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Throwback Thursday - Haven - Welcome to Haven

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Throwback Thursday is a weekly article in which we look back at our favourite TV episodes from the past.

For me, Haven was one of the better TV shows SyFy has done along with the likes of Killjoys and Z Nation. It stood out to me for its focus on the lore of the show, along with its original concept which added a fresh twist to the case of the week format. It never tried to get too big for its boots, remaining authentically grounded in the setting of Haven and slowly peeling back the layers of the mystery surrounding the town with Audrey Parker's character development always feeling earned and natural. 

The pilot episode begins with a very simplistic snapshot of who Audrey is as a person. She has a sparse living situation, never takes vacation time and she is immediately established as someone who is open to different possibilities on a case - which doesn't always work out in her favour. Agent Howard pays her a visit and sends her to track down a fugitive who has escaped back to his hometown of Haven, Maine. The fugitive, Jonas Lester, doesn't have long to bask in his freedom though as he is blasted off a cliff by a shadowy figure after a chase through the woods of Haven. 

We pick up with Audrey as she enters Haven for the first time and it doesn't take long for things to get weird. A great crack splits the road and Audrey crashes, her car half dangling off the edge of a cliff. It's certainly a dramatic and eventful first day in town and it also sets up her meet-cute with Nathan Wuornos who I like to refer to as the 'Cardboard Man'. I don't find his sad-eyed, depressed puppy charm all that endearing. He's not so bad in the earlier seasons but as the seasons go on, I do find him more and more boring (it's like a prolonged exposure thing). 

The two pull their guns on each other like the work-oriented and responsible pair that they are but the matter is quickly cleared up and we're treated to our first clue that something is off with Nathan when Audrey shuts his car door on his fingers and he doesn't feel a thing. 

The case gets off to a flying start as Audrey discovers her missing fugitive is dead and we are introduced to another major player, the Chief, otherwise known as Nathan's father. Naturally he's the grumpy, surly sort trying to keep Audrey out of his town's business and accusing her of wasting Nathan's time. For her part, she basically completely ignores him and instead finds a clue to really get the ball rolling - a scrap of paper on the body. She begins to think Lester was murdered which only serves to annoy the Chief. 

Audrey and Nathan begin their investigation with a walk up to the bluff Lester fell from, passing the time with some bonding as Nathan hints at some father-son drama and Audrey reveals she is an orphan. They find a hat and a gun and Nathan, using his intimate knowledge of the town, identifies the hat as belonging to Conrad Brauer, a man Lester owed money to. 

Audrey and Nathan's first chat with him doesn't go exactly to plan. We learn he has personal space issues and that he was clamming till sunset when Lester died. The interview is cut short by a fog coming in supernaturally fast and Audrey saves Nathan from being hit by a truck, earning us another glimpse into his mysterious inability to feel pain. He calls it 'idiopathic neuropathy' but Audrey's spidey senses are tingling. Fortunately those instincts of hers will help her in Haven despite hindering her in her life before. 

We are then introduced to Vince and Dave Teagues, editors of the Haven Herald and two of the most eccentric and whimsical old men I think Audrey will ever meet. Vince says Audrey seems familiar to him which is dismissed as creepy but anyone who's ever watched Haven will know the significance of that comment, both later in the episode and in the season as a whole. 

Audrey and Nathan pick up their investigation where they left it and interview Marion Caldwell and Ted Ford. It's Marion's dream to leave Haven and move to Santa Barbara. I must admit I thought there was a thing where people couldn't leave Haven but I think I'm getting confused with Maine's other mystical fictional town, Storybrooke, from Once Upon a Time

They hit a dead end with Marion and Ted which provides a convenient moment for the gun trace on the gun they found earlier to come back and Nathan says it belongs to a guy he knows and we get our first mention of Duke Crocker (who also happens to be my favourite character in the show). They head to his boat but he's not around though Nathan notices the torn corner of a tidal calendar matches the scrap of paper Audrey found. He spends some time assassinating Duke's character with passion and fervor and it's not wholly deserved but how was Audrey or the audience back then to know that? 

We get a quick little scene revealing that Marion and Conrad are hiding something before Audrey gets caught in a freak hailstorm and falls into the river when the electrics blow. Cue the arrival of Duke Crocker, saving her life and serving her coffee in a mild contradiction to the picture Nathan painted. It turns out his gun had been stolen and he'd reported it and he wryly notes that Nathan probably forgot to mention that. He also got her a new phone which was nice of him. I must confess that I don't remember the root cause of Nathan's animosity towards Duke. Something about him exploiting his Trouble? Something to do with a girl at prom? 

At the police station, Audrey is curious about the numbers on the scrap of paper before a conversation with Vince and Dave clues her onto looking up the tidal calendar and realising Conrad couldn't have gone clamming as the tide would have been too high. She goes to confront him and as he gets more agitated, Audrey is blasted backwards and it begins to snow. We're made to think the phenomena is caused by Conrad which makes me think it's actually Marion (hey, I remember some of Haven's cases better than others, okay?) Conrad confesses to killing Lester but we're only halfway through the episode so this obviously won't be the end of it. 

Back at the police station, Nathan has Duke in handcuffs and Duke gives them information on what Lester wanted with him after making Nathan apologise for arresting him. It turns out Lester wanted Duke to run him up to Canada. Nathan wonders if the numbers on the scrap of paper are a boat's registration number and goes to check it out while Vince and Dave give Audrey a file on the Colorado Kid, featuring a photo of a stranger who looks just like her. The photo is from 27 years ago which makes Audrey think it could be her mother. 

She doesn't have much time to dwell on this though as she's still trying to catch a killer and she searches strange weather phenomena in Haven. Turns out that back in 1956, the Hastings family were the only survivors of a freakish series of storms that destroyed their home town and guess what? Their granddaughter is Marion Caldwell! All the pieces start falling into place for Audrey and she figures out that Lester and Ted were working together to get the money Marion's mother left her. Sucks for Marion then that she just let Ted access her bank account after telling her the Santa Barbara dream will come true. 

Marion obviously doesn't take this well when Audrey tells her and a storm starts blowing up as she exits her shop which is pretty badass and I hope she gets to at least exact some vengeance on Ted. 

She confronts him at his house and Audrey arrives to try and talk her down. Ted shoots Nate which is fine because he doesn't feel no pain (convenient at a time like this) and Audrey convinces Marion she's controlling the weather and calms her down. She and Conrad have a tender reunion where he forgoes his personal space issues to hold her hand, wrapping up a serviceable introductory case of the week. Not bad but not mind-blowing which is just as well as the focus is on setting up Audrey, Nathan and Duke and planting the seeds of their dynamics. 

Audrey talks to Nathan about how every orphan dreams of their mother coming to find them and that she dreamed her mother would turn up one day and rescue every kid in every orphanage in the world and bring them home. I think this is the best insight we've had into Audrey's character in the entire episode. It could certainly explain why she joined the FBI. She wanted a chance to save people, she's a hero at heart and she is compassionate. She had no way to be reunited with her mother so the least she could do was give that chance to other people. 

The episode ends with Audrey visiting the site of the Colorado Kid's murder and calls Agent Howard, taking vacation time for the first time ever. Howard gives her the okay and it is revealed that he is in Haven watching her. He makes a phone call to an unknown person and lets them know she's staying, telling them, "Maybe she can help with your troubles", 'troubles' being a very significant word in this show. He drives away and as he does, another crack appears in the road behind him. It's an ominous and mysterious way to open the episode especially seeing as my memory is terrible and I'm only 60% sure the cracks are to do with Chief Wuornos' Trouble. I did also think we got the reveal that Nathan could feel Audrey's touch in this episode but I guess I was wrong about that!

The pilot episode does a great job of giving us hints about the wider lore of the show which becomes more and more prominent as the show goes on, finding its footing and gaining confidence. We get right to the essence of the main characters as well with Audrey's drive and compassion, Nathan's stoic do-gooder attitude and Duke's roguish charm with hints of his honour peeking through, though his heroic side is definitely not as much on display as Audrey and Nathan's (yet!). 

The big set up mystery is why Audrey and the stranger (who we know as Lucy Ripley) look the same and it's a fascinating entry point to unravelling the secrets of the show. It only gets better from here!

Best Quotes

Audrey: "What am I gonna do, pull out another gun?"

Chief Wuornos: "Oh, it's the FBI. Well is this one of those situations where you're here claiming to help but you're really just here to step on my toes?"
Audrey: "Not in these shoes."

Audrey: "I like the truck."
Nathan: "Thanks. Had it since I was nineteen."
Audrey: "How do you keep a car that long?"
Nathan: "I don't drive off cliffs."

Audrey: "Is this Santa Barbara?"
Marion: "Yes. Have you been there?"
Audrey: "Twice. Once for a pedophile, the other for a serial killer."

Nathan: Wanna makes this easy for me?"
Duke: "No."

What are your thoughts on Haven's pilot episode? Do you remember the show as fondly as I do? Sound off in the comments below!

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