Monday, June 18, 2018

Siren, Season 1, Episode 10: Aftermath

It is now time for the… rather disappointing finale to what I have to say is a rather disappointing series

As a season finale, it’s especially odd because all the action happened last episode. We’re now left clearing up a lot of storylines… which isn’t a problem if we actually had storylines that were hanging. Or if we cared about any of them. So the whole last episode feels like an afterthought of belatedly remembered characters doing stuff that doesn’t matter a whole lot - or is shoe-horned in for desperate plot hooks for the next season

So, Donna is injured and they call in Decker to help. Decker does his medical know how but it becomes increasingly obvious he’s utterly obsessed with Donna because of her song. Helen has no time for his nonsense and Ryn doesn’t mince words in making it clear that Donna only sang to him to help her escape, not because she even remotely liked him.

Decker tries to appeal to Ben - but that doesn’t win him any sympathy either. Unshockingly. He heads to the water for a suicidal swim: so that’s the power of siren song.

Maddie arrives to confront Ben and she’s duly furious with Ben. Ryn tries to defend Ben’s actions because he tried to help - except Maddie has an awesome come back that the didn’t help. And it may be worth putting up with this whole series for that line alone. Yes he tried to help - but he failed dismally, he didn’t help, he put them at risk and all the while completely ignoring Maddie while he ran off doing his own random thing. She further confronts Ben about his change of behaviour - because he’s changed, he’s freezing her out, he doesn’t consult her and he won’t talk to her

Obviously the effect of Siren song, because the suicidal Decker isn’t the only one who has heard their music.

But that goes to one side because Decker doesn’t succeed in healing Donna - and she dies. Which is tragic and annoying because it’s a damn waste and manages to make the utterly terrible racial tropes that have dogged this show even worse. Not only do we have the animalistic mermaids of colour compared to the human Ryn, but now Donna dies without any real characterisation of her own beyond “victim”. Of course, this also follows Decker’s death as well.

Maddie and her dad better watch out

There’s some question about what to do with the body - and Helen offers her secret family burial ground. Ryn isn’t keen about Donna being buried with humans - so Helen reveals she’s a mermaid

Y’know this may be the most blatantly obvious shock revelation in any show I’ve seen so far.

So remember that story where Ben’s several times great grandad apparently had a deformed fish baby with a mermaid and then murdered it? Well turns out he didn’t murder it - he took the baby to the Native Americans because their woo-woo was better suited than doctors were - and that baby went on to have children who had children who had children: Helen is now 1 eighth mermaid. She can’t do the song or shapeshift so I’m not sure what this means at all. Except that Ryn can bury Donna there so they can completely ignore this character now.

Hey, remember that whole massacre storyline which is why the mermaids had to try and kill Rynn? Well since Ben’s several times great-granddaddy didn’t actually kill a baby I’m not sure if any part of that story makes sense

You know what also doesn’t make sense? Ben being super cross with his dad for not telling him that Helen was a relative. Um. Because she kind of isn’t? I mean Ben’s ancestor was Helen’s great grandfather - so presumably Ben’s great-great grandfather or maybe great-great-great grandfather. Being 3-5 generations removed is a stretch of the definition of family and a little weird to be angry that it didn’t come up in casual conversation?

Ted also thinks Ben should go back to researching wildlife for random reasons.

Ted also has other issues - as a Respected Member of the Community he and the town council are concerned about this whole crime spree hitting a town which relies at least a bit on tourism is a problem. And they’re gunning for Sheriff Bishop for not catching anyone or holding anyone responsible or having a good explanation. Decker’s suicide doesn’t make things easier

Another pointless storyline hook is Calvin, a man no-one cares about so better be doubly careful he doesn’t die. He wants his girlfriend Janine to move in with him and Xander (rather than get his own place as Xan suggests because… boundaries) and it all becomes awkward because Xan has slept with Janine before she and Cal became serious and this is a super super violation… apparently? So Cal is now not having anything to do with Xan which is going to hurt his income (and is a bit of a dick move considering his good friend here just lost his dad to a violent death) decides to call a journalist to tell them about mermaids

Is this ominous? Fisherman from town that gets tourism from mermaid stories claims mermaids are real? It’s not like anyone is going to take that seriously.

Back to the characters we allegedly care about - Ben decides to go out to sea for some swimming and diving while obsessing about Ryn and hallucinating. Since Maddie and Ryn hear about Decker’s suicide they become super concerned and Ryn swims out in time to find Ben looking for her by diving without oxygen. Apparently the whole siren song having this effect is news

This puts a rift between Ryn and Ben because she, rightly, concludes she’s really not good for him and needs to keep her distance

It also oddly puts a rift between Maddie and Ben… because she is sad that he’s freezing her out and ignoring her which also raises abandonment issues with her absent mother (who calls. Of course she does. We need more random plots). Ok I get she has issues here but she’s just seen proof that this isn’t Ben or his willful treatment of her but, if anything, an illness or curse that needs treating. It’s kind of weird to be judgy about that

In all this show started with a lot of curious and interesting concepts with a surprising amount of diversity - which then stomped on all of it.

I’ve spoken a lot about the racial tropes here: because yes it is very good we had Merfolk of colour because I think merfolk in fiction are generally whiter even than elves, and elves are generally so white they cause snow blindness. But to have the POC merfolk be primarily mindless and barely vocal and be much more violent, animalistic and dangerous than Ryn the nice white mermaid. On top of that we now have the death of Donna and the evil Decker.  

Which leaves Maddie and Sheriff Bishop. And while it’s interesting to have Native American characters who neither render their Native American-ness invisible nor make them a font of mystical knowledge, the whole idea that Native Americans have special insight in magical fish babies and that totally-out-of-place Native American music that plays randomly when Maddie and her dad are on screen is just weird.

Oh hey, remember when this show was sold to the LGBTQ media as revolutionary because we had the bisexual mermaid?

Nah, we had Ryn not understanding human interactions, kissing Maddie, something Maddie considered super awkward. This wasn’t a sign of bisexuality, no matter how much people try to run with the word “sister”, this was showing us that Ryn doesn’t understand human interactions. Can we not keep trying to sell non-existent inclusion to the LGBTQ community to make people watch your show?

But on top of this, the whole plot line of this show was… poor. We had several storylines introduced that just went nowhere - they just seem to vanish… like the military? Remember them? They just had a whole ship wiped out and do not care. The whole over-fishing thing? Apparently no longer happening or an issue?

Hey remember we had that weird family tension between Ben, Ted and Elaine? That just kind of fizzled out. Why introduce that storyline and an apparent good brother/bad brother thing and not go anywhere with it. The tension between Elaine and Maddie was… there for what reason?

It feels like the season wasn’t planned - like they threw in lots of sort of hooks in case they wanted to develop them later because they didn’t know where they were going. So we had the groundwork for a family drama, we had the military, we had Chris was literally put on a bus. We had tension between Ted the boss and the common people.

And I think they’re doing the same with the next season: we have Maddie and Ben dealing with their issues. We have Xander, Calvin and Janine suddenly having issues. We have Sheriff Bishop and the town council and Ted. We have Maddie and her mother (why? And can we stop playing Native American woo-woo sounds over them?)

Along with all the limbo storylines from season 1 which they can dig up - Helen, her family link to Ben, being 1 eight mermaid. The military, Chris could get back on the boat… and I think it bodes for another season full of scatter shot, ill-planned storylines.