Monday, October 14, 2013

Haven 4.05: "The New Girl"

Before we get into this week's episode, I have something to say.  It's embarrassing, frankly, but I think I need to say it: I dropped the ball in reviewing last week's episode.  I dropped the ball big-time.

One of the things I'd intended to talk about in that review is the fact that the episode's screenplay was credited to someone named Speed Weed.  I made a note of it and everything, but somehow -- and this alarms me -- I forgot to mention it when actually writing the review.  I'm pretty sure I intended to produce a good 3-4 paragraphs of snark on the subject.  How could I not?  It is a ridiculous nickname, and even though I found certain moments of last week's episode to be effective, I cannot take seriously the work of any writer who uses that name, or one like it.  So, to answer your question, Goflex Pajamadaddy: no, I do not take what you do seriously.  Same goes for you, Crack McFasten; and you, Anusoda.  I will tentatively accept that this is something rappers and rockstars are allowed to do -- so Slash, Buckethead, and Snoop Dogg get a pass -- but I simply will not extend that courtesy into the realm of screenwriting.

So take that, Speed Weed.

And before any of you point it out: no, I have not forgotten that I once billed myself as "Honk Mahfah."  I gave that up, though; one can hope Speed Weed will similarly come to his/her senses at some point.

And now, for this week's episode of Haven!

Lexie looks skeptical.  Me?  Not as much.  I liked "The New Girl"; it was a solid episode, and one that I'm going to talk about with some very specific spoilers in mind.  So if that's the sort of thing you can't abide, then you won't be able to abide the rest of this post.

Last week's episode ended with Lexie making her way out of The Barn and (back?) into our world.  Which, ostensibly, is the real world; although on that score, time will tell, I suppose.  Before she made the leap into that weird corridor, William told her that once she got back to Haven, she would be whoever she most wanted to be.  The expectation there, obviously, is that this is the plot device by which she will have her identity as Audrey restored.  I mean, that's what happens on television shows, right?  You can't just change the identity of the show's main character in its fourth season.


Well, hey, maybe you can.  That's part of why the reveal at the end of last week's episode -- that Lexie is still Lexie -- was effective: it was surprising.  So, of course, "The New Girl" spends a good chunk of the episode establishing how the new dynamics of the series are going to work: how Nathan will cope with Audrey not existing anymore; how Nathan and Duke will separately get along with Lexie; how Lexie, in turn, will get along with each of them; and so forth.

Sci-fi shows are well-suited to this sort of thing.  You could never explore a plotline of this nature on, say, Breaking Bad or Mad Men (although wouldn't you be kind of thrilled to see them try?)...or even, Jeezus pleezus, The Walking Dead.  But on a series like Haven, it's fair game, and the episode gets some decent mileage out of it.

And for that reason, I have yet to entirely process how I feel about the final revelation of the episode: that Audrey is not Lexie at all, but has merely been pretending to be Lexie since emerging from The Barn.  It undoubtedly says something good about the series that the reveal simultaneously gladdened and disappointed me.  On the one hand, I obviously like Audrey, so I was already sad to see her go (even though I was assuming she'd probably re-emerge at some point); on the other hand, I liked Lexie, too, so I'm now sort of sad to see her go.

Specifically, I think that this means one thing: that Emily Rose is an even better actor than I thought her to be.  And I already thought she was pretty damn good.

In this episode, she is playing a fairly complicated idea: Audrey pretending to be Lexie, but doing so with just enough hints of Audrey creeping in that it doesn't tip the episode's hand early BUT feels natural when the reveal happens.  Some of that comes via the writing: screenwriter Brian Millikin has "Lexie" giving various examples meant to illustrate that she is a more free-spirited woman than Audrey, so he has her talk about doing peyote and sleeping with married men.  In retrospect, these are trite examples; but, given that Audrey is Audrey, and that Audrey's ideas about a woman like Lexie would probably be just that facile, is makes complete sense.  So let's give Millikin and the show's other writers some credit; but let's give Rose some major kudos for pulling it off.

If she can do work that great on Haven, what could she do on a series with writing that routinely rose to her level?  Let's hope that when Haven ends, we get to find out.  Clearly, she deserves it.

Elsewhere, the episode includes some good moments for more or less everyone: Duke, Nathan, Jennifer, Jordan, even Vince.  A lot of this is due to the fact that the Trouble of the Week is at least decent this time out: a guy is paralyzed in a car accident, and his Trouble -- which involves being able to send his personality into the body of anyone who gives him an object -- activates.  Does he possess Duke's body at some point?  Of course he does.  This is not revolutionary stuff, even by Haven standards.  However, it does at least reflect the themes of the show-mythology aspects of the episode: in other words, it, like the Audrey/Lexie stuff, is all about identity, and the process by which we recognize each other based as much on our actions and personality as anything else.

So, all in all, it was another fairly good episode.  I like the direction of the mythology story, and I'm curious to see where it goes from here.

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