This week The Secret Circle takes on the classic “creepy stranger stalks the kids through the halls of the high school” episode storyline as we continue to wait for an episode that matches the pilot in entertainment value. Until then, we are stuck with a lot of the same old same old with “Loner,” the third episode of the show.

Considering tonight’s episode follows one that seemed largely concerned with moving our circle into the bound-together category, there are still no leads on what exactly this will do on a grander level, ie why so many characters don’t want this to happen VS why Charles and Dawn do. The noticeable change is that there is now no "I" in team because being tied together makes the individuals pretty lackluster in the magic department. I mean, Faye has to open a locker like a normal person. What a loser…

Our Resident Muggle
Sally continues to be the only recurring non-witch with speaking lines, and after being in two episodes, I am getting pretty excited. She still isn’t the best character by far, but she does have potential considering that somewhere deep down in that brain of hers she holds the memory that Faye went all Luke Skywalker on her when she used the force to push her off the dock last week. Though I’m not positive they will use this down the road (unless it is the way in which she learns that Cassie is a witch, because let’s face it, everyone needs to have someone to confide in), I am still glad that it could be used as an excuse to keep her around. Let’s face it, the show is continuing to lack people who are not directly connected to one of the circles, current or past, and it is nice to have someone to slightly mess with Cassie when it comes to Adam. Which is why the clock is continuing on the…

…Countdown to Meltdown
Cassie and Adam continue to not love each other, even though we all know where this is headed considering how much they are pushed towards each other in very obvious ways that don’t even allow for an upsetting amount of tension considering they aren’t really hiding anything. Point is, if it is this obvious to us, it is definitely obvious to Diana, and I still really want her to go Dark Willow on everyone.

Exhibit A: They slow dance together while Adele’s “Lovesong” plays throughout the gym. How close could the lyrics to a song get to what is going on in a show? Seriously, go take a listen. No, seriously, it is a great song/album. Which Diana sees, of course.

Exhibit B: when Cassie runs away from Zachary in the hallway as the circle takes him on, she practically runs right into Adam’s arms, which Diana also witnesses.

Exhibit C: Though she gives no signs of anger towards these two events when they happen, later while talking to Cassie, Diana says: “I see the way he looks at you,” and after Cassie reassures her that she would never do anything to come in between Diana and Adam, Diana continues: “I really do like you Cassie. I want us to be friends.” I don’t know if it is the tear in her eye or the overly hopeful way in which she states this, but there was definitely a sentence missing that went a little something like: “But if you do anything to cross me I will mess you up.” On the one hand this could be a ploy of Diana’s to carry out the “keep your friends close, but enemies closer” advice, or it could simply be a plot device to amplify the drama down the road because going after someone else’s boyfriend is a no-no, but going after a friend’s boy (even if they are no longer dating) makes that girl a whore. I know I sure wore a Team Aniston shirt.

The New Guy
At first I thought my eyes were deceiving me, but another character not connected to the circle has been added to the mix. And there was much rejoicing! …Until Luke (not Skywalker) went away. As a character who could have potentially come in to be a love interest for Cassie to mix up her pining for Adam, he is in and out in less time than Faye’s grandfather. At least he wasn’t killed though. All I know is that his character was pretty non-essential to the episode considering based on the look Cassie gives Adam after their conversation at his dad’s restaurant, the only reason she agreed to go to the dance with Luke was just to be like “take that Adam.” There was no real chemistry, so chances are he will be forgotten in no time, which is sad considering he did seem to actually be pretty charming. Which makes this an opportunity lost (granted he could always come back to give this triangle another dimension).

Melissa and Nick
Even though Melissa and Nick appear a little more frequently in this episode, and Nick shows up to the dance for her as if he is actually trying, they still continue to be on a lower tier than the rest of the characters. Even lower than Cassie’s grandmother and Ethan (Adam’s dad), and these two didn’t even appear in this episode. First piece of advice, stop having their first scenes in the episodes find them after having sex. We get it, they’re beneficial friends. I will acknowledge that I was mildly intrigued by their relationship this time around, but that was only mainly because instead of Faye sleeping with Nick like I expected her to do, she stood up for Melissa by telling Nick to man up (even though I still consider Faye and Melissa’s relationship closer to Stockholm Syndrome than actual friendship). Maybe this is just something that bothers me, and not viewers on the large scale, I just think it would have been better to develop the characters first before throwing them together, especially because I don’t see anything in Nick.

Daddy Issues
Ok, so obviously at this point I can stop making a big deal about the introduction of new characters because there are now 3 without magical abilities (in this episode at least). Sally, Luke, and now Zachary, a man with a connection to Cassie’s mother and a grudge to settle relating to the still ever-so-mysterious “accident.” Which brings us to what I like to call “Lauren’s weekly attempt at guessing who Cassie’s father is.” [Puts applause sign down] I have to admit, I am continuing to reach for any hint as to who Cassie’s father is, and I will probably do so until someone says pointblank “Cassie, I am your father.” Until then, any older male cast member is a suspect, and when they played Cassie’s / her mother’s special song while she looked at an old yearbook picture of the two of them (along with another girl) sitting together, I might have jumped to conclusions by connecting two nonexistent dots (at this point in the episode we hadn’t learned about Heather). Though he actually survives the episode, I think it is safe to say that I can cross off of the father figure list as well.

Unimposing Evil
Because of my embarrassing attempts to figure out who Cassie’s father is, I am going to blame Zachary’s unimposing presence as a villain on why I am trying to give him more importance. Long story short, the whole episode is basically leading up to him trying to kill a member of the circle (because he knows they are witches and a bound circle is apparently a horrible thing), ending at a rather lame dance. We just saw sparks flying in the penultimate episode of Teen Wolf, and compared to that this dance was incredibly lackluster. Especially because The Secret Circle did not try to outdo something we have seen time and time again. But I digress.

I can forgive the lame dance, but the kicker on this one is that Zachary’s presence here doesn’t stack up to the competition. No one can ever top the evils that took place within the walls of Sunnydale High considering it’s position above a Hellmouth in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but we have seen plenty of other shows use high schools as settings for bringing terror to the characters. This past summer Teen Wolf did it, The Vampire Diaries does it often, but the runner up to Buffy would have to be Heroes.

As Sylar chased Claire through the halls of the school, we genuinely feared for her because of how much of a monster he was with his love of slicing scalps open. Plus it didn’t hurt that the writers had us chanting “Save the cheerleader, save the world.” Point is, The Secret Circle’s version of this story was pretty anti-climactic, considering how Zachary had already struck out during a really awkwardly blocked scene in which he “attacks” Faye at the abandoned house (he knew she didn’t have power, yet he doesn’t chase after her). With this blunder in the bag, his presence at the dance was about as scary as if he was states away, and he definitely isn’t deserving of the part he plays in the classic “slow walk behind the girl running for her life” move.

Resident Bad Girl
As Faye has made her presence known as the bad girl of the current generation’s circle, though she actually does something really nice tonight, the only other thing of note for this character is that the actress, Phoebe Tonkin, noticeably gave away her nationality as her accent slipped in and out, making it obvious that she is going to be the best character (as she continues to be the one with the most layers) because everyone knows Australians are better.

With Faye out of the running for tonight’s “bad girl” award, it is going to have to go to Cassie’s mother. The only new information revealed is that Zachary is back seeking revenge for something he blames Cassie’s mother for. More specifically, something she did to a woman named Heather (the other girl in the yearbook picture). Not much info is given about her tonight, but when Faye’s mother ends the episode telling Zachary: “If you ever even look at one of our children again, I will literally turn your life into a living hell much worse than Heather ever knew,” I think it is safe to say that we are going to learn a lot more about her. Especially considering, if assumptions are correct, next weeks episode will be all about her (as in, we will actually meet her).

Important question to consider: In the news article Diana and Adam are reading, why was Heather mentioned as being among the victims of the fire that killed their parents if she isn’t dead? How many people are in on this cover-up!?

Survival Rate
Though this is another small tidbit of little importance, I just thought it was surprising at the rate the characters were dropping off that no one actually died tonight, especially Zachary. He just got off with a warning, albeit a warning that is pretty intimidating. Which is probably why I believe we haven’t seen the last of him.

Remaining Questions
After seeing the preview for next week, it looks like we might finally get some answers, but until then we still have to wonder what really happened to their parents in the “accident,” what Charles and Dawn have planned for the bound circle, etc. What are your thoughts on tonight’s episode? See something I missed?

(For those of us who didn’t even realize the show was based on a series of novels, please mark your comment with “spoilers” if you want to make connections to the books, possibly revealing information that people new to the story do not know. Thanks!)

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