December 6, 2014

SHOWBUZZDAILY “Midseason” Finale Review: “Haven”


This season, HAVEN delved deeply into its own mythology, with mixed results.  Haven‘s own situation is unclear, existentially speaking:  it received a super-sized 26-episode order from Syfy earlier this year, with 13 episodes to air in 2014 and the rest at some as-yet undetermined date next year that could end up being in the 2015-16 TV season.  Many suspect that this is an AMC-type final “season” order, really two seasons that are called one for contractual reasons, but for now all of that is unconfirmed, and while these might be the last Haven episodes for a year, Syfy is referring to tonight’s episode as a “midseason” finale.

All of which is a long way of saying that these past 13 episodes may have been Haven setting up its series endgame–or not.  In any case, much was revealed this season about just what’s been doing on in Haven, and as is very often the case with such things, the explanation was less than scintilating.  Our mysterious heroine Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) is really, it seems, the latest personality grafted onto Mara (also Rose), an alien from a far-off planet where the natives are conveniently identical to Earthlings but far more advanced.  After the death of Mara’s father (and no one with a pulse will be shocked if Daddy turns out not to be so totally dead), Mara came to Earth along with her companion William (Colin Ferguson, absent this season) and specifically Haven through a “thinny” interdimensional passageway (think Interstellar), armed with black “aeon” globules that give people troubles.  Alienated and mean, Mara gave the troubles to Haven’s inhabitants.  This season, a fake CDC officer named Charlotte (Laura Mennell) turned out to be Mara’s mom, come from the home planet to get Mara back.  There was also much exposition about Duke (Eric Balfour), a bar-owning repository of troubles whom Mara turned into a trouble time-bomb, and about the Teagues, Vince (Richard Donat) and Dave (John Dunsworth), adopted brothers of whom Dave has some connection to the thinny and visions of what may or may not be an 500-year old massacre.

It was a whole lot to download, and overall, this season of Haven lacked the lightness of touch that originally made the series appealing, aside from a fun 2-part episode that featured body-swapping, most notably between burly sheriff Dwight (Adam Copeland, still hilariously billed in the credits as “WWE Superstar Edge”) and coroner of a certain age Gloria (Jayne Eastwood)  It was also hindered by the unfortunate fact that as a performer playing multiple characters, no one will ever mistake Emily Rose for Tatiana Maslany.  The increased serialization of the storyline forced one to treat the narrative more seriously than in previous seasons, and that wasn’t necessarily a good thing, as Charlotte’s weeks-long impersonation of a CDC agent become increasingly idiotic the more one thought about it, and Mara’s flagrantly obvious seduction of Duke for nefarious purposes just made Duke look like a moron.

Tonight’s finale (“midseason” or not), written by showrunner/Executive Producer Matt McGuinness and directed by Shawn Pillar, paid off some of the plotting while leaving several cliffhangers.  Charlotte successfully re-merged Mara and Audrey, although for reasons that were unclear, despite the fact that Charlotte had told everyone that the resulting woman would be Mara with a little Audrey mixed in to provide some humanity, instead Audrey appeared to be the sole survivor, reunited with her true love, stalwart Nathan (Lucas Bryant).  On the cliffhanger-y end, Mara’s manipulation of Duke into a trouble IED resulted in a literal storm of (very fake-looking CG) troubles raining onto the citizens of Haven.  And the implication was that Dave’s visions of a massacre might not have been of events from centuries ago, but from something that was about to take place.  The highlight of the episode was actually a short bit near the start, when Duke unintentionally infected an annoying customer at his bar with a trouble that made everything she touched explode, including her own husband.  (The main trouble-of-the-week, in which a worried local father magically sealed his children in places where he felt they were safe, in order to protect them, was far less engaging.)

Whatever Syfy may have planned when it ordered its last shipment of Haven, it seems likely that the next batch will be the last, considering that low ratings have driven the show to a barely-primetime Friday 7PM timeslot.  We already know that those episodes will include an arc co-starring William Shatner (as Audrey/Mara’s “dead” father?), always a dangerous piece of casting, since Shatner carries a baggage of camp with him like no other American actor this side of Christopher Walken.  While never a standout, Haven has been a mildly entertaining piece of product, and one hopes that in ending it, Syfy and the producers don’t burden it with troubles of its own.  Haven is already teetering under the weight of new mythology, and it deserves to make its exit–if that’s what’s coming–without toppling into its own thinny.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."