The Merfolk are on land and everyone is still obeying Ryn and there’s lots of interesting ways in how they show dominance and submission - I have to say how good they are at conveying very non-human creatures here. Ryn is in control and continues to teach the others how to speak English and react with the world.
Katrina, her rival, is not a fan and keeps challenging her, but the rest of the group backs Ryn and Ryn pays special attention to Donna’s daughter.
Helen is watching over the merfolk and one man especially seems to accept her. The injury from the wolf bite isn’t great - but there’s another problem: her skin is already degrading with lack of access to the ocean (can’t they run a bath and put in a lot of salt? No? Apparently not). Going back to the ocean is a problem because the oil explorers blasting the sea with mega sonar are going to be doing this for months on end. This is a problem they can’t possibly wait it out. They consider going to another part of the ocean but merfolk are territorial and they’ll be attacked by other merfolk bands for invading their territory
Ben starts looking at the safest place to get the mermaids into the ocean and while he does Maddie agrees to watch the merfolk… Ben is clearly wary and insists she take a shot gun. Which turns out to be useful to drive off a wolf - Katrina pushes the merfolk to disobey Rynn and gets Donna’s daughter injured when she decides to lead them out of the cabin and gets attacked by a wolf - much to everyone’s surprise. Wolves don’t generally attack humans, but merefolk apparently are different. This doesn’t make Katrina popular
We get a lot of building moments with the merfolk learning a bit more about humanity, language et al. Maddie and Ryn move closer which kind of helps chip away at Maddie’s own wariness towards Ryn after what happened to Ben. We also get some nice moments of Ben teaching Ryn to drive and trying to explain laughter to Ryn which is quite hilarious - and I say again, shows just how very good this show is at depicting how alien mermaids are
And Ben and Maddie are growing closer together as Maddie realises Ben is trying to sort himself out, even attending addiction counselling to try and deal with his obsession with Ryn and her voice. Maddie approves because he is trying. But there’s also that difficult moment when Ben, while talking to Ryn, wonders whether he’s actually bonding with her and attracted to her and it’s not just the song which… is less ideal. Also for some reason the people at this addictions meeting didn’t smack him one for standing up and announcing what, to any non-mermaid experienced watcher, sounds like someone who needs either relationship counselling or a restraining order calling his bad relationship an addiction.
Another complication of this is that Maddie’s mother, Susan, who also attends this meeting for much more conventional reasons, notices that Ben is there. She is both very worried that Maddie is dating an addict since she’s already aware of how much her own addiction has really hurt her daughter and also a little irritated that Maddie is so apparently accepting and supportive of his addiction but so very angry about her own
Dale advises her that things are waaaaaaay more complicated than this and if estranged mother Susan wants to rebuild her relationship with Maddie she really really OH MY GODS REALLY shouldn’t try to split her up from her boyfriend. She actually listens, thank you all that is sensible
Maddie and her mother do have a continued strained relationship with Susan generally accepting of Maddie’s anger and coldness but occasionally getting frustrated with Maddie making some concessions and generally being polite but also making it clear that after quite a laundry list of badnesses Susan’s pulled, she doesn’t just get to swan back into Maddie’s life and have everything be hunky dory without earning her redemption first. It’s painful but it’s also real and it’s also quite kind: neither party wants to hurt the other and it’s clear they’re both trying to various degrees but Maddie isn’t going to dispense with the past either. Maddie is also very self-conscious around the town, feeling judged for her past
Another unexpected conflict is Helen who realises that if they’re going to keep 6 merfolk on land for a while they’re going to need more money - so she goes to Ted Pownall (Ben’s rich dad) to have access to the trust fund his family set up to keep Helen (the shameful, naughty branch of the family) quiet. She wants to draw on it, arguing that she’s the last of her line so what’s she saving it for? Ted accepts this. Ted’s wife, Elaine, is much less accepting as she doesn’t know the story and has severe doubts that Helen is related at all… she steals a cup to try and prove a lack of familial link by DNA I’m guessing
This also brings us to Xander and my growing belief we have far too many characters. Xander is still being manipulated by undercover agent Nicole, but also is trying to get a loan to fix up his boat. Which doesn’t go well because it’s not exactly financially viable. What’s especially galling is seeing Ted praise him for following his father’s footsteps in keeping the company (Ted’s company) going and clearly having more than enough money to help Xander, conspicuously not doing so.
Xander goes to a bar to drink (which seems to be a habit) along with pretty much the rest of the town, all attending a mermaid themed night. Which is awkward because everyone gets drunk and decides to go down to the shore at night
The same beach where Ben has sneaked all the merfolk to to get in the water in this sheltered cove. We’ve seen before that merfolk in the water become very aggressive and instinctual and everyone is about to get eaten. They cobble together a hasty plan to get everyone out of the water, aided by Dale who still has the town’s respect even if he isn’t sheriff any more. But in doing so Susan realises something is up and Xander learns that the mermaids are present
And that Levi, the merman who killed his father, is among them. Predictably he freaks out and attacks Ben, they have a brief fist fight before breaking it up. This will not end well
And Rynn notes that humans stay angry. I get this is a call back to last episode where she made it clear that mermaids move on and don’t hold grudges. Which would make more sense if we didn’t have Katrina giving Ryn angry eyes. She seems to have stayed angry as well
Speaking of, as the merfolk leave the beach (and cause more than a little chaos in a shop which gets reported to the police which will definitely cause trouble) Katrina again insists they stop hiding because they’re stronger than humans. Ryn dismisses this because Katrina is not stronger than her so needs to do as she’s told
Instead Katrina leaves… and when she returns the next day she has the dead wolf slung over her shoulders. This looks like a very clear challenge to Ryn