This Siren review contains spoilers for Episodes 1 & 2 of Season 3.
Siren Season 3, Episode 1 & 2
A woman dressed as a flight attendant boards a private jet to Seattle. In the air, the pilots get word that she’s not on the manifest, but before they can do anything with that, she kills them, then parachutes out the plane, letting it crash with four remaining passengers on board. When she hits the water, she transforms into a mermaid. This is where we meet Tia, and she’s a cold piece.
Last season, reporter and eco-activist Ian Sutton, witnessed Ryn transform into a mermaid. He attempted to kidnap Ryn, to expose her, but he drove off a cliff and was stuck in his car underwater instead. Ben had made it to him in time to help, but decided not to; Ian subsequently died.
When Maddie confronts Ben about tensing up whenever Ian is mentioned, he reveals that he could’ve saved Ian, but made the conscious choice not to. Maddie is upset, and Ryn doesn’t quite understand her reaction. This is another of those human things that Ryn can’t easily grasp because there is no cultural equivalent for her kind. This kind of misunderstanding is something this show does well. Mermaids are at least as smart humans, but their emotional intelligence and their capacity for empathy, is different. Mermaids kill to defend themselves, and Ben let Ian die to protect Ryn, and her kind, from him exposing their secret. So, to Ryn and to Ben, it was a logical choice.
Last season, Ben, Maddie, and Ryn were a unit, completely in sync with one another. Ben and Maddie did whatever was needed to protect Ryn and her tribe, and Ryn offered herself to be experimented on to protect Ben, and help cure his mother Elaine of the condition that left her paralyzed from the waist down. Ben’s revelation threatens that—because Maddie cannot rationalize his actions the way he has. Even though she understands his reasoning, she may not be able to accept it and move on.
Maddie travels to Seattle to speak to a (handsome, charming) Elon Musk-type about his plan to remove plastic from the oceans, things don’t stay strictly business. This is the first major falling out Ben and Maddie have had in a long time, especially since they united around Ryn, and it’ll be interesting to see how their dynamic changes. I have faith that the writers can approach this with the appropriate nuance, and it makes for a strong internal conflict between this tight-knit throuple.
Another thing that complicates their dynamic is Tia. Tia tells Ryn she was captured 10 years ago by Russians who taught her and made her stronger, even as they experimented on her. She escaped, and came to find Ryn so they can unite their tribes, and all the other disparate tribes across the globe, to protect their livelihoods in the ocean. Ryn agrees that their kind needs to unify against the common threat, but she doesn’t know the full extent of Tia’s plan, so she takes a calculated risk in trusting her.
Tia, as it turns out, does not see it for humans. She uses Ben’s phone to set a meeting with Commander Kyle, where she ambushes and kills him. This has major implications for Ben, and his family, because of Ben’s uneasy relationship to the military, and Kyle’s involvement in developing Elaine’s treatment (using ill-gotten mermaid stem cells).
Meanwhile, Ted, Ben’s father, is completely wrecked over memories he can’t quite reconcile of seeing a woman in the ocean, the same night as the accident that left his wife paralyzed. After seeing a photo of a woman with no gear “free-diving” at over two-thousand feet—actually, Ryn destroying Kelsco Oil’s rig—he started to question whether he hadn’t made up the entire thing. He investigates his accident, which leads him back to where it happened and, when he foolishly jumps into the tempest, he is beset upon by Tia.
Ryn intercepts Tia before she can get to him, and they fight. It takes all of this for Ben to finally let his dad in on the secret. How this changes their relationship, and whether Ted will be friend or foe to merpeople is yet to be determined. If he’s on their side, he makes a powerful ally, but he’ll make an equally powerful enemy. And allies are in short supply, as Tia reminds us.
Like any good villain, Tia makes many valid points. She wants to unite all the mermaid tribes to rise up and destroy humans. And while we can all agree that humans as a whole are a scourge on this planet, we number in the billions, and mermaids… do not. I don’t know what her plan is, and I am intrigued by it all the same. Tia is very powerful, which Ryn learns the hard way when she engages her in a fight that she barely gets away from. We can only guess at what she’s capable of, and how dangerous she’ll be if she manages to find allies of her own. And with Helen being contacted by the spirit of Sarge —who died destroying the rig—who warns her, “war is coming”—we can only assume Tia will be back in force.
Siren has always had a soft focus on the conservation and preservation of our oceans and sea life. Ben and Maddie both work for a non-profit that focuses on those goals, and the writing has always been critical of people and industries who destroy ocean ecosystems for power or profit. In the world of Siren, mermaids are complex creatures who have intelligence, language, culture, and—as we see in this episode—spirituality. With mermaids, and Ryn in particular, the writers give a face, and voice, to the otherwise unseen “other” who is directly affected by pollution, overfishing, and ocean warming. And where that can feel overly preachy in other circumstances, it feels apt for this show, and doesn’t detract from the story or the characters.
Season 3 promises to expand the scope of this story, taking it from a small fishing town, to one that spans continents. I have confidence that the writers can accomplish this feat, and look forward to watching this story unfold on a grander scale.
- The CG mermaids improve season over season, and I am impressed by the quality considering this is not a monumentally-budgeted, prestige TV show. I hope we get to see more of the mermaids in their natural form this season.