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- TV Series: Haven
- Episode: The Trial of Audrey Parker
- Starring: Emily Rose, Lucas Bryant, and Eric Balfour
- Written By: Sam Ernst and Jose Molina
- Directed By: Lee Rose
- Network: Syfy
Haven: The Trial of Audrey Parker Review
Always Have an Escape Route
By Rob Vaux
September 26, 2010
© Syfy/Bob Trate
Like castaways searching for signs of land, we’ve been waiting for Haven to finally connect the dots: to make more than perfunctory acknowledgement of the larger mystery and step away from the tedious, repetitive weirdo-crime-of-the-week format which has all but destroyed it. This week, at last, it shakes some of the cobwebs off and makes a genuine stab at getting back on track.
Audrey (Emily Rose) receives a visit from her boss, who demands an explanation for her lack of communication. The fulcrum allows her to link the entire season’s assembled oddities into a single whole, while pointing out that some larger cause must be behind it all. We’ve been waiting for them to address that question all summer and now Haven finally seems pointed in the right direction.
Granted, it arrives in the midst of yet another crime perpetrated by yet another member of the “Troubled.” “The Trial of Audrey Parker” escapes that noose too (albeit barely) by shaking up the basics of the formula a bit. Parker, her boss, Duke (Eric Balfour) and the town’s new ME (Michelle Monteith) end up kidnapped on Duke’s boat, courtesy of a pair of criminals intent on stealing one of Duke’s smuggled knicknacks. They glean its location through telepathy, another newly registered power that--for once--doesn’t stem from some well-meaning nice guy’s subconscious. The pair revels in their newfound ability, cheerfully using it to their own advantage and never once wondering where it came from.
Unfortunately, director Lee Rose doesn’t develop it with the tactfulness it requires. Once again, Audrey figures out the cause all too quickly and once again, the big finale feels more like an afterthought than a climax. But “The Trial of Audrey Parker” recovers with sheer novelty value: delivering something new to help us get past the older, dustier conventions.
It also benefits from bringing Sheriff Wuornos (Nicholas Campbell) more assertively into the picture, turning him from moving scenery into someone actually worth paying attention to. Haven takes its time getting to that spot, filling space with awkward development between Wuornos and his son (Lucas Bryant). It works fitfully, but for most of the episode, it feels like an effort to keep Nathan pertinent until he can pull off the big rescue at the end. During the finale, however, “The Trial of Audrey Parker” drops a genuinely surprising bombshell which instantly transforms the Sheriff into someone well worth paying attention to.
Audrey’s extended verbal duel with her boss helps matters as well. It picks up the nearly forgotten thread about Parker’s initial purpose in Haven and simultaneously wraps it up and provides it with a dramatic heft that constant neglect had previously rendered inert. Suddenly, her status at the Bureau has some function in the plot, and her ongoing presence in Haven now becomes a matter of mystery and intrigue rather than half-formed character notions. The script from Sam Ernst and Jose Molina buoys it with some typically sharp dialogue (including a clever nod to The X-Files) and a denouement that allows the series to find some real footing for the first time.
The big question is, why couldn’t Haven have gotten around to all of this earlier? It could have made the same points four or five episodes ago, without wasting our time or spinning its wheels so terribly. With the extra time, it might have explored its central issues a lot further, like why the Troubles happened in the first place and how Audrey’s mother connects to it. As it is, we have to curse the lost hours and hope that this modest road to recovery can continue. “The Trial of Audrey Parker” is far from perfect, but it does a lot better than we could have expected, and maybe (just maybe) brings this flatlining series back to a semblance of life.