Episode 3.13 Writers: Jim Dunn, Sam Ernst Director: Shawn Pillar
THE ONE WHERE Audrey enters the barn, but is it ready to whisk her away just yet?
VERDICT Now, that’s how to do a season finale. We shouldn’t be surprised. Even with seasons one and two – when Haven was nowhere near as good as it’s been recently – the show managed to come up trumps with season finales that made damned sure you’d be tuning in the following year. But in line with general upswing in quality we’ve seen in the second half of season three, this finale is an absolute corker.
Oh sure, it’s not the greatest piece of TV ever made. It’s creaky and cheesy in places, and relies a bit too heavily on the odd TV cliché here and there (one convenient stumble onto a knife is bad enough, but two within 30 seconds? That’s unforgivable). We’re not making any claims as to Haven being the new The Wire, Brideshead Revisited or Borgen. But, if you’ve been following this show, and you’re invested in the characters and the mystery, then this is a finale that gives monumental payback.
The last few minutes are just jawdropping. You keep thinking, “Wow, that must be the cliffhanger!” then something else knocks you for six. The season could have simply ended with Audrey stepping into the barn, and that would have been enough. But then Nathan threatens to shoot Agent Howard – a great moment for “To Be Continued” to pop up, surely? But no. Nathan then shoots Agent Howard, and the barn starts to crumble. That must be the cue for a fade to black! Nope. Duke leaps into the maelstrom created by the vanishing barn and disappears with it, leaving Nathan on his knees with the Hunter meteor storm (which should have halted when the barn vanished) still destroying Haven.
Phew! Who needs a stiff drink?
But “Thanks For The Memories” is more, oh so much more, than just a hell of a cliffhanger. The whole episode is full of arresting imagery, major revelations and bizarre twists. Admittedly, it’s a little disappointing that inside of the barn is another in a long line of sci-fi white rooms, but the episode retains an edgy sense of weirdness that keeps things visually interesting. The flashbacks, with a young Vince and Dave, are great fun, as is the moment when the present Audrey and Nathan see the 1950s Sarah and Nathan snogging.
There are answers, but as Audrey points out, they’re pretty vague and lead to more questions. She tries to pin Agent Howard down, but he’s having none of it – he’s clearly trained in Twin Peaks school of exposition (and you can’t help thinking he’s being vague on purpose, just for the hell of it, because it amuses him). Audrey seems only half-convinced by his spiel about “recharging her love batteries”, which is probably about a quarter more convinced than most of the audience, but her slight scepticism helps make the cheesier bits of the explanation easier to swallow. In fact, we have to praise the sterling performances of both Emily Rose and Lucas Bryant, which go a long way to selling some of the more cornball aspects of the revelations.
And there’s more. Vince is in control of the Guard! Who’d’ve guessed? Whether it’s a twist that makes complete sense us arguable, but it works in the moment as the WTF blindsider. Then there’s Audrey clever ruse to bring Arla into the barn, so that it’s trouble-dampening properties reveal Arla’s true nature to James, wrapping up that season-long plot in an unexpected but satisyfingly grotesque fashion (if you ignore the subsequent knife fumbling).
There’s also a pleasing line in black and/or self-effacing humour running through the episode, from Vince bundling Dave into the boot of a car (and Dwight’s world weary expression at their latest antics) to Nathan’s quip about liking what Agent Howard has done to the place (the barn) and his embarrassed attempts not to let Audrey see his past self snogging Sarah.
On one level, it’s all unrelentingly silly. But the episode has bags of energy, wit and panache, and is blessed with a cast that plays everything refreshingly straight, but with just the right amount of twinkle in their eyes when the time demands.
If anyone had told us two and a half seasons ago – when we were enduring some truly dire freak of the week guff (hands up who still shudders at the attack of the stuffed bear) – that we’d be gushing so shamelessly about as episode of Haven, we’d have thought you were having a laugh. And admittedly, we’re possibly being a little too generous in overlooking some of this finale’s shonkier elements purely because it’s great to see a show we’d once written off bounce back so healthily. But “Thanks For The Memories” is a whole heap of fun in so many ways that we’re making no apologies for such unseemly enthusiasm.
BEST LINE Audrey: “Am I even human? Agent Howard: “Oh Audrey, that’s your problem. You are very, very human.”
Haven season three currently airs in the UK on Syfy, Tuesdays at 9pm