January 18, 2013



Not even HAVEN‘s worst enemy would have wished on the series its season finale experience of the past few weeks.  More serialized than ever before, the season was approaching its ending with a second-to-last episode that featured deadly violence in a school (although directed at older graduates attending a reunion, not at children)–in the week of the horrific events in Newtown.  For obvious reasons, the episode was pulled from the air, but without that episode, the following week’s finale wouldn’t make sense, so it had to be pulled too.  The two hours ended up airing a month late on an off-night as a 2-hour block.  All things considered, its 0.4 rating last night has to be considered passable, although luckily for Haven, it had already been picked up for a 4th season before any of this occurred, taking some of the pressure off.

The first hour of the block was never intended to be part of the “finale,” so it doesn’t need much mention here.  (Although the most inventive “trouble” suffered by a Haven townsperson in the entire series may have been the former beauty queen who discovered that everything she ate, no matter how healthy it started out, turned into chocolate cake before she could get it to her mouth.)  It was mostly notable for killing town shrink Claire (Bree Williamson) at the hands of the “skinwearer” mass murderer who’d haunted the season, and the biggest surprise related to that was it meant Claire, the seemingly least trustworthy person in all of Haven because she was trusted by absolutely everyone, was really innocent all along.  The skinwearer had been murdering women to put together a replica of what turned out to be her gorgeous former self, Arla Cogan (Laura Vandervoort)–don’t concentrate too hard on the physics of how that was supposed to work–AKA wife of the Colorado Kid (Steve Lund), who was himself son of the two-incarnations-ago version of our heroine Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) and, we learned in the season finale itself, her time-traveling present-day platonic boyfriend, Sheriff Nathan Wuomos (Lucas Bryant).  Got that?

The finale, written by series creators Jim Dunn and Sam Ernst and directed by Shawn Piller, worked overtime to finally explain hunks of the previously-obscure mythology of the show.  Audrey, it turned out, was an engine for ending Haven’s “troubles” in 27-year installments, fueled by love.  Every 27 years she’d emerge from some kind of magical barn-thing as an adult with a new identity, find her love, and store up enough until she had to go back into the barn during a meteor shower, at which point the troubles would end until 27 more years went by.  The only 2 ways for the troubles to end permanently would be by killing Audrey or killing her true love–in this case, Nathan.  Since Audrey was unwilling to kill Nathan, she went back into the barn at the end of the episode–but followed by Duke Crocker (Eric Balfour), the town’s local semi-criminal, whose own love for Audrey is unrequited.  As the episode ended, the barn containing Audrey and Duke disappeared, but the meteors that were supposed to bypass Haven were still attacking the town by way of a cliffhanger.

All of this required lots and lots of exposition–there was also the revelation that seemingly harmless newspaper editor Vince Teagues (Richard Donat) wasn’t indistinguishable from his seemingly harmless newspaper editor brother Dave (John Dunsowrth) after all, but was in fact the leader of “The Guard,” the group within the “troubled” that relocates and otherwise looks after the townspeople with fantastic powers and afflictions, and one of whose members is supposed to murder Duke one day.  Then there was magical “Agent” Howard (Maurice Dean Wint), who was originally introduced as Audrey’s superior at the FBI, but who turned into a now-you-see-him-now-you-don’t Basil Exposition for the episode.  The result, between all the tortuous explanation and the touchy feeliness of the whole “power of love” thing, wasn’t one of the series’ best, and that included visually, as much of the action took place inside the barn, one of those all-white neutral zones that sci-fi production designers love so much because it means they don’t actually have to come up with anything.

What worked for Haven earlier in the season was creating crises for the major characters that had some emotional stakes, especially as Audrey gradually learned the truth about her prior lives, and when Nathan found a Guard girlfriend whose “trouble” meshed with his, as she couldn’t touch anyone without causing excruciating pain, but he couldn’t feel when he was touched (except by Audrey).  The hunt for the skinwearing killer was an effective multi-episode arc, but the grand explanation, once we had it, while it may have (barely) tracked, didn’t have much impact.

Haven is a minor show, somewhat tacky (the credits regularly bill the actor Adam Copeland as “WWE Superstar Edge”) and undernourished, but still likable–especially in the context of Syfy, a network that’s seriously lost its identity in a thicket of slasher movies, reality shows and runs of Pirates of the Caribbean.  It deserves credit for stretching its concept this season beyond its previous “trouble of the week” structure–and for surviving its past few weeks of travail–but these kind of complicated storylines are hard to pull off, and Haven still needs to work on its style points.  Nevertheless, it’ll be good to see the show come back for another season and keep plugging on.

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."