Haven: Smile for the Camera

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Only in Haven can there be a trouble that involves a camera that does not record the smiles of its victims, but their last moment as a corporeal entity. In other words, the last impression the objects in the lens leave is a Peter Pan type shadow or, as Nathan, Audrey, Duke and Mara believe, a nuclear blast ashprint. It turns out that all four are wrong about what the shadow signifies although, Mara probably had a pretty good idea, especially since she is the one who helps to solve the riddle of where the trouble originated. While that may not be too much of an imaginative stretch, she did, after all, pass out the original troubles in Haven years ago, and it should be remembered that Mara has been around for a long, long time.

Haven this week features one of the busier episodes in terms of multiple plot threads and it even features a few excellent references to Stephen King’s world of fiction. According to SyFy on their Haven site, two characters are alluded to in the show, Dr. Reynolds is a nod to Susan Reynolds in King’s follow up book to The Shining, Dr. Sleep, and the further adventures of Danny Torrence and character number two is Reginald “Pop” Merrill. The owner/operator of Castle Rock’s The Emporium Galorium is a fan favorite and the writer has brought Merrill, “out of retirement” so to speak several times, one of these times is in the short story that this episode of Haven uses as a plot device.

In the Stephen King short story, and novella collection Four Past Midnight, one tale was The Sun Dog, which featured a camera which did not take pictures of what the lens was pointed at and the one person who displayed a more than healthy interest in this oddity, was Reginald “Pop” Merrill, aka Reggie in Exposure. In the story, a boy receives a Polaroid camera that takes pictures of one thing, a dog that could be described as one belonging to a junkyard and the animal appears to be very ill tempered. Each time the camera is used, the dog becomes more aware of the operator, although the only place the creature exists is in the camera. Being that this story takes place in Castle Rock, things do not end very well for “Pop” Merrill and no one, in fact, leaves with a smile on their face, in this instance Haven’s version of The Sun Dog is cheerful in comparison.

Just like the Polaroid in King’s version of Maine in his world of literature, the camera being used by Amy Potter, fiancee of Morgan Gardner (who believed that he died swimming shortly after being diagnosed with incurable cancer) is innocent. Nathan met the man when he “crossed over” via the mechanizations of the camera in the episode Nowhere Man and it turns out that unlike the instrument in The Sun Dog, it is not the camera’s fault at all. It is Amy’s trouble and it was triggered when she learned that her future husband had cancer and would soon die.

Duke brings Mara some Gunslinger Standard bourbon, another great nod to another great Stephen King work, The Dark Tower series, and after the two “bond” over drinks, Crocker tells the other half of Parker about his mother and she reveals that this particular trouble is so old that it started before cameras were invented. It seems that the first Haven resident painted portraits and the moment the picture was finished the subject vanished leaving behind a blob of paint. Now that time has gone by, the trouble has evolved into the camera vanishing act with a shadow left behind and not paint.

This episode of Haven, where subjects do not smile for the camera but vanish, has a good amount of King references in it. The Sun Dog allusion was a great touch and even though it was the printing of the picture that made the people disappear, the whole idea was close enough to make an instant connection to its literary beginnings. Haven airs Fridays on SyFy and it looks like next week’s episode will look at the wound on Dave’s leg and how it affects the denizens of the island town. Until then, fans of the show need to ask themselves if Mara was really “that” drunk when she solved the puzzle of the pictures for Duke, Nathan and Audrey.

By Michael Smith