In Friday’s episode of Haven, Audrey Parker relived the same day over and over again... and we audience members relived a plot we’ve seen countless times before. But the Groundhog Day-inspired time loop story was actually one of Haven’s best-executed episodic mysteries to date, putting a creative twist on the convention and giving Emily Rose a chance to show her range. It’s the bigger arcs that the series keeps fumbling—in this case, giving the Audrey-Nathan-Duke-Chris love rectangle its most heavy-handed treatment to date.
But let’s start with the good. The time-loop plot has been done, with varying degrees of success, on Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The X-Files. (For what it’s worth, Supernatural’s “Mystery Spot” is still my favorite, despite the trauma of seeing Dean die repeatedly.) Haven’s explanation of the occurrence, however, was the most poignant I’ve seen—a father with OCD blaming himself for his daughter’s death keeps reversing the day’s events. And Audrey Parker, the only person in Haven immune to the troubles, is naturally the only one who remembers.
I was glad that the repeating day wasn’t just a wacky thing that sometimes happens in Haven, but rather a freak event grounded in the show’s continuity. We know the people of Haven are troubled, and that their special powers or curses generally affect everyone around them. Audrey’s immunity remains her greatest strength, and I love the pressure it puts on her. She already feels as though it’s her responsibility to help everyone—seriously, everyone—and her unique ability to see past the troubles often means she is literally the only one who can save the day. On Friday, she not only had to solve the mystery, but to watch all the people she cares for die—an obvious but effective reminder of the burden she bears.
The romantic undertones were less effective, however: Haven continues to struggle with the relationships between its characters. Which is a bummer, because Audrey deserves a break today. For me, the problem is largely due to the lack of chemistry between Audrey and her potential mates. Nathan and Chris seem interested in her primarily because she’s immune to their troubles: Nathan, who can’t feel anyone’s touch, can feel Audrey, while Chris, whom everyone is compelled to adore, has no effect on her. (Besides standard sexual attraction. He is Jason Priestley, after all.) But neither of these men seem to fully appreciate Audrey for who she is; at the center of their attraction to her is relative to their "conditions."
Haven rushed the courtship of Audrey and Chris, though it was admittedly nice to finally see Audrey get some. As for Audrey and Nathan, there have been hints of unresolved sexual tension throughout the series, but it seems to come and go whenever the plot finds it convenient. I will concede that there is real chemistry between Audrey and Duke, a relationship the show hasn’t sufficiently explored. While there’s no need to rush a coupling, they’re the only two characters I can see making it work in the long run, and I’m interested to see the show take steps in that direction.
What I don’t want to see is a ridiculously unsubtle conclusion with Audrey staring at her three (would-be) suitors as a maudlin song plays in the background. Haven still needs to learn to balance its monster-of-the-week stories and its longer character arcs. If the series wants a love rectangle, it needs to develop it, not just force it on us. Was Friday's episode suggesting that Audrey needed to see each man die to understand how much they mean to her? That still doesn’t make much sense. They’ve all been in enough peril before that Audrey should know she needs these guys around. What’s frustrating is that there IS a story to be told here—Haven’s just not telling it right.
What did you think of Friday's episode? Are you satisfied with how the show's been handling its character arcs?