[Warning: Spoilers for the episode.]
I’m going to date myself here, but I’ve realized that while I bank a ton of crap on my DVR now, I rarely go back and watch things to the degree that I did when I used to old-school VHS record stuff and wear my tapes out rewatching episodes of my shows. All of that is a preface to say that while I’ve been faithfully watching and DVRing Haven, I haven’t been rewatching them. I will be rewatching “Just Passing Through” for a while.
When I chatted with Colin Ferguson this week about the painstaking detail that went into recreating a single photograph, I was a little goofy giddy about it because they were bringing living, breathing color to something that we, the fans, had assigned a great deal of importance. And boy did they deliver.
The basic construct going into this episode is that they were going back to 1983 to find a woman who opened a thinny on the beach the day that James was killed–and they needed to find her so they could have her do it again in the present timeline. Nathan and Vince know, and are explicitly told,Â that they cannot change anything–Vince can’t keep Dave off the beach, and Nathan can’t save his son. Nathan holds to his mission, but Vince wavers, and we and he are left to wonder whether he precipitated Dave’s passage through the void in the first place (time travel is not to be trifled with, y’all).
What Nathan didn’t count on, or really think through, was coming face to face with his dad and Lucy. And did we know Garland and Lucy were close back then? If so, I’ve forgotten. There’s a borderline shudder to that if we overthink it, so I’m going to go with NOT doing that. Nathan, of course, lies to his dad until his dad does his due diligence and catches Nathan in an easy slip up that triggers him to check his FBI backstory.
Nathan comes clean on who (and when) he is, and what he knows, but he leaves the part out about Garland blowing up on the beach. They do, however, have a nice father/son chat, where Nathan finally realizes that everything Garland did for him was to prepare him for the sh-tstorm that Haven is now.
But then Lucy, who’s already decided to go back into the barn, overhears only part of their conversation–if she kills James, the Troubles will end–but she bolts before he gets to the part where everyone Troubled will also die. The news that she must kill her own son sends Lucy down the beach with a gun she borrows from Dave. It’s also interesting to note that there’s a version of Agent Howard running around in 1983 (who does not appear in the episode). Nathan and Garland see her drive off and realize what they’ve done and go after her.
Lucy and James have their stroll on the beach and wish for more time together when she sends him to the car for her sweater so she can level a gun at his back. Nathan interrupts her and tells her who he is. She’s immediately warm to him, touching his face and thankful that he’s there to save all of them and then he breaks her heart when he tells her no, that’s not why he’s there.
They watch from a distance as James is killed on the other side of the beach. He holds her, and then in a move that’s necessary but devastating, he leaves her there alone to get out of the way of Croatoan’s mindwipe. Equally devastating is that Vince accidentally loses his grip on Dave, who slips into the void after he fires a gun into it, and when Dave emerges on the other side, right behind James, he has Croatoan in tow, who then kills James. So now they know the truth.
The person with the thinny Trouble is Barbara Colton, which dovetails into Duke’s arc. So back in 1983, Nathan hands a letter off to a kid who Duke stole from and tasks him with a 31-year tracker mission to find Duke in the present and deliver him the assignment to bring a member of the Colton family (Hayley from earlier this season) back to Haven. That seems a particularly cruel burden, and it’s unclear whether this kid somehow forgot Haven at some point or was one of the few to remember it, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
As for finally seeing James and Lucy together, it packs an emotional punch because we know where it will end, but it was lovely to see Emily Rose and Steve Lund together. They have a fantastic chemistry as mother and son, getting around the roadblock of being so close in age. It’s fun to see him come back to this part, which has considerably less swagger than Nick. And there’s a wink-nudge for Bitten fans when James mentions Arla (played by Laura Vandervoort in season three).
There’s an equally lovely beach scene at the outset of the episode as Nathan and Audrey walk together (where they had that fantastic scene at the end of season one), and Ferguson shared in our interview that the way they’re walking together, arm in arm and his hand over hers, was partly to steady her on the slippery rocks and to reinforce their closeness. I love that scene.
When Nathan comes home to the present again and has to tell Audrey what he saw, she’s sympathetic but it doesn’t hit her the way it hits him. We’ll see whether that manifests for him later on–the very personal price they’ve all paid for the Troubles. I also liked the pacing and blocking of Nathan when he meets Lucy. When he met Sarah, she was an attainable version of an Audrey he couldn’t have in the present, so he didn’t stop himself with her.
This time, with this manifestation, he’s perhaps more self-aware because he is with Audrey, and he’s fought very hard to be with her. And when Lucy is immediately handsy with him, he keeps taking them off his person and gently pushing them back on her. He wasn’t wholly cold–he held onto her when their son died, but he never crossed a line. And this time Audrey didn’t ask him anything about Lucy, when she was so horrified to realize he and Sarah had conceived James.
Jonathan Crombie was fantastic as younger Dave. I didn’t realize until after I watched the episode that it was him, and I’m so glad his fans had this unexpected gift after his passing. Richard Donat was so good, keeping Vince’s same banter with a much younger Dave intact.
When we chatted with Rose in October, she was excited about getting to play Lucy, and that comes through. I loved that Lucy kind of immediately claimed Nathan as soon as he confessed his identity–it didn’t really matter which version of herself he had known before or after–he was automatically hers, too. Lucy seemed to be the most settled and centered, and perhaps resigned, about who, and what, she is, of all the Audrey-based characters we’ve met.
Only six episodes left. I’m so glad they took the time to tell this part of the story, and that Jim Dunn and Sam Ernst returned to craft it when they wrote the original. And it was a such a strong episode for Lucas Bryant, too, as Nathan finally could really, truly talk to his father, even if it was out of order from when he really grieved his dad, and was so angry with him for so long.
I just loved this episode, more than I have genuinely loved an episode of Haven in a very long time.
“Just Passing Through” repeats at 12:30 am/11:30 c tonight on Syfy.
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