Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: JANUARY 16


Taped on this date in 1971: Episode 1197

Angelique interrupts the execution to deliver Judah’s head as evidence that Dawson and Stiles were behind the witchcraft at Collinwood. Afraid that he might escape, Desmond shoots an incensed Gerard, causing the possession to end. The head dissolves to an empty skull and Quentin is freed. Later, as Quentin reunites with Daphne, Barnabas sees Bramwell, on fire with jealousy over Catherine’s engagement, in the Parallel Time room. Going to the courthouse to free Angelique, he learns that she has been released. At Collinwood, he finds her, but Barnabas is unable to tell Angelique that he loves her before Lamar Trask shoots her.

On DARK SHADOWS, you can turn back the clock, but you can never stop time. And that’s one of the great tragedies of the show. There is a singularly unique, heartbreaking energy to those moments in the foyer when Quentin just knows that Barnabas wants Angelique. It’s clear. And he points him toward the drawing room. And Barnabas goes. And the only words that demand to be said are the only words that aren’t. There is some occult energy between the frames in that endless second. A five-year ritual working is at last delivering.

There is more irony here than in the entire TWILIGHT ZONE canon. Certainly more poignant. Angelique, felled by the one part of her curse that she forgot to lift. Killed at last by a Trask in the manner that Barnabas tried to do employ in 1795… the act that brought on the curse in the first place. She’s killed for an association with sorcery that is now a part the past she can never escape… after having been part of the past that Barnabas could never escape. This is the kind of irony that you slice into chunks and keep in the basement for the winter. But it’s not forced. As I said before, it’s inevitable. It is, as James Whale might have said, “part of the ritual.”

After watching the near-entirety of the series, this sequence is eviscerating. Especially after meeting his own son in Parallel Time and seeing how furiously tormented and shrill he is at being denied love. Very few DARK SHADOWS episodes are such freight trains of joy, and this one was too good to last. The shot heard ‘round Collinsport and my childhood more than drown out the laughter and gaiety of Quentin and Daphne and Desmond. In this episode and the next, DARK SHADOWS at last earns the mantle of horror show. But not one where fear and anguish are delivered by ambassadors of the supernatural. This comes from real horror. Real cruelty. The weapon is the human heart. The ammunition? The sickening knowledge that ego delayed happiness and salvation until neither could be seized and enjoyed. What use is being a hero if the peace you create is the last thing you’ll be allowed to share?

The message? Prize your passion without ego and without delay because nothing is permanent. How long did it take Angelique to do the right thing? How long did it take Barnabas to look past his parents’ expectations and follow his heart?

How long?

One gunshot too long.

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