Cast: Emily Rose as Audrey Parker, Lucas Bryant as Nathan Wournos, Eric Balfour as Duke Crocker
Picture Source: Syfy
Haven is a little 13 episode gem on Syfy that much like the town in which it occurs, an unassuming surface hides a far more interesting underbelly to the show. It is based on the 2005 Stephen King novel, ‘The Colorado Kid’ – which I have never read. The novel, Wikipedia tells me, is a hard-boiled detective novel in which two journalists regale a newbie with the story of an unsolved mystery. While the book offers no solution to the case, Haven is pretty much the opposite.
The premise of the show is simple and almost Mulder and Scully-like – Audrey Parker is sent to Haven, Maine to investigate a case for her FBI boss where she finds a town filled with secrets and plagued by the Troubles ie people there have supernatural powers. Through 13 episodes, we meet a weather witch, a boy whose nightmares come to life, a blind man whose shadow kills and an artist whose work links itself to a real object, so if for example, you erase a building in one of her pieces, you will erase the actual building from existance. Think X-Men in Maine, I guess. On her very first case there, she finds out two things – first that she is inexplicably linked to the town for she finds an old article and picture of a woman who looks enough like her to be her mother and secondly, she finds a partner in Nathan, a cop; in fact the Chief-of-Police’s son. Nathan, like most others in the town is Troubled (yes, he has his own power, and yes, that’s with a capital ‘T’).
Audrey is, for want of a better description, the FBI agent-next-door. Played by Emily Rose, she is engaging, friendly and bursts through the many defenses of the townspeople to very quickly fit in with the town. I think one of the best ways to describe would be that she’s the friend you would want to have. Emily Rose gives her a palpable warmth that defuses the standoffish Haven townspeople until she quickly finds herself surrounded by friends enough to throw her a surprise birthday party later on.
The beauty of Audrey, I think, is that she begins the series believing in the supernatural. Her work with the FBI has given her enough experiences not to discard or to dimiss the things that should be impossible to
understand (there’s even a wink to the X-Files, which as a a X-Files fangirl, I appreciated very much; and let’s not forget the Twilight reference). It’s the reason she was chosen to be sent to Haven on her first case. She approachs Haven with an open mind towards the case (and a brief confusion towards small town life) and it immediately breaks down barriers between her and the other characters, including her partner to be, Nathan.
Given as it’s only 13 episodes, we are immediately introduced to a reason as to why Audrey should stay in Haven – she is an orphan, and while investigating her first case there, she finds a photograph of a woman who looks like her. Taken about two decades or so before, it is a photo at the murder site of The Colorado Kid and it sets Audrey on a path to find out who she really is. The pacing with each revelation in 13 episodes is done well, and there are no endless, frustrating dead-ends for Audrey. Each revelation means something until the very end where the conclusion she arrives at about the identity of her mother is absolutely nothing that you would expect. It’s a brilliant twist that sets up new direction for the continuing mythology of the series in season 2 and I cannot wait to see where that takes the audience.
Played by Lucas Bryant, Nathan Wournos reminded me very much of a lost puppy dog – it’s the eyes. When we meet him, he is the quintessential square-jawed man, slow to show emotion though it is obvious it is simmering just underneath the surface. His stoic nature could get very boring very quickly, but we quickly learn that Nathan, like a disturbing number of other town inhabitants is ‘Troubled’ – he can’t feel anything – pain, the sun, cold, bullet wounds etc. It casts him as a far more tragic figure than when we first meet him and there are moments (thankfully consistent through the series) where Lucas Bryant injects a vulnerability into Nathan that softens him. Thankfully as that vulnerbaility doesn’t disappear, it helps Nathan grow as a character over the 13 episodes. Audrey proves to be the person who allows Nathan to be more open, enough to start a relationship with another female character, Jess albeit a short-lived one. Audrey is the one who plays peace-keeper between him and his father, the Chief as well. She becomes a big part of his life as they essentially have no one else to turn to in the town.
One of the strengths of the way this relationship is portrayed is that Nathan and Audrey are friends first and foremost for about approx 10 episodes out of 13 before he finds that she is the only thing that he can feel.
Yes, there’s an element of a cliche to that and it’s a harbinger of a romance between them, but coupled with Audrey’s own search for her mother and her past, that moment for me emphasized them as the core of the show, while around them things seem on the cusp of getting more ‘Troubled’ than they were before. It works out far better than I thought it would. It also gives the show runners an interesting way of prolonging any personal developments between them until they are ready. Duke, a childhood friend of Nathan’s (and one whom he hates) seems tailor made for that purpose (though admittedly the ending shows that he might not be as he seems either – not troubled, but not quiet the bad boy romantic opponent to Nathan previous episodes made him out to be).
The Troubles have appeared twice in the town though, no one knows why they disappeared the previous time. It’s the town’s dirty little secret and Nathan, the Chief and Audrey try to keep a lid on things as much as possible so as not to scare the townspeople. Nothing too complicated right? The twist to the ending, which I’m not going to reveal, begins subtly, and well towards the end of the season’s run – Audrey begins to get adept at handling those Haven folk exhibiting Troubles, adept enough in fact that by the end of the show, she is the only person that can seem to help them – strange for someone who has never been to Haven, isn’t it?
All in all, Haven is unexpectedly intriuging and such a great potential in season 2, I can’t wait for it to start. Don’t be put off by the quirky small town characters or stories because nothing is what it seems in Haven.