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After last week’s sentient machines, “Sparks and Recreation” was clearly built around a much better idea, or more accurately, much better ideas. It had all the ingredients of a remarkable story, and although it never got the spark (pun intended) to ignite the whole, it was still a good episode of Haven. Besides showing how good at multilayered stories the writers are getting, its greatest achievement is to have introduced two interesting characters that deserve to stay with us for a while.
There was a lot to like about this episode’s main storyline. There was the fact that we had not one but two troubled residents. There was also the fact that a non-afflicted person exploited that knowledge and almost got away with murder. And finally, there was the fact that Audrey was very often wrong. Mayor Brody’s ability (to attract people’s affection and consideration) was an interesting one, and the show did a great job giving it to a politician who, of course, shamelessly used it. The actor playing the part had the perfect smile for it. Having the mayor’s wife scheming was also good. It is always interesting when the motive is as personal as jealousy and when elements allowing us to understand it are properly distilled over the hour as they were here.
Haven feels more and more like Audrey’s journey of self-discovery. The main storyline is so far written as to hint to the fact that things will be close to a final showdown when she will come to know what her “purpose” is. With that in mind, it makes sense to witness a gradual evolution of the character through some trials. And the trials are definitely much more enjoyable for the viewer if she is seen trying to understand how things work rather than be “instinctively” right all the time. That is why I liked that her hunches weren’t always right during the episode.
Dwight, the clean-up guy, had a no-nonsense attitude that was perfect for the job. Smooth transition for WWE’s Adam Copeland. Chris Brody, the mayor’s son who inherited the curse upon his death, was an even more interesting character. Jason Priestley brought to life a younger Brody who was much better at showing his dislike of people in general than convincing us of his skills as a scientist. The writers have an open field with that specific curse especially given the personality of the afflicted. So far, it has been used very effectively for humor (Nathan: “Wait, Wait! If we go in there and she gets upset, Chris could get seriously hurt!”).
The subplot involving Evy was much better than I feared. I still find her presence in Haven unnecessary, but some of her scenes in this episode were witty and the execution was very often flawless. It was good for the story not to show any containment solution for the “electric-nurse.” It is much better to let it hang out there than to present us with something ridiculous. Plus here, when discussing what should happen to the nurse, Audrey had what could be arguably considered the best line of the episode because it could have applied to her as well: “She needs a new start – relationships, people that keep her grounded.”
There was something particular about how this story unfolded. It was as if the writers tried to reach a goal but weren’t quite able to get us there. By the end, although I had enjoyed many aspects of the story, I had a feeling of unrealized potential. In that, it was reminiscent of some of the episodes from the first season that were more charming quiet journeys than exciting rides…