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Last week’s episode flew so high that “Love Machine” had nowhere else to go but down. Still, it did not crash and burn but rather dipped a little. Using the qualities that sustained the series throughout the first season and some of the newfound momentum, the writers delivered a story that was touching, even if it lacked both the beauty-of-the-parts and beauty-of-the-whole appeal of the previous episode.
The investigation followed the pattern we are now familiar with. Audrey, with the assistance of Nathan, first went after the wrong suspect. It’s only after several more incidents that she set her eyes on the troubled resident unwillingly breathing life into machines. Here, unlike last week, she had an epiphany, and this is where the already flimsy idea fell apart. Having no issues whatsoever with the supernatural or science-fiction doesn’t mean suspended disbelief, but rather broadening one’s mind so as to work with whatever construct the author provides. Things still make sense — they have to or the mind complains — but they do it in a universe where rules are not quite like those in the real world. Sentient machines could have worked better if the writers had prepared us properly. Also, the breadth of knowledge required to be able to fix machines from such diverse engineering fields is staggering and shouldn’t have been simply ignored.
Although this episode was more about appealing to our senses than impressing our mind, it got some of the storyline right. Aside from everything involving Brad — which was rushed or poorly acted — New Audrey was beautifully dispatched. It was a given the series would do away with her, so it was just a matter of how and when. The when was a bit later than I had expected, but it helped the how be extremely fitting. Three things about her particularly caught my attention. The story touched on the memory split between the Audreys, meaning the point from which the two have diverging memories. New Audrey was smoothly used to provide more material on the growing mystery surrounding the tattoo. And finally, whatever happened to her on the island was brilliantly linked back to the main story through the Colorado Kid incident.
The writers have obviously put their time during the hiatus to good use. They got much better at dealing with multiple layers and seem to have a clearer purpose. Only two episodes after discovering our Audrey wasn’t the real deal, we are now scraping beneath that with her piano skills. In an attempt to delay and complicate things, the story could of course take the multiple identities route and link the piano to a previous one, so it is too early to make anything of it.
In spite of those nice breadcrumbs, the episode was dominated by the living machines. Both storylines ended with scenes meant to make us feel for the characters and it worked. The “containment” solution was ludicrous, but helped by the beautiful song from Ellie Goulding, it was easy to feel for Marsha — the girlfriend of our troubled genius — when she brought the food to the locked shed door. It was equally easy to intently watch Nathan settling at his father’s desk, and (finally) wonder what was going through Audrey’s mind as she was playing the piano, just as Goulding’s piano piece “Your Song” was drawing to a close.
Because of viewers’ expectations, writers and directors aim at creating powerful emotional reactions, so in that sense, this was a good episode of Haven. But, we also like it when we don’t have our minds protesting constantly, or even better, when we are dazzled along the way. It helps provide a sharper, more immaculate emotional reaction, and that was missing here…