Genre: Sci-Fi | Action | Mystery
Air Date/Time: Friday, September 21 at 10/9c
Director: Lee Rose (“301″), Shawn Piller (“Stay”)
Writer: Jonathan Abrahams (“301″), Matt McGuinness (“Stay”)
Summary: When FBI agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) arrived in the town of Haven, Maine, she discovered that the seemingly sleepy town was, in fact, a longtime refuge for people with supernatural afflictions. Now Audrey must not only stay on top of Haven’s many afflictions, but also solve her most challenging case yet: the secret of her own lost past and its ties to Haven. With the help of Nathan Wuornos (Lucas Bryant), a handsome local cop with his own trouble, and Duke Crocker (Eric Balfour) a local smuggler and reluctant aide in solving Haven’s troubles, Audrey digs deeper into uncovering her identity.
In the Season Three premiere, Haven picks up immediately following the events of the gripping Season Two finale with Audrey having been kidnapped; Nathan warned against pursuing a romantic relationship with Audrey; and Duke seemingly engaged in a fight to the death with Nathan after he discovers his family lineage is to kill Haven citizens with Troubles.
This season’s guest stars include Iain Glen (Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey), Bree Williamson (Gossip Girl, One Life to Live), Laura Vandervoort (Smallville, White Collar), Edge (WWE Superstar), Dorian Missick (Southland, The Cape), Kate Kelton (Harold and Kumar, American Psycho 2), Nolan North (Uncharted video game series, Pretty Little Liars), and Claudia Black (Uncharted video game series, Farscape).
My three favorite shows of 2011 – and these three were lightyears ahead of any other – were Fringe, American Horror Story, and Haven. Fringe is now heading in to its final season – a quick moment of silence here – and American Horror Story has become American Horror Story: Asylum and is an unknown, so only Haven brings with it a hope for stability in my TV love life. But does the new season bring a new kind of scariness? The kind that comes when The Powers That Be tinker with a show?
I am over-the-moon-happy to report that Season 3 is fresh, with new cast members, guests, and an excellent new layer within the overall mythology, that only enhances what we already love about our favorite weird town. The Season 3 premiere brings Audrey, Nathan, and Duke, Vince and Dave, and that gorgeous town back into our homes with its quietly perfect blend of quirkiness, edge, scares, humor, freakiness, twists, mysteries, cool characters, and tight relationships that make this show such a joy to watch.
If you’re new to the series and are wondering what it’s like… It’s really unlike any other Syfy show. It has the heart of Eureka and Warehouse 13 without the silliness. It has the gravitas of Alphas but is much tighter and the relationships amongst the extremely likeable main characters is much much closer. Best of all it combines a supernatural component with weekly and longer mysteries, and that combination equals for me a perfect little show.
Now for some non-spoilery specifics of the first two episodes. If you are new to the series or don’t remember where we left it at the end of the last season, watch the extensive “previously on” clips replay at the beginning of the premiere. In fact, watch it a few times. Then you’ll be ready. Fans of the show will be happy to know that the opening credits sequence is the same as it has been, with only a few graphics changes.
A couple of very interesting balls are tossed up in to the air in the premiere that may or may not be continuously juggled throughout the rest of the season. One of those first episode balls is neatly caught in the second episode, just so you know. This series has an absolute talent for balancing weekly mysteries with the series-long mythology and – here’s the key – plenty of shorter mysteries that get solved in more than one episode but less than an entire season.
If you’ve been following the online #EscapeToHaven and #TheGuard campaign, you’ll not see many direct references to that in the first two episodes. This was expected, as Eric Balfour explained in our recent interview that the online activity is meant to enhance the viewer experience, not impart crucial information.
While we get more of the Nathan/Duke lifelong love/hate relationship in this new season, which is now enhanced by the revelations about Duke’s family at the end of Season 2, the show is too smart to mess with their relationship too much or for too long. I love it when they work together, whether begrudgingly or not, and I am not the only one.
Some of the dialogue is a little stiff in the first episode, but that’s not wholly inappropriate, given the level of tension. The second episode loosens up a little, and progresses the mythology nicely, though never enough for those of us who can never get enough of the big story. Again, the writers do a lovely job of giving us just enough to leave us clamoring for more.
Eric Balfour is a standout in the premiere, in part because his role is the most complex. Emily Rose‘s Audrey is uncharacteristically emotional in the premiere but again it’s warranted, and never over the top. Lucas Bryant does a lovely doe-eyed thing with Audrey, and is convincing as her very focused defender. The three of them and their relationship is the heart and soul of this show, and even with the renewed stresses and strains it continues to be the strongest element of this series in the new season.
WWE Superstar Edge is welcome as a season regular this year. His character Dwight fits right in, and his expanded part seems comfortable for him. I spoke with him last year about his role on the series, and he is a really well-spoken, interesting man who had just recently retired from WWE because of injuries, and at the time would have been fine going by his given name. Yes, his name is actually listed as WWE Superstar Edge in the opening credits, and I expect that is Syfy‘s doing. A recent interview (posted here later today) confirms that the choice of Friday nights at 10 was a deliberate one by Syfy to try to draw their very large WWE fanbase from coverage which airs from 8-10 into the very excellent series which follows. I think that is a terrific idea.
New character Dr. Claire Callahan (Bree Williamson) is introduced in the second episode, and by the end has established her Haven cred. Last season’s new character, Evi, had me a little uncomfortable because that’s what her role was supposed to do. This isn’t necessarily the best idea when bringing in a new character, and they do not make the same choice this season, at least as far as I can tell so far. I think we’re meant to like Dr. Callahan, and I do.
We are given a couple of nifty effects in the first episode, but really none in the second, which just goes to show that it isn’t an effects-driven show. The screener was a rough cut but the sound, music, lighting, and overall feel of the episodes appear to be consistent with what we have seen throughout most of the series; wisely, the gorgeous town continues to set the stage. Were this series not shot on location in Halifax, it would not be the same show. At all.
I couldn’t be happier with the new additions to the mythology and to the regular cast. They keep the show fresh while leaving its very best elements intact and flourishing. Haven, Maine is a permanent addition to my Favorite Weird Towns list, along with Cicely, Alaska and Twin Peaks, Washington. Escape to Haven? I’d be there in a heartbeat.
I give Haven, Season 3 Episode 1 “301″ and Episode 2 “Stay” Five Out of Five Stars.