Haven 1.8: "Ain't No Sunshine"

Listeners of the Critical Myth Podcast (available on my website and iTunes) know that our discussion panel has been struggling with “Haven" since the very beginning. I've tried to defend it, based on the information provided in the official commentaries from the Syfy website and other revelations from the creative side, but it's hard to continue when all of those promises never seem to translate into results on the screen.

My greatest criticism has been the absence of consistent supporting characters that can represent the quirky and unusual personality of the town itself. The writers seem to be going for the long-term effect; given enough time and exposure, the episodic elements will form a gestalt that will reveal the character of Haven as a whole. But that hasn't been happening on a sufficient scale.

This is one reason why I liked Jess and her relationship with Nathan. Not only did she seem to be designed to make Nathan more comfortable with his curse, but she seemed to represent a perspective on the Troubles that was otherwise lacking. And the Nathan/Jess, Audrey/Duke setup avoided the more conventional love triangle approach. But most importantly, Jess was something important: a supporting character that provided a touchstone to the undercurrents in Haven society.

So what do the writers do? They have Jess leave Haven, just as Audrey starts pushing Nathan to come out of his reserved and wooden shell. Which reduces Jess to a plot device: a character introduced solely to open up Nathan's worldview enough for Audrey's apparent benefit. Not only is the show now straying in a more conventional direction, but now the audience is back to having less insight into the Haven community as a result.

The result is frustration. The pattern has already emerged among the cursed, so it's now a waiting game until the main characters recognize it themselves. In the meantime, there just isn't enough personality to the show, the town, or the regulars to generate the kind of interest “Haven" desires. The irony is that the overwhelming impression given by the production and the tone of the episodes is that they're getting the job done.


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