thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

The Secret Circle Double-Header: “Beneath” and “Balcoin”

In Secret Circle, teen soaps on November 17, 2011 at 6:53 pm

This week, we take a look at dark magic and secret siblings.

What is afoot with Charles? He seems more evil than normal. And are you worried about him having the crystal? 

Phoebe: I am so worried! I feel like killing Nick has turned him evil or changed him (of course, rightly so). I was hoping it would make him more sympathetic. But seemingly it has only brought out some sort of darkness (to use the show’s word) in him. For this reason, him having the crystal seems like a lot of trouble. But also, I am sad in that it reverses the gender dynamic that was at play between him and Dawn, wherein now he is the more powerful (in terms of magic) which just switches things back to regular heteronormative understandings of straight male/female relationships. Also, I was a little confused this week when Dawn blamed Charles for not doing a good job killing Henry (Faye’s grandpa), as didn’t Dawn kill him? And then Charles just clean up the mess …

Sarah: Interesting point about the power dynamic between Dawn and Charles—I have a feeling Dawn will come out on top again, though, as she seems to be running circles around Charles in the brains department. I think Charles with the crystal is probably bad news but not as bad news as Dawn having it, as Charles seems more limited in his imagination…

What is going to happen to Jane? I am worried about her as she is my favorite.

Phoebe: I am pretty worried about this. As we saw last week, Charles put some sort of spell on her with the crystal he stole from Henry’s house and then this week in the mid-season finale we saw her being confused, disoriented at the party, and then also having weird memory loss (and confusing Cassie with Amelia!). I want Jane back, as she is one of my favorite characters and sticking with something I said above, I don’t like this theme of rendering the female characters powerless …

Sarah: I think the mind-control of Jane will be temporary, but I also don’t like it—for the reasons you mention but also because I think it hurts the narrative. With her own agency, Jane can help move the storylines forward; under Charles’ control, she’s just a plot device.

What do you think about Cassie’s newfound magic powers?

Phoebe: I am intrigued, particularly as we saw this week with the sense that she has dark magic (again passed through the blood). But also, with the most recent revelation that she is NOT the only one! Who else is a descendant of John Blackwell? Such a mystery! But I am also curious to see what this means in terms of her character. Also, unrelated to this, she is the only blonde on the show and also framed by brunettes and/or non-white bodies save for Jake who is also a blond, which seemingly means that they go together on the world of the show.

Sarah: Maybe they’re also brother and sister in a Star Wars-style twist! Maybe everyone is Cassie’s sibling! Faye, Jake, Nick (by extension), probably Jane in some dark-magic way….

Is Jake actually into Cassie or is he just pretending?

Phoebe: So last week, I thought he was just pretending. But this week, I think he is in fact into her. Particularly, given his final attempt to save her and how upset he actually was wen he rejected her, but then also when he saw her get taken. Plus his final speech on the boat to the evil witch hunter made me believe in his love for her. But what will happen now, that he has sailed off on the boat with all the witch-catchers?!

Sarah: I think he is interested in Cassie but that he has no idea that she is his SISTER! (Secret Circle conspiracy theory, take flight!)

Now that we know Dawn had a thing for Blackwell and that there is another Blackwell-child in the circle, it’s looking like Faye and Cassie are half-sisters (hurray for yin and yang)? What are your thoughts on this/predictions for how it will play out in the future?

Phoebe: I concur. That is my best guess, although I am in some ways hoping they will surprise me. Normally I would say the show was setting us up to believe that Faye will be the one who leans more towards the dark magic, but the more recent preview for the winter season and my desire to be surprised, make me hope that Cassie is the one who starts to be taken over by dark magic … whatever that may mean.

Sarah: I’m delighted by this turn of events, because I think those two have the most interesting dynamic of anyone on the show right now—Faye knowing how to push Cassie’s buttons (just like a sister would!) and blaming her for taking away her individual magic, Cassie calling out Faye for acting like a spoiled child, but both of them helping each other whenever they need it. It’s already a very sisterly dynamic (with Cassie in the role of the older child) and I can’t wait to see how it gets explored.

 I feel like Adam’s jealousy is getting spread pretty thin these days — he bridles at the sight of Diana with Melissa’s cousin and at Cassie and Jake. Does he need to pick one? Take a chill pill? Talk things over with his lookalike Elijah Wood?

Phoebe: Probably talk things over with Elijah Wood (they look so alike!). He is SO jealous and not wining over my heard at all in this episode. In fact, I was super annoyed with him and didn’t like his whole I need to be a hero situation. I prescribe chill pill for Adam stat.

Sarah: Yeah, I think being the one guy in the circle is kind of going to Adam’s head. He may have feelings for both Diana and Cassie, but he’s not with either of them right now and he’s got to back off. Also, his jealousy in this episode seemed like possessiveness, further contributing to the power dynamics we’re seeing right now that you mentioned earlier.

And what about Melissa’s cousin? For the first time on the show there is a black male character. This is not so much a question as an observation.

Phoebe: Firstly, I really like Melissa’s cousin, as he seems pretty great and nicer to her than anyone else on the show has been so far. Secondly, I thought it interesting that he and Diana were paired together and I am curious to see what happens there. Thirdly, I am hoping that the show does not do what Vampire Diaries does which is ignore race all together both in the past and present but also bring on a black character (Harper, one of the tomb vampires) only to kill him off immediately (and not in a way that plays with and criticizes the trope of horror films wherein the black man is always killed first, but rather in a way that reinforces the problems with that trope). Fourthly, do you think he is a witch?

Sarah: I also hope the show breaks the Vampire Diaries mold. I also wondered if he was a witch, since we’ve seen that it’s a bloodline thing with Nick and Jake. Here’s hoping so!

 I thought the moment where Jake tells the head witch-hunter that Cassie can fight the darkness and the circle doesn’t have to be destructive was a real turning point for his character–his feelings for Cassie have allowed him to challenge his own prejudices. But is dark magic really dark? In what ways? Or do you think dark magic will also turn out to be a matter of perspective?

Phoebe: I think the idea of dark magic as all about perspective is really interesting. As it seems that magic is all about controlling (rather than abusing) one’s power. Also, your question makes me think of Wicked and the retelling of evil characters (ie The Wicked Witch, who it turns out in Wicked, is in fact not evil at all, but just at the mercy of sensational politics, if that makes sense). It seems like we are going to see our teenage witches needing to learn how to control their desires to do magic or to make the world mold to their desires and perhaps that dark magic, rather than being inherited, is indeed all about using one’s magic in responsible ways (which seems like it sticks to the show’s teenage lessons through witchcraft situation).

Sarah: Great connection to Wicked! I’m also hoping that dark magic will turn out to be more complicated than the name would suggest—maybe powerful and risky, but its inherent goodness or badness just dependent on the way it’s being used. It would be great if dark magic has more to do with the id than with anything inherently negative, as you suggest!

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