With the direction the show has taken recently, I kind of expected at least one character to get killed off on ‘Siberia’ this week. I can’t say that I expected this one, though – at least, not revealed this way at this time.
As we left off from the previous episode, Irene had gone missing and the other characters expressed shock when they raced to the second cabin. I theorized that Miljan would either be missing as well or dead. A part of me – a big part – wishes he were dead. But no, he’s missing. Presumably, he kidnapped Irene and dragged her off somewhere to kill her. The only problem with this assumption is that Miljan isn’t exactly a strong guy, and I have trouble believing that he could carry Irene away through the snow without leaving an obvious trail to follow. Did someone or something else take the both of them?
In episode ‘A Gathering Fog’, the remaining characters who were left behind at the cabins scour the woods searching for Irene and Miljan. Instead, they find a corpse half-buried in the snow, and it’s… Natalie?! Yes, the same Natalie who everyone believed had quit the show and left for home before most of the crazy shit started go down. Apparently, she didn’t make it to the helicopter. Her abrupt exit was certainly suspicious, but this leaves open a big question about who wrote her goodbye note, and why.
Natalie isn’t just dead. Her body looks like it was attacked and eaten by an animal. In a very emotional moment, Annie completely falls apart at the discovery of the body. Although Neeko and Sabina want to continue searching for Irene while they might still have a chance to find her, Annie insists on staying behind to bury Natalie. Esther volunteers to help, probably because she doesn’t want to be there when they find Miljan, whom she may or may not have let go after he threatened to blackmail her.
Annie and Esther don’t have a lot of luck digging through the frozen ground. Eventually, they have to give up, and simply mark the location of the body with a makeshift cross made out of twigs. As they begin to head back towards the cabins, scary noises from the woods suggest that they’re in danger.
Neeko and Sabina never find Irene or Miljan. As a fog sets in, they get lost for a bit until they finally come across the cross Annie made. Neeko assumes (rightly) that Annie and Esther must have left to go back to the cabins, but when Sabina spots some strange, gigantic animal tracks in the snow, she intones that, “I don’t think they made it back.” Have we lost three characters this week, or potentially even five (with Irene and Miljan)?
Elsewhere, Johnny and crew are having a really rough time. Although Sam has told the others that his foot is feeling better, it’s actually getting worse. When they lose sight of the radio tower beacon they were heading towards, the group gets dangerously lost. Struggling to be a leader, Johnny insists that he knows which way to go, but he’s really just picked a random direction and is hoping for the best. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work out too well for him. They make their way to an open clearing and find… absolutely nothing within sight in any direction.
Joyce claims to see footstep tracks in the snow and leads the others back into the woods to follow them, but she appears to have been hallucinating. Sam falls down again and says that he can’t go on. Johnny sees reflected light through the trees in the distance and leaves Sam behind.
Johnny, Daniel and Joyce find a metal tower. It’s not the radio beacon, but it’s obviously manmade. Johnny tries to climb it to get a good view of the surrounding area, only to get zapped by an electrical charge. His heart stops. Daniel futilely attempts CPR, but he doesn’t actually know how to do it and is just mimicking what he’s seen on television. Joyce is helpless as well. All seems lost for Johnny until Sam rallies and charges in to resuscitate him. I bet Johnny regrets leaving him for dead now.
Johnny says that before he fell, he saw a building roof. The group trudges on a little further and comes to a couple of small, locked-up buildings. A sign identifies this as a science institute, but it appears to be abandoned. Johnny smashes a window to break into one building, where they find some parkas, a little bit of food, and (most importantly) shelter from the elements. However, just as they start to get comfortable, they hear noises around them. Are they not alone?
So, questions we’re left with: Where are Miljan and Irene? Who or what killed Natalie, and who wrote her goodbye note? Are all of the other contestants who allegedly left early also dead? Where are the bodies from the producers’ base camp or the helicopter crash? What strange beast has been prowling the woods? What is the science institute and where are the scientists?
I must say, for a summer series that I know stands no chance of being picked up for a second season, I’m really digging ‘Siberia’ now. The mystery is compelling and the characters are interesting. The show started fairly well, and each new episode has been an improvement over the last. Assuming that it ends with some satisfying sense of closure, I like the idea of watching a short form, one-and-done miniseries narrative. I think that’s just the sort of thing that’s needed in the summer months. At least so far, this one has been a lot stronger and more logically consistent than some prior attempts, including NBC’s own ‘Persons Unknown‘ (which I generally liked, even though it ran out of steam as it went). I’m actually glad that this won’t be renewed. I already dread finding out how badly CBS’s dopey ‘Under the Dome’ will fare when it’s dragged out to an unnatural length the story can’t possibly support.