The Plagues of Haven
Syfy, Fridays, 9/10 PM
“The Tale of Two Audreys”
Written by Sam Ernst & Jim Dunn
Directed by TW Peacocke
“I’m Special Agent Audrey Parker. Who the hell are you?” — Fauxdrey
The second season of Haven picks up exactly where Season One ended, and I do mean exactly. Nathan Wournos and Audrey Parker have finally come to a meeting of the ways – not only in regards to her role in the Troubles haunting the Maine town of Haven, but in regards to his personal feelings (literally) for her. And then a complete stranger (Kathleen Munroe,SGU Stargate Universe) walks up and announces that she is Special Agent Audrey Parker of the FBI. Guns are produced by all, then the fake Audrey (Fauxdrey?) surrenders and Nathan arrests her. Although Audrey herself seems a little unsettled and ambiguous about this event, Nathan has no doubt whatsoever that “his” Audrey is the real one. But as the episode progresses, more and more little hints appear that tell us Fauxdrey – and maybe Audrey – is more than she appears to be. First there’s the uncanny echo of Audrey’s abilities, then the fact that they both do CPR to the tune of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” (not a method covered in most Red Cross courses), and finally the fact that both women remember exactly the same incidents from their childhoods. Nathan may be convinced that this is all a massive hoax, or at least a manifestation of the Troubles, but I’m not so sure. The idea of one consciousness (or at least one set of memories) shared between two minds is at least as intriguing as the idea of supernatural interference in human affairs.
“I want the Cursed to ask for forgiveness.” – Rev. Driscoll
That supernatural interference arises immediately, as the Ten Plagues of Egypt manifest in the town. Of course, this being American television, the only religious figure we are allowed to see is the repellent Rev. Driscoll (Stephen McHattie, A Little Bit Zombie). And as usual, the origin of the plagues is totally ignored: instead of being portents intended to free the Hebrews, they are now interpreted, with no basis in Bible at all, as signs of God’s wrath. I really wish that if writers were going to stick the Bible into stories, they’d read it first. At any rate, at least Audrey knows enough of her Bible to remember that the tenth plague is the worst – death of the firstborn son (actually the Bible doesn’t say “son”, so daughters are presumably at risk as well. See writers, not reading Bible). Nathan is not even really sure that he is a firstborn son, since his father said he was adopted. At any rate, for everyone’s sake they need to get to the bottom of the plagues. Thankfully, it didn’t involve driving all the Jews out of Haven into a desert.
“There are things in this town that I can’t explain.” — Fauxdrey
When a “plague” of gnats causes a traffic accident, Nathan and Audrey track down a driver who fled the scene. There is really no reason Nathan could not have delegated such a routine chore, but he and Audrey must investigate it because it turns out to be their major clue. This is not the first time one of the investigators simply jumps to a conclusion, or does something because there’s a clue waiting to be found. Audrey “figures out” what caused the plague with hardly any clue at all: a bereaved man mourning his wife’s death in childbirth has caused this Trouble because he was reading the Bible. She really has very little basis for this conclusion, but there’s so much else to get through in this episode she’s left no time fro real detective work. This is a case of fitting the story to an outside agenda, rather than letting it build up naturally. In other respects, notably the characterizations in this episode, the writing is exemplary, but the plot structure was very shaky indeed.
“The lamb will never lie down with the lion.” – Rev. Driscoll
There were two very interesting developments in this episode, one connected with character and one with the storytelling process itself. In the first instance, Nathan has become a different person. From the dry, wooden, reserved Nathan of season one, he has suddenly morphed into an expressive, dynamic, animated, nay eve passionate man. He yells, he talks all the time, he even smiles. His reserve with Audrey is completely gone; he may say very little to others about the disappearance of his father, but we know that’s just strategy, not personality. I don’t know whether the producers decided Nathan was too wooden, or if actor Lucas Bryant simply can’t be repressed that long, but it’s a welcome development. The second development has to do with the way this story was told. We tend to see events through the filter of our immediate experience, so it is entirely plausible that when frogs begin to rain from the sky, Nathan and Audrey suspect Fauxdrey. They are wrong, of course, but they find out the same way we would in a similar situation – because of ongoing events, not through sheer deduction. blinded by Fauxdrey’s presence, which is mere coincidence, it takes them half an episode to figure out what’s really going on. The genius of this episode is that this did not make Audrey and Nathan look stupid; it merely made them look human.
“Bug infestations, schizophrenic weather… how do you keep the tourists away?” — Evi
The new season kicks off two new characters, as well, the aforementioned Fauxdrey and a surprise wife for Duke Crocker. I completely understand the new FBI agent; since Audrey is no longer a skeptic, we need a new one to have things explained to her every week. I don’t know how long she’ll be around, but the idea of a single set of memories shared by two women brings up all kinds of delicious story potential revolving around identity. Duke’s wife Evi (Vinessa Antoine, Being Erica) seems to be a con artist of some kind, who hurt Duke pretty badly in the past. She refuses to believe he’s not hanging around Haven for some nefarious reason, and wants Duke to go in with her on some criminal enterprise. Sassy and bold, she’s a good foil for Duke (should we call Duke’s wife Duchess?) and a welcome new addition to the show.
“Dangerous, freakish things happen in this town.” – Duke Crocker
Otherwise, the series returns with the same problems it left with: a lack of interest on the part of everyone connected with Haven in what is causing the Troubles. The formula is pretty clear: bad things happen every week, Nathan and Audrey figure out pretty much by osmosis what the source is, and order is (temporarily) restored. No one seems interested in why these things are happening in and to this small town; it’s as if Haven is cut off from the rest of the universe. More than once, I have longed to see Pete and Myka, from Warehouse 13, show up and investigate the strange artifacts, events and rumors surrounding this town. If Warehouse 13 can have a crossover episode with Eureka, why can’t it have one with Haven? Probably because Pete and Myka would solve the mystery, and there would be no more raison d’être for this show.
“The things that happen here, you can’t work an angle on.” – Duke Crocker
Haven returned from its hiatus pretty much where it left off: 1.8 million viewers and a 0.5 rating for adults 18-49, just about where the finale left it last year. For cable, especially for Syfy, those are good numbers.