Obsessed is not a good movie. Among other things, Ali Larter roofies Idris Elba, and then appears to think she had sex with him. The movie does, however, feature a spectacular 15-minute fight sequence between Beyoncé and Larter which is in almost complete tonal dissonance with the rest of the movie.
I would never tell you the last 10 minutes of tonight’s Secret Circle were as good as that fight sequence (nothing ever will be), but I would tell you the first 50 were as stiff and boring as the rest of Obsessed.
Since it’s the reverse of that first sip of your beverage of choice (alcohol, soda, coffee, the blood of whoever put Mitt Romney up to singing “America The Beautiful,” etc.)—fleeting, delightful, and satisfying—let’s talk about those final 10 minutes. Just as Beyoncé chased Ali Larter up into the attic in her socks once, so did Cassie deliver justice to Lucy the Psychic. Even if the show ultimately ruined any momentum by immediately killing off Lucy, Cassie herself achieved a glorious moment of compelling command, just up to the point of unsettling but keeping appropriate distance. “Let her go. She won’t be coming back.” Hell no, she won’t. Seriously, I had serious doubts that the diminutive Britt Robertson could handle the presence of an inescapable, inner darkness, but she sold that, just like she did with the coffin scene last month. The camera angle and trail of fire helped, sure, but Robertson was intimidating—charismatic even. I want more of that.
And I want more stabbings, seedy exchanges in alleys, and attractive people hooking up, too. But I don’t want it in the muddled, moody, stiff way Secret Circle excels at throwing together, only to inevitably end up where we began. Will Jake and Faye’s booty call spur them to hunt the witch hunters? (It won’t. It will be another “complication” for Jake and Cassie to discuss in the basement.) Will Melissa’s drug dependency go anywhere besides her standing on someone’s porch with a stiff upper lip, gritting out, “It just hurts?” (No.) Will Dawn and Charles do anything besides continue this three-episode game of hot potato with a rock somebody bought in the gift shop at Luray Caverns? (Probably not.)
The latter instance of this show’s wheel-spinning underscored the bizarre silos in which the generations operate—on another show, I could easily envision Faye entering the house and finding her mother, and the stories beginning to thread together in an explosive way. I could be wrong, but I believe Faye has not spoken to her mother onscreen since the last episode to air in November.
But Faye couldn’t talk to her mom because she had to hook up with Jake. Which, fine, whatever. I don’t know if I’ve just forgotten how teen dramas work, but the mechanics of the Jake/Cassie/Adam triangle feels especially monotonous and chaste. Outside of the obvious—that it’s tough to imagine anyone could prefer Adam the Wet Blanket Ghost to Jake, or really anyone in Chance Harbor—we get an episode where Cassie oscillates between the two so frequently, it’s tough to remember what her personality even is. She seems to distrust whichever one she isn’t talking to, and since she can only talk to Adam or Jake, this will be an issue. At press time, Cassie appears to be leaning towards blowing off the guy with whom she has an interesting partner dynamic (see: the interrogation of Lucy, the cavorting around town) for the guy who guilt-trips her over, like, everything. So, that’s… a choice she will lament over fro-yo in college.
Even Cassie’s path towards that one shining moment had major human logic holes in it. Cassie, once more, immediately trusts someone who breezes in through her door—without any verification or mistrust. Is this really the plot of the week, like every week? One-offs? One of the keys to elevating shows like this from Twilight-esque ripoff to The Vampire Diaries is expanding the universe through compelling hooks in the thumbnail character sketches, so the viewer invests in Lucy and Heather and everyone else. As it is, Lucy made the same impact as the shop-owner Jake killed (remember that?)—which is to say, not much.
So here we are again, Secret Circle. You’re weirdly fashioned like a hang-out show, even though your characters don’t like each other and never talk to each other. You need to be a plot show. You have the pieces, please arrange them better, and by better, I mean, more “Beyoncé and Ali Larter fighting in the attic.”
- I don’t even want to talk about those excruciating toasts to Adam.
- I also don’t want to talk about that last scene which played sort of… uncomfortably when Cassie said, “Daddy.”
- Phoebe Tonkin’s face when Melissa starts flirting with Callum was delightful.
- The drugs seem really lame, incidentally. I think this show could use a rewatch of Lori Singer in Footloose for some actually crazy teenaged behavior that isn’t entirely illegal and/or a part of Teen Mom.
- There’s another parallel show where Jane Blake tries to recover her memory through a fog of dementia in an initially peaceful but gradually sinister spa.
- Coincidentally, I also use massive bleeding wounds in the palm of my hand as reminders. Google Calendar alerts are for the weak.
- “Have to make sure Adam and Cassie don’t get to second base, huh?”