It’s Founders’ Day in Haven this week in “Survivors,” and as any Vampire Diaries fan well knows, this means that something is likely to go horribly awry. And soon enough, a body that has seemingly spontaneously combusted is found in the park in the middle of the festivities. And then another in a cab, and four more in a cafe. Nathan and Dwight, assisted by Duke and Jennifer, eventually identify the Troubled person as a former Haven firefighter named Don, who left town after his partner was killed in a fire during the meteor storm – and he survived. Now Don’s back in town to receive a service medal during a Founders’ Day ceremony, but his survivor’s guilt whenever anyone thanks him for his service is triggering his Trouble and making the person he’s talking to burn to death in the same way his partner did – and Don has no idea.
Nathan, who is still semi-reluctantly carrying out his detective duties while looking for Audrey, offers to talk Don down before he accidentally burns up the whole town, which makes sense both because Nathan can’t feel it when he starts smoldering and because he’s dealing with plenty of survivor’s guilt himself. It takes a while, but he finally manages to get through to Don, and makes explicit the connection that had been nicely understated until now: He too lost his partner and misses her every day, but he manages to, if not overcome his guilt and grief, at least channel it into some sort of productivity. “But guilt is not important. Doing what’s right now is,” he tells Don. “Our partners wouldn’t want us to make things worse, they’d want us to make things better.” Nathan’s having a hard time making things better these days, though, as much of the town is hostile toward him, blaming him for the recent traumatic events and the way he took off for a while.
Jordan spends most of the episode whining to Duke and Dwight and to Vince (as head of the Guard) about Nathan being on the “front lines” of dealing with the Troubles and therefore risking his life, because of course she wants him to stay alive until Audrey can kill him. Isn’t she delightful? (At one point, Duke threatens to shoot her to keep her from interfering with Nathan. Aww.) At the end of the episode, she lashes out, claiming that Nathan has only ever pretended to help people – he really only does anything for Audrey. I suppose we could get into the question of how much intentions matter when the act of helping is committed either way, but as Duke very correctly points out, Nathan was helping people long before Audrey came to town anyway. Is Jordan just jealous? Or is she really that devoted to her cause? A combination? Something else entirely?
The Guard also doesn’t want any more Crockers in town than absolutely necessary, as Duke finds out when Wade mentions that Vince and Dave tried to buy the bar when everyone thought Duke was dead. Duke doesn’t want his brother to stick around either, but when Wade catches his wife cheating on him (using a nanny cam he purchased for this reason, instead of, I don’t know, trying to talk), he announces that he’s going to stay in Haven until his divorce is settled. He’s excited about having the chance to get to know his brother, but neither Duke nor Vince are happy with this turn of events. Wade does get the funniest moment of the episode, when he tells Duke that he had been looking at real estate in Haven but discovered that insurance rates were ridiculously high. I love when shows think through the real-world applications of their supernatural elements like that.
Jennifer is still hanging around with Duke and Nathan, getting pulled farther and farther into the life of Haven as she tries to help Nathan with his search for Audrey and also winds up being the closest thing to a witness at one of the incineration events. By the end of the episode, Jennifer has decided – or accepted, depending on how you look at it – that she’s Troubled, not mentally ill, and she goes off her meds in hopes that this will clear her mind enough to be more helpful in the search for Audrey.
Meanwhile, Audrey is still Lexie and still at the bar, and William is still bothering her, insisting that she isn’t who she thinks she is but not really telling her anything useful. Maybe try a new plan, William. But before he can come up with another tactic, the threatening guy returns, along with another (larger) threatening guy. When William agrees to go with them, Audrey/Lexie, thinking the men will kill William, has some sort of flash of memory and assembles and loads William’s gun so she can make the men release him. Two questions here: Don’t they also have guns? Why was it game-over as soon as Audrey/Lexie had one? And do we think they’re actually a danger, or are they working with William to scare Audrey/Lexie into believing him and/or remembering her past? If so, it sort of works, as Audrey/Lexie ends up pulling the gun on William and demanding answers. William: “I know who you are. But if I tell you, there’s no going back.” Okay then. Please go forward.
Because really, I’m not thrilled with this season so far, and Audrey being both separated from everyone and not herself is not helping. The expanded cast isn’t really making up for the giant hole in the soul of the show when the central trio aren’t together (even though I do like Jennifer, at least). If Nathan’s search for Audrey were a more dynamic storyline, I’d be more okay with it all, but “Yeah, I called a bunch more hospitals. Nothing” does not compelling drama make. (Interestingly, it’s Duke who correctly theorizes that Audrey doesn’t know who she is.) We know Audrey won’t actually kill Nathan, so the whole Guard storyline has a sort of false tension, and Jordan is not a particularly sympathetic face for that side of things. So I’ll admit that I’m a bit worried about where this season is headed, but I’m willing to stick it out and hope things improve once the band gets back together.
(Image courtesy of Syfy.)