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Siren - Curse of the Starving Class - Review: "Full of Surprises"

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What. An. Episode.

We’re now halfway through Siren’s first season. After last weeks ended with Ryn & her sister being reunited, I wasn’t sure exactly where the show would go for the remainder of the season. After all, sisters being reunited and getting their happy ending is usually season finale stuff, not 4th episode stuff. But every time I have a question about Siren, it more than rises to the challenge.

Since the show first began and Helen and Ryn had their first meeting, there’s been a question hanging over Helen. She’s seemed to know an awful lot about mermaids, and have a unique insight into Ryn, calling Ben and Maddie out for seeing her as a species and keen to press the fact Ryn needed to get back into the water.

We’ve suspected that she was a mermaid like Ryn and Donna, especially when her skin was shown to be dried up just like Ryn’s was. None of that made the actual reveal that she is indeed a mermaid any less surprising. It seems apparent that she’s managed to keep this secret for quite a while, and it’ll be interested to see if the show connects her to the mermaid mythology. How exactly did she come to be on land? How exactly has she been able to stay on land for as long as she has? Does she like Ryn and Donna have a mermaid ‘family’? Does she have super strength like Ryn and Donna?

I do have to say though as much as I do praise this show and the episode was as enjoyable as always, the beginning of it got off to a bit of a slow start. I guess when the show’s been moving at such a lightning fast pace for 4 consecutive episodes that I get used to the idea every episode will be like that, but ‘Cure of the Starving Class’ wasn’t exactly.

Given how last weeks episode ended, a month time jump was a wise idea. If Ryn had come back with her sister immediately after leaving, it wouldn’t have had the same impact emotionally. The time jump also gave other storylines the opportunity to move forward.

Our lovely Doctor Decker is very much not happy with the fact he was essentially played by Donna. And he knows that he needs to make her escaping up to his bosses. His way of sorting both those issues? Overfishing. If all the fishermen are collecting every type of fish under the sun within the hunting area, then it gives Donna, Ryn, and the rest of the mermaids that are out there no choice but to come to land for food. And when they do, Decker will be ready and waiting with his specially designed tanks, that are very much learning from the mistakes made first-time around.

I’d be extremely surprised if Decker wasn’t our main big bad going forward, and that’s another thing I love about this show. There are so many storylines going on, with so many potential villains, knowing who our main villain is going forward isn’t clear in the slightest, which keeps up on our toes.

I can also understand where Decker is coming from, which is a new feeling where the bad guy is concerned. At the beginning he was entranced by Donna. He felt bad when she was being hurt, ordered the Doctor’s to stop the experiments, went up against his boss and the whole time he’s feeling bad and basically apologizing to her for what he’s doing, she’s playing him. The connection that he thought he had with her, as far as Decker now knows wasn’t real at all. First chance she got, Donna was out, leaving a massive mess behind that Decker has been made responsible for. Showing empathy for hurt that is being suffered, only to then be played is going to make a person angry. Of course Decker is going to want revenge on Donna for escaping his grasp.

I’ll also quickly add here that I’m not seeking to justify his actions by any stretch of the imagination, nor do I necessarily agree with them, but I can understand his point of view. When I’m watching a show and it’s clear that there are bad and good guys on both sides of the table? I like to be able to understand what exactly drives my villain. Doesn’t negate the fact they’re a villain, but a show taking a few minutes to at least map out why exactly they do what they do means that them being on screen isn’t a complete waste of time.

Had Decker not realized that Donna had actually been studying him when he thought she was just in complete pain, I’m sure his reaction to events would’ve been different. As it stands though, he wants his mermaid back at any cost, so he can carry on doing whatever he’s got planned, and not have the military workers deaths be in vain. All completely understandable human emotions, and that’s a line that I think Siren is gently exploring on multiple fronts.

This may be a show about mythical creatures actually being real, but the question of humanity is very much at the front of centre. Ryn learning the ways of humans. How Donna’s been treated by human’s shaping her view of them all. How Ben & Maddie being actual human’s react to these new creatures entering their lives.

Humanities obsession with the unknown driving Ben’s grandfather insane. His very obvious family issues, which were on show this week in how his mother looks down so badly on Maddie. Decker feelings angry and hurt and wanting revenge.

Ben and Maddie were really beginning to feel Ryn’s absence. She’d become there sort of adopted mermaid, and whilst she’d only been in their lives a short amount of time, she’d very much left a lasting impact and there does have to be a question over Ben & Maddie’s relationship going forward.

Since Ryn had left, Ben had been slightly distant from Maddie. Burying himself into working for his father, which led him to come across the over-fishing. Maddie’s noticed that Ben’s been slightly distant and rightly comments that usually, going through the type of experience they have brings people together not tear them apart. Ben’s mothers words towards Maddie were extremely harsh, but I can’t help feeling there was a bit of truth in them. It’s obvious that Ben cares very deeply about his research and saving his sea creatures, and maybe that’s because they’re the one thing in his life he can control. He certainly can’t control his family history or the fact his mother is in a wheelchair. His mother has gotten the wrong end of the stick ever slightly, wrong believing that Ben may possibly be cheating on Maddie and her words towards Maddie were very much from a person looking down on someone. Does she not think Maddie is good enough for Ben? Is she just a racist who believes her son could do better than a person of colour? Is she an elitist who believes Ben should be living it up with some rich girl? These are questions I do hope the show eventually answers.

It was obvious that his mother’s words hurt Maddie. Since the show first began it’s been obvious that Maddie wants to be included more in Ben’s family life, and has obviously been wrestling with whether he himself is ashamed of being with her. So his mother reducing Maddie to nothing more than Ben’s latest rescue mission? That crap’s gotta sting. Fortunately she didn’t take it lying down, She very much put his mother in her place, which she seemed slightly taken aback by at first. Almost as though she’s not used to people standing up to her sharp tongue, and doesn’t realize just how hurtful her suggestion was.

That last part is probably stretching things a little bit, because let’s be honest, she absolutely knew what she was doing. She’s seemed somewhat jealous before of her husband’s rapport with the housecleaner, and the fact that Ben is talking to everyone except her. It’s almost as though she feels neglected, as if she doesn’t matter and that no-one truly pays attention to her because she’s wheelchair bound so can be easily ignored, and her way of coping with that is to be just as mean.
From Ryn’s tracker coming back online, Ben and Maddie were able to eventually find her. Donna wasn’t at all happy with the fact Ryn had come back to land to seek help from her friends. Due to her experiences with the military, she views all human’s as being bad. It’s an understandable reaction, and one that many would do in her situation. Donna doesn’t like the fact Ryn’s humanised herself. Where Ryn is putting on clothes like it’s a routine, Donna is rejecting this way of life. She rips Ryn’s tracker off her and is insistent that they get back into the water, unhappy when Ryn refuses to.

And of course when Donna first meets Ben and Maddie it doesn’t go well. Ryn greets them both like the old friends they are to her. Donna however sees them as a threat, and that’s amplified when she sees the dead fish on the table. Ben’s taken it from Xander so he can identify just what’s killed it. Donna unfortunately doesn’t understand this and attacks Ben. As Helen and Maddie look on helplessly, Ryn is forced to intervene and commit the ultimate betrayal by siding with humans over her own sister. Donna is absolutely devastated, Helen by this point is completely done with everyone’s crap and Ryn? Well she doesn’t know what to do. Maddie gets her cleaned up and completely understands along with ben that Donna doesn’t mean it. Ryn explains experiments have been carried out on her that disgust all.

Whilst Donna may storm off, she refuses to go back into the water without her sister. It’s that classic thing of being as angry as you like with your family, but refusing to abandon them. After a little bit of wandering around, Helen does eventually find Donna and reach an understanding with her, which is when the revelation that she’s a mermaid is confirmed.

Now this scene is very much open to interpretation. By the way it was set with the music and tone, it seems as though Donna & Helen may make a play for the big bad crown. When Hele says she and Donna both want the same thing, which is her and Ryn back in the water, there’s an ominous tone to it all which suggests that Helen’s way of doing things may not exactly be of Ryn’s own free will. Is she afraid with the military on the doorstep she to will be outed? Or does she really just want members of her own kind going back where they should be fore they’re hurt? It’s a question very much left in the air.

Our characters are all just about catching up to the fact Decker is coming, and won’t stop until he gets Donna, so her potentially conspiring with Helen to get her and Ryn away would very much be another surprise.

It’s what this show is best at though, and I cannot wait to see what happens next week. And one final note, if this show is trying not to make me ship Ben/Maddie/Ryn, it’s doing a lousy job. There were the sparks flying when Ben was examining Ryn and she tried to kiss him, then Maddie getting Ryn dry in the motel room and Ryn getting into bed with the two of them, and now Ryn is kissing Maddie?! I want this show to stay as far away from a love triangle as possible because it would only drag what is a superb show down, and I don’t really want any relationship drama hitting Ben/Maddie for the same reason. But if the writers and Freeform decide to show that they really are open to everything, and give us an ot3 relationship in Ben/Maddie/Ryn? I’d totally be up for it.

What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts below.

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