Finally! After four weeks of pouring the foundation, ‘The Secret Circle’ ramps up the action and cranks the tension to deliver a suspenseful and emotional episode.

Jessica Parker Kennedy as Melissa

This episode begins the morning after Heather’s death. Melissa wakes up with a headache. Nick tries to get her out of bed, but she pushes him. She apologizes, telling him that she doesn’t feel well. The snake-demon that entered her ear the night before is starting to work its way into her system.

Breakfast at the Blake house is served with evasive maneuvers and lies. Cassie’s grandmother, Jane, wants to know more about Cassie’s friends and life, but Cassie is still afraid to tell Jane the truth. At school, Cassie tells Diana how guilty she feels about lying, but Diana tells her that since their parents and grandparents have kept secrets, they need to keep secrets too so they can protect themselves and their powers.

Charles and Dawn discuss their plans in Dawn’s office. They were not expecting the circle to be in this much danger this soon, and they are not prepared to protect their children. They agree to meet at the boat that night.

At her locker, Melissa screams in pain; she collapses to the floor. Nick rushes to her side. After a few moments, Melissa rises, and she’s calm, almost serene. The demon has taken hold. A possessed Melissa asks Nick for help. She claims she has found her mother’s Book of Shadows and weaves a tale about how her mother buried the book. We cut to them at night in the woods. Nick digs. He uncovers a locked suitcase. Melissa orders him not to open it. They take the suitcase to the abandoned house. Faye arrives, which upsets Nick because Melissa told him the book was just for them. Melissa scoffs; of course she’s going to tell Faye, she’s her best friend. Nick relents. Melissa tells them they can’t open the case until she has a spell prepared.

Cassie tries to make small talk with Jane during dinner. The mood is chilly until Jane mentions that Cassie wrinkles her nose like her mom. The scene warms as the two connect while talking about Amelia. Jane admits to not really knowing her daughter very well; Amelia kept secrets. Jane does not want to repeat past mistakes; she admits to not seeing the signs of her daughter’s troubles. Jane will never be able to forgive herself for not being able to help Amelia. She wants Cassie to be able to come to her and tell her anything. For a beat, I think Cassie might tell Jane the truth, but Cassie gets a text from Melissa, so leaves.

Diana cooks dinner for Adam. For dessert, Diana puts whipped cream on Adam’s neck. Their foreplay is sensual and playful. The two show a spark, and for the first time we see passion between the pair. They take their action upstairs, but are rudely interrupted by a text. Adam and Diana are needed at the abandoned house.

The possessed Melissa wants all six at the house so she can complete the spell. Faye and the others notice the suitcase moving. They want to open the case, but Melissa, in a deep demonic voice, tells them to back off. Nick knocks out Melissa just as Adam and Diana arrive. When Melissa wakes up, she is tied up. Melissa claims to be in pain and acts as though she is back to herself. Nick wants to believe her, but the others warn Nick that it could be a trick. Nicks gazes deeply into Melissa’s eyes and determines that the demon is still in control. The possessed Melissa writhes and screams like the demonic product of a union between Regan from ‘The Exorcist’ and Damien from ‘The Omen.’

Everyone’s scared, especially me. Knowing they are out of their league, Cassie leaves to go get help.

Dawn and Charles perform a spell to locate the other crystals.

At the boat, Charles and Dawn perform a spell. Dawn’s crystal is in the middle of four candles; the two hold hands and chant. They are trying to locate the other five crystals. Once they have the other five crystals, the circle can restore their power. This is Dawn’s plan—she wants her power back. Their spell fails because the crystal does not have enough power. Dawn is livid; they’ve waited a year to perform this spell, and now their plans seem to be ruined.

Cassie confesses to her grandmother that she knows what they are—witches. She asks for Jane’s help.

At the house, Melissa has overpowered Nick. She has scissors to his throat. Faye, Adam and Diana try to use magic and make the scissors hot, but possessed Melissa is immune to their tricks. Worried about Nick’s life, they obey Melissa and start to complete her spell. Jane and Cassie arrive. Jane whips out a crystal, which causes the demon pain. Melissa faints. Nick goes to Melissa. The others help Jane undo possessed Melissa’s spell. Nick brings Melissa to Jane. Jane starts to exorcise the demon but soon realizes that Melissa’s fine. The demon has found a new host. Using the crystal, Jane identifies Nick as the new host. Nick flees.

The suitcase opens. Inside are several demons in the form of snakes. We learn from Jane that demons can only be killed by fire or by drowning. This piece of information makes me think that sixteen years ago the demons overwhelmed Amelia and the others, they used fire, and the fire got out of control. Jane burns the case. The search for Nick begins.

Nick calls Adam. He’s at The Boathouse and threatens to burn the place down if Adam and the others don’t come with the case. Nick sees Dawn. He goes to her. He calls her “Dawn,” which she doesn’t like. Possessed Nick tells her that Nick’s not home at the moment. The demon wants a new host, and her body will do just fine. After all, she is the one that summoned this demon several years ago. They have unfinished business; they both want the power of the circle. They go outside. Dawn secretly calls Charles; he hears her talking to Nick and learns they are at the dry dock.

Louis Hunter as Nick

Dawn and Nick walk. Suddenly, Charles leaps from the shadows and knocks Nick out. Dawn instructs Charles to drown the demon. He doesn’t want to. Nick is a kid, and killing children is wrong. Dawn insists that the demon is in control. He won’t be killing Nick; he’ll be drowning the demon. Charles agrees. Nick fights back. For a few moments it appears that Nick is in control; he begs Charles to stop, but Dawn is there behind Charles telling him to kill the demon. Nick stops fighting.

Charles and Dawn hear someone approaching. Jane and Cassie find Nick. Charles and Dawn are gone. Nick is dead.

We learn a lot about Dawn Chamberlain this week. We understand Faye better because Dawn is hungry for magic. Summoning the demon all those years ago gave her power independent of the circle (like Nancy in ‘The Craft’). Since her appetite for power hasn’t waned, I wonder if Dawn is possessed. The writers leave this door open. Dawn tells Charles that Nick, the demon, had to die; she thanks Charles for saving her life. Did Charles have to kill Nick? Not really. Dawn could have gotten Jane’s help, and place the blame of the demon’s presence on the children (“I didn’t know they were practicing, Jane. Honest.”). By killing Nick, Dawn gets rid of the only person who would know she’s possessed. Why willingly become possessed? Even a possessed human has power. With a demon inside her, Dawn gets a taste of that old black magic she’s been missing.

I feel for Charles. Although he desires his power back, he has rules. In the pilot, Charles takes time to ensure that Cassie is nowhere near her home when he kills Amelia. While Dawn argues that killing Nick was the right thing to do, Charles insists that killing a child “should never feel right.” Gale Harold’s performance during the car scene shows every ounce of Charles’s regret. Harold’s mouth is agape, his words don’t come easy, and his eyes are hollow. A good chunk of Charles’s soul died with Nick. While Dawn is calm and collected, Charles is a wreck. Where their relationship goes from here will be fascinating to watch.

(L-R) Britt Robertson as Cassie and Ashley Crow as Jane

The circle is broken. In the sadness, a new relationship begins. Cassie’s revelation to Jane develops new possibilities for them and for the show. Without the circle, the five will probably revert back to having individual powers. Will Jane keep her promise and make amends for her past mistakes? Will she teach Cassie and the others about witchcraft? She tells Cassie that all the secrets need to stop; secrets have only brought pain to the Blake family. Being a witch is not an easy life; witches attract dark forces, so the dangers are not over. Cassie has lost a friend, but has gained a grandmother.

I wonder if the circle will be broken forever. Do I want the circle to form again soon? No. The witches need to mourn, to train, and to become ready for what’s next. I would like to see the circle form again. But how will that happen? Does Nick have unknown relatives? Both of Nick’s parents died; he lived with his aunt, but that’s all we know about his family. Another possibility is Melissa—she could be pregnant. She and Nick had a lot of intimate moments, and we never heard them discuss birth control or see them use a condom, so a baby witch is possible.

We started with six. Now five remain. With Jane’s help, I hope the remaining witches will have a chance to stand against whatever may come. The journey will be filled with pain, sadness, and tragedy, but then again, all the best hero journeys are.