H2O: Just Add Water 1×08: The Denman Affair

What would happen if someone else found out about the girls being mermaids? And if someone did, I bet you’d never guess who put that someone onto their tails…literally. 👀😏😭

You can watch H2O for free on YouTube. I also embed the full-length episodes on each episode’s recap before the spoiler alert.

SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT! This is a recap of H2O, episode 8 of season one, “The Denman Affair”. The show is no longer active; proceed at your own discretion.

The mysteries of life

The girls are teasing Lewis, who thinks he’s finally getting close to figuring out what their transformation is all about. Rikki and Emma are pointing out the obvious mermaid characteristics, like their tails. Cleo points out that he’s trying to help.

Lewis obsesses over Dr. Denman, a woman who’s arriving at the Marine Park to observe the dolphins. She did her PhD at 21. She’s one of the world’s leading experts in aquatic mammalian cellular evolution.

He wants to tap into her research to find out more about their mermaid powers. The girls don’t want him getting close to her, because she’ll find out about them.

The girls relent and agree to trust him, because they do need to know what’s happened to them.

Lewis explores Dr. Denman’s lab with Cleo, who knows they’re not supposed to be in that area. He’s impressed by the lab equipment.

Dr. Denman steps into the doorway. Cleo steps back from Lewis, who is smitten by the woman. He stumbles over his words and even when introducing himself. She shakes his hand, recognizing him as the guy who sent her 48 emails about the research assistant’s position.

He introduces Cleo and offers his resume.

Cleo watches as Dr. Denman and Lewis chat

Cleo interrupts and asks to take a look at her research, but she encourages them to leave. Dr. Denman promises to look at Lewis’s resume.

Cleo is definitely not happy.

Cleo angrily looks back at Dr. Denman putting her hand on Lewis's shoulder, in her lab

Dr. Baywatch Babe

Cleo walks and talks with Emma and Rikki about meeting Dr. Denman, or “Dr. Baywatch Babe”. Emma googled her and says she’s got cred.

Cleo jokes about Dr. Denman’s real hair color, masking her jealousy with concern for Lewis’s ability to keep their mermaid secret.

At the JuiceNet Cafe, the girls stress to Lewis the importance of keeping their secret. He says Dr. Denman wasn’t that pretty and excitedly answers her call immediately when she calls.

Lewis gets up to talk to the woman on the phone, nervously laughing while twirling his hair. He even interrupts a pool game.

Emma and Rikki sit next to each other in a booth, Emma looking to Cleo and Rikki looking away from the table

The girls realize they’re in big trouble.

Give me a hand

Dr. Denman hands Lewis an underwater camera; there's a dolphin in the background

Lewis meets Dr. Denman and Marge the dolphin. She hands him an underwater camera, then asks for help taking off her wet suit top to reveal a bikini top underneath.

She shows him to her lab, where she has changed back into her work clothes. He’s fascinated by her research equipment, and she says it’s what happens when people throw money as your research project. He asks what piece he’s on, but it’s mopping. 🤣

I know what I’m doing

At Cleo’s, the girls are confused how mopping floors helps them understand their mermaid powers. Lewis needs a fresh DNA sample, like toenail clippings, because he has access to her lab now. Cleo volunteers.

Lewis, Emma, Cleo and Rikki chatting in Cleo's kitchen

Back at lab, Lewis excuses his presence there by saying he missed a couple of benchtops and wanted to finish them. Dr. Denman leaves Lewis alone for a brief moment, during which examines Cleo’s toenail under the microscope.

Dr. Denman enters as he’s about to wet the toenail using a pipette. She wants to see his research, which he calls “nothing special”. He excuses himself, claiming he needs to get to school, and leaves with the sample tube he brought in.

Dr. Denman looks at the sample on the slide. She wets Cleo’s nail polish-painted toenail with the pipette and examines the molecular transformation on the screen.

Outside, Lewis realizes he forgot the sample and rushes back in. She confronts him about the slide, giving him a white box. He calls it a “side project”. She invites him to go diving tomorrow.

Lewis leaves. Dr. Denman uncovers a small sample of Cleo’s toenail that she kept for herself.

Mako Island

At Emma’s, Lewis is scolded for letting Dr. Denman see the sample. Lewis says they’re both scientists and that scientists compare notes. He leaves.

Lewis isn’t usually that erratic. Neither Rikki nor Emma trust Lewis not to spill their secret.

Rikki, Cleo and Emma sitting on Emma's bed

The girls spy on Lewis and Dr. Denman behind some barrels. She tells him to call her Linda, since they’re working together.

Lewis holds an underwater camera while standing on the dock next to Dr. Denman's boat, where she also stands

Dr. Denman says they’re headed towards Mako Island, shocking Lewis and the girls. He tries to deter her, but she’s not budging.

The girls swim to Mako Island before the scientists arrive. Lewis and Dr. Denman go underwater in scuba gear. The girls watch from afar, trying to stay out of sight.

Cleo and Emma underwater, as mermaids, behind a reef

Lewis catches a glimpse of a mermaid’s tail. I think it was Rikki’s.

Rikki underwater, as a mermaid, slightly behind a reef

Where’s the trust?

At Emma’s, Lewis confronts the girls for spying on him instead of trusting him. Lewis calls them “a bunch of kids” and Dr. Denman “a woman and a little bit more mature”.

Cleo’s visibly shocked.

You and me

At the lab, Dr. Denman examines the sample she kept. Lewis enters, and she hides the evidence.

She invites him to her team for a six-month long research project. She’s already contacted his teachers; government funding will subsidize his trip, and he’ll even receive credit for his work.

He has until tomorrow to make a decision, for she’ll be leaving for her lab in the Galapagos Islands the day after, where they’ll be based.

Lewis tells Cleo about the amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Lewis is happy she’s invited him, though Cleo’s concerned she wants another sample. He asks for Cleo’s advice, but Cleo reminds him it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — like he said.

“And there’s nothing holding you here, right?” ~Cleo

And never have I ever wanted to scream at a character SO MUCH.

Lewis hesitates, starts saying, “Well actually,” then says she’s right. SHE’S RIGHT. SHE’S RIGHT?!

Oh no…

Cleo sneaks into Dr. Denman’s lab and opens the laptop to find a document called “Just Add Water: The Phenomenon of Spontaneous Cellular Mutation”. Security walks in and asks why she’s where she knows she’s not supposed to be.

At the cafe, Cleo tells Lewis that it looked like an article for a scientific journal, containing the same stuff he keeps talking about. Cleo says she still has the DNA slide sample, sitting in a little white slide box. It looked like Dr. Denman had been running tests.

Emma and Rikki sitting next to each other at the JuiceNet Cafe

Lewis defends Dr. Denman, saying she’s not like that. He tells Cleo she read a little bit of an article that she doesn’t understand; she clarifies that she understands enough to know it’s the same as what he says.

Offended by the girls’ perspectives, Lewis leaves. Emma and Rikki want to get into the lab, but Cleo can’t do so again without risking her job.

That slide

Emma and Rikki swim in the dolphin tank. Marge does tricks and tries to play with them. The mermaids hide underwater near the dock.

Lewis confronts Dr. Denman about keeping a part of Cleo’s toenail. He’s expecting her to say no, so she’s surprised when she says yes. She’s kept it with all their Mako slides. She hopes Lewis will be more transparent about where he got it from in the future.

Rikki reaches for the white box atop a blue box on the dock

Rikki tries to grab the white box without being seen, to no avail. Dr. Denman reveals that she wants Lewis on the trip with her because she wants more samples. He feels betrayed, because she stole the sample from him.

Lewis agrees to see her tomorrow if he can see her research thus far.

Faith in human nature

The girls stress about Lewis and Dr. Denman, how she’ll eventually find out the truth. None of them have slept.

Rikki and Emma think Lewis has already sold them out, while Cleo still can’t believe he’d do such a thing. They leave to confront him.

At the docks, Dr. Denman’s boat has left.

Emma, Rikki and Cleo watching Dr. Denman's boat sail away

The girls think Lewis has left, but he hasn’t. He got the slide back and erased her research; a good scientist doesn’t lie and steal other people’s research.

Cleo and Lewis attempt a hug and ultimately high-five instead. 🥴

My thoughts

I think that everything happening in this episode was fair. The girls had a reason to be wary of Lewis spilling their secret to Dr. Denman, though I do think they were a bit hypocritical.

Cleo continued to trust that Lewis would do the right thing, even as the others doubted him. That said, I think the writers’ intent this episode was to have the viewers think Dr. Denman was flirting with Lewis — and she kinda was — which is inappropriate considering it’s an adult-teen relationship. 🤷‍♀️

That was the weirdest part to me, especially since Cleo is painted as jealous of Dr. Denman. 🧐

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