This Siren review contains spoilers.
Siren Season 3, Episode 4
Things are very complicated in Bristol Cove. Ryn recently discovered her egg was implanted into a hybrid woman without her knowledge, and that the woman, Meredith, has carried a full-blood mermaid baby to term. In last week’s episode, Ryn and Cami went to Meredith’s side, and Cami killed Brian, who she determined was a threat. Moments later, Maddie walked in, alongside Xander, who needed no new reasons to be wary of Ryn’s people. Meanwhile Ben was somewhere clandestinely testing Donna’s ill-gotten bone marrow on himself.
Helen is called to help with cleanup. She and Xander take Brian’s body to the hybrid’s compound, where he can be properly laid to rest — and have his body destroyed, leaving nothing that can expose him, or the other hybrids. Helen negotiates a safe place for Meredith to deliver. She speaks to Beth about seeing Sarge again after his death, and about her vision of Donna, which Beth interprets as Donna calling out for help. We can make the connection between Donna’s appearance to Helen, and Ben’s exhumation of her body for his research, but that won’t be clear to them until Ben confesses or is exposed. This feels like something that can break Ben and Ryn, the way Ian broke Ben and Maddie.
If there was ever any hope that Ben and Maddie would get through their ideological disagreement, that has all but disappeared in this episode. Maddie has been spending more time with Rob, and even amidst everything that’s going on with Ryn, she’s happy to see him when he shows up unannounced like someone who does not value other people’s time. When Ben realizes the two are getting closer, he grills Maddie about him, and asks her what she’d do if he found out about Ryn. She fires back at him, “what would you do, kill him?” I’m sure Eliza has a salve for that burn.
All jokes aside, Ben is really making questionable moral choices. Whether or not he’s making them for good reasons, he is still behaving in ways the people who are closest to him would disapprove of, which he knows or he wouldn’t be operating in secret. When his actions become common knowledge, he’ll have to reckon with the decisions he’s made and confront the people he’s hurt. A lot of people have been hurt directly, and indirectly, due to Ben’s actions. He’s done a lot to protect Ryn, but maybe not enough to also protect his neighbors and friends, like Xander.
Xander’s entire life was upended when mermaids became a regular presence in Bristol Cove, and he’s had to evolve to keep pace with the ever-growing threats to his people and his home. I said in my review last week, “It’s no wonder Xander felt compelled to apply for a job in law enforcement. Instead of trying to get people to treat mermaids with the proper level of fear, he’s empowering himself to be able to do what’s necessary whenever the threat reveals itself.” Xander reiterates this in his own words, telling Helen, “seems like I can better protect the people I love with a badge on my chest.”
Xander has been on both sides of the fight with merfolk, and he’s developed a more nuanced understanding of them. That said, he knows that Ryn and her clan are not the only ones out there, and he’s one of a few people who are aware of the potential danger. When he’s doing a ride along water patrol as a part of his officer training, they get a call about a disabled boat, and it happens to be Calvin’s. He immediately fears the worse, having just been warned about Tia. It turns out to be a minor thing, but his fear was real. That fear is justified, but now it’s a matter of how he copes with it, and whether he turns it into a weapon or a crutch.
Speaking of weapons, Cami is still more instinct than intellect, and she’s dangerous when she or her family are threatened. Helen admonishes her for killing Brian, which she seems to accept. Helen is only part mermaid —a descendant of Charles Pownall, whose love, then slaughter of mermaids is legendary in Bristol Cove— but her connection to Ryn’s people is undeniable. She is respected among Ryn’s clan, and even more so than Ben or Maddie, a true bridge between the water dwellers and people on land. Helen has been a strong supporting character since episode one, and has been integral to the story, and her wisdom and spirituality bring an excellent balance to Ben’s and Maddie’s youthful stubbornness and arrogance. It’s a pleasure to watch Helen explore and connect with the mermaid parts of herself.
But being part mermaid does not make one a mermaid, a lesson learned the hard way when Meredith gives birth to Ryn’s baby — the first mermaid born in many years, possibly decades based on how they age — and dies due the strain on her body. But she was mermaid enough to carry the baby to full term, and what that means for Ryn, and their entire species, and how that knowledge may be used, opens up a lot of storytelling possibilities for Siren.
Somewhere in the ocean, we see a group of merfolk preparing to ambush another, a reminder that there is a very real threat lurking. Ryn takes the baby into the ocean, unsure if they will even survive the transformation, but having to do it because the baby is degrading on land. Once in the water they both transform, and the merbaby is healthy and happy in the sea, innocent and unaware of the danger they’re in. The stakes have never been higher, and Siren is unafraid to dive into the deep end.