We'll just skip the forever long previouslies and get right to it. Audrey's come back to the station and she's giving Stan instructions about getting the town to stay away from the cloud. Stan's in street clothes! Awwww. And he tosses out a gas leak cover story joke, because that's gonna work so well when a few weeks ago you explained all about the Troubles and whatnot. Although I admit in my vague headcanon for post-series, "gas leak" has totally become an in-joke with the entire town. Audrey is not really having with this levity, telling him to go spend time with his nonexistent family. He says he doesn't have one now, which could be, given he's been awfully stereotypical bachelor cop for the series, the PD's been disbanded and that was his family, or could be a variety of awful things happened to whatever family he had, or could be he moved in from outside Haven and now he's cut off and doesn't expect to ever see them again. That was horribly depressing. Stan deserves all the good things for putting up with this shit for so long, why you so fucking mean, writers. Audrey would like to spend time with her remaining family, except Nathan is not so much with the here.
Apparently the creepy diner of creepy is working on getting even more so: it's named Boondocks, and the sign out front proclaims it to have the Best Pancakes in Cleaves Mills. Excuse us while we run screaming for the hills. Goddammit you guys. (Point of amusement, the typography is reminiscent of a Boondocks Diner in Deadwood South Dakota. I suspect hoopleheads in the writer's room or on set design.) Neither Nathan nor Audrey's copy remembers how they got here, Audrey notes that it's Maine: blueberries, lobster, maple syrup, and for those of us who do not slow the ep down to catch all the little details, Nathan will bring up Cleaves Mills in a line reference. Moving on, Croatoan did a REALLY TERRIBLE job with the reality manipulation. Like I'm honestly impressed, you have to kind of work to make it that bad: no memory of anything but each other, no memory of where they lived or worked or any of the standard biographical details. AND it's so obvious that the second Nathan reaches for any of it it's just not there. Gee, does this remind anyone of anything like, oh, an interdiction? Well, okay, beyond that everything else feels weird, because this is not Audrey Parker who digs at a mystery until it's solved come hell or high water, this is Audrey Parker who loves Nathan beyond all reason and measure and just wants them to be together and happy. Not, as we'll learn, in that order. The only thing he can think to question is her assertion that they know each other, which she then proves to him by citing the Bronco and its terrible maintenance costs, his love of Patsy Cline and terrible singing, and the fact that when they first had sex he was canonically, shall we say, eager. So this Audrey remembers either Nathan's Trouble or she's had that bit smoothed out into Nathan was celibate for a very long time before her, hard to say with that ambiguous phrasing. Nathan is not fond of this gentle teasing stoppit, but okay she knows him. We'll note that this proof does not go the other way, and when he takes out his wallet to see if they can even pay for breakfast, well, no ID, but there's $200 in there! In small-ish bills, going by the stack and the $5 on the bottom. That's so generous of Croatoan. When was the last time he knew how much inflation was in this world? Inquiring minds.
Back in Haven, Audrey's smelling Nathan's pillow. Oh honey. Vince interrupts her by calling to let her know that Dwight may or may not have gone off the deep end, currently willing to give up the controller crystal in exchange for keeping Lizzie. Maybe. We hope. Lizzie is reading something with a lighthouse and a ghostly man on the cover of it fuck youuuuu. That poor lighthouse. Vince is not at all sanguine about this whole giving him up to CroaShatner. I don't blame him. I don't entirely blame Dwight's fuck it we have nothing to lose and my DAUGHTER is back so I have something to lose again, though if he stopped to think for even a few minutes about this he'd quickly come to the conclusion that Croatoan is a lying shithead who lies. Which is why tactics that prevent thought are crucial! Possibly the one good tactical decision CroaShatner's made the whole time he's been out and embodied, apparently he was a lot smarter as a gas cloud. Audrey's all okay no I know this lying shithead why does he want it but we HAVE a house. Also her "that'll never happen" is about the same tones as our "well that's fucking creepy" when we're informing the screen of such things. Just in case you were wondering. Search your programming, Vince, you know it to be true - wait wrong franchise. Apparently they don't actually NEED an aether core to build a barn, that's just the easiest way to do it and they'll have to do everything exactly right. Let's go stop Dwight! And bring Nathan! Um, says Audrey's face, let's not talk about where Nathan is. Or what's going on there. Roll credits before Vince can pick apart the whys and wherefores of that expression.
The diner of disturbing is emptying out after the morning rush, and copy!Audrey wanders back in to announce that the truck's full up on gas and Slim Jims (aww) but the DMV says their plates have never been issued? I have so many questions, starting with how'd she get that info out of the DMV. Does she still have law enforcement instincts from Audrey Parker? Not at all surprised by their lack of existence, though, and Haven isn't on that map Nathan's got, but he means to head up the coast because of this nebulous gut instinct. Copy!Audrey has no idea what the fuck, but she's willing to go with it up until they both get distracted by the bloody head wound. Which must be several hours old or it'd be a lot messier, or very small, or both, but yeah that's a bit worrying. Also worrying Nathan is that this Audrey doesn't want to go up the coast anymore, the excuse she gives being maybe the person who hurt you is there and she doesn't want him hurt more. That is, in fact, rather unlike the Audrey we know, who'd be more inclined to go "okay fine but I'm going in front and bringing my sidearm." Because really. Nathan will now demonstrate that he knows her, or at least knows people, by stating that it's not about that, it's about her being afraid of what they'll find up the coast, so she wants them to run away and settle down somewhere else. Nathan. Stop lying, nobody believes you're going inland at all. Except maybe copy!Audrey. Which is just further indication that she's not really Audrey Parker, and that Croatoan has no fucking idea who Audrey really is.
Everything the fucker knows is about aether, let him demonstrate by staring up at the growing void in the sky augh. Audrey is here to kick ass and call names, and distract CroaDaddy with her very valid and genuine anger rather than what's actually happening. I do love that by now we've had enough episodes of Actions Were Taken That We Didn't See to pretty strongly guess that Dwight's in on this plan and Audrey's currently lying through her teeth about their plans. Which she doesn't really explain so much as fling emotion and defiance into his teeth and then imply that they're going to take the frontal assault approach. Actually she does sound rather a lot like Mara in places here, also fuck you CroaDaddy for this bullshit "I gave Dwight and you what you wanted" nonsense. You don't KNOW what they want because you never bothered to fucking ask if it was a fair trade. And Audrey's not wrong about Lizzie coming back breaking Dwight, but as long as he gets to keep her it's more of a breaking-open of scar tissue and emotions that he's let lie dormant for years. The kind that hurts but ultimately heals. And along those lines, I definitely appreciate that she's laying this out where it's her and the population of Haven against CroaDaddy and Dwight, thereby not giving CroaDaddy a reason to take Lizzie away until they can't conceal his involvement anymore. Pretty sure that was a part of the Actions Taken That We Didn't See. She will continue to distract him with the whole wobbly about Nathan, and there are people here willing to fight, and what's with the hammering you guys? Are you trying to barricade him in, or make him think that's what you're doing? Or at least that sounds like hammering although I guess it could be gunshots, given the next scene. We could use that one spelled out a bit more and the whole not getting the crystal part spelled out a bit less.
Oh hey it's a light… no, it's an armory. Shaped like a lighthouse. WELL OKAY THEN. Yeah, those were probably gunshots, indicating that this is pretty close to the yellow creepy house. There's a King in Yellow joke here somewhere. Also a roadblock with McHugh leading a squad of Guardsmen with various guns, and if that doesn't tell you this is a deliberate setup I don't know what will. Dwight's not even in his big black SUV of kickassery, either, he's being trailed by someone else shooting and by the sound of it there's some bullet holes in the back windshield already. On the plus side, if the bullets are taking the shortest distance between them and Dwight, that means there's a layer of glass and carseat to go through before they hit his vest, which should slow down some of the stinging. On the minus side, this many people emptying their clip, as McHugh instructs, is probably going to fucking break ribs. Also the Guardsmen are not so much in the know with this, and McHugh is not fucking happy about the plan but he'll deal with it. Not aiming probably does help cut down on the chances that Dwight takes a bullet to the brachial artery or neck or head, I will say. And he's taking the very sensible approach of running around as much cover as he can get, though I have to wince at him maybe keeping the crystal under his vest? What the fuck were you gonna do if that thing got cracked? Assuming it can't be cracked by a gunshot or, hell, falling on it, not the safest of assumptions! Fortunately it doesn't, and more fortunately the armory's great protection against getting hit again. Plus, Audrey's assumptions pay off this time: Croatoan can in fact teleport them over to the armory with full intention of getting the damn crystal, and proceeds to dump the Guard in the harbor. I will just note that a) they will not be fucking fine, it's fucking winter and have you heard of hypothermia? and b) that's a great way for someone's Trouble to get set off and get people killed you asshole. So yes I do still think you're "cruel and brutish." At the very least brutish and unthinking, which amounts to the same thing in this case. Inside, Dwight's peeling off the now-useless vest (and I do wonder if he's got a second vest on under his jacket, which seems likely given the amount of brass and lead on the floor) and wincing. Like I said: at the very least bruised, probably some cracked ribs, guy's lucky nothing broke enough to puncture internal organs. Why yes! He has the crystal. He will now summon Vince by calling his name, toss the crystal over Croatoan's head to him, and that's three of four sides of the labyrinthine circle called. I'm not kidding, that's how they're standing. They've even got the this-world people on one pair of points and the other-world people on the other, albeit one of the this-world people is now a barnvatar. This would've worked better with Nathan, definitely, to close the other side of it, but apparently they don't strictly need him. And they're powering a new barn with the aether inside Croatoan. That's actually really clever! And hilarious.
So, back in the white space of the barn, with Croatoan trying and failing to use the Troubles, Audrey explaining the trap with a very condescending 'Dad,' and Vince thinks it's working but it needs time to ramp up. Vince put the teeth away, I saw that. No-o you don't get to punch your new barnvatar, CroaShatner, that's not nice. Dwight is also not nice, and thinks he's high for ever thinking that he would sacrifice the entire town for the sake of his daughter. He's grieved her once, asshole, he's tried his very hardest not to attach to the new Lizzie, and in conclusion fuck you. Except the one problem with this plan is that the person powering the barn has to do so voluntarily and Croatoan rejects this reality and substitutes his own. Well fuck. Though I have so many questions about that: was Mara the only thing powering the barn? Or was it not necessary to be voluntary when they had an aether core to work with? Or is it necessary that it be voluntary because CroaShatner is acting as the aether core right now? Define "powering," is this the power of love or the power of the aether core? Because if agreement was required regardless then I'm suddenly a little more okay with the initial idea of "rehabilitating" Mara inside the barn over the course of five centuries; she may have agreed on the grounds that she thought she could break out eventually, and it may not have worked, but that's still slightly more of a choice than we believed she had. Even if that choice was "go into the barn or we kill you," accompanied in all likelihood by Charlotte pleading with Mara to take the option that doesn't involve permanently losing her daughter. Mara's agreement to the barn solution does kind of go with CroaDaddy griping that Charlotte corrupted her, at the very least. That aside: Dwight also gets dumped into the harbor (we hope), CroaDaddy has creepy assertions about learning the hard way, and now he'll make it rain aether with further villain monologuing about forcing Audrey to use aether on people, become Mara and embrace her talent and blah blah BLAH shut up dude. Audrey has a bargain to make: fine, she'll call you Dad and do whatever you want IF you take all the aether, put it in her, along with all the Troubles, and they leave Haven and never return. Which, at this point, it's not like she's got a single fucking thing left to lose by going there, and there's a pretty good chance that she's doing this to try and make herself so full of aether that she can power the barn by choice. CroaDaddy appears to know things she doesn't, or thinks he does, that if she does this she'll embrace her power and like it and yay father and daughter being evil conquering conquerors together! He looks so proud and loving. It's so terrifyingly fake. She'll even admit that she can feel all the aether and the void and whatnot, which we knew before but maybe Croatoan didn't, or hoped but didn't know. Hard to say.
Over on the shore where Dwight washed up, we hear a very familiar voice call him 'Quatch. ONE LAST SASQUATCH I am a-okay with that. Though it gives us EVEN MORE questions: how IS Duke there? Hallucinating is sort of an option, but Dwight hasn't shown any other signs of a psychotic break and Duke's doing and saying things that indicate he's really present. For limited definitions thereof, since his mouth isn't moving and he seems to be projecting his voice into Dwight's head. Um. Okay then. Say we, and says Dwight's face. Also you're dead? Says Dwight in a tone that's less incredulous and more I saw your body but this is fucking Haven so who the fuck knows. Yes, he's dead, but you should still listen to him. ...that's our Duke. I miss our Duke. I am also so fucking blaming Walter for this, I don't know how, I have theories involving the visions and the bleeding tree and Duke absorbing that blood which might have been Walter's and therefore Walter's ability to be an obnoxiously smartass knowing ghost, and this might not be accurate in the least but SOMEHOW this is his fucking fault.
This is a familiar but strangely empty stretch of road along the coast, and if you squint you can see where Haven and the lighthouse probably should be, across the harbor. Or maybe that's the island with the barn. Nathan's staring up the road like he can out-stubborn whatever's woojed him into forgetting his entire past save Audrey. Copy!Audrey is so not okay with this. Nathan would like to point out that that's weird and unsettling, for which she has no reply other than can we please get the fuck out of here? No. No they cannot. And no, he doesn't see anything, but he can sense something, he uses the word "feel" which gets copy!Audrey to jab at his inability to feel things normally (that aren't her) in ways that are a bit crueler than our Audrey would use under the circumstances. Not that Audrey can't be kind of cruel in her teasing! But she picks her time and place for it a lot differently. This is a cue for Nathan to remember something about how "we" used to get a low fog that meant no visible sun but its warmth came through the clouds clearly, and I think you mean home, Nathan, you're feeling home. Copy!Audrey is I think lying when she insists she feels nothing except cold and annoyed at Nathan being weird. No, they still can't go, something's drawing Nathan to this stretch of road and keeping him there, and as they stand and stare copy!Audrey's immunity to the shroud kicks in. But HOW is she immune to the shroud? Is this because of what Croatoan made her out of? Aether, or himself somehow, or what? (I'm having a very disturbing Adam-and-Eve moment here how about you.) However it works, taking Nathan's hand transfers at least enough immunity to let him see the fucking shroud, see that he's on the outside of it, and means that copy!Audrey is remembering… it's not even clear what, but enough that she knows her original self is in there! Oh yay.
She-me-Audrey-the-walrus is also whipping aether around like nobody's business while CroaShatner looks on in beaming paternal pride. Are you creeped out some more? I'm creeped out some more. There's got to be a ceiling to the creepiness somewhere but we haven't found it yet, and it's all even worse because Shatner does do paternal very well, just watch old Star Treks and how Kirk treats his crew for an non-evil example. And now we cut back and forth between Audreys, to heighten the contrast between them and demonstrate the urgency, while copy!Audrey explains that she's remembering more now that she's close to Haven and the shroud and the aether. Or possibly because CroaShatner's attention is elsewhere, though the interdiction didn't seem to be a thing that needed continuous concentration? Copy!Audrey was created not born, and her defining trait is supposed to be her love for Nathan (and, we'll note, NOT her love for the town, which is part of why Nathan loves Audrey [and Sarah, and Lucy]), and well. She does! In other news, Croatoan still doesn't know what love IS when expressed as an action rather than a feeling. I have no doubt that, as he's said a lot, he loves Mara and wants to love Audrey as though she were Mara. But he's NOT capable of ACTING like it, or allowing her to act like herself and express her love, should she ever feel it, in ways that Audrey would. Croatoan's love is that of a person for an object, not a person for another individual. And copy!Audrey isn't the same as the real Audrey, and calls Nathan out on knowing the difference even when he didn't know what he knew. (This… actually also helps with the whole oh my god Nathan Sarah and Lucy have their own personalities and memories, even if they have significant points of congruence.) For extra bonus heh, the background score in this scene is titled "Nathan Feels It" in the track listings and seems to be meant for significant moments in their relationship. Whether or not it involves the actual parties in the scene. He admits he did know something was wrong, and she tells him to go be with the Audrey he knows and has loved before. This actually makes her MORE like his Audrey, causing a brief flail of but what happens after we go through the mystical fog thingie that I don't remember? What about you? IGNORE IT, NATHAN, THIS IS RIGHT. She says, dodging right past that question and the fact that she's actually crying and continuing to speak the hard truths. Well that is definitely Audrey. Which gives us at least momentary sad over the fact that her crossing the shroud means she's going to vanish now. After Nathan has a nice long montage of memories hitting him, in a short but pretty damn complete tribute to their relationship through the series, right up to the last thing he remembers before getting Croa-whammied. And copy!Audrey reminds him that she loves him (actually she says we love you, for her and real!Audrey) and then disappears into the mists. Oh honey. I'm actually not 100% certain that she's meant to be gone-gone, I'd kind of like to believe there's an Audrey Parker somewhere outside of Haven who's trying to move on past her heartbreak. Probably not, though.
This is Dwight's cue to come sauntering up with Duke! Well, Duke is sauntering. 'cause he's a pirate. Not that Nathan can see him, or you bet your ass we'd have a huge reunion YAY MY BOYFRIEND'S HERE hug. Or at least a flinch towards that and then a flinch away. Instead, nothing, just a what the hell how'd you get here Dwight? And a what the hell Nathan was that Audrey? Uh… yes? No? A not-real Audrey? Dream Audrey? At least part of what's making Dwight ask that, no doubt, is the poleaxed-stricken look on Nathan's face not to mention the threat of tears? actual tears? He certainly sounds like he's sniffling back tears for a second there, and Dwight has a moment or so of looking like he wants to give Nathan all of the hugs. Everyone deserves all of the hugs at this point, but later. As for Audrey, no, it wasn't. Kind of. Not really. Maybe. He doesn't know how the fuck to answer that, let's move on to how you got here, Dwight. Uh… Duke brought him. What Duke? That Duke! ...Dwight are you cracking up? Well, at a bare minimum he's getting irritated with Duke being a smartass fucker. Listen to the smartass, Dwight, he knows shit, apparently. I still fucking blame Walter, this is SO Walter-ish. And Duke-ish at the same time, which is the thing that makes me believe it probably is ghost!Duke and not Walter wearing his skin. I sure as fuck hope it's ghost!Duke, anyway. No, he doesn't know why Nathan can't see him, but fucking tell him where Audrey is and that he needs to get up to the old armory asap. Quit arguing and tell him, Dwight. Nathan still isn't sure Dwight isn't completely hallucinating this, but what the fuck ever, Dwight somehow found him on the correct road at the exact moment when he was coming out of the shroud, so he might's well act as though this is the truth! It wouldn't be the weirdest thing to happen in fucking Haven. With a last thank-you and a final go save Audrey relayed by Dwight (which is the one line we don't hear from Duke), the guys part ways, Nathan to the armory and Dwight to follow Duke wherever the fuck he's leading.
I think that's at least twice as much aether as was in that mine shaft earlier, and that's still less unsettling than CroaDaddy being all paternal. He's fucking thrilled by all of this. He's about jumping up and down. Stop distracting her you utter jackass, and now we're up to four times as much aether, and she still isn't breaking a sweat. If I were CroaDaddy I'd be... well, I wouldn't be scared right now because he's as perceptive as a rock, but if I were myself playing the role in the narrative that CroaDaddy is taking up I'd be worried at the very least. Nathan, meanwhile, is charging up the steps like the world's most adorable and underpowered Disney prince. Yes, I said underpowered, I mean look at him, he's the least powerful person in the armory right now. But he's also unexpected, which throws CroaShatner off his game, and he's Audrey's center and stability and heart, which ups her game, so really that's as powerful as he needs to be. We have a touching reunion with a side of fuck you CroaDaddy, I'm not even kidding, that's exactly the look he's giving him. And with a shitpile of aether hanging over their heads, Audrey, you might want to get on that before CroaDaddy does something more hostile and permanent to Nathan? I mean, they have the second or three where CroaDaddy's gaping at them all like What Is Love ++ Earworm Error ++ Please Reboot Shatner but then, oh then he's pissed and he's got the aforementioned shitton (metric) of aether with which to express it. Apparently as an aether spear that he just fucking flings at them and impales Nathan on it? Oh now Audrey's pissed.
Sadly, her being pissed does not come with great vengeance and furious anger, but it does come with some well-deserved look you asshole I love him, he loves me, you say you're my father and that should fucking be enough for you, why do you fail so hard at family. This is a truly epic speech here, calling him out on acting for his ego and his sense of pride and his idea of what he wants their family to be. We've mentioned this before, both here and in other recaps and discussions but it's worth repeating, one of the most common depictions of bad parents both on purpose and inadvertently is the parent who treats their child as an extension of their self and resists the idea that the child has an identity and desires and a set of choices to make of in this case her own. And Audrey is fed the fuck up with that, and if she's going to live out her potential as an aether-wielder or what the hell ever else, it's going to be here, with her people and her family and her Nathan, and fuck you and your agenda, CroaDaddy. I also have to say, I do enjoy that the love being described and defined here isn't a specialized, specific type of love, not a lover or a friend or a relative, but one person loving another in general. Loving the person, not the idea of the person as we've mentioned earlier in this recap. Nathan would do anything for her, would give his life for her, but would CroaDaddy do the same? This is treated as an equivalence. Or, well, a potential equivalence, one which Croatoan fails at by his silence. And he knows, it, too. By freezing Audrey with that Trouble (right as she's about to rip his throat out, even, Audrey is so pissed and I love it) he's admitting that he's failed her as a father, as someone who loves her, and this might be the one moment of emotional understanding he's shown yet. As with Charlotte's conversion but in some ways even more so, this feels rushed as far as a conversion against several hundred years of habit and madness goes, but within the scope of the episode(s) it's in about the right place for it. There's a moment of him struggling with what he's become, looking at Audrey, looking down at Nathan, and then finally okay, yes. Fuckit. Healing him, tired, sad, he looks like he's about to cry or is crying, god knows Audrey is. And he's unfreezing her with a loving touch that is somewhat less creepy for the fact that it is more ... yes, it's self-serving because it's stealing a moment of intimacy that he doesn't expect her to grant him after this, but he's also turning away to give her the moment of Nathan recovering, so at least it's self-serving reflex followed by a concerted effort at awareness of what he's doing, become, something like that. (Nathan doesn't trust this conversion one bit and I don't blame him.)
I'm a little surprised that he admits it out loud, which is part of why the conversion seems forced, but eh. Again, it's the proper moment in episode pacing for it, the small speech about how no, he won't die for her (like Nathan, that's an important caveat, he might martyr himself for her if it was public and served some outside purpose, but he won't do it here and now in the dark where no one will ever know or see), but he will leave for her. This could easily be manipulative but I don't think it is, certainly there's nothing he's demonstrated attachment to here so that part is true, and given how he's talked about their original world I will entirely buy that he doesn't have any attachment there. The one positive note to that is him saying that indicates he's giving up the mua ha ha I'll show you all crusade, because he could probably just as easily go back and do that. But no, not without his baby girl to be Child of Vader at his side. Or maybe Vader to his Emperor. Whichever. He's agreeing to power the barn, is the upshot of it, because by that noble-righteous-determined face, it's the one thing he can focus on and do that gives him the sense of fulfillment he was groping around for earlier in all of his emotionally-stunted idiocy. At least, that's my best guess of the root of his motivation for I'll show you all, some need for fulfillment and justification for all the terrible things he did and losses he caused. And instead of justifying it with revenge, he'll make up for it with atonement? See also: rushed conversion. But Shatner, I have to say, sells it really damn well, enough that it only bugs me because I'm sitting here nitpicking over every word choice and music choice and blocking choice.
Tying off loose ends takes us to Dwight and Duke and Duke taking him to watch Lizzie play with Shawn Piller's dog. At least I think that's his dog, last seen in 3x02 Stay? Yes? Dwight has a moment of tired/resigned/sad because he's expecting that she'll disappear like Audrey, but according to Duke she can in fact stick around in a very Clap Your Hands If You Believe way. You bastards gave up a golden opportunity for Adam Copeland to be clapping his hands like the world's most overgrown Peter Pan, damn you all. There's an underneath, more poignant layer to this, if I can stop laughing long enough to explicate it too. (Look, you picture Adam Copeland in green tights and that damn hat and try to stop laughing.) Dwight asking how does he believe she's alive, believe it hard enough to have her come back, even apart from the fact that as time passes from a loved one's death so too does life move on, and you begin to reshape yourself having closed off that person's presence in your life, as a set of fixed points. Even apart from that, he's been grieving her for years, getting used to the pain of her death and he doesn't entirely know how to think or who to be with the hope or presence of her, there, again. Especially now that he's basically been given permission to be that person again, that she's not going to go away or turn into an aether hellbeast (or Heckle or Jekyll, go on, picture that). And adding onto all that, the layer of fear and worry that whatever he does feel or believe, it's not going to be enough, and she will disappear not because of Croatoan or hellbeast or anything, but because he failed her. Again. So, yes, this is a pretty damn heavy moment for Dwight. Which we will now interrupt with nothing so extreme as okay I'll stop being over the top ridiculous, but for a much more gentler moment of Dwight giving Duke shit because what am manly men talking about feelings. And Duke flipping him off as he disappears, because same reason. Well, less manly men and more scoundrels who don't give a damn honest. Yeah, you two love each other, you know it. Dwight's smile knows it.
Less happy things, like the aether coming down even harder. According to CroaShatner this is because the void has "smelled" their world (your world, there's again a certain poignancy to the fact that he's using 'your' world as in Audrey and Nathan's, another sign that he's letting go) and it wants in. Still creepifying! Though also even in that brief glimpse of the void's alleged personality (the void as genius locus for your nightmaring pleasure) it says something about how CroaDaddy was corrupted. Not quite avarice, but maybe appetite would be better, in the void's case a general appetite for Nathan and Audrey's world, and in the case of CroaDaddy manifesting as an appetite for power, prestige, and revenge. Maybe that's how the void corrupts, it takes your desires and widens them till you're nothing but a gaping emotional hole. Ew. Moving on. CroaShatner expresses the hope that by going into the barn willingly, to pull the aether out of this world and the Troubles out of the people, that this will show Audrey who he was (who she no longer has memory of, let's note, too). Audrey has some ideas, or at least has some emotional responses to this, more relieved and tentatively accepting of this overture of fathership because let's not forget, she's spent the whole series in search of identity and family. And can't have been best pleased to find out that they were both of her parents kind of callous to psychopathic. So. Time to get Vince out here! Vince will throw a damper on the whole proceedings by being fidgety and nervous about the whole thing. Vince stop being such a wet blanket, dammit. No, but he has a point, though, sadly, even though CroaDaddy doesn't see it immediately. And Vince is doing an imprecise job of explaining, or at least a circuitous one. Aether, controller, and a living form for activation. No, what Vince is actually saying is that there needs to be a balancing force, I think he means to balance out the aether. At which point I pause the playback and fall off the couch because this goes along with the void as hunger, appetite, and emptiness, and for all those of you who have read Madeleine L'Engle think of the void as the Echthroi. And what do you do with the Echthroi? You name and love them. The Auditors from Discworld are another, and they're fought off by the power of sheer humanity, and humanity's belief in ideas, which also works. There's all kinds of other metaphors in other mediums for it, we picked these two because they're the ones we're familiar with, but basically, yes, if the void and the aether is appetite and emptiness, then love and unstinting openness fills it? Balances it. And CroaDaddy, for all his recent conversion, isn't capable of that yet. But Audrey is.
Let's have a flyover as they think about and discuss this. Which amounts to the same discussion as they had at the end of season three, only with much less shooting of the barnvatar. Her going into the barn can end the Troubles, this time forever, etc. And it hurts, but it's the best way and it'll save so many people. We do have a slight problem with this, given that this was nowhere stated in the initial manual when Charlotte was talking about creating the new barn? On the other hand, given her behavior at the time and after it's entirely possible that she thought she would have been the loving catalyst against/to balance the aether, although whether or not that would have worked is an open question. Oh to have been a fly on the wall for THAT conversation with Howard. Not to mention the conversation with Dwight if it HAD worked, though Dwight and his protector complex would've understood far more immediately. Nathan cracks a weak joke about how he was just getting used to this chaos of Troubles. Are his eyes red-rimmed still or again. Doesn't matter. No, Nathan, what you were getting used to was having a partner, but spoilers, sweetie. Though it has to hurt extra bad for losing Duke a few hours ago. (Yes, a few hours, it really hasn't been that long.) He's just resigned now. Sad and hurting and resigned, they both are, but this is how they best fix everything. They're always going to want more time, but we are grateful for the time we have been given, Nathan points out. (If that particular phrasing gets stuck in your head too I'm so sorry, it's from The Village. Yes, the M Night Shyamalan movie.) And continues his arc of growth by acknowledging that he spent at least the past couple seasons/several months trying to keep her here and maybe that wasn't the best thing! Audrey responds to his effusions of love with trying to make him promise to move on, find someone, be happy, fall in love again. Which is a nice sentiment in the future but right now it's going to bounce off the Force Shield of Stubborn. And, okay. I appreciate the sentiment of this speech, but it is repetitious in the extreme and though there's imagery to accompany it (Troubles leaving people, families putting back together accompanies the Glendower men coming back [HEY THE GLENDOWERS GET TO COME OUT OF THE WATER! NOT AFTER THE ETERNITY WE EXPECTED! HUZZAH!], people out in the world is Chris Brody and Haven returning to the world is, aww, Seth watching Haven reappear on the map! he can go talk to someone about his merpeople thing!) it doesn't entirely mitigate the endless. litany. of exactly the emotional beats you expect. I'm not sure what it is if it's the delivery, or the phrasing, or something. Or, for that matter, the placement right after a minute and a half or so of I love you I love this town I sacrifice out of love dialogue. There's a reason we occasionally break this up with comedy or a different kind of drama. At any rate. The upshot of Nathan's speech is you will always be with me I will always love you, so let's skip through that to Dwight looking sad and stricken as he watches his daughter flicker in front of him. Dammit, you guys. Chris Brody, on the other hand, looks absolutely ecstatic at someone slapping him for being a jerk. Which is fucking funny. See? Comedy! Audrey, CroaDaddy, and Vincevatar stand together in the room of white light, the building shakes, light pours out of it, and... poof. So, um. Does that mean that the police station would also have gone poof despite what Howard said? Or was this just a consequence of there being so much aether that needed taking out of play? Inquiring fans of Laverne would like to know.
Fade to black.
Come back in on the police station, Stan is in uniform reading off a list of truly petty crimes going from stolen clam bake to driving a golf cart while high, all of these names are writer names. I giggled. Nathan's apparently enjoying this too, as much as he's enjoying anything in his still somewhat evident grief, but he's also clearly functional, so that's about as much as anyone can expect. And he's getting a phone call from Dwight, who is apparently retired now? and fishing. With his daughter, who in a seasonally appropriate turn of events did not die or fade away making her, what, Tiny Tina? and with McHugh, who is indeed hopeless. Though I'm laughing more at Dwight not being able to touch worms than McHugh's tangle of line. McHugh snarks back about enjoying having everybody shoot him, aww, you guys are adorable. Also shades of the new Vince and Dave, if you look at it right. So, okay, yeah, sure, why not. Nathan's going to go fishing, Stan's got the cats in trees, as Nathan put it. Stan would like one last bit of advice on what to tell the State Historic Society about why the old armory collapsed. It has, apparently, been a month and nobody's given them an answer. A month, or 27 days? I'm just saying, because I will bet you ANYTHING. The facial expressions on "gas leak?" are fucking priceless. That is going to be a joke that persists long into when they have to explain it to the next generation who are convinced their elders are insane. And Nathan does miss Vince and Dave, but no, they probably would not have known what happened. They would have "known" what happened, and it would have been a damn gas leak. Nathan radios Laverne to just send the easy calls to Stan today, and she's not picking up but HOLY SHIT IT'S ACTUAL LAVERNE IN THE FLESH. HI LAVERNE. AKA Supervising Producer Stefani Deoul, aww. And yes, she's out and about, that's what happens when you spend some time as a building. (Oh god, does that mean Holloway's ... no, he blew up. Thank god.) And Gloria wants to see him about the Troubles. And this, I think, is the point at which I say how glad I am that everyone got to keep their memories of everything that happened and cope with the actuality of it, instead of an overlay that no doubt would fragment at traumatic times and leave everyone even more confused and hurting. At least this way the Troubles are gone, they can process the damage and slowly move on with their lives without worrying about the fucking Haven stuff happening again. It also makes Dwight outing everyone to the town an even better idea, because at that point even the non-Troubled can understand what's happened in the town in a more complete and comprehensive light.
Gloria would like Nathan to know that she's run all the labwork and the DNA marker for the Troubles is completely gone. As in no, it really is gone, it's not going to come back in 27 years, science sez. Nathan is on the one hand relieved and on the other hand a little saddened because it means Audrey's not going to come back in 27 years, either, it's one more dig in that she's really gone, too. And because Gloria is Gloria and therefore amazing, yeah, she gets it. Vicki has a little something that might help, she made a sketch of Audrey! Because hey, now her drawings aren't awful sympathetic magic tokens, she loves drawing again. Vicki fades back to keep an eye on the baby, and Gloria picks up with remembering Audrey also by thinking of what Audrey would do in a situation, and doing that. And says she does that with Duke, thereby confirming that these two were in fact thick as thieves and I use that phrase very deliberately. Brats. (It also goes with the atmosphere of this bar being very much like the Gull. Did they perhaps rebuild it after the great sea monster incident? Probably not, it hasn't been enough time, but it would amuse me.) At any rate. All right, Nathan accepts this "if you want to talk to Duke, talk to me" with good humor even though it doesn't take into account the special love-hate relationship the two men had (let us sing the song of our people one last time: No One Ships Nuke Like Eric Balfour Ships Nuke) and declare that he is going to go do what Audrey would want him to do right now: he's going to go fishing with Dwight.
No he's not. Because out by the side of the road there's a car in the dirt stalled out or broke down or something. Hazards on, a voice coming from the car not like someone in distress but maybe someone on a phone or keeping a passenger calm. We know that voice, don't we? Oh yes we do. Nathan knocks on the door, rolls down the windows, she looks up, and he actually doesn't even look surprised. Though I wouldn't be surprised if on several levels he wasn't half expecting this, even knowing that that's not what they had arranged when she left. NotAudrey hears "Parker" for Park-her, i.e. the car, and goes on about how she broke the car oops and can he help? Which works right up until he moves enough to give her a look at his sidearm, at which point she does jump. Does not pull a gun of her own and reacts more with fear than anything, so whoever she is now she's not law enforcement. No, it's okay, he's a cop. He's a Nathan. He's also not entirely coherent, poor man. So, Officer Nathan, can you help a Broke-Down Paige, because she's got a hungry baby James in the back seat. Yes. Yes, that is James Cogan, everyone, the writers confirmed it. (I can't wait for that DNA test to come back and the explanations to begin there, because if the Troubles have a genetic marker that stuck around, I will bet you a box of deathtruffles that that baby is genetically James Cogan, i.e. the son of Nathan and AudSarLu. AudSarLuPa? Whatever.) Hello baby James! Your daddy is utterly gobsmacked to see you. Enough so that he's got to take a second. Several seconds, it takes him a bit to come up with pop the hood, and then it takes him a bit of leaning into the car and hyperventilating while she can't see him and having many emotions where it won't scare the amnesiac notAudreyanymore. Going by the way she looks for the hood release it's probably also a rental. Symmetry, dontchaknow. It's unclear whether Nathan even does anything in there, doesn't look or sound like it, but it doesn't turn over this time either. It does start playing Love Will Keep Us Together! Because symmetry. Which symmetry also means Paige slamming the car door shut on Nathan's fingers, which he can actually feel this time around, ouch. He's having feelings even about getting his hand smashed in a car door. Well, this requires she buy him an apology breakfast. Pancakes, of course.
We're not done yet, we have to have CroaShatner (whose name we still don't have, I'm leaning towards Randy Flagg) and Vince playing Statler and Waldorf in the barn and discussing whether or not she could have gone back as Audrey. Aww, I think CroaShatner was starting to like Audrey! But it's okay, Vince says, she knew that if she went back she and Nathan would fall in love all over again. And, honestly, having lived through three incarnations Vince would probably know. The Blue Bronco is literally riding off into the sunset. Aww you guys.
So! That's Haven. We have about… three things left to address, and the first you all saw coming from the first half of the recapalypse, and that's Duke. While okay yes they telegraphed the hell out of this, it's no secret we haven't liked his plotline at MINIMUM since he came back to Haven in the back half of this season. Arguably before that, but that was the point at which there really wasn't any other way to write him and have it be tonally consistent, and frankly we're not fond of sacrificing one of the trio and calling that a happy ending. Hell, Duke had enough aether in him there's NO reason he couldn't have been put in the new barn and potentially healed by it. There was the aforementioned possibility of Audrey claiming her power as an aether wielder and taking the Troubles before Croatoan could get to them, that would have rushed the confrontation a bit but made her somewhat more of an active participant instead of a passive yes all right I will go into the barn one last time. I mean yes, there was agency in her decision, but it was more the agency of acceding to the fact that there were no other good choices. Duke, well, back in season four we addressed the issue of Duke kept attempting to escape his destiny only to be punched in the face repeatedly with the you-can't-fight-fate stick, and if we thought it was bad then wow that didn't hold a candle to what we saw here. Basically, the way things fell out with Duke's plotline, he was there to have a plotstick jammed up his ass so he could be a puppet and bob along to the tune. We are not fans. And finally, we are also not fans of the aspect of Duke's death where he was never allowed the chance to heal out of his trauma and various degrees of self-harm to outright suicide attempts. It's one thing for Audrey or even Nathan, I suppose, to agree to a course of action that leads to death/death of personality, given that they've never experienced (or been shown to have, I suppose) that kind of all-encompassing despair and depression. Even Nathan after he shot the barnvatar was at most passively suicidal, though he did go through an incredibly rough patch. It was still out of his choices rather than out of being controlled by a vast evil being, and an addiction Duke outright said was worse than heroin. It is quite another for Duke's suicidal impulses to be encouraged and carried out by his friends, contradicting the up till now impression that these are the two friends who would understand him or seek to understand him and help him, and work with him for the best possible Duke in whatever circumstances. And while some of that was addressed with Audrey acknowledging and apologizing for how she used him, it by no means made up for Duke's struggles being completely ignored or even exacerbated by the two people who should have supported him best. It reflected poorly on Nathan and Audrey, hamstrung a lot of the development of their friendship and made Duke's death massively unsatisfying to the point where at least as far as the beginning of season five if not back in season four, I'm not sure there was a way to make it satisfying. It did not come across as the happy ending for Duke the writers intended it to be, particularly when we never had any explicit and barely any implicit indication that Duke's death did anything productive. Croatoan clearly had enough Troubles and aether control to be a threat to the whole damn world without Duke's additional powers, so, again, why did he have to die? Say what you want about deaths sometimes not making sense, this show in particular has deliberately sold itself as Everything Has Meaning. Unsatisfying. In the extreme.
The second is the speed of Croatoan's reversal/conversion to good, which is sold purely on Shatner's acting and not at all on the writing, frankly. A lot of that is just that the pacing in the 26-ep season was off from the minute they started, they did NOT know what to do with or have time to figure out the best way to deal with this much room to play and no time to course-correct the way a normal TV show and season would. Yes, they've always had 13-ep seasons written and filmed before they ever started airing (in that respect they're a bit more like the precursor to Netflix/Amazon seasons dropping all in one go, but you still only get to watch one a week), but as it aired they always had that feedback to determine how the NEXT season should go. And they didn't get that this time, and it visibly hurt their ability to plan plot and character beats. To say nothing of having to film all the eps in 9 months when they normally get to take 6 months for 13. That's exactly the kind of thing that results in a rushed, confused mess of a season, unfortunately, and it shows. That SAID, here's an interpretation I'll go with for the sake of my brain: Croatoan only had to make the choice once, and like SO MANY other choices made under duress on this show, he may have regretted it once he made it, but he didn't get to undo it either. We also don't see whether or not he regretted it, or will come to regret it, we only got one post-show glimpse of him talking with Vince outside of any in-show context. And unlike the Troubles cycles, this was a one-off and now you're done. So he gets to make his peace with that however he can. Also, have a slightly disturbing thought that given that Croatoan was riding Dave for a while and possibly had access to his memories, this is the closest Vince will ever come to being reunited with Dave. I know. You're welcome.
Finally, we have Audrey getting personality-wiped and going back as Paige, which is… actually the one we're MOST okay with for a variety of reasons, and seems to be the one fandom as a whole is frothing about? (A: Don't look at me I'm avoiding the tumblr tag.) (K: I have an insatiable curiosity, what can I say.) There's what seems to be a strong contingent who say this isn't the Audrey-Nathan pancakes happy ending they signed up for, or at least were led to expect. And as far as I see most of this is an attachment to Audrey as she is/was, rather than to the overall AudSarLu shared elements (that, as far as I can tell, were a lot more shared elements than the three of them, now four or five of them depending on how we count Lexie? shared with Mara). All things considered this is entirely predictable, understandable, and valid. Especially given how often the repetition of Audrey as dominant personality was played out in the course of the series, even up to overwriting the original personality with Audrey. We've been led for quite a while to believe that Audrey/Nathan has been the endgame here, and it turns out we've been Obi-Wan'd. So, yes, I entirely understand that sense of betrayal. Here's why I don't share it. We've been hammering on choice and the suckass consequences being consequences the characters choose (or at least consequences of their own fuckups) rather than ones other people chose for them for, oh, most of the series, I think? Audrey chose the barn knowing her personality would be wiped and overwritten once already. And she chose the barn again, not knowing she would be returned but quite likely thinking of that as a possible consequence if it turned out not to be forever but for 27 years again. We didn't have the explicit dialogue because we had to have Nathan's love speech of interminable voiceover instead, but I'd strongly bet she at least thought of it. And Nathan accepted her going into the barn knowing both what would happen and what had happened. Not just with both of them knowing what they expected and what had happened with Audrey and the barn and the wiping and the personality overlay, but also knowing what had happened in the past, even in the immediate past, as Audrey slowly came to discover who she was, with Nathan. And this time, not only does Paige have no Troubles to have to deal with, when people react strangely to her or when she sees her photograph on the wall of the Herald or in the police station, when she sees Nathan's sketch, she has an entire town and a bunch of friends much more informed, at least a couple of whom have done this before and can gently, over time, with no urgent problems to solve now, explain to her who she is and has been. And let her reclaim that part of herself how she chooses, and incorporate it into who she wants to be. And to an extent Audrey had that too, but it was over a short period of time, full of urgency and fraught with I must understand this or people will die. Remember what we said about Nathan and Audrey maybe not knowing how to behave as a couple without a crisis to solve? Nathan and Paige won't have that problem. Well, not outside of the normal everyday crises of sick baby or police emergency. Cats in trees, as Nathan said.
So. That's our three major problems. We do have some unexplained potatoes (yes we're finally explaining the potatoes), the State Fair Prize for Unexplained Potato going to Walter, who, what the fuck. Seriously. Is he an aether creature? If so, left by who? Is he a dead Troubled Guy? If so, what on unearthly fuck was his Trouble? Did it have something to do with the tree and the blood? Which is my pet theory, because that also explains the Duke ghost. Maybe he was Walter from End-World or where the hell ever. Maybe he was Flagg. Shudder. Other unexplained potatoes: the Crocker box, its meaning, or rather its deliberate meaning as to the placement because we did yes ultimately decipher the Omnia Vincit Amor, but in that case how the damn Crocker (FitzWilliam, or someone before him who told him?) found out about it. The immortal saga of Howard and Charlotte and Mara and William is FULL of unexplained potatoes. The alien abductee Trouble is kind of an unexplained potato, albeit one that could only have been explained by part of that end montage. I'm pretty sure we're growing unexplained potatoes out here in the Blue Ridge, although the potatoes in Roanoke received... kind of an explanation. I'll accept testing ground as an explanation that implies further internal logic. I'm sure there are more unexplained potatoes lurking around, but we're leaving out the ones that seem to be caused by retcons and their subsequent internal inconsistencies. See also: almost everything to do with Vince and Dave, the Guard, the temporal clusterfuck of 1983, etc.
And that's a wrap on Haven, and along with it a wrap on us ever doing this kind of blogging to airtime+24 deadline again. We'll put out a post over the holidays sometime explaining why, and what we'll be doing with the blog henceforth because yes, we do have plans to continue. And we'll probably miss it. Sometime. Give us a year to not have to deal with any of this shit and we might get crazy enough to think it's a good idea again. In which case feel free to tell us we're being dumb and/or crazy.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go see a guy about a barn.
[exeunt, pursued by a barnvatar]