Mystery surrounds this mermaid, even down to her true name, for "Syrena" was what she's called by missionary Philip Swift during her captivity by Blackbeard. Fate had brought Philip and Syrena together, but their connection goes much deeper. After her fellow mermaids led an attack on Blackbeard's crew, Syrena and Philip began to recognize a quality in each other, drawing them together and allowing them to become allies. Each discover more of their true beings, but risk their lives when they listen to the sounds of their hearts.
Quest for the Fountain of Youth
During the quest for the Fountain of Youth, Blackbeard's crew had a mission to lure a mermaid for their tears, as a mermaid's tear was needed for the ritual of the Fountain. The mermaid hunt would lead to a fierce battle between mermaids and pirates. After the bay's remote lighthouse exploded, while the other mermaids flee, Syrena saved the missionary Philip Swift from being crushed by falling debris, pulling his legs out from under him. However, as she swam away, she became trapped under a piece of debris herself.
Though dazed, Philip noticed the mermaid's tail flipping around. He pulled the debris out of the way and, reaching his sword, drove the blade through her tail. She rose out of the water and stared at Philip, their eyes meeting. Seeing the fear in her eyes, Philip pulled his sword from her tail. Something passed between them; an understanding, kindred spirits. Suddenly a net came down over the mermaid, and she was held by the Blackbeard's zombie quartermaster. Now the pirates had caught a live mermaid. Philip had guilt, as he couldn't deny his part in her capture. Syrena hissed fiercely as Blackbeard ordered his crew to make for a protected cove.
Search in the Jungle
Blackbeard and his crew began searching for the Fountain of Youth through a jungle-infested island. As mermaids' tears would not keep for long, she had to be brought along so that a tear could be harvested fresh; she was carried around in a large water tank carried by four members of Blackbeard's crew. Part way through the journey the tank was broken, and Syrena fell to the ground, losing her aquatic form and assuming a human shape. Not used to walking on two feet, and wounded from when Phillip stabbed her fin, she was a stumbling, vulnerable figure. Philip Swift gave her his shirt to cover her and carried her the rest of the way through the jungle.
During the journey, Syrena fell deeply in love with Philip, who she thought was different than the other crewmen, being a protector. It was Philip who gave the mermaid her name of "Syrena", in order to make the pirates see her as a person and not a creature. As a man of God, he was the only crewmember who treated her with any dignity or respect.
- "Do not waste my tear."
- ―Syrena to Jack Sparrow
Shortly after arriving into the Jungle Pools, Blackbeard tried to force Syrena to cry by showing the remains of other mermaids, telling her of how they were left to die a slow, painful death. However, Syrena would not yield, prompting Blackbeard and his crew to figure out a way to torture Syrena for the tear. Philip spoke out against Blackbeard, showing his care for Syrena which caused Blackbeard to realize he fancied her and decided to see if Syrena felt the same about Philip and confirmed she did. With this knowledge, Blackbeard threatened to have Philip killed unless Syrena brought forth a tear. As Scrum held a vial to Syrena's eye, Syrena simply stared with only sadness. As a result, Blackbeard tossed a knife to the Quartermaster, who seemingly slit Philip's throat. As Philip's body was dumped in a nearby ravine, Syrena was left at the pools.
Syrena lay tied to the stakes, half immersed in the water, until a miracle happened: Philip returned to Syrena and untied her, setting her free. Amazed in wonder at Philip rescuing her, Syrena let loose a tear of joy. Philip told her she was different from the others, just as Syrena had said about him earlier. Blackbeard's crew suddenly appeared and managed to get a tear from Syrena. Finally having the tear he needed, Blackbeard ordered Syrena to be rebound back in the Jungle Pools, leaving her to die.
After escaping from the Fountain of Youth, Philip went to save her and she was able to escape. She managed to find the two Chalices of Cartagena in the waters of the Fountain and gave them to Jack Sparrow. She told him to not let her tear go to waste. She then went to find the injured Philip and he asked for her forgiveness. Bringing him underwater, Syrena kissed Philip to heal him and gave him the ability to breathe underwater. They swam off together through the pools to freedom. Her further fate is unknown.
Personality and traits
Syrena possessed a unique personality for a mermaid. Instead of being vicious and manipulative like the rest of her kind, she was reserved, kind, and compassionate. Other than being hostile when the pirates captured her at Whitecap Bay, Syrena displayed no traits of vicious behavior and does not attempt to kill any human, or even show the desire to, even though she did hiss at her captors, showing at least some hostility. It is unknown if she ever displayed behavior like her sister mermaids in the past and it changed because of what she sensed in Philip, or if she was different all along from the other mermaids and never was vicious. She has all the skills of a mermaid, but uses them to save Phillip's life when a lighthouse exploded and debris nearly fell on him, instead of drowning him. She fell in love with Phillip, who saved her life, making her the only known mermaid ever to fall in love with a human.
Behind the scenes
- Syrena was portrayed by Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey in On Stranger Tides.
- While filming On Stranger Tides, one of the sets was visited by Tim Powers, author of the novel of the same name, it wasn't until Powers visited the set that the film crew learned that his wife's name is "Serena".
- To an extent of one's point of view, Syrena could be considered a prime character to the plot of On Stranger Tides. Because it was she who decided Angelica and Blackbeard's respective fates, unintentionally when she cried a mermaid's tear for Philip, but intentionally when she brought Jack the Chalices to save Angelica.
- Syrena was featured in Terry Rossio's original script for Dead Men Tell No Tales. After helping Philip Syrena was ordered by her fellow mermaids to find the legendary Trident of Neptune and restore her people to the good will of the gods. Following that she would be allowed to reunite with Philip, but the magic of her nature caused her to forget him. She eventually came back to land, becoming a handmaiden of Queen Inez Luisa Gabriella di Savoia, Duchess of Burgundy and the wife of the King of Spain.
- It is possible that Syrena was inspired by Ariel from The Little Mermaid, another mermaid-related Disney film where a mermaid falls in love with a human.
- The love story between Philip and Syrena resembles many of the early legends of mermaids, where a fierce and beautiful maiden from the sea would fall in love with a man from the church.
- "Syrena" is pronounced the same as "sirena", the Spanish word for "mermaid". The word "sirena" also means "mermaid" in several Slavic languages.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (First appearance)
- LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game (Non-canonical appearance)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Gods and Ghosts M (Non-canonical appearance)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide