December 14, 2013

THE SKED Season Finale Review: “Haven”


Season 4 of HAVEN was its most ambitious by far.  Under showrunners Matt McGuinness and Gabrielle Stanton, the series delved into its own mythology more deeply than it ever has before, moving past its initial rote Trouble-of-the-week structure to introduce some important new characters while radically shifting others.  All was not revealed, of course, since Haven still hopes for a 5th season and beyond (its current status is firmly on the bubble).  But it was enough to leave the season with a promising set of cliffhangers.

The season finale, written by McGuinness and Stanton and directed by Shawn Piller, turned on whatever still-unexplained realm spawned Audrey Parker (Emily Rose)–or perhaps “Audrey Parker” is a better way of referring to her–as well as this season’s mysterious newcomers William (Eureka veteran Colin Ferguson) and Jennifer (the appealing Emma Lahana), and, in a major twist, fussy old co-newspaper editor Dave Teagues (John Dunsworth).  It didn’t necessarily make sense in the context of the preceding seasons that Dave has known all along that he was not of this… planet? dimension?… and neither was Audrey, but sense mattered less than momentum in the episode.  Whatever lies on the other side of the mystical door that opened up in Haven’s lighthouse, no one who was familiar with it was in any hurry to get back there, and even imperturbable William panicked before he was thrown through.  (Colin Ferguson was a guest star this season, and one assumes that if the show is renewed but can’t make a deal with him to return, “William” could come back in another mortal guise in Season 5.)

There were plenty of cliffhangers left behind in that lighthouse–William’s fate, whether Jennifer was alive or dead once the door had closed, the true identities of all the non-Havenites, not to mention whether Duke (Eric Balfour) was about to die from being re-Troubled by Audrey (I’ll go out on a limb on that one and say “probably not”)–but the biggest concerned Audrey herself, who would seemingly be the Big Bad of Season 5.  Although things were left vague enough that they could be reversed, the episode seemed to confirm what William had been saying all along:  that Audrey, in her ur-identity of “Mara” and seemingly in colonial times, based on their flashback clothes, had collaborated with him in bringing the Troubles to Haven in the first place, apparently just for kicks.  After an exchange of otherworldly energy between Audrey and William as she shoved him through the portal, she returned to being Mara, which didn’t seem like it was going to be good news for Haven.  Emily Rose isn’t Tatiana Maslany or even Nina Dobrev–her shifting identities tend to be more a matter of wigs and mannerisms than real character change–but if the show returns, she should be able to have some fun with that.

Haven still has issues, from its often tacky special effects (a sequence where Duke blackened the grass around him was done with cartoonish CG paint) to clunky dialogue.  This season, though, took itself more seriously than the show has before, with some genuinely disturbing Troubles (the best was the one designed by William where a baby’s cries killed people both near and far), and a willingness to make the relationships between the characters count for something.  The ratings have been no more than OK even for low-watched Fridays, so the series’ fate probably rests on what else Syfy has on its shelves (the new Helix makes its debut in Haven‘s time slot next month).  Creatively, this encouraging season has earned a return for another round of Troubles.

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."