Episode 3.10 Writer: Charles Ardai Director: TW Peacocke
THE ONE WHERE The Guard plans to use a Troubled girl who has the power to make people do whatever she wants as a weapon to force Audrey to enter the barn; instead Nathan and Audrey turn the girl to their own advantage.
VERDICT Good grief. Four great episodes in a row? A season ago, we’d never have thought this show had it in it. Hell four episodes ago (with the pretty dire “Real Estate”) we’d never have thought this show had it in it. The fact that this episode turns out to be so riveting is made all the satisfying because for the first few minutes it looks like it’s a return to naff-freak-of-the-week territory. Worse than that, the dialogue contains some of the clumsiest examples of characters atonally recapping plot points to each other for the benefit of the audience, sounding about as convincingly natural as Dale Winton’s tan as they do so. Even worse than that, it has a precocious child actress who over-enunciates everything and seems to change character scene by scene. It doesn’t look promising…
But by the time we come out of the other end of the episode, phew, we’re left reeling by a plethora of plot bombs. Somewhere along the line, between Duke acting like a pirate and falling off the roof of the Gull, and Nathan realising that Jordan has been lying her little socks off, the episode has become a major arc story stepping stone, with revelations about the Guard, the barn, Audrey’s impending disappearance and the bolt gun killer.
To be fair, despite the dodgy opening few scenes, it’s not even so bad even before the disclosures come tumbling out of the screen at you. Kiara Glasco as the little girl, Ginger, may be irritating as hell, but most of her early scenes are with Duke, and Eric Balfour effortlessly makes up for her deficiencies with a typically spirited and charming performance. And he does make a very good pirate. The twist that it’s Ginger who’s troubled and not her dad comes early enough in the plot to still have an element of surprise; you kinda start suspecting but the writers don’t string us along too long. With the focus shifting to why the Guard wants the girl, the episode becomes a darned sight more interesting, especially when it becomes clear that Jordan is – somewhat reluctantly – sending Nathan on a wild goose chase.
When Nathan finally loses his rag with Jordan, you realise that Ginger is actually little more than a plot device; her power to force people to do what she wants is just the handy tool Nathan and Audrey need to make Jordan to tell them the truth. But we’ll roll with it, because it turns what could have been a wordy infodump into an exciting interrogation scene, with Nathan all righteously indignant at being betrayed and Jordan clearly distressed at betraying both the Guard and Nathan. ’Shippers may love the fact that Jordan has now been removed as a barrier to Audrey and Nathan’s (potential) relationship, but you can’t help feeling a little sympathy for her. Who wouldn’t want to stop the Troubles by any means possible? Indeed, the news that Audrey needs to sacrifice herself to the barn to stop the Troubles seems to start cogs whirring in Audrey’s head. Is she seriously considering stepping into the mysterious teleporting outbuilding for the greater good? It would fit what we know about her.
On the other hand, Jordan does herself no favours by the rather brutal way she tries to kidnap Ginger, turning up like some female Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to sneakily gaining the girl’s trust before snatching her up under her arm for a quick getaway. It just doesn’t ring true from what we’ve seen of Jordan before, this suddenly metamorphosis into such a callous character, and seems mostly engineered to make the interrogation scene feel more justified. Then again, this is the same episode where Audrey says that it’s unlike Duke to take Ginger out of the police station to buy her an ice cream. Is it? Really? Isn’t that just the kind of thing Duke would do? It certainly doesn’t seem odd when he does it. It feels more like it’s Audrey acting out of character to think of Duke as a fine, upstanding, responsible member of the community. He’s a rogue. That’s why we love him.
The other main iffyness in the episode is how easily the Guard gives up Ginger in exchange for Jordan. Is she really that important to them? Or is it more the case that Ginger won’t be quite so effective now that Audrey knows how the Guard plans to use her? Either way, the whole stand-off scene between the Guard and our heroes seems slightly off-kilter, as if it’s only there to give the episode an “exciting” climax and nobody’s quite thought it through.
The other important element in the episode is the ongoing bolt gun killer saga. It comes as little surprise to learn that Tommy wasn’t really Tommy, and it’s not really clear if we’re supposed to be surprised. But the idea that he’s a skinwalker is a decent twist (even if the actual skin in the tanks is little unconvincing). We had him down as a shapeshifter, but this turn of events is far more ghoulishly intriguing, especially the fact that he has to skin the people he wants to impersonate.
So who is the skinwalker now? Vincent? Dave? The coroner? Actually he’s so clearly being labelled as the potential skinwalker (“come down to my lab, Audrey, so I can show you…”) we think he’s a red herring. We’d love it if turns out to be Claire Callahan – after all, she’s suddenly rubbish at her job at the start of the episode and her excuse that, “I never said I was a child psychologist” could be hiding the truth. And the skinwalker has been a woman previously (sort of… we heard a female voice). We doubt it, though…
HASHTAG SPOTTING After a few tricky weeks, this one was an easy spot – it almost seemed to be written in glowing neon on the wall of the cell, it leapt out so vibrantly.
WHO WAS THAT MASKED MAN? Good grief, how did Audrey and Nathan recognise Tommy from that appalling latex mask? If we’d found that in a fish tank, we’d be more likely to assume the Hood from Thunderbirds or the Roger Delgado Master from Doctor Who was the bolt gun killer.
KING CONNECTIONS Apart from the one pictured above, which is so bleedin’ blatant we’re not even sure if it counts as an injoke, there was also the fact that the little girl (Ginger) and her dad had the surname Danvers; Mrs Danvers is a character from Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, who is alluded to a number of times in Stephen King’s Bag Of Bones. Okay, that’s stretching things a bit. It may just be a coincidence (Danvers is hardly an uncommon name). Stretching things further, the Guards’ transport vehicle is disguised as a florist’s van, for a company called “Looking Glass”; there was an episode of TheDead Zone called “Looking Glass” in which Johnny Smith has a vision about a killer in a mask. Okay, that’s almost definitely just a coincidence. What about the ice cream vendor called Big Benjy? Ben Hanscom from IT? He was tubby. Okay, we’ll leave it there… (He was know as Benny, anyway).
BEST LINE Duke: “But what I want to know is where are my client’s crayons? Where are my client’s video games? Where is my client’s call with Justin Bieber? You got rights, kid.”
Haven season three currently airs in the UK on Syfy, Tuesdays at 9pm