By PATRICK McCRAY
Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 746
Jenny, on the loose in the Old House, finds Barnabas in his coffin, mistakes him for dead, and goes even crazier. Magda tries to hide her from Quentin, who is intent on killing her. Magda warns him from this with a gypsy curse. Magda reveals that Jenny is her sister, making Jenny a very peculiar gypsy. Barnabas and Judith cross swords over Jenny’s fate. Judith wants to avoid scandal by isolating Jenny in a sanitarium. Barnabas, knowing that her children hold a vital key to the future of Collinwood, argues for Jenny to be nurtured back to health in the security of Collinwood. Barnabas’ case is not helped when Jenny bursts into the conversation, announcing that she most recently saw him dead.
For a show steeped in temporal dynamics and paradoxes, DARK SHADOWS doesn’t really have their characters talk much about them, but this is an exception. It’s refreshing, because it reminds us of how large a canvas they’re really dealing with. It’s one of the things that makes 1897 such a beautiful piece of storytelling. They occasionally bother to go back to 1969 in various ways, and it creates (or resuscitates) the stakes that exist there. It gives it a hint of an ancient Greek staging, where events on Earth could be felt in the heavens and vice versa. And, oddly, it gives us a little taste of ‘home,’ especially in a storyline that goes for so long it qualifies as its own spinoff. This is a lesson they forgot in 1840, although the (pre-Stokes) absence of 1970/71 action added to the apocalyptic nature of the story. Perhaps there were no 1970 left to check in on or care about. That not only added to the bleakness of the story, but enhanced the vitality of their mission.
For a show content to revel in wild stereotypes of gypsies, this episode goes for surprising pathos when considering issues of ethnic shame and the possibilities of escaping the past through deceit and social climbing. I wonder if there’s a tad of Social Darwinism tucked within it also. Is Jenny’s fiery, gypsy nature something beyond “taming”? Is the attempt what drives her mad? I know this is all incredibly ethnocentric (cheers!), so keep in mind that I’m just wondering about what the show is implying.
On this day in 1969, Charles de Gaulle resigned as president of France. He was one of the great heroes of the twentieth century, so much so that I am bereft of a Jerry Lewis joke. Well played, de Gaulle. Well played.