Haven 3.09 "Sarah" TV REVIEW
Writers: Nora Zuckerman, Lilla Zuckman
Director: Stephen Reynolds
THE ONE WHERE Duke and Nathan are sent back in time to 1955 where they meet Nathan’s granddad and Audrey’s predecessor, Sarah. Then they have to work out if it’s best to keep them apart or let them try to kill each other.
VERDICT One of the most famous science fiction clichés is the “What would happen if you went back in time and killed one of your ancestors?” story. In this brilliantly playful episode, Haven turns that idea on its head, and has Duke going back in time to make sure that his grandfather does die, because that’s the only way to correct the timeline. Luckily gramps has already spawned Duke’s dad…
Admittedly, in terms of time travel tales, “Sarah” has little new to bring to the table (except a whole host of new paradoxes – see below). But it embraces the whole bizarre scenario with a refreshingly on-the-nose gusto. Duke even displays some geek credentials by voicing an awareness of the rules of time travel, though thankfully the writers don’t insert one of those cringey, “This is like The Terminator /that episode of Star Trek " references, which were cool once but now feel hideously artificial (pause to shudder at the memory of the “geek” who'd clearly never read a comic before in No Ordinary Family ).
Besides, the whole set-up is just an excuse to get Emily Rose in a nurse’s outfit, surely?
Rose is great as the spunky Sarah and looks radiant in the ’50s clothes and hairdo. And she finally brings Nathan out of his shell in a way Audrey never has. Admittedly, it’s all a big tease for ’shippers, but the brief encounter between Sarah and her very own Kyle Reese (though we don’t think he had time to make her pregnant) is surprisingly endearing, despite the godawful romantic music that wells up like stomach acid at times. Lucas Bryant looks like he’s having a whale of a time…
…As does Eric Balfour, who plays Duke like a slacker version of Sam Beckett, dealing with the situation with the world-weary practicality of a man who used to life going bat’s-arse, but finding time to see the humour in the situation too. You might argue he should be a bit more emotionally distraught at having to watch his granddad die, but melodramatic outpourings of grief would have unbalanced the tone of the episode – you just have to accept that Duke’s learned to accept that “life’s sh*t then a guest star dies”.
And it’s a very funny episode with the kind of snappy, character-based dialogue that used to characterise Eureka , and that Warehouse 13 used to do so well before it vanished up its own arc-hole. At the same time, ironically, it’s one of the less “silly” episodes of Haven in terms of the really daft concepts they come up with for the Troubles sometimes. Personally, I’d rather have witty scripts based around solid, intriguing central ideas, rather than everybody in the show reacting po-faced when confronted with living teddy bears.
The episode even has a twist in its tale, and a cracker it is too. What the hell is Agent Howard doing in 1955? Rubs chin thoughtfully…
Hell, I may have overscored this episode a little, but it was fun, it was lively, it was full of surprises and it featured great performances from its three leads, so I’m feeling generous. (Or maybe it was just the nurse’s outfit.) That’s three really good episodes in a row. What’s happened to Haven ? Has it finally realised its true potential?
HASHTAG SPOTTING Although we kinda wish they’d put a hashtag in one of the 1955 sequences just to really confuse matters, it was probably safer placing it on the side of one of those really uncomfortable-looking chairs outside the comic shop.
STEPHEN KING CONNECTIONS The things we do for you! We freeze-framed the 1955 telephone directory and checked all the names for a King connection… and came up with nothing. Much easier to spot was the fact that Roy’s wife and boy (aka, Duke’s grandma and dad) were said to be living in Derry, the fictional setting for IT , Dreamcatcher and Insomnia (parts of 11/22/63 are also set there).
TIME LOOP Any time travel plot is a minefield of potential paradoxes, and while none of them in “Sarah” are particularly heinous, it’s still fun debating them. Like, for instance, what would have happened if Audrey had been killed in the future and Duke had corrected the timeline? Would she have just popped up alive again? Or would her immunity to the timeline shenanigans have left her dead?
More intriguingly, where did the pirate’s coin come from? Follow its route through time: Duke’s dad gave it to Duke; Duke travels back through time and gives it to Roy; Roy sends it to Duke’s dad…who gives it to Duke, who travels back through time and gives it to Roy… Yep, we have a closed loop, folks. Nobody ever actually found the coin; it exists purely as an object in a time loop.
There’s an even more brain-aching problem than that. If Nathan and Duke hadn’t travelled back in time, then Sarah wouldn’t have killed Roy. So presumably they were meant to go back in time to make that happen; therefore, they were always part of that history. But if they were meant to be there, the fact that they went back in time shouldn’t have changed the future.
On the other hand, if the future hadn’t changed Nathan wouldn’t have been send back in time and Duke wouldn’t have known what effects his actions were having. So the alternative future itself has become part of this causality domino effect. The future had to change to make Duke (not) change the past. So, ironically, Duke had to both alter and and not alter the past to create the future Haven we’re familiar with…
Does your head hurt yet?
RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE So, Nathan can feel Sarah too, as well as Audrey. Bet he wishes he couldn't at this moment.
The episode is full of little gems so we really couldn’t narrow it down to one this week:
Duke: "What year is this?”
Man: “It’s 1955. It’s the year you should think about sobering up.”
Duke: “Actually, I think it's the year that I start drinking.”
Audrey: “Okay, you know when there's a Haven thing, and because I’m immune to the Troubles I’m the only one that knows it’s a Haven thing. This is a Haven thing.”
Duke: “Hey, I just wanna thank you for bailing me out. I thought I was gonna be in there till the Beatles.”
Roy: “The who?”
Duke: “Them too.”
Nathan: “If he was supposed to die you’ve screwed up the natural order. Now, even if we get home, it is a completely different Haven.”
Duke: “Like the Gull could be a frozen yoghurt shop and I could be a total douche.”
Nathan: “…Or it’s a completely different Haven.”
Haven season three currently airs in the UK on Syfy, Tuesdays at 9pm
Read our other Haven season 3 reviews
• Read our exclusive Emily Rose interview