‘Siberia’ Finale Recap: “It’s Like Nothing’s Real”

As far as I’m aware, NBC has not yet issued a formal cancelation notice for its summer series ‘Siberia’. However, considering the show’s poor ratings, I think it’s a foregone conclusion that this week’s season finale episode is also the series finale. So, with that in mind, does the show wrap up with a satisfying note of closure?

Sadly, no. Not at all. Although the finale (called ‘…Into the Oven’) answers some small questions, the big mystery of what the hell is going on in these remote Russian woods is left unresolved. Honestly, though, I’m not too upset about that.

The episode starts by finally bringing our two groups of former Reality show contestants back together. After the Evenki natives dropped them off in the middle of the woods and pointed them in the direction of a supposed white-man settlement, Neeko and the gang from the cabins find a road that leads directly to the abandoned science research station where Johnny and his group have holed up. Unfortunately, in between these two things is a minefield, and Irene has stepped on something that made a clicking noise. As she stands there shitting her pants, Daniel arrives. He’s convinced that the mine is a dud, and tells her to just step off it. He refuses to listen to anyone else telling him that this is a really bad idea (including Sabina, who was actually in the Israeli military). Luckily for him, he turns out to be right. Irene walks away in one piece.

With that crisis averted, everyone returns to the science station to await rescue by whomever answered Daniel’s radio distress call. Eventually, an army truck pulls up, and everyone runs out to greet their saviors. Well, that all goes south when the soldier guys (who appear to be more mercenaries than official military) start waving their guns around and treating the group not-so-nicely. Sam is able to make out enough of their conversations to figure out that these guys are the ones who killed the scientists. They’ve been searching for a weapon of some kind, and without success in finding it, plan to execute the dipshit foreigners who’ve stumbled into the lab.

Before that can happen, some major shit goes down. Explosions go off in the woods (presumably some of those landmines) and scary monster sounds encircle the station from all sides. The soldiers panic and start firing blindly into the trees. Chaos erupts. Our group uses the confusion to hide in one of the buildings, and then to hijack the army truck and hightail it the hell out of there. Poor Annie, unfortunately, doesn’t make it out with them. She’s gunned down before she can get to the truck.

Some miles safely away, the truck skids off the road and crashes into a ditch. Everyone gets out. As soon as the men push it out of the ditch, Esther (in the truck’s cab to steer) simply takes off and drives away, leaving everyone behind, confused as to what the hell she’s doing. Of all people, Miljan has an answer. He explains that Esther found the half million dollar prize money in the Revealer cabinet. It was right there with them in the camp the whole time, intended to be the last thing released to the final contestant. Esther’s been hiding it for quite a while. This is the secret that Miljan tried to blackmail her with, and the reason why Esther was so insistent on returning to the camp after leaving the Evenki village. The bitch played everyone right to the end. “Game might be over, but she won it anyway,” Miljan says.

Left with no choice but to walk, the remaining members of the group are relieved to spot a town ahead of them down the road. Unsurprisingly, they arrive a few hours later to find it completely evacuated. They come across the army truck parked in an alley, but there’s no sign of Esther or the money.

An apartment in one building still has lights on, so the group heads there hoping to find someone, anyone home. It’s empty too, of course, but the apartment has power and food in the fridge. It will make do for a place to shelter for a while.

Sabina reveals that, while scavenging at the producers’ base camp, she picked up a videotape from one of the show’s cameras. She didn’t think much of it at the time and had forgotten about it until now. As they play it, the others realize that this must be the recording from the camera that followed Johnny and Joyce during the period when they lost time and couldn’t remember what happened to them.

On the recording, Johnny and Joyce come across the igloo-like thing that the Evenki had been so scared of. It’s actually a metal dome structure with weird hieroglyphics etched into it. They get confused and scared, and then an explosion of light shoots straight up into the air, causing the green aurora that everyone had seen. Just then, a quick glimpse of what looks like a monster leaps out of the woods directly toward the camera. End of recording. Johnny and Joyce have no memory of this at all.

While the group tries to process this, they hear noises from outside. The soldiers have trailed them and are searching the town. Footsteps approach their door. With little play left except to bluff using an empty gun that Sabina had grabbed earlier, everyone braces for the worst. The door opens, and in walks… Jonathan, the Australian host from their Reality show. He looks a little befuddled. “You’re not supposed to be here,” is all he says.

And that’s it. End scene. Credits roll.

This hardly even seems like a cliffhanger. The show just sort of stops in its tracks, as if this were just a normal episode and we could expect to be teased with clips from next week’s new episode momentarily. But of course there will be no new episode next week, or likely ever.

What’s the big secret behind ‘Siberia’? What are the “Valleymen” monsters? What great disaster caused the area to be evacuated? What caused the explosion on the recording? What weapon were the soldiers looking for? Where did Esther disappear to with the money? These questions and many others will probably never be answered for us.

(My theory: The dome is part of a spaceship, and the Valleymen are aliens who crashed on Earth in 1908. I think the show’s given us a lot of evidence to support this. How this ties in with the [at this point, clearly faked] Reality show and the scientific behavior studies being performed on the contestants, I have no idea.)

Am I disappointed? A little, I suppose. At the same time, I think I’d resigned myself to expect something like this. Ending a mystery series of this type is a tricky business, especially if the writers believe that they have even a small hope of being renewed for another season. Unlike the dumb-as-dirt ‘Under the Dome’ season finale that aired at the same time, I feel like this was actually a pretty strong episode of ‘Siberia’, despite the lack of closure. It’s incredibly tense and suspenseful and well-staged, and is sprinkled with really nice character moments throughout.

My perspective on this is probably influenced by the fact that I never had very high expectations for ‘Siberia’ to begin with. This show was always a pleasant surprise that managed to be a little bit better than I assumed it would be (whereas ‘Under the Dome’ started with a lot of potential and then slid steeply downhill afterwards). Maybe the writers jerked us around at the end, but I don’t regret watching the series. I enjoyed the journey this show took us on, even if we never quite made it to the destination.


  1. Matt

    I found out that Siberia was completely financed by outside sources before NBC even picked it up. I guess it’s possible NBC might buy another season as long as they don’t have to fund the show. It probably wouldn’t get prime time Monday billing again…

    • Josh Zyber

      That’s basically what happened with Hannibal, which had poor ratings but a lot of buzz and is financed entirely from Europe. However, the ratings for Siberia are really, exceptionally terrible (sometimes I think that the few people who comment on these recaps are the entirety of the viewing audience) and very little buzz. I can’t imagine it coming back.

  2. Lord Bowler

    I was a little disappointed by the ending and lack of any conclusion, although I expected as much since I never thought this show would get a full season. I guess it helped that it was completed when NBC decided to air it.

    The show had some interesting elements in it that at the very least kept me coming back to see how it would end.

    I grew to like Daniel, Johnny and Sam a lot. I disliked Miljan and never trusted Sabina and Esther (which proved valid). The rest of the cast were in the middle.

    In the end, this was an interesting experiment that NBC decided to cut short.

    • Josh Zyber

      I agree. The more I think about it, I feel that the show left us with enough little clues to piece together our own theories about what was going on, even if it never provided us with a definitive answer or closure. As you say, it was an interesting experiment. Overall, I think it was a lot better and more successful than similar attempts in the past, such as ‘Persons Unknown’ (which I also liked), mainly because I think the characters here were a lot more fleshed out and had some depth to them.

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