By PATRICK McCRAY
Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 1131
Under the power of the head, Leticia hides Judah’s reanimated body and receives instructions on how to proceed. At the Old House, Barnabas sends Julia to New Bedford to get more information on Judah Zachary. Meanwhile, Daniel recognizes Angelique from his youth, but is silenced with the the threat of his dead wife’s ghost… a dead wife he murdered. Julia returns with the story of Judah Zachary. He was a schoolmaster by day, but was an occultist supreme by night, using the title, “Son of Satan,” and wearing a jeweled Mask of Baal that would allegedly grant immortality. At his trial, a woman named Miranda testified against him, earning him the unusual execution of beheading — at the behest of a team of judges that included Amadeus Collins. The head would occasionally be displayed as a warning, but has been missing for some time. Barnabas remembers stories of Zachary from the past, knowing that the worst is to come. Angelique arrives at the Old House, and Julia leaves. She explains that they are still married, and she wants them to try again. Barnabas has no interest. Later, Leticia exposes Julia to the seductive power of Judah’s head, and she becomes enslaved.
Now that we sit atop nearly the entire series, the view provided by the writers is stunning. With so many episodes of perspective, 1840 is almost the ultimate crucible for the series. What’s burned away as meaningless? What endures? By beginning near the end, we have the perspective of ultimate storytelling economy. There is no time for waste. No time for distracting frippery. That’s all burned away in the distant past of exposition, character color, and side-stories. What do we have, here? Angelique, Barnabas, Julia, the pained ghosts of the past, the (intro to the) reason that Angelique is good beneath the evil, and who-is-married-to-whom. The episode is a rich little confection of character, intrigue, and yet another dance with yesterday. Barnabas and Julia have a curious challenge with Angelique, also. Remember, this isn’t the Angelique of 1897, having girl-talk with Julia and curing Barnabas in a cave. Nor is it (shudder) Sky Rumson’s long-suffering wife. From what I can tell, her timeline is 1692, 1795, 1840, 1968, 1897, 1969. There are different opinions on that, with some placing 1897 at the end. But I recall that she doesn’t seem unfamiliar with Quentin in 1969, and that suggests she’s already been to 1897. Anyway, it’s to the credit of Julia and the stubbornness of Barnabas that they don’t greet her with a hug and a sigh of relief, reminding themselves that when she was last seen, she’d freshly enacted events that lead to the deaths of almost everyone Barnabas loves… including Barnabas, himself, if we count “undeath.”
And yet, if she hasn’t had the Great Mellowings... of marriage to Roger, enslavement to Nicholas, death, Hell Trials, vampirism, Petofi, almost-marriage to Quentin, teaming up against the Phoenix, befriending Julia, curing Barnabas, going straight and marrying Sky, and battlin’ the Leviathans… why is she so quick to be heroic? I think she’s had just enough time to feel guilt and loneliness and nostalgia. By 1968, who knows what bitterness sets in? Especially because it’s all about Josette, all over again. Here, she comes back less than fifty years later to find Barnabas as a confident, un-self-loathing Vampire in Full. He’s got a female doctor sidekick. He’s no longer pining for Josette, but is still tantalizingly unreachable without being “Josette Unreachable,” if you know what I mean. And she’ll soon be dealing with Judah Zachary all over again, and that’s a brand of evil that makes what she does look like pea-shooters and short-sheeting. None of this happens in the first timeline, but it’s happening now. What triggers the revised timeline? I think it’s Judah, himself. Judah’s curse, for me, was initially a slow, existential one. By the time Vicki gets off the train, the family is a Buzz, a Burke, a Jason, and a David-going-through-puberty-and-bolting away from being a memory. That’s the curse. They’ve just dwindled to nothing. What starts to change that? Barnabas. He kills Jason. He alleviates Roger of the producing of being “the last Collins.” Sarah provides love and mystery and wonder for a family in need of it. Barnabas’ presence summons a healer. It summons Angelique, which introduces Stokes. So, what does Judah do? He unleashes Quentin. That should have killed the family right there, but Barnabas was too strong. So was Stokes. And Julia. Thus, the Leviathans. Nope. Okay, trap him in Parallel Time? Are you kidding? No cell or pocket dimension can hold Barnabas Collins. Fine. Raze it to the ground and humiliate Barnabas with his own powerless ignorance. Well, he didn’t count on Julia Hoffman, the power of the I Ching, and the catnip of Barnabas to Angelique. Or, as she was once known, Miranda.
The thing I really love is that Judah is ultimately in the same boat as everyone else. He gets the shaft from his own past. As is the case with Barnabas, the shaft belongs to Angelique. So to speak.
On this day in 1970, we celebrate the birthday of legendary funnyman and American treasure, Corky Romano, himself… Chris Kattan. All kidding aside, Kattan is one of those lost, SNL stars of great talent. It just got obscured by bad material and excessive Mango. Want evidence? Check out HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1999). He plays the comic relief in the film by playing it totally straight. Doing that, he really has it both ways. Kattan has many years ahead of him, so the DSD wishes him a happy birthday with the hopes for a few more haunts to come.