Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #184 (Haven 5B)

The old ways are gone. This is the new Haven.

Preview: Haven Season 5B, episodes 1 & 2

All good things must come to an end, and tonight marks the beginning of the end for the Syfy series Haven. For the past 65 episodes, since the series premiered in 2010, the residents of Haven have been dealing with the most recent outbreak of the Troubles, which are far worse this time around than they’ve ever been before, in part because people have been meddling with the works. If Nathan and Duke and Dwight and the rest of the merry band had simply let matters run their natural course, Audrey Parker would have gone into the barn and everything would have been fine for another generation. But, no! They had to try to fix things and, by doing so, everything has gotten exponentially worse.

HavenSchedAt the end of Season 5A (you can read my synopsis of those 13 episodes here), Nathan’s persistence paid off, and he was finally reunited with the love of his life. Mara is gone, but not without getting in her last dig at Haven: she loaded Duke up with new Troubles and primed him to explode. People in Haven who didn’t even know the Troubles existed, people who have no previously family history of the Troubles, are now Troubled.

Wait. What?

There are people living in Haven who don’t know about the Troubles? Strange as it might seem, there are a lot of them. But that’s about to change.

Season 5B begins with a double-header. Episode 5.14 is called, appropriately enough, New World Order. Haven is cut off from the rest of the world by a black cloud or shroud, as some call it. Anyone attempting to leave is simply turned around and sent back into town, sometimes with fatal consequences when people try to flee at high speed. Panic sets in, and we all know what elevated emotions do to Troubled people. Bingo. It’s a snowball effect, with panic begetting panic, and suddenly Haven is Troubled beyond imagination.

The police department is ill-equipped to handle the epidemic of often-deadly Troubles, so Dwight and Nathan decide it’s time to bring them in on the town’s long-held secret. Stan the Cop’s reaction to this news, almost a spit-take, is the funniest moment in the series in a long time. Because there’s not much to laugh about in Haven at the moment. Soon, Dwight is forced to double-down on his revelation, ending with a literal mic-drop that means there’s no going back. Haven can never be the same again.

So, how does Duke feel about all this? He’s much better physically without all those Troubles bottled up inside him, but he feels responsible for unleashing this torrent of Troubles and he wants to help. He really, genuinely does want to help. But no one wants to hear it. They blame him—especially those who’ve never been Troubled before—and because his presence is getting people mad, he’s liable to activate even more Troubles. His only available course of action is obvious to him: he has to get out of Dodge, which he can, because he’s immune to the Troubles he’s responsible for. He walks into the fog and re-enters the “real world,” where people no longer remember that Haven ever existed, which causes Duke some problems when he gets to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Yes, Halifax, the city where the final episodes of the show were filmed (production relocated from Chester after hockey season started and the sound stages in the hockey/curling rink there had to be torn down). It’s been the backdrop for many television productions, including Bag of Bones, Big Driver and the Jesse Stone mystery movies starring Tom Selleck. However, it almost always doubles for Maine or Massachusetts, so it’s refreshing to see the city be itself. Duke’s trying to go straight and put the past behind him, but even a forgotten town has a way of making sure he can’t rest. It will be interesting to see what will eventually bring him back to Haven and what he’ll find when he gets there.

Charlotte, Mara’s mother, is still around. Audrey’s having a hard time warming up to her and goes so far as to tell her to go back where she came from, but Charlotte can’t leave Haven either. So they put her to work trying to solve the Troubles. Audrey learns that just about everything she thought they knew about the barn and what it was supposed to do was wrong. Catastrophically wrong. Charlotte doesn’t know how to solve a Trouble without killing the person, but she thinks there might be a way, and it all boils down to that mystical goop, aether, that William apparently brought in large quantities into our world. But where is it? The quest for aether forms part of the storyline of the second episode airing tonight, entitled Power.

There’s a two-week jump between the two episodes, and in that interim parts of Haven have become dangerous. One region in particular is called Trouble Alley, and only one of its perils is an invisible monster with a bad temper. Worse, a new Trouble has made total darkness deadly, so the entire population is forced to congregate in one place and hoard batteries and flashlights to stave off the darkness. This creates a pressure cooker environment that causes Dwight to take some drastic and controversial measures to maintain order.

To make matters worse, as if that were necessary, there’s a serial killer in Haven. Not just your run-of-the-mill killer, either. Someone who might have come through the void when the portal was open to cast out William. He’s selecting targets, apparently, to exacerbate the problems the Troubles are creating, and the nature of his end game is uncertain. And he may have killed in Haven in the past, too. Dave is somehow connected to the killer, since he features prominently in Dave’s nightmares.

My only disappointment with the opening salvo in the final confrontation with the Troubles is that it was Shatner-free. William Shatner will be appearing in four episodes this season, but it isn’t clear when or as who. My guess—and it’s just that, a guess—is that he will be playing Mara’s supposedly deceased father. I could be wrong. It’s happened before.

There’s plenty of action, a whole passel of new Troubles, and a stack of bodies in these first two hours. The show knows how to kick things off with a bang.

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