Whatever I Fear the Most
Syfy, Fridays, 9/10 PM
“Fear & Loathing”
Written by Gabrielle Stanton
Directed by Rob Lieberman
“Apparently, some girl is causing people to hallucinate what they’re most afraid of. I hate myself for saying that.” — Fauxdrey
I hate you, too. I hate it when writers get so contemptuous of their audience’s intelligence that they start writing their own tag lines into the script. The Havenwriters need to back away from the Internet squawk forums and start concentrating on telling the story, not selling it. In this one, we start with people freaking out in a convenience store, as their worst fears appear before them — menacing dogs, horribly burned accident victims, dead zombie husbands (who doesn’t fear those?). At the same time, Nathan suddenly discovers at his father’s memorial service that he can feel, when Audrey notices his bleeding hand. Rather than try to figure out how this miracle occurred, he spends the rest of the episode reveling in it. Understandable, but risky.
“Remember Spring Break?” — Audrey
Meanwhile, Audrey is trying to come to terms with the mystery of the other Audrey (Kathleen Munroe, SGU Stargate Universe), who seems to share all of her memories. As they seek some understanding of this bizarre circumstance, they grudgingly come to accept and even like one another. Audrey has always been a mystery and a loner, and it is nice to see her making a friend, even if that friend is more like a mirror than another human being. It works nicely in the three-way conversations between them and Nathan. Nathan is still suspicious of Fauxdrey, but her presence comes in handy when she is spooked by a killer clown she spots at a riot. Tellingly, Audrey did not see the clown (she saw a woman walking away) but recognizes Fauxdrey’s description from their shared childhood. Again, this idea of two people with identical memories continues to upstage just about any other mystery introduced into this show, including Nathan’s mysteriously re-appearing ability to feel.
“I want to find out what’s happening in this crazy town, too.” — Fauxdrey
Apparently having nothing better to do (assignments? reports to superiors?), Fauxdrey hangs around in Haven to assist Audrey and Nathan. She decides to find Audrey’s Agent Howard, and uses some security camera footage to track the Chief’s conversation at the end of Season One with him. She and Audrey track some cell phone records to a house leased by Howard. In a provocative callback to the pilot episode, they find the very book Audrey was reading when we first saw her. Is it coincidence? A clue? A red herring? They must abandon this tantalizing hint to quell yet another public scare, and eventually track the source of all these panic attacks to Jackie Clark (Andria Wilson, Trailer Park Boys). She has recently developed a gaze more horrifying than the Medusa’s stare. At one point she demonstrates this to Nathan, who reacts with horror, without revealing what it is he fears the most. (I would think he would most fear losing his newly-regained ability to feel, but for some odd reason that is a curiously under-developed theme in this story.) Eventually the over-complicated story behind her Affliction is revealed, the perpetrator is suitably dispatched, and all is returned to normal. Unfortunately, that includes Nathan.
“Did you know that the skin on your lips is the most sensitive of the entire body?” — Nathan
Uh, no it isn’t, Nathan, and any guy in the audience (and several women) would contradict you. Statements like this convince me that a) Nathan’s Affliction is still affecting some parts of him, b) it has moved to his brain, or c) the writers are turning him into a romance nerd, that is to say, a feminized hero. I like it that Nathan is more expressive and emotional than last year, but I do not want him turned into a woman. So far, he obeys all the rules for romance-novel heroes (they’re actually written down on some romance publishers’ websites): when alone with Audrey, he caresses flowers and speaks of sensitive body parts,. When Duke offers to set him up with willing women, Nathan turns him down, demonstrating that Nathan is committed to Audrey, even if he doesn’t know it yet. Please, somebody shoot me. Or him. Fortunately, this excursion into gooey sentimentality lasts only long enough for Nathan to begin to enjoy his ability to feel, the better to torture him (and us). Faced with a choice, he sacrifices his own newly-regained sensuality in order to allow Jackie to live a normal life. It’s a hero’s choice, and frankly it’s the sexiest thing Nathan has done in this short season, much better than stroking rose petals.
“Curses can be lifted.” — Nathan
I thought I’d be more interested in Nathan’s appearing and disappearing sensitivity, but I find that I am not. It was so cavalierly treated in this episode that it rendered the whole matter almost trivial. I was disappointed to find such a major story element so incompetently handled, so much so that it will ruin the denouement when Nathan finally and permanently regains his ability to feel. I did enjoy the second week in a row to contain a reference to Stephen King’s “It” (the killer clown), but I am puzzled as to whether this foreshadows some important plot twist in the future or merely reflects the writers’ room whimsy of the moment. In any event, the most engrossing facet of this show continues, despite sometimes clumsy writing, to be Audrey Parker (the blonde one), who literally came to us out of a deep sleep in the pilot, with no heritage or history, and continues to search for it along with us. There are hints here of a plot and background as convoluted, daring and interesting as Twin Peaks. With luck, it will resolve better than that brilliant but truncated show.