Copyright © 2011 by Sarah Stegall
SyFy Channel, Fridays 9/10PM
“Sins of the Fathers”
Written by Sam Ernst & Jim Dunn
Directed by Lee Rose
Warning: this review contains some spoilers. If you’d rather not know what the episode is going to include, bookmark this page and read it after viewing.
“Do you ever wonder why you’re here?” —Duke
The final episode of Haven‘s second season winds up a lethargically paced but still intriguing thirteen stories. If we didn’t get the sizzle and snap of sexual tension between Nathan and Audrey until the end, at least we didn’t get downright silly stories like last year’s “Fur”. Most of this year’s crop had interesting premises and good characters; the details worked even if the overall structure did not. We spent too much time off in narrative cul-de-sacs, a leisurely diversion this fledgling series can ill afford. At least we ended on a better note than we had for most of the year.
“Ghosts are wandering the streets of Haven and I’m the only one who can’t see them.” —Audrey
A dead man returns to trick his wife’s lover into shooting her, under the mistaken idea a burglar is attacking her. A suicide returns to persuade her brother to beat to death the boy who raped her. Both Duke’s and Nathan’s fathers return with heavy-handed and very unwelcome advice. And even the Rev returns, more fanatical and determined forever. The streets of Haven are downright crowded with the resurrected dead, whom everyone but Audrey Parker can see. It’s a little funny, actually, the visual equivalent of Nathan’s neuropathy. He cannot feel what she can; she is blind to what he sees. On a metaphorical level, it’s so ironic it’s funny.
“So what do you think? Clones? Ghosts? Zombies are trendy.” —Audrey
It’s good to have Sassy Audrey back. It’s her sarcasm and wit that lift this character above a stereotype, so to have her snarking about the case, or teasing Nathan, is just what we need to counter the increasingly dark atmosphere of the show. By now, the town of Haven is divided against itself, the Troubled are at odds with the non-Troubled citizens. Even the non-Troubled are divided, with the Teagues brothers now openly snarling at one another. Even Dwight has proved to be untrustworthy. Lucy Ripley, though friendly enough, didn’t really help Audrey understand the Troubles much, or her role in them. So it’s good to see that Audrey has kept her sense of perspective, that she is still the oddball heroine with a gift for witty zingers.
“You’re going to disappear for a few days, and I won’t have any idea why. And then you’ll show back up, bloody and beaten up, and expect me to nurse you back to health.” —Duke
Duke Crocker’s summer-long excursion into his past comes to a head when the ghost of his father Simon (Tahmoh Penikett, Battlestar Galactica) appears on his boat, urging him to fulfill his destiny. Unfortunately, that destiny involves murder: when a Crocker kills a Troubled person, the victim’s curse dies forever in their descendants. Duke is horrified to learn, for the second week in a row, that he’s expected to kill someone. Nor is his father all that trustworthy; last week Duke bonded with Dwight over abusive fathers; Duke said Simon used to send him out for beer and cigarettes. Later in this episode, Duke signals his rejection of his father’s injunction by burying the silver box of Simon’s weapons at Simon’s grave. But something has gone wrong either with the timeline in Haven or the show’s continuity. When Simon first appears, Duke says he hasn’t seen him in 27 years. Yet Simon’s own tombstone says he died in 1983 at age 34. So how old, exactly, is Duke Crocker? Eric Balfour himself is 34, so it’s reasonable to assume he’s playing Duke as the same age he is. But that means Simon was sending a seven-year-old out to buy beer; I’d like to see the liquor store in Maine that would sell cigarettes and beer to a little boy. Either Duke is a lot older than he looks, or the space-time continuum in Haven is off-kilter, or someone on the writing team can’t do arithmetic.
“People followed me when I was alive. Think what they’ll do for me now.” —Rev. Driscoll
Bad enough that Duke’s dad is urging him to commit murder; now the Reverend Driscoll (Stephen McHattie, A Little Bit Zombie) reappears to reinforce that demand. More obsessive than ever, Driscoll rallies his followers to round up as many Troubled people as they can, to make it easier for Duke to kill them. Duke refuses, of course, but Driscoll threatens to “take his revenge” on Audrey for killing him. I’m still trying to figure out what that revenge might be: Simon demonstrates that the dead make no physical contact with the living, and Audrey can’t see the ghosts, much less be frightened by them. All the Reverend could do would be to inspire his adherents to murder, and that wasn’t working when he was flesh and blood.
“The Troubles keep coming back, and people keep dying.” —Duke
In fact, in the climactic scene, the Reverend’s acolyte Kyle (Torrance Coombs, Endgame), whose grave digging was the cause of all these spontaneous resurrections, is driven not to murder but suicide, as he throws himself on Duke’s knife in the belief that his death will release his unborn child from inheriting his curse. But did it work? Is it really true that his death at Duke’s hands will release his family from the Troubles? It will be another generation before this question is answered; meanwhile, Simon and the Rev are applauding Duke for fulfilling his destiny. Duke’s horror is magnified when Kyle’s blood fades into his hand as it did when Duke cut Dwight last week; is Duke absorbing the Troubles? Is he a sort of sin-eater? Only Nathan notices that Duke’s eyes momentarily turn an icy blue—what internal change does this signal? As far as Nathan is concerned, it’s all part of Duke’s inherent unreliability.
“Are we talking about dinner? Or… breakfast?” —Nathan
Nathan has more reason than most to mistrust Duke; he tells Audrey that his own Troubles were re-triggered by a fight with Duke “two years ago”. Since Nathan has consistently said that his neuropathy dates from childhood, we are once again left wondering if this discrepancy is due to poor math skills, lack of continuity, or a kink in the time-space continuum in Haven. Nathan is also highly invested in Audrey herself; after declaring his feelings to her last week, he now tells her (not asking, but telling) that they have to go on a dinner date. She completely throws him with an offer to make pancakes, and when he stumbles through a breathless question to learn if there’s more than pancakes on offer, she twinkles at him and leaves him flustered. Did I mention how glad I am to see Sassy Audrey back? It’s always fun to see how easily she can discombobulate the otherwise stoic Nathan; I only wish we could see some sign of his impact on her.
Nathan: You came back to tell me that I can’t be in love with Audrey?
Chief Wuornos: Yeah, I guess I did.
Nathan: Well, then, you wasted your time.
Apparently Nathan has made up his mind, finally, about how he feels about his partner. His father does not approve, but happily Nathan is far more stubborn than the late Chief. Nathan’s conversation with his resurrected dad is the most candid and open talk they’ve had in the entire series. I guess there’s nothing like death to loosen the tongue of even the most reserved and taciturn person. The Chief tells Nathan what everyone tells Nathan: that Audrey is important, that she is the key to the Troubles. And like everyone else, he does not tell Nathan why or how she is important. It’s hard for me to believe that everyone in town is completely ignorant, especially when Simon accuses Audrey of killing him: “She was Lucy when she killed me.” Audrey proved last week that Dave had a close relationship with Lucy in the past (which is all kinds of creepy when you think about it), but he’s not saying, either. I’m all for secrets and conspiracies, but sometimes you just want to smack someone in this show upside the head and get them to talk.
“I’m done counting.” —Nathan
I was hoping for some frank talk from Nathan and Audrey at last. Alas, the dinner date is interrupted by a kidnapping. Nathan arrives with a tie and high hopes, only to find Audrey gone and incriminating evidence against Duke planted in her apartment. A seasoned cop should hesitate before taking it at face value, especially after he saw Duke facing down the Rev and his own father. But perhaps love is stupid as well as blind, as Nathan rushes off to accuse Duke of abducting Audrey. Duke reaches for a gun of his own, and spots a new tattoo on Nathan. Since it’s red and puffy, it looks very new; on the other hand, Duke’s eyes have recently undergone some kind of change, so maybe he’s seeing something that isn’t there. Or something Nathan cannot see. In any case, you’ll never tell me Nathan had that tattoo last week. More reason for Nathan and Duke to feel mutually betrayed. We end with a gunshot and a “cliffhanger” no one over six would be worried about. If the show returns at all, Duke and Nathan will be in it.
“I don’t think you appreciate how precarious our position is here.” —Chief Wuornos
Haven has averaged around a 0.5 share all season, which is higher than its 0.4 average last year. It’s garnering an audience of roughly 1.8 million viewers per night (SyFy is claiming more than two million), which is at least more viewers than reside in the state of Maine. Maybe they’re watching in Newfoundland as well. Last week the network boasted that Haven, among its other scripted shows like Warehouse 13 and Eureka, has boosted the network viewership by 12%. This would seem to indicate that Haven is a shoo-in for renewal, except that SyFy has cancelled Eureka, the very show it is bragging about. So I think Haven is on the dime here; I give it no more than a 50% chance of renewal. Which is a shame, because overall this year was an improvement on the first year, and the show still has great potential. The Nathan/Audrey romance has heated up, Duke has new purpose in life, and the Troubles are getting darker and stranger. This would be a really bad time to cancel Haven. Until we hear one way or the other, we can at least look forward to the much-vaunted Christmas special. I almost shudder to think what this show will do with Santa Claus, but I’ll be watching anyway.
Copyright © 2011 by Sarah Stegall