Episode 3.01 Writer: Jonathan Abrahams Director: Lee Rose
THE ONE WHERE Audrey is captured by a mysterious man who demands info about The Colorado Kid, while a now mutually-wary Nathan and Duke have to deal with a man who’s bringing War Of The Worlds to Haven.
VERDICT Blimey, this is a difficult show to give star ratings to, because it has always been – and continues to be – a show of conflicting halves: a really gripping arc plot with interesting ongoing characters; and absolute twaddle freak-of-the-week episodic storytelling that often as not just makes you cringe.
“301” takes this format to such extremes that watching it feels like channel-flicking back and forth between The X-Files and Warehouse 13. One minute you’re watching an intense scene of Audrey being brutally interrogated, then the next some comedy UFO spotter is bring beamed up to the mothership. The outlandish plot-of-the-week might have fitted in with the tone of Eureka or Warehouse, but here, it’s a bit like Jaws from Moonraker turning up in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
It’s also irritating that the nature of the freak-of-the-week’s ”Trouble” is never clarified. He just seems to be someone who can make things appear as if by magic; so presumably if he’d been a Brony instead of a UFO nutter, Haven would have been overrun by My Little Ponies. It’s also just another variation on Trouble we’ve seen a couple of times before. A premiere episode really needs a much stronger, more original “Trouble”. It didn’t help that the spaceships looked like Christmas tree decorations.
On the other hand, the arc-plot was absolutely rammed full of goodness. All the scenes with Audrey being tormented by her mysterious captor were riveting; seems like the Colorado Kid is going to be a major theme in this season. There was also the mystery of Wesley’s mum, who was apparently also captured and being kept in a room next to Audrey. It must be significant that we only ever hear her – never see her – but how does that tie in with the fact that we later find out she must have died hours before Audrey was talking to her? [rubs chin]
If that weren’t enough enticing mystery, we also have the cliffhanger, with the Colorado Kid’s coffin being dug up and found empty, but with a message in Audrey’s handwriting scrawled inside:
The three main actors are all excellent throughout, and you have to give them credit for playing the UFO scenes with such conviction. But it’s more fun watching Nathan and Duke bicker, or Audrey unashamedly falling into Nathan’s arms when she’s rescued. They really are the best three things about the show, and remain a pleasure to watch. Some of the support characters are coming into their own too; Dave and Vince are much more interesting now they’re not an interchangeable double-headed exposition beast and Dwight – the clean-up man – manages to be more interesting than WWE Superstar Edge’s acting talents should allow (come on Adam, do you insist on being credited that way for a laugh?).
So yeah, I feel a little mean giving “301” only three stars, but whenever I feel a tinge of guilt I just look at this screen grab and remember that I have a job to do:
GOING VIRAL The show released a couple of intriguing viral videos to help promote season three. Extreme spoilerphoes may wish to avoid, but it seems to be information the producers want us to know:
EYE EYE EYE Somebody forgot to tell this trio where they should be looking.
DID YOU SPOT?The show’s still up to this old trick of pimping its online presence. Or is that just graffiti left over from last year?
BEST LINES: Duke (to the UFO nutter): “Perhaps they could be listening. We probably shouldn’t be talking here. No. If we want to strategise we should probably do this back at the station where it’s more secure.” Wesley: “There’s no time. I have to go back home. I have to calibrate the monitoring equipment.” Duke: “Ssshhh! You think your set-up is better than Haven PD’s? Tell him, Nathan.” Nathan: “We… uh… we just upgraded.”
Or on a more serious note:
Audrey’s mysterious captor: “You think you’re the only one who loved the Colorado kid?”