This Siren review contains spoilers.
Siren Season 3 Episode 7
The world of Siren is mostly confined to the small coastal town of Bristol Cove, and though we’ve spent more time this season in the water, the view on land has been much of the same. “Northern Exposure” finally takes us to a new place and introduces us to another clan of mermaids.
This episode does a lot to move the story forward, perhaps too much, too quickly. Robb is a mermaid. He comes from an isolationist clan in Alaska, who Ryn knows to be skilled warriors. After a brief —frankly, too brief— conversation, the trio conclude that Tia wants to use the (siren) song against humans, and decide to reach out to Robb’s (estranged) people for help against her.
Robb agrees to this despite knowing nothing about Ryn, and being only a passing acquaintance to Ben. This is my first major gripe with this episode. The story goes from Robb’s reveal to the team flying out to Alaska in what feels like three minutes. There are information gaps that the writing does not seem to acknowledge, namely, what does Robb already know?
If we backtrack to “Borders,” Maddie attends Robb’s talk somewhat randomly, so their meeting is happenstance. She does not make any indication that she is aware of or knows a mermaid, but when Robb shows up in Bristol Cove, he seems… aware. When he and Maddie discover the half-transformed body, he isn’t phased at all, and nothing Maddie says about mermaids (all but saying they’re real) confounds him. Further, he doesn’t seem surprised at how much Maddie knows.
Maddie is upset at Robb for not telling her, but in what universe would that make sense for him to do?! 99.6% of people would laugh in Robb’s face if he told them he was a mermaid, and there is no reason he would think she was that .004% unless he was somehow aware of her relationship to merfolk. It’s unclear whether Robb knows before meeting Ryn who and what she is, but if he knows anything, the question is HOW?!
Moving on. When we meet Robb’s clan in Alaska, we learn: they have a relationship with the (human) locals, they are all born female but are able to transition to male by swimming in a special pool, all their males are dead, and, “the water denies [us] the ability to change,” the pool no longer works. Yura, their leader, initially declines to join Ryn’s fight against Tia, but when the trio and Robb say they can fix the pool, she agrees to fight under that condition. It comes as no surprise that they are able to fix the pool, and Ryn gains much needed allies. Robb, who was shunned before, is invited back, and accepts.
The entire thing is convenient. They’re able to immediately assess the problem, work up a solution, acquire the exact materials they need —in rural Alaska, mind you— and accomplish their goal in… a day. Robb knows someone with a plane, he knows someone with materials, he always has A Way. Robb’s inclusion feels contrived and it’ll be disappointing if his only purpose this season is to be a bridge to this new clan, and if there’s no follow through on the time they spent establishing his relationship with Maddie.
Back in Bristol Cove, things are ominous. Commander Anderson and Lieutenant Maeda are looking for Ben, perhaps looking to replace Commander Kyle. Helen is being haunted by Donna, whose spirit is attached to her now. Boats have been sinking, and when Xander follows the pattern, it leads directly to Nome, Alaska, where Robb’s colony is and where Ryn, Ben, and Maddie are now. Tia fully commits to being a terrorist and literally blows up Ryn’s clan’s secret, healing place, which feels more personal than tactical, and begs the question of whether there’s some deeper motive for her incessant attacks on Ryn.
On a heterosexual note, both couples get intimate. Ryn feels a way that Maddie chooses to share a room with Robb instead of her and Ben, and Ben tells her, “things change. People change.” She asks him about his changes, which she’s noticed, and he tells her about the treatments he’s been giving himself. She does not care at all except for her concern that he’s safe. Earlier, Robb revealed that he can no longer transform, and when Ryn and Ben talk about the possibility she’ll have to choose water or land, Ben says he may be able to visit her in the water. They then take to what is assuredly just above freezing waters together, and Ben, hopped up on mermaid stem cells, swims alongside Ryn— which is a special occurrence for both of them. It’s a beautiful moment but I know that water is too cold for his human body, mermaid enhancements and all, and I could not get away from that thought long enough to delight in the scene.
This season of Siren has a clear end goal, and this episode takes a firm stance on what that goal is. This episode isn’t particularly strong, but it does progress the narrative and set up future conflicts, which is effective, even if it’s not exciting. We’re being introduced to new mermaids and spending more time with them in their element, broadening our scope and raising the stakes. Suspense is building around Tia’s and Ryn’s inevitable showdown, and that clash is one I’m looking forward to.