The last time we checked in on The Circle, Kai and Ruksana were influencers and faced a hard decision. Forced to block the next player face-to-face, Kai decides to take matters into her own hands and block Michelle, a.k.a. Ava and Chanel. For the second time this season, Kai is responsible for blocking the two sisters. But this time, it’s for good. With Ava and Chanel gone, the Blue/Orange Michelle twist is finally over, and good-bye messages from Ava and Chanel and the Real Michelle are shown to the remaining players. Michelle is ranked last at the ratings, and it seems like no one is particularly bummed to see her go. Sorry, Michelle!
As we all know by now, the Circle likes to keep a large group of players in the game, so when Michelle and “Michelle” are finally gone, it doesn’t take long for another player to join the Circle Chat. James, our newest player, is a stand-up comedian and DJ from Los Angeles. He instantly hits it off with the guys, earning a place in the Wolf Pack alliance, as well as a spot in Kai and Ruksana’s alliance with Daniel.
As the next influencers, Ashley and Isabella block Calvin and shift the game dramatically. Kai no longer has her boo thang to rely on, and it seems like everything we thought we knew is just thrown out the window. You’re only as strong as your most recent rating, and unfortunately for some, the tides have turned. And with that, let’s get to our weekly power ranking!
Listen, we all know I wasn’t the biggest fan of Nick last week, but I have to give credit where credit’s due. He may have an aggravating near-constant smirk on his face, but the game has flipped upside down, and now Nick finds himself the most powerful player in the game. Now, as an influencer, he has to choose between the Band — his strong alliance with Jackson, Ashley, and Isabella — and Kai’s alliance with Ruksana, Daniel, and James. After Calvin is blocked, he bestows the Popularity Award upon Nick, allowing Nick to control a burner profile. Like last season’s psychic Santa Claus, the Circle decides on a ridiculous career for the fake account, and once again, the other players reveal their belief in supernatural forces. Nick’s use of ghost hunter Vince’s profile pays off immensely. When true connections are put on display at the “Bake for Your Bestie” challenge, Nick takes home the win because Nick can decorate a cake for himself through Vince in addition to Isabella’s and Ashley’s cakes in his honor. Besides his impressive use of Vince’s profile, Nick strengthens his relationships with most players, earning him the top spot in episode eight’s rankings. With no influencer chat this week, Nick finds himself at a crossroads and will have to take full responsibility when he blocks the next player. Will he betray the Band? Or finally declare war on Kai?
The newest newbie, James instantly hits it off with everyone in the Circle. He has a great sense of humor, and his catfish radar is scarily accurate, almost instantly clocking Ashley, Isabella, and Jackson. James is also immediately drawn to Kai, correctly sensing she’s a powerful player. As it stands after this week’s episodes, it doesn’t look like James is on anyone’s shit list, and he ranks an admirable fourth place in his first rating. For now, his allegiance seems to be with Kai, Ruksana, and Daniel, but he also feels a strong connection with Nick and Vince. If I were a gambler, I’d bet on James making it quite far in this game.
Loyal to a fault, Daniel is playing a very under-the-radar game. Maybe too under the radar, considering Ruksana, his closest ally, said he’s barely playing the game. Ouch. Although he drops like a rock from third place to seventh in the episode-six ratings, he stifles his natural inclination to panic, and his game recovers nicely, earning an influencer spot for episode eight’s unique double blocking. All signs point toward him blocking someone in the Band, but we’ll have to wait until next week to see. It seems Daniel’s naïveté may not be a conscious strategy, but it’s working out for the kid! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, Daniel!
Isabella, a.k.a. Sophia, is playing an absolutely cutthroat game and doesn’t care to hide it. In her first eligible ranking, Isabella and Ashley are both made influencers — proving once and for all there’s a special kind of power in being a gay woman, whether it’s a true identity you’re trying to conceal or a persona you’re playing. On that note, I still find it extremely funny to watch Sophia wince and groan through Isabella’s flirty conversations with Nick, and after they both made a bestie cake for each other, they’re now #CircleOfficial. Awwwwww. We know that a strong duo like this can make or break a player’s game, and I’m rooting for Isabella, even though she’s ruthlessly coming for my girl Kai.
Kai had a true fall from grace in this week’s episodes. Kai is now dead last in the official rankings, despite being made an influencer in two straight ratings. After Ava and Chanel’s ominous warning in their good-bye message, Isabella is convinced Kai is a catfish, and when Kai brings up catfish hunting in the very first chat with James, she doesn’t do much to help her case. Even though Isabella tries to convince Nick that Kai’s a smooth talker who can’t be trusted, he can’t shake the feeling Kai is a genuinely nice person. This season has been a roller coaster of ups and downs for Kai, but if she can make it through the double blocking this week, I think she’ll be in an okay spot to mend some relationships. Hopefully, this catfish hunter will be able to knock out one or two before her time in the Circle inevitably runs out.
Ashley surprised me this week, earning an influencer spot and successfully convincing Isabella to block Calvin instead of Kai. But she plays an extremely on-the-fence game, and while it works out well enough to survive, I don’t know how strong Ashley’s opinions actually are in the game. It’s one thing to make it through the subsequent blocking, but it will be another to win the game. Ashley, it’s time to pick a side and start making money moves, or you can kiss that $100,000 goodbye.
Oh, Ruksana … it really hurts to place her so low on this list because she seems like such a nice person, but unfortunately, her loyalties to Kai and Daniel make her a massive target in the game. While Kai is working hard to keep herself in a good spot with Nick, Ruksana is banking on her alliances instead. She doesn’t get much screen time in these four episodes, proving she isn’t doing much to keep her game afloat beyond her established connections. Daniel will no doubt protect Ruksana, but without an influencer chat to plead his case to Nick, will Ruksana be able to survive the second block?
Arguably the worst catfish to play The Circle so far, Rachel just isn’t in tune with the game. After a pitiful fun fact to introduce himself to James, just about everyone is beginning to suspect Jackson’s a catfish, including Kai, Ruksana, James, and — most importantly — Daniel. After winning the Lil Yachty rap battle against Calvin, and then promptly seeing him get blocked, Jackson earned a few more days in the Circle. But will the Band be strong enough to save Jackson? My money’s on this catfish getting reeled in real quick.
• Calvin’s adorable heel click on his way to finally meet Kai in person.
• In the spirit of Ms. Tiffany Pollard: LIL YACHTY?!
• So many good Daniel moments in this week’s episodes, but his cry of realization that he’s “the virgin sacrifice event” when Vince arrives takes the cake.
• Michelle’s absolutely perfect delivery of “Oh, I’m not saying a single thing” when Nick ponders the fact that people like Vince more than him.