The Secret Circle recap – 1×18: ‘Sacrifice’

Courtesy of The CW courtesy of Chevronone

So…where the hell did that come?! All of the sudden The Secret Circle explodes with an episode that’s humourous, well paced, full of thrilling “spell” sequences and reveals. What happened to my baby?!

Let’s bitch it out…

After digesting tonight’s episode, ‘Sacrifice’ for a bit, I realized what’s different. It’s the energy. Traditionally the show suffers in its pacing as scenes are arbitrarily organized, the sense of danger is low and the action misplaced (pretty sure Chris Zylka’s Jake isn’t going to die). While I remain slightly non-plussed about the show’s use of Cassie’s (Britt Robertson) father, John Blackwell (Joe Lando), in the last few weeks he’s been around the stakes have been raised.

So what worked? Well, oftentimes the show will have one or two scenes that kinda-sorta work and then a bunch of duds. ‘Sacrifice’, for the most part* avoided this by keeping the plot focused on the witchhunters with minor detours to examine how Adam (Thomas Dekker) and Cassie are dealing with the fallout of the “memory elapsing” elixir (ah the things you never think you’ll write about as a recapper).

*Although the Diana (Shelley Hennig) and Grant (Tim Phillips) date bits made me gnash my teeth, the rest of the episode more than made up for it. The teen romance pieces reinforce the show’s struggles to balance any non-Cassie romantic subplots with the larger demands of the show. For example: we either expect Grant to tie Diana up and use her as fish bait to lure the circle to their doom, or we twiddle our thumbs because there’s nothing magical about him and we’re bored. Neither option is ideal for trying to develop a legitimate relationship between the characters, though the show could help itself if it stopped asking us to believe Diana would consider running away with someone after two dates.

The A storyline, on the other hand, moved along with great urgency and efficiency. In the teaser, witchhunter Samuel (Chad Rook) is chased by Eben (Sammi Rotibi) into Chance Harbour with warnings that witchhunters are raising demons. Samuel might as well wear a red shirt and be named Exposition, but despite his tendency to tell us what we know and then explode, he still manages to be effective. First Samuel reveals that Blackwell was summoning demons during the boat fire. The news is surprising, although it’s hardly out of character for the elder Balcoin. Samuel suggests that Blackwell sacrificed someone to raise the demons, and  it is only because of Amelia, Cassie’s mom, that the other members of the circle were not possessed (instead poor Heather from 1×04 wound up on the receiving end of that deal).

Courtesy of The CW via Dekker Daily

Naturally Blackwell’s assertion that he used his Balcoin blood to summon the demons (and not a sacrifice) is a lie. If we’ve learned anything about him these last few weeks, it’s that he reveals the truth only when it’s convenient for him. This is why he digs up a body at the end of the episode, but only after a fiery battle with Eben and a demonic Samuel (who – like Heather – has already become a casualty, despite not realizing he’s already possessed). Once again the circle hangs out in a questionable clearing in the dead of night and once again Cassie is forced to use her dark magic to immolate someone in order to save the day. Ultimately Blackwell tips his hand by revealing that he still has his powers so that he can save her – and blow up Samuel (gooey!) – but in the confusion Eben escapes with the remainder of the demons.

This leads to the best scene of the night as Blackwell rallies his troops and gives the show its agency and direction for the remainder of the season: track down the six crystals, join them together and use their powers as a circle to destroy Eben. Sure it all plays like a pretty, teen version of Braveheart and Blackwell’s hilariously inappropriate scarf is jarring, but it’s nice to finally see the show recognize that it needs a mission. Early on it had the mystery of the boat, but there was no urgency in that – merely curiosity about what happened. And while there’s always been witchhunters, they always felt cartoon-y, even when they were threatening to burn the circle to death on a barge. (Side Note: Admittedly the witchhunters still require some fleshing out. What are their motivations for hating witches so much again? Yeah…we still have no clue)

Now we have a true villain in Eben, who is running around Chance Harbour as an all powerful demon-infected, witch supported threat. And with this move, the show has a narrative to rally the action around even as it raises the stakes. After the events in ‘Sacrifice’ and with only a few episodes left, The Secret Circle has definitely upped its game going into the season finale. (Side Note: Why couldn’t the show have pulled off this kind of episode, say five episodes ago?)

Other Considerations:

  • As silly as it is, my favourite scenes are those involving Adam, Faye (Phoebe Tonkin) and Melissa (Sarah Parker Kennedy) catering the hockey event. All three felt looser and more comfortable with the physical comedy, especially Dekker (my notes read: “What’s happened to Adam? He’s actually fun”). The use of magic to score time with hockey doofus Kyle also seems significantly more realistic than the traditional “lock-unlock” kind of magic we’ve seen (if you were a teen witch with powers you would definitely use them to score dates). After last week’s bra/cop scene and now this, the show seems to have come across a winning comedy + witchcraft formula. More please.
  • Also finding their comedy sea-legs? Britt Robertson. Her awkward fumbling with the cash register when Blackwell appears at the coffee shop early on is adorable, and her exasperated looks in the car with Adam at the end of the episode are great. (Side Note: the peculiar framing of the passing car headlights through the windshield made me think that someone was about to drive into them in a car-wreck-attempted-murder cliffhanger).
  • Adam gets upset at his inability to remember the “perfect” feeling he had with Cassie. Initially I thought that the show might reveal that the elixir failed to work on him, too, but apparently not. Cassie ultimately decides not to tell him, or anyone else, that she still has feelings for Adam, despite Blackwell’s wishes.
  • Diana’s coffee house freak out after Grant lies to her is meme worthy. I appreciate that she’s clearly had romantic challenges this season, but damn gurl! Talk about selfish bitchiness. You’re in a bound circle that is routinely being attacked by witchhunters who want to kill you and you don’t answer your phone! Though I did like the exasperated line “It’s even in a to go cup in case the circle needs help.”
  • Since Diana has given Grant another day to prove himself worthy, I expect we’ll see him again (barf). Therefore we should give him a nickname! Aussie Chicklets (because of his honking big chompers) seems the most appropriate. P.S. when she asked him if anything else was a lie, did anyone else really hope that the accent turned out to be fake, too? P.P.S Grant’s indignation that Adam refused to give Diana a flute of champagne is amusing. I know this is The CW, but let’s not forget that a) these are underage high school kids and b) it’s the middle of the freaking day.

Best Lines of the Night:

  • Faye (about the Cassie/Adam break-up): “Just glad I never have to see him bat his oversized eye lashes at her small head again”
  • Adam (after Faye protests that Diana gets to leave): “More chicken wings for you.”
  • Faye (responding to the return of demons): “From the creepy bird suitcase?”
  • Faye (when it’s clear Blackwell is not coming): “Can we get stood up by your dad?”

What did you think, Circle-rs: do you feel that the show has improved now that it has its mission? What are Blackwell’s intentions now that we know he lied about making a sacrifice to release the demons 16 years ago? Are you okay with the idea that we’ll be spending more time with the parents and elders since they’re the ones who possess the crystals? Sound off below and get ready for the pulse-pounding final few episodes!

The Secret Circle airs Thursdays at 9pm EST on The CW.

About cinephilactic

cinephilactic is a university contract instructor in Film Studies. He is an avid TV watcher, particularly science-fiction, fantasy and drama series. His favourite shows currently airing on TV include The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Justified, Hannibal, Game Of Thrones and a smattering of shows on The CW. He has a tendency to "hate-watch" particular shows and likes to think that his sarcastic voice comes through in his reviews, though sometimes he's just being bitchy

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