The Secret Circle 1.17 "Curse" Review
Whenever one experiences grief following a tragic incident, there's always an urge to want to change things and try to find some way to make it "better". It's human nature, of course, but once a major disruption occurs in our lives, we start brainstorming ways to get things as close to the prior status quo as possible. Bargaining, the third stage of grief in the Kubler-Ross model, can take the form of incentives ("if I do X, then please let Y happen") or simple desire to change places with the person most affected; however, it never pans out. In real life, there's no "takesy backsies", if you will, making bargaining an important hurdle to get over in the slow march toward acceptance. Luckily, The Secret Circle says to hell with grief, thanks to a little thing called magic.
Magic adds another element to any horrible event the characters on The Secret Circle face, in that they may have a chance to reverse what happened. What may seem like a crushing blow may only be a minor bump in the road, both a promising thing for the characters and a dangerous tightrope for the show. "Curse" managed to set a majority of the characters against pain, loss, and paranoia with a fair amount of it working well. Of the three major plots, I have to say my favorite was Jake's trip down memory lane, as the resident steel-jawed bad boy had to face the memory of local shopkeeper Calvin, who met his end at Jake's hands. Jake has been a fairly emotionless character in his time on The Secret Circle, all Ken doll good looks and pining over Cassie, so even though he had to face his demons by unnatural means, having him act a little more human made for an unsettling change of pace. Even one-liner machine Faye has dealt with insecurities, loneliness, and self-doubt, so Jake was the last character to be broken down a little and cast as something other than a reluctant part of the circle. His presence has always brought a certain amount of tension, considering his former allegiance to the witch hunters, so having him tormented by what he did was a way for the character to face retribution and be shown as not being a bad guy.
Make no mistake, Jake is still an outcast in the circle, considering Adam's ambivalence to saving his life, but he's a tiny bit less black-and-white following "Curse".
Jake's torment from his psyche may have been interesting, but the Cassie/Adam stuff got a little too overwrought for me. After several weeks of occupying the background with subtle, charming chemistry, the cheesiness and schmoopiness of it all was especially grating, with every bit of romance novel caliber dialogue and awkward bit of framing enforcing that 100%. Instead of being shown how well they get along and how their relationship has evolved, "Curse" got back to answering the question of "why Cassie and Adam?" with "uh, JUST 'CAUSE." and leaving it at that. I appreciated a little sexuality being brought into the mix, considering how chaste the show has been, but there's just no heat to speak of there, which kind of dilutes the power of a melodramatic kiss or two characters waking up in bed together. I should believe these kids can't keep away from one another and that one look between them is the equivalent of an all-night lovefest, but I don't. So Cassie grieving the loss of Adam's love didn't hit me as much as it could have; the element of her still being in love with him, even after taking the elixir, may have been a decent twist, but I only hope it's not the beginning of more one-sided angst.
Faye continues to be my favorite part of The Secret Circle and plots like "Curse" are the reason why; Phoebe Tonkin can do the snarky, vampy thing with her eyes closed and steal a scene, but it's when Faye's grounded that I'm most impressed. After finding out that Eva had (inadvertently) killed Lee (who can't be resurrected) and taken some of her power, Faye was actually kind of threw for a loop; she's a lonely character by nature, prickly enough to ward off only the most dedicated of friends, and had been starting something with Lee, so losing her lone non-circle connection made an impact on her. If you don't open up to a lot of people, the absence of any of your genuine relationships can be isolating and maddening, to say the least. Interestingly enough, Faye felt more sympathy for Eva than anything, as the latter had risen from the dead and didn't have anyone there to be with; Faye's mask may be beautiful, but it's also the most prominent of the circle members and behind the sass, there's depth, sensitivity, and striking vulnerability for such a strong character.
Fortunately, Melissa and Diana tagged along and added a lot to the plot; the three of them have my favorite chemistry to watch on the show and the more they bond, the more it helps make the circle seem as close as it should be, all things considered. Faye may try to come across as the baddest bitch with a book of secrets, but when dealing with the loss of a friend, you need to focus not on who you portray yourself as but who you (and your support system) are.
But, for me, "Curse" didn't gel until the final few minutes, when the real John Blackwell, the legend of Chance Habor, finally poked his head out. It turns out that there's no curse at all between the Blakes and the Conants; Blackwell intends to drive Adam and Cassie apart to save the circle, after their parents got together and wanted to leave, thereby weakening their circle enough for the witch hunters to strike. If that wasn't enough, he mentions the hunters have magic on their side now, so there's a mole out there gunning for their fellow witches. I have to say, it's a major relief for Blackwell to be more than the doting daddy dearest he's portrayed himself as being, if only because a little scheming makes the character more interesting. After all the build up, he was a little neutered upon entering The Secret Circle, so there's a little bit of old Blackwell still stewing around in there and he brings news of an impending war between the hunters and the witches, a promising development for a show in need of a stronger direction. For as much personal grieving as he did over Amelia and the decimation of his circle some years ago, Blackwell has moved from bargaining all the way to an unofficial sixth stage in the grieving process.
Thoughts, Quotes, & Observations:
-"And since when did Lee think?"
-"It's abstinence education at work."
-"Why isn't she using the sexy card?"
-"Maybe we're not the dating type of soulmates."
-Apologies for the lack of a review last week. I was busy writing ill-fated teen romances in the stars, but I'm better now.
-It was nice seeing Jane again, even if she's been reduced to a puppet for Blackwell and, apparently, Charles to do their dirty work.
-Melissa's mother was very knowledgeable about plant life.
-Adam and Cassie like watching Game of Thrones together, if anyone's curious.
-Next week on The Secret Circle: A witch hunter comes to Chance Harbor with a message from Eben, Diana's frustrated at having to keep her powers at bay around Grant, and Faye and Melissa trade work around the Boathouse for Adam's help in the love department.