Netflix’s Love, Death + Robots has always been transformative. In its third season, it is even more so. The powerful and beautifully painful Jibaro may be its most stunning yet mixing martial arts, balletic dance moves, assault, and so much blood. The story of a mythical golden siren who uses her voice and gold-drenched body to lure men to their deaths. Her mesmerizing voice and dance are too much for a group of warring men who, upon hearing her voice, immediately fall into a manic trance where they flip, spin, and slice their way through each other before drawing to death in the Siren’s lake. It’s bloody, violent, and scary. Only one man is left, a man who is deaf and therefore immune to her song.
Enthralled by the one man who isn’t susceptible to her song, she lays down beside him as he sleeps in the woods. When he wakes, he finds a golden scale embedded in his hand. He follows her to a nearby waterfall and walks through the raging water while she dances. She kisses him and leaves his mouth bloody, at which point he turns violent and knocks her out and ravages her body. He steals all her gold, including the scales which are part of her body. Finally, he leaves her broken and bloody floating unconscious through the water. The river runs red with her blood, and as the soldier drinks from the water, bloodied with the Siren’s blood, his hearing is cured.
Panicked and confused over the sensory overload of now hearing for the first time in his life, he runs through the woods. Disoriented, he slams into trees and bangs his head against the ground until he crashes back into the same lake bank where he first saw the Siren. The woman who has floated down the river back to her home wakes to find she has been violated and screams in rage. The soldier, who is no longer immune to her cries, follows her into the water to his death.
The brief episode could not be gorgeously rendered, but it is painful to watch. The final episode of Love, Death + Robots packs a punch. Jibaro is fascinating in its fierceness and uncomfortable in the truths it hides in the mythological story. Here’s what Jibaro is about and how it gets female rage right.
What is the Siren?
The most commonly known Sirens are the ones of Greek and Roman mythology. In Greek mythology, the part female human, part bird entities who used their voices to lure men into rocky shores where they crash and die were dangerous creatures who used their power indiscriminately against men. The only men who could escape were men who plugged their ears with wax or drowned out their song with other music. They were created by Demeter, who gave them bird qualities to allow them to search for her daughter Persephone when Hades abducted her.
Many cultures have a version of the Siren. The Scottish have the Selkies, and the Russian Rusalkas were women who died violently in lakes or rivers and came back to haunt the water’s edge. The Africans have the Mami Watu, a water sprite, and there are even a few who use their voice to save men from danger. While the fluid body covered in god scales and jewelry which lives in the river is obviously a nod at many of these creatures, it seems to most closely resemble the Suvannamaccha from Cambodia and Indonesia.
Their golden mermaid falls in love with a prince and births his son. In this lovely story, she is the leader of the mermaids. When she learns her beloved prince is trying to build a bridge to Sri Lanka to save Sita, she asks her mermaids to assist by returning all the rocks they had stolen previously to halt the bridge-building.
Who is Jibaro?
Jibaro, unfortunately, is a much darker story than the romantic tale of Suvannamaccha. Instead of a love story, this is the story of lust, pain, greed, and trauma. The golden Siren was so taken by the man she could not control that she lay with him and later danced for him, giving him her love. This scene is very symbolic of the sex act. She gave her body and soul to the soldier who abused it instead of caring for her. When he ripped the scales from her body, it was a brutal assault. Everything about their encounter before and after the assault points to the power of women to endure. Her lake looks like a womb, and the violent attack by the soldier left her bleeding into the river like many women who have been victims of rape are left.
In the aftermath of her attack, she is left a shell of her former self, having been robbed of her femininity and beauty. Her gold was more than adornment. It was who she was, and she reacted in grief and rage. She thought she might have finally found someone to love her, who she could also love, and he turned out to be no better than any other man she had killed over the years. In her fury, she lashed out and drowned the knight who could now hear her, thanks to his greed.
Although it would be easy to think the title of this episode was about the deaf knight, it is more fitting that it is the name of the Siren who was so grievously wronged. In Puerto Rico folklore, Jibaro refers to people of the woods. Although all of this episode took place deep in the woods, the water dominates the story. Just like women, water is the source of life. She could be a water sprite of the river who loves and protects those who live within it or a vengeful demon. Of course, she could also be both.
What is Jibaro really about?
Neither party is a hero or a villain. They have chosen each other for entirely wrong reasons. The Siren is drawn to this man because he is the only man she has never been able to control. This is witnessed in her aggressive kissing, which cuts the soldier’s mouth. She knows she is hurting him but asserts her dominance just before he beats her and rips all of her gold out of her body. He chose her because he wanted to take her gold regardless of what it might do to her physically.
This is a toxic relationship that begins and ends with violence, greed, and self-absorption. Like many human relationships built on a foundation of all the wrong things, it is doomed to end in disaster. When a mortal man mistreats a mythical woman creature and then tries to steal both her gold and her blood, it is deadly. Actions have consequences and Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Love, Death + Robots Jibaro is currently streaming on Netflix.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.