The Secret Circle: Crack Fiends (PHOTO RECAP)

If you're anything like me, when The Secret Circle was first announced, you were like, "Sounds cool, hopefully the witches are more powerful than Bonnie." Generally speaking, it hasn't really turned out that way. Or in any way I might have expected, really. Instead, the show's been less a sensational witchcraft thrill ride and more an examination of teen stagnation. Who can't relate to feeling like you're trapped in a go-nowhere town with friends you don't have a ton in common with and love interests determined more by proximity than chemistry? For me the entertainment value in The Secret Circle has been just as much about living vicariously through personable, attractive teens as they explore the dark corners of their lives as it has been about their magical abilities. Or, that's what I would have said if a MAN hadn't EXPLODED in this week's episode. GAH! This show!

"Sacrifice" continued The Secret Circle's recent winning streak, albeit with a few wobbles. Specifically, at several points during the hour it became clear that sometimes this show is INSANE. Seriously, I'm still trying to wrap my head around what exactly went down in that burnt-down playground in Act 5. And I probably don't need to tell you how I feel about the sudden resurgence of crystals as a major plot device. But still: When an episode's flaws are as nuts as this one's were, it's hard not to smile about it. It was even better than mini golf, to be honest.

Okay, I'm sorry but I am gonna talk about it! Try and stop me! (No don't, I'm very weak.)

We began with an awkward run-in between Cassie and her ex-boo.

Right off the bat we saw an improved Adam. He was aloof and confident and way more dynamic. MUCH better. Unfortunately Cassie was all sad in her heartbones. Poor lady!

Meanwhile a blond dude in a black hoodie came bounding out of the woods and it was NOT Jake.

He was being chased by one of the more questionable racial casting choices on the CW! (Haha just kidding?) No but Eben was all mad that the dude got away. Or WAS he? (He was.)

The next day Blackwell waltzed into Cassie's place of employment and attempted some forced bonding with his daughter, but she wasn't having it. AT FIRST.

Seriously she lit up so much after he dropped the bombshell that he lives by a mini-golf course. Understandable! He probably should have led with that. Or, I bet if he'd invited her to play laser tag she would've thrown her apron right onto the floor and RUN directly to the arena.

Over at the Boat House, Adam had roped the other ladies into being temporary waitresses for some kind of little league hockey party. But then a mysterious stranger with a mysterious Australian accent had Adam deliver a flute of ginger ale to Diana.

It was HECKA romantic, obviously. Grant was back in town! I'd forgotten that he had actually left Chance Harbor on his sailboat, but he was back for Diana and she seemed pretty stoked about it.

This lady knows what I'm talking about:

Haha this is a Faye face for the ages. Actually there were A LOT of good faces made during this episode. I think that's just another of The Secret Circle's selling points.

So like any frightened runaway would, the hoodie dude just barged directly into Jake's bedroom and started nosin' around the joint.

I love this recurring theme of people just helping themselves to Jake's personal space. But do you know who DOESN'T like this recurring theme?

Jake was maaaad! He ran in there and immediately started windmill hitting that guy!

Then a certain nosy neighbor girl saw what was up.

Then Cassie busted in there and DARK MAGIC'D that guy right across the room!

I guess because I'm a jerk I thought that the shaking wall was super funny. It's nothing personal against The Secret Circle, but I'm pretty entertained whenever I see production mistakes. It's kind of like how obsessed I am with actors' heights. Anyway, I enjoyed this.

Oh, and how hilarious was Jake's explanation for who the guy was?

He seriously just told Cassie "he's my friend." Really? Friends tend to talk it out first before they immediately put each other in sleeper holds. Anyway, the guy started coming clean about witch hunter business, which just continued souring Cassie's impression of Jake. It probably wasn't intentional, but it was heavily implied that Jake and this dude originally met during their witch hunter mission service and it sounded very Mormon to me! I pictured them riding bikes but except instead of white shirts and ties, black hoodies and blond hair?

As for the fun 'n games portion of the episode (which was highly enjoyable but probably more appropriate for earlier in the season?) Melissa and Faye decided to square off in winning the affections of the hockey team captain.

While Faye did her "patented lean-in" (which, by the way, does not entail speaking to or even looking at her target), Melissa recruited her newly fun pal Adam for some magic help.

First Melissa pretty hilariously pushed Faye out of the way (smooth!) and then she started spouting TONS of elaborate hockey jargon courtesy of Adam (who knows about hockey, apparently).

Haha and it worked! Melissa seduced an entire room of dudes. Or, really, Adam did. Either way, congratulations everybody.

Meanwhile in an underlit, abandoned ice skating rink (was the mini golf course closed?), Grant was still putting the verbal moves on Diana.

He even offered to whisk her away, out of this godforsaken fog pit she called home. She was definitely into the idea. Or at least her tongue was!

Back at Casa Cassie (Casassie), Blackwell wanted to speak man-to-dude with the new guy. And we knew he meant BUSINESS when he shut the kitchen doors beforehand.

Okay so this was a bit of a bombshell situation. Eben was attempting to conjure demons in order to harness their power to defeat witches. Simple enough, right? Except the demons he was attempting to conjure were ORIGINALLY conjured by Blackwell (and Dawn, right?) back in the day in order to defeat the witch hunters. Except Amelia had somehow trapped them in a suitcase (and also inside her bestie Heather) (p.s. THIRD consecutive episode that mentioned Amelia) and basically the demons are Blackwell's fault.

And now Cassie was starting to get clued in about all the junk her father had done.

Back at the Boat House, it was Faye's turn to take advantage of Adam's temporarily fun personality. And that's how we came to experience THE Dart Seduction Scene of 2012.

So yeah. Faye was the boss. Except Melissa was more the boss because of how hilariously she reacted after the bullseye:

Haha this .gif makes it seem like she's mouthing "Oh, f*** off"! And also I loved the look on her face later when the hockey dude's girlfriend came in and he mouth-attacked her:

Sorry everybody, Melissa was kind of the best in this episode! And did you notice the part where the hockey dude claimed that Melissa and Faye were the two hottest girls in school? Obviously that's plausible to we the viewers, but wouldn't that suggest they are way more popular than they've been presented? If all the dudes have been paying attention to these particular girls, it's hard to imagine the ladies of the circle have been leading such secretive, under-the-radar lives.

Anyway, I'm really into this new development of Melissa and Faye being rival hotties. I just wish there would've been some mention of that in the episode, like the hot friend kind passing the hotness baton to her formerly dorky sidekick. Instead this plotline sort of fizzled out after Adam FLEW INTO A RAGE for some reason.

He got super mad at the hockey jock (jockey?) for allowing Faye and Melissa to throw themselves at him while he had a girlfriend. First of all, it's a small high school, wouldn't everyone have known he had a girlfriend? But second of all, what the F was Adam's deal?

As he explained later, he was feeling a bit mixed up for having lost a girlfriend that he didn't remember being in love with. Or something. I don't know! I truly don't.

There was a nice beat where Faye and Melissa both hinted that they had it much worse than Adam, but I'm not sure he noticed.

Oh, then things got embarrassing for Grant when Diana ran into his boat's captain.

Whoops! He wasn't some rich sailor after all, but a lowly liar in scuffed topsiders. The prince was a pauper this whole time!

Diana immediately turned on him for having lied to her, and honestly I agreed with her. Regardless of his motivations, what an insane thing to lie about! Of all the lies one could possibly tell in order to impress a girl, lying about wealth is probably the hardest to maintain.

This soapy twist ended up being my favorite moment of the episode. It wasn't that Diana was mad that Grant ended up being poor, and maybe even the lie wasn't the biggest issue either. I think Diana really did start imagining a life for herself outside of Chance Harbor. When Grant offered to take her away on his boat, I think she got her hopes up about leaving behind witchcraft and creepy dads and watching your ex date your bestie.

As if to really hit the point home, Cassie arrived and immediately started bitching about how Diana didn't answer her phone and needed to drop EVERYTHING in order to come fight yet another issue that revolved around Cassie and/or her family.

To be fair, Diana of course ended up doing the right thing, but she definitely earned that initial beat of bitter hesitation. Her reverie of running away with a dream guy was suddenly over and it was back to the daily nightmare that was her witchcraft-based lifestyle. See, I was joking before, but also I wasn't. I really do love these thematic elements of The Secret Circle just as much as the magic.

Also I love burnt-down playgrounds or whatever this was:

Blackwell dragged the blond dude all the way to this abandoned yard, and by that time we knew the dude was infected with a demon worm. Which, by the way, here's where the demons rise up from the ground:

FRIGHTENING, right? Just kidding, not frightening. But then again, this show's demons aren't terribly frightening either (more on that in a sec.)

Before we knew it, Blackwell had drawn a circle and symbols into the dirt and the demon-infected guy was suddenly trapped inside. Very clever, Blackwell!

But then Eben showed up and ruined the party like always.

Using borrowed witch powers he threw Blackwell through a wall!

And then did this, which I hated:

But just when things looked dire, the comforting rustle of footsteps were heard in the distance.

After the group attempted to use their magic on the demon, they realized it was impervious to their groupthink. That's when Cassie busted out the big guns and flame-throwed that demon's behind!

It didn't really work though. [sadface] Suddenly he was lifting Cassie up by the neck and creating an 8-foot long wall of fire that the other witches were NOT ABOUT to run around.

And that's when Blackwell woke up from his lil nap and snapped into action!

And I don't know what to tell you other than one of my favorite TV moments of all time happened:

Haha! Incredible! I mean, honestly. Would it have killed the CW to have put that image in its promos? Do they hate HIGH RATINGS that much? Every show last week should've had a little bug in the lower left corner of THAT MAN EXPLODING. Why so shy, the CW? You are broadcasting a show in which coffins burst out of the ground and grown men explode! Spread the word! So awesome.

But yeah, now everybody knew that Blackwell still had powers. For about two seconds Cassie was mad at his lies, but he explained that he lied because he didn't want her to use HER magic so he was just trying to be supportive. Or something. I don't know, but it worked and she seemed cool with it.

Anyway, while everyone was picking pieces of exploded demon from their hair, Eben was off in the corner BECOMING POSSESSED!

He fished all the dang demons out of that crack in the ground and stored them in his hand and then ran off.

What a night.

Then came another hilarious, slightly insane scene. Blackwell changed his mind and decided that dark magic was the best and they should all become super powerful witches and be proud of their witch heritage and kill the witch hunters and F the man and all that.

And all the kids were TOTALLY into it. Seriously, Jake and Adam were like five seconds away from raising fists.

So I have to say, two things bug me: The highly ridiculous and muddled motives of the witch hunters and the "power" of the demons. I really enjoyed the original implication that the witch hunters are a religious faction with strict principles, but that seems to have been dropped lately in favor of just making them all-purpose enemies. Their motives have never been more elaborate than, I guess, starting a witch holocaust, and I think that's a mistake. Especially now that they're USING WITCHCRAFT and conjuring demons and all that. I guess we're just supposed to cluck in disgust at their hypocrisy, but since they are so vaguely defined, it all just rings false to me. Killing witches just isn't enough of a motive, particularly when so many witches are just cool, normal people. I don't know. I just don't care about or fear the witch hunters that much, and it's too bad what was originally presented as a cool entry point for Jake is now the endgame of the season.

And then there are the demons. Again, cool idea for a standalone episode, but this episode really tried to make it clear that the demons are important and powerful and Eben's possession of them meant he was now basically invincible. First of all, are demons even powerful? They can be easily tricked into standing in force fields and also you can hold a crystal to their heads and make them scream and grandmothers can light them on fire and milquetoast fathers can drown them and Blackwell can MAKE THEM EXPLODE. What powers do demons even have? I remember Heather jumped up the stairs once, and I guess at one point in this episode the demon threw Jake 40 yards across the dirt, but still, I just don't think they're very powerful and certainly not more powerful than Blackwell. I don't know. I'm just worried that witch hunters + demons = boring threat.

And then there's Blackwell's plan for fighting them:

Ugh. The only thing worse than a dumb MacGuffin is six of them. Basically Blackwell wants the circle to find all six crystals and ADD them to their powers in order to defeat Eben the demonkeeper. Nevermind the fact that those crystals are weak as F. They run out of power? I don't care if they came to America on the Mayflower (or whatever Blackwell said), they are so dumb, they've ruined the parents' plotlines, and it's a bummer to see them suddenly be important to the kids' plot. I guess that's all I'm complaining about here... None of these elements are deal-breakers necessarily, I was just hoping for better. The problem with peppering the season with flashes of brilliance is that we'll start demanding more of them.

Okay, back to the episode: After Diana came home from a long night of fighting demons and becoming a warrior for witchcraft, she found a sad hunk in her front yard.

After Grant explained himself and how he just wanted to win her over, she finally relented a bit.

Also, Adam gave Cassie (A) a ride home and (B) some mixed signals.

Aw, poor Cassie. Just kidding, rich Cassie. Move on, girl! Both of these kids are better off.

Our final tease was totally silly and I loved it.

Aaaaaaaaahhhh!! A skeleton! Whose was it? What will Blackwell use it for? Resurrecting dead hunks? Who even knows!

So aside from my deep reservations about this season's Big Bad, I still liked this episode a ton. The fun 'n games aspect of being a witch is always a good time, plus we learned a lot more about Blackwell's past, plus this:

Never forget.



... Who's dem bones?

... What's better: Happy Adam or Sad Diana?

... Who's supplying Eben with power?

... What would be your method of choice for destroying those crystals? A hammer? Plastique?