Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Dark Shadows Daybook: JANUARY 23


Taped on this date in 1970: Episode 948

Barnabas begins his war on the Leviathans by reaching through time and death to the woman he loves. Philip Todd: Christopher Bernau. (Repeat; 30 min.)

Via a seance, Barnabas verifies that Josette’s ghost is not a hostage to the Leviathans. She gives him back his engagement ring and permits him to move on. Free to wage total war on the cult, Barnabas recruits Philip, but Jeb apprehends him as he attempts to steal the Naga Box.

Well, it makes an astounding amount of emotionally mature sense, but I still didn’t see that coming. I should have, and by not doing so, I underestimated the writers and the basic needs of soap operas. Kathryn Leigh Scott had not played a viable romantic interest for Barnabas since early 1968, so they might as well free him up. The Josette relationship was a closed system, with her dying several times, and how often do you come back from that? Exactly.

Barnabas’ fit of guilt that triggers the Josette seance is long overdue. After seeing him at the height of his powers and emotional security in 1897, he’s not exactly in for a fall, but that doesn’t mean he’s escaping that old devil, denial. In 1897, yes, we see him as confident, kind, and vaguely ethical. Yes, he’s all of those things, but he’s all of those things with a lot of baggage, and that’s not nearly as healthy as being at a place of Zen without them. His Leviathan flirtation with villainy gives him one final burst of reflective truthfulness, perhaps about what he’s always capable of without vigilance. One key element of truth that eludes him again and again is the whole Josette Thing. It’s easy to understand the quantity of guilt at work, because he’s betrayed Angelique, he’s betrayed Josette, and he’s betrayed his own feelings. Understandably. He didn’t just do it because he was kicking around the docks and needed a new hobby. More importantly, he didn’t do it to cause intentional harm. As much as anything, Barnabas is a victim to the complexity of life; it’s high time that Josette acted her elapsed, undead age and addressed it. Someone has to be the adult around here. Donna Wandrey’s groceries aren’t going to pay for themselves. And it’s high time for the rating spike concomitant with Barnabas going back on the market. Josette is a surrogate for millions of fans with a crush, and while” star-crossed lovers” is one thing, Josette has gone beyond being a tease. She’s Maggie, then not. Maybe she’s Vicki? Nope. Vicki is Vicki. How about Rachel Drummond? Or Kitty Soames? Or that lamp?

At a certain point, she’s the best pal’s ex-girlfriend from hell. She shows up, kind of, after ruining things last time. But not. Because she “loves him” or something. Whenever she shows up, you know it’s going to slow everything down AND go nowhere. She does all that she can short of forbidding Barnabas from playing Deadlands with Quentin and Julia on Saturdays at the Blue Whale. And would will he be doing, instead? Probably watching something like Westworld with “their” friends -- you know, “couples’ time” -- and very pointedly NOT inviting Quentin over, too. Which is dumb, because Josette’s friends Henri and Chloe from Avignon are total posers who still think homemade hummus is a big deal and sigh audibly when Quentin wants to play something, anything, other than Pandemic for the millionth time. And the whole thing is even dumber, because you know -- you just know -- that Josette’s just going to vanish into a painting or drink poison again before Barnabas even finishes the second season of Westworld. And we all know that she knows it. Everybody knows it except for Barnabas. Good thing he doesn’t really like the show after the first season, anyway, but it’s the principle. (It’s because they took out “the good stuff,” but he can never say that around Josette because it’ll lead to a lecture. You forward the wrong Triumph the Insult Comic Dog clip from Roger, and it’s the end of the world for some people.) And Henri and Chloe keep encouraging the relationship while totally dissing Quentin. They pretend to be indifferent, but it’s clear they think ill of him because he dared bring over a cocktail waitress from Logansport once who said she didn’t get Monty Python as much as her brother. Well, so what?

Say what you will, but Angelique doesn’t pull that stuff. I mean, she’s bad news, but she’s loyal, in her own way. It must be kind of a relief that Angelique, rather than Josette, shows up in 1840. At least she’s consistent. And she likes Quentin, too. And Quentin I. Har-har. She knows he’s single, and she remembers what it’s like.

It takes a Leviathan non-kidnapping for everyone to admit that this is getting out of hand.

This episode was broadcast Feb. 11, 1970.

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