These are the times that try men’s souls.
The Adam storyline is relentless. I appreciate that Curtis and Co. wanted to follow up their riff on Dracula with a riff on Frankenstein. And I’d say that they vastly improved both. Dracula is totally unmotivated in the book. But Barnabas has a rich, romantic backstory that would be ripped off by everyone else making subsequent Dracula stories. In Frankenstein, the creature becomes articulate, but that’s in a book few have read. In the Whale version, he sorta talks, but never very philosophically. One of the things I appreciate about Adam is how philosophical he is about his own existence. However, I’m not sure that’s what the series needs.
Dark Shadows works best when it focuses on the fateful destinies of Clan Collins. One of the key reasons that story lines like Adam, Jeb, 1970PT, and the Leviathans don’t work as well is that they feel like distractions from the main event. And that’s too bad, because they have some fine characters, such as Nicholas Blair and Eve, running around.
As I mentioned in the video log, I really wonder what the writers were thinking. I suspect it was, “What next?”
I don’t see this as a period where they had a lot planned out. Did they see Rodan and Astredo as possible sex symbols? I’m glad that the show had so much momentum, because the Quentin storyline is still quite a way off.
Currently, the best element of the show is a new riff on an old section of the show. Willie is finally standing up for himself, yet is trapped by the natural fear . Maggie is again a captive, but one with a full memory (glad they picked up that thread) and a defiant spirit. (Actually, as I typed that, Willie discovered that David untied her.) Barnabas, although human, still uses people incredibly callously… and Julia calls him on his moral ambiguity. I wish it were as simple as “a good guy becomes a bad guy,” but it’s not. Like Tony Soprano, Barnabas is not a nice friend to have. At least, keep your eyes open around him.
As I recall, the Quentin storyline really establishes Barnabas as a figure seeking redemption. So far, the major emotional theme I see is the degree to which the past relentlessly haunts us. In some cases, it has cursed us in ways that warp all of our decisions. In some cases, our wounds and pain give us abilities far beyond those of others. In yet other cases, we attempt to recreate the past over and over, unable to move forward. Our inability to control the past leads characters to take out their anger on the future. These are very relatable themes.
The pleasure of life only exists in the context of our relationships with others. This is the “family first” idea that builds as the characters grow, and I don’t say “family first,” because that excludes characters like Willie and Julia.
Many people who do bad things are actually motivated by good things.
Love is never destroyed, but it can be channeled into rage.
Love transforms us. And it can be the undoing of villains. Nicholas. Angelique. Jeb. Even Barnabas, although it’s more love of family that does that.
Anyway, these are just running thoughts.
If I try to reverse-engineer the series from what we learn towards the end, it becomes a story of love versus rage. Judah does everything he can to destroy these people, but no matter how punish and unloved individuals may feel (Barnabas, Quentin, Julia, and Angelique, specifically), their sense of fidelity will triumph.
Ready to move back to that story.