After six seasons on the air (don’t buy into the network’s games labeling this last run of episodes as “Season 5 Part 2”), Syfy’s supernatural mystery ‘Haven’ finally drew to a close last week. Sadly, the show ran out of steam a couple years ago and sticking with it to the bitter end has been something of a slog.
‘Haven’ used to be really fun and creative in its early seasons, especially when the show still bothered pretending that it was based on a Stephen King story and put a lot of effort into working in King references on a regular basis. Unfortunately, all that got dropped quite a while back. In recent times, especially throughout this final season, most episodes have consisted of countless static scenes of characters standing around spouting out exposition about the increasingly nonsensical mythology involving “aether” and The Void and an unseen master villain named Croatoan who, it turns out, is lead heroine Audrey Parker’s father. More accurately, he’s the father of evil extra-dimensional being Mara, onto whose body the Audrey personality was imprinted until Mara’s mother killed her and made Audrey real.
Yeah, like I said, the show’s plot turned into pretty much nonsense after a while.
Things picked up marginally a couple weeks ago with the on-screen reveal of Croatoan as William Shatner, of all people. This is a truly bizarre bit of stunt-casting. Croatoan had been built up as a great Lovecraftian elder god of evil, and when we finally see him, he’s Denny Crane. (Sure, I could reference Captain Kirk here, but that’s not the direction Shatner takes his performance.) He’s a lot of bluster in a lovable curmudeony kind of way, and never seems the slightest bit threatening.
In the two-part finale, Croatoan turns Duke Crocker evil and sends him around town murdering people to collect their Troubles. If you thought Eric Balfour was a bad actor before (and make no mistake, he certainly is), holy shitballs is he terrible when he tries to go dark. Watching his scenes, I felt embarrassed for the rest of the cast having to share the screen with him.
Meanwhile, Audrey, Nathan, Dwight and their various friends plot to build a new Barn to imprison Croatoan. Unfortunately, Duke destroys the aether core gizmo necessary to create the Barn. All hope seems lost. Eventually, however, Audrey gets through to the real Duke and helps him break free of Croatoan’s control. At that point, all is forgiven and they decide to brush off the fact that he murdered a whole bunch of people, including some of their friends. When Croatoan realizes that he’s lost Duke, he starts sucking the Troubles out of him. As little black blobs of goo fly out of his body through the air, Duke begs Nathan to kill him, which will stop Croatoan from getting any more Troubles. Nathan suffocates his friend to death, and he and Audrey have a good cry over that.
Croatoan later meets with Nathan and offers him a deal. He insists that he’s in town to help people and give them what they want, not hurt them. He says he can teleport Nathan out of town along with an exact copy of Audrey, and he’ll wipe his memories so that he can’t tell the difference between the copy and the original. Nathan can live a happy, fulfilling life with the woman he loves. All he has to do is leave the original Audrey to complete her destiny with her father. Nathan of course refuses, but Croatoan zaps him out of town anyway and tells Audrey that he took the deal.
In the second half of the finale, Nathan and Fake Audrey find themselves in a restaurant unsure of where they are or where they came from. They seem happy together, but Nathan has a nagging feeling that something isn’t right.
Dwight tells Audrey that he believes they can build a new Barn after all using a magic crystal thingamajig. They lure Croatoan to the town’s old armory building and – Presto! Chango! – the Barn is up. Croatoan’s powers don’t work inside it. They got him! Except that… uh oh… Croatoan informs them that the Barn only works if the prisoner surrenders voluntarily, which he didn’t. That’s a pretty stupid rule, if you ask me. Nevertheless, boom, the Barn is gone again. Croatoan forms a giant black cloud that rains aether down onto the town.
To stop him, Audrey agrees to go with Croatoan. She tells him to put all the Troubles and aether into her, and she’ll control them as he wants. When Dwight protests, Croatoan transports him to the shore on the edge of town, where he finds Duke, who’s somehow alive again. Or maybe he’s a ghost. Either way, shit, I thought we were done with him.
Nathan is drawn back to Haven. As they get to the town line, Fake Audrey realizes that she’s fake and sacrifices herself to help Nathan cross the threshold. As soon as he does, all of Nathan’s memories come back, which provides a very convenient excuse to work in a highlight reel montage of clips pertaining to his great love affair with Audrey.
Dwight finds Nathan. Together, they go back to the armory to talk Audrey out of her plan. Croatoan is displeased by the interruption and chucks a spear made out of aether at Nathan, which possibly kills him. Audrey has a big fight with her father. He freezes her in place and then heals Nathan. From seemingly out of nowhere, he says that he gives up. He’ll leave town and go into the Barn if that’s what Audrey really wants. Well, that’s convenient.
There’s just one problem. The Barn requires a “catalyst” of love to power it, and Audrey is that catalyst. She has to go into the Barn with her father and leave Haven behind. Doing so will save the town and end the Troubles forever, but she’ll never see Nathan again.
(No, none of this makes a damn bit of sense.)
Nathan and Audrey have a heart-to-heart and he agrees to let her go. As she leaves with her father, all the Troubles are sucked out of everyone in town and the fog barrier encircling Haven lifts. Even former residents who left town – including a cameo by Jason Priestley without a single line of dialogue – are freed of their burdens. The armory building vanishes in a giant blast of light.
Some undisclosed amount of time later, the town of Haven has returned to a semblance of normalcy. As Nathan tells Dwight, the worst troubles they have now are “cats in trees.”
As Nathan is driving through town, he spots a car broken down on the side of the road. Inside is Audrey! But she’s a brunette now. She says her name is Paige. She has a baby in the back seat. She has no idea of their history together. Nathan pretends to try to fix her car but doesn’t actually do anything. To thank him for his effort, Audrey/Paige asks if she can buy him breakfast.
Off in the Barn, Croatoan is chilling with newspaper reporter Vince, who got turned into a magic hologram a few episodes back for reasons too dumb to explain. They sent Audrey back to town with a new life, knowing that she and Nathan would fall in love again.
First off, let me say that I actually do appreciate that the show has a real ending (not a lame cliffhanger) and attempts to offer genuine closure for the characters. That’s nice. I’m glad to see that. I wish it were better, but I feel like I can close the book on this story now.
That said… oy. The finale isn’t very good. It’s just as dull and slackly paced as the rest of the season has been. The fact that the conflict is resolved because Croatoan just gives up without much motivation for doing so is really lame. (Yeah yeah, he’s a father who loves his daughter and wants to see her happy… but why are we forgetting that he’s also supposed to be super evil?)
The epilogue makes my brain hurt. If it’s OK for Audrey to leave the Barn now, was she not needed to power it after all? What was the point of her sacrifice? And if her father wants her to be happy with the man she loves, why make her go back in a new identity without any of her memories? The show made a big stink this season about the “imprint” Audrey becoming a real person, but now she’s just another imprint again, and Nathan is fine with that? One is as good as another to him? Maybe he should have just stayed with Fake Audrey in the restaurant.
Not to mention that this “Paige” identity has a baby. Who’s that child’s father? Is she married? If so, should she be flirting with a cop she just met? This baby situation needlessly complicates the plan to make Audrey and Nathan fall in love again. What’s the point of it?
Honestly, this isn’t worth getting worked up over. The show should have ended a couple seasons ago. At this point, it just needs to be over, and now it is, so we can all move on.