Sunday, November 30, 2014

Fatal Attractors Haven S5E12 Chemistry

Previously on Haven! Mara manipulated Duke into letting her off his boat. This has historically been regarded as a Bad Move. Dwight keeps getting manipulated by Charlotte and not wanting to admit it, which is also a Bad Move, though possibly not as bad as Mara. Insufficient data, which is our current and perpetual refrain. And now, Vince's as well! Oh, and Mara managed to seduce Duke.

We'll take it, apparently, from the morning after. Where Duke is already dressed and Mara is naked and using her sexuality as a weapon again. Some more. I'm honestly pretty skeeved out this ep by the extent to which that's portrayed as both the natural inclination of women (I mean, there's good reason for that in our society when you're a woman working to ensure power over men, but still) and portrayed as a horrible thing. But we'll get to that point in awhile. The main point here is, Duke is feeling vulnerable and therefore, dressed and heading out after the aether rather than hanging around for cutesy morning-afters, or the second bout Mara tacitly offers, or anything else. You can just assume that every time we hear about assumptions the boys are making about each other's motives this ep, we're sitting and swearing about TALK TO EACH OTHER. Duke thinks he knows where Dwight and Nathan moved it! Duke, Mara is playing you and using someone else to do it. Duke. No? No. She keeps insisting that she's in this to fix Duke and for the sex, which is kind of fucking ridiculous given her early behaviors. You know, the ones where she murdered and assaulted at least a dozen people in her attempts to get back through the thinny and get William? Those? C'mon, people. The remainder of this scene is what I would consider, and I'm pretty sure some part of Duke considers, transparent attempts to manipulate him into believing that she's on his side and wants to fix him. No really. No really, you do believe her, seriously, what is this, remedial HUMINT? Okay, the distract with snark tactic is slightly better, I'll take it while Duke makes his escape. Thinks he makes his escape.

Over at the police station Nathan and Vince are having their little get together of conspiracy to commit practicality, but Gloria doesn't have the comparison results back from the DNA. Which makes me wonder a bit how long it takes to pull two DNA samples and go "Hmm, these aren't at all similar" or "okay, these are the same." Maybe they just don't have access to the right database. (Maybe the database isn't properly curated.) Okay, so, it's only going to take a few more hours, I can live with that. As we don't actually have a current resource in the Navy we don't know if they do keep DNA records of personnel on file, but our former Navy source suggests it's entirely plausible, so we'll go with that. Certainly it's plausible that a CDC doc would have her DNA on file, for obvious biohazard reasons. What's less plausible is that the samples will match. We'll find that out. Nathan expresses some degree of confidence in our dear Dr. Cross, which Vince rightly wonders what the shit over because they know she's at least lying about some part of who she is. Well, he's trying to have faith at least, because Audrey's sick and Charlotte seems to be the only one who can treat her, or who is at least willing to try. Yes, it probably does have to do with the split from Mara. And no, that nor the fact that Charlotte is treating her doesn't make anyone happy, although Vince is the one who blows up about Charlotte working with aether. Which is now stolen by someone with a Guard tattoo. At least Nathan isn't actively blaming Vince so much as being generally angry. Vince, however, takes it as at least some kind of a hit, and stomps off declaring that he's going to prove Charlotte Cross is a fraud and a liar, etc. Yes, Vince. We know that. Would you like to get Dwight and the CDC on a conference call so you can confirm it to him? No? No.

Over in the laboratory of lies, damned lies, and obfuscation Charlotte is delivering the bad news to Audrey that her cell degeneration is getting worse. She prescribes rest and "let[ting] your cute boyfriend take care of you." Aww. Kind of even more aww in light of later revelations, but only kind of. Audrey hasn't told him yet, though, because he's not good with problems he can't fix. I'm thinking here of that time he shot the barnvatar. So, yes. And that might be an understatement. Speaking of not telling people things, Charlotte will now call Audrey out on not saying if she's Troubled or otherwise special because no one else is experiencing this type of cell degeneration. The way she's pushing is just the slightest bit hinky. In the way that Nathan's a little not good with problems he can't fix. I mean, okay, yes, it's a reasonable question given that cells don't usually just all start deteriorating across types and functions for no apparent reason, but it's also by far the weirdest random medical thing we've recorded in science, and a CDC doc should know that. Just off the top of my head we have people who have cured AIDS within their own bodies for no apparent reason, a woman who inexplicably developed crystals in her bloodstream that killed her and sickened everyone who came into contact with her body both in the short and long term, and the inverse progeria cases where people hit age five and stop. For twenty years or so. I'm really not kidding about that last one. So Audrey randomly developing systemic and near catastrophic cellular failure, apart from the strange issue of why haven't her organs started shutting down yet, is not actually that weird in the full scheme of things. Though, granted, in a town with the Troubles, I'd probably be asking that question too. Still. The other thing is that as far as Audrey knows she now is normal, and she's clinging to that as her new identity. Anyway, at the moment Charlotte is going to treat the symptoms, which is pretty standard procedure both for the Troubles and for medicine, and she leaves the room to get some more B12. Maybe she really was injecting her with B12 last time! After she leaves we are treated to a moment of self-reflection in her reflection, which is less likely to be significant later and more likely to be just symbolic. Anviliciously so. Ow, my toes. Vince will now burst in under the pretense of visiting a sick friend, Vince, it's not a pretense if it's true. And start rummaging through her stuff. Hey, he found the murderbinder! Yeah, we don't trust that either, especially not since she's got a private photo that shouldn't be available to the general public. Where the hell did she steal that. Vince will now do the typical spy thing of taking photos of the information in situ rather than leafing through it and disturbing the order of things, so at least there's that, and then put it back in her bag. Good Vince. He instructs Audrey not to say anything, but to come and see him when she's done with the doctor. Please tell me you all are going to be smart about this. I'm not sure what to hope for, but please. Be smart about this.

After the credits (and we would like to know where the fuck Dunsworth is, and what things are happening behind the scenes with Dave, because augh if they're saving that for the finale) Vince and Audrey are looking over the pictures. It turns out Veronica is the one in the Spanish flu funeral photo! (Veronica is also the one Mara said went both ways, as it were, for what that's worth. That's the sum total of the information we have on her.) Probably identified on the basis of that being a news article. Vince starts muttering about how he knew she was up to something and, yes, Vince, that's all very clever of you but you still don't know what she is up to other than studying Audrey, or why, or to what purpose, or for whom, and all of these are very important questions! Audrey would like to know the answers to them! Vince postulates that it's because she hasn't aged in, well, a hundred years given when the Spanish flu outbreak was. The core group knows it's because she goes into a barn and time travels, but Charlotte doesn't! Or at least they don't know that she does. And the secret to immortality and eternal youth (because those two do not always come together, just ask Tithonus and Eos) would be something a lot of people would pay a lot of money for. That's one theory, anyway. We're sticking with our theory that she's hunting Mara for something. And/or that she's part of the race of William and Mara. We're going to go with that. Someone had to close all those thinnies, after all, and something may well have come through that portal, and we still know too damn little except that there are other worlds than these. Also, the last person who came to town in official capacity who wasn't who she said she was? We're going to keep harping on that until someone listens.

Nathan and Dwight will continue to maybe kind of sort of investigate what's going on with the aether, which is nice but look, people. Kirk is a henchman. Kirk has always been a henchman, so if he's henching for anyone other than your usual suspects you should be looking at… guess who? Is it Mara? WHY YES IT IS. I'd say Charlotte except she's been very specifically targeting people in power and getting into their confidences first; henchmen may happen later or may not happen at all! Who knows! He's nobody's favorite Guard member, he's got an active Trouble, he's unstable, and then Nathan delivers the wholly ironic line of "we can't have an unstable Troubled guy running around with aether." Oh my fucking god do you even listen to yourself when you talk. No? No, probably not. There is not a single stable Troubled person in this fucking town, there's just varying degrees and kinds of instability and traumatized. Though I will grant, Kirk is unstable, has a dangerous-to-others Trouble, and additionally has never been particularly bright when it comes to the big picture. Nathan. Your foil is calling. Or possibly your fail. NATHAN.

Time for some more flirting in Charlotte's lab that would be far, far more adorable if we didn't know she was keeping secrets and Dwight was being a fucking idiot about not wanting to admit that this might be a bad thing. Dwight, seriously, since when has someone walking into Haven with secrets ever been a good thing? Even Audrey? Because her keeping secrets in response to other people not telling her shit has led to some bad shit, but also she never really wanted to be dealing with all these secrets. You just gave away the fucking homeworld and Charlotte's still got all of her cards and you don't think this is maaaybe a little bit of a problem? Sadly, her scientific determination to do the right thing and defend the town is exactly the right way to smack Dwight's buttons. Hard. Sigh. Okay, so Dwight puts her off the should we date/fuck question with, when this is over, which you just know from that puppystruck expression he's going to give in on before the end of the ep. Let's all remember that part where she says she thinks she could keep him away if she wanted to, because that's going to come back to bite someone later, probably Dwight, in places he wouldn't want bitten. In the meantime, a cure? Not without the aether. Seriously. SERIOUSLY. Can someone please start being suspicious about the stranger who wants access to the same thing Mara wants? I'm banging my head into the wall here, because not only is Dwight not getting it apparently even the people who are suspicious are suspicious for the entirely wrong reasons. Particularly because then she leads him down the garden path of, if people were to recover from a disease they'd have antibodies, something like that to build a cure out of, but - yes, let us totally give away the homeworld even more by mentioning the fucking Crocker line. I don't like that music cue as Charlotte turns back to him. Like, at all. Complicated is the least of the things Duke is, which… I guess we're going to leave the talking about him implicit. I dislike this. So much. Also the you can trust me I'm just trying to help line. I don't trust that either. Anytime anyone says those things, especially that believably, you start looking for their angle. At least in this situation you damn well do.

Audrey will now update Nathan, see also the part about how she generally prefers not keeping secrets? Except when she's completely freaked out about what certain people (mostly Nathan, sometimes the angry Troubled mob) will do if they find out about them. So first, giving him something resembling a target that he can go after, not necessarily in the go kill her sense but in the Charlotte is scary and knows more than she lets on sense, and that's a target for his anger about the other thing. The one where Audrey's sick and doesn't think she can get better. Even though Nathan would like to go for the she's manipulating you angle, which is a fair concern, Audrey's pretty sure that's not the problem. Or if it is, it's something more insidious than Charlotte running some tests and treating Audrey like a lab specimen, it's Charlotte actively making her sick by some kind of fucked up Mara's-people wooj. I don't know how that'd happen, but I do know that Audrey's illness can be traced to when Charlotte came into town as a specific trigger! Or to the split, both of those happened nearly simultaneously, but still. It's enough to make you wonder which is the real instigating factor. Nathan is not wondering. Nathan is furious with Duke for fucking everything up and being manipulated by Mara. Oh, well, yes, let's blame Duke for that instead of refusing to be there for him, that's always worked well in the past. I mean, Audrey's so fragile these days that Nathan getting angry enough to be violent scares her. That's smart, Nathan. Real smart. He's going to go take all his cranky out on Kirk now and hope to flush Mara out by acquiring the aether. There is no possible way this could go wrong. None whatsoever. Hang on, I need to facepalm awhile. Audrey's still scared enough to just let him go, and Nathan doesn't seem to even notice that he's breaking her. I'm… yeah, I'm going to go bang my head against the wall, that'll take care of this headache, right?

Oh no wait, it gets worse! Mara is so playing you, Duke. Can't you tell by the tone? That's not real fear. No, it's not. And I don't in a million years believe that Mara would hide under the bed if someone were to invade the supposedly safe hideout. I do believe she would've already found the gun, set up to defend herself, and possibly disarmed anyone around, because fucking seriously. Duke, you're not thinking with either of your heads right now. That's a pretty damn believable mess, though! And bloodstains on the floor, yeah, he's going to get to that. Diary scattered around, blood on the floor, and a convenient button torn off someone's coat or maybe shirt. Aww, it's like Mara's leaving you breadcrumbs, Duke. Duuuuuke. I suppose there's something vaguely poetic about the con man not recognizing when he's being thoroughly played, not wanting to admit it, but it's really kind of depressing and disheartening. Even as it's not an awful job of playing him.

Dwight would like to clear his head against an old buddy, by the look of it. Oh hey, there is more than one waterfront bar in Haven. This is my shocked face. Mainly that they took this fucking long to get around to it, though admittedly they haven't built in a lot of reasons before now. Dwight has come to visit McHugh, complete with macho posturing and buddy snark, and neither of them are smiling (Reso's not totally used to small screen acting, either, though he's doing quite well), at least not for introductory greetings. The talk back and forth has the feel of ritual formality to it: McHugh knows what Dwight's up to and the amount of stress he's under, which means Dwight's not really here for small talk. Dwight still wishes his buddy hadn't left the Guard and everything behind. Probably because he'd like anyone he trusts watching his back. Well, I can't say I blame him; he'd probably be a little more sensible if he had it. Not just someone he trusts, but someone whose training he knows, since they're pretty heavily implying that this is an Army buddy. Rangers, possibly, though McHugh is behaving more like an ex-Army guy than I'd expect out of a Ranger: there isn't much of an anything like an ex-Ranger, any more than there's an ex-Marine. As I believe Charlotte explicitly lampshaded for us awhile ago. At any rate, McHugh got out, Dwight didn't, neither of their stances are changing, down to business. Which starts with teasing about woman trouble, that's the usual reason for someone to bug the bartender. Except yes, actually, and now there will be smiles and teasing and snark. McHugh seems entirely used to serving as Dwight's voice of reason? conscience? both? Probably both, both is good, pointing out that if Dwight got in the way of the great things she could do for Haven, the only concern he's willing to express about Charlotte, that she would tell him. Well, yeah. Any woman that Dwight would fall for would not hesitate to smack him one if he was getting too obsessed with her and not obsessed enough about the work. And he'd take it and like her more for it. Charlotte, I really do not even a little trust who you present as.

Over to Gloria, who is the designated database searcher this ep. She's also the closest thing to an older mentor Duke's got right now, and I do love how there's all this quiet characterization; Duke killed her son to save her grandson, and that's awful and it sucks, but it also gives them a very specific bond. So she will now fuss at Duke, for all the good that's going to do; although maybe, maybe, this will give him some sense of not having been walked away from? Or at least a sense that there's someone who will have his back. Gloria believes he was always a good kid, that he's doing what he thinks he has to even if it burns all his friendships. I wish she got the chance to smack Nathan with the same common sense stick, because it might have done them some good. Alas, Duke will still be responding to Nathan being a judgey blaming mcblamerson for… doing the same sort of shit he does when he gets desperate. Uh-huh. I'm just saying. At any rate, the database pops up with a match to the fingerprint on the button, it is, of course, Kirk as we all knew it would be. Also Sam Ernst (aka one of the creators of Haven) is now Maine's Secretary of State. I'm just going to leave that there while we go cackle in the kitchen. Duke is going to go hunt Kirk down with the only thing Gloria can manage to shout after him a be-careful. Because that's going to do so much.

Picking up with the rest of the bar scene, McHugh wants to know how Charlotte's taking to the Troubles. Oh, I don't know, pretty well considering she knows exactly what they fucking are! Dwight says, well, freaked out, but in the way where she didn't treat him like a non-person or a freak as a result. Which is about the best he can hope for; based on the next question it sounds like the ex left Dwight on realizing that he was Troubled, and what that Trouble was. Ouch. Because that's exactly what you want to deal with, oh hey I got shot and learned I was a supernaturally cursed bullet magnet in a place already full of trauma, it's a miracle I'm alive, and… now the wife/girlfriend is walking. I mean, it happens all the time, and I can't entirely blame her (though McHugh seems to), there's thinking you can deal with the reality of war and thinking you can deal with whatever happens, and then there's the Troubles. Maybe she could've dealt with everything but the Troubles; who knows, but the upshot is that she left. And left Dwight with Lizzie, implicitly because she might also be Troubled, I guess? But the kind of relationship where everything's out in the open is the kind Dwight thinks is what he needs! Oh Dwight. Get your head out of your ass, honey, your secrets may be out in the open but hers aren't even close. McHugh, knowing about none of this, tells him to go get his lady in one of the most adorable bartender moments of you're done, you know what the solution is, I was just here to be your sounding post. At least I really hope McHugh is what he seems to be. There's probably a really long essay about gender roles and who gets to be what they seem to be, and who gets all the duplicitous roles, and the line Duke straddles between the two worlds, come to think of it. It's definitely one of our ongoing issues with the show, though.

Over at Kirk's very messy place, Nathan is contributing to the mess with a ransacking. Okay, not so much messy as cluttered. Tools everywhere, not much sign of day to day life that doesn't have to do with fixing things or shooting things. There's a lot of tools, there's a fly swatter on the table, there's pages from, what, gun manuals? Gun catalogs? On the wall. Basically Kirk is a guy not interested in making his house a home, if you know what I mean, his home is where he drops his shit at the end of the day.There's a television, empty cups and beer bottles, oh, hey, a dock receipt. That's potentially useful. More useful would be more time with the room uninterrupted, which Nathan is not going to get because here's someone at the door. Do we know who it is? Why yes! Yes we do. Inexplicably Nathan is still holding the receipt when he aims his gun at the door, because he was incapable of letting his hand fall open for a second. I don't understand it either. Duke and Nathan take a few seconds longer than they need to to point guns at each other and ask what the hell they're doing there before Duke lowers his first. So, at least they have a modicum or three of sense between them. Enough to avoid shooting each other at least. All right, now can we talk this out like rational adults? No. Not really. Nathan continues to point his gun at Duke, whose first question is how Audrey is, so at least he hasn't entirely fallen for Mara's I-can-help-you-Audrey's-the-manipulative-bitch-here line.  Unfortunately that's not going to ease Nathan's mood any, so he continues to be bitchy and point a gun at Duke. Who is not all that happy to hear that Audrey's seeing the CDC doctor. No, seriously, are there no other doctors in Haven? There's Gloria, there was Pete, and that's it? And there was Lucassi before he ran off. But, no, seriously, there are no other qualified doctors to look at Audrey and confirm Charlotte's test results? You guys all suck. I get conservation of characters but, Gloria? Never mind. Back to the boys and Duke being surprisingly forthcoming with Mara's kidnapping, which finally gets Nathan to lower his gun. And be snarky without thinking of the consequences of what happens if Mara is out of their hands and out of their control. Yes, Nathan, I would be worried about Mara too, if not in that sense. And I don't think it'd be unreasonable for Duke to be worried, too. Bitchy and secretive, yes, is a tad unreasonable or at least impractical, and yet Duke is going to go there and not tell Nathan what's going on, what he's afraid of, what he wants Mara for, and other things that might bring out a few more modicums of sense and understanding from Nathan. Who will meet him with matching aggression! Boys, I'm going to bash your heads together till you stop annoying me. The summation of the next few lines of dialogue is that Duke isn't going to give Nathan any specifics and make him take his good intentions on faith, after not telling him anything before he took some pretty drastic actions, and Nathan is going to continue to needle Duke on everything he possibly can. Because that's productive! After a bit we do get the exchange of information that Kirk has Mara and now Kirk has the aether, and instead of leading anywhere like teamwork it leads to a fight. Yay. The fight does lead to discovering tools with blood and hair on them, ew, but that only subsequently leads to Duke clocking Nathan in the head in order to make good his escape. I'd yell more about this scene except both men are, in fact, emotionally compromised, they're not thinking clearly, Nathan's got a passel of problems including a potentially dying Audrey, and Duke's got the potential burden of destroying all of Haven to contend with, and that tends to distract. And still and nonetheless, are they talking to each other to try and help solve these problems? No, no they are not. Duke does take Nathan's pulse after he's knocked him out to make sure he's still breathing. And being careful to avoid his blood. And, hey, here's the Doylist reason Nathan wasn't able to put that receipt down, Duke has to find it and pick it up! Okay, I will accept that. Off he goes to the docks, then.

Over at the medical center Charlotte is coming down a hall and we're looking over her shoulder in what is, for about ten to twelve seconds, a very powerful and in charge camera angle. Which doesn't so much change as contrast with the dynamic switch when she enters the lab and Vince and Audrey are there waiting for her! Even more of a contrast because right now Audrey's dressed more like an archaeology student than her usual put-together, powerful professional self. In fact, usually Audrey dresses more like Charlotte. Today she's dressing more like Vince. No, I don't buy that as a coincidence, I would call it a subtle declaration of where her loyalties lie. That's a more complicated issue later. Charlotte is not yet alarmed, but she does want Audrey to be at home resting. Audrey wants answers as to why Charlotte has a murderbinder of her backgrounds in her possession! Good! So do we. Charlotte has no interest in explaining herself and will in fact turn the blame right back around on Audrey, with alacrity and presence of mind that I find suspicious and alarming, I don't know about anyone else here. Especially since keeping information from your doctor is neither noteworthy nor illegal nor immoral nor, depending on your doctor, all that surprising. I tell my doctor everything I think is relevant because I have a damn good doctor who treats the whole human package. If I had a doctor like Charlotte who claimed to be from an agency she wasn't and had information on me I'd never given her, possibly from before she arrived in my hometown, I wouldn't tell her everything either. Or anything. I will grant Charlotte the them going through her stuff moral high ground, but that's about the moral high ground of half an apple crate. That does not make you tall enough to ride this ride. Vince isn't even granting her that much, he accuses her of treating Audrey as a test subject and not a human being. Well, a person. I think human being is at this point an awfully specific label we shouldn't be so careless about tossing around. Charlotte pleads mysterious illness and doctor's duty to save lives and I'm still not buying it, lady. Mostly because you're imbuing this with all of the passion not even of a research scientist with a breakthrough but a doctor whose patient is being stubborn and recalcitrant. I'm choosing those words deliberately, take note. There's not much passion here, is my point, and typically doctors get very heated up on television about saving lives. Anyway. Her story stinks. So does the story about digitized Herald records, although as a story it works because what does Audrey know from Herald records, and Vince evidently doesn't either. Hey, though, I have a question. Does that explain how the private photo of Dave and Sarah got into that murderfile? Because I'm pretty sure Jennifer wouldn't have digitized a private photo. It's hard to figure she would have mistaken that for being part of an article. No one here is going to pull on that thread, though, Vince is just going to hem and haw and concede way more ground than he should, long enough for Dwight to come up behind Charlotte! Because that's all anyone needs is the twitterpated and abruptly excessively-trusting leader of not one but two enforcer organizations in this town. This is also, by the way, the point at which we looked at Charlotte's body language and treatment of Dwight and started screaming about how not only is that patronizing as all hell, it's tactical. As opposed to earlier when it was all muttering. The fact that she's able to pull it off should raise serious alarm bells in both Vince and Audrey, but once again, nothing. Well, Audrey does comment on it, but it's hard to say what she means by unbelievable, Charlotte's adroit escape or Charlotte's ability to lead Dwight around by the, oh, we'll go with collar. That's nice and polite. Or heartstrings, because lewd jokes aside, that's mostly what it is.

I'm not nearly drunk enough for this, but in the interests of coherent recapping I will remain sober while the most blatant con in this entire series plays out. Also because drunk analysis, while potentially funnier analysis, tends to be less useful. So. We're going to start out with Dwight was already annoyed with Vince in the first place, which I would not put past Charlotte for seeing and taking advantage of. Moving on to her getting Dwight out of the room so she can play him without anyone seeing, and also, I would not be surprised if there was some protectiveness over Audrey in that, since she does seem to be more deeply and personally concerned about Audrey's degeneration than anyone else. But we'll get to that at the end. (On the other hand, chances are good you've already seen this if you're reading the recap, so you know exactly what I'm talking about.) The fact that she's the one to push him out of the previous room and the one to close the door on them in the second room indicates that she's the one really in control here, which is worrisome for someone who's always been a pretty strong, reasonable authority figure. But then, as he rambles, she's also been leaning on the we-can-save-everyone button he's got pretty hard. It's a very big, very out of reach carrot he's been half-heartedly grasping at for a long time, from his time in the Guard to his motivation for taking the position of Chief of Police, I wouldn't be surprised if it was what sent him into the military in the first place, and it's a very large, easily found and pressed button. And now she's going to lean on it harder by forgiving the people attacking her, because they're scared, and it's easy to understand. It's even plausible, there are plenty of people who would do that. But then they wouldn't lie about where they're from or who they're with either. Oh, and moving on from that, and let's all note that she doesn't lose eye contact from the moment she pulls him in with it, she's going to tantalize him with both intimate physical contact, something she's been relatively sparing with so far, and then the withholding of it. It's not subtle. None of it is subtle, especially since Dwight's been only marginally subtle about his interest, and lo, her anvilicious seduction tactics work. Did I mention the shouting? There was shouting these entire two scenes about how blatantly she's playing him. I mean, I get why it works, but I'm going to shout at Dwight anyway.

Over in front of the Herald, Audrey is trying to reach Nathan, who will obviously not pick up on account of having been knocked unconscious. We'll have another instance of looking in the mirror for great symbolism and angst, can we go for three? I hope not because there's not going to be much of the bottle left. And Vince interrupts the moment for a bit of inane gloating and the revelation that Charlotte Cross's DNA does not in fact match what is on file at the Pentagon. Turns out Gloria has an old flame in a position of information, also known here as power, so, yay for Gloria? Bad for Charlotte Cross or whoever she is, oh, hey, who else do we know who showed up with credentials and a fully formed cover identity who turned out you know, do I even really need to complete this sentence? You know what I mean. Is this occurring to Vince and Audrey? No, no it is not. Not immediately anyway, the first thing they're going to think of is the mundane solutions, which, you guys. This is Haven. The one place on this planet (as far as we know) where if you hear hoofbeats, you should think zebras. Or unicorns. Or even hippocampi, possibly hippocampi named Glendower. It is not the CIA, it is not Mossad, it is not FSB (what the KGB turned into, although there's no reason Vince should necessarily have been keeping up so he gets a pass), it is not Blackwater. It might be the people who made the Barnvatar, given past history. It might be Mara's people. It might be an entirely other group of people from beyond the thinny. There are many other worlds than these. I'm going to beat you all with the collected Dark Tower until you realize this. No, the other thing that I'm going to pick on over why they're not thinking of this is, you don't need that much power and money to pull off a CDC scam that requires no backup, no tanks, and no material support of any kind. You do need medical knowledge or the ability to fake it convincingly, but apart from the rental car with the sticker on it all of Charlotte's resources have been given to her by the town and Vince you've tried this bullshit before yourself why aren't you seeing it? Argh. For someone we thought used to be black ops himself, his ability to run counterintelligence has certainly taken a nosedive. Audrey manages to come up with something resembling a plan, which is to bring hard evidence of an alternate identity to Dwight by way of proof that Charlotte is a lying liar who lies. That might even work! I will admit to getting a chuckle out of the hardest agency to fool being the DMV line. I've been through the photo ID DMV wringer when I moved states. They are a pain in the fucking ass.

We're going to have post-coital snuggles now. Guys, I am so not drunk enough for this whyyyy. Charlotte continues to build her cred as exactly the kind of woman Dwight would be attracted to (though in this as in other cases I'm pretty sure she's lying with the truth on some level; the question is of course which one) by snarking at him about how amazing sex should be, if he's involved. While I can't say either of us disagrees with the principle, using it to bind him tighter to her is giving me the screaming willies. As it were. Ditto Charlotte wanting to watch him get dressed. Actually all of this is stuff that, were the genders reversed, would have people screaming in the streets, and I'm none too fond of the implications that this is the only way women in this show get to have power. On the other hand, I don't think we're supposed to be okay with the couples in this show being what they are, I think we are supposed to recognize how incredibly fucked up everyone is. I severely dislike that they've managed to make everyone completely lose their goddamn heads and stop trusting each other this fast, but I'm also at this point wondering just how many seasons of plot they're packing into 26 episodes, not to mention the truly bizarre double-ep pacing on most of the early part of the season. I also wonder how much Charlotte's proximity makes Dwight's Trouble go away: does touch keep him from being a bullet magnet? Because in that case I think slightly less ill of her for getting him to strip off the vest. I'm also side-eying makeup because he really should have several bullet wound scars at this point, including the Afghanistan ones, but oh well, can't have everything, I guess.

Well, that is a very angry Kirk at the docks. And an even angrier Duke! This ought to be good for exactly nothing useful. Especially when Duke's planning on interrogating Kirk as to what he's done with Mara by shoving him facefirst into a stack of crates and a net. Which then breaks his nose, which causes blood, which causes silver eyes, and in another minute and without any useful information Kirk's Trouble is activated, and then Kirk is dead. Good job there, Duke! I mean, not that we'll miss Kirk very much or at all, but good job getting anything even in the way of misinformation, let alone a solid lead. Swell. Good job thinking with your big brain and not your aggression glands. After that and some commercials, yeah, Audrey, Duke totally killed Kirk. You don't see the evidence as much because you're not there and you weren't there for the gun pointing and the clocking with the wrench, but Duke totally killed Kirk. For once, I agree with the conclusions Nathan's leaping to. And the conclusions everyone's leaping to, really, Mara did get in Duke's head. Mara probably could at least alleviate some of Duke's Trouble, but as Audrey implies, if she wants to. She's said she wants to, but do we believe her? I expect to be deafened by a resounding chorus of "No"s. Audrey, though, this is a good moment for Audrey, reminding Nathan that no matter what Duke's done lately, he's still Duke and still their friend, and he is under a lot of stress, pressure, and pain right now. So at least someone's not leaping to the conclusion of and now we must fight. It's the first time in a long time she's been able to pull out the compassion and desire to help others that we've come to associate with her, so that's… maybe a good sign? Hopefully a good sign? In the meantime, Nathan wants to know if they have more information about the questionable doctor, in the interests of getting Audrey and her cough to someone who can help. (Hey. Guys. Gloria? Guys? Goddammit you guys.) Well… soon!

Soon turns out to be right now turns out to be Vince doing a terrible impression of a heart attack. Except it turns out it's a double-layered trick, because her car keys are right there on the table. Okay, seriously, who does that with their keys at work? I always keep mine clipped to a belt loop or in a jacket pocket in winter, or in my purse. The only place my keys might end up not in one of those places is at home, which I suppose is possibly what they're trying to indicate about Charlotte's attitude toward Haven except it just comes off as sloppy. Maybe she wanted them to find it! Maybe Vince has suddenly stopped completely sucking at covert ops? No, granted, not likely. I'm still worried about Dave, because this is a Vince who hasn't so much as mentioned his brother in a couple eps, which might be a writing issue but in general doesn't make me at all sanguine about whatever we discover in the mid-season finale. The point, though, is to annoy Charlotte into walking away from him and acting like she's got control of the situation by turning her back, which is a stupid arrogant move reminiscent of Mara, honestly. It's a hilarious case of using I-know-you-know against the person who knows shit, though, and for once this season I'm genuinely rooting for Vince. Even if I'd still like to strangle him for answers about half a dozen things.

Duke is still searching for answers, this time with Kirk's friends. Who are not all that happy to see him. It's hard to say whether or not Benny's telling the truth about not knowing where Kirk might have taken Mara, not that Duke mentions her by name. It's hard to say whether or not that's a good move, given many Guard members' knee-jerk reactions to her. At any rate, Duke's still getting stonewalled. This time he's getting stonewalled with guns! Duke does not react well to guns, and in this case not reacting well means stepping into him instead of backing off. Which in turn means his eyes go silver, wait, what? Did someone bleed on him when we weren't looking? This is new. It's startling even Duke, who hadn't realized his eyes were going silver until the guy said something. And then once Benny is in the trailer again and Duke's at least calmed down, if that's the right phrase, his eyes go back to normal. So, what the hell was that? We're going to find out in a second, because Benny's so worked up about being held by the lapels by a Crocker, an activated, for all appearances psychotic and angry Crocker, that his Trouble's going to activate! Except a) he didn't have a Trouble (which means he's not in the Guard, so how the hell was he friends with Kirk? Or did Kirk just have grumpy criminal friends as well as Guard friends) and b) it's Kirk's Trouble originally. Both of the friends in the trailer start gasping for air. Just in case we didn't figure out what happened, Benny will narrate for us. Yeah, Duke, now would be a good time for you to open the door so Benny can calm down, open the door, and those two guys can get some much needed oxygen. Sadly, it doesn't look like that's going to happen, as no one's thinking clearly. I'll allow that we don't get Duke openly wondering what the fuck Mara did to him this time, as by the time we close on this scene he's still coping with the realization that he just gave someone else a Trouble he'd absorbed. That'll take a bit to work through.

So let's find out what's in the supposed doctor's car! I still can't believe nobody said hey waitaminute, doesn't the CDC not want to incite panic? Why would they come up with a car with a bigass logo on the side? Sigh. And that said, Audrey's pulling on her memories, and she's claiming them as hers now, I guess? I mean, that's all the formative memories she's got, she might as well, even if there's another woman walking around out there who might be regaining some of them by now. (Or not. How is the Audrey Parker who served as the personality/memory transplant basis? At this rate of callbacks to early seasons we might even find out. Nah, probably not.) Regardless, the FBI undercover work she did/remembers doing, the vehicular paperwork was the worst to get right. Well then! We have a day planner, no stop flipping those are useful! In the wallet o' assorted vehicle info, we have… a CDC business card to someone named Keith Flynn, if that turns out to be another Agent Howard I vote we shoot Charlotte on principle and then the second barnvatar. Just to be sure. Insurance card for New York, a couple underground parking passes, an old parking ticket for NYC, a letter of vehicle assignment in case she gets into an accident, I think that's pretty common for workplaces that have a motor pool. It does say it's assigned to her but guys, that letter is fucking easy to fake. What you want to do is go call any of the phone numbers that aren't to Charlotte's cell and see what that trips. Or look in the trunk and see if there's a body. Because none of that paperwork includes photo ID so far. Radio station's on smooth jazz, easy listening as Vince calls it. It's the exact kind of bland and sterile car you would get out of a motor pool, or out of a rental company. Now, yes, the GPS system, that's harder to fake. GPS says NYC to Albany, yeah, that's what I'd do if I were driving to Maine too, avoid the goddamn eastern seaboard and the gridlock that results. Vermont, outlet store. I mean, guys, that doesn't mean anything, it's easy to get a car in NYC and drive it the right places. We know there's a thinny down in Manteo; for that matter in the Dark Tower novels the center of the universe (roughly speaking) is contained in a vacant lot in New York. CALL. THE FUCKING. NUMBERS. No, Vince, she's not exceptionally good, she's not even exceptionally mediocre, you're just all very bad at being conned. Good at being conned? Considering how easy it was. Oh, okay, here's more evidence from the glovebox, I would like to know, considering the revelations at the end of this ep, WHY IS THIS NOT ON CHARLOTTE AT ALL TIMES. WHAT THE HELL. Like Audrey apparently carries hers on her at all times. Is it the fucking rings and proximity making her sick? What the everloving fuck. Not just on her but inside her Haven PD shield, oh Audrey. The upshot, though, is that Charlotte has a ring identical to the one Sarah had and left with the Teagues brothers back when. And where did she get it from? Who the fuck knows! Although if it's a power source of any kind and it's been hanging out in this world for a couple cycles, that might explain a lot about the current situation. And Nathan's wearing his, which came from Garland, I am so, so completely side-eying everyone right now. I also think the part where the one Garland has is identical to the other two is a retcon, but I'm not positive. Similar, definitely. Then again, frankly, these two don't look totally identical, just cast from the same mold, similar or same stones. Three stones per ring. Three shall be the number of your fate, except when it's four. That should be enough to get them thinking down the more supernatural lines, and though they've used up all their screentime dialogue with flailing at the mundane explanations (which still makes no fucking sense to me and frankly is one of the least believable pieces of Idiot Ball this season) it looks like they're finally getting a move on the supernatural ones. Audrey, for one, is out of patience and afraid she's running out of time, and this is the most benevolently paternal we've ever seen Vince. Which is another interesting character note they could be doing more with and aren't! Now that it's just Audrey but also Mara, and both the brothers have loved her through three incarnations in various ways, how are they handling (or not) all of these revelations? Is that some portion of what Dave's up to, coming to terms with that, seeking information about her other selves, what? Argh, I say. Cough hack doom, says Audrey.

And we're back at the Gull, where Duke is staring out into the water like it might give him answers, which is as good a theory as any, and Nathan is coming up on him with his hands up. So, okay, not as combative as it could be, I will give them points for that. Neither of them is all that relaxed in the posture, arms closed over and in front of themselves, but the extent to which they're mirroring each other is actually pretty hilarious. They banter for exactly two lines before Nathan tells him he found Kirk's body, at which point Duke pretty much just flat out confesses. To killing Kirk, to absorbing his blood and his Trouble and to Troubling Benny, which, given how much he hasn't been telling Nathan lately and how badly Nathan's been taking that, is a surprising show of trust. Nathan, in turn, surprises us by focusing more on the salient facts as relates to Duke not killing people with leaky Troubles and with the Mara problem than on what Duke may or may not done, or how evil he may or may not be. They're talking again! My boys are talking I'm so proud. Now if they can just keep this up for the rest of next season/the next part of this season I won't have to throttle anyone. Oops, here comes someone to ruin the moment. Delivery guy. Yeah, this is definitely going to ruin the moment. Let us all take note of Nathan's hand on his gun, which given that this is his town and these are his people is a sign of how unsettled and nervous and upset he's gotten. Please don't kill the messenger, guys. Anyway, we know what's in that envelope without even looking, right? Mara was kidnapped, or "kidnapped," Duke gets a mysterious package he didn't expect, therefore it's a body part. In this case a toe. Also in this case, pointedly in the vial that the aether was in. Except, I really don't get the point of this, unless the point was that Duke should have gotten the package before and then gone off to kill Kirk and absorb his Trouble and pass it on like a twisted game of Whisper Down The Lane. Maybe that was the original point? Who knows. The chronology on this episode, this entire plotline in fact because when did Mara get the aether to fuck with Duke, presumably from Kirk but when? The chronology is kind of screwy and unclear at best. Totally fucked at worst. At any rate, the toe. With the orange nail polish! That toe is very clearly Not A Deer. Nathan wonders who the fuck sent it if Kirk's dead (leaving out, of course, the possibility that Kirk sent it and then died, but still) and Duke thinks back to when he threatened to cut off one of Mara's toes. Yeah, that has appreciable symmetry in a not at all logical way. No, I still don't know what's going on here, but Duke's phone is ringing. Nathan is seeing sense for once! And continuing to attempt to get Duke to talk to him, to accept his help. I'm actually really pleased with the way Nathan's been doing so far, if he rants and raves angrily it's to Audrey, and then when he's calm he goes to deal with Duke. Who isn't entirely listening, yes, Duke, Nathan has arrived at the conclusion that they both need Mara, as explained by Nathan a few seconds later about how they'll get Mara to fix them both. How, exactly? Never mind that, he has to maintain his optimism. Okay, then. Duke will answer the phone and in theory, at least, meet Nathan at the hospital. Nathan will meet Audrey at the hospital, and everything will be fine. And by fine I mean fucked.

Oh look, it's Mara on the phone! Gloating from a place of safety, no doubt. It turns out she had the courier check in so she knew when to call, so... maybe the toe wasn't meant to get Kirk dead? Still off on the chronology of it, but give it a few minutes and we'll see what she's up to with Duke. A lot of the way she talks to him does sound like she manipulated him the same way she intended to or did manipulate William, but in this case (as, oddly, with Charlotte and Dwight) it's much more blatant and much more pushy. (A: Although I kept waiting for her to break into Rent on "another time, another place," because I am a horrible, horrible person.) (K: I believe that's pronounced "the best person.") (A: Po-tay-to po-tah-to.) And, in this case (as is not the case with Charlotte and Dwight) we actually see why, and why she had to be more pushy: when Duke's eyes go black and he starts leaking what appears to be aether out of them. Which takes the push of Audrey; his mother might be a recently reopened wound but it's still an older, more healed one. I really have no idea how Mara did that. I mean, I kind of know why, but we don't know enough about the mechanics or origins of aether to know how. Not to mention what. Is he even still human? The aether leaks out of his eyes and goes flying off, as we know it can, although not too far. He catches it in his hand and it stains his palm black, which, what. Does this mean Duke can Trouble people now the way Mara and William could? How the hell. What the hell. What the fuck is going on. Is Duke an aether-creating machine? Because that would in fact be kind of awesome, so long as it's something he can somehow control. Which I rather doubt. If he's something like Mara and William, what does that say about anyone's base humanity in this show, and how far from it is Duke these days?

Speaking of base levels of humanity and personhood, because whatever these other supernaturally powerful beings are they are at least people, for lack of a better word that doesn't involve a 5000 word screed on sentience and compassion, let's have Dwight check on Charlotte. I would hope that she doesn't view him as much as a lower being to be inspected and disposed of when no longer useful as Mara does, oh, everyone around her. And she does appear to have a substantial amount of concern for Audrey in particular. But her chosen cover identity of a doctor provides a lot of leeway on viewing everything from a certain distance. Right at this second, she's covering irritation and probably suspicion, if she's as smart as she's been acting, with the absentminded professor act over the lost keys. Which turns into Dwight's little speech about I wanna have more sex and also I like you a lot, delivered with almost that exact level of schoolboy in love puppydog expression. Bonus points for more blatant manipulation of the "oh you don't want me anymore?" sadface variety, and cue kissing after Dwight's stumbling around the let's date! and fuck! and work together! and make shiny part-human part-whatever babies! Okay he doesn't know that part yet. But still. Kissing with the door open, purposeful footsteps down the hall, Charlotte you wanted to get caught, didn't you, staking your claim to him. That's… something. Definitely something. Gross is the first word I'm going for. Mara-esque might be a good specific term, too.

Nathan and Audrey give no fucks for being an interruption. They would like answers now. Any answers would be good. Specific answers would be better. Namely, about that ring! The evidence for Charlotte not being who she says she is gets laid out somewhat haphazardly but everyone's on edge and thoroughly emotionally rattled, so I'll forgive that. I will start cheering when Dwight points out the irony of Audrey calling anyone's identity into question, except I severely distrust Charlotte being the one to encourage him. She is so obviously manipulating the release of information to make herself look like the calm rational one and everyone else the asshole. You GUYS. Not that they haven't all done this, and not that they're not all kind of fuckwitted about being able to pull back and recognize on the observer-on-the-shoulder level what's going on, it's a pretty specific skillset that out of everyone Duke and Dwight have historically been best at and Dwight's buttons have been getting hammered on all season and Duke's not here. I'm still going to be annoyed by it. Dwight, I hope your tongue is firmly planted in your cheek about protecting one person at the expense of the whole town on account of you just might end up doing that if you stay in the tangle you appear to be currently occupying. But it does finally break the dam of here let us share with the outsider all of our secrets! Including the Mara-Audrey split! Which gets Charlotte frowning in deep concern and she so, so totally knows who Mara is. Totally. Goddammit woman I'm going to shake YOU until your teeth fall out, or your secrets, whichever happens first. She is also thoroughly fixated on that ring, which doesn't make me want to give it to her any more than it makes Audrey want to do the same, though it is her ring. As far as we know. Charlotte draws a direct comparison between Mara and Audrey in the clever comment, but it's the only comparison we're hearing. At this time. I'm waiting for next ep. And then Charlotte does something very interesting and very clever: she focuses on Nathan, and her focus isn't that of the seductress so much as the quietly attempting to be benevolent good woman. Nathan should bring her the ring, for reasons that will become explicable soon! Ah-ha, say we, this is because you ARE one of the Mara-William-whoever crowd, and that explains the gloves! It does not explain the focus on the ring. I am trying very hard not to quote Tolkien; let's not forget that in Tolkien-proper the elves are fucking assholes to everyone, and in fact are responsible directly or indirectly for a very great deal of the suffering in Middle Earth. Nathan will now put himself between Charlotte and Audrey in as blatant a display of fuck you I'm hers as I think we've seen blocked out yet. We get the reaction before the verbal confirmation that yes, Nathan can feel her touch; in the meantime we get a lecture about the rings being part of a set. HMM. And everyone in their family has one. DOUBLE HMM. It is now time for Charlotte to drop the ultimate bomb of I'm your mother on all of them, Dwight to have the funniest expression in whole episodes, and us to start swearing. A lot. I don't know if that qualifies for she's Mara's mother, Audrey's mother, considers herself both women's mother because she decided what personality-type to imprint over her own daughter when said daughter ran off to run evil horrible experiments on people with her lover… who the fuck knows. I definitely get the impression she considers Mara her shame and Audrey her salvation, or something along those lines, which is severely fucked up but I guess at least that's a normal expectation for Audrey.

Midseason finale will evidently involve the Mara-Audrey showdown, which explains where all their FX budget's gone (no, seriously, have you noticed the lack of FX-heavy Troubles lately? Double-filming eps is a paaaaain, ask the Orphan Black crew). According to Charlotte Audrey must be returned to Mara, though whether that's in the literal in-body sense or the literal in-person, you two must not be apart from each other, who the hell knows. Also Duke continues to have black handprints and be an aether factory. Duke, if Mara turned you into her pet Walter o'Dim I am so very sorry. Sadly that's kind of what it seems like is the case.

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