It’s very fortunate for ‘Haven’ that, even after a particularly dull episode like the previous week’s, the show still has the ability to bounce back with a pretty good one. This past Friday’s episode isn’t perfect, but it has a clever concept and some interesting themes. That’s enough to chalk this up as a win, even if the execution stumbles a bit at times.
Latin soap opera hunk and ‘Dancing with the Stars’ contestant Christian de la Fuente guest stars in ‘Friend or Faux’ as a banker named Cornell. As we first meet him, Cornell wakes up in the morning, gets dressed, shoots what appears to be his identical twin brother in the head, and heads off to work. You know, a typical Monday in Haven. A few moments later, the other man, completely unharmed, pops up in Cornell’s car and chides him for his bad behavior.
Cornell does not have a twin brother. He has a doppelganger copy, exactly the same as him in every way right down to all of his memories, but with a more obnoxious personality. The copy seemingly represents the dark half of Cornell, while the original is mild-mannered and has all of the good traits. Every time the copy dies, he just respawns fully intact a minute later. Cornell cannot get rid of him.
Later, Cornell 2 turns up at the Grey Gull looking for a boy named Henry who’s been working for Duke. He acts creepy and pulls an Anton Chigurh routine with a spinning coin. When Duke refuses to turn over the kid, they have a shoot-out. Henry runs off with Cornell 2 in pursuit.
Duke calls in Audrey and Nathan, who find the original Cornell and track the copy to an abandoned resort spa on the outskirts of town. The building is designed like a maze and was never completed. Henry, a runaway, has been squatting there. He claims that he saw one of the Cornells kill somebody. Cornell shows them a pile of dead copies of himself. He didn’t know what else to do with them, so he dumped them in the abandoned building. Henry must have seen him kill one of his copies, and the latest copy has been trying to eliminate the witness.
Some cat-and-mouse chasing through the building ensues. Eventually, Audrey is captured by Cornell 2. She winds up bonding with him a little about their common predicament (i.e. possessing someone else’s memories). She even gets kind of existential. How can copies such as themselves ever be certain of who they really are, or how much of their personality is really their own, if they can’t trust their own memories?
Nathan discovers another, completely unique corpse in the building, and we learn the truth. Cornell 1 isn’t such a good guy after all. He was embezzling from his bank, and murdered a coworker who was going to expose him. When the situation got out of hand, he split off a piece of his personality to take care of the dirty work for him. As Cornell is about to shoot Audrey, she talks Cornell 2 into taking a stand for himself and becoming his own man. Cornell 2 shoots Cornell 1, and then vanishes.
There’s some fairly heady ideas in here. The episode also has some effective suspense. However, some of the writing is a little sloppy. Both Nathan and Audrey are far too trusting of the “good” Cornell when any reasonable person would be skeptical of him right off the bat. The climax of the story hinges on the old “Talking Killer” cliché. Cornell 2 and later Cornell 1 spend far too much time explaining themselves to Audrey when they should just kill her. Also, Cornell 2’s epiphany that he can be his own person seems to be undermined by the fact that he just disappears when Cornell 1 dies. I think it would have been more interesting if the copy had survived, and was forced to define himself as a new person.
Quite frankly, the episode is also weakened by the fact that Christian de la Fuente isn’t a very good actor. Still, I liked this episode overall.
In a side story, a weasely town Selectman goes snooping in Nathan’s office and discovers that he’s been keeping two sets of police reports, one with the truth about the cases he investigates and an “official” copy that purges any references to the Troubled. Actually, the Selectman was already well aware that this had been going on since the days of Nathan’s father. He’s just using the evidence as a power-play to oust Nathan from the Chief’s job so that he can install someone else. Nathan suspects that the Selectman is working with Reverend Driscoll.
Oh, this episode has far too much Duke in it. The big twist this time is that he borrows Evi’s phone and finds a bunch of texts on there from the Rev. So, now he knows that she’s playing him. I still can’t give a crap about this storyline, unfortunately.