Monday, January 7, 2013

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 60


Episode 60: "Doppelgänger"
Sept. 16, 1966

Your experience watching a movie or television show depends a lot on who you're watching it with. Most of us have had the joy of sharing a favorite movie with a child for the first time, a not-entirely altruistic ritual that lets us recapture a little of our own experience of discovering the movie. It doesn't always end in happiness, though. Sometimes the little brat thinks you're movie is total crap and would rather watch re-runs of Hannah Montana.

Last night, I decided to watch an episode of DARK SHADOWS with Mrs. Cousin Barnabas (who's real name is Sara, btw.) She's mostly kept up with this feature and was familiar enough with the show to follow what was happening. And the experience was ... interesting.

For the casual viewer, not a lot happened during this episode. Except that a LOT happened: Sam tells Victoria about the fatal "moving violation" that sent Burke Devlin to prison a decade earlier. Victoria finds a portrait of a woman at Sam's home that looks eerily like her. And we get another subtle warning that Laura Collins is on her way to fuck with the Collins family and set a violent supernatural precedent for the series.

These plot points weren't presented in a DUM-DUM-DUMMMMMM! kind of way, though. Watching the show with someone who doesn't share my level of investment numbed me a little to these revelations. They were tossed off without melodrama by the actors, with the bulk of the show's soapy intensity devoted to the clash of words between Devlin and Sheriff Patterson (who vows to have Devlin arrested if he keeps meddling in the investigation into Bill Malloy's death.)

Sara was more interested in Victoria and Maggie's quiet moment that allowed them to behave like friends. Both women probably missed out on huge chunks of their childhood thanks to hardship and tragedy, so their short, giggly scene was a welcome moment before the town's mysteries began to insist upon themselves again.

It's been 20 years since I've seen these early episodes and I'd completely forgotten about the doppelgänger portrait of not-Victoria. I'm pretty sure we never find out who this woman was, but it's not out of the question that it's a portrait of Victoria, herself, given the show's later preoccupation with time travel.

Or perhaps its just another iteration of the DARK SHADOWS narrative interloper, a woman who, like Victoria, had been consumed by show. Maggie later takes her place as Collinwood governess, but I don't know if Maggie's eventual "departure" to Wyndcliffe Sanitarium means she escaped this fate, or if she was just another victim of Collinwood. Like a serial killer, Collinwood had a fetish for young, dark haired women like Daphne Harridge, Maggie Evans, Rachel Drummond and (on more than one occasion) Victoria Winters. Their stories never end well.

1 comment:

Stephanie Harrison said...

WARNING SPOILERS:

A little further on in the series we find out that the portrait is of a woman named Betty Hanscomb . She was a maid for the Collins/Stoddard household while Elizabeth's husband was still "present". This opened the plot for Victoria to be the "love-child" of the maid and husband; however, that line of history was eventually discarded by show writers. While never revealed on the show, cannon decided on by the writers suggest that Victoria is Elizabeth's daughter (perhaps by an out-of-wedlock pregnancy?).

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