Haven: The Trial of Nathan Wuornos Review
As many of you likely heard, John Dunsworth died earlier this week. While almost all of his obituaries and remembrances mention his stint on Trailer Park Boys, I haven’t actually watched it. I assume that makes me a bad Canadian and a bad citizen of my hometown where the TPB film Swearnet was filmed. However, I knew Dunsworth from his scene-stealing role as Dave Teagues in Haven.
And this brought me to the realization that I hadn’t finished watching (or reviewing) Haven. I just stopped watching back in 2015 with only 11 episodes left in the show’s run. So now is the time that I pick up where I left off and finish Haven.
When we last left our intrepid band of Troubled heroes, Haven was being tormented by a Trouble that would eat people’s flesh in the dark and leave them as a pile of bones and some tattered clothes. The local power plant was out of commission but Nathan’s trek to fix it was sidetracked when he went to find aether but temporary sidekick / new redshirt Kira was killed in action and the townsfolk are out for Nathan’s blood.
The episode got off to a spectacularly bad start when Nathan revealed to his crew (that being Audrey, Dwight and Charlotte) that Kira is alive but trapped and he needs more muscle to free her so he returned to the school (where all the townsfolk are holed up) and lied about her being dead so no one would find the aether where she is trapped. For some reason, to distract everyone, Nathan offers to go on trial to buy time for Dwight and Charlotte to rescue Kira.
So the cliffhanger from the previous episode (everyone is mad at Nathan for getting Kira killed) is undone in the first two minutes of the episode so they have to substitute a new one. If Nathan is found guilty of causing Kira’s death, Kira’s fiancé wants him to die. So Nathan has to plead his case to the townsfolk in part to stall for time and in part to save his own skin.
I’ll get to the proposed death sentence in a moment because the episode brings up the prospect of someone out to kill Nathan. Someone put Kira’s fiancé, Tony, up to the death sentence and then fed him a complete track record of Nathan’s work in dealing with the Troubles and how it often backfired. It’s brought up, briefly investigated and quickly dropped. Maybe it comes up later in the season but who has a deadly vendetta against Nathan is a pretty big plot point introduced in this episode and not given as much weight as you would think that it should be given.
The Vashta Nerada Trouble is solved when Audrey learns from eyewitness reports that it’s Tony’s Trouble. It turns out that Kira dumped him and the emotional darkness ate him up inside so his Trouble ate everyone up in the literal darkness. Remember when Troubles were family curses and not just ironic supernatural matters that result in death and destruction? Sure, we can chalk that up to the aether/Trouble bomb that Mara turned Duke into but the series was heading down that path long before the end of Season 5A. Remember when Marion Caldwell had a bad weather Trouble because she got stuck in a blizzard once? No! Her Trouble was her family Trouble. It wasn’t just a convenient plot device. It was a damned mystery show once upon a time.
Anyway, Tony’s Trouble is revealed and resolved while Nathan speaks about the beacon of light that is hope when making a speech in his defense. As a trial strategy, Nathan’s speech was terrible. Talking about hope is all well and good when you juxtapose it with Tony dealing with his Trouble but it had nothing to do with what Tony said or Kira’s apparent death. I know it’s a TV show but the speech was done in a way that Nathan seemed self-aware that it was part of a juxtaposed scene rather than a speech to save his own life. TV needs to make sense inside its own universe to be good but Nathan’s speech didn’t work in the context of the situation or the show.
Of course, before the verdict can be rendered, Dwight and Charlotte come back with Kira and the whole trial is forgotten about. On the one hand, it makes sense since Nathan was on trial for getting Kira killed but he was also on trial for endangering the townsfolk of Haven so wouldn’t they still want to know the verdict? From the look on the faces of the Brothers Teagues, who were relegated to running the trial this week, it was going to be off with Nathan’s head. So if Nathan is such an ongoing danger to Haven, why would the townsfolk just stop when they find out that Kira is alive? What about Tony’s Vashta Nerada trouble endangering the whole town and killing many Havenites? Surely that’s worth an angry mob.
The problem with the trial is that there were no stakes as soon as the punishment was upped to execution. As Lucas Bryant is the male lead, there is no way that Nathan is getting killed. If they stuck with banishment, a punishment that doesn’t mean instant death but puts Nathan in a dangerous situation, it would still be plausible that he could be found guilty. Since it’s not plausible that Nathan would be executed, the only question hanging over the trial was if Kira would return alive before the verdict or before the sentence was carried out. As a dramatic hook, the trial was a non-starter before the opening titles.
If the town still turns on Nathan for all he did that put everyone in danger and that puts the rest of our heroes in the crosshairs for working with him, there is a potential for the trial to build into a more meaningful story going forward. The way this episode played out, it was a waste of about 40 of Haven’s 43 minutes.
Elsewhere, Charlotte and Dwight’s journey to save Kira and find aether underground. Granted, you knew that from the rest of the review. Pairing them up was really just a device to reunite the two. Looking back at old reviews, they didn’t mention that the pair broke up but the writers kept the pair separated so I’m just left to infer that Dwight felt lied to because Charlotte was actually a 1,000-year-old being from another dimension and not a 35-year-old CDC doctor trying to save Haven. But love defies centuries of age gap, I suppose. I’m not going to complain about the pairing because I liked Adam and Laura’s chemistry but the stop-start nature of Dwight and Charlotte is a bit aggravating.
Meanwhile, in Halifax, Duke and Hailie (whose name I had to look up because she’s being thrown into the new woman to be killed role for Season 5B) are still working on controlling her powers. Apparently, Hailie really wants to rob a bank and succeeds in only her third attempt of using her walking through walls Trouble. Her first attempt was in the last episode and her second attempt saw her re-materialize too soon and lose the back of her boot and some skin on her ankle to a metal gate.
But third time lucky so she robbed a bank. A bank that realized that she walked in through the wall and stole money quickly enough that they sounded the alarm as she walked out of the vault through the wall. It made no sense except to get a security card on the scene to shoot Hailie so her Troubled blood could land on Duke.
I do recall that Duke got his Crocker family Troubles back at the send of Season 4 but I didn’t realize that Mara had supercharged his super strength Trouble to the point where he goes homicidal maniac when Troubled blood touches him. Though apparently his super strength is foiled by a shipping container so he gives up when locked in. He pulled a gun apart, tore a chain closing a gate but punching his way out of a shipping container is just too difficult for Mr. Crocker. Yeah, the Duke storyline made no sense at all this week.
Overall, as an episode to bring me back into Haven, it was on the poor end of the scale. The A-story had no stakes. The B-story with Dwight and Charlotte was a bit of a reset on their relationship but her plan to cure the Troubles is limited to “use aether” so there was no development there. And Duke’s C-story was there but could have been left out as nothing of ongoing story consequence happened.
On the positive side, Charlotte teased the Croatoan which I believe is the first time she mentioned it. We’re used to that being the Brothers Teagues’ storyline but that Charlotte mentions this ups the stakes a bit. We know that the Croatoan will be the show’s final boss but having Mara’s mother drive home its danger ramps up the drama. Charlotte also gave us the first tease about her husband. I wonder which Canadian and sci-fi screen legend he could be?
Other random points of note:
- I came into this episode hoping for a John Dunsworth showcase and instead get he and Richard Donat shuffled to the side after being featured players in driving the show’s story forward for the last season and change. That wasn’t what I was looking for from Haven.
- I forgot how much I liked Haven’s theme song. For a show set in Maine, it certainly sounds like a properly Canadian maritime tune.
- While the title of the episode is pretty on the nose, I assume it’s a reference to the S1 episode The Trial of Audrey Parker. That’s the one in which Agent Howard gives Audrey a job evaluation on Duke’s boat and it’s conveniently timed with the boat being stolen and all aboard kidnapped.
- I can’t ever remember seeing a Canadian security guard armed with a handgun nor a security guard so quick to draw and shoot his gun either. The one time they decide to shout out where they actually shoot the show (well, it’s primarily filmed in Chester and Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, but close enough) and they write the place like it’s America.
- Tucked away in the end credits is “Special thanks to WWE.” They get a lot of plugs in the credits with Christian in the opening credits as the 2nd billed guest star as “WWE Superstar Christian” without his real name of Jay Reso but still ahead of John Dunsworth and Richard Donat. Edge is billed in the featured “and” spot at the end of the credits as “Adam Copeland WWE Superstar Edge.” At least he gets billed under his real name.
Next week, exit light, enter night. Actually, that would have worked for these last two episodes as well given Tony’s Trouble. This episode ended with Audrey being put to sleep by The Sandman so appropriately, it’s time to Enter Sandman.