Haven: Much Ado About Mara Review
Not to start all of my reviews this week with a question but how do you follow-up on an episode where nothing happens and all your protagonists are spinning their wheels? You make everything happen this week and start pushing this season forward. Sure, it hits reset on a couple of characters but it’s for the best.
This week, The Guard have Mara and it looks like Dwight is about to assume the throne of this season’s Big Bad much like Jordan did last season. Fortunately, that was a red herring and the season is progressing along its logical path.
Much Ado starts where we left off last week with Dwight, Mara and Duke in a cabin. While we might have been expecting Dwight to go full heel (yes, I’m going to keep using as many wrestling terms as possible when it relates to Dwight/Adam/Edge), he keeps displaying a surprising amount of sense for villainous characters in Haven. Reverend Driscoll and whoever was The Guard’s figurehead at a given point in time tend to display a frightening lack of foresight when it comes to dealing with Audrey and the best friends.
Dwight actually comes off rather smart. Rather than thinking about killing Audrey or the best friends, he’s busy trying to get Mara to end the Troubles. While there are moments that he’s portrayed as a villain, he generally comes off as the most even-keeled person in Haven. Mara is sadistically (and enjoyably) evil. Nathan is unhealthily obsessed with bringing Audrey back. Duke is caught somewhere in the middle. Even though he’s not the most interesting character right now (that’s Duke and the Brothers Teagues), who would have thought that the wrestler brought in to cross-promote Haven on SmackDown would become the best character on the show after a couple of seasons?
Back to the episode and while last week’s Trouble wasn’t particularly interesting or really developed to any extent, the pay-off this week was spectacular. The early days of Haven was actually a mystery. That’s what made the start of the season premiere interest. The show started as a supernatural mystery show but kind of got away from that last season. In Much Ado, we got back to the mystery and the pay-off actually tied brilliantly back to the central premise of this season.
And some more Dwight love: He and Duke separately and at the same time figure out roughly what’s happening with all the dead birds, dead people, boiling water and exploding gas tanks. Dwight only figures out that it’s a heat Trouble while Duke figures out that it was Mara tweaking last week’s Trouble from supercharged sunlight to microwaves. Just when everyone thinks that she can be coerced to help cure the Troubles, she double-crosses them and makes it more deadly.
Once again, I have to give props to Emily Rose. She’s clearly having so much fun being a villain. She’s so insanely and irredeemably evil that it’s fun to watch Rose being completely over the top as Mara.
The ending scene with each of Nathan, Duke and Dwight each trying to talk to Audrey through Mara was brilliantly directed. I didn’t feel the acting in this scene but the slightly distorted POV from Mara’s perspective was very, very different for this show. I love different moments from this show and a first-person perspective was definitely different from a visual perspective. It’s just too bad that the content was more of the same.
However, that scene did show us that Dwight is still on the side of the viewer. Trying to bring back Audrey by talking to Mara as if she’s Audrey and committing to the plan shows that everyone, including The Guard, is on the same page. This united front also tipped off Mara to the fact that Audrey is in there and trying to get out. Maybe it’s a bit too much, too fast to deal with the Audrey return. If spinning wheels for the back half of last season didn’t keep rattling around in my head, I’d be excited about the pay-off to Mara halfway through the first half of the season. It’s what they’d do with the back half of the season that scares me. As long as something happens, it’s an improvement on Season Four.
For me, the real interesting part of the episode was what was happening with the Brothers Teagues. Vince and Dave meeting with the local hypnotherapist led to one of the more interesting moments of the season so far.
It looks like this Croatoan thing is where the real heart of this season lies. Whatever happened under the lighthouse (and what happened to Dave and Maddie) is going to be critical to one of saving Audrey, opening the thinnies or ending the Troubles. It’s the possibility that the Croatoan could be anything and can do anything has me excited. It’s something completely brand new for the show and seems to exist outside the normal version of this show’s reality. It opens up a whole host of possibilities going forward. The Croatoan is my reason to tune in for the next few weeks. I want to see where this goes.
Overall, I’m basically doing a complete 180 on this week from last week. I can appreciate that we really wouldn’t have gotten here if it wasn’t for the previous episode but it felt like nothing happened last week while this week’s episode has two weeks’ worth of plot development. With Haven seeming to go to old Doctor Who-style multi-part episodes for everything, we are in danger of continuing this rut where nothing happens one week and everything happens in the other.
So unlike last week, things happened this week and this show gets interesting because it’s good at keeping you invested when it’s advancing the plot. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work the plot forward every week. This wasn’t the week where we start and end under the same circumstances and the only thing that changes is where the characters are physically located. This was the week where the characters and story move forward in a meaningful and interesting way. That makes this the best episode of the season so far.
Other random points of note:
- I don’t know how Eric Balfour or anyone across from him didn’t always break up into a fit of uncontrollable laughter when he did that gibberish trouble. I bet that took more than a few takes for each scene.
- I can’t remember the name of the boat that Nathan mentioned but I’m almost certain that I recall the name from The Colorado Kid. Can anyone help me out with that?
Next week, it’s time for The Old Switcheroo. Mara uses chaos around Haven to try to get rid of Audrey. Meanwhile, Nathan and Duke are trying to switch Mara’s personality while dealing with a new timeslot. Oh yeah, there’s that too. Checking the episode preview on Zap2It showed that Haven is moving from 8:00 PM Thursdays to 7:00 PM Fridays. Well, I suppose it got ratings using SmackDown as a lead-in. Putting it before SmackDown might not work quite as well but pulling it away from a hotly contested Thursday night isn’t a bad idea either.