Saturday, December 19, 2015

Be Unbroken Haven S5E25 Now

Previously, on Haven. CroaShat was a manipulative asshole of a would-be father, Vince decided to go be a barnvatar because that seemed more useful than grieving Dave and probably killing himself, Laverne became the police station in the noirest episode ever to noir, Duke got pwned in the black-eyed horror of Croatoan, Dwight got his daughter back and is not sure how this is a trap. CroaShatDaddy continues to be abusive but reveals that he can use the Troubles however he damn wants, including to save baby Mara's life, and Duke is blaming Nathan (and Audrey) for his becoming a killer. I… cannot say he's entirely wrong there.

We return to Audrey having gone back to the station, presumably having walked? It's night, she's making her bed on the camp cot in the chief's office, and Nathan is being adorable with his snacks. Aww, she still loves Baby Ruths! Alas, that is granola but he is happy to see her! Ahem. Laverne's apparently decided to dispense only the healthy stuff, or as healthy as you can get out of a vending machine. Oh Laverne. Per Nathan's nudging, Audrey updates him on how much of a world of shit they're in, which is to say: lots! Several worlds' worth. (Say that five times fast.) He's not making threats, he's just promising to make people his idea of happy, which is clearly warped, she's not wrong that that's in a lot of ways more scary than an outright threat. An outright threat has recognizable boundaries on it, not necessarily limitations but it presents a defined scope. A complete stranger coming in and imposing his ideas of happiness on everyone else? That's a lot of unknowns to deal with. And of course he desperately wants his daughter back. I find it interesting that Nathan makes the point (and Audrey doesn't argue) that she's not Croatoan's daughter, whereas they were pretty quick to allow as how she was Charlotte's daughter. Partly that's a pacing issue, but partly I think that's also an indication of how thoroughly they're rejecting Croatoan and all his works. As it were. In the meantime, we revisit for the umpteenth iteration that they need to fix the aether core and that no they don't have any brilliant solutions, nor has Vince come up with anything now that he has access to the databases in the controller crystal. Blah blah Duke, blah blah holing up and Dwight's keeping Vince away from Duke, etc etc etc exposition. Though I do find Nathan's unshakeable faith that they're going to get Duke back awfully adorable and heartrending in light of what happens. But adorable.

Currently, getting Duke back is the last thing that's happening, as some poor kid we can't make out clearly runs down the boardwalk in the pouring rain. I'm not drawing explicit parallels here to the first murder we ever saw in Haven and the first time Duke and Audrey met, with him fishing her out of the water in the wet in the middle of the night on the dock but yeah, I'm totally drawing a parallel. It's a dark parallel, but it's there and I'm reasonably sure it's on purpose. Evidently Duke, or Croatoan, or some part of the Crocker Trouble, involves becoming the kind of excellent hunter who lies in wait for their prey rather than chasing it to exhaustion. I don't remember Duke being quite this good at it - capable of it, but not prone to using it. Kid looks familiar, but it takes some time to place him, which makes it a good thing that Duke provides the expo-speak for a bit. Of course then it turns into villain monologuing, which Eric Balfour clearly had fun with but did they have to hammer on it so much? Apparently yes. Victor Kirby is Vanessa Stanley's nephew, has her Trouble of touch a person, see their death, and Duke's here to collect for Croatoan. Victor would like to know what the fuck this is a terrible Trouble, which makes for more monologuing: apparently CroaShatDaddy wants this so he can show Audrey how glorious the future could be. Oh for fuck's sake, you're a really BAD villain, dude. Unlike Vanessa, apparently Victor can't see how he dies, despite having tried, which is probably for the best, given that that was part of what drove his aunt to her death. And he gets to see Duke's death which still involves a pale tattooed arm, never mind that Duke would like to believe that becoming Croatoan's pet Crocker will prevent the vision from coming to pass. I… sure, Duke, you keep on believing that while the credits roll.

Dwight's on the phone with someone, in a rather LARGE white house. To the extent that I'm comfortable calling it a mansion, and the grounds are practically an estate. We speculated some that this was Vince's house in this scene when we first see it but I'm going to spoil you a few minutes ahead right now because, no, apparently it's the Haven Overlook Club. And a hearty fuck you all, too. For those of you who don't know why we're swearing, the Overlook Hotel is the hotel from The Shining. Fuck you all. Argh. Okay, we'll stop, upshot, big big white house type thing, with tall ceilings and rooms with views and a staircase and a pond dock. It probably was a house before the club got ahold of it. Giant back deck and patio doors, nothing new and exciting in Vince's programming about fixing the aether core, he insists he feels okay because of course he does. Nathan will also call bullshit on this. And well, Nathan, you see the reason Dwight's not telling you where the controller crystal is is because then he'd be exposing Lizzie's location. Whether or not she's really his daughter, he's not able to stop the emotional reaction that she must be and therefore she is there for protecting. Hell, even if she's not she's still a whatever taking the form of a small child, and for damn sure THAT would hit Dwight's protective instincts hard. I would still not be surprised if this clubhouse were Teagues property, to wit: all the dustcovers on the furniture, the fact that a good chunk of the style matches the creepy farmhouse of creepy that was Dave's hideyhole originally, and the overall aura of understated elegance speaks to old money. Which we know the Teagues have. Along with half of Haven. (Speaking of which, with Dave dead and Vince is a crystal, who the hell did they put in their wills? Dwight? Nathan? Very maybe Duke or Audrey? Very very maybe that last one given that they already know she's vanished and come back two three times already and that's not the kind of person you want being a legal heir to anything. Though in Haven, who the hell knows, it might even work.) Lizzie's playing in the living room while Vince calls Dwight on not telling Nathan about the sudden reappearance of his daughter. Actually no, I don't think Dwight is afraid they'll take her. I think he's afraid that if he lets her around Nathan and Audrey and everyone, either it'll become more real once other people who are also real and not crystals interact with her and therefore it'll hurt more when he loses her again or she'll turn into a ravening hellbeast there to get under people's guard, pun intended, and do damage that Croatoan couldn't. Or both. Both is good. Vince suggests an aether creature, which isn't entirely implausible except I don't see Croatoan giving up that much aether. Product of a Trouble, though, oh hell yes. Lord knows there's enough resurrection or apparition Troubles running around. Three that we know of just off the tops of our heads (Hopkins which we know Duke has although without refinement Lizzie wouldn't be able to interact with her environment, Moira and Noelle's, as well as Ona's, are actual resurrection Troubles). And Dwight is going with no that's not my daughter she's dead, in the fond faint hopes of not over-attaching to this little girl and then having her ripped away again. Oh honey.

Speaking of oh-honey, hi possessed Duke out on the sidewalk being all black-eyed and unnerving. Dwight, you KNOW kids can tell this shit, stop lying to your maybe-daughter. His response to this is of course to send the vulnerable away and stand between them and the scary person, which Vince agrees to after a reluctant bit of arguing in which at least Dwight is realistic about his ability to hold off Duke Crocker in all his Crockery. I'm going to be over here giggling at the fact that this seems to indicate Vince can pick his glowy crystal ass up and move it himself. I mean, not that surprising given that we had no idea Howard was a glowy rock for a few seasons, but HILARIOUS on a level that is probably greater for how little I slept Thursday night okay. Lizzie is not okay with going with Uncle Vince. Uncle Vince? Hide and seek is for now enough to keep her from asking more questions, but seriously Dwight: kids know this shit and you're kind of a crap liar to her. Though I'm tempted to argue they're smarter and more emotionally attuned to their parents than even the writers think. Anyway. Vince takes Lizzie off and Dwight starts counting down, which is not at all symbolic of anything why would you think that.

Gloria's got yet another body in the ice cream truck of disturbing, confirms that Victor got stabbed by someone who probably was Duke, and she would like to file a complaint over Vicki giving the baby apple juice. Personally I'm with Gloria on this one, Vicki who the fuck taught you how to take care of a baby and is there seriously no formula left in town? I know they're cut off, but for fuck's sake, NO APPLE JUICE. No wet nurse either? Which I would also more than half expect as a plausible solution. No dairy animals? She said, flapping a hand at the ice cream truck. Or did he never replace the cows that died in season one. Anyway, yeah, that's not going to work, but Vicki! And her Trouble! That might do something. For the aether core, not for the baby, although my lack of sleep conjures up mental images of Vicki conjuring up infinite bottles of formula. Hee. We are then distracted from possible solutions to all problems by the appearance of one CroaDaddy on the shore. Gee, I wonder if this is a deliberate attempt at divide-and-conquer, it's SO DIFFICULT TO TELL. Also he has some kind of teleportation Trouble, which who knows where he came by THAT. There's a couple of options, the Aarons shadow-killer Trouble from Ain't No Sunshine (1x08) which assumes these are projections and illusions rather than actual teleportation, and the Stamoran evil twin Trouble (Friend or Faux, 2x08), particularly with greater control and finesse. Or something similar, or combining the two Troubles, which granted assumes that Duke had those Troubles to start with. Anyway, the important part is that he's capable of it in himself, and we later see he can definitely do it to others as well, ruling out the shadow-killer one. He also has some kind of bulletproof Trouble, the anti-Dwight Trouble? We do know William and Mara liked to do them in pairs. There's a definitely mocking hat removal and look going on, reminding us all of why William Shatner is a much revered actor and I'll be behind the couch now. Nathan. STOP FUCKING SHOOTING THE CREEPY MYSTICAL THINGIES. STOPPIT. THAT NEVER GOES WELL. Allow CroaShatner to be eerily affable at them, which is mildly funny even under the circumstances and is much more hilarious if I'm picturing Lucas Bryant and/or Emily Rose off-camera going OH MY GOD IT'S WILLIAM SHATNER. Nathan also do not punch the mystical thingie, he's not making threats so much as promises about liquefying your innards. We already do know of at least one Trouble that can do that, and also ew. That's probably the organ-legging Trouble. Ew. (K: See if they'd kept their mouths shut and their Trouble censuses in mental rolodexes everyone would be a lot better off. Or is that just me.) (A: Not EVERYONE has an elephantine memory, dear. For example, I keep mine externally in Red Lion. >.>) Audrey challenges Croatoan on what the fuck why, and he coughs up oh no, he means for her to design the Troubles to take his revenge on their home dimension, these are for him to play with. Can you hear the facepalm through the internet? Just checking. No, he's not here to check on Duke or anything at all like that, though I suppose if Nathan and Audrey are trying to hide that they know there's some kind of creepyass connection that's one way of doing it! Slightly more unnerving is the fact that he says Duke's fine like he doesn't care if they know there's some kind of creepyass connection. He's here to make Nathan an offer he can't refuse. Or so he thinks: go away, fuck off and give him his "real" daughter (note the use of the emphasizing possessive here his daughter, not for you Nathan), here's an uber-creepy clone-copy of Audrey he just made you now go beyond the shroud and live happily ever after. Wow. You have… absolutely no idea what actually makes people tick, asshole. Congratulations!

After the ad break, copy!Audrey continues to look vapid and sweet. This is the kind of shit that makes me wonder about Lizzie, though to be brutally blunt about it, Lizzie is young enough that she still fits the idea of what Croatoan thinks father-daughter relationships should be. (We could list all the ways he continually infantilizes Audrey but we'd be here all day, you'll have to settle for us listing it when it occurs to us to do so.) And if he's pulling on Dwight's memories of her, I have at least a little more faith in Dwight's rationality! She might be overly-sweet sainted-lost-child-returned-from-grave, but if she's really been brought back as a full person then at some point he'll have to deal with anger and sadness and pouting and teenage hormones and the full range of human emotions, in intensified having first experiences form. This, here? This is a copy of the real Audrey, who is herself arguably a copy of Mara, or an alt-verse version of Mara, and she looks… bland, almost blank. Compare against Audrey's very intense, strongly felt anger as Croatoan explains that he'll drop the copy and Nathan off somewhere outside the shroud and they can go have a nice little white picket fence life with no memories of Haven. Um EXCUSE HER does she not get a say in this? Why he thought she'd like it! She can help her daddy dearest create all the Troubles and go rule over their world muahahaha and all the while she'll know that Nathan is being taken care of in the best way possible! Here, he'll try and drive more of a wedge between you about as blatantly as he can, is it working? Nooooo. No, Croatoan in addition to continuing to demonstrate his lack of understanding about emotions and how they work, he has not personally run up against the stubborn of Mt. Wuornos, who is a) unimpressed by the I'm her father I know her better than you bullshit and b) unimpressed by inducements to run away from danger. He will now demonstrate by pointedly walking around Daddytoan and putting himself between her and her biodad as they march the fuck out of there. Aww, he looks like a petulant teenager instead of an immortal all-powerful mad scientist! Watch your back, Nathan.

Dwight evidently will take Duke's eyes going back to normal for a sign to wander outside and reveal the Overlook Club sign, causing much shrieking and swearing and FUCK YOU and so on. He's nominally here to find out what Duke wants, which given that Duke's chewing the scenery in his villainy like he can eat it instead of aether makes a great delaying tactic. Stalling is also a good way to let off some steam over he wants to kill Duke in revenge for his betrayal etc etc, whether or not Dwight believes at this point in time that Duke is acting with impaired consent is somewhat irrelevant to the emotions he's expressing. Duke-toan insists that no, that really is Lizzie in there and by the way Dwight you should just fuck on out of this conflict and go raise your daughter. Yeaaaah that's not happening. Nor is Dwight going to cough up the controller crystal anytime soon, so now the stick! Which is that Croatoan will take Lizzie away again, or send Duke to kill her for him, if Dwight doesn't go get it. This is in no way going to severely backfire on them, and it's this kind of shit that makes me really certain Duke's will has been fully overridden. The Duke Crocker we know and love is more than capable of conspiring rings around everyone and using all their weaknesses against them, and moreover he knows what those weaknesses are. This Duke-toan is being used as a great big melodramatic weapon and enforcer and nothing more, which is a shameful fucking waste of his abilities - something I absolutely believe of Croatoan with his superiority complex, but also a good indication that Duke is only doing this because he can't commit suicide for whatever reason. (Possession, belief that it's immoral, some corner of his brain still wants to live… take your pick.) So. Vince comes back in from putting Lizzie into a hiding spot upstairs, or so I assume, I have all of the issues with do not have the fucking discussion of whether or not the small child is human, illusion, demon, aether creature, etc., when you do not 100% know she really IS upstairs and well out of fucking hearing range oh my god. Fortunately that is not the subplot here, the subplot here is that Croatoan has an exceeding number of issues which include overidentifying with Dwight. Which is… not at all surprising, considering. Vince contradicts him, pointing out that Dwight looks like a full person again, if not in those exact terms. And he's not wrong. Lizzie existing again would give Dwight something to live for that isn't "protect the town until a bullet finally catches me in the head or the shower some morning." Emphasis on live for, not just survive for. We didn't even get that out of Dwight and Charlotte although there were very early glimmers. More in the way they were squashed after her betrayal than anything. Right now with this there's a lot going on emotionally in this scene, and at most half of it is being said, but what is said is heavy enough: Dwight finally admits that he was suicidally depressed after Lizzie died, and Vince admits that he always felt responsible for it because he was leading the Guard and they were the fucking idiots who showed up with guns at the door of a bullet magnet. This might be the most blatant they've ever made the father-son relationship between these two, and goddamn do they sell it. The gist, though, is that if this is a lie or if Croatoan manages to take Lizzie away, either by literal un-creation or by sending Duke to kill her, then Dwight knows he's going to completely break. Whether that's break in the direction of psychotic murder in the most clinical sense, or simply stripping off his vest and firing a gun, who knows. Let's not find out. Vince knows that he's never had the power to fix death, to make anything about Lizzie dying right again, and hangs a lampshade over the irony of Croatoan doing this one good thing maybe. Yeah stop talking before you make Dwight cry, Vince.

Over at the Laverne station Vicki is attempting to draw the aether core with what looks like a crease in the paper standing in for the crack. It just might work! Gloria is fussing over her, as well she might considering Croatoan will totally come after this if/when (more like when) he finds out what they're doing. No aether core for you, puny mortals, you know not what you do. I have to say I'm really enjoying the unity of these three women here working with what they have to fix Haven and I REALLY WISH WE HAD MORE OF IT, DO YOU HEAR ME. Yes, we will keep harping on this problem Haven has even unto the last minute or so. I mean, Vicki is an awesome character. Gloria is amazing, and we were so, so  lucky to have as much of her as we did. And if you add Audrey into the mix you have a perfect Goddess triumvirate! I'm not even kidding, you could maiden-mother-crone the hell out of this trio and it would be wonderful. Alas, it is not to be, but we do get rewarded with some maternal instinct from Gloria in Vicki's direction. Aww. Nathan comes in with coffee and news of more security cameras up and a solid perimeter, for which he is rewarded with Audrey pulling him aside to tell to him a thing, that's never good. Oh, no, never mind, she's just fussing over him taking the offer. And on the one hand, YES. I think we can safely say there is not a living person in Haven who doesn't want this over with for one reason or another, Croatoan for all the wrong reasons and everyone else because dear god when will this be over. But does he want the copy and the fake happy ending? No. No, he doesn't. Yes, okay, fine, she did the thing and asked him if he wanted out and no. He doesn't. End of speculation more than discussion, Nathan's pep talks tend to run towards the brief, full of declarative sentences. And in this case interrupted by Laverne beeping to get their attention and show them Duke coming through the door. Well, shit.

And after the break he's coming through the walls. Because as nifty as the ability to manipulate your doors and walls is, when your opponent can phase right through them it's awful limited unless you want to keep playing pea and shell games. Which might be what Laverne's doing! In between sending Duke pictures of an insolent monkey oh my god. This is why we love Laverne, y'all. Duke is surprisingly gentle about closing the laptop, I kind of expected a full on flipping things in rage, but no, he's going for the quiet scary. That doesn't necessarily help. He also does dunk his fingers into the coffee as a test of how long they've been gone, so that's not going to help them stay hidden for long. Oh goodie.

From actual peril to fake peril, in which Dwight's selling it just a little too hard, in a manner not altogether unfamiliar to us: it looks closer to Adam when he first showed up and was trying to reel himself back in. The floor is lava! But they're safely on the couch. But they have to rescue the princess, who I assume would normally be a doll that doesn't currently exist, whereas she is definitely not the princess, she's Lizzie the Lionhearted and he's Dwight the Dauntless. Awwwwww that's adorable. And a test, as it turns out, where he serves as her escort on the pillow-stepping-stones across the lava to rescue the princess. And melts his feet, because it has been several years so he's rusty. But they played last week! So that's going to be a fun series of explanations one of these days, and I think we've established that this makes Dwight's hair a sorrow mullet. I'm not even kidding, I'm pretty sure he'd chopped it short for the hiatus webisodes with Lizzie's story in, which means that he then failed to attend to matters of personal hygiene and upkeep out of grief. Dwiiiiight. Vince STOP TALKING ABOUT THE KID DYING. Even when she's been distracted by milk and cookies. Which are also a test, as he exposits to Vince for his and our benefit, he started up a tradition of milk and cookies that included Lizzie's favorite and least favorite cookies in the shape of a flower, and milk, and if that's really his daughter she'll know that. We-ell, these are the benefits of a specific resurrection Trouble, or possibly shaping a person out of someone else's thoughts and memories about them. Because lo and behold, this test is passed, and both men will be shocked and terrified now thanks ever so. Vince, being less emotionally compromised in this instance, recovers faster, but that look on Dwight's face says PLEASE DON'T MAKE ME BELIEVE IN MY DAUGHTER'S RETURN TO LIFE. Neither he nor we want to know what the fuck he'd do if Croatoan threatened his daughter.

Stalking Duke is stalking. Down the hall while behind a wall Nathan and Audrey have their guns out and we're getting the standard we don't have much time quick do the thing dialogue. Sadly, after that, we get just enough of the exposition we just heard a few minutes ago to give Duke time enough to walk in. Honestly at this point I would have preferred some panic-induced hands shaking being the thing that delays them rather than repeating things we've heard two or three scene changes ago. I guess the repetition doesn't have to last very long, at least, Nathan is marginally more reluctant about shooting Duke now than he was before, albeit with a much more solid stance, but even the margin that's left is enough to let Duke advance and only give them a short delay in which to scramble out of there. Guys. I swear to god if you'd just folded the fucking paper instead of talking you would at least be one step closer to having a weapon against Croatoan. Ah well. This does give us Gloria, wonderful Gloria stepping between Duke and a tripped up Vicki and trying to talk him down with all her maternal strength. Oh honey. You can see all that it costs her when Duke is all "I should have killed you" and how much she cares about the poor Croatoan'd bastard, it makes me wish we'd gotten more Gloria-Duke moments, really. Fortunately Nathan is there with something long and sticklike to bash Duke upside the back? back of the head with. Unfortunately when Vicki tripped she also dropped the drawing, which means Duke has control of the aether core. One well-placed rip and there it goes!

After the break I have at least one big question, which is shouldn't that have just reverted the aether core back into its component truffles? I mean, obviously and apparently not, but why? Because Vicki's Trouble trumps that? If so, I can see why Duke's all yes Vicki mua ha ha I'm coming for your delightful Trouble, because damn. That's one powerful Trouble. Again with the palm cutting. Why is it always the palm cutting. Is Croatoan just healing those muscles he's got to be slicing through every time he does this? Because ow. Vicki and Gloria are not so quietly freaking out too, behind Nathan and Audrey, though for them it's more imminent death and less would you PLEASE stop doing that. Dukatoan. Why the freaking and clinging and not running the hell out I do not know. I would be running the hell out! Okay, let's be fair, I'd be running for the weapons locker, which this time doesn't even have a lock I have to defeat but rather a guardian I have to convince to give me a damn gun, but that's not what they're doing. What we're doing instead is focusing on Audrey giving Duke the speech. Not the speech he seems to be expecting, the other one. The one where, somehow and amazingly, she apologizes to him for putting him through hell and using him for his Trouble and then giving him the hug we've all been screaming about him needing for at least the past several episodes. To break it down somewhat more, first Duke mocks her in some very strange cadences and her tendency to talk to people, and when Audrey says she won't let him kill Vicki he calls her out on her encouraging him to kill when it's useful to her. As opposed to, not that he gets a chance to say it explicitly although that's clearly where he's going, useful to Croatoan. Nathan tries to go with the power of friendship but Audrey is banking on the power of regret and apology, not going into the specific details of each death but laying out a fair bit of what we and others have been saying. About using Duke, about ignoring his needs after, and the consequences of leaning too hard on the Crocker Trouble and this particular Crocker. Who is coping by telling himself, and never more was this apparent than right now when he's leaning on it to fight what she's telling him, that this was his destiny and there was nothing he coudl have done to change it. Except, really, who knows from fighting destiny better than the woman who's been fighting it harder than she ever has any cycle before? Uh-huh. And she's all but admitting that she wrapped him up and threw him in the barn door, so to speak. And she's outright admitting that it's exhausting fighting, well, destiny is a bad word for it, let's not call it destiny, let's call it the expectations of people more powerful than you, who frame the world you have to live in. I mean, yes, Audrey's been railroaded into the barn, Duke's been railroaded into being.... I don't know what, a dagger superglued to a syringe? But these are railroads built by people. Really, really screwed up people who have way more power to build such railroads than they should have. And yes, it would be easier, and much less exhausting to give up, give in, be a good savior, conform and be quiet. Word choice deliberate, because as Audrey tells him she draws her strength from picturing the person she wants to be, she poses the question of who are you back to him. Hi Duke! We want you to go back to being a pirate too. Y'all should have given him those hugs way earlier. And oops. Croatoan was, at least, to some extent, controlling him because he sure's hell knows Duke's not his playtoy anymore.

Over in the Overlook not-hotel of disturbing small girl (at least so far it's only singular, but it's a singular that reminds us a bit of Kirsten Dunst back in her Interview with a Vampire days, you're welcome, we're here all week to ruin happy family reunions), Lizzie's instructing her father in the way of eating the cookies you don't like. I am so with her on the disgusting nature of peanut butter cookies ew. Dwight has one last test, asking her why they always eat a cookie they don't like, and apparently this is a very simplified metaphor for life. As such things go, I can even get behind it! It's age-appropriate, and it's a good little consistent lesson that Dwight is participating in with her, so it's not just parental fiat declaring that this should be so. Eat the bad cookies life hands you and eventually the good ones will come back around again, and indeed it looks like they're sort of sandwiching the peanut butter cookie in between the chocolate chip, or maybe eating the peanut butter cookie first and getting it over with, in Lizzie's case. Aww. She doesn't have significant emotional memory attached to Dwight getting shot up in Afghanistan, but definitely does with her mother leaving them. I can only assume this is because of military spousal shit, or Troubles, or both? Both is good. We'll go with that. But they still have each other! Let's just twist that knife a little deeper my god you guys. Dwight looks like he's been gutted, anyway.

The first order of business, after hello it's nice to have real Duke back again and Nathan asserting his confidence in his ability to beat Croatoan, is let's get Duke the hell out of town. No see he did that once and it didn't WORK he's gonna go beat an aether-devouring bastard now. I… I don't think that'll work out for you, Duke. I do also have several questions and thoughts about his little side-trip out of Haven, first that we still have NO IDEA who the fuck Walter is, was, will be, whatever the shit, but I really want to punch HIM now for shoving Duke into coming back to Haven to be a good little possessed Trouble-eater. Second, assuming the near-future vision was accurate, it implies two things: one that they definitely needed the controller crystal or they'd've been permanently fucked, and two that in order to lend Duke enough faith and strength and love and whatever else you want to call it to kick Croatoan out of his head, he needed both Nathan and Audrey to be there and focused on him and his needs. And yes we are totally avoiding getting to the death scene of WHY and also NOPETOPUS and also FUCK YOU. (K: Bring me my mighty Nopetopus chariot! The Glendowers can be the drivers.) (A: They can also bring Duke up out of the sea burial. Yep. Totally what happened. We are living in denial-land here.) No, Duke wants his revenge on Croatoan for all the shit he made him do, which makes total sense as a first emotional reaction and absolutely zero tactical sense. Allow Audrey to demonstrate by pointing out what'll happen if Croatoan gets his hands on one of Duke's Troubles and they don't know which it is oh wait, over in the creepy little girl's room in the creepy house on the creepy hill Croatoan is rubbing his thumb and forefinger together and they're… glowing. And Duke's Troubles are floating out of his eyeballs like back when Mara turned him into a Trouble bomb and he was leaking Troubles off around the edges, and Audrey will now panic. Audrey. Are you or are you not an extradimensional humanoid alien who can control aether? Well fucking ACT LIKE IT, WOMAN. Seriously I don't fucking know why Duke gets to turn into an evil mind-controlled weapon and come back again but Audrey can't be, what, polluted by the aether? Audrey go take the Troubles and fucking turn them into a new fucking aether core, or the stash for them, or… no? No. Panicking it is. And Duke announcing that they have to kill him, focusing on Nathan because of course he's been reminded of the tattoo recently. I hate everything.

His assertions only get stronger after the ad break, they have to do this before it's too late, whatever that's defined as. For all anyone knows it already is too late, given Croatoan's control of aether he could've pulled the several Troubles he wanted specifically and you could all be completely fucked. Nobody is making this argument. Also let's just note here that Audrey's in white and Nathan is damn near the Man in Black right now, just in CASE we didn't know who was going to commit the deed itself. Duke could you please sound a little less happy about the idea of getting to finally die? And could someone please not agree to kill the suicidal man when he's in the middle of crisis? Nathan and Audrey are trying, but the wall of No, Hell No, The Fuck You Say isn't holding up too well under the emotional onslaught of look I would do it myself but I need not to bleed out so Croatoan can't yoink my Troubles. And also the talking like a rape victim; we haven't outright said it (I think?) but this is far enough a loss of autonomy as to be a kind of rape in and of itself. See many many discussions about Jessica Jones for more in-depth detail on loss of bodily autonomy and physical control of one's actions as rape. He's STILL on about destiny. Would someone please come up with a counter-argument? Anything? Bueller? No. I would also point out that if Duke really wanted to commit suicide himself, there's got to be rope strong enough to hang himself with, and that wouldn't end up with bleeding out. This really does scream both last plea for help of a desperate and suicidal man, and a little bit revenge and turnabout for the murders he committed at Audrey and Nathan's behest. Though if they were going to do that it would've been more appropriate to make Audrey finally fucking get her hands dirty. Gloria is also not up to this task, though I think her apology is fairly sincere, in that she knows very well why she's being asked (her son, and now grandson who was saved by Duke being re-Troubled) and also knows herself well enough to know that she can't. Duke will now rant even more as another drop of aether peels off and heads for the hills, that if this keeps up then Croatoan wins and they can't imagine how bad it could get, and Duke rejects that reality. Eventually Nathan is very, very reluctantly persuaded, as more aether leaves, and I think he does it as much in case losing all those Troubles literally rips Duke to pieces instead of giving him a death he asked for. Which, frankly, is a valid concern and one I wish they'd spelled out rather than leaving us to extrapolate. Nathan goes for the most ineffective way of killing someone ever, he's not even putting proper pressure on the carotid and jugular to kill bloodflow to the brain and make Duke not have to be conscious for being smothered. Hell, this is TV, they make it look easy to snap necks all the fucking time. Instead the staging puts Nathan below Duke while strangling him to death, as if to indicate that it really truly is Duke in control and Duke's wishes. And to be fair to Duke, once he starts getting what he said he wanted he's mostly not struggling except in the way humans always struggle to live as a hindbrain reflexive movement. Audrey tells him they love him, Nathan tells him he's brave and he'll spend his life trying to repay everything he owes him, and Gloria makes herself watch until the end despite her horror and sheltering Vicki from it. And then there's the tattoo, and it looks like an embrace instead of a violent death, and it's very reminiscent of Londo and G'Kar, for those of you who know your Babylon 5. Except that came at the end of a very long life, and was a decision made less in the heat of the moment.

One approximate eternity later, after we've sobbed and screamed and thrown our laptops and gotten very drunk and sobered up and restocked our liquor cabinets and contemplated more drinking, we have some use of complete lack of score to emphasize how painful this is. Just so Vince's words can echo a bit more about how this wasn't who he was. Good news, Croatoan doesn't have all of those Troubles that just died with Duke! Not that we have any idea of how many those are, which ones they were, whether or not Duke died to prevent the organlegging Trouble and the acid touch Trouble from falling into Croatoan's hands, or whether all that was left was, I don't know, the gravedigger ghosts from Hamlet Trouble? I remain distinctly unconvinced of the necessity of Duke's death, here, and unmoved by the whole thing. Well, except to punching, but that's a short distance. Anyway. So, that's the good news, Croatoan doesn't have those Troubles whatever they were and whatever good that did, and the bad news is that they don't have the aether core. Around this time is when we reinforce, by Audrey looking over her shoulder and Dwight coming up to hug her instead, that Nathan is off sitting by himself red-eyed and wet-faced. And doing this thing, by the looks of it, where he's staring off into nothing until he makes himself look at Duke's body again, and then he can't look anymore, repeat cycle. heh. Gloria being the coroner enlists Dwight the soldier to do the pragmatic, necessary work of dealing with the body, touched with a compassionate note about burial at sea with Jennifer because, yeah, he probably would have wanted something like that. That's about where Nathan can't anymore, and goes for a walk. Audrey can't, either, though I think in this case it's guilt that she couldn't earlier that keeps her there rather than any sense of Nathan wants to be alone I'll give him space. Oh everyone.

And we're back in the yellow house of creepy! The most unsettling part about this, or at least the most unsettling that I'm thinking of right now, I'm sure I'll think of something additional later, is that CroaDaddy appears to be staying in the young girl's room. Not as in living, that'd be two shades beyond, but definitely sitting and spending most of his time there and oh dude you have so many issues. Hey, speaking of lots of issues, here's Dwight! CroaDaddy doesn't look in the least bit surprised. Then again his emotions are sort of slipping off his face there, like he doesn't give enough fucks to keep up the pretense. Ugh. Dwight wants to know why the hell he wants the controller crystal anyway, it's not like he can do anything with it. Well, no, actually, he can, and apparently one of the things he wants to do with it is to rebuild the entire house they're in and make it a home for him and his daughter and they'll be a family again and notice how he's not using any form of conditional in this? In his mind it's a done deal. What Audrey wants, as per usual apparently, doesn't enter into it. At any rate, yes, his happy little family without Charlotte of course oh there's the button! Button button, who's got the button, it's Dwight! Who is mashing on it by getting all furious and righteous about CroaShatner murdering Charlotte, and that look he gets in return is nothing quite so much as an Excuse the hell out of you? Dwight is kind of giving away the homeworld here, but it's entirely possible particularly given Dave's memories that he doesn't need to, that CroaShat already knew. Especially with that expression. CroaShatner will now list all of Charlotte's betrayal, having him banished (note how he says she had him banished and Charlotte only said he was banished, not that we're ever going to get an accurate story here), then poisoning Mara with lies. Um? Hm. More on that later, Dwight's going to rant on about Mara was evil, Charlotte was something he's going to get interrupted by CroaShatner being crude and testing him, is my guess, to see if he'll admit to anything, and then outright telling him you're lucky I'm busy or I'd murder you horribly for taking my woman. Yes, that's almost literally how he phrases it. And then, since he's extra pissed at Dwight but still in control enough to stay on target, he reminds him of his choice; the crystal or Lizzie, which one does he want to give up. It even starts kind of terrifyingly vicious, there's a moment there where it looks like Shatner's going to bite something, a finger, a throat, hell if I know. And then the anger seems to pass and he starts drawing parallels again, look, I know what it's like to miraculously regain your daughter, you don't want to lose that, do you? Dwight at least says he's going to be back with the crystal in a few hours, which seems to calm CroaDaddy further back into his staring off into a pensive distance. Which is good because I don't want to see those teeth out of Shatner again. That was fucking unnerving. Give those back to Randy Flagg.

Audrey has Duke's whistle, when we get out of the Casa Del Creepy, and is staring at a picture of the three of them because masochism and grief and remembrance and other very common coping mechanisms. Which Laverne, presumably after a suitable time of mourning, covers over with a cat picture. Aw Laverne. Sadly, she doesn't get much time to recover because first the phone shrilling and then footage on the laptop of Nathan returning and then... leaving? It's not until Laverne switches to the outside view that Audrey gets alarmed, though. As well one might because Croatoan. This time not teleporting them offscreen, just leading Nathan away. What the hell did he tell him or do to him to make him walk away like that? I mean, I fully believe Croatoan is capable of coming up with something to say to Nathan that would get him to do that, especially as compromised as he is now. I also wouldn't put it past him to have some sort of pied piper Trouble, either. We get to find out what it is after a commercial break and a panover, at which point Nathan has brought lampshades to this party. I wouldn't be so quick as to assume threat, but it's certainly more likely! CroaDaddy continues to be more amused by Nathan than anything else at least outwardly, and even goes so far as to compare him to William. And call him a moron. I'm... I'd have to say this is overprotective and vaguely threatened father more than a reasoned judgment given that William has been one of the few clever threats we've seen (arguably in some ways more so than Croatoan given that he showed a greater aptitude for predicting emotion) and also given that William was one of the few people who caught and held Mara's attention in Daddy Dear's absence. Also given that William was devoted to Mara and thus to playing around with the aether experiments, can we hit that Freudian slippery patch of parental substitute? I think we can! Skipping past all that, CroaDaddy is here to offer his condolences over Duke. Nobody believes you, CroaShatner. We have both a Lying Cat AND a Witch Valerie here for you (imagine LYING on one side and LIAAAR on the other), particularly when he goes into his unimpressed face and Duke walking away from greatness and, um, no. Extra no. No to that narrative, no to your offer, with an added helping of fuckyoucakes. They're like pancakes, only angrier. Even more so when CroaShatner implies he's done something with Audrey, or at least that she's not in Haven anymore. Except it's not that, it's something far, far creepier, evidently he's dumped? the Fraudrey into the seat of the blue Bronco and when Nathan steps towards him to be all rarr what have you done with Audrey, down drops Nathan! Poof goes Nathan! Poof goes the blue Bronco and Fraudrey! Out of Haven and out, so CroaShatner thinks, of the picture and his life and his realm of concerns. Oh CroaShatner you have not yet gazed upon the magnificent intractability that is Mt Wuornos the Stubborn.

Audrey is not here for your someplace familiar bullshit, CroaShat, she's here because she knows you've turned it into a hideout. I suppose that qualifies as familiar, but what he means is somewhere that reminds her of childhood and that's not what she's here for. No, she's here to find out what the fuck he's done with Nathan. More than fair, considering! CroaShatDaddy spins her a long and just barely plausible line of bullshit about how Nathan changed his mind and claimed he'd said his goodbyes, that killing Duke was the last straw and he couldn't stand to stay in Haven any longer. Nathan is now beyond the shroud! Etc. Just enough truth mixed in with the lies, all delivered in that steady bland paternal-patriarchal tone of bullshit so it's hard for Audrey to tell what's true and what's the lie. And to be fair, she hasn't seen Croatoan actually teleport anyone but himself, and as far as we know he did get Nathan into a blind spot on the cameras.


Meanwhile Nathan is outside the shroud, is with Audrey's copy, and is in a diner somewhere along the coast! Let's have just enough of a fisheye lens to start it all on a surreal note. They both have confused what the fuck this is all very weird looks on, and now will hang lampshades by actually saying as much, this is weird, what's with the weird stuff, the waitress interrupts and they quiz her about if she actually saw them walk in. No. No she did not, mind you Judy (is that a Judy Garland nod to being over the rainbow, as it were?) sometimes isn't paying that much attention, but she gives at least momentary credence to the idea that they just appeared out of thin air. Croatoan these are really terrible cracks in your reality manipulation. Sloppy, dude. Interesting, though, that Nathan's slowly adjusting body language to indicate that yes he can feel all of the things, not just Audrey anymore. But they'll figure it out, they always do, figure what out I'm not sure since it doesn't seem as though Croatoan's gone to the effort to giving them, say, a place in the outside. Knowledge of what their jobs or vocations are, where those overlap, all of that good stuff.

I'm not entirely sure where the whole part about Nathan leaving because of the tragedy of having to kill his friend couldn't take much more of this comes from, I'd almost suspect Howard or something like, because that smells suspiciously like an understanding of how emotions work. Which Croatoan has not shown a significant aptitude for yet, legacy of spending a great deal of time in solitary in the void? I wouldn't be surprised, we know that solitary confinement has deleterious effects on humans, and while we have no data on interdimensional aether-manipulating thingies, there have to be some effects. Anyway, this is when CroaDaddy goes from just barely enough sell straight into oversell, though we have to pause for a moment of oh fuck you when he refers to saving the world becoming too exhausting. Fuck you, you were LISTENING weren't you. Grrr. But moving on from that, isn't it better that Nathan's away from here, safe and happy? Because once the experiments start things will get volatile, oh god, that's one word for it. I'm picturing something more like after the Troublesplosion when everything was deadly and messy. Having failed at oversell and failed to push Audrey's protective buttons Croatoan will now grasp at an even flimsier straw, the Nathan abandoned you one. Dude, you're showing your emotional impotence here, particularly if you think you not abandoning her is any kind of a selling point. That's a threat, not a perk, dude. Especially in the creepy house of creepy childhood re-creating and the creepy infantilization and what sounds like a Bob Ross quote. Bob Ross as Croatoan is even less what I wanted to picture. Although it does go with the moods and emotions affecting Troubles. And with that he will go over to the window and instead of giving us the A Storm Is Coming line, he'll just give us the oncoming storm as a visual. No, it's not a storm so much as it is a, heh, an abrasion Trouble? Wearing the fabric of reality thin, so to speak? Uh-huh. And soon it will rain down aether, and they will begin their work, but it won't seem like work because they'll have casual Fridays and I've gone from Bob Ross to Denny Crane, help. He's so damn gleeful. And then, see, can you pick the part he shouldn't have said? I can! It'll take a few hours, so she should go and make her peace and so on and meanwhile you can just about see Audrey going aether there will be aether I can make a new aether core behind the horrified expression. Fortunately CroaShatner is too focused on the part where her life is with him, now, to notice that she has other plans.


  1. Beware: here be unreasonably long comments:
    Well, if your troubles (I'm sorry) sleeping on Thursday had any similarity to my troubles sleeping on Saturday, I commiserate wholeheartedly. Honestly, I spent pretty much the whole of these 2 episodes clutching a fucking stuffed turtle my niece left lying around when she came to visit last. I'm not even joking. Because honestly, Duke's death just…it doesn't matter that I called it before 5B even started, I was not prepared for this. I'm not generally a crier unless I'm properly emotionally invested but that scene had me sobbing all over said turtle. Probably rather pathetically. I suppose there's some consolation in Duke having been able, at least possibly from his perspective, to give one last fuck you to his destiny, and that he died on his own terms, I guess. At least he also had the briefest chance to finally be who he is instead of who other people want him to be, for himself and no one else: Duke Crocker, Pirate and No One's BitchTM
    I did also appreciate Audrey at least acknowledging that yes, she has used him as a tool to be wielded before, even though I don't believe that's how she saw him at least 90% of the time and there was at least some sort of broad addressing of one thing I've been bitching about since at least "Crush" that she and Nathan could have given more fucks for Duke's emotional wellbeing and the effect all of the trauma ever ultimately had on him. The problem, as you say, is that there was zero fucking reason for him to die. I would have accepted a Shot Down in a Blaze of Glory death that turned the tides against Croatoan, as the fulcrum thing from a few episodes at least hinted at. But there was no evidence Duke's death affected Croatoan in any way, no sign that not getting the Troubles Duke had in him hindered him in the least. Even the smallest little sign, a struggle to create his Rain Cloud of Doom, the break in whatever connection they had causing him to make a pivotal mistake, hell, even a frustrated comment to the tune of well, fuck, what am I going to do without Trouble X and a scramble to recalculate? Just, anything. I literally would have taken almost anything. I mean even that "we love you" and Nathan's "you're the bravest man I've ever known I owe you so much" (and now I'm suddenly thinking of that scene in "Ball and Chain" where Duke is dying and Nathan's all, "You're not going to die today. If you die it'll because I killed you myself" and fuck you all. Fuck you all so very much) and the glimpse of grief and the Table of Crocker Death and we'll bury him at sea with Jennifer and Nathan's teary-eyed, heart-wrenching grief would have held more weight if Duke didn't basically drop out of the narrative the instant he disappeared after spirit-guiding Dwight to his own happily ever after with Lizzie (because of course Duke fucking Crocker would be facilitating other people's happiness even when dead or whatever). I mean even the that's what he would want sounded hollow from the point of, oh now someone's thinking about what Duke actually wants too fucking late, and really, his death just reads less like Hero Dies Surrounded by the Ones He Loves and more assisted suicide as the final wish of a man who's been wanting to die for at least a little while now. Just, fucking why, writers? Nathan and Audrey were his best fucking friends, and he deserved more from them, and this show, than that.

    1. ...thank you now I have the Guardians of the Beam rhyme stuck in my head. :P

      I'm... yeah, the more I think about Duke's death the less and less okay I am with it. I'm glad he got free of Croatoan for a little while! But that's not the same as getting a chance to heal and find a new self to be after all the trauma ever, and Duke DEFINITELY seemed like if he could just get to a place where there were no more Trouble-related crises, he would at least reconsider the suicidal impulses. But yeah. There was NO PAYOFF. None. Fuuuuck that. And for that matter I don't see how Nathan and Audrey-Paige are getting a happy ending now, with Duke dead and Nathan having to carry the weight of killing him. I just. Whut? No.

      (Kitty ran across someone ranting about it as heteronormative bullshit on tumblr, which I kiiiinda see but mostly it's just bullshit that ignores the characters they wrote.)

    2. Yes, and the worst was, as I think I mentioned here somewhere, was I don't even think the writers realized what they did, which is just not fucking okay from any angle I can look at it from. Why can't Duke have had that chance to heal? It makes less and less and less sense, to the point where I'm only being comforted by at least Duke maybe believed he was a hero at the end? And yes, having Nathan have to bear that burden for the rest of his life, even as he builds something new with Paige and James? FUCKING WHY? (I think we could actually add that as a bridge to The Song of our People. I've been yelling it a lot lately)

      Yeah, I think there will always be A Thing about heteronormativity and all that. I do get it, but I agree this was just general bullshit bullshit on a lot of levels.

  2. It's also interesting you bring up the rape metaphor, since I've seen discussion on that before; how Duke's character is coded closer to the feminine in the sense that his body (whether you take it as his actual body in the exact sense this implies-and depending on people's readings of what his childhood might have been like- or just in terms of his Trouble) is used by other people. That's also considering the mind-rape storylines like Helena in season 1 (which, honestly, is about as close to actual rape as you can get without having to admit that's what it kind of was) and that kid in "The New Girl", his being on the worst end of William's mindfuck Trouble from "William," what Croatoan has just done to him, and also the fact that the Crocker Trouble is basically packaged with a neon fucking sign saying My Agency is Yours, like (since I'm probably going to read that recap once I can actually think straight again) how the Rev tried to use him as a weapon against the Troubles from the fucking grave, and something that was encouraged by his own damn father. Ugh, the injustice.
    These comments have already got out of hand though, and since I'll probably have more to say on the recap for "Forever," I'd just like to say, I appreciate all the effort you've put into these recaps. I enjoy them immensely, and will enjoy them again most likely whenever I get around to my planned rewatch of the entire series. And also, it's always good to have had a place to vent the quite honestly alarming amount of thought I've had around this show, and I look forward to whatever it is you have planned for the blog going forward.

    1. YEP. Honestly Kitty and I've been making private parallels to Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes for most of s5, both A and B, given how dark they COULD have gone with that shit. And did, in places! I just feel like nobody ever gets to go for the psychological realism side of things, on account of apparently that's boring.

      (My biases let me show you them.)

      Aw, thank you! We've enjoyed writing it, maybe not all the time but the majority of the time, and it's a very satisfying feeling to've done an ENTIRE show's run. (What stubborn there is no stubborn here.) And hopefully we'll get that post about future of the blog drafted over the holidays!

    2. Oh man, Steve and Bucky! Much feels about them, though I'd agree there.
      Honestly, that's probably the thing I find most interesting, the possible psychological effects of the kind of crap some writers put their characters through. I've always found it pleasantly surprising how much potential this show has hidden in its depths for exploring those sorts of things. I will begrudge no one liking the tendency towards romance as a focal point of pretty much everything on tv these days (it certainly has its place), but yeah. I have my biases too.

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  4. PaintedWolf I agree with your rants. You are not screaming into the void.