The binding spell installed a system of checks and balances within the group's circle. The power was too inconsistent, chaotic, and dangerous when wielded by an individual. The spell took away that individual power. The circle can only use their power together when completely in sync with one another's thoughts, so they're brought together in ways they weren't in the initial two episodes of the series. The circle's the most important component of the series. If the group dynamic's off, the show will suffer. If the characters disposable, the show will suffer. Fortunately, the group dynamic works. I feel invested in the characters because they're invested in one another now. Faye was a good friend to Melissa. Nick let Melissa into his life. Cassie opened herself up to Diana. I'll use a cliché to sum up the circle's importance--united they stand, divided they fall.
Zach Larson, an old classmate of Dawn and Charlie's, came into town between fishing trips. Larson harassed Cassie about her decision to live in Chance Harbor. As he left, he vowed he wouldn't let witchcraft happen again. He became the threat, the figure that united the circle at the school dance. Faye was attacked in the abandoned cabin by Zach and displayed deft self-defense skills. We learned that a circle's only broken when one of the members dies, so Zach aimed to kill one of the members. Years ago, in 1995, his high school sweetheart was supposedly killed in the fire that took the life of each of the present circle's parents. The circumstances of the fire are a mystery as well as Amelia's role in his girlfriend's death (or something else). Zach corners Cassie in the hallway, during the dance, and nearly kills her until the circle joins hands and uses magic to save Cassie's life. I thought the sequence in the dark hallway was excellently done--dark lighting, good pacing, and a sense of foreboding. It reminded me of those late '90s slasher films I enjoyed so much.
Dawn and Charlie are problematic villains right now. I'm tempted to blame LJ Smith, the author of The Secret Circle, for writing bland characters; however, Andrew Miller and Kevin Williamson aren't bound to the original text. They could've polished the characters up, given them more life and spirit. Their shared quality is how evil they are. They're no less selfish than Faye but Faye's capable of restraint whereas Dawn and Charlie kill men and ruin lives in their pursuit of it. The reason for their extreme actions is important. It's a mystery now. Their behaviors consistent with others in pursuit of power, though, which would be fine if the characters weren't so bland. I suspect the actors aren't sure about the respective direction of their characters; therefore, their performances hurt their portrayals. However, I think it's a case of bad writing.
I thought the writing for the teenagers was quite good. Faye shed her abrasive, selfish, and nasty behavior for an episode to showcase her more redeeming qualities. Phoebe Tonkin's been terrific. She impressed me last week after Faye nearly murdered Sally, and again this week when went from angry to scared in a heartbeat in the cabin.
The love triangle between Cassie, Adam and Diana has some rough edges. Diana's persistent in her pursuit of Cassie's friendships. The episode title comes from Cassie's idea that she's a loner. She's avoided the circle for the majority of the series but that'll change now that her life's been saved. I'm disappointed whenever Diana brings up her love for Adam. Cassie and Diana's friendship would be better if Diana wasn't trying to stem a relationship between Cassie and Adam. Ideally, the triangle would've never happened. Love triangles are rarely interesting. I'd be more interested in a female friendship without some guy coming between them. It's The CW, though, so I'm out of luck.
My nostalgia for Buffy might've inflated my opinion of "Loner." Nonetheless, it was a solid episode--so solid, in fact, that I'll continue writing about the series each Friday.
Richard Hotem wrote the episode. Colin Bucksey directed it.
THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK