Season 1, Episode 8: “Being Human”
Directed by Amanda Tapping
Written by Liz Maccie
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Dead in the Water” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Street Fight” – click here
Flags in Bristol Cove fly at half mast, after Xander’s (Ian Verdun) dad died, supposedly lost at sea but, in fact, he was killed by mermaids. Everybody’s dealing with things in their own way. Maddie (Fola Evans-Akingbola) and Ben (Alex Roe) have to explain to Ryn (Eline Powell) about what “humans do” in the face of death, so on. Maddie tries telling Ryn how humans deal with grief. Sadly, Ben is having a tough time with how he played into the whole death himself. And poor Ryn’s grappling with human emotion simultaneously.
Between themselves, Ben and Maddie start dividing on their feelings about the mermaid. He wonders if she’s “more of an animal” than they’ve let themselves believe, while she chooses to believe in the goodness of Ryn at heart. It’s an interesting metaphor of difference, and the way in which we refuse to understand other cultures, instead opting to treat them as hostile and ultimately inhuman. Because, let’s face it – Ryn and her merfolk are at the very least PART human, and this has to mean something.
During the wake, Helen (Rena Owen) starts to suss out there was more to her old buddy Sean’s death. She pulls Ben aside, asking to know the truth. She discovers the merfolk were responsible, and now she rightfully worries what could happen if Xander uncovers the fact Ryn’s a mermaid. Could get ugly.
In other news, Ben’s group of friends is splitting apart more, as well. Chris (Chad Rook) is cracking up. He’s decided to leave town, not wanting to stick around and pretend he doesn’t know about the mermaids. And he’s heading out immediately. When he leaves the bar, he runs into Ryn just outside.
Our mermaid girl has turned up for the wake’s celebration in the bar. She sees all the heavy hearts, the photographs of Sean in better days, the many people gathered to celebrate Sean’s life. She also sees everyone raise a glass and drink, so she has a shot. This is when Xander makes a short speech about his father, “a giant” in his life. It’s so horrible seeing the son have to hold in secrets, barely kept under the surface. His friends have to pull him off before he says anything too crazy. Ben saves face with a proper, emotional, and frank speech about Sean.
After that, Ted (David Cubitt) makes his own speech. Doesn’t go so well when widow Patti McClure (Jill Teed) chastises him for putting fishermen in danger. This is only another moment where Ben has to jump in and smooth things over. Xander also knows the truth, and so he makes clear: “My fight isn‘t with you.” We see more of Ted, when Helen sits down with him a little later. She alludes to them being family somehow. She’s paid by Pownall Seafoods regularly, and Ted is clearly willing to pay more. For what, exactly?
By the dartboard, Maddie and Ben find Ryn. They warn her it isn’t safe for her to be out on the town. She’s determined to figure out if she’s human, after Ben insisting she’s more an animal. Ryn tells them about the merfolk’s similar funeral rituals when one of them dies, a “special place” where the bodies are taken. Beautiful moment. One of my favourite scenes since Siren started.
During more wake celebrations, Ryn goes to talk to Xander. She says sorry “for what they did.” She tells him she knows his father was killed. Then she leaves, and it’s obvious he’s more than affected by her. He almost knew right from that first look in her eyes she was a mermaid. Now, Ben and Maddie have to explain to him what’s been happening right under his nose this entire time. This doesn’t sit well with Xander, not one bit. So Maddie tries to patch things up, knowing sort of what it’s like to lose a parent, albeit in a different kind of way. They also have a romantic history, from way back in the day.
Oh, and there’s further trouble brewing. Elaine (Sarah-Jane Redmond) tells her son that she’s gotten into an exclusive medical drug trial. Courtesy of none other than Mr. Aldon Decker. Yeah, that’s sure to be totally fine.
Ryn gets closer to one of the rescued sea lions, showing Ben – and herself – she’s human enough to not be an animal, at least not a dangerous one. And he’s still stuck on her siren song. So, she sings to him. It’s like a drug, intoxicating him deeply.
And over under the wharf by the water, Donna (Sibongile Mlambo) and more of the family are coming ashore, shedding their tails, and heading onto land in human form. Oh, my. This is gonna get REAL interesting!