Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Dark Shadows Daybook: May 14


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 1019

When danger deals its hand, Quentin is the first to smell it. So why is Hoffman smiling? Alexis: Lara Parker. (Repeat; 30 minutes.)

Quentin begins to suspect Maggie after discovering a voodoo doll in her belongings, and Cyrus confirms the occult association while discussing his estate planning. Meanwhile, Angelique discovers that she must remain warm at all times to sustain the illusion of life.

Parallel Time continues like the Parade Magazine of Dark Shadows. It has some sort of purpose, or else it wouldn’t be there. It’s a perfectly decent way to pass the time. But it’s not the Sunday paper, and even it seems to know that. I can never figure out if Parallel Time represents the series at its most liberated or at its least relevant. Maybe both.

Ideally, it would reflect the choices of our prime characters in a telling and interesting way. While it does not do that as much as I would like, it does it enough. And we see glimpses of it in this episode. They are the little places where the show asks “what if?”  Mostly, the answers are exactly what you would expect. And “interesting“ and “obvious“ can occasionally be synonymous, so the storyline gets another pass, especially in this installment.

So, what do the mirror universe depictions of characters in Dark Shadows tell us about their prime counterparts? Well, David Selby’s Quentin, put in charge, is a man so insecure about his ability to manage that he becomes a tyrant. Not a terrible person. But easily distracted and gulled. Pressured to avoid drinking and other stress-relieving vices, his temper and patience grow intolerably short.  The closest analog we have for Christopher Pennock’s Cyrus Longworth is Christopher Pennock’s Sebastian Shaw. No, they are not the same person, but they may have more in common than they have disparate. Both are methodical thinkers. Both are easily controlled by charismatic and powerful women. One has gone towards science. The other has gone more towards mysticism. But each man seeks extraordinary means to predict and control human nature. Neither one seems to be able to handle the extraordinary discoveries they make about processes that enhance and ultimately shackle humanity’s best to its worst.

As for the women in the episode?  Maggie, Hoffman, and Angelique fill the roster on the show’s most diverse, yet core, spectrum. Maggie finally is allowed to come to the Great House as something other than an employee, and the class differences and expectations to lead as a member of the aristocracy make her brittle. Of course, if Angelique were trying to drive me crazy, I would be brittle, also. Still, I sense that Maggie’s brass has worn off long before the storyline begins in earnest.

Hoffman is a portrait in power, but so is Julia. Ultimately, Julia is an honorable person and Hoffman is not. Why? Is it access to academia and the world of medicine that gave Julia the self-esteem to rise above her pettiness? Because she certainly has it, especially in her ruthless beginnings as the series began. We’ve never seen Julia particularly as such a sycophant as Hoffman, but Julia has the respect of her hospital upon which she can fall back if she’s ever feeling down in the dumps. All Hoffman really has is Angelique‘s approval. So, given the cutthroat choices we have seen Main Time Julia make, and taking away her intellectual growth and justified respect, I think this is a very credible road down which Julia Hoffman might have gone.

Finally, we are left with Angelique. And looking back at the series as one, massive text, the depiction of Angelique in Parallel Time may very well be the entire raison d’ĂȘtre for the storyline. Although we have seen Main Time Angelique making better and better choices, we still have the memory of the many terrible, lethal decisions that led to Barnabas to where he is. She will never be able to change those; we just have to ponder her status as an immortal and accept that our Newtonian morality might need a little more flexibility when examining her. From that vantage, which is admittedly challenging for a lot of viewers, one of Main Time Angelique‘s saving graces is her intent. It may be absolutely monstrously demonstrated, but it does come from something honorable and relatable: love. It keeps her coming back through time and Perdition, again and again. It empowers her worst choices. But it is a noble source of empowerment, and thus inspires her best choices, too. Choices that resolve the story of Dark Shadows.

As I watched Hoffman and Angelique scheme and gloat regarding Maggie in this episode, I found myself thinking that that was pure Angelique, and yet somewhat different. Off. Shallow. At that point it struck me why. I was seeing an Angelique without love. Yes, maybe she has a twisted love for her father. Or for herself. But no more. She is the quintessential mean girl, powered by low self-esteem and wrath.

It will take us a while to encounter Angelique again and when we do, it will be the Main Time version with which we are familiar. At that point, for all of her misdeeds, and despite being accompanied by Laszlo and His Amazing Fez, we are expected to see greater depth in her… even greater heroism than we saw in 1897 or against the Leviathans. If we are able to make that leap of vision, perhaps Parallel Time is the little bit of boost that made it possible. Thus far, we have only been able to measure Angelique against other, arguably nobler characters. In this instance, we can finally measure her against the woman she might have become without Barnabas. And thus, without the crazy, irrational, but enviably redeeming influence of love. Seen in this light, Parallel Time is infinitely relevant. And we are not the only people who see that.

Barnabas does, too. Whether he knows it at the time or not.

This episode hit the airwaves May 21, 1970.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...