A fine writer from the Haven series, Brian has been featured many times previously as “Story Coordinator” by IMDB. I took note of Millikin (in this his first full Haven writing credit), when Nora Zuckerman, series writer and story consultant, tweeted about it. Millikin delightfully takes us on a slightly different and somewhat lighthearted approach in the opening sequences of the special 2011 Haven Christmas episode.
We begin with a visual montage of Haven happenings as we hear the voice over of Vince and Dave Teagues (Richard Donat and John Dunsworth). They are arguing, errr talking about the history of Haven and the supernatural “trouble” long affecting the bewitched town including the recent “Sins of the Father” season two finale.
Enjoy the pair of brothers as cunning curmudgeons while you can my friends. Why? Because by episodes end, none may be left standing, literally!
During the banter we have come to enjoy between Vince and Dave, the arrival of Audrey Parker in Haven is discussed, as well as the pivotal role the “Haven Herald” plays in documenting, err engaging in revisionist history about the strange happenings that have long plagued Haven.
We have not yet learned the “trouble” this time occurs during Christmas Eve … and in July no less!
The first sequence we are treated to during “Christmas Eve” is the sight of a young woman riding a surfboard off the coast of Haven.
It is not to be. The music instead is the classic Christmas song “Silent Night” replete with a sound track that reminds one of a toy music box. As we are watching this healthy female specimen, suddenly her arm is severed below the shoulder with a swooshing sound audible for about two seconds. As the camera pans back we discover the entire surfboard has been sliced in two. So in fact has the young lady herself!
One cannot help but notice the two pieces of each (surfboard and woman) are drifting apart in the tide as if a barrier exists between them. Should the two pieces not float in the same direction on an incoming tide? Hold that thought. Featuring Christmas Eve in July, viewers will observe a bit more of the bisected young lady somewhat later in the episode in which all the “trouble” will be revealed.
In this enigmatic and enjoyable chapter of the Haven saga, I pondered the mystery of the relevance to the episode that the “Silent Night” Christmas Music represented. Soon it would become more than annoying. As we would come to learn, the re-iteration of the song each time would bring further losses to the troubled town and people of Haven.
After the grisly view of the young surfboarding victim, the camera pans to the “Welcome to Haven” road sign. The population is noted as 25,121. The next sign is “Haven Joe’s”, a local bakery established in 1949.
We witness Audrey and Nathan (Lucas Bryant) at a table outside the bakery. Audrey wants to know why people are putting up Christmas decorations so early? Nathan is perplexed asking just what time of year should the Christmas decorations go up?
Just as Joe the baker appears with looks like a plate delicious strawberry waffles, “Haven Joe’s finest”, Nathan’s phone rings.
The two leave the bakery and head to the Haven Cinema. Audrey is definitely “troubled” herself as she watches more and more Christmas decorations being put up on the way to the movie house. Upon arrival she asks if “there is a reindeer festival I do not know about?” Nathan gives her a puzzled look like nothing is amiss. But of course there is. Audrey is once again shielded from the towns weird happenings being the only one who is aware that things are changing.
On the theatre entrance marquee we think we see “The Dark Tower” is the featured film. A closer look reveals the film being shown is actually “The Bark Tower – A Dog’s Lighthouse”. A nice touch by the set design and prop departments. I had to look twice myself to be certain.
Inside the theatre, we meet young runaway Hadley Chambers (Niamh Wilson). Hadley has been caught sneaking in the movie theatre “looking for her mother”. The odd thing is that the theatre manager (Kirstin Howell) informs Nathan and Audrey that Hadley does not have a mother. What’s up with that?
Quite in earnest, Hadley interrupts the introductions wanting to know if they have found her mother yet? Audrey says no attempting to break though to Hadley by letting her know that she used to sneak in the movies when she was younger.
Audrey also shares that she did not have a mom when growing up either. No luck. Hadley will have none of it. Could this “troubled” young woman be the source of the recent problems in Haven? Knowing Haven, I suspected the young waif was. More on that theory a bit later, but first back to the story arc’s present.
We suddenly hear the music box version of “Silent Night” again. Audrey asks the manager if she just put this song on only to be informed the sound system has not worked in three years. Nathan calls it a Christmas miracle. Hadley does not say much but has an odd look on her face.
All of a sudden the camera pans back to let us witness a hanging in Haven outside the theatre. A citizen is choking to death from a mass of Christmas tree lighting wire formed into a noose strung over a local utility pole.
As Audrey and Nathan save the poor victim, our attention is artfully but deliberately taken away from Hadley. Nathan blithely says “Hell of a thing to have happen on Christmas Eve, eh?”
Audrey is flabbergasted at the extent to which Nathan seems to be taking the Christmas Eve practical joke gag. She has not yet determined that this is part of the trouble itself. Nathan enters into a conversation about Christmas and why she does not like this holiday when he realizes the reason. Like Hadley, Audrey did not have family to celebrate with.
The brief interlude into what the holidays have become to some, the fakeness and or emptiness felt by many, including Audrey, is artfully done bringing a glimpse into that real world element. The scene concludes when Nathan realizes he has put his foot in his mouth with Audrey because she does not have family nor enjoy Christmas.
Nathan dismisses her attitude for the time being as a result of her past. On the way to the station, Audrey gets serious. She puts out an alert that any crazy people putting up Christmas decoration “crap” are to be brought in for questioning. The dispatcher asks why; “It is Christmas Eve”! Audrey rolls her eyes.
Back at the Haven Herald, Vince and Dave are having their annual end of the year debate about budgets, circulation, and broken equipment. The fact is they are losing money despite a twelve percent increase in readership. Down to only a $10,000 loss in 2011, this year someone has offered to buy the Herald and shut it down to increase the readership of a paper in Bangor.
Vince is for the sale suggesting they should do something else. Dave is furious over the thought. This reviewer chuckled when a funny punch line is delivered by Dave, cleverly inserted into the script about selling the Herald; “After all these decades as newsmen, you want to try blogging?” taking a bit of a good natured swipe at all the bloggers in the real world. It does not matter. Dave will not sell the Herald. Vince stomps out breathing a sigh of disgust throwing the paperwork offer to buy the Herald on the table.
At the police station, Audrey is talking with Hadley’s father Gordon (Craig Eldridge) about her making up stories. As the father leaves to take Hadley home, Audrey learns from Nathan that a half a body has washed up on shore among other troubles including a higher than normal collision rate reported by the fire department.
The shot pans to a “Frosty the Snowman” playing the piano desk ornament. A “zinging” sound effect is heard in the background.
Audrey picks up the telephone receiver to make a call. A pattern has now formed in the story; Instead of a normal dial tone, she hears “Silent Night”. We see Audrey hanging up the receiver genuinely perplexed.
Just as Audrey is about to pick up the phone again, Stan the Cop (Glen Lefchak) shows up in her office informing Audrey that they have made an arrest per her instructions about a crazy person putting up Christmas “crap” all over town! Audrey forgets the “Silent Night” phone call. We are happy when Audrey is visibly relieved now that she has a person to question about this ridiculous Christmas in July business!
Low and behold, “Deck the Halls” and for goodness sakes the suspect turns out to be Santa Claus himself! Well kind of. “Santa” is observed in full regalia in the holding cell dancing around gleefully. Audrey asks him if he “wants to lose the costume”. After a “Tis the Season” and a few “Ho, Ho Ho’s” Santa asks Audrey if she would like to sit on his lap? Santa did not ask Audrey if she was naughty or nice, but there is a funny “naughty or nice” gag line later.
Audrey has had just about enough and enters the cell. Apparently the entire Haven police department is in on the joke. Santa in this case turns out to be none other than Duke Crocker (Eric Balfour). All of the Haven police officers are seen laughing at the cell doorway as Audrey removes Duke’s whiskers and Santa cap.
Audrey comments that neither she nor they will forget the practical joke, but she does mention it is one of the most elaborate pranks she has ever had pulled on her with “half the town” decked out for Chritsmas.
In another chuckle worthy moment, deadpan Duke and Nathan inform Audrey that it is normal to have Christmas in July. Answering an ageless Santa question long sought by billions, Duke adds that Santa only wears a heavy flannel suit because he lives at the North Pole.
Perfect! Merry Christmas! In July!
Look again, Stan is gone and no one remembers he ever existed except Audrey as evidenced by Nathan asking “Who is Stan”?
At this point in the story, this reviewer was reminded a bit of a similar plot in “Remember Me” (1990) from Star Trek: The Next Generation where the Enterprise crew disappeared one by one from an alternate reality being experienced by Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden). In that story, the Enterprise was surrounded by an ever shrinking warp bubble that had trapped Dr. Crusher leaving her near episode end as the only inhabitant in the other universe cycling to extinction.
Later we will learn that the Haven “Silent Night” story is different in that Audrey and another are not affected by the phenomena. Duke leaves the room as he, Nathan and Audrey are chatting about her “imaginary friend” (Stan the Cop). Audrey knows there is something wrong in Haven, reiterates that it is not Christmas Eve, and wonders how all of the events are possibly connected? Nathan on the other hand is firmly convinced that everyone knows that it is Christmas Eve. Everyone except Audrey that is!
Series writer Brian Millikin deserves more kudos for the next brilliant moment of humor in the episode. Audrey and Santa (Duke) are headed back to “Haven Joe’s Bakery”. As they emerge from the vehicle, we see two lovely women dressed as elves in short shirts. Duke informs the pair that Santa is flexible “this year” and that he will accept both the “naughty or [the] nice”.
Lecherous Duke, ogles the two while Audrey gives Duke a wry look that would turn a lesser person to stone. Nevertheless, it was a nice break in the story using a Santa tradition turned into a touch of Christmas humor in Haven enjoyed by this reviewer.
Arriving at the “Haven Bakery” (sans Joe’s name). Joe no longer exists. Audrey knows for sure that what is happening is a “trouble” afflicting Haven and only she remembers the people who have been eliminated.
As she and Duke are examining it, Duke asks why they are there in the first place and why are there no other law enforcement on the scene?
A second peek under the blue tarp illustrates that the body of the young girl goes missing too as Duke asks “Remind me what was under here”?
Audrey goes to visit with Dave and Vince to ask about similar disappearances in the past. There is discussion of “The Gingerbread Man” conspiracy which resulted in a massive cover up.
Neither Vince or Dave reveal details of “The Gingerbread Man” conspiracy at this time. This reviewer certainly hopes that we will learn more about “The Gingerbread Man” conspiracy in the 2012 Christmas episode!
Vince and Dave do some thinking and recall a similar incident in November of 1955. Trouble happened including the appearance of a real “life sized” train set running on its own circular track in the middle of a field in Haven!
While Duke is observed eating Christmas cookies and milk like Santa, they learn of an exception in the story; in 1955 not all of the townspeople vanished, but of the ones who did, relatives and neighbors of one Arthur Chambers, were ever heard of again.
This despite the fact Arthur Chambers remembered the people. Audrey puts together that Chambers mystery ended when he killed himself because he failed to bring back the missing people in 1955.
Audrey knows this past incident must somehow be related to Gordon and Hadley! During the exchange, Dave discusses the current population of 3,101 in Haven. Yikes! More citizens of Haven are gone, now over 18,000 people in total are missing!
Back at the station Audrey convinces Duke and Nathan that this is a real “trouble” in Haven and they must find our what it is. Nathan wants to stay behind on duty, but Audrey says “make it my Christmas present”. Nathan retorts he is beginning to hate Christmas too!
As they head out to find Gordon Chambers, the affects of disappearances begin to move quicker now. The highways in Haven are littered with wrecked cars and motorcycles, all abandoned, all with no drivers.
Just as the three come to the conclusion that many of the cars appear to have hit an invisible wall, Duke and Nathan talk to each other about his most wanted Christmas gift, a “Chrome Lightning Race Sled”.
It turns out Nathan wanted one for Christmas too in a twist to the story revealed only at the end of “Silent Night”.
While examining the wrecked cars, we return to the “Welcome to Haven” sign. Just as Audrey notices the new population of 1,749 souls while talking to Duke, he suddenly vanishes and Nathan, just talking to him seconds ago, cannot remember Duke and asks why Audrey she is talking to herself!
Upon further investigation, she has found a giant curved transparent wall, “a really big one” that stretches around the entire town.
Using a nice VFX aerial shot of the Haven coast-line for the alternate reality “bubble” effect, we see for ourselves the entire town of Haven is indeed trapped inside a huge shimmering glass dome. The troubled town is completely cut off from the outside world!
Nathan unloads a few rounds into the glass dome. The alternate reality barrier is not even scratched! A quick pan shot to the “Welcome to Haven” reveals over 500 townspeople have been “erased” from this timeline in just a few minutes!
Here the miniature replica of the full sized train set made by Arthur Chambers is discovered. As Audrey and Nathan theorize about Christmas toys coming becoming real to explain the coincidental past and current disappearances, the both experience an epiphany when they see a shelf full of snow globes a set of which says “Haven”.
It would appear they have their suspect, Hadley’s father Gordon. A different Christmas melody “Joy to the World” begins playing. In the next second we hear glass break as Nathan drops the Haven globe he was holding.
The music stops and Audrey thinks he too has disappeared.
Being the only one exposed to the other song, Audrey eases Nathan’s mind telling him “We are looking for the one that plays ‘Silent Night’!”
A *hugs in Haven* moment occurs when alternate reality Nathan states that believes in Audrey and should have trusted her from the beginning of this incident. Our moment fades as “Silent Night” is heard once again and Nathan vanishes before our very eyes!
Bye, bye Nathan!
Panicked, Audrey returns to the Haven Herald for answers. Vince is sitting there looking quite confused. He asks Audrey “Did you ever feel like you forgot something really important”? What could it be that Vince has forgotten? The scene is most convincing, adding a sense of reality to the world turned up side down!
Audrey replies in the affirmative that she does relate to the problem, but first she must find out where Gordon Chambers lives. As we take a quick look around the office, interestingly enough there are no signs of Dave. Audrey has not yet noticed.
Vince says finding Chambers should be easy since there are only twenty (20) people in Haven. As he hands the subscription register to Audrey, Vince confirms that all nineteen (19) Haven residents receive the Herald. Wrong again Vince! The Haven Herald paper clearly states that there are 17 Havenites left!
Armed with the address, Audrey confronts Gordon. By this time there can be very few people left. Can Audrey stop Gordon?
At his home, Gordon admits what the toys can do. He recalls the legendary work of his grandfather and the train set that became real.
As Gordon confesses it must be his fault, he says he cannot remember if he even had a wife. He says he “must have had a wife” since he has a daughter whom he lovingly calls “Radley”. Audrey gets it and determines that if Gordon cannot remember, it must not be him, it must be Hadley since she remembers her mother! As Gordon confesses Hadley has her own snow globe, “Silent Night” is heard once more and poof, no Gordon.
In the final sequences with more effective use of VFX, Audrey figure s out that Hadley is at the Haven cinema. The sound of “Silent Night” is heavy in the air. The theatre marquee now says “ “For Hadley Merry Christmas” as all the buildings are turning into cartoon like characterizations of their former selves becoming the snow globe.
The end is near. Inside we find the poor unhappy Hadley all alone. She has her Haven snow globe but does not believe it is the cause of the problems. She it is all really normal since people always abandon her. Hadley tell Audrey likes to be alone, and that it has always been this way for her.
Becoming frightened as Haven enters the final stage of conversion to snow globe, Hadley begins to believe she may be at fault. She admits she has been sending people away who had “left her”.
Audrey shares with Hadley that real life is a tough thing, but that her parents do love her, that her Dad had referred to her endearingly calling her “Radley”, and he was even on the way to save her when he disappeared into the snow globe world.
Hadley, tears in her eyes, freely turns the globe over to Audrey agreeing to give up her snow globe fantasy planned life.
This reviewer certainly cannot speak for everyone, or even anyone for that matter, however, the snow globe Haven world almost looked better than the “real life” world we live in. Just kidding. Kudos once more to the VFX team. Subtle nice touches iced the episode.
A second later all is restored. The movie theatre has people again, and Hadley’s mom (Jacquie Thillaye) returns from the restroom asking about how long she was gone?
Audrey and Duke have a cell phone conversation. Duke is wandering close to the site of all the accidents on the highway he disappeared from thinking he may have caused them.
Not an illogical train of thought, Duke thinks so because he is still in the Santa outfit having a Haven moment. Audrey assures him all is well after he helped her. We see Audrey smiling looking at all the happy people in the threatre… watching the doggie movie, during a normal non Christmas moment in July!
But not so fast! Nathan wants to know why he woke up in a toy store? As the camera moves back, the final sequence is Audrey throwing a Christmas party in July in Duke’s bar! Duke enters wanting to know why there are so many cop cars in the parking lot?
Dave and Vince are there too. They tell everyone that nobody at the party can remember what happened to them that day and would Audrey fill them in?
Audrey demurs “I would rather read about it in the Herald”. Vince says it may be their last paper. Audrey knowing about the purchase offer, tells him no, the Herald is the only reason that the town of Haven is still there. Dave and Vince are pleased and begin to conjure up a revisionist history story to print.
The last scene is right out of a Christmas setting with Audrey giving her friends Duke and Nathan, really just two little boys at heart, the gift they never got growing up, a shiny “Chrome Lightning Race Sled”. She tells them they must share the sled. Like a mother telling her two “little boys” to behave, this reviewer chucked at similar family memories.
Audrey closes telling the two about what happened that day: “I was reminded how important friends really are and how lucky we are to be here” as the entire group sings “We Wish You a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”
This reviewer liked was the alternate Haven snow globe reality, much like a Fringe or Stargate alternate universe story. In re-telling the tale, the creator’s utilization of new elements into the adventure like the model train set (which became real) was enjoyable. As an ex-modeler of trains, what hobbyist did not want the full size version? The VFX scenes with Audrey looking in on “her” Haven reality a nice touch too. Finally the use of humor blended into the telling of the tale, sprinkled throughout, also provided extra shine that made “Silent Night” sparkle.
Thanks Haven Team. Well done with cheers to everyone!
We include below the entire episode courtesy of Syfy via Hulu. Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to all!
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