22 February 2015

Dark Shadows: Bloodlust xii


Even in its closing stages, Bloodlust can still surprise me. In a somewhat unexpected turn, Alan Flanagan's penultimate episode deals solely with Maggie and Angelique and fascinatingly examines the vast spectrum of their relationship. 

I think this was an incredibly wise decision, as Part Twelve serves to further expand the series' dramatic vocabulary. From the theme, you might think this is some creaky old cult show from the sixties steeped in stereotype, but listen a little longer and what you'll get is a drama with horror trappings, not the other way around. As undeniably horrific and unnerving as Bloodlust has been, it seems most commonly to use the supernatural elements as devices to engineer relationships and conflicts between characters. This isn't a criticism - quite the opposite! The pay-off for two of the series' defining figures in this episode is certainly some of the best material yet.

Allowing us to focus just on Maggie and Angelique for forty-odd minutes affords the listener chance to reflect on just how far both of these women have come, even since the beginning of the series. In her first Bloodlust appearance, Angelique was an ethereal, other-worldly French witch. Now though, she's almost reduced to just a woman grieving for her friend. She still has her air of authority and resentment of Maggie, but these two can see each other for what they really are; no need to keep up appearances. 

The Voluntariat, a spell that would rid the world of supernatural beings, is undoubtedly just a plot device to bring the pair closer but it works and is a credible concept. It lends some further into Maggie's mentality, at least. She wants the madness of Collinsport to end, but like a fly in amber, she can't leave. That leaves only one solution: those causing the misery do. At this stage, she believes herself supernatural, following the blood test two episodes ago. She knows that the Voluntariat can only be cast by such a creature, but conceals her believed irregularity from Angelique in order that she doesn't have to be the one responsible for all those deaths. 

Eventually, following a funeral for Trask, they put aside their differences (which are quite considerable, and increase over the course of the episode) and head for Collinwood. As we approach the final episode of Bloodlust, everyone and everything is converging on the Collins house, and I'm sure not everyone will make it out alive. There are a few notes relating to the main plot, that of Petofi, here, but the main conclusion to be drawn is that it is a servant of Petofi trying to bring about the end of Collinsport. David and Carolyn are ruled out as puppets, Given Petofi's prominence in the original television series, I'm sure the real villain of the series must have starred alongside him. I of course am completely ignorant which characters are original to Big Finish and which aren't, but it seems to me that Amy is the most likely suspect at the moment. 

This was a bold move to take so close to the series' finale, but it's certainly one that's paid off. Flanagan writes eloquently, and clearly knows these two ladies inside out. This has been a series of strong women, but thankfully not in the stereotypical sense. The writers have credited every character with intelligence and integrity (unless a lack of such features is a specific character trait) and it's made Bloodlust a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I'm sorry it's almost over, and there unquestionably needs to be some kind of follow-up. These are words that I never thought I'd be saying a month or so ago. Even as a complete newcomer to the world of Dark Shadows, Bloodlust has been captivating from Snowflake onwards. No matter how good or bad the final episode, for me it's been a complete success.


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