Cassie wakes up. She hears something outside. Next door, she sees a fire blazing in the night. A man stands in Nick’s backyard. Who is this man? Did he start the fire? The fire goes out, and a crescent moon shape is burned in the ground. The next morning, Cassie tells Jane, her grandmother, what happened. The man is Jake, Nick’s older brother. Jane explains to Cassie that the circle is not broken; the binding spell ties all six bloodlines together. The circle is not easily broken because the circle’s purpose is protection, strong protection. Also, Jane reveals that Cassie’s family can be traced back to the origin of witchcraft. The Blakes are an old line of witches, making them strong. Cassie is a very powerful witch and a natural leader of her circle.
Jane’s revelations answer some questions while raising new ones. If forming a circle binds the families together, then what breaks it? Is the circle binding only to the generation that forms the bond? Sixteen years ago, Cassie’s mother, Amelia, and the parents of the other members of the current circle formed their own circle. Things went wrong for them; there was a fire, and many of them died. As punishment, the Elders stripped them of their powers. What broke their circle? Was it all the deaths or the stripping of their powers? We know when the six families are together, a circle helps witches control and harness their powers. Evidence suggests that circles are generational; Amelia took Cassie away from Chance Harbor, but Jane was still in town. Her presence was not enough to trigger the necessity of a circle. Only when Cassie came to town did her peers need a circle to stop their powers from hurting others.
At The Boathouse Adam and Diana prepare the restaurant for Nick’s wake. Cassie tells them about Jake. Adam tenses up immediately; his eyes harden. He loathes Jake. Before he left two years ago, Jake took advantage of Adam’s father’s generosity and robbed him. Adam’s dad, Ethan, almost lost The Boathouse. According to Adam, Jake only cares about himself; the sooner Jake is gone, the happier Adam will be.
Adam’s not the only one who has a history with Jake. Faye and Jake used to be an item. I’m not sure how much older Jake is than Faye, but the two were intimate two years ago. He left Faye a wreck, and it took her a long time to recover.
Jane pays Dawn a visit. They discuss Nick’s death. Jane knows it wasn’t an accident. Dawn stealthily gets a knife. Jane thinks Nick drowned himself to kill the demon inside him. Relieved, Dawn asks if Jane is going to have the Elders stripped the teens of their powers. Jane says that the kids need their magic for protection, so she has no plans to contact the Elders. Dawn agrees to help Jane protect the kids from the dangers ahead. Later, Charles comes by. Dawn is pleased that Jane thinks they are allies. Charles is distracted; the guilt from killing Nick wears at him, physically slowing him down. Disappointed in his lack of enthusiasm, Dawn clutches Charles’s chin. Her gaze drills into him. After confirming Charles is still with her, she tells Charles how she hopes Jane still has her crystal. Each family has a crystal, and, since she is a Blake, Jane’s crystal is the most powerful one of all. Dawn’s plan of regaining her powers is still alive.
At the abandoned house, Cassie and the others debate about telling Jake he’s a witch. Jake was gone when Diana found her mom’s Book of Shadows, so the group is convinced Jake doesn’t know his heritage. Cassie wants to tell him; he’s part of their circle, and they need to be at their full strength. Faye asks, “Who died and made you Queen Witch?” Cassie has stepped up and accepted her role in the circle. The way they did things before got Nick killed, and Cassie wants to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Adam still wants Jake gone. Before they can decide, a fire outside interrupts them. They put out the fire. A crescent moon is burned into the ground.
Cassie is at home, but she is not alone. A girl with a weapon attacks Cassie. The girl cuts Cassie; Cassie screams. Jake runs in and says a spell. Cassie joins him in the spell, and the girl runs away. Cassie is confused. Yes, Jake tells her, he knows he is a witch. Jake found his family’s Book of Shadows years ago. Before Cassie can get too excited, Jake tells her three things: one, no he doesn’t know who the girl was; two, no, he doesn’t want to be a part of their circle; and three, Cassie and her friends are in way over their heads.
Before Nick’s wake, Jane wants Cassie to have something. From a compartment in a clock, Jane takes out her family’s crystal, the one she used against the demon. Jane’s mother had given it to her, and now she is giving it to Cassie. No one is to know she has the crystal. Jane tells Cassie that a circle is full of conflicting personalities and can overflow with emotions. Sometimes a witch needs to act on her own. A crystal magnifies a witch’s power; it is simple and reflects its owner. However, a crystal is the most coveted witch’s item and can bring out the worst in someone. This nugget of information also reveals more about Dawn. During the scene with Charles, Dawn is cold, calculating, and slightly sinister. Could Dawn be possessed? Or has her desire for the crystal brought out the worst in her?
The debate about Jake continues at Nick’s wake. Cassie wants him in the circle; Adam claims Jake cannot be trusted and needs to leave town. Adam and Jake get into a fist fight. Diana and Cassie break it up. Cassie and Jake go outside. In a tender and true moment, Cassie confides in Jake; she and her mom moved around constantly, and Cassie always felt that they were hiding from something. Cassie tells Jake that he won’t find peace outside of Chance Harbor. But, Jake tells her, he wasn’t looking for peace when he left. His response lets us know Jake is not just a mere bad boy. Behind his razor sharp eyes we can see he is the keeper of numerous secrets and has returned to town with a plan.
What Cassie doesn’t know is that Adam is right about Jake; he lied to Cassie earlier about her attacker. He knows who she is. The girl is Simone, a witch hunter. Jake finds her at a motel. He is upset that she followed him to Chance Harbor. Simone said she had to guarantee he was completing his mission. After getting Cassie’s blood back, Jake tells Simone that it is too soon for bloodletting.
Simone finds Jake at the wake. Cassie sees Jake with Simone. Simone pulls a knife on Jake. From the shadows, Cassie uses the crystal to amplify her power so she can knock the knife out of Simone’s hand. Jake seizes this opportunity, grabs the knife, and kills Simone.
Back at Cassie’s home, Jake lies to Cassie again. The girl was a scavenger, he tells her, a witch who picks up scraps of power after another witch dies. Cassie is impressed with Jake’s knowledge, and again she tries to convince him to stay. “If you really knew me, you wouldn’t want me around,” he says. But Cassie tells him that the bad is coming and that he has to stay to give her and the others strength. Jake relents and tells her he will stay for a little while. Jake is not the only liar in this moment. Cassie tells him that they must have used their magic together to get the knife out of Simone’s hands. Nice save, Cassie.
Why is Jake lying? Jake is a witch hunter. Jake has returned to town with a mission. He vows to avenge the death of his parents and rid Chance Harbor of every single witch.
Tonight’s events also lead to a change in another relationship. During the wake, Ethan gets drunk. Diana takes him coffee. Ethan tells her how amazing she is and how she deserves to be happy. He wishes Diana was meant for Adam, but she’s not. Adam’s fate is predetermined by the stars, Ethan tells her Adam and Cassie are meant to be together. Bad things happen when you interfere with fate. Diana leaves distraught. Tired of the way Adam looks at Cassie and spurred by Adam’s reaction to Jake’s immediate connection to Cassie (“You’re acting like a jealous boyfriend. And not mine,” Diana says to Adam), Diana breaks up with Adam. Who does Diana run to after ending her relationship? Cassie. Why? Because she still sees Cassie as a friend even though Cassie is the reason her relationship is over.
With Adam available, will Cassie and Adam act on their feelings? Does Cassie still have an interest in Adam? Cassie is intrigued by Jake. Faye even accuses her of wanting Jake; Faye notes that Cassie seems to have a disturbing trend of being too interested in the men of other women. The love lives of the circle are about to get really complicated.
‘Wake’ is an excellent follow up to last week’s episode. The tight, well written script paces the plot developments and revelations at a rhythm that keeps suspense high while giving viewers time to digest new bits of information. Small scenes divulge new insights. For example, during Nick’s wake, Ethan says, “This town can’t stop burying teenagers,” and tells Adam more about sixteen years ago. The wake back then was held in the school gym. Amelia wasn’t there because she was distraught over Blackwell. “Who’s Blackwell?” Adam asks. Ethan doesn’t answer. This scene shows more of Ethan’s pain over losing Amelia romantically and literally, lets viewers learn more about Adam through an interaction with his father, and reveals more about the events from sixteen years ago. Adam asking about Blackwell suggests Blackwell is not one of the six families of witches in Chance Harbor. Good question, Adam. Hopefully one of these days we find out more about Blackwell.
As with any good story, as more questions are answered, more questions need to be asked. This cycle of questions-answers-more questions creates tension and suspense in a story and engages viewers in a cat-and-mouse game. Like Cassie and the circle, there are rules at play here, and we don’t know what they are—yet. Good fiction has rules. A fictional world with strong rules that are consistently followed creates a rich story. Of course, figuring out the rules is part of the fun, but should not take too long. Answers should be given at a steady pace. Too much too soon will overwhelm viewers while too few answers will lead to frustration. So far ‘The Secret Circle’ is asking and answering questions at a good, steady and fascinating pace.
If you missed last week’s episode be sure to read ‘The Secret Circle: Slither’ recap to catch up.