Friday, January 17, 2014

"Haven" 4.11, 4.12, and 4.13: An End-of-the-Season Wrap-Up

Dadgummit, I'd been plugging along real good with my weekly Haven reviews, and then busy-time hit at work, and wham-blammo, I was unable to produce for the final three episodes of the season.  I considered just ignoring it, but I'm currently in playing-catch-up mode, so I figured, what the hey, let's at least get a brief set of reviews out into the world.  Just for a sense of completion, you know?

So, here it comes.  Spoilers ahoy!




In episode 11, "Shot in the Dark," Danny Masterson (whom you might remember from That '70s Show) plays a guy who hosts a web series about paranormal pursuits.  Along with his partner, the team is known as the Darkside Seekers.  Lame, yes; but is it any lamer than some of the extant groups in the real world who do this sort of stuff.  Nope.  Therefore, it's kind of cool.



Anyways, the Darkside Seekers have come to Haven investigating something, and they soon stumble across what appears to be a rougarou.  I've never heard of the rougarou (pronounced "ROO-guh-ROO") before, but it is now one of my new favorite names for monsters.  Still in first place: "chupacabra," and by a damn large margin, too.

I don't remember much about this episode.  The previous episode ended with Audrey and William getting shot, and this one resolves that subplot relatively quickly by having William be able to heal himself, or some such nonsense.  The whole "Darkside Seekers" thing is annoying and pointless and distracts from the overall story, which prior to this point had been sailing along pretty well.  As a device, the Darkside Seekers seem like something the writers thought would be hip and fresh and unexpected.  But I'm given to know that Supernatural did some stuff like this years ago . . . and I'm also given to know that Supernatural was ripping it off from The X-Files, which did something similar all the way back in 2000 with the "X-Cops" episode.  None of that means that current shows can't, or shouldn't, try similar approaches; but it does mean that they will need to rely on more than the concept to make it work.  Success is in the execution, and the execution here is merely decent.




Episode 12 is titled "When the Bough Breaks," a title which implies that something catastrophic is about to happen.  Ah, but it proves to be a bit more literal than that!  The Trouble this week involves a family whose tears cause other people to die.  As in, if they begin crying, someone nearby drops dead.

And they have an infant.

Bad combination.  It hadn't been an issue, because the Trouble had disappeared; but William has reactivated it, just to gum up the works for Audrey and everyone else.  Now, they all have to make the decision of whether to kill the child to prevent more adults from dropping dead.

A solution presents itself when the baby's father volunteers to let Duke kill him, thereby removing the family curse forever.  Except Duke's Trouble is gone, so he can't do it.  Except Audrey -- whose original personality, it has now been revealed, was (along with William) the person responsible for creating the Troubles to begin with -- can give Duke the Trouble all over again.  The only problem with that is that doing so might cause the "Audrey" personality to vanish, and be replaced by whoever the original is.

Which, of course, is exactly what William wants.

It's a pretty good episode.  My only real complaint with it is that it fills a guest role with Michael "Colonel Tigh from Battlestar Galactica, the remake, not the original" Hogan, and then promptly does almost nothing with him.  Now, look, I know that Michael Hogan is perhaps not a superstar, and I know that Battlestar Galactica was no Nielsen juggernaut; but still, Hogan's Tigh was one of the most celebrated characters on one of the decade's most celebrated shows.  Why woould you hire him and give him practically nothing to do?  It's baffling.




In the season finale, "The Lighthouse," all of the strands from the season come together and pay off pretty well, and clinch season four as being far and away the best season of the series to date.

Audrey tries to give Duke his Trouble powers back, and as she is doing so, she very briefly feels her original personality reassert itself.  Mara was evidently her original name, and she feels a memory of Mara and William together.  Then, she is Audrey again.

Eventually, she is successful in giving Duke his powers back, and Duke kills the baby's father.  But all of this has some sort of adverse effect upon Duke, and he begins bleeding rather profusely.

There's lots more, of course.  They all try to push William back through the door between realities through which he came, and while they are successful at this goal, it comes at a major price: Audrey has vanished, and as the episode ends, Mara has taken her place.

As far as season-ending cliffhangers go, that's a pretty good one.  Problem is, Haven has not yet been picked up for a fifth season.  So we might well never find out what happens next! 
  
This would be a shame.  Now, if the series had been canceled after its first season, or even after its second, I wouldn't much have cared; I'd have simply chalked it up as a failed attempt to exploit the Stephen King brand a bit.  From the third season onward, though, the series has settled into a groove and become a pleasing diversion.  Not something that's going to win a bunch of Emmys or anything, but reliably entertaining, and rarely, now, given to the fits of z-grade idiocy that plagued its first two seasons.

In other words, if it doesn't come back for at least one more season, I'm going to be legitimately bummed out by it, despite the ever-widening gap between the series and its alleged source material (The Colorado Kid).  Yeah, sure, this has about as much to do with Stephen King as Duck Dynasty does; but a good show is a good show, and this one has turned into a good show.

4 comments:

  1. I gave up on Haven midway through this season after watching it since the beginning. For me, it just became a bit boring. I liked the show better when it moved from new trouble to new trouble, before it actually started unfolding so much of Audrey’s tale. (This is completely opposite of how I felt when Fringe did a similar thing.) Haven felt more like Syfy’s hokey version of The Twilight Zone more than anything King related. But, in a way, I kind of liked that. It never would have been in my top ten favorites, but I enjoyed that idiocy, because that’s what I expect from Syfy.

    Now it feels thin, drawn out. If it were a sitcom, I’d expect Audrey to be pregnant. Oh, and the kid would appear on next season’s show (assuming there is a season) and be four years old. By the end, it just became a drinking game for me and a friend, drinking every time someone said “troubles.”

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    1. Well, they certainly had their big chance to do a pregnancy storyline, since Emily Rose had a baby between seasons. I'm glad they didn't go that route, though.

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  2. Michael Hogan had a similarly nondescript role on Dollhouse where I found myself asking the same question at episode's end. I hope he (and everyone on BSG, frankly) finds fruitful new series ground somewhere and soon.

    I've seen very little of this show, but I hold out hope the last season will just be a play by play of The Colorado Kid and then the series finale will be a 3-part hyper-blend of the Tommyknockers.

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    1. I'd forgotten he was on Dollhouse.

      And actually, I'd briefly forgotten that Kandyse McClure showed up for an episode of Haven earlier this season. She had a better role, but still seemed squandered, relatively speaking. At least they put her to good use on Hemlock Grove.

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