All TV enthusiasts are genetically wired to identify an awesome hour of television within the first few minutes of an episode (source: me). You know the feeling right? You watch one scene, and instinctually feel the magic. As soon as Melissa, Faye, Cassie, and Diana were all breathing the same air I sensed “Valentine” was on to something desperately lacking in many episodes this season: unity amongst the circle. I used “unity” for lack of a better word. I don’t mean they all got along. I prefer episodes where the relationships are on display. Unfortunately The Secret Circle has squandered most of the season separating the characters and not delving into the different dynamics between them. However, “Valentine” began to weave together the loose threads that had been tripping up The Secret Circle anytime the show managed a moment of momentum. For once, I wasn’t preoccupied with the absence of Grandma Jane or the other grownups, or why the entire demon storyline is nonexistent now, which means I was fully invested in what was currently unfolding. Somehow everyone’s seemingly disparate endeavors touched enough to allow the audience to see just who these people are to each other.
The evolution of the hooded figures stalking Cassie was unsettling. First, I assumed witnessing her father burned at the stake was haunting her. Then, the grisly backstory was unveiled: these were visitors from beyond the grave, murdered by her dad in a freaking church, and back to reclaim their power trapped in the medallion. The horror creeped out appropriately, and climaxed in the tense church standoff. What really intensified the confrontation was the dynamic duo of Adam and Jake. Watching these two interact without Adam’s typical angst was great. I loved how Jake waltzed onto the romantic scene Adam had prepared for Cassie. They were forced to postpone their weekly pissing contest to search for Cassie. Notice I didn’t say save.
As dumb as Cassie is for Forrest Gumping after the witch-ghosts, and appearing to run right into the blonde horror victim cliché, she exerted the most autonomy when Adam’s life was in jeopardy. Jake was all for axing Adam off the suitors menu. I really enjoy morally ambiguous conflicts. Even though Jake’s insistence of sacrificing Adam for the medallion’s safety was horrific, you can also understand his perspective. If the witch-ghosts had the medallion they’d have access to untold power, which could wreak havoc for more than just the Teen Witches of Chance Harbor. However, Cassie couldn’t standby and watch a possessed Adam forced to kill himself. She dark magicked the witch-ghosts out of Adam, leading to episodes only problematic development. How was a medallion powered by the magic of hundreds of dead witches broken as if it was dispensed from a gumball machine?
The antics with Faye, Diana, and Melissa were pure entertainment. I definitely don’t condone drug usage, but I have to admit it led to some of the series best one-liners and most fun moments. The downside of the revelry resulted in refreshing character revelations such as Diana giving Adam a piece of her mind when he called to ask if Cassie was with the girls. Also, the little spat between Faye and Diana over who was a better friend to Melissa, which ended in them all laughing together in a pillow fight. Beyond happy to see Melissa getting screen time, but I’m not exactly sure what to make of her dependency on the Devil’s Spirit. Is she still pining over Nick’s death, the low self-esteem hinted at earlier this season, her lack of a storyline before this one? Melissa is someone I love to watch (beauty aside), but still don’t know very much about what motivates her actions. Gotta mention once more that I like how the different storylines bounced off of each other this episode.
I’ve previously been harsh on the Voodoo Douche Lee and, while I still don’t like him, at least things are getting interesting, with him apparently using Faye’s powers to revive his comatose girlfriend.
The Secret Circle is most compelling when it doesn’t take itself too seriously, when the storylines find a common ground, even when they’re not directly related, and the darker sides of witchcraft come out to play. Hopefully, the see-sawing between good and mediocre is banished by this excellent installment of the show and a nice balance is established between all of these elements.