old sailors’ tale about a ship called the Eloise which foundered near Collinsport. The captain and all hands were lost at sea and, in remembrance of them, 30 empty coffins were buried at Eagle Hill cemetery.
“Then an odd thing happened,” says Ed.
“It always does,” Quentin wryly observes.
The earth over the empty coffins was disturbed one morning. On digging them up, the Collinsporters discovered that the coffins were now occupied by the waterlogged bodies of the drowned sailors. A proper burial was all they wanted.
Quentin scoffs at this bit of local folklore, but over at Collinwood, Angelique has heard the nautical singing as well. You think she’d be more wary after what happened the last time there was a chorus of disembodied singers on the premises, but she tracks the sound to its source and speaks to the ghostly sailors. In answer to her questions, they tell her what they want–“Revenge”–and warn her that “We are coming.”
Does this mean that the crew of the Eloise wanted something more than a burial after all? The ghostly voices direct Angelique to look in the attic.
Even though that rain has turned into a full-blown storm, Willie and Barnabas are up on Widows’ Hill. Willie sees a greenish light out at sea that he says looks like fire; Barnabas dismisses this notion and says that it must be a reflection of the lights from the house.
When they return to Collinwood, Barnabas finds Angelique up in the attic, where she’s discovered an old trunk. Barnabas takes an interest when she tells him that the contents belonged to his own father, Joshua Collins–books, personal papers, and objects from his office at the dockyard. After he tells Angelique about the green fire Willie saw, Barnabas prompts her to tell him what she knows, what brought her here to find his father’s trunk.
“Sinister voices told you to come up to the attic, and you obeyed?” he concludes after hearing her story.
Together, they look through Joshua’s journal from 1794, and read an entry about an old business rival of his named Oswald Gravenor. The name is written in what appears to be red ink–and it’s still wet. Barnabas gives it a taste and announces that it’s blood. (And if anybody ought to know what blood tastes like, it’s Barnabas.)
According to Joshua’s journal, Gravenor held an unremitting hostility toward the Collins family, and even tried to blackmail Joshua over gossip that Joshua was having an affair with his wife. Angelique is amused by this, but Barnabas insists that it’s a lie.
Barnabas also refutes another old rumor that Joshua was responsible for Gravenor’s shipyard and home burning down, thus completely destroying Gravenor’s livelihood and leaving him a broken man; his father was having dinner with the governor that night and could have had nothing to do with setting the fire.
After his business was ruined, Gravenor went out in a ship named the Lorelei and ended up in “Davy Jones’s locker,” as Joshua quaintly phrases it. Barnabas explains that this means the ship was lost at sea. It caught fire and those in Collinsport could hear the screams of the men aboard.
Then the journal grows hot and bursts into flames in Angelique’s hands. Barnabas thinks that this is some trick of Angelique’s–until they both hear the “Yo-ho-ho” of the ghostly sailors. Angelique hears something else as well, a voice saying, “Vengeance. Vengeance draws near.”
Sea water starts seeping up through the floorboards to fill the attic. Whether or not a vampire can drown is up for debate, but two of the ways you can destroy a witch are by fire and by water. Angelique gets hysterical at the idea that this may really be the end, and actually tells Barnabas she’s sorry for everything as the water rises around them.
Meanwhile, back in the town, Quentin has left the Blue Whale and runs into Maggie. When they hear the sound of a fog horn, even though the port shut down months ago, and see that glowy green light out on the water, they head for the dockyards to see what’s going on. Ed Griffen, hearing from the sheriff about reports of something approaching out in the harbor, has also gone out to see.
An old, two-masted brig is sailing toward them. It looks like it’s come “from the bottom of the sea,” and is strangely blackened as if it’s been burnt. It isn’t a derelict, but is being piloted expertly into dock. Ed thinks it must be the ghost-ship Eloise, but that old folk tale of his turns out to be a red herring. Quentin correctly identifies the ship as the Lorelei. The name is on the bow.
As a crowd starts to gather (as if the Collinsporters haven’t seen many, many things more remarkable than an antique ship), Maggie leaves Ed and Quentin and wanders off home in a daze.
Barnabas shows up at the docks soon afterward, soaking wet. Willie rescued him and Angelique from the attic but, in response to his cousin’s questions, he explains that he’s walked all the way from Collinwood in the rain. Hearing the name of the ship that’s appeared, he recognizes it as Gravenor’s lost Lorelei and feels that they’re being watched by someone aboard.
With another round of “Yo-ho-ho…” the ship’s masts are suddenly swathed in green flames. Barnabas believes Willie now… if a tad late. Ghostly forms take shape and head toward Collinwood, where Willie and Angelique still are.
The Collins men hasten back to the house.
I’m reminded of John Carpenter’s The Fog. It wouldn’t be the first time Dark Shadows borrowed from other sources, but these vengeful, ghostly shipwrecked sailors have a different objective.
At Collinsport, Barnabas confronts the ghost of Oswald Gravenor (voiced by Robert Rodan). Even though Barnabas is in a new body, Gravenor recognizes him: “The face is unknown to me, but the aura is familiar.”
Before he gets started on his vengeance, Gravenor tells Barnabas and Quentin about the curse he suffers under; having both been cursed themselves, they can readily sympathize. For Gravenor, it seems to be a class issue. He is condemned for all eternity to be chained to his crew of rogues and vagabonds, which is hard on a gentleman of his former social position. He blames Joshua Collins for this–not that Joshua had a hand in the fire that destroyed his prosperity, but because he had assembled this crew of wretched scum from all parts of the world and was sailing back to Collinsport on the Lorelei to get his revenge when that second, fatal fire occurred. His vengeance was left unfinished, until now.
He strikes Barnabas, Quentin, Angelique, and Willie down, but it seems as if his vengeance isn’t all that awful at first. They regain consciousness early the next morning, after the storm has past. But the sun is rising. Willie quickly helps Barnabas to get to his coffin in the tower room–only the coffin isn’t there. It’s been stolen.
While Willie scrambles to locate a replacement coffin (and they don’t go into where he got it from on such short notice), Angelique and Quentin wonder why Oswald Gravenor has come back now. They also wonder why he attacked them, then left them unharmed.
During the day, Maggie behaves weirdly at intervals. She returns to the dock to have a closer look at the Lorelei, gives Ed details of the ship’s history that she couldn’t know, and murmurs something about vengeance drawing near before she goes away. She says she doesn’t remember any of this when Ed talks to her later at the inn. Then she wanders off again and goes missing; she was last seen buying four gallons of gasoline at a service station even though she doesn’t have a car.
Barnabas wakes after a restless day in a strange coffin, and immediately knows that his own coffin must be aboard Gravenor’s ship. He also has a confession to make: “My father didn’t start that fire. I did.” He was always kind of short-tempered, even before he became a vampire.
Angelique says she won’t help, but ends up joining her ex-husband and former fiance when they go aboard the Lorelei for a second confrontation with Gravenor. She’s not afraid of being drowned this time and has her powers well at hand as she faces down Gravenor and his ghostly crew.
What none of them knows is that Maggie’s back at the dockyard too, with all that gasoline she purchased. In an apparently possessed state, she slowly recites the lyrics of another sea-chantey, “Give me some time to blow the man down…”
Like Professor Stokes’s use of the phrase “joyful and triumphant” in the Christmas audio-play, or little ghost-Sarah’s singing “take the key and lock her up” to the imprisoned Maggie, these familiar old words take on surprising poignancy and far more chilling significance as she sets the ship on fire.
Angelique escapes off the burning ship and sees Maggie, who is herself again, and realizes that Gravenor has had his revenge after all.
The two women and Willie stand on the dock and watch in horror as the Lorelei goes up in flames–real ones, not ghost-tinted green. Angelique screams that Barnabas and Quentin are still trapped on board. “You killed them!”
“Nooo!” cries Maggie.
The audio-drama ends there.
Well, nothing’s going to happen to Quentin or Barnabas while this audio series continues, but it’s a good, cliffhanger ending for the episode. And it was nice to hear from Robert Rodan again, even in a new role while we still don’t have any canonical closure on what happened to Adam.
I’ve only listened to four of these Legend Reborn series so far, and while I’ve enjoyed each individually, they were beginning to feel a bit repetitious in their plots: some evil supernatural power makes itself known at Collinwood, and Barnabas, Angelique, and Quentin face it down. This time, it was Angelique’s turn to defeat the vengeful ghost–but her own jealousy and contemptuous disregard for Maggie led her to make a serious mistake, and the Collins men she was trying to protect have paid for it.
Now I’ll have to buy the next CD in the series to find out what happens to them.