Last season, Ben, Maddie, and Ryn were a unit, completely in sync with one another. Ben and Maddie did whatever was needed to protect Ryn and her tribe, and Ryn offered herself to be experimented on to protect Ben, and help cure his mother Elaine of the condition that left her paralyzed from the waist down. Ben’s revelation threatens that—because Maddie cannot rationalize his actions the way he has. Even though she understands his reasoning, she may not be able to accept it and move on.
Maddie travels to Seattle to speak to a (handsome, charming) Elon Musk-type about his plan to remove plastic from the oceans, things don’t stay strictly business. This is the first major falling out Ben and Maddie have had in a long time, especially since they united around Ryn, and it’ll be interesting to see how their dynamic changes. I have faith that the writers can approach this with the appropriate nuance, and it makes for a strong internal conflict between this tight-knit throuple.
Another thing that complicates their dynamic is Tia. Tia tells Ryn she was captured 10 years ago by Russians who taught her and made her stronger, even as they experimented on her. She escaped, and came to find Ryn so they can unite their tribes, and all the other disparate tribes across the globe, to protect their livelihoods in the ocean. Ryn agrees that their kind needs to unify against the common threat, but she doesn’t know the full extent of Tia’s plan, so she takes a calculated risk in trusting her.
Tia, as it turns out, does not see it for humans. She uses Ben’s phone to set a meeting with Commander Kyle, where she ambushes and kills him. This has major implications for Ben, and his family, because of Ben’s uneasy relationship to the military, and Kyle’s involvement in developing Elaine’s treatment (using ill-gotten mermaid stem cells).
Meanwhile, Ted, Ben’s father, is completely wrecked over memories he can’t quite reconcile of seeing a woman in the ocean, the same night as the accident that left his wife paralyzed. After seeing a photo of a woman with no gear “free-diving” at over two-thousand feet—actually, Ryn destroying Kelsco Oil’s rig—he started to question whether he hadn’t made up the entire thing. He investigates his accident, which leads him back to where it happened and, when he foolishly jumps into the tempest, he is beset upon by Tia.