Haven season 3 episode 1 review: 301

Haven is back for a third season with a close encounter. Here's Rachael's review of the new series opener...

This review contains spoilers.

3.1 301

I’m going to endevour to write a review full of relevant content and commentary rather than following my impulse – which is to fill six pages with things along the lines of “OMG! AUDREY! NATHAN! DUKE! SHOW! I’M DROWNING IN MY OWN FEELINGS!” as Haven picks up exactly where we left off, with Audrey gone missing and Nathan and Duke grappling for a gun which went off as the credits rolled during the season two finale.

Episode one of season three is brilliantly titled 301 for a reveal that happens about five minutes from the end of the ep, but in my head, I’ve started calling it ‘Make Conversation Not War’ because for me, this episode is all about the value of communication. Before any property or physical damage can be done with that gun on the boat? Nathan and Duke talk it out. Sure, there’s a strange magnetic event that pulls all the metal in the boat to the ceiling and turns the town upside down, but they actually worked it out is the thing. They use their words to resolve their differences rather than letting it drag into a predictable split.

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With what could have taken up an entire story arc of “can we trust each other” nonsense on another show out of the way, the unified team of Duke and Nathan get back to the main street of Haven where more weird magnet things have caused the insurance prices to rise, yet again. Enter Dwight stage left, with a perfectly logical explanation to everyone’s questions. I find it hard to focus over how desperately upset Nathan is over Audrey being missing in his quiet way. Of course, he’s still together enough to manage the latest Troubled crisis but his attention is elsewhere.

One of my favorite things about this episode was watching Lucas Bryant as Nathan feel things in the general direction of the camera. Seeing such a stoic character wracked with overwhelming emotion is always compelling, but watching Nathan slowly unravel until he loses his composure, is nothing short of fantastic. He simmers on a low-burn until he finally bubbles over. “You’ve been telling me what I can’t do since we were kids,” Nathan snaps and it leads to a whole new set of questions to in the viewer’s mind. What were they up to as kids that had Duke of all people saying “can’t” and “don’t” and “no”? They shout at each other about Audrey and Nathan’s love for her until Nathan actually confesses his real secret, how he can feel it when Audrey touches him; she can connect to him where no one else can. Both Bryant and Eric Balfour knocked it out of the park, performance-wise, and the whole scene had me writhing on the couch and flapping my hands.

Less compellingly, our freak-of-the-week, Wesley, moves everything forward with the manifestation of his imagined explanation for his mother’s sudden disappearence. ALIENS! They took his mum! Suddenly, yet more strange things are happening. Crop circles! Spontaneous nosebleeds! Power outages! Lights in the sky! The mothership is coming! His story isn’t all that compelling. There’s very little about the actor or the character to get me invested. Duke said “I don’t care about his mother,” and I second that. As is so often the case with the Troubled, the guy is just a vehicle. Wesley’s delusion mostly moves the plot forward and does it well – creating the physical threats and problems that keep our boys from Audrey and forces her to deal with her problems on her own.

Mostly alone anyway. Audrey is preoccupied with being tied to a post in a dark basement, witchburning style. Some shadowy figure beats the holy hell out of her and demands information on the Colorado Kid. The first words out of her mouth? “Go to hell.” Thats my girl. Later, Mr. Dark and Punchy brings in a third party in the form of Wesley’s missing mum Roslyn, tied up on the other side of a shared wall, to play on Audrey’s isolation through their combined, captive experience. “Let’s keep talking and we’ll figure this out,” Audrey says swinging the show back around to the idea that what is needed to help most situations is more communication. As they both regain their composure, this is proven too.

Despite their best efforts to keep calm and carry on, the alien Trouble echoes into the creepy basement where Roslyn and Audrey are held. The tremors knock down an oil lamp which breaks and starts a fire that really throws that whole “burn the witch” motif back into focus. Considering the fact that witches are mentioned in the imagery of the titles, I’m kind of hoping they stick to this little theme. Audrey manages to put the fire out by knocking over a bag of fertilizer with her bare feet. With those same bare feet, she grabs some of the glass from the lamp and uses it to cut herself free. How is she so awesome? I’m not sure but I really want to be her when I grow up.

Audrey’s in pain, physically and emotionally, through the whole ordeal, especially once she starts to use the glass, yet she stays the pragmatic but unjaded person she always is. What matters is pushing through it, which she always, always does, this time picking up a scythe and heading up to face her captor. It’s something not enough female protagonists are allowed: to be emotionally vulnerable while still doing what needs to be done.

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When our team finally reunites, it’s is punch-the-air satisfying. I could watch Audrey and Nathan hug that tightly on repeat for hours while analysing that slightly sad expression on Duke’s face. When Audrey says that they’ve got no idea what she and Roslyn went through, his response is “No I don’t, I’m sorry.” That’s all. He validates – doesn’t try to qualify it. The level of respect it shows, much like the way he changes between Parker when they’re working and Audrey when it’s personal, is subtle but powerful. The moment grounds the emotion of the scene for when they find Roslyn in an outdoor fireplace by the smell of her flesh cooking. Despite all the evidence, our poor Troubled man still can’t believe it’s anything but aliens. The team continues the theme of conversation, first as they attempt to talk him out of his mental fixation and then, into walking out into the beam of the “alien” craft and away, possibly out of existence. Probably, if you agree with Duke and not Nathan’s hopeful dream that maybe he’ll be back when the Troubles go away.

And scene.

At least that’s where the episode could end, but this is Haven. Wesley’s story isn’t the bottom line, and we still have ten minutes of show left. Nathan puts a police coat around Audrey and hands her back her badge, returning the symbol of her power. The gesture is much more effective than the gentle care he tries to give moments later, which she rejects outright in the face of the truth about the Colorado Kid she needs from Vince and Dave Teague. Again, talking about what’s going on is more important than anything else.

And they tell her. They tell her The Colorado Kid’s supposed to be buried – Lot 301, see what they did there – and the next day, the team digs him up. Only there’s no Colorado Kid to be found. There’s just a casket full of bricks and a cryptic message written by Audrey/Lucy twenty-eight years ago: Find him before the Hunter.

What? Huh? Argh! I have no idea what’s going on! There are even more questions than there were before, which I have to admit, is just the way I like it.

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Read Rachael’s starter guide to Haven, here.