In the final four episodes before the finale next week, clear lines are drawn in the sand between the two major alliances. After a double blocking eliminates Ruksana (who was working alongside Kai, Daniel, and James) and Jackson (a catfish aligned with Nick, Ashley, and Isabella), the numbers are once again even on both sides. Jackson becomes the first true catfish ousted from the game, allowing Isabella and Ashley to breathe a little easier in the coming days. But just to keep everyone on their toes, The Circle introduces the final player, Jacki, a #GamerGirl from Los Angeles.
Of all the new players added at different points of this season, Jacki immediately has the most stacked against her. The other players are quick to jump in Circle Chat and flood her feed with compliments, trying to gain the numbers advantage for their alliance. But Jacki has walked into a war and is unwittingly the dividing line between The Band and the [cough cough] poorly named “Viva La Revolution” alliance of Kai, James, and Daniel. She connects with James the most (or perhaps the quickest), and it seems like her addition to Viva La Revolution is going to keep these four players safe through the endgame.
But at the next ratings, James and Nick are crowned influencers, and with both men pushing to eliminate someone outside of their alliance, somebody eventually has to give. The decision comes down to Ashley or Daniel. Nick obviously doesn’t want to get rid of Ashley, and James promised to keep Kai and Daniel safe. But in the time between his conversation with Daniel and the blocking, James opened himself to Ashley, chatting about his relationship with his trans brother. Because of this connection, James ultimately decides to drop Daniel, hoping that Nick will reward him by saving Kai if the opportunity presents itself.
Although getting blocked crushes poor Daniel’s little heart, you know he doesn’t leave without stirring the pot on the way out. After visiting Isabella and meeting the real Sophia, Daniel is instantly drawn to her and tries to throw the remaining players off her catfishy scent. Who knows how convinced the players actually are by his goodbye message, but Isabella lives to see another day — and maybe that’s Daniel’s doing! Okay, you’re right, probably not.
The Circle loves to keep players in a state of overwhelming paranoia, and for that, we thank her! In the final blocking before the finale, the two influencers are kept a secret — even to each other. Once again, power players James and Nick are made influencers, this time pitting the two against each other anonymously. Pulling in the highest ratings twice is impressive for anyone, but for it to happen to this pair twice in a row? Simply unheard of.
When the time comes to decide who to block, unfortunately for Jacki, her days were always numbered. Neither man can stomach blocking longtime players over a newbie, and James is sent to deliver the news in person. Jacki is heartbroken but understanding and insists there are no hard feelings.
Who do we think will pull in the prize money? Well, as the final five players get ready to finally meet face-to-face on finale night, here’s our final power ranking for season three:
At this point, I’m rooting for James to win, and I think he has great odds. He’s such a likable guy, and everyone’s drawn to his charisma and sense of humor. Winning the influencer role twice in a row proves he’s on folks’ good side, and I’d love to see a late-entering player pull off a win. Although he and Nick are pretty equally matched, James’s sincerity inches him ahead. And crying about how much he loves his grandma definitely earns some bonus points in my book!
Nick, Nick, Nick … successfully convincing James to block his alliance members twice (!) in a row (!!!!) shows just how strong a player he is. He was worried about Kai’s ability to sweet talk, but clearly he knows that game pretty well. Even with Vince gone, Nick could keep himself at the top of the rankings this week. But Nick being Nick, he did immediately flirt with Jacki in an attempt to win her over. Is he just a one-trick pony, or has he really bonded with the other players? Going into the finale, he has strong connections with everyone left, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him rewarded for his mighty efforts this season.
Finally realizing her vendetta against Kai was one-sided, Isabella decided to own up to her paranoia and apologize. Isabella seemed genuine and honest in her apology, bringing Kai to tears. Almost everything makes her cry, so it’s tough to tell, but it seems like Kai was truly moved by their conversation and Isabella’s willingness to put it all on the table. A good, heartfelt apology always pays off, and although they’re in warring alliances, Kai and Isabella’s feud no longer feels personal.
Last week, I was begging Ashley to hop off her fence and finally pick a side. She decided to fully commit to The Band, despite connecting with James too. This was the right choice for her considering Nick was able to save her from being blocked twice. As much as the other players seem drawn to Ashley, I think she’s a fairly boring player to watch — maybe Matthew’s held back by having to play a woman, but she just hasn’t done anything to send her to the top of our rankings yet. I don’t know what her plan is for the endgame, but I suspect she’ll always be No. 3 behind Isabella and Nick.
I don’t think Kai has any chance of winning at this point, unfortunately. She played a strong game, but maybe too strong. This week, the players got to participate in a Circle Prom, and while everyone was having fun chatting about the funky disco music they danced solo to all night, Kai almost instantly brought the game back into the Circle Chat. This isn’t the first time she’s put her foot in her mouth, and although she means well, the others can see she’s playing to win. An early frontrunner and a consistent threat, Kai has played pretty well, but it doesn’t seem like she’ll have the support to win.
• Sophia’s hypothesis that Vince was Lil Yachty all along. (I wish, Sophia. I wish.)
• Kai’s wise words when James explained his reasoning behind the Daniel block: “I can’t say that I love honesty and not love it just because it hurts.”
• The shuddering, full-body cringe I got from Nick’s #TalkNerdyToMe message to Jacki cannot be overstated.