Haven Season 4: Terminally Troubled? | Fanboys Anonymous

Haven Season 4: Terminally Troubled?

Posted by DAJB Thursday, October 3, 2013
Based on a story by Stephen King, Haven is an odd show. Unlike most dramas that deal with the supernatural, it's homely rather than unnerving, comfortable rather than scary. The first episode of Season 4 has just premiered here in the UK, but before we go into the new season, let's remind ourselves how we got to where we are now.
Panoramic view of Haven, Maine, with logo
Haven. But not a safe one. Don't be fooled by the name!
Season 1 began with the arrival of FBI agent Audrey Parker in a small town in Maine - the Haven of the title. Back then, she was on the trail of a murderer, but she soon found herself embroiled in a far greater mystery. See, the inhabitants of Haven are "troubled"; not troubled as in worried or psychologically disturbed, but rather, they are afflicted by curses that might, for example, cause their moods to affect the local weather or make people spontaneously combust. Small town life apparently can affect you that way!

These curses are usually latent, but every few decades the "troubles" return to Haven, and the inhabitants' afflictions begin to manifest. In each cycle there is one person who cannot be harmed by the residents' "troubles" and is destined to help the poor townsfolk deal with them, and that person has a different identity every time. In this current cycle she is, of course, Audrey Parker.

Emily Rose, Lucas Bryant and Eric Balfour in Haven, loosely based on Stephen King's story "The Colorado Kid"
Audrey Parker—torn between two lovers. Just
as well she gets more than one life to sort it out. 
Packing Up Your Troubles

By the end of Season 3, we had learned that the troubles would end if Audrey stepped into a mysterious, mystical barn and disappeared forever. Not an appealing prospect, you might think, but for reasons that needn't concern us here, she did just that - leaving behind the other two sides of her romantic triangle, the town's police chief, Nathan Wuornos, and the local rogue-with-a-heart-of-gold Duke Crocker.

So far so good,  right? Well, apparently not. The troubles obviously didn't end or we wouldn't now be discussing the start of Season 4, would we?

The Audrey 2

As the first episode of Season 4 opens, it's six months later, and the residents of Haven are not happy. Their afflictions continue unabated, and they feel betrayed by those who had promised the troubles would end with Audrey's sacrifice. Nathan is no longer chief of police, Duke (who tried to follow Audrey into the barn) has rematerialized in a seal tank (no, not a sealed tank, a tank full of seals!), and Audrey herself has been resurrected in another new identity. This time she's a bartender named Lexi DeWitt. So it seems Season 4 is set to deliver more of the same: another round of freak-of the-week adventures, a lead character who has reverted to having no idea who she really is, and an unresolved eternal triangle.

Eric Balfour of Six Feet Under with new cast member Emma Lahuna, previously seen in Arctic Air, Hellcats and as the Yellow Ranger in Power Rangers Dino Thunder
Haven. You don't have to be troubled
to live here. But it helps.
To Every Season There Is a Thing

Of course, delivering more of the same may not be enough. Haven (the show) now faces a new trouble of its own, one faced by many a long-running series. In its first season, a new show can win viewers with an original and intriguing premise, which Haven did. To retain those viewers, the second season needs only to up the ante, throwing in bigger special effects, more complicated relationships, and the suggestion of an over-arching plot line. Haven managed to do all of that as well. By the third season, viewers want to see all of the messy plot threads of the previous seasons resolved, which, by introducing the barn, Haven delivered.

For a show to continue being successful into its fourth season, however, is as difficult as a rock band's third album. Fans will feel betrayed if the new season strays too far from the original premise, but with everything already resolved, that premise can only be maintained if the third season's resolution is unravelled. Obviously this creates an unsatisfactory base from which to start, and the show's creators therefore have to distract viewers with a little sleight of hand - paradoxically, they have to inject something new but make it look old. They have to con their own fans.

Are We Still Haven Fun?

This deception often takes the form of new characters coupled with a new plot line and, in far too many cases, increasingly frequent guest appearances by actors made famous in other shows. It's a difficult act to get right, and few shows manage to still look fresh after four seasons. Haven is staying true to the fourth-season formula. In the first episode we are introduced to two characters who, it seems, are going to be joining the regular cast. The first is Jennifer Mason, played by former Power Ranger Emma Lahana. Jennifer is a young woman who, for reasons not yet fully explained, can hear the conversations that took place in the mysterious barn before it imploded. On the celebrity front, Eureka's Colin Ferguson also joins the cast as William, an ex-cop who claims to know the secret of Lexi DeWitt's true identity. Two out of three boxes ticked then. How about that new over-arching plot?

Colin Ferguson, best known as Sheriff Jack Carter in Eureka
Colin Ferguson may have discovered  the answer
to Haven's troubles. Eureka!
With the barn gone and the townsfolk still troubled, it transpires that Audrey/Lexi can still put an end to the troubles. All she needs to do this time around is kill the man she loves. There's no particular explanation given as to why that should work, but it does put her romantic triangle with Duke and Nathan front and centre by begging the question: which man is her true love? Perhaps now that Audrey is Lexi, her true love will turn out to be neither of them.

Emily Rose, also known for Jericho and as the voice of Elena Fisher in the video game Uncharted
Unlike the Doctor, Audrey can regenerate
without changing her appearance. Which
won't harm Emily Rose's job prospects!
Brevity: The Soul of DeWitt?

It's not an entirely satisfactory setup, but this storyline may just be enough to keep existing fans entertained for another season. Emma Lahana seems bound to be popular as a quirky sidekick, which should help slow the loss of viewers who are starting to find the show's premise a little tired. Four seasons in, however, some viewers will inevitably be lost, and the question now is whether that number will be offset by new fans who follow Ferguson here all the way from Eureka.

Personally, I don't think that will happen. Ferguson is eminently likable, but I suspect there is already a considerable overlap between the two shows' fanbases, and those viewers are already regular visitors to Maine.

Overall, Haven is doing everything that the TV playbook suggests for a show looking to retain its audience as it moves into its fourth season. More than likely it will be enjoyable; the characters are still amiable after all, and I'm sure we can expect a few impressive special effects sequences. However, the very measures taken to reinvigorate the show suggest that Haven may be approaching the end of its natural life, and I doubt there will be another season left in it after this one. It would be nice to think that the producers will recognize this and take the opportunity to make Season 4 the final season, allowing Lexi DeWitt to go out on a high.

But that's just me. Do you think it's time to end Haven's troubles once and for all? Or do you believe that, like Audrey herself, it can keep coming back for decades to come?

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