A stranger with a deadly agenda finally brings the feuding Circle together
The Secret Circle
Credit: Sergei Bachlakov/The CW

Tonight’s Secret Circle left me feeling torn. Torn to pieces, I tell you — absolute pieces! On the one hand, we saw the ever-feuding Circle finally realize that they will need each other to face the growing threats popping up all over Chance Harbor. It’s not like they’re going to hug it out and start doing that ‘we’re walking down the hallway arm-in-arm in unison because we’re BEST FRIENDS’ thing. There are deep-seated, multi-generational rivalries here, and the show certainly needs that dynamic. But tonight’s events made it necessary for the gang to put aside their egos and their self-made loner identities to fight for a common purpose, and this new group dynamic should be a fun adventure in the coming weeks.

But on the other hand (probably the left one), I’m a bit frustrated with the pacing. Zachary’s arrival and his shocking revelation planted the seeds for what looks to be a really fun episode next week, but how long did it take for us to get there? Don’t get me wrong — I’m a huge fan of a good old-fashioned set-up episode. I’m just hoping for fewer Lost-esque cryptic conversations with little payoff next week. That’s all. Let’s get to it.

First and foremost — it’s time for a school dance! Fans of paranormal television programs that are marketed to teens know that this will inevitably result in a supernatural showdown that nobody will notice except for the lead characters involved. Like the fate of Cassie and Adam, it was written in the stars. But in the midst of all of the streamer-hanging and punch-mixing, our witches had to deal with the fact that after last week’s binding spell, their powers were no longer their own. Faye in particular had a hard time with hers. The poor girl couldn’t even open her locker without having to put the combination in! “Imagine me realizing the only way to get something to move is with my actual hands,” she said. Ugh, I know the feeling.

Diana was still pleased as punch that the binding spell limited their individual powers while strengthening their collective ones. She reached out to Cassie and flat-out propositioned her for friendship, but Cassie declined. Cassie still wanted an identity outside of the Circle, and apparently she was going to find said identity through extracurricular activities and helping out with the school dance. To each her own, I guess. As for a date to the dance — well, Adam (hesitantly) made that one easy. Adam apparently has a cute athlete friend named Luke, and Luke took an immediate interest in Cassie. He asked Adam if he should go for it, and Adam was very obviously jealous. “She’s going through a hard time right now,” he protested.

So we get it — Adam likes Cassie. But tonight we learned via Freudian slip that Cassie might have some feelings brewing there, too. When Luke strutted his stuff down the hall all athlete-like with Adam at his side, Sally Student President turned to Cassie and said, “He’s so cute!”

“…but taken,” Cassie replied. Sally Student President’s disdainful look said it all. She meant Luke, sister. Cassie was embarrassed, but she still accepted Luke’s invite. A dance is a dance, and what good is a dance with no date? Heck, even Melissa was getting in the spirit. After yet another roll in the hay with Nick, which I distinctly remember telling her not to do last week, she pulled a Sadie Hawkins and asked him. “Because I’m feeling kind of slutty!” And just like that, I officially love Melissa. Unfortunately, Nick did not share my sentiment. “We’re not dating, Melissa,” he said. “If that’s where this is going, we’re done.”

NEXT: The stranger arrives.

Relationships are brutal at any age, no? But unfortunately for our dance-goers, there was a far more serious threat lurking in the shadows of the Boathouse Bar and Grill. The stranger watched and waited as Cassie and Sally discussed Adam’s soulful eyes, and finally confronted our confused heroine in the parking lot. His name, as it turns out, was Zachary. Zachary, much like every other person we have encountered in this show’s three-episode run, knew Cassie’s mother. And he was not happy to see Cassie back in town. “Did you know your mother vowed she’d never come back?” he asked. “I’m not going to let this happen again.” He then got downright violent with her, until Diana ran up and saved the day with some collective magic.

The Zach attack left Cassie in panic mode, so it was time to channel her inner Nancy Drew and pour through Amelia’s high school yearbook. Fortunately, this book was much easier to read than Cassie’s family book of spells. In it we learned that Amelia, Zachary, and a girl named Heather were good friends, and also that Amelia was totally boring. Did anyone else hit the pause button to read her little senior year blurb? I sure did. “Bye Chance Harbor! Thank you for all the memories… Can’t wait to see what’s next! H.B. and Z.L., never lose touch.” Ick. Have a nice summer, Amelia.

Diana went to Charles for advice on the Zach situation, and Charles said to stay away from him. But really, all this scene did was give us a chance to finally see Diana and Charles interact with each other. Diana said she knew that he and Dawn had been meeting at school, and sweetly insisted that she just wanted her dad to be happy. Charles, ever the maniacal liar, said nothing about their eeeevil intentions and just said that the two had been casually seeing each other. “Your mother was a hard act to follow,” he said. Diana was definitely loving toward her father in this scene, but something about this interaction seemed off to me. She was, at some level, afraid of him. Not completely terrified as she should be, but there was a layer of unease that was completely apparent under her ever-present smile.

Charles brought the information to Dawn, and basically suggested that they kill Zach (via the magic crystal!) like they did Henry last week. Dawn wasn’t a fan of the idea, and held on to the crystal to keep the body count low. But guess what other idea she didn’t like? The one about her and Charles telling their daughters that they’re dating. “Is that so hard to imagine?” Charles asked. Her look suggested a definitive yes, and Charles looked sad for a crazy sociopath.

But see, as it turns out, the whole murder-by-crystal thing might not have been such a bad idea. Charles and Zach had a showdown by the docks, where we learned some more about Zach’s past with Amelia. Amelia, Heather and Zach were best friends until the ’90s circle drove her away, and Zach swore that he would never let that happen again. “I hoped this day would never come,” he said. “But I have no other choice! All I have to do is kill one of them.” He then proceeded to sort of beat up Charles. Zach is an expert lurker so he probably could have just snuck up behind Charles and killed him, but he went for the “I’m going to inform you that I’m about to attack you right before I actually do it” method, which is a fairly controversial approach to violence.

Meanwhile, back at the super-secret Secret Circle shack, Faye and Melissa were experimenting with their powers while Nick just sort of brooded. Nothing was working with just the two of them, so Melissa wondered out loud what they could do with three. “I’ve got an idea about what we can do with the three of us,” Nick said. Oh, brother. He meant sex, you guys. Faye dramatic eye-rolled and told them to come over later for some spell-castin’, but Melissa firmly insisted that she wanted to go to the dance. It’s better than hanging out alone, right? Wrong. And this brings us to our bitchy Faye quote of the week: “I don’t mind being alone. Unlike you, Melissa, I like myself.” Too bad being alone also meant being attacked by Zach! But don’t worry guys, she got away.

NEXT: Everybody dance, now.

Over at the dance, Cassie pretended to be into Luke while Adam pretended to still be into Diana. Once again, there was many a stolen glance and even a subtle sigh or two. It was okay. The interesting developments happened between Nick, Melissa, and Faye, who showed up after her attack. Nick confronted Melissa about the fact that she was letting him treat her like crap, which was our first taste of Nick behaving like an actual human being with thoughts and feelings. “Why do you like me?” he wondered. “I mean, do you just like being dumped on or something?”

Melissa wasn’t happy about this, but Faye acted like a true, caring friend and told her what was what. “Nick doesn’t hate you,” she said. “Nick hates Nick.” I hope Faye acts this headstrong and self-assured in her own relationships once we get the chance to see them. I love this side of Faye. But I love the bitchy side of Faye too, so I guess that makes me biased. She then went over to Nick and was all, “If you’re gonna date Melissa, treat her right.” This seemed to resonate, because Nick asked her out for a movie later. But first there was the supernatural showdown, so let’s get to that.

Luke ditched Cassie for being a lame date, allowing her to roam the halls solo to ponder either the Zach or the Adam situation. I don’t know what’s going on in her head. The rest of the Circle used their valuable dance time to not dance, instead choosing to break into Dawn’s office to search for information on Zach’s past. Adorably, Dawn’s password was Faye’s birthday. Not-so-adorably, my mom’s password is her own birthday. Predictably, the Circle learned that Heather was killed in the infamous ‘six teenage couples with newborn babies’ boat fire of 1990 — making Zach hellbent on revenge. Revenge on Cassie.

So Zach showed up to knife Cassie, resulting in a dramatic high school hallway chase sequence where Cassie ran and hid from Zach, while the Circle tried to find-slash-save Cassie. When they found her with his knife to her face, they used their bound powers to create a mighty wind that propelled everyone’s homework from their lockers. “Sorry Heather died, but Cassie didn’t kill her!” Diana said. “Heather didn’t die. What Amelia did to her was far worse!” he replied.

Which — wow. That’s actually a pretty exciting development, since we’d been made to think that Amelia was just a regular Georgia peach. But we didn’t get to hear any more about this from Zach, because the Circle threw him violently onto the ceiling and back down to the ground again, knocking him out cold. This gave Charles and Dawn the opportunity to duct tape his mouth and throw him in a trunk, where Dawn cut her hand and put some sort of bloody curse on him. “You’ve been marked,” she said. “No matter where you go or where you hide, I’ll find you. If you ever even look at one of our children again, I’ll literally (said in the style of Parks and Recreation‘s Chris Traeger) turn your life into a living hell much worse than Heather ever knew.”

So, there you have it. I was happy to see the Circle gang bonding after Cassie’s brush with death. I just hope that they stick with it, because next week’s episode looks awesome and completely terrifying. Whatever Amelia did to Heather was seriously frakked up, and I personally cannot wait to see more.

What say you, Secret Circle fans? Are you frustrated or encouraged by the slower pace of the show? Were you confused when we didn’t get to see Nick’s abs tonight?


Episode Recaps

The Secret Circle
16-year-old shy girl Cassie discovers she is a witch and becomes a member of the Circle of witches of New Salem
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