The Secret Circle: Dead Man's Party (PHOTO RECAP)

Halloween is basically just Christmas for witches. Everybody knows this. Witches get to bust out all of the best Halloween decorations, which have been on sale in witch supply stores since March ("Ugh, Halloween Creep!" —Witches). Plus witches generally walk around with a pep in their step because witchcraft is the reason for the season!

For the increasingly witch-filled town of Chance Harbor (at last count 100 percent of the citizens are witches now, right?), Halloween also means transforming your home into an elaborate horror maze on par with Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights, and no one took that to heart more than young Cassie Blake, queen of the denim miniskirt, mistress of the reaction shot. And so began this week's QUITE GREAT (seriously!) Halloween-themed episode of The Secret Circle, "Masked," with Cassie and Faye out shopping for supplies at one of the (I'm assuming) hundreds of witchcraft stores in town.

First of all, in a surprise twist, Faye spent the entire cold open wearing nothing but beads!

I gotta say, it was actually pretty refreshing to see something like that; it's as though The CW hasn't completely given up on getting straight guys to tune in? It also provided a nice counterbalance to the rest of the episode, which would do for the deep-V what Marlon Brando did for the plain white tee. What I'm trying to say is, this episode was THE BEST.

As it turned out, Faye is a NERD. She spent a lot of the episode geeking out over Halloween in the same way a male geek might be into Dungeons & Dragons. It was really charming. I mean, WHAT:

Anyway, while at the store, Faye urged Cassie to ask Luke out again. Remember the super vanilla jock dude that Cassie kept neglecting at the school dance?

Yeah, so he was back.

Mr. Wilson the shopkeeper was VERY interested in Cassie's mom, etc. I love this town. Is that the only conversation anyone ever has? Should people just carry around business card-sized family trees just to make everything easier?

That credit card is NOT gonna go through. Just look at it! Also, Cassie's totally a thumb-toucher. Gross, right?

Whoops! Cassie and Mr. Wilson's powers zapped each other! I wonder how many times a day that happens in this store.

Oh, THIS will give me nightmares:

I have no idea what the thought-process was that led to this appearing in the final edit of the episode, but I LOVE it. I really hope The Secret Circle incorporates this kind of Lynchian non-sequitur even after Halloween's over. It's so unsettling!

Sure enough, all days must now start with a morning magic de-briefing. In this case Jane attempted to explain that Mr. Wilson was most likely a witch and that his powers had clashed with Cassie's. But wasn't it ridiculous when she claimed she didn't know how many other witches there were in town because people keep that sort of thing private? I mean, come on, lady! That's absurd. Listen to me, if you're a witch then you'll probably have a damn map to every witch's house and maybe even a special Rolodex with everybody's phone numbers. Don't tell me you wouldn't spend all your spare time sussing people out!

Jane was headed out to the countryside to go visit Old Man Chamberlain who we already knew was dead. But you know what that means: WITCH HOUSE PARTY!

You knew this would happen at least ONCE during the course of this episode, right? It's kind of a rite of passage. Bonnie dressed as a witch during TVD's Halloween episode, so this was just continuing the tradition of on-the-nose corniness.

Faye was such a nerd! Did I mention that already?

Things got kinda serious when Cassie discovered a fragment of her most recent attacker's knife under the kitchen island. It had some super rudimentary symbols carved into it, and whatever they were, they didn't look good. OTHER things in this episode did look good, however.

Um, quick question. Does The Secret Circle wardrobe department accept fan mail? I might have to get out my good stationery. ANYWAY, Cassie showed the shard to Jake, who both pretended to not know anything about it and also acted super curious about what Cassie was going to do with it.

After she mentioned she was headed back to the witch store to ask Mr. Wilson about it, Jake pulled a sneaky witch maneuver.

I guess I thought Cassie's car got set on fire a few weeks back? Is this a new car, or did she just find a really good body shop in town? Anyway, hope it wasn't too expensive because the engine was suddenly broken again. Meanwhile Jake raced on ahead to harass Mr. Wilson a ton.

Uh-oh! Jake was a real jerk! Last episode he was super ambiguous, so it was hard to tell whether he really WAS an evil hunter of witches or whether he was just pretending in order to infiltrate the witch hunters. But this episode gave us a pretty big clue that Jake is a messed up dude.

Exhibit A:

Something about those dimples makes it even scarier! Chris Zylka really busted out some Somerhalder-esque mannerisms in this episode, and it was pretty awesome. Also, in this particular scene he gave us a pretty clear tutorial on how to murder witches. It involves gathering a root, blood, and a trinket into a vial and then dropping a match into it.

He didn't actually murder Mr. Wilson here, but he demanded the guy to zip it should Cassie come around with questions. And then she DID come around with questions, and sure enough he kept his mouth shut. Good thinking!

Meanwhile, for being a "guest star," Jake sure did get a lot of character moments in this episode. This was a pretty great one with Melissa at the shoreline (?) cemetery, where she questioned why he wouldn't even look at Nick's grave.

It turned out Jake had a pretty big grudge against Nick! For me the biggest conundrum about this scene was that I suddenly realized Jake's parents must have been even YOUNGER when they had him than they were when they had Nick, which I had assumed was when they were seniors in high school? Boy, I just don't know what to tell you about this timeline, but a downloadable PDF or TXT file sure would be appreciated, The CW. I can't keep doing all this math on my own.

Meanwhile at the abandoned house, Cassie and Adam researched the symbols from that knife.

Check out this software he was using:

ALL the best witchcraft symbology apps have no words whatsoever, I'm surprised you didn't know that. Anyway, obviously the symbols immediately came up with links to ancient witch hunters, so suddenly Cassie and Adam were fully aware they had witch hunters in their midst.

Meanwhile Jake was meeting with Boss Man and setting up the respective death-vials of our beloved circle.

We definitely got a better sense for what the witch hunters were about and yep, they are just as horrible as we'd imagined. First and foremost, they're definitely religious. They use words like "true believers" and "sinners," and I'll be honest with you, this was AWESOME. How gutsy is it for a show in 2011 to posit that its villains a devout sect of pious murderers? That's just straight-up edgy and I'm pretty thrilled about it. ANYWAY, it's still unclear what Jake's role in this all is... Is he merely teaming up with the hunters because of his hatred of witches, or has he been indoctrinated somehow? Either way, his powers come in handy for the hunters, as they can now murder witches using witchcraft rather than the more archaic medieval methods we've all come to know and love.

We also got to meet two more young hunters in the group. The kid from The Killing...

And THIS turncoat:

This was a pretty awesome way to make Luke interesting while also giving us a few more options for characters to kill off. I mean, the second Luke turned around we knew he was dead meat, right?

Soon after that, Jake slipped up a bit while talking to Cassie and suddenly gave her reason to doubt his intentions.

Come to think of it, Jake was extraordinarily bad about his cover stories, but it seemed like he could just more or less stand there in his deep-V, staring dreamily, and that was enough to skate by.

What followed was probably my favorite scene of the series so far, just a tiny incidental scene that pretty much summed up the inherent joy of this premise. First off, Faye used magic to transform her dummies into MOVING ANIMATRONICS for no real reason except that hello that is AWESOME. But then, just due to sheer boredom she and Melissa decided to make one of the rubber bat decorations COME TO LIFE.

And it DID come to life, and it flew around the house, thwacked Cassie in the face, and then flew directly into the fire. It was so fun and random and exciting that even Cassie seemed pretty stoked about it. More than anything it showed how fun magic can be and that we really aren't seeing enough of that on the show. I mean come on, these are TEENAGERS who KNOW MAGIC. I think one persistent mistake this show keeps making is that these witches talk about being witches more often than they actually behave like them. Little moments like this, plus Faye's outrageous statement of "I pity the normals," just sums up why this show is so fun. More please!

Anyway, it turns out Cassie is QUITE the Halloween party planner:

Not bad for one day of setup!

In the midst of all the festivities, however, was just a touch of pathos:

Okay so Diana was nicer about it than THAT, but I really dug the followup of this plotline. She'd dumped Adam for pretty understandable reasons, and even though everyone's on good terms she was level-headed enough to stick with her decision. Even AFTER the trauma to come later in the episode, she still declined to fall back into Adam's arms, and if that's not an instantly likable personality trait, I don't know what is. Diana's pretty awesome, definitely more so than I originally gave her credit for..

Over at the harbor, Mr. Wilson showed up wanting to discuss some important matters with Adam's dad. We learned a few hot tidbits: First, Mr. Wilson was in a different circle, and the casual way he mentioned it made it seem like there may be many circles in this town. Also, they spent some time on the topic of Cassie's father. Though Blackwell continues to be cloaked in mystery, Mr. Wilson did express concern that the magic running through Cassie was half dark, and was anybody certain she wouldn't turn evil? So yeah, it goes without saying that that's an awesome story element to introduce. Cassie may have to face a pretty serious struggle in the days ahead. Finally, the sheer number of times they've mentioned her father, even though he was apparently killed a long time ago, virtually guarantees his reappearance. This unseen villain is kind of turning into the Katherine of The Secret Circle.

Back at the party, a suspicious Cassie had enlisted Faye to "distract" Jake.

Who could possibly resist Faye, though? Like always, Faye struck a nice balance between pragmatic and pathetic, so it was fun to see her attempt to keep her cool around a guy who'd clearly hurt her in the past. Also, who lit this scene, because look at how they look! Phoebe Tonkin and Chris Zylka are perfect for this show because they look like they were possibly MADE using witchcraft.

Oh, this scared me:

Obviously a man in a pig mask chloroforming Melissa was terrifying enough, but the absolute worst part was that he picked her up and carried her through a crowd a trick-or-treaters and NOBODY noticed? Seriously, that kind of thing is the basis of actual nightmares I've had—bad things happening to you in plain sight of others and nobody noticing. Horrible!

Meanwhile Faye and Jake had retired to Cassie's room for some heavy petting and there was a nice beat where Faye knew something was up with him.

He attempted to tell her that she's crazy, so it was nice how Faye stood her ground and didn't let him manipulate her. I don't know about you guys, but I definitely prefer my characters to be of sound mind and competence, and I love when they have good judgment. I'm weird like that!

Meanwhile Cassie was next door busting into Nick's old bedroom, which seemed to now be where Jake was sleeping although we have NOT seen evidence that Cassie and Jake gaze at each other through their bedroom windows while undressed. (Sweeps??)

Oh, and look what she found! An expensive-looking ceremonial dagger encased in an an ornamental box. But we ALL have one of those, right?

Whoops! Cassie did a bad job of listening for footsteps.

Weirdly, Jake's next tactic was to blame Nick for owning all the witch-hunting weaponry? If anything it just made him seem even more suspicious for claiming that, but to her credit Cassie seemed onto him. Or, maybe she was just lost in his collarbones again. Either way.

Fortunately Faye broke the tension and whisked Cassie back to her house, where she received a frantic phone call from Mr. Wilson. Unlike when he'd blown her off earlier, he was now ready to spill his guts!

Except, whoops!

Yup, pretty definitive evidence of Jake's bad attitude. He definitely wasn't fooling around about killing witches! I know the show had to demonstrate a witch death in order to raise the stakes for later, but still: Jake's a murderer for real. It'll be interesting to see whether he'll somehow redeem himself later. Personally, I'm guessing he'll be redeemed shortly before that pesky "guest star" title drops away.

Anyway, back at the party, things were REALLY taking a turn for the hellish. Diana fell for the OLDEST trick in the book. You know, the old "You've got something on your face" chloroform trick.

Cassie too found herself tricked when she accidentally left herself vulnerable to a masked person she assumed was Adam.

And it was Luke! I'm sure Cassie was bummed for the half-second she remained conscious after that.

They awoke in that spooky boathouse, surrounded by a ring of iron sulfide that would allegedly prevent them from using their powers. Luke was yammering on about how witches "bleed just like us even though your not" (he'd totally misspell "you're," don't you think?) and finished setting up their little murder jars.

It was all very tense!

Cassie really did have good reasoning: They aren't evil witches. But the main witch hunter dude was like, "There's no such thing as magic that isn't evil." Dang, I love so much that the villains are religious zealots. So scary!

Meanwhile, outside Jake tried to stop the proceedings, allegedly because Cassie had dark magic in her (which Mr. Wilson helpfully mentioned before Jake murdered him). According to Jake, Cassie probably couldn't be killed by traditional means and it would put everyone in danger who tried to hurt her.

But boss dude did NOT want to listen. At this point it wasn't clear whether Jake was being honest or if he was just fudging to save Cassie's life because, you know, he's going to turn heroic someday.

But either way, Diana was up first in the murder ceremony and it was truly painful to watch!

How heartbreaking was it when she looked around at her friends with that look on her face, and then just basically closed her eyes and waited to die? That was some harsh stuff! I really had no idea The Secret Circle would be getting THIS dark so soon after its one comparatively tame death a few weeks back.

But anyway, you do NOT want to mess with Cassie's friends!

So much for not being able to practice magic inside that circle. But Luke just did not learn his lesson, so he turned to Cassie's murder jar instead.

And it was AWESOME! Cassie burned a man alive with HER BRAIN!

The boss man saw this sight and took off, and Jake faked an injury and showed up "late." Fortunately these kids are not idiots. They all gave Jake the side-eye, especially since it made no sense for the ceremony to only include everyone but Jake. So yeah, Jake quickly fell out of favor with the rest of the gang.

That is, of course, except for the ONE member who you'd think would be the last person to fall for those kinds of things.

Oh, Cassie. To her credit, she did tell him she didn't trust him, but you could tell by her face that she was REALLY looking forward to trusting him in the near future. Over and over again.

After Jake took off, Cassie discovered an envelope that Mr. Wilson had left for her before he'd been killed.

Inside was some kind of important-looking document initialed by her own father. But what did it mean??

Meanwhile, "up at the cabin," Jane was FINALLY arriving?

Unfortunately Henry's body was just where Dawn and Charles had left it: Dead on the floor. Jane quickly recovered Henry's crystal from its hiding place, but before it could somehow transform a decomposing corpse into a crabby old man, something terrible happened!

Poor Jane! SOMEBODY set her up in order to steal Henry's crystal! Obviously we're probably meant to think it was Charles, but who else could it have been? Adam's dad? One of the witch hunters? I guess we'll find out during next week's Truth or Dare-themed episode (!).



... Who stole the crystal?

... How long will it take Cassie to dismantle the haunted house she set up?

... Would Jake have let Cassie die if she didn't have dark magic in her? Or do you think he sabotaged the glass containers so they'd be safe?

... Should Diana and Adam stay broken up?

... Deep-Vs. (Really more of a statement than a question.)

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