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Siren - Aftermath - Review: "A Fitting Finale"

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Siren finished its first season tonight with an episode that was a bit of a mixed bag. It could be that I’m so used to finales being a heart attack inducing ride from start to finish, with stakes incredibly high throughout and a cliffhanger that leaves us screaming for the next season to be here already, that when a show wraps the majority of its storylines and simply leaves crumbs for where the next season will go, I can’t help feeling underwhelmed but in a good way.

Tonight we said goodbye to Donna and Decker in two very different circumstances. Following Ben reaching out at the end of last week’s episode, Decker did indeed go to Helen’s place with his medical kit and did attempt to treat Donna. Unfortunately, there were some unforeseen side effects to injecting a mermaid in human form with mermaid stem cells and she unfortunately died in Ryn’s arms.

Donna isn’t a character that was everyone’s cup of tea, but her loss is still quite sad. She was Ryn’s one connection to the sea, her getting captured in the first place is what brought Ryn to our screens, and there was a lot that could’ve been done with the character. I didn’t expect her to be in every episode of the second season, but it would’ve been nice to have her pop up every now and then. Her death though did allow Ryn’s portrayer Eline Powell to produce one of her finest performances to date, as Ryn struggled with her sister getting worse, held her dying sister in her arms and of course made the announcement to the others that she was dead.

Decker’s death somewhat tied in with Donna as he of course had an ulterior motive for helping. The siren song is well and truly stuck in his head. He can’t get rid of it, can’t stop thinking about it, and tells Ben he needs to hear the song again otherwise he’ll lose his mind. He’s a little bit forceful in his approach which isn’t appreciated by anyway, and after Donna dies he is sent off on his way. That way culminates in Decker committing suicide, as the siren song has basically driven him insane.

His death very much serves as a warning sign of Ben’s strange behaviour of late. He’s growing more distant from Maddie, latching onto Ryn even tighter, seems completely blind to his behaviour, and is now seeing Ryn wherever he goes. At a cafĂ© Ryn reveals to Helen and Maddie that she sung her song to Ben again when he was sad, in an attempt to make him feel better. Helen is immediately concerned by this, as whilst the song can mean great love to some, it can also mean obsession to others, and if they don’t get the song sung to them again, it will kill them.

It’s confirmed Donna originally sang her song to Decker not because she had feelings for him, but because she was trying to escape from him and that does fit very well with what we saw earlier this season. But I do have a question of how exactly the song manages to effect Ben so badly. Has it heightened feelings of care he already had for Ryn, or is it tied into his ancestry?

Yes, Siren this week finally gave us some answers about Helen. It’s been a heck of a long wait for them but well worth it. Helen takes Maddie, Ryn and Ben to a secret burial ground for where they can put Donna to rest as she can’t return to the water. It’s there that Helen finally admits to Maddie and Ben that she is part mermaid. The story we’d previously heard about Ben’s ancestor was partially true. He did fall in love with a mermaid and they did produce a child, but that child wasn’t murdered because she was deformed. Instead she was taken to people who could actually help her, and went on to live a good enough life, producing many descendants, the last of which is Helen. Because she’s so far down the tree, she is several generations removed from being able to transform into a mermaid which explains how she’s been able to live on land for so long. It also explains her conversation with Ted last week where she noted they’re family. The rest of the history Helen doesn’t go into and Ted isn’t that keen on giving Ben any answers.

Given how long we’ve been waiting for this story to be picked back up, there are going to be those who don’t think it was worth the wait, but I thought it was pretty good. Gave us a history lesson, expanded on the shows mythology, linked Ben and Helen and most important actually answered the question it had posed. It’s also confirmed that Ryn has known that Helen was part mermaid all along, since she sensed it in her, and that’s the exact same sensing Donna did when they met.
With Decker and Donna dead, and Helen finally revealing her secret, the rest of the episode was of course dedicated to Ben with a bit of Xander/Calvin for side plot.

Having heard that Decker’s killed himself, Maddie, Helen and Ryn are extremely worried that ben will suffer the same fate. They discover he’s taken the research boat out to sea in an attempt to clear his head, which is never a good thing. Whilst out in the middle of the water, Ben starts to think he’s hearing Ryn calling out for him. She’s obviously not, but when he calls her name and doesn’t get a response, Ben jumps into the water without his tank and desperately searches for her.

It’s a search that very nearly costs him his life, and he is saved by Ryn in her mermaid form. She gets him back onto the boat where she says she wasn’t calling out for him, Ben’s trying to understand what is happening for him and Ryn’s full of apologies since she didn’t know her song would do this. When they reach the shore, Ben and Maddie have a chat, where she’s questioning just what exactly her was doing. Ben can’t explain it, and Maddie’s more than had enough. She can blatantly see something is going on with Ben, and whilst she may love him, she’s not going to sit around and basically watch him pull himself away from her.

Maddie is basically the MVP of the whole show. She’s always there to provide Ryn with care and support, that is genuine and not based in Ryn singing a song to her. Whilst Ben and Maddie were ok when the show began, and I do love our glorious trio, I think it is right for Maddie to take a step back from him. His actions last week almost got her stepfather killed, he isn’t communicating with her anymore, and she has been feeling like a spare part for a few weeks, which she deserves better than. She’s not the only one decided to ditch Ben this week, as Ryn follows suit.

She may not know a lot about humans, but she does have some sense of self awareness. Ryn's able to admit she first sang the song to Ben because she was curious about him, but also reiterates she didn't know her song would have this effect. She still thinks the song is good because it did make Ben feel better, but again she can accept it's too much. Where Ben is understandably confused over what exactly the song and his feelings for Ryn are, she's far more level headed and accepts that she's bad for him and decides to stay away for a bit. Now whilst I can't tell anyone what they should or shouldn't ship, I think the writing here is very clear and has been since the show began. Ryn loves Ben and Maddie as equally as a mermaid who has never previously come into contact with humans can. Ben's heightened feelings for Ryn have come as a result of the siren song. From what has been presented on the show, they're not feelings he would have for her naturally outside of that, so one could make a case that his feelings for her have been forced onto him. Anything that could possibly happen between them would be mired in issues of consent, because unless season 2 sees them finding a resolution to breaking the songs hold over Ben, then we're left to question if everything he possibly does in season 2 he's doing because he'd actually want to be or because of the song. So it is good for Ryn to stay with Helen for a while. She can act as a mentor of sorts to Ryn, which she does desperately need right now, and continue to fill her in on the mermaid’s history. And Ben can have fun back at the research centre caring for animals, since his dad’s noticed how distracted he’s been and thinks stepping up in the business was a mistake.

One final point to note on all this though is when Maddie walks away, Ben reiterates to her that he loves her. Sure he and Ryn share a goodbye kiss, and I am extremely glad the show didn't go any further with that because of what I've noted above. It's clear that he and Maddie do still love each other quite deeply, but for now they both need some space. I'll forever be grateful to the writers for not throwing any crumbs at us that could be perceived as a triangle, and hope that's something that is continued in season 2 and our trio can come back together.

Another thing that isn’t needed this episode is Xander and Calvin’s drama. Calvin’s starting to get serious with his girlfriend and wants her to move in with them. Xander’s not keen on that and Calvin decides to backtrack because he doesn’t want to abandon Xander. It soon transpires that Xander and Janine had a history prior to her being with Calvin. It’s not something I really care about and Calvin’s anger seems to come out of thin air. If the show wanted to create drama with these three, they should’ve given them more screen time and all of this just feels like a contrivance to spark Calvin into contacting the local news station. It’s made quite clear whatever happened with Xander and Janine was before she and Calvin were together, so why does he want to beat him up? Living in small towns, there’s always a chance the person you’re dating has been involved with someone you know.

As I say though it’s all just a contrivance for Calvin to contact the local news about mermaids. Probably something he’ll be regretting in season 2, and if he’s not then the residents certainly will especially Sheriff Dale.

The town council is on his and Ted’s backs, with crime unfortunately going up, and fears of how that will affect tourism. Dale misses a meeting with the council to deal with Decker’s dead body, and ends up providing Ted with some type of explanation to get the council off his back. What that explanation is we don’t get to find out, and is something that will again probably be explored next season. And if crime going up doesn’t keep Dale busy, then Maddie’s mother suddenly getting in contact will. Yep, after a season of the odd mention, she finally made an appearance in tonight’s finale. Granted that appearance came through a phone call that had Maddie’s jaw on the floor, and we didn’t actually get to see her, but I’m still counting that.

All in all, Siren had a pretty excellent first season. It’s only really at the finale it has faltered slightly and again I think that’s just down to suffering from fall fatigue. The show has without doubt been one of the best new shows to hit our screens this year so far. It’s had tight writing and storytelling, which has resulted in the 10 episodes just flying by, and some excellent performances from the likes of Eline Powell and Rena Owen. The only thing we can hope for is season 2 maintaining this high standard of storytelling. That may be difficult with the increased episode count, but I have faith.

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