Recap: ‘The Circle’ (Episodes 1-4)

As we turn the page on a brand new decade, it is time to welcome in a new era of reality TV. On Wednesday, Netflix officially introduced The Circle to American viewers and it already seems like it’s going to be a hit.

Before we dive into the first four episodes, you need to know how the game works. Eight players are living in a one-bedroom apartment but cannot see or hear each other. They can only communicate with one another via the voice-activated app known as “The Circle” (Think of something along the lines of saying “Hey Alexa” to activate an Alexa).

In this game, anyone can be anyone. You can be yourself or someone completely different. Yes, catfishing is totally cool here. Via The Circle app, the players can talk to each other, ask questions, and play games. At the end of each round, the players will rate each other. The top two players will become “influencers” and have the power to eliminate one of the other “at risk” players. The goal? To be the game’s most popular player and win the cool $100,000 prize in the season finale.

Whew! Got all that? Good! Now, let’s meet the players who are entering The Circle:

Chris: A 30-year-old freelance artist and graphic designer from Dallas, Texas. He will be playing as himself and says he wants to be “perceived as a real-ass bitch in a fake-ass world.”

Joey: A bartender from Rochester, New York. He’s playing as himself and is already giving me Pauly D and wannabe-Robert De Niro vibes.

Alana: A 25-year-old model from Brownsville, Texas. She said she wants to do the show because “I get judged by other girls because they just don’t want their boyfriends to look at me”.

Seaburn: A 29-year-old caseworker from Boston. He will be the first to be playing the game as someone else. He’s entering The Circle as “Rebecca” and will be using his girlfriend’s photos.

Shubham (aka Shooby): A 23-year-old virtual reality designer from California. He is playing the game as himself and says he finds the idea of social media as “modern-day bubonic plague”.

Sammie: A behavior technician from Miami. The 24-year-old says she isn’t shy about posting pictures on social media. She’s bisexual, which will be an important fact to remember later on in the game.

Antonio: A professional basketball player from Delaware. The 24-year-old baller describes himself as “really tall” and “attractive”, but he’s been catfished before. Uh, you might be entering the wrong game, dude.

Karyn: The 37-year-old is the game’s oldest player so far. She is “one hundred percent lesbian”. However, she’s also entering the game as someone else. She will become “Mercedeze”, using photos from “some random chick” she found on Google.

Episode 1

All the players move in and complete their profiles. They write up their bios, choose a profile photo, age, relationship status, and brief description. You can lie or be honest about any of those as it’s all part of the game.

The game kicks off and the players must rate each other based on first impressions before even connecting with one another. Alana’s modeling is an issue for most of the players and Rebecca (aka Seaburn) is raising a few eyebrows about possibly being a catfish. With ratings complete, the players get the chance to message each other. Alana starts a private group chat and names it “skinny queens”. Man, she really gives off those “mean girl” vibes, doesn’t she? As you can imagine, this rubs Sammi and Mercedeze (aka Karyn) the wrong way.

There’s a bunch of messaging, flirting, and speculating in the 90-minute premiere. It was finally time to get to the first rankings of the season. Shubham comes in eighth, Mercedeze and Rebecca are seventh and sixth respectively. Antonio and Sammie are the top two and earn the power to block (eliminate) one player from the game.

Antonio and Sammie decide on someone who they “don’t think they are who they say they are.” Antonio announces to the group via The Circle chat that Alana has been blocked and eliminated from the game.

“Obviously, I’m a model, so they wouldn’t think that I am who I am,” Alana says as she’s eliminated.

Alana isn’t going home without a surprise twist. She has the chance to visit one player in person before she goes home. So who did she visit? Onto episode two!

Episode 2

The second 45-minute episode sees Alana go to visit Sammi. Surprisingly, she’s not as mad as I thought she’d be.

“You should have fought for me more,” Alana tells her.

Sammi brings up the “skinny queens” chat and her being a model, saying it made her come across as a brat and bitchy. As I said, she came across to me as a mean girl and I’m not even playing this game.

The most important part of this episode was the party that The Circle throws for the players. This is a distraction in order to welcome a new player to the game, Miranda. She is playing the game as herself. She sets up her profile and decides to hide her tattoos from the other players. So much for being yourself huh, Miranda?

As the party ends, the players notice that a new player has been added to the game. And now, they know the game has just taken a much different turn.

Episode 3

Miranda is introduced to the other players and decides to pick Mercedeze to be her guest at the after-party (aka a private message between just them). There’s alcohol involved so things get very flirty. Later, Miranda makes a private chat with Rebecca and Sammie and is very direct about her sexuality and her opinion on everyone’s looks. She has to be careful. In this game, being so open can ultimately be a red flag.

There is tons of messaging, flirting, and speculation in this episode. During the next round of player ratings, Miranda is immune from this and cannot rate or be rated. Antonio feels confident that Shooby will protect him in the game and chooses him for first place. In the end, Chris and Shubham tie for first place and are the new influencers. Antonio dropped from second to seventh. Talk about a fall from grace!

Episode 4

The final episode for the first week saw another elimination, a shocking reveal, and another new player enter the game.

Let’s just cut to the chase: Chris and Shubham decide to block Antonio. They give their reasons, saying they “didn’t feel a strong connection to the player”. It appears Shooby is only loyal to his man Joey in the game.

Antonio decides to meet the “young and beautiful” Mercedeze, but is shocked to learn that she isn’t who she claimed. Instead, he meets Karyn who, despite her appearance not being true, said that everything she’s done in the game has been her real personality. In his goodbye message to the group, Antonio says there is a catfish among the group which ignites paranoia among the remaining players.

Mercedeze has to do damage control as a result of Antonio’s video while elsewhere, Miranda opens up to Joey about not being close to her family, saying she was “bounced around” in foster care and taken away from her brother. It’s pretty emotional and heavy stuff.

Later, Miranda wins a baking contest and earns the right to post a Boomerang to her profile. She chooses the one that shows her tats, but that’s a mistake as it furthers everyone’s suspicions.

The episode ends with the arrival of another new player. Viewers are introduced to Alex, a 32-year-old unemployed artist from L.A. He’s a massive nerd but in this game, he’s going to be “Adam” – a buff, attractive, athletic guy as he says it is the opposite of himself. Viewers will have to wait and see how things go next week.

What did you think of the first four episodes of The Circle? Let me know in the comments below!

The Circle continues on January 8 on Netflix with four new episodes.

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