Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Siren, Season 1, Episode 1: The Mermaid Discovery

A fishing boat in the Bering Strait nets up something big and violent

See, David Attenborough told you about plastic in the ocean. But did you listen? No. No you did not. And now he’s taking direct action

I tried to find a picture of a menacing David Attenborough here but since he lives in a state of perpetual childlike joy I couldn’t find one. So here’s one of him looking mildly disappointed: and is there anything more devastating than the idea David Attenborough being disappointed in you?

The murder fishy injures one of the crew and the captain calls for help - and in comes ominous black helicopters filled with military types here to rescue the ominous murder catch. Oh and the wounded person, which really matters to them, honestly

They don’t even pretend to be coastguard. Black Ops are not even trying to be covert any more.

So from here we go to Bristol Cove, a town in the Pacific Northwest which is obsessed with mermaids and contains a mix of people who wear thick woolen clothing in the weather and others who wear shorts. I think Pacific Northwesters have the same weather attitude as Canadians but more umbrellas and less snow shovels.

Introducing the Pownall family, local celebrities because they’re descended from founding fathers (is this really a thing in America? Do you really care? “My great great grandfather was influential in setting up this small village” is something you put on your CV or something?). They’re charming, media savvy, great grandaddy was allegedly involved with mermaids and this town is so very very very boring that this is what passes for exciting celebrity.

Daddy Pownall is an arsehole, loathed by his wife and he makes apparently frequent behind-closed-door-jabs at her and her disability (she uses a wheelchair). She tolerates him because he’s got the money and is heavily invested in appearances. Son #1 is The Good One who plays along

So it’s time to see the sexy Bad One who doesn’t - and you know he’s going to be sexy. And lo, we’re introduced to him half naked and sexy in a boat being kind to animals for MAXIMUM HAWTNESS. Despite the feelings of his mother, he has no real interest in playing along for the sake of family harmony

But his girlfiend, Maddie, isn’t super sold on the fact Ben hasn’t told his mother about her. It’s apparent Daddy would Disapprove. Maddie also works with marine animals, is the daughter of the local police and her mother has run off somewhere which he is real zen about and she clearly has Issues with

And we have Ben’s friend Xander who was on the boat with the disappointed David Attenborough mermaid who insists on telling Ben all about it and getting super sad when Ben doesn’t believe the murder mermaid stories. Xander wants to catch another because one person wounded and ominous Black Helicopters invites a second attempt

Time for the mermaid to arrive. We start with an eviscerated shark which is probably an ominous sign because marine animals which kill big sharks are worrisome. It also makes the marine biologists suspicious.

She emerges, naked, confused, silent, barely able to walk and promptly collapses in front of Ben’s car in the middle of the night. Being the Good Guy, Ben decides to call his doctor friend who decides that naked unconscious people don’t require a hospital, just take her home and he’ll do a house call

I do not want this guy to be my GP.

At home he dresses her and tries to talk, she doesn’t but she does sing. Before bailing without seeing the doctor. She wanders town and I have to give massive points for how ALIEN she looks. The way she moves her head, the way she looks at things, this actress does an incredible job of portraying a non-human

She wanders past a local shopkeeper called Helen who seems horrified to see her - but also denies having done so to Ben when he keeps following her. She finds more clothes, watches a TV show and adopts a name “Ryn” despite not speaking much, continuing to look for the black helicopters. Through flashbacks we see she and another mermaid were hunting fish when a net caught her fellow - it’s apparent she’s on a rescue mission

A man tries to lure her away to rape her and gets brutally murdered

She also visits Maddie’s marine biology centre, eating the fish meal they use to serve the sea lions - and causing said sea lions to panic and become aggressive when they see her. This is when Ben catches up to her, admitting to being obsessed with her song. He also notices she’s sick with dry skin - and tries to call his friendly doctor who gives him random advice on animal medication to give her

Seriously, someone needs to look at this doctor.

She takes the chance to jump in the water since she needs to hydrate - so she apparently cannot stay out of water too long. And Ben sees her on the marine centre’s cameras in full mermaid glory

He dives into the water, of course, wearing wool and carrying a torch. He sees her in her mermaid form - and she attacks him. He manages to fend her off and pull himself onto dry land, clearly shocked with this revelation

He hurries to see Helen Hawkings with her mermaid knowledge and Helen tells him that in the water, Mermaids naturally see humans as prey. Which is something that humans never understood (presumably seeing it as more of a murder or attack than a predatory hunt). Humans responded by annihilating mermaids in a genocidal campaign. And the Pawnall family was heavily involved.

Ben decides to join Xander on his boat to try and find another mermaid... and then has second thoughts when he realises Xander is willing to kill one

And it should surprise no-one that the ominous military base has both the wounded Chris and a captive mermaid

I do like the presentation of mermaids here - she’s alien, she’s aggressive, she’s dangerous, she’s menacing and even the power of the siren song isn’t really seductive. Compelling and obsessive but not seductive. Even finding her naked by the side of the road hasn’t really presented as sexual. She’s both menacing and vulnerable which is an interesting shift on the common depictions of mermaids. I’m intrigued - and impressed by how well Ryn’s alien-ness is presented.

The rest of the cast? Hmmm… not so much. Yet