by Ryan J. Downey
Horror movie folks should never say, "I'll be right back." And witches should never walk alone.
That's the big lesson from last night's episode of "The Secret Circle." Last week the six teen witches bound their powers together, which means they've got no mojo by themselves, but two or more together is super-magically delicious.
There's nothing like a stubbly stalker to drive a group of people together who have spent the entire afternoon trying to stay apart. Chance Harbor fisherman Zachary Larson arrives to terrorize the Circle, hunting them down one by one in abandoned houses and dark school hallways before they eventually unite to save themselves at the school dance.
The '80s slasher movie vibe of last night's episode was a treat and a great reminder of executive producer Kevin Williamson's involvement in the show. Before he created "Dawson's Creek," he was the mastermind behind "Scream." He wrote "I Know What You Did Last Summer," too, so he's no stranger to making a teenager-stalking fisherman scary.
Except this guy is more like, "I know what your parents did 15 years ago."
The episode opens with Faye unable to use the simplest of spells to open her locker. "Lock. Unlock. Lock. Unlock." Nothing. The power-hungry bad girl is incensed that she's seemingly been stripped of her powers. Perky Diana explains that post-binding ceremony, they are all restricted to collective magic. At least one other member of the circle has to be present in order for one of them to pull off any hocus pocus whatsoever. Faye ain't happy about this.
Ever the cheerleader for group positivity, Diana's next conversation is with Cassie. She really wants to be her BFF. But Cassie is headed in the same "loner" direction as Faye, albeit for different reasons. "This whole thing, it's too weird," she says apologetically. She just doesn't want to be around her fellow witches.
Nick and Melissa are still sleeping together in secret. When she suggests they go semi-public by hitting up the dance together, he's emphatic about keeping things in the Ashton Kutcher/Natalie Portman rom-com realm. "We're not dating," he reminds her in a very not-nice manner. "If that's where this is going, we're done." Ouch.
Speaking of the dance, Cassie is drafted into helping set it up, while Adam is drafted into setting up his friend Luke with Cassie. Adam of course isn't happy about this, but what can he do? He already has Diana as his longtime girlfriend. Luke seems like a nice guy, but he just doesn't have that whole brooding-smoldering-unattainable thing Adam has, which means he doesn't have a chance. But Cassie eventually accepts his invitation anyway despite her admitted lack of social skills.
"Are you saying you're a loner?" Cassie's date asks her at the school dance.
Getting the pattern here? Many of these people may want to stay alone, but it simply isn't smart for them. They are going to need each other whether they realize it or not and some scheming adults make are sure to drive that message home.
Ah, those scheming adults. Diana's mom is still plotting and planning with Charles. They've stashed Henry's body away in a lake house and seem to be accelerating whatever master plan they have. "We have to move fast Charles before someone else catches on to us," she says. "There's still people in this town who remember."
What's that? Remember what, you say? That would be the big fire that killed a parent for everyone in the circle. Zachary certainly remembers. He spots Cassie in the Boathouse Grill (still not to be confused with the Mystic Grill) and stalks her outside—right into the same parking lot where she was just recently trapped inside her flaming car. He tells her she looks just like her mother. And when he realizes she's staying in town he more or less decides on the spot that he's going to kill her, or at least someone from the circle, in order to prevent history repeating itself in Chance Harbor.
"You shouldn't have come here," he growls. "I'm not going to let this happen again." Luckily, Diana is nearby and that whole "collective magic" thing kicks in and hurls Zachary onto the hood of a car.
Charles tells Diana that Zachary is just some loser yahoo he know in high school but an old yearbook and some internet research prove otherwise to the crew. Diana realizes that big fire is figuring into current events.
Faye is still trying to figure out how to get her powers back by herself. She makes the mistake of hanging out in an abandoned house alone trying to light a candle with a spell when she has her own run-in with old fisherman boy. "Alone you have no power," he reminds her. "You've already bound your circle." Dude knows stuff.
Faye escapes and despite her cruelest of loner-type intentions she gives in to inevitable fate by heading to the school to warn everyone about what happened. Meanwhile Charles tracks down Zachary on (where else?) a boat. They have a conversation about the past where it's revealed that Cassie's mom had something to do with harming his girlfriend.
Then suddenly, Zachary kicks the crap out of Charles, who maybe needs a member of his own circle around or at least that crystal to defend himself but unfortunately for him he has neither on hand. Zachary leaves him lying there bloody and traipses off toward the school announcing, "All I have to do is kill one of 'em."
At the school, Faye has a surprisingly compassionate conversation with Melissa about what a tool Nick has been acting like toward her. "Nick doesn't hate you," she says. "Nick hates Nick." It turns out that he's the member of the circle who lost both of his parents in the fire, which would explain his general crappy, inconsiderate attitude toward everyone.
Poor Luke never stood a chance with Cassie because when she isn't busy making eyes at Adam on the dance floor (after they are sort of but not really forced to dance together) or watching the door waiting for him to come back, she's off getting captured by Zachary. But the rest of the circle unites to save her. In the episode's most awesome moment, Faye looks at the rest of them and says, "We're all here. We're at full power, right? What can we do?"
Indeed! The answer to that question comes in the form of lockers blowing open, papers whirling around and Zachary getting smacked into the ceiling and knocked unconscious—but not before he reveals that his girlfriend isn't actually dead. "Heather didn't die," he says. "What Amelia"—that's Cassie's mom—"did to her was far worse."
What could be worse than death in the world of "The Secret Circle"? Well, we're going to have to wait until next week's episode (which is actually called "Heather"!) to find out. But in the meantime, Dawn Chamberlain certainly knows. You see, her and Charles use the crystal to conjure a spell that "marks" Zachary. Then she tells him if he ever comes back to hurt their kids again, "I will literally turn your life into a living hell much worse than Heather ever knew."
Needless to say, things turn out much better for the Circle than they did for old Zachary: Faye gives Nick a selfless talking to about his relationship with Melissa. The next time he's alone with Melissa, he suggests they just "hang out and watch a movie." Aw. And in a moment of "I told you so," Diana tells Cassie, "I just think we're better together than we are apart."
Diana also finally addresses the elephant in the room regarding her boyfriend's obvious attraction to Cassie. "I see the way he looks at you," she says.
"You've got nothing to worry about Diana," Cassie says, as if to assure herself, as well.
"I would never come between you two.
Yeahhh… We'll see about that!
What did you think of last night's "Secret Circle"? Do you think Cassie can keep her promise? How does Heather factor into the story? And when will Faye get a love interest of her own? Sound off in the comments and on Twitter!