“The Circle” U.S. Season 6, Episodes 5-8 Recap

April 29, 2024

BY Eric Rezsnyak

I’ve been holding off on writing this recap. It should have been up days ago. But I have been struggling with this season. I love “The Circle.” I was so looking forward to its return. It has historically been a light-hearted, feel-good reality competition where people got ahead by making connections with other people, and the drama typically revolved around someone saying something behind someone’s back, or someone pretending to be a person they were not. That is not the case with Season 6. It is significantly less pleasant, more aggressive, and to be honest, kind of a bummer.

I believe that is by design. When you look at the production decisions this season, they all seem intended to create a more antagonistic game. The big twist, an AI competitor, led to a witch hunt in which the contestants had to openly accuse one another of being literally not even human. (BTW: Getting rid of Max at the top of Episode 5 was a huge mistake; that AI was the most engaging player in the game, in my opinion. I’m not convinced this group would have ID’d him even by Episode 8 if left to their own devices.) The smaller games-within-a-game are frequently based around players insulting one another or explicitly identifying players most or least likely to do certain shitty behaviors. Then this Ride-or-Die twist? It is meant to pit the players against each other much more explicitly than previous iterations of the game.

The previous seasons of this show highlighted both the positives of social media — being able to build these surprisingly intense relationships with people you’ve never met — as well as reference the downsides. Specifically, people may not be who they say they are. This season, it’s REALLY focusing on the negative aspects, as in addition to people faking their identities, we have full-on brigading happening. I don’t like to see that in the real world. I certainly don’t need to see it as part of a TV show.

And then there is the cast itself. On the whole, it’s a crew seriously lacking in likability. Several of them are explicitly aggressive in their gameplay. A few others have emerged as passive-aggressive in their gameplay. And then there are the cinnamon-bun players who seem bewildered by what is happening, because it’s way nastier than they expected.

And, like…same. The energy this season seems significantly different than any previous U.S. season of this show. That could be deliberate on the part of producers, to create a more engrossing, intense experiment more in line with some of Netflix’s more high-profile reality shows (I’m thinking “Love Is Blind,” “Physical 100,” the “Squid Game” challenge). But is it “The Circle”? I am not nearly as engaged with this season as I have been with past editions, and I don’t see that changing as we go into the home stretch. Right now I don’t honestly care who wins, because I don’t have strong connections to almost any of these players.

With that being said, let’s go over where I stand with the players by the end of Episode 8, ranking them worst to best. Spoilers ahead.


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Big oof. I liked Cassie when she first entered the Circle. She had a folksy charm about her. I complained that after the first chunk of episodes, she didn’t really seem to be doing much of anything. She made up for that this group of episodes by doing way too much, going way too hard. And none of it made sense. She got deeply offended by Myles’ poor-trait, yet did the exact same thing to him…but somehow that was OK. She was taking shots in the group chats, but then scandalized when someone would say anything negative about her. And then, in arguably the dumbest move she made, she screwed with the rankings by flipping her order, putting her strongest ally (“Olivia”) in the bottom. That made…absolutely no sense. I was already frustrated by Cassie, but this is where she fully lost me. The move was so strategically poor that, had she stayed, it would have been almost offensive. I’m sure Cassie is lovely. I don’t think she had a clue what she was doing this entire time. Bless her heart.


Have we ever had a player so bad at this game, playing this hard, make it this far? I genuinely don’t know. Caress’s gameplay in the first four episodes was poor, but I think it may have gotten worse in the back half here. I almost wonder if Caress was deliberately playing “Paul” so aggressively to distract people from thinking she was catfishing. She’s clearly intelligent. I cannot imagine what she was thinking when she immediately hopped into the newbie’s DMs and unloaded a ton of shit talk on her fellow players, plus lied that she was “at the center” of the most important votes. There was no way that was going to go without repercussions. When it came to the Ride-or-Die twist — which I do think is pretty cool, although they nerfed the potential drama by nixing the Influencer deliberations for that Blocking — she was thrilled to be paired with her one main ally, Kyle, missing the point that it would be better for her game if she made MORE allies. (This has been a consistent theme for Caress.) I further lost respect when she slid into Lauren’s DMs to assure her they were all good before rankings, only to deliberately tank her. That’s a dirty move. I appreciate Caress’s desire to win, but I don’t like almost any of the gameplay. She’s playing “Survivor,” not “The Circle.” As for that cliffhanger, my guess is that, despite her passion to win, Caress will accept she has no chance of doing so, and will sacrifice so Kyle can stay. For the record, I’d be happy with both of them being cut.


I’ll see the “big oof” I laid on Cassie and raise it into a, “Holy fuck.” It’s probably not fair to rank Autumn so low here, because she has barely done anything herself. And yet, she is already radioactive in this game. Brought in halfway through the season, she was already at a disadvantage. But she was unwittingly made the fatted calf by her own Ride-or-Die, Lauren, and as soon as the rest of the Circle fam saw an opening, they descended upon her with brutal unity. The calls being made in that superlatives game weren’t based at all in reality. It was 100 percent gameplay, and Autumn was simply the unlucky person chosen to bear the brunt of it. That entire segment was ugly to watch and I don’t want to see anything like it on this show again. I don’t know how long Autumn is for this game. She has done very little (that we’ve seen) aside from being curb stomped. I don’t think she’s made any actual alliances thus far. “Paul” is almost certainly gone, she rebuffed “Olivia” and her attempt at making amends, and Lauren doesn’t seem to care for her either. She’s basically on an island.

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Lauren is in big trouble, and she knows it. The general consensus seems to be that she’s fake, and you can see why. I said in my first recap that as a streamer, I think Lauren has trained herself — possibly without even knowing it — to morph herself to please whoever she is engaging with. That leaves her as something of a cipher on her own. I’ve seen it with other people in real life, and I see it pretty clearly with her here, down to the constant infantilized behaviors. It’s unclear what is going on with her alliances at this point. We’ve seen very little interaction between her and supposed “Circle” sweetie, Kyle. She seems guarded against “Olivia.” Quori-Tyler has no use for her. Jordan seems wary. Lauren seemed almost paralyzed once the Ride-or-Die twist was introduced, and she realized that she was stuck working with someone she barely knew, who seemingly brings very little to the table. She needs to get herself together quickly or she’s gone.


Rough few episodes for “Olivia.” I think Brendan glided through the first few episodes based on a mixture of luck and the AI twist overshadowing any actual players catfishing. He got a rude awakening this bunch, when “Olivia” plummeted to the bottom of the rankings (especially thanks to her ally, Cassie, screwing her) and then being tethered to the season’s bad boy, Myles, via the Ride-or-Die twist. As ethically uncomfortable as this ended up being for Brendan, I think it’s probably the best possible thing for Brendan’s game. Having Myles in “Olivia”‘s corner will insulate her for the short-term future, as well as expand alliances. But more importantly, it has made Brendan wake up and understand he actually has to start playing, as he did with the last vote by doubling down against Autumn to preserve his alliance. It’s all awful on a personal level, but from a player level, I think “Olivia” exits Episode 8 in a better place than she entered Episode 5.


Good on Kyle for being the No. 1 Influencer at the Cassie vote. He did a good job building alliances with “Tres Fuegos” (*cringe*), and with “Paul.” We’ve seen very little interaction between Kyle and Lauren, which is weird since they seemed to have a showmance going at first. I think Kyle got monster screwed by the Ride-or-Die twist, specifically being chained to the social kryptonite that is “Paul.” Even then, I agree with the criticism that Kyle’s interactions with the group as a whole are minimal (based on what we’ve seen) and fairly weak in terms of content. I do think that Kyle will end up staying after “Paul” sacrifices himself, but I didn’t like his reaction to that twist. If Kyle stays in the game I think he’s got his work cut out for him. He’s realized that you need alliances, but I don’t think he has a clue how to position himself within those alliances.


I was very impressed by QT after Episode 4. I still think she is playing the best overall game, but I am less enamored with her now. That’s partially because she’s seemingly ALL game. I know so little about Quori-Tyler as a person. We learned about her tragic family past, through which she connected with Myles and, I believe, Kyle. But if you asked me to describe Quori-Tyler’s personality, I wouldn’t know what to say. Calculated, I guess? I’m all for a puppet-master archetype, and she is good at it. But increasingly I find myself less engaged by her as a person, even as she continues to perform well as a player.


Myles is my least-favorite person in the Circle, but he’s playing a hell of a game. He is largely running this show, between his “Tres Fuego” alliance, his Ride-or-Die connection with “Olivia,” and his ability to make aggressive moves but soften the sting after they offend. It’s an impressive balancing act. I just wish I liked him at all as a person. I get the tragic upbringing arc, but his code-switching affectations are, I feel, deeply problematic. I also don’t think he does anything with any kind of authenticity. Even the breakfast with Quori-Tyler felt like a play to cultivate their relationship. Mind you, I think she would do the same thing, so I guess they’re a great match. I just…do not care for the guy. At all. And his voice makes my ears bleed.

“Big J”/Jordan

Like Quori-Tyler coming in late in the first bunch of episode, Jordan walked in and immediately piqued my interest. Jordan is savvy, pretty much immediately realized that Myles is running this game, and set his sights on removing him. If any of these players are going to be able to pull it off, I think it’s Jordan. I find the conceit of him playing as his larger self, “Big J,” interesting. As someone who has lost nearly 100 lbs, then gained a bunch of it back, then lost a bunch of it, then gained more of it back again, I completely get the mindfuck that has on your view of yourself. It can take years to work that stuff out in therapy. I see Jordan’s reflexive self loathing for “Big J” frequently in the way his dismisses his life during that period, and it makes me sad. I hope Jordan can come to embrace the wonderful qualities he had as “Big J” — obviously he has always been an intelligent guy, and has good reads on other people — but it’s a novel casting that so far is paying off. Once Myles realizes that Jordan is on his tail, I think Jordan will be in serious danger. Ingratiating himself to Quori-Tyler, and seeing her for the queen she is, is a good first step.

That’s where we stand after Episode 8. What do you think about this season overall? Do you like the more intense gameplay? Do you miss the old, comforting vibes of “The Circle”? Sound off in the comments.

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