By PATRICK McCRAY
Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 876
Was any character on DARK SHADOWS allowed the range of Quentin Collins? I don’t think so, and as such, he may be the writers’ most mature creation. Because both Quentin and David Selby are so incredibly charming and winning, and because Quentin has such a reversal from villain to hero, it’s disappointing when his story peters out. Quentin Collins II leaves the show sans sound, fury, nor satisfaction. But I would argue that it’s only truly unsatisfying if you expect something other than what it delivers. Yes, it’s rare that a foil is given greater dramatic opportunities than the person he reflects, but that’s the case here, and I say we thank the strange, wonky wanderlust of the DARK SHADOWS writers for giving us such depth and range at all. Overall, 1897 follows Quentin from cartoonish cad to a thoughtful, conflicted tortured optimist. (His chin is up a bit too much to be a pessimist, and he has too many covert schemes to qualify as a realist.)
The Quentin of this episode is almost unrecognizable from the man we met several months ago. In this installment, he goes through three or four ringers. First, Beth dies -- on Widow’s Hill, no less. Of course, this is another part of his Barnabas parallel. Quentin comes in after Widow’s Hill and pours a drink, almost with a sense of relief. No. Not relief. Just an acknowledgement of the inevitable. Beth was destined to absorb shrapnel. She practically threw herself in the way of it. Frequently. She was never going to get the 2.5 and white picket domesticity remix from Quentin, so she could at least create situations where he’d have to thank her for her sacrifices. Clearly, there was at least one master of Catholic guilt on the writing staff.
Selby is given the entire episode to ruminate on her death, and he goes from bemused resignation to gale force tears. Not one atom of ham in any of it. Selby… a very Zen man with access to a pain mine that could power Morgantown for the next thirty years.
These DARK SHADOWS actors. They know what they’re doing.
In the news, Jack Kerouac died on the day they taped this episode. He was only 47.