In the unlikely event you don't already know it, Haven is based on The Colorado Kid, one of King's short stories. And the writers are giant nerds. We say this with love. (We'd have to. I mean, look at this blog.) Plus, we're fairly certain King's basement muse does things to everything associated with the man's work, whether or not he's actually acting as a writer/consultant on the show. Ahem. That said, we know about SyFy's tie-ins section on the Haven site. What we've done instead is pull out a list of Stephen King tropes (some of them actually from TVTropes, some of them phrased more specifically to the genre and especially to the author) which Haven's overall plot uses. Many of these are self-explanatory, but they all bear additional examination. Why no, we're not hoping to predict the show's metaplot. We would never.
some point we'll probably be gluttons for punishment who hit up SyFy's
tie-in video clips and discuss how each of them affects the episode
they're from in an overall thematic sense. That day is not today.
The World Has Moved On/After The End: We'll start off with one of the more arguable tropes! King does a lot
with this one, specifically in Dark Tower, where the setting is
sometime after an apocalypse that left the world largely desert. And
deserted. From watches that don't keep accurate time to most mechanical
equipment not working right, the setting is clearly postapocalyptic.
Haven isn't nearly as obvious about this, but there are still aspects
there. Technology progresses, but so, it seems, do the Troubles. We'll
know more in a few episodes (post-Sarah) about this one, but it seems as
if the Troubles weren't always this bad. Additionally, for all that
we've got references to places outside Haven, until this two-parter
episode we've never seen anyone leave.
Or even express a desire to, particularly. The show opens in Audrey's
Boston apartment, presumably set up by her Agent Howard for the purpose
of reassuring her that she has a normal life. With the possible
exception of Tommy Bowen, we haven't had anyone enter Haven from outside
the Troubled families in three seasons - and we still don't know
exactly what his game is, nor do we have confirmation that he's not
Troubled. (Can't prove a negative!) Overall, it seems entirely possible
that not much outside Haven exists.
or we're going with the stereotypical King trope of utter isolation.
Other places may exist, but damned if you can get to them. Especially
when your focal point is somewhere in Maine. You'll note that we're not
even bothering to give Maine its own category, because really now. Had potential to be subverted in Magic Hour based on the trip to Colorado, though
not as much as it might be, because guess how close to Boulder (see: The
Stand) Nederland is. Go on, map it, I'll wait. If anything it's reaffirmed: any onscreen contact outside of Haven has been with Troubled people, the Guard, and/or people who knew either Sarah (whose last name we still don't know and we will be very curious indeed to watch the upcoming eps) or Lucy Ripley. Or Sarah's son, James Cogan (the Colorado Kid). Or both. With the possible exception of June Cogan's nurse, there's not even an extra to indicate the presence of people who aren't part of the mystery - and she mostly serves as a necessary bit of difficulty to overcome for getting information from the poor woman.
This Is Not Your/Our Universe: Every
single date we've checked for day-of-week correspondence has been off
by two days. In the same direction. I refuse to believe this is
coincidence. (K: I
did the math. The odds are one in a very big number.) In the original
short story, "The Colorado Kid," King mentioned in an interview that the
lack of Starbucks in Denver in 1980 is no mistake. Anyone who's read
enough King to know how much he likes dropping in tiny details that make
it clear the world in the novel is just a step to the side of ours
should be suspicious of the dates/day of week issue. Then we have
Dandel-O's, see below on canon welding, which are straight out of Dark
Tower. Definitely not
our universe, or even a particularly near cousin to it. Maybe a second
cousin thrice removed. We haven't seen Nozz-A-La yet (for those of you
who remember the short-lived Kingdom Hospital, the small sign that
everything was the way it should be was that the Nozz-A-La vending
machine became a coke machine) but we're waiting for it. Or it has shown
up and we missed it, yes, this is possible.
Shades of Gray:
King loves his evil that isn't actually as evil as you thought. Or the
evil that looks pleasant and charming on the surface and is rotten
underneath. Or the good intentions that do more harm than true evil ever
did. Or... you get the point, I think. Though horror calls for a strong
black-and-white, good-and-evil set of morals, things are rarely that
simple in Stephen King's universe, which makes them that much scarier.
Because you, too, could fall victim to the same justifications and
twisted morals of his protagonists. Nobody in this show is clearly evil
or clearly good. Even Reverend Driscoll was at least charming enough to
have a wife and daughter and has demonstrated kindness to some people,
most often children. Not even Audrey, who's recently made a couple
questionable decisions. I don't argue that they were ultimately the
correct decision, but it's very difficult to argue that blinding and
deafening a house or that manipulating your friend into killing a man
decisions. Duke starts off as a smuggler, con man, and general
all-around bad boy and morphs into one of Audrey's best friends and
someone she and Nathan can always rely on in a crisis. Nathan is
reliable but kind of an asshole to the people he calls friend and one of
these days we're going to get Audrey to smack the white knight
tendencies out of him. And that's just the main three characters. We
have unreliable sources all over the place on people who are supposedly
good, supposedly evil, or supposedly misguided - The Guard, Jordan,
Vince and Dave, Dwight, Simon Crocker. Plus there's the overall picture
of whether or not the Troubled did anything to merit these supernatural
afflictions, or if they're some kind of chosen people to live apart from
others. Since it's bloodline-inherited, there's also the possibility
that their ancestors did something to be cursed with the Troubles, in
which case you have gnarly moral questions about how one justifies
passing that along so many generations who didn't do anything. And so on, and so forth, and there could probably be an entire essay just on this one.
Canon Welding: Do I really have
to say it? Damn near all of Stephen King happens in the same universe,
or in adjacent universes that you can get to from the next one over.
Probably the most egregious example of this is in Dark Tower, where he
pulled from enough other stories of his that I'd need to reread the
TVTropes page to remember all of them. (Actually, I lie, the Tropes
entry for Canon Welding reads, "The Dark Tower
draws in characters, plot-lines, and themes from about two dozen other
King novels." My point, you take it.) Haven is mostly guilty of that
along the same lines as King, though every once in awhile you get a
reference that indicates a larger universe out there. Specifically, the
X-Files joke in The Trial of Audrey Parker, which if you really want to get technical about it puts them into the Tommy Westphal multiverse.
(Do not click that link unless you have a
couple hours to spare. It's as bad as TVTropes. I'd apologize, but
share my misery). Notable King Things that crop up more than once are
Shawshank Prison, no points for guessing where that one comes from, and
Little Tall Island, from Kingdom Hospital and Storm of the Century.
All Of This Has Happened Before (And All Of It Will Happen Again): The
end of Dark Tower, which is the beginning of Dark Tower, which is the
end... ahem. Suffice it to say, Stephen King had arguably one main story
that he needed to tell, and that was Dark Tower. Only it never - quite -
ended. Because Roland has to keep chasing the man in black across the
desert until he gets it right. With the DT references coming out in full
force in season 3, it seems likely that the writers will enforce a
similar ending with Haven. Certainly if this does not all
happen again, the point is to tell the story that breaks the cycle.
Every 27 years, AudSarLu comes, and every 27 years the Troubles peak. I
would not in the least be surprised to find that the solution to
stopping the Troubles is to kill AudSarLu - certainly I think that's
what Simon Crocker thought. I would also not be in the least surprised
to find that killing AudSarLu is different from killing Audrey Parker.
More subtly (and by more subtly I mean they used a smaller anvil) it
seems that they're working towards every AudSarLu incarnation having two
men or possibly small groups of people representing sides between whom
she must choose. When she was Lucy clearly she had the Colorado Kid
helping her in a way similar to Nathan and Duke now, and Garland
Wuornos, and she also seems to have had the help of Vince and Dave
Teagues. Whether those two dubious gentlemen were helping her when she
was Lucy or when she was Sarah remains to be seen, although it's also
worth noting that the Sarah incarnation was Dave Teagues' worst
nightmare. (See: Fear & Loathing)
in a literal sense, sometimes in a metaphorical sense of
light-and-dark, two sides of the same coin, etc. King often runs
parallels along with actual twins: Roland's first and second ka-tet
(that we're given names for), Roland himself contrasts Cuthbert's jovial
and bloodthirsty temperament with Alain's more laconic and methodical
demeanor. Again in Kingdom Hospital, we combine Twins with Magical
Disabled Person with the hospital workers with Down's syndrome who speak
together, and in riddles, and by the way can see the hospital ghosts
and know a little more about what's going on in that haunted building
than ordinary people should. Haven gives us a lot of the same talking
over each other, interrupting each other, knowing a little more verging
on just enough to be creepy, in the form of Vince and Dave Teagues.
While not literally twins and perhaps not even biologically related (who
said one of them wasn't adopted?) they share overlapping goals with
grossly divergent ideas about how to achieve said goals. When he does
use actual twins he tends to supercharge the creepy, as seen in the film
of The Shining with the creepy twin girls, and also in The Dark Half
with the author whose parasitic twin uses the author's nom de plume to
create himself a real identity. And King writing so often about authors
going bugshit and destroying their world is a whole other trope, but not
one that's relevant to Haven. I hope.
Body Horror: Hey,
speaking of parasitic twins! Body Horror is a horror trope in general,
and one King makes copious use of. (Mordred, anyone? That still gives
me nightmares.) You could argue that many of the Troubled are examples
of this, living with a power that changes their body either in reality
or in their perception of it. Trapped in a body with a power they never
asked for. But then we also have the girl from Sketchy who was able to
erase people's faces, their actual mouths and eyes and things. We have
the organ-jacker from Farmer and his creeptastic Aliens-esque probiscus.
To an extent we even have the man-animal shifting, because what could
be more horrifying than being a creature who's never even conceived of
the Troubles, has no idea how to explain what's happening to it,
suddenly having its bone, muscle, brain structure reorganized to the
specifications of another species? If you were one of those dogs you'd
probably be fucking terrified. And then there's the chameleon, who
essentially has no body of its own.
Sinister Ordinary: King has long been the horror master of making bright sunny days really fucking scary.
Lost pet advertisements in Hearts in Atlantis. Toothpicks in
Dreamcatcher. Your favorite pet dog in Cujo. I wonder how many girls
read Carrie and secretly worried that their first period was going to
turn out like that. Haven follows right along in his footsteps. Just
running off the top of my head: a butterfly. (Butterfly) Eating a
sandwich. (Consumed) The lighthouse. (Ball and Chain; Spiral) A poker
game. (The Trial of Audrey Parker) A swimming pool. (The Hand You're
Dealt; Over My Head) A convenience store. (Stay) I could go on, but you
get the point: anything familiar and ordinary is just as likely to
harbor horrors related to the Troubles, or related to people's reactions
to same, as it is to be mundane. Worse, sometimes it is mundane,
and then you've got all this adrenaline pumping through your system
because they've trained you. Like Pavlov's dogs. And you're waiting and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Thanks, guys, I didn't need those years off my life.
Randall Fucking Flagg: Gets his own entry due to being King's basement muse. We're still not
sure if there's any reason for Flagg to be in the opening credits of
Haven for any reason other than it's based on a King short story and he is one
of the creepiest bastards out there, but we're putting nothing past the
writers. If nothing else, we can assume that Flagg's influence lurks
somewhere in Haven - maybe the Herald (the subtle play on
angelic-related words would suit him well), maybe the Guard (lots of
people to manipulate), maybe the Rev (see the Guard, see also lots of
fanatics' strings to yank). Or everywhere. Not that we're naturally
suspicious, cynical people. Just when it comes to Stephen King's twenty
foot neon lettered patterns. Really, Flagg's customary arc is to lurk in
the background and work behind the scenes to set everything up just the
way he wants it, and then lose it all in a spectacular fit of childish
temper and impatience. And if he were to turn up in person in Haven,
while it wouldn't surprise us very
much it might surprise us a little, just because we haven't seen him
working behind the scenes to set everything up and giggling as he does
so. That said, there's a number of people who could be his agents.
Ruling nothing out yet.
Coma Patients Are Special: Notably in Last Goodbyes, with the Trouble of the week, though it's possible that future instances are forthcoming. People in comas, people hit by vans and in comas as a result, often mentally ill/unstable people in general but especially coma patients. They are special. They create worlds around them by the power of their belief, they're capable of deciding how the rules of their universe should work. Often but not always subconsciously until someone hammers it into their skull that they're responsible for this. Most notably within King's writing as his characters from Dark Tower coming and smacking him in the face with a dead fish.