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Review #2984: Haven 2.7: “The Ties That Bind”

Posted on the 29 August 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

I’m writing this review about 24 hours after the eye of Hurricane Irene passed within 20 miles of my house, so it feels weird to talk about an entire family that occasionally has to live underwater. I imagine there are quite a few people who wouldn’t mind that idea right about now. (The fact that I’m taking the time to write this, and that the site has been updated more or less on regular schedule, is an indication that we got through relatively unscathed.)

Review #2984: Haven 2.7: “The Ties That Bind”

This was one of those nice little mid-season mythology episodes, taking a number of plot threads and bringing them into focus, while delivering some revelations before the end. It begins to shed light on the lines being drawn between the Troubled and Reverend Driscoll, which I like a great deal, since that was one of the first things I came to enjoy about the premise of the series.

One thing that this episode reinforced is that human nature makes it nearly impossible to react well to these sorts of situations. Take the Glendowers, for example. On the whole, they are afflicted with a rather disturbing condition: when the Troubles come, they can only live underwater. While community reaction to them doesn’t help, the family has taken up an attitude and set of rituals that practically demand misunderstanding from anyone on the outside.

That’s a common enough theme: those with Troubles are unnecessarily stigmatized by those considered “normal”, but all too often, the Troubled make choices that bring down a certain judgment as a consequence. More often than not, those are the individuals that cause the problems that Nathan and Audrey must investigate, after all.

In other words, this episode crystallized the thematic underpinning of the series. Substitute any number of involuntary afflictions for “Troubled”, and one could be talking about anyone on the planet. It becomes a commentary on the human condition, which has always been one of the best functions of speculative fiction.

This episode delivers one heck of a revelation about Reverend Driscoll, and one that explains a lot about his enduring hatred for the Troubled. The truth about his wife’s “death” and her choice to leave him for one of the afflicted is definitely not going to help. While the information was a shock, the associated scenes themselves felt underplayed. Those moments should have been devastating in their delivery, instead of a bit matter-of-fact.

His alliance with Evi was another good reveal, and it actually makes a lot of sense. More and more, it seems like Driscoll is fighting a semi-silent war, preparing forces, directing skirmishes, and most importantly, gathering intelligence. Driscoll seems to be putting people in key positions to undercut those who would protect the Troubled, for good reasons or not.

We also get more clarification on the whole tattoo plot element, which was a nice touch. As it happens, the tattoos are a mark of a secret society among the Troubled, denoting members of a pro-Troubled squad designed to counter people like Driscoll. Duke is self-interested enough to make it possible for him to get on the wrong side of the Troubled, so it’s not hard to imagine how they would target him in the future.

But similarly, Nathan and Audrey are only willing to help the Troubled to a point. Letting Cole go was more about acknowledging the prison created by his “curse” than an outright agreement with his choices. And that’s the key: they are motivated to protect everyone, not just the Troubled. While it seemed like they were on the opposite side from Driscoll, it now appears that they are stuck in the middle.

The end of the episode also reinforced one of the running themes of the series: that this is all cyclical. The question is whether or not that is a clue to Audrey’s own existence. Does Audrey/Lucy jump from time to time, living only a few months or years during each cycle of the Troubles, adopting the personality and memories of someone else in the process? If so, how did our Audrey get the memories of the real Audrey Parker? In the end, this may be how the writers eventually tie the origins of the Troubles into the story.

The only thing holding this episode back from an exceptional rating is the overall tone. Too many big moments are underplayed, to the point that characters are reserved and pensive when they should really be animated. I’d be happy enough with just something in a character’s expression, but that never seemed to happen when the story demanded it. Usually that’s a director’s fault, but this time, I honestly can’t tell.

Writing: 2/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 2/4

Final Rating: 8/10

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