The Secret Circle: “Masked”
B+

The Secret Circle: “Masked”

B+

The Secret Circle

“Masked”

Season 1, Episode 7
B+

The Secret Circle

“Masked”

Season 1, Episode 7

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Just like the average high schooler’s Halloween, Halloween on the Secret Circle is all about dressing up in slutty costumes and getting chloroformed by your classmates, who then try to murder you, before your friend murders one of them first with her mind. You know, Americana.

The Secret Circle’s Halloween, however, also got to be about the tension between who we inescapably are, who we want to be, and who we can pretend to be. Is Cassie Blake going to turn out like her mother, the ol’ beloved Amelia, or will she take after her black magic father? Is Jake an irredeemable psychopath or just waiting to be turned into a hero?

The endgame answers seem a little obvious, but the show’s treating them like legitimate questions. That’s why tonight, the Secret Circle wove together some underlying, relatable questions with good suspense and ever more mystery for the best episode yet.

The episode largely set up Jake and Cassie as mirrors... and then mourned Adam’s many similar sorrows. But let's ignore him for a few.

If Jake was just all right and sort of iffy in the motivation category last week, here, we get commanding, menacing, crazy ass Jake. Chris Zylka brings a level of physical imposition this show lacked previously. Here, he’s dangerous, and this show needs that. Nowhere was that more clear than the wicked, creepy attack on poor shop owner Calvin Wilson. “I use them for salad dressing, but apparently, they’re meant for killing witches,” Jake announces with a cheery grin, and it is on, as Zylka sing-songs his way through exposition on witch-killing so effectively, I forgot it was exposition. Seriously, how awesome were those two little taps on the back Jake gives him after he drops the ding-dong, the witch is dead? Zylka plays a great psycho!

But this is the CW, so he’s not going to be the Joker. He’s got to brood a little, and he did that pretty effectively. Whether intentionally or accidentally, the scene in the graveyard with Melissa inverted the usual secret grief angst scene; Jake genuinely doesn’t seem to care about Nick at all, and he has no use for her empathy. What isn’t quite working: That Cassie can’t figure out the very obvious fact that Jake is a witch hunter. She doesn’t trust him, great; he is believably untrustworthy, if charming. But, girl, take a photo of his giant dagger with your iPhone and get the hell out of his room. Cassie Blake, witchcraft moron.  (In fairness to Cassie, she is a teenage girl, and Jake is very hot.)

Cassie herself, meanwhile, is quickly getting rounded into a quite a nice, and for the CW, different, character: sort of believably, charmingly a nerd. She greets Luke at the party with a “gangstaaaa” that nobody has ever sounded cool saying, and then excuses herself with, “beebee right back,” a pun on her costume and once more, something that nobody has ever sounded cool saying. She sets up Halloween parties to set her friends up. She reluctantly humors Faye. She’s both a terrible liar and very chill, that Cassie Blake. So, then, what a nice turn for Cassie Blake, natural conflict-avoider, to be blowing up with black magic.

It’s a little unclear if Britt Robertson has a reserve of sexy impulsiveness, unhinged anger, or whatever mash-up of darkness you need to convey an inner struggle against black magic. It’s not something that’s really come up so far, but in “Masked,” the show treats it like an overwhelming, uncontrollable Jean Grey surge of power. Cassie saves Diana’s life and kills witch hunter Luke, basically with an outburst of anger. That could be kind of cool, no?

That’s where we’re left with Jake and Cassie: the bad guy and the good girl who could be fighting contrary impulses.

On a similar beat, we’re told Adam believes he’s nothing without Diana, and he’ll devolve, one supposes, into some torrent of alcoholism and eyeliner. But Adam, even more than Cassie, could not sound less predisposed to that if the show tried. I mean, let’s be real, Adam is the guy who other people borrow math homework from at lunch to copy before class. You call him if you really need a ride. He helps put up the living Nativity at the nearby church at Christmas. But I’ll give the show credit: For all his bitching at his dad, Adam’s “Did you ever even love her?” took that beat in a different, more empathetic direction. If all you ever heard about your own mother was how much your father was in love with another girl, it would burn.

Meanwhile, out at the Lake House of Witch Grandparents and the People Who Attack Them, Jane finds Henry on the floor where Charles left him a few weeks ago. She gets herself knocked to the floor and loses the Chamberlain family cystal, though, and it’s all very important for one reason: Finally, finally, the Secret Circle managed to attack someone without the attacker’s face being plastered all over the screen.

Stray observations:

  • Cabot Cove Death Toll: Two this week! Witch hunter Luke (who did not turn out to be a good date when you gave him a chance) and Calvin Wilson.
  • This was a pretty fun episode, and the reason was Phoebe Tonkin. To wit: Faye striding around the shop basically (hilariously) topless; Faye egging Cassie on about Luke; Faye and Melissa’s awesome enchanted Halloween decorations; “Is this what it takes to get you excited, a little girl with a knife?” The show keeps sidelining either Diana or Faye, like one cannot exist while the other gets to be in the forefront, which is a mistake because Hennig and Tonkin are the two strongest cast members, and they hardly ever interact.
  • Cassie heard her phone ring in the middle of a house party?
  • “Really, Faye? My bedroom?” Faye and Cassie are the best intra-circle pairing, I think. Ever since they woke up Heather Barnes, Teen Demon.
  • “I’m not going to tell Henry the circle is bound. [Pause.]” The delivery of that line made it sound like Jane was going to the lakehouse to bang Henry. Sorry. It did, though.
  • Let’s discuss the Teen Mom circle of yore: Not only did they start the Great Boat Fire of 1995, Amelia Blake, who we’re told has the strongest blood of them all, got knocked up by the evil John Blackwell. Good work, team.
  • Henry did not strain any muscles hiding that crystal in the foyer.
  • Random witch mythology: There are multiple circles, and people tend to be secretive about whether they’re witches, so anyone could really be one.

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