Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Dark Shadows Daybook: FEBRUARY 15


Taped on this date in 1969: Episode 695

Who are your characters when taken away from the comfort of home? According to Joseph Campbell, this is THE story, and it is a tale on which DARK SHADOWS centers again and again. If Vicki is the first protagonist, her story begins by leaving one home, albeit ersatz, to arrive at another. Once she’s comfortable there, she finds herself displaced to 1795. And after returning to the present, she only longs to go back. Eventually, Barnabas (and Julia and Stokes) chronoport away from “home” again and again. 1897. 1840. Parallel Time. Even Maggie’s greatest, darkest adventure and test of mettle comes from her imprisonment in the Old House. Nestled in the midst of all of that is 695, where the family transfers the flag (for the first of two times) to the Old House, is the beginning of Barnabas’ ultimate test. There, Maggie is ironically comfortable, solving mysteries with Barnabas and listening to David complain that the Old House is like a prison. If he only knew….

Barnabas is entering the third phase of his life and is ready for his own hero’s journey. Dealing with various forms of time travel is a specialty of his, and watching him doggedly search for clues to Quentin’s identity with a sense of grave responsibility is an outstanding wind-up for the adventure to come. There’s a marvelous moment when a relatively omniscient Barnabas realizes just how much went on during his suspended animation… past actions that reverberate nearly a century later. Even though he doesn’t know it, we see his trip as inevitable -- out of ego, yes, and even a sense of ownership. He chooses to live away from Collinwood because it’s not of his era. Noblesse oblige? Consider that Collinwood was designed in his lifetime to be his. At the very least, Joshua intended for him to be its third master, and perhaps the one who would live there the longest. Barnabas may never have taken up residence, but the intolerable fact is that his legacy has been defiled by Quentin’s invasion. Just as Quentin sees the modern Collinses as interlopers in his home, so Barnabas might very well perceive Quentin. To control Collinwood, Barnabas will have to “clean house” in two of the major time periods for which he was asleep.

It’s fascinating to watch the family now taking up in the Old House, and it’s poignant to see Maggie so comfortable there. No location on DARK SHADOWS has had so many lives. For a harbinger of death, Barnabas brings life and revitalization wherever he goes. What was once a desiccated, forbidding hulk is now a bright, cheery home. Collinwood and Collins Hall have switched significance. What was once the house of phantoms is once more by and for the living. And what was once a bastion of hope for the future is now the domain of the dead. The whole point of the hero’s journey is to return home with the skills to control it as the master of two worlds. Barnabas has finally mastered the Old House. To master Collinwood, he must cross the threshold. 

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