Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

[with spoilers]

Last year Syfy launched an all-new paranormal series inspired by a Stephen King novel (The Colorado Kid), Haven, about an FBI agent-turned small-town cop in a tiny seaside town where Odd Things Happen.  After an uneven start, Haven eventually found its feet, with writers and performers hitting their stride at “As You Were,” and finally delivering the fall 2010 TV season’s most exciting season finale.  “Spiral” left us with a brilliantly-executed cliffhanger, revealing that Agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) may not be who we—or she—have been led to believe.

That outstanding lead-up to Season 2 should have smoothed the way for an equally riveting season premiere, but for whatever reason, “A Tale of Two Audreys” fell short.  When we left Haven for the winter, Agent Parker and Officer Nathan Wuornos (Lucas Bryant) were guns-to-gun with… Agent Audrey Parker, carrying a badge, her FBI credentials, and (it turns out) all of Audrey’s memories.  It seemed we were finally going to get a clue about “our” Agent Parker’s identity, and the discovery that she might not be Agent Parker after all was electrifying.

So what went wrong?  Well, instead of seizing upon the notion of New Agent Parker being the Real Agent Parker, leaving Our Audrey’s true ID in the air, they went in the less-exciting direction of declaring New Parker an imposter, a victim of Haven’s mysterious Troubles who only believes she’s Audrey Parker.  Clearly the mystery is ongoing; nothing of this storyline was resolved in “A Tale of Two Audreys,” so there’s still a chance to recover this storyline (and the hint at the very end of the episode does go a long way toward redeeming it).  But they missed a chance for some great intriguing drama by shunting the Audrey vs Audrey issue aside for the moment.

As for what this episode did focus on, the “Trouble of the Week” was likewise disappointing.  The Ten Plagues of Egypt hitting Haven should have been riveting, as the plagues increase in dread, leading up to the inevitable Death of the Firstborn Sons.  But here they played out rather sedately, hopping from plague to plague with little rising tension building between them, only to culminate in an almost entirely tension-free climax, where the Trouble just… stopped.  More time was spent cleaning up loose ends from last season, introducing new complications, and firmly establing the Rev as this season’s villain, but despite all the mysteries afoot, “A Tale of Two Audreys” felt a little phoned-in, as if given the choice between high drama and ho-hum, they took the more boring path every time.

Still, “Haven” has recovered from weak episodes before, and I don’t believe this misstep is crippling.  There’s enough about the show to keep viewers tuning in, and the questions introduced in “A Tale of Two Audreys” are still intriguing, even despite their currently lackluster execution.  Emily Rose’s Audrey Parker is a smart, likeable heroine who stands out from the Fiesty Female Cop mold, and the male leads (Eric Balfour and Lucas Bryant) have great chemistry.  I’m convinced they can pull this together and deliver a solid season two, and I’m looking forward to what Haven has to offer this summer.

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