This Siren review contains spoilers.
Siren Season 3 Episode 8
Ryn’s alliance with Robb’s clan comes at the perfect time for Siren. Tia is amassing an army, and the sheer volume of their voices could bring humankind to its knees. But Tia may needn’t have bothered. While she was held captive in Russia, they took her song from her, and they’ve now found a way to weaponize it. When Tia hears about a sonic attack in Ternipol, Ukraine, she goes back to her captors, to reclaim her voice.
Ben makes contact with Commander Anderson, who came looking for him while he was in Alaska, and informs him about Tia and her plans. Anderson admits their facility was hit and that the recording of Ryn’s song, which counteracts negative effects of hearing a Siren Song, are gone. Not coincidentally, the military makes a swift exit from Bristol Cove. While helping Chris (who I entirely forgot about) pack up, Xander liberated Donna’s remains and those of Helen’s family. Now Donna can be returned to water, and her spirit can rest— and leave Helen alone.
Xander has stepped up in every way, as Best Man to Calvin. As friend, and protector to Ben, Maddie, Ryn, and her clan, by proxy. As confidant to Helen. Xander is essential. We have no choice but to Stan.
In previous seasons, the military was ever-present, but they are surprisingly absent now, considering the severity of the threat. If their experimentation on Donna was meant to give them some tactical upper hand over their foreign enemies, it appears they are a solid decade too late. What’s more, they lost what little they had to protect themselves and everyone else from someone who would weaponize the Siren Song in the exact way Russia has. The clown JUMPED OUT. Now that I think about it, the military as a concept in this show may be somewhat underdeveloped. The writers haven’t quite nailed down their function. They’re a foil, but just barely. They are antagonistic but never quite rise to the level of being genuinely frightening. They’re a flop.
Not a flop: Ben and Ryn. Now that they are aware of the possibility —or inevitability— of Ryn having to choose between life on land or in the sea, they are consumed by it. It’s not something they can prepare for because there’s just not enough information. Robb had a few years of constant back and forth before he lost the ability to transform, but Ryn may have less time… or more. The not-knowing is what scares them. Ben sees the stem cell treatments as a possible solution, a way for him to be a part of Ryn’s world in the water.
Ben, Maddie, and Ryn boat out to retrieve Klesco Oil’s sonic cannon, to use against Tia’s army when they attack Bristol Cove. While Ryn is in the water, Ben and Maddie believe she’s in danger, so Ben dives into the water to protect her —sans gear— and he’s in the water for 15 minutes, much to Maddie’s distress. Back on board the boat, his breathing shallows, his hands start to web, and gills begin to form on his torso. He’s in the beginning of a transformation! (You love to see it.) This is deeply upsetting to Maddie because she’s unaware of the treatments he’s been giving himself, but to Ben and Ryn, this was maybe something they both secretly hoped for.
Maddie convinces Ryn to convince Ben to cease the experimentation. Ryn, in her fervor to keep Ben safe and close, says she will stay human on land with him when the time comes, and that they will be a family with Hope, and they dump what’s left of the material into the sink (as far as we know). It sounds like a happy ending, except water is home for Ryn, and Ryn’s Otherness is a big part of what attracted Ben to her. She wouldn’t be fully herself as a human, stuck on land for good. She wouldn’t be the person he loves, not entirely. Watching Calvin and Janine exchange vows brings this into sharp focus for both of them, and they both know she wouldn’t be able to choose land. They love each other, “til death do us part,” and they’ll just have to figure out the logistics when the time comes.
Frankly, the exploration of Ryn’s decision to stay on land should have taken longer than five minutes. She obviously made the declaration hastily and without giving it the consideration it requires, but she realizes that almost immediately, taking no time to really sit with the possibility. There’s no tension, and no weight. I am not one of those people who believe healthy fictional relationships are boring, but I do think there has to be space given to examine and reflect on things without immediately coming to an agreement. Writers can’t rush to resolutions in other aspects of Ryn’s life in order to propel us toward her confrontation with Tia.
Ben becoming a mermaid feels like the endgame, and is something I suspected might happen long before he started treating himself with mermaid stem cells. Ben has always been positioned as the Other among his friends and other people in Bristol Cove. His family is wealthy and are descendants of legends, they are not like everyone else. He also works extremely hard to be unlike his dad. Ryn becoming human feels blasphemous in a way, a betrayal of who she is, whereas Ben becoming a mermaid feels like the natural culmination of his story and all of the things he’s done since Ryn came into his life, and even before then. Ben’s swim with Ryn in the last episode and near-transformation in this one feels like foreshadowing, and I for one am entirely for Mermaid Ben.
That said, I take issue with how this relationship has progressed this season. Ben, Maddie, and Ryn were in a polyamorous relationship, the three of them together, but only Ben and Maddie fell out. The relationship last season felt equal, but Ben and Maddie’s breakup assigned heirarchy where none should’ve existed. Somewhere between their estrangement, Robb’s appearance, and Ryn becoming a mother, Maddie and Ryn just… stopped being together. I’m absolutely fine with this if the writing takes the time to be explicit about what the relationship is now, but it hasn’t so far. Maddie and Ryn “are love,” they kiss, they’re still close, but somewhere along the line, it stopped being romantic, and no time was really spent establishing the new dynamic. It has the unintended effect of making Maddie’s and Ryn’s relationship feel lesser than Ben’s and Ryn’s, but those bonds formed and were nurtured at the same time. Fix it, Neptune!
Moving on. Tia meets up with the man who helped her escape, who thinks he’s her lover and not her mark, like a dummy. She invites him to a hotel room and barely even feigns interest before choking him to death and stealing —recovering— recordings of her song. (If Tia wasn’t coming for my folks,, I’d ride for her.) Back in Bristol Cove, Xander answers a phone call, and the sound he hears causes him to collapse. Shit is very real.
Tia has a working weapon that can be deployed in a plethora of ways. She has an army of mermaids, who are brutal and greatly outmatch even the strongest humans. She has a single-minded focus on Ryn specifically, and seems to want to hurt her, not just to advance the mission, but for personal gratification. Maybe it’s deep-seated envy and misplaced anger that Ryn found a safe place among humans. Whatever the reason, she’s relentless, and she’s bringing the fight to land. Siren is going full tilt on Tia’s war, here’s hoping for epic underwater fight sequences and emotional arcs that hurt and satisfy.
If Xander dies, it’s a wrap. I said earlier, and I’ll reiterate, he’s essential. Not only to the other characters (which he is) but to me. I am very invested in his survival and overall wellbeing, and I expect the writers to have some couth. I get it, there are casualties in war, but Ben is right there and if it has to be somebody…
Which character on Siren is untouchable to you?