‘HAVEN’ REVIEW: Season One, Episode One

Review of “Welcome to Haven” (01:01)

Something eerie is happening in Haven, Maine, but that should come as no surprise being that this story is based on a Stephen King novel.

Agent Audrey Parker (the lovely and talented Emily Rose) has been dispatched to this remote fishing village to investigate the whereabouts of an escaped convict by the name of Jonas Lester (Zach Tovey). After breaking out of prison, Lester killed a federal guard and high-tailed it for his hometown of Haven.

In these early scenes, when Parker first receives her assignment, we learn that she’s an agent with a spotty past. Her superior, Agent Howard (Maurice Dean Wint) calls her a good agent, but not a great one.

Lucas Bryant and Emily Rose in "Haven" — Photo courtesy of Chris Reardon / Syfy

Maybe Haven will change that assessment?

When Parker first arrives in the small Maine town, she’s met with a bumpy introduction. The sandstone pavement seems to evaporate in the air, causing her to veer off the road and dangle her rental car over a cliff. Within a few minutes of arriving, she’s almost dead. As the episode title suggests: “Welcome to Haven.”

Her knight in shining armor is local detective, Nathan Wuornos (Lucas Bryant), who rescues Parker from the perilous accident and offers her a proper welcome to the community. Nathan is an interesting character right from the get-go. We learn that his father is the chief of police in town, and that Nathan can’t feel pain of any kind (a medical condition known as idiopathic neuropathy). It’s almost as if his senses are turned off. When Agent Parker accidentally slams his fingers in a car door, he doesn’t flinch a bit.

Nathan fills in Agent Parker on Lester’s current whereabouts: He’s dead.

Although the case seems to be of the open-and-shut variety, Parker hangs around to investigate a little further. Something about the way in which Lester died triggers her interest. After finding uprooted trees and a gun at the top of a nearby cliff, she’s sold that Haven is hiding some deep secrets.

The one suspect that had a grudge against Lester is Conrad Brower (Patrick Garrow), a war veteran who resented the fact that Lester stole his VA benefits. Upon first meeting Conrad, Parker realizes the man has space issues. He doesn’t like anyone to touch him or even get within a few feet radius. When the FBI agent breaks his bubble, a billowing fog storm envelops the surroundings and Conrad goes missing.

Something is definitely awry.

Although Conrad is the main suspect, the gun that Nathan and Parker found in the woods actually belongs to Duke Crocker (Eric Balfour), a local troublemaker who rankles Nathan to no end. When Parker investigates Duke, an out-of-the blue hail storm comes ashore and a bolt of lightning sends her flying into the air.

Maine’s weather is certainly volatile, but this seems excessive to Agent Parker. On three separate instances, she almost lost her life.

The episode is wrapped up when Nathan and Parker begin to look into the mysterious finances of Conrad’s friend, Marion Caldwell (Nicole de Boer) and her strange associate, Ted (Kevin Jubinville).

The two most telling developments in the series premiere is that Agent Parker decides to take some time off from the FBI and stay in Haven after the case is closed. What’s her hook? Two local newspapermen have unearthed a front-page story from 27 years prior. Under a banner that says “The Colorado Kid” is a photo that looks very much like a younger Agent Parker. Does this investigator have an unknown past in Haven? We know she is an orphan with no family ties, but could this assignment prove to be the one that solves the mystery of her own life?

The series is loosely based on King’s mini-novel, The Colorado Kid. Much of the writing on the television show is humorous. In fact, many of the lines of dialogue and quirky characters will remind audience members of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Small-town mysteries make for great television, and it appears that the supernatural elements of Haven will make the show a cut above the rest.

Rose is a beautiful addition to the series. She finds the right balance between being a smart ass and thoughtful investigator. Duke should also prove to be a welcome character. From his years on Six Feet Under, Balfour is a pro at these types of roles.

The look of the pilot episode is beautiful. Filmed on location in Canada, Haven is like a throwback fishing village that one only reads about in books. It’s quaint and charming, yet under its facade is a looming darkness.

Few shows can master the strange brilliance of Twin Peaks, but I sure would like to see Haven try.

Count me a fan.

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com
  • Haven

  • Syfy, Fridays at 10 p.m.

  • Developed by Sam Ernst and Jim Dunn, based on the novel, The Colorado Kid, by Stephen King

  • Starring Emily Rose, Lucas Bryant and Eric Balfour

  • Rating: ★★★★

  • Click here to purchase Haven: Season One on DVD.

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications. E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

One thought on “‘HAVEN’ REVIEW: Season One, Episode One

  • September 18, 2014 at 1:24 am
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    I began watching Haven on Netflix a year, or more, ago. At that time I thought it was just another ‘brain runner, network show from the bowels of TV land. Fast-forward to the present, 09/14, I had just finished a term in my studies for a Master degree in psychology. Two week break from school with no internship until school began again so I had free time. I was ready for a break and brain running TV sounded OK. back to Netflix and Haven to see if it had miraculously healed itself. I had already suffered through episode 1 so I picked it up with episode 2. The storyline began to flesh out and more details about the town of Haven were revealed. The characters also began to fit. On to episode 3, then 4, and so on. I am now a fan of the show and glad I gave it a second look. I am not a big fan of tv but Haven is a keeper. 4⅓ stars.

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