Siren Season 3 Episode 10 Review: The Toll of the Sea

The Siren season 3 finale delivers, as mermaids face off in an all-out underwater battle.

Siren Season 3 Episode 10 The Toll of the Sea
Photo: Freeform

This Siren review contains spoilers.

Siren Season 3 Episode 10

In the previous episode, Tia unleashed her weaponized song on the unsuspecting citizens of Bristol Cove, sending the small coastal town and surrounding county into a panic. Now, her sonic attack has spread to the entire Pacific Northwest and parts of Asia, making it a global attack. She sends video manifestos to news stations in the affected regions, implicating other nations, presumably hoping countries would turn on each other and finish her work for her, bringing her villainy to its cartoonish peak.

Commander Anderson and Lieutenant Maeda arrive in Bristol Cove with military aid, where they do nothing useful, except find Tia moderately faster than Ben and Ryn would have on their own. They are completely unnecessary in this episode and the entire season, and at this point, I have to wonder if there’s a clause somewhere that mandates the military be included, even when their presence adds absolutely nothing to the story.

Carrying on. Robb arrives with a recording of his people’s echo chamber, which he and Maddie use to revive Xander from the coma he fell into as a result of Tia’s attack. Helen informs Ryn that Hunter abducted Hope, for Tia, so Ryn and Ben set out to find them, and take Tia down once and for all. While Maddie and Robb distribute the cure, and Ryn and Ben hunt Tia down, Xander searches for Sheriff Bishop, who is still missing. Helen and the hybrids volunteer to help the deputies canvas the town for injured folks, and bring them in for treatment.

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Helen asks Ted for use of Pownall’s Seafood Warehouse as a temporary space to treat the injured while the hospital is at capacity. He agrees, despite his unease with the hybrids helping. Later, after watching the hybrids help administer the cure, he… softens to them? Ted Pownall, who has spent all season absolutely seething at the mere thought of mermaids, has a random change of heart, for seemingly no other reason than the story demanded it go no further.

There’s nothing wrong with the attitude change, in theory, though it is a waste of perfectly good buildup for Ted’s villain turn. The issue is in the implementation. Less than 24 hours prior, Ted was fuming at Helen for bringing Eliza to help Xander. Not much later, he was chastising Ryn for daring to exist and for, as he tells it, ruining Ben’s life. Even when Helen asks for use of his facilities, he hesitates. Then two things happen; he sees Ben and Ryn and the hybrids trying to help… again, and he recognizes Tia in the manifesto as the mermaid who almost attacked him. It apparently clicks for him that some mermaids are bad and some are good. This is poorly plotted and throws away an entire season of character work. What was the reason?

Once the military discerns Tia’s location, Ben and Ryn go after her. When they get there, everyone’s gone except Hunter, who is tied up and left to deliver a message. She tells Ryn where Tia has Hope. It is an obvious trap, which Ben reminds Ryn, but she’s undeterred. The entire season has been building up to a conflict and Ryn has been preparing for a rematch with Tia.

Ben and Ryn boat out to the location, and they make a plan for her to lure Tia away while he, who is still experiencing changes from his self-administered stem cell treatments, rescues Hope. This is an iffy plan considering Ben stopped the treatments and could possibly lose his ability to breathe underwater for that long or withstand that much pressure, but it works. Ben is able to brute force open a cell door, and free Hope. They share a really tender moment, then Ben creates a diversion, which gives Hope cover to escape. We don’t know what happens to him.

Donna, who is dead, appears to Camille, and the rest of Ryn’s clan, to tell them Ryn needs them; a moment that is meaningful and well-earned because the show takes time to establish the idea of an afterlife. Through Helen, we learn about mermaid’s spirituality and their connection with their dead, and this scene pays off on all the time we spend with Helen, on her spiritual journey. 

In the water, Ryn’s clan meets up with their leader as she comes face to face with her nemesis. Their small clan is outnumbered by Tia’s forces by a factor of at least five-to-one, and just when it starts to look like an assured victory for Tia, Robb’s clan arrives in support of Ryn. A mermaid melee ensues, and all of the CG budget is spent on high-speed jabs, and floating limbs, in what is a surprisingly well-rendered underwater fight sequence. Ryn gets the upper hand on Tia, and spears her in the chest, killing her. The fighting stops, and all the mermaids bow to Ryn, who may now be the Alpha of all mer-kind.

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On land, Xander finds Sheriff Bishop’s body, which absolutely devastates Maddie. And although it is an emotional moment for her, it rings somewhat hollow for the audience because we spend so little time with Dale this season. It feels like a cop out, like a shortcut to a consequence, with little regard for its impact.

Weeks later, everything is mostly back to normal but Ben is still missing. Xander receives his deputy badge. Maddie and Robb are leaving to travel overseas for the launch of his ocean cleaner-upper. Maddie and Ryn have a sweet farewell. Hope hugs Maddie tightly, mirroring her mother’s emotional connection to her. Helen expresses relief that Tia’s dead which prompts Hope to ask Ryn whether Tia was bad. Ryn tells Hope, “she (Tia) wanted to make the world a better place, protect the oceans for our kind. But she did it in the wrong way. She had many things taken from her, her song, her tribe, her child. This filled her with hate. She had lost all hope in humans. We can make the world better, but we will do it with love.” This is a message that is perhaps more timely than the writers could have anticipated.

Everyone tells Ryn she should let Ben go, but she is adamant he’s alive and that he’ll come back to her. Given what we’ve seen this season, and what we don’t see after he gets Hope to safety, it’s possible he survives, and if there is any justice in the world, Ben will come back in season 4, fully transformed or capable of doing so. MerBen needs to happen, and the foundation has been laid, it’s now just a matter of whether the Siren writers hate joy.

Under different circumstances I might take issue with how quickly and completely this season resolves it’s main conflict, but upon further thought, it’s an appropriate way to conclude the season. The story has been singularly focused on one thing, Tia. Any deviations from the central plot, like Helen’s spiritual journey, have been minor, and ultimately served to strengthen the primary narrative. Siren fit a lot of story into ten episodes, which didn’t always allow enough time for plot points to land with impact. But the season maintains quality throughout, and leaves us with a powerful incentive to return if there is a fourth season.

Witches, vampires, werewolves, fair folk, spirits… These have all been done on TV before, some reaching a level of oversaturation. Television shows (and films) about mermaids do exist, but they tend to skew younger. Siren is in a position to set the standard, and being the only mainstream show about mermaids, it has the opportunity to shape the lore. The final shot of the season is of Ryn, in her mermaid form, perched atop a rock while waves crash around her. This is quintessential mermaid imagery, but what comes next should be something we haven’t seen before.

Siren season 3 is now available to watch in its entirety on Hulu.

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4 out of 5