Dark Shadows Revival: Episodes 7-8

The last episode ended with a seance, during which Victoria Winters Seance disappeared abruptly from the table to be replaced by another young woman, who was wearing colonial-era clothes and  immediately collapsed. A letter of recommendation she carried with her addressed to Joshua Collins provided her name, Phyllis Wicke*, and a date of April 1790.

The inhabitants of modern-day Collinwood wonder: Is that where Vicky has gone?

Let’s find out.

Episode 7: 1790

Unlike the original series during this same storyline, time does not stand still at Collinwood. Vicky is gone, but life goes on in the 1990s. Before we even find out what happened to her, this episode begins with Dr. Hoffman and Elizabeth Collins-Stoddard looking after the unconscious 1790s governess.

Phyllis WickAfter she’s tended to the young woman, Julia asks Barnabas if he recognized her. He confirms that he does: Phyllis Wicke was indeed governess to the children, and she arrived at Collinwood 200 years ago in pretty much the same state. The mail-coach from Boston overturned on its way to Collinsport and she was injured. She recovered from that, but soon afterward became ill from a fever and died.

Elizabeth falls asleep while sitting at Phyllis’s bedside. When Phyllis wakes up, she dashes out of the room and out of the house wearing only her colonial underwear.

In 1790, a dazed and bewildered Vicky wanders out of the misty woods and approaches what will be the old house at Collinwood, only it’s not so very old at this period in time. She encounters two children running and playing, and recognizes them as Sarah and David.

“I be Daniel,” the little boy corrects her. And Sarah isn’t a ghost.

One of the things that’s been altered from the old show is the Collins family structure. Daniel is no longer a distant cousin, but a sibling to Sarah and Barnabas, whom Vicky meets a moment later. Jeremiah, who shows up a bit later, is no longer Barnabas’s uncle, but also a younger brother.

Barnabas doesn’t know Vicky but he is struck by her remarkable resemblance to his fiancee Josette, who is expected to arrive any day now for their wedding.  He takes Vicky into the house to present her to his mother Naomi, who is sitting in the parlor with Aunt Abigail and Dr. Hoffman in costumeJosette’s aunt, the Countess Natalie duPres.

“Elizabeth! Mrs. Johnson! And Dr. Hoffman!” Vicky exclaims at the sight of these ladies. “You’re here too.”

Like the old show, the same actors are doubling up to play the same pair of characters in the two time periods, with a few noteworthy exceptions.

Shocked by Vicky’s modern clothes, Abigail and the Countess take her upstairs so she can be put into a more modest dress. She borrows one of Angelique’s, who assists the ladies. This is the first we see of Angelique (Lysette Anthony) when she’s a regular human being and not a flying, shrieking spirit. If you didn’t know how evil she was, she’d seem nice enough and is even friendly toward Vicky.

Abigail is further disturbed by Vicky’s clothes once the governess has changed out of them and she gets a closer look at them–it’s not that the dress is so short, but the zipper and the mysterious icons on the label that provide laundry instructions. Vicky explains: machine wash, tumble dry low, cool iron.

Once she’s dressed like a 1790s woman (although she continues to wear her hair down and loose, which no one in that era would have done), Vicky leaves the old house and ends up wandering the construction site where the new Collinwood is being assembled. None of the workmen pay her any mind–this very pretty girl they’ve certainly never seen before, talking to herself. Recalling the seance, she tries to summon Sarah to be sent back to her own time, but that doesn’t work. Sarah isn’t a spirit yet, only a little girl who’s over at the old house, as the handsome young man who finally notices her and hears her speaking Sarah’s name points out.

Peter Bradford meets Vicky

He’s played by Michael Weiss, who also plays Joe Haskell, so one’s immediate assumption is that this is the dastardly Nathan Forbes even though he’s not in a Navy uniform. But no, this is Peter Bradford. He’s a friend of Barnabas’s and Jeremiah’s, and he’s in charge of building Collinwood; the house should actually be ready for the family to move into in just a few days.

Catching a glimmer of Vicky’s plight–although she doesn’t tell him all the details about her time-traveling–he chivalrously offers to aid her by writing her a letter of reference and helping her with a story to explain why she was behaving so strangely when she first arrived.

Vicky goes back to the old house, where she presents her forged letter and explanation about falling off her horse and hitting her head to the family patriarch Joshua Collins  (Stefan Gierasch, who was Professor Woodard in the earlier episodes). He agrees to engage her as governess after he checks her teeth.

I wondered why Roy Thinnes wasn’t playing Joshua, but the reason for this becomes apparent when Abigail takes Vicky’s dress to show it to the  witchfinder work in the town. That’s right: Thinnes is chewing up the scenery as Trask, with Eyebrows of Evil that Angel Blake would envy. We meet him as he’s attempting to drive the demons out of another young Witchfinder Traskwoman who’s supposed to be possessed, pouring scalding liquid on her–he calls this a “libation”–before sending her home to her mother to be tied down in bed.

Trask is interested in the mysterious dress from the future, but tells Abigail it isn’t necessarily Satan’s handiwork. He needs more evidence. The crone who works for him contributes that the mail-coach turned over in the road on its way to town and that Mistress Wicke, who was expected, disappeared from it.

Abigail takes this story back to Collinwood, where the Collins boys smirk at the idea of taking Trask seriously. Vicky says that she was the governess who wandered away from the coach crash, that she came in Phyllis’s place (which is kind of true). The rest of the family accepts this, but Abigail remains suspicious.

That night, Angelique, who has been waiting for Barnabas to come to her since she arrived at Collinwood with the Countess, goes to his room instead and drops her dress on the floor. He tells her that it’s over between them–their brief fling on Martinique happened at a time when he thought he’d never see Josette again. Angelique refuses to believe him and climbs on him. Unfortunately, Barnabas starts thinking with the wrong organ, which only leads Angelique to conclude that he’s still interested in her in spite of his words.

When she comes back the next night, he rejects her more firmly. He loves Josette. She has to believe him now, and she turns to her witchcraft for revenge.

Angelique starts by making a voodoo doll out of twine to ensnare the Collins’s coachman, Ben Loomis (obviously an ancestor of Willie’s) and force him to do her will. She doesn’t make him do anything yet, but keeps him in reserve for after Josette arrives. When she releases him from her spell, Ben forgets that the incident even happened.

Angelique casting a spell over Ben

In 1990, Phyllis Wicke is picked up wandering the woods in her colonial undies by Sheriff Patterson and one of his men. They give her a blanket and put her in a police car–even though this metal horseless carriage frightens her–and take her back to Collinwood, since she claims that she’s the new governess there.

The men at Collinwood were about to go out searching for her when the police bring her back. Elizabeth confirms to Patterson that Phyllis is indeed the new governess, and that Vicky will be “away” for awhile. But as Mrs. Johnson escorts Phyllis upstairs to have a hot bath, the young woman collapses on the stairs. She’s feverish.

Dr. Hoffman examines her, and says that what Phyllis has is diphtheria.

Before everybody sensible got immunized for it in infancy, diphtheria was a very nasty disease that caused membranes to develop in your throat; if they blocked your breathing, you could suffocate. It killed one of Queen Victoria’s daughters after her own children were infected by it. Dr. Hoffman gives all the Collinses a booster shot and tries to treat Phyllis at Collinwood. She can’t move her patient to a hospital, since taking Phyllis from Collinwood might make it impossible for Vicky to return there. But if Phyllis dies, what will that do to Vicky?

Vicky is fine for the moment, adjusting to life in 1790. She’s beginning to write her own journal, to record what happens to her in case she’s never able to get back to her own time. When she hears a carriage arrive at the old house, she and Angelique leave their respective rooms up in the attic and go out to the landing to peek down into the entrance hall, where Josette and her father Andre duPres (Michael Cavenaugh, who is also George Patterson) are just coming in to be welcomed by the Collinses.

When Josette pushes back the hood of her cloak, Vicky can see her face. It’s not just a resemblance; they are identical (both Joanna Going).

Vicky and Josette

“She is me,” Vicky whispers in amazement.

Episode 8: Josette and Jeremiah

Barnabas and Josette get all kissy-face right in front of their parents and the servants, but it’s probably the moment when he treats Angelique like a mere maid and orders her to take Mademoiselle’s bags up her room that really sets Angelique off. When Josette comes upstairs a little later and obliviously gloats that she’s made Barnabas forget all other women, her fate is set.

Josette is staying in–no surprise–the room that will later be known as “Josette’s room”. Her portrait already hangs over the mantelpiece; the Countess brought it with her. Barnabas gives Josette the music box as a wedding gift. The familiar music is the tune they first danced to. I also note that Josette is wearing the same green dress that Vicky wore to the 1991 costume party.

That night, Angelique casts a love spell over Josette and Jeremiah. She does this by making two clay figures of naked people, smushing them against each other, and binding them with one of Josette’s hair ribbons while she recites an incantation about two hearts, two souls, becoming one.

There is no Nathan Forbes in this revival version of the 1790s storyline, but there is a cousin Millicent Collins, who arrived in the previous episode shortly before Josette. She’s not at all like Nancy Barrett’s ditzy and fragile-minded character, but is an obnoxious comic-relief figure. Joshua was hoping that Jeremiah would marry her, but even before he fell under Angelique’s spell, the younger Collins brother had declared he would rather “die and go to hell” before becoming Millicent’s husband.

Like Jeremiah’s being such a cutie, this marriage he rejects might help to explain what happens between him and Josette–except that the overwhelming force of Angelique’s spell sweeps them both up without any previous physical attraction or emotional incentives.

Josette's dream of JeremiahAs far as I can tell, Josette and Jeremiah haven’t even set eyes on each other since her arrival at Collinwood a few hours earlier, but they now are bound together.

That night, each has an erotic dream about the other and both feel a tad awkward when they meet the next morning at the breakfast table. When they encounter each other in the stables, they end up necking.

Vicky sees Josette and Jeremiah in the stable and delicately tries to inform the Countess about it. At this point, she believes that this is what she’s meant to change to save the Collins family in the future.

The Countess is doubtful at first, but her Tarot cards give her the same information. They also hint at the presence of a Wicked Woman. Natalie speaks privately to Josette and warns her not to do anything stupid. Neither she nor Vicky is prepared for just how powerful this spell is, nor how fast events are moving.

Josette and Jeremiah elope that night.

Keep in mind that this is only the day after Josette’s arrival at Collinwood, so Barnabas is completely blindsided when Vicky and the Countess break the news that his fiancee and brother are gone. “When did they even speak?” he wonders, not unreasonably. Then he goes after them .

He catches up with the newlywed couple at an inn in Boston, where he smacks Jeremiah around The duel and calls Josette a whore. For this double insult, Jeremiah challenges Barnabas to a duel.

Where this revival version differs from the original series 1790s storyline is that, this time, Barnabas isn’t determined to kill Jeremiah. He’s understandably angry and, as a gentleman of honor, feels he has to accept his brother’s challenge, but both his mother and little sister make it clear that they will not forgive him if he shoots Jeremiah. Barnabas promises Naomi that Jeremiah will come to no harm from him.

Angelique has other plans.

I would’ve thought that seeing Josette and Jeremiah happily married under her spell, having children, etc., would give Angelique a better chance of catching the bewildered and heartbroken Barnabas on the rebound, but her idea is that having his brother’s widow hating him would be more effective.

When Jeremiah and Barnabas meet for their duel, Barnabas quietly instructs Ben not to load his pistol; Ben holds on to the bullet.

Angelique, watching from the roof of the house–which has some impressively huge gargoyles–uses her influence over Ben now. She evokes Satan and asks that he give her the power to do her evil work.

Angelique

This is something I’ve always wondered about Angelique: Why would a woman who has such incredible powers at her command be working as a maidservant? My personal theory has been that she only used simple little bits of witchcraft her mother taught her, such as voodoo dolls and love spells. It wasn’t until she got really mad at Barnabas that she exerted herself and found out what else she could do. I think this scene supports this. By giving her soul wholly over to evil, Angelique graduates from amateur hedge-witch to full-blown sorceress.

To Barnabas’s amazement and horror, he does shoot Jeremiah with what he thought was an unloaded pistol.

Josette runs to her fallen husband and declares that Barnabas has killed the only man she’s ever loved.

_______________

*When I first watched this revival series, the woman playing Phyllis Wicke looked really familiar to me, but I couldn’t place her. Afterwards, I looked her up on IMDB: Ellen Wheeler. She was on Alien Nation and Deep Space Nine. Oh my, yes–she played Ekoria, a pregnant girl afflicted with the Blight, in a very good episode of the latter. I once named a cat after her.

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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.