I’ve become convinced of that.
Right now, I’m in a bit of a free-association turmoil, trying to make sense of it all.
Before the Experiment, the show was an endless ribbon of story, whose beginning was forgotten by the time the ending was screened. But seen this way, the story is not a ribbon, but rather a sphere or a mosaic. It tells a story I’m still trying to understand. I’m getting closer.
Some things I know…
Josette is a distraction. The story has her go away when she needs to go away. I can feel sympathy for her, but what is there to passionately love? Nothing, really. The writers tell Barnabas to love her, just as Barnabas has told himself to love her.
Quentin is there as a reflector for Barnabas.
Barnabas, himself, is only one half of a whole. That half is made complete when joined with Angelique.
Barnabas needs Angelique because of her willingness to be ruthless. Angelique needs Barnabas because of his willingness to show mercy. When each displays too much of the virtue held by the other, life goes out of balance. Barnabas draws from Angelique’s bravery to do, in the name of heroism, “everything.” Angelique draws from Barnabas a sense of kindness that even her curse cannot ultimately extinguish. It is that kindness, that will for justice, that exposes Judah Zachary and saves the future.
So, given that the most important decision in all of Dark Shadows belongs to Angelique, I lean toward her being the most crucial character of the series. She is only catalyzed by the example of Barnabas.
It amazes me that they are both portraits in tenacity. Barnabas will transcend time and space to defend not only a Collins, but any in need. (This is clearly demonstrated in 1970 PT and is the reason for that storyline.) Is he paying off his guilt? There is some of that, but I see him as a study in character. Some argue that character is a perpetual series of behaviors. I applaud those with that vision and that will. Barnabas Collins is not that man. And so he must compensate for it when the situation becomes too extraordinary for even the most noble. He is an average man just brave enough — or foolish enough — to risk everything when those of average lives and visions cannot. Love hinders their actions.
This is the virtue of the man alone.
Angelique shows similar tenacity. Okay, yes, she has a fling with Sky Rumson. I suppose he had a good dental plan. Let’s consider it a vacation for now until I have decoded it further. Angelique’s tenacity eclipses even that of Barnabas. Who else would traverse century after century in pursuit of one man? She is so determined that she is even driven to evil, but evil in the name of love. What a study in the spectrum of passion.
And Barnabas and Angelique define the spectrum…with Josette and Quentin showing how toxic and ineffectual it can be to go beyond it. Barnabas is a Hamlet with just enough Angelique to take action. Angelique is an angry Prospero with just enough Barnabas to keep her from becoming apocalyptic.
It is when they exhibit traces of the other that the hero is made whole. But that center cannot hold. At last, creatures of eternity understand the fragility of the ephemeral. Their godlike wars, crusades, and curses have left so many bodies in the wake. That they should appreciate this one, last piece of human experience is as fitting as it is ironic.
The ultimate irony is that Angelique is killed by her own curse… one she never lifts. Anyone Barnabas loves will die. And so it happens. But what a strange course it takes. She dies after exposing her secret. She does so because her humanity and love have driven her to do it. This love is reignited when Barnabas returns to 1840. Why does he do this? Because he knows it is right. How does he do this? Because of the powers with which she cursed him. Who gave her those powers? The man she ultimately dies to expose.
I’m only at the most surface levels. To do go deeper will require the excavations of Phase Three, which will focus exclusively on the Angelique timeline and episodes. Fortunately, those coincide with the highlights of the series.
It begins May 26, 2013!