Last week Faye (Phoebe Tonkin) went batshit crazy for Cassie’s (Britt Robertson) black magic powers and Jake (newly minted series regular Chris Zylka) returned to crash Adam’s (Thomas Dekker) suck-face time with Cassie. What kind of trouble can our teen witches get into this week? As usual, it seems that the answer is plenty.
Let’s bitch it out…
I don’t really have much to say about our ‘B’ storyline this week featuring Faye and the little shop of drug dealers, so let’s focus on the good stuff, which is pretty much everything to do with the ferry. Despite the writer’s insistence on making the actors on this show make the most ridonkculous decisions and spout inane (and frequently wooden) dialogue, this episode may well represent a turning point for the series.
And by turning point, I mean “oh hells ya, I’m invested again.”
While surfing the blogosphere after last week’s “Carrie at the dance” episode, I came across a recap by the A.V. Club which more or less echoed my sentiments about the series thus far. To sum up: it’s mildly enjoyable, filled with attractive young people but fails to resonate because there’s no investment (in characters or narrative). It’s like the teen witch version of The Killing.
And then tonight’s episode comes along and whoops my ass (and my presumptuous know-it-all attitude) in one fell swoop. What’s different, you ask? Mythology.
See – the show has been teasing us about the whole “ferry fire of ’95 that claimed the lives of half our parents” bit since the pilot. It’s been the overarching question that has driven a number of the stories in the show and remains its primary trope. Side Note: Besides pyromania, of course. I’m not-so-secretly convinced that all of the fires on the show are therapy for the writers/creators to work through their issues (seriously how many things have been lit on fire in just twelve episodes?!). End Side Note. The problem is that intriguing questions about the fire quickly got muddled in demons, water ghosts, witch hunters, crystals and homicidal grandmas. So this episode and its big reveals were a nice return to the show’s central mystery, all the while referencing several previous episodes to tie things together.
Everything centered on finding out what really happened the night of the fire. Jake reveals to Cassie that he was there (albeit as a baby), but that the event was so traumatic he’s repressed everything (please keep track of the Freudian psychology references as there will be a quiz). Thankfully he knows a spell (surprise!) that he and Cassie can perform that will allow her to access his memories. They mumble-jumbo explain it using words like “bond” and “ground”, etc, although it’s easiest for us as an audience when Cassie simply says it’s the same process she and Faye used at her grandfather’s cabin back in 1×08 “Beneath.” I only really cared because this finally allows Thomas Dekker a chance to deliver a comedic line when he admits that he has barely understood a word they’re saying.
But that’s not important! What is, is THE TRUTH, and that’s what Cassie finds out. After Jake wimps out from a migraine while they’re in his memoir-o-vision, Cassie finds out a whole whack of stuff that immediately jumps the series from “I guess I’ll watch ’cause it’s on after VD” to “hey that’s actually pretty awesome.” Let’s list ’em!
- The previous circle was also threatened by witch hunters who proposed a truce: safety for cessation of practicing magic
- Adam’s dad Ethan (Adam Harrington) appears to have sold out his circle to the witch hunters
- The previous circle did not die in the fire. They were all killed beforehand (Burning Question: how did someone sneak up on a half dozen witches and manage to slit all their throats?!)
- Cassie’s dad, John Blackwell, opposed the truce so the witch hunters burnt him at the stake
- John Blackwell turned the tables on them and set them ablaze using a pendant marked with the same symbol we saw last week in the basement of his house aka Circle HQ
- John Blackwell survived the fire
- Although she initially can’t interact with anyone but Jake, for some reason a girl named Lucy notices Cassie in Jake’s memory
The episode ends with what I assume is intended to be a cliffhanger as Cassie and Jake dig up Blackwell’s coffin, only to find it empty (there may be a dog’s skeleton in there). Quelle surprise! By which I mean, not surprising at all.
So…yeah. All in all, it’s a great episode for the series which sets up the focus for the rest of the season: the search for John Blackwell. Way to bring your A-game Secret Circle. It’s about time!
- Despite the good qualities, there was still some festering turds mixed in: 1) The giant burned husk of the ferry is still sitting at the docks…guess the Chance Harbour historical society decided to preserve it? 2) Cassie can’t figure out why Jake’s parents don’t see them (bitch, it’s a memory!). 3) Seeing Cassie choking on imaginary flames makes poor Britt Robertson look really stupid. 4) Diana (Shelley Hennig) immediately suggests a spell to bring Cassie out of the dream state (oh yeah, we don’t understand the first spell, so let’s just do another!). 4) Adam and Diana ask Cassie if she saw their parents in the dream (does she even know what they look like?)
- And the doozy shitty story of the night award goes to 5) Faye and the aforementioned B-storyline. We’re introduced to Callum, an old acquaintance of Lee’s (Grey Damon) who turns up looking for a hit of some drug called Devil’s Spirit. The stuff apparently frees your inhibitions and allows your to tap into your inner strength, so it’s basically ecstasy meets prosac. Blah blah blah…other crap happens that is uninteresting and we end with Faye taking a dimebag of the stuff from Callum, who looks like a white slave trader and has hair that came straight out of the deep fryer. Clearly, he’s a trustworthy guy. But the gods of crappy storytelling demand a sacrifice and clearly Phoebe Tonkin drew the short straw. It’s clear that we’re going to get a magic/drug after school special since she will clearly get hooked on this Devil’s Spirit. I’m bored already.
- Kudos to Danielle from Made Possible By Pop Culture for finding humour in Faye’s storyline with a nice little Scream reference: “She’s [Faye] the new Tatum Riley, and she will be no one’s beer wench!” If you don’t get it, break out your copy of the slasher classic.
- Other goodness: Dawn (Natasha Henstridge) and Charles (Gale Harold) both return, though they’re still fighting like little children. I did like that Dawn made light of her desire to kill his mother in 1×10 “Darkness” and her lie about Charles choking her reminded me of Victoria Graystone’s lies from this week’s Revenge: beautiful ladies who lie at the drop of a hat to get what they want. Anyways, Ethan takes on Charles to get the crystal back, but he’s a little power hungry, too. Another nice early episode callback: Ethan choking Charles with water, which happened in the first few episodes with the roles reversed.
- Finally: Melissa (Jessica Parker Kennedy) has gone to Seattle. Ha ha ha…either that or they couldn’t afford her and the adults so they went with the folks who actually contribute something to the show.
And that’s our show. Do you agree that this was a big step up in both entertainment and plot advancement? Did you feel bad for Faye getting stuck in a boring story? And what do you think of the introduction of Papa Blackwell? He cuts an imposing figure, so I’ll be interested to see how he’s revealed when we actually get to see his face…