Haven: “Business as Usual?”



Syfy, Fridays, 9/10 PM

“Business as Usual?”

Written by Matt McGuinness & Gabrielle Stanton

Directed by Shawn Piller

“You’re trying to start a war!” – Vince Teagues

I was beginning to think that Haven was going to die of anemia, but this episode lunges out of the gate full of energy and oomph. We got more movement towards answers to dangling questions in this one hour than we’ve gotten in months. The glacial pace is suddenly a sprint for next week’s season finale (hopefully not the series finale), and developments in both story and characterization march along in quickstep. We start with a marathon runner collapsing and turning into a dried-out mummy before the horrified eyes of a race volunteer. Already we are out of the normal range for Haven shows; this is a much more public event than most Troubled incidents. Dwight the cleaner shows up to do his job, and tells Audrey and Nathan that the Troubled are organizing a meeting to ponder self-defense questions. Ever since Audrey killed Rev. Driscoll (last week), the simmering tensions between the Troubled and the non-Troubled have been boiling over. We get fresh evidence of this when one Patrick Grolsh (Simon Reynolds, Warehouse 13) threatens to “take down” the chief and his partner next time the “freaks” get out of hand. Things are going to get ugly; goody!

 “We need to let things die down a little.” – Nathan

We get some actual conflict between Nathan and Audrey at last. She’s focused on the Troubled person responsible for turning a man into an instant mummy; he’s more concerned with the lynch mob mentality of the town. He wants to defuse tensions, but she’s oblivious to them. She’s fiercely protective of the Troubled; Nathan is more worried about the whole town, non-Troubled included. Where has this delicious conflict of interest been all summer? I could happily have dispensed with fake lovers like Evi Ryan or Chris Brody, in favor of political/emotional tensions like this. From Day One, I’ve wondered at the seeming passivity of the Havenites; where is the panic and rage that would normally greet some of the behavior they’ve seen? Where are the grieving and angry relatives of those accidentally killed by Troubled persons? Where are the repercussions? It looks like the writers have finally decided to look into those questions, and discovered that there’s a potential gold mine of drama in them.

“It’s time this town faced its realities – all of them!” – Dave Teagues

There’s not a lot of mystery as to who’s who in this episode. Our Troubled guy this time around is a man named Stu Pierce (Joris Jarsky, Rookie Blue), whose sweat kills whoever he touches. Not only do Audrey and Nathan discover who he is, but Grolsh, the self-appointed guardian of the non-Troubled, knows who he is. When Pierce is kidnapped, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out where to look. Which makes Nathan’s reluctance to pursue Grolsh very out of character; he rails at Audrey for “harassing” Grolsh, for following him based on her hunches, but in any real investigation his threats against Stu Pierce in front of witnesses would make Grolsh a prime suspect. I do wish that the writers of  Haven would sometimes inject a little actual police procedure into the Haven Police Department; they don’t seem to be thinking through the situations they set up for Audrey and Nathan. Awkward plotting like this make the Haven PD look more like the Mayberry PD.

“People are already divided. There’s no going back. All that’s left now is for you to choose a side.” – Stu

Last year, Nathan’s adoptive father died because he failed to “hold the town together”, in a very literal sense. Now Nathan sees his efforts crumbling, and belatedly decides that it’s time to stop trying to placate everyone and just stand by his conscience. It’s nice to see Nathan finally take command of something in his life, rather than just reacting to it. I liked the scene where he crashes the Trouble party, no longer worried about town opinion, and definitely not worried about Vince’s. I like the idea that matters are coming to a head, not just in supernatural terms but in human, political terms. It’s a cliché for small towns (especially in Stephen King stories) to have buried secrets, but it’s also true that they have fights in the open. There’s no reason the supernatural has to be the only thing driving conflict in this insular community.

“You’re not just my partner. Not anymore.” – Nathan

The emotional heart of this episode has nothing to do with the Troubles. It’s about Nathan finally succumbing to the slow burn he’s been doing over Audrey Parker. Trying to dissuade Audrey from what he sees as a disastrous path, he throws himself in front of her, both emotionally and physically, with a declaration two years in the making. I was surprised that this moment was not reserved for the season finale, but then the timing of these moments has surprised me all year. What I thought would be a major, game-changing moment for Nathan – regaining his ability to feel – got tossed off as a minor plot point two episodes into this season. The revelation that Audrey is in a sexual relationship with a guy Nathan can’t even resent should have brought more out of Nathan than brooding looks. When he teases her about Chris “getting under her skin”, we can hear the jealous subtext but she can’t. While I was hoping for some such declaration from Nathan, I thought it might well be another year away. I was resigned to having it play in the last twenty seconds of this year’s finale, so seeing it happen halfway through this episode was delightful.

“You’re not just my partner, either.” – Audrey

If Nathan’s confession was a surprise, Audrey’s response – not to mention her planting a hot one on Nathan — was a bolt from the blue. Absolutely no groundwork got laid for this, prior to tonight’s episode. All season Audrey has ignored Nathan, paid no attention when he stroked flowers suggestively over his lips, brushed aside his shy questions about the kiss she planted on him last year. She missed his brooding gaze, his devastation when she walked hand-in-hand with Brody. When, in “Audrey Parker’s Day Off”, both Brody and then Nathan “die” in alternate universes, Audrey weeps more for Brody than her alleged “more than partner”. I was glad to see her move towards what I have always thought was her soul mate, but I must admit there really was no ground prepared for it in terms of the series.

Audrey: How am I supposed to know right from wrong if I don’t even know who I am?

Nathan: I know who you are. I do.

We get a major series-level revelation, courtesy of the smitten Nathan Wuornos. On Audrey’s behalf, he’s conducted a months-long search for Lucy Ripley, the Audrey look-alike in the famous “Colorado Kid” photo. When he presents her with Lucy’s address, Audrey realizes what a gift like that means, what it cost, what it implies about Nathan’s faith in her. That was a lovely, touching scene, that finally, if belatedly, brought together her long story arc with the growing love story. At that point, I cared less about what “Lucy” would tell her, than the fact that Nathan believed in her enough to help her out in his quiet way. Most of  the “discoveries” in this series tend to get ignored or explained away, or otherwise fail to make any real dent in the underlying mysteries. But Nathan’s gift to Audrey will resonate through the rest of her journey.

“Did you see what I just did?” – Duke

The most surprising – and in my opinion, unwelcome – plot development came at the expense of Adam “Edge” Copeland’s character, Dwight. Having established Dwight last week as a gentle giant who saves little girls, he now gets cast as the heavy. At the behest of the suddenly-sinister Vince Teagues, he sneaks onto Duke’s boat to recover the silver box Evi and Duke discovered several weeks ago. The two wind up fighting in the dark. Well, darn. If you’re going to cast a WWF “King of the Ring” and 11-time Tag Team Champion in a fight scene, at least turn on the lights. It’s not like Edge needed a stunt double. Dwight’s character goes through more changes in this episode than a chameleon on a tie-dyed T-shirt. First he’s the menacing burglar who draws a sword on Duke. Then he’s the partner in crime who helps Duke hunt down a box full of  mystery. Then he’s the confidant and buddy who bonds with Duke over bad fathers. Then he’s the untrustworthy double-crosser who tries to steal the box. Finally, he’s the mystified pawn who confronts Vince in confusion and bewilderment. Kudos to Copeland for making all these changes believable, even if on calm reflection they aren’t, really.

“Why did he want you to kill me?” – Audrey

The final blockbuster revelation in this episode comes from Lucy, who tells Audrey that Duke’s father Simon was looking for her 27 years ago. As in all TV shows written along the lines of video games, Duke gains his quest object: his father’s other silver box. It contains a book in which Simon Crocker instructs the son he neither liked nor trusted to kill Audrey. Duke has spent the entire episode talking about his father, to the point where the invisible Simon carried as much weight as the Rev. Driscoll once did. Fathers dominate the backstory of Nathan, Duke and Dwight, while Audrey is obsessed with the idea that Lucy is or was her mother. Frankly, I kind of wish all these grown men and women would move past their childhood traumas and focus on the Troubles. Much more interesting.

“I hope you get some answers. I hope you come back and tell me what they are.” – Nathan

Haven fell a tenth of a percentage point this week, leaving it with a 0.5 rating among adults 18-49. Around 1.9 million viewers tuned in to see an episode full of new developments; if the rest of this season had had this much progress, the ratings might have been higher. I like Haven and never miss it, but I have to admit this has been an uneven season, more uneven than a show with shaky ratings can afford. I only hope next week’s season finale is not the last we’ll see of it.