Netflix’s “The Circle” finale makes up for what season lacked

This review contains spoilers from season three of “The Circle.”

When “The Circle” aired for the first time last year, it quickly became one of my favorite shows because its concept, gameplay and cast instantly drew me in. 

In this reality show, individuals are housed together in separate apartment units and take part in a popularity contest with a $100,000 prize. 

The players can only talk through profiles created in The Circle, a social media channel connecting through their TVs. Players can come in as themselves or “catfish” by pretending to be someone else. The main goal is to get ranked high enough by their peers to become an influencer. 

While the show’s objective was the same, I looked forward to seeing what elements would be added to make season three’s game more enticing. 

The season started off great. There was a good selection of players with an interesting mix of personalities

Season three started off with eight Circle players. Daniel, Ruksana, Kai, Michelle and Calvin went in as themselves. While Ava and Nick played as themselves, Chanel and Ava ran Ava’s account, and Nick covered up his tech manager job by pretending to be a punk rock drummer. Matthew catfished as his best friend Ashley. (Graphic by Marie Underwood)

With episode one’s elimination ending in a surprise second chance at the prize money, I was on the edge of my seat. Ava and her sister Chanel were blocked by Kai but were immediately given the opportunity to come back as a different account. 

Having a player return was nothing new. However, the game changed when The Circle revealed the account had to replicate an existing player’s. 

The Circle had never done that before, and I couldn’t wait to see what else was in store. But as the episodes went on, moments like those were hard to come by. 

Like past seasons, players were added and dropped and alliances were formed and broken. 

It wasn’t until the end of the season, when Nick was gifted a temporary second profile, that my interest picked back up again. 

Nick’s burner profile, Vince, was used to gain more popularity among the players. With two alliances evenly dividing the contestants, Nick’s gift paid off when he became an influencer with Daniel. 

Each influencer coming from a different alliance, the blocking was already going to be a tough decision. Then The Circle revealed how a block had to be made by each player without discussion. 

The twist had my mouth on the floor and the tension between the two could be felt through the screen. That game-changer was what I waited all season for. 

The finale did not disappoint.

Jacki, Rachel, James and Sophia joined after different players were eliminated. Jacki and James went in as themselves, while Rachel and Sophia catfished. Rachel portrayed her friend’s boyfriend Jackson, and Sophia went in as her sister Isabella. (Graphic by Marie Underwood)

Witnessing the players meeting for the first time and learning who won the game has always been my favorite part of the show.

Watching Kai, Sophia, James, Nick and Matthew finally meet had me laughing along with them. The chemistry between everyone was incredible. 

Seeing the entire cast together before the winner’s reveal was the cherry on top. 

James taking home the prize completely threw me off but in the best way.

His number one ranking was shocking. As one of the last people to join with the least amount of time to connect and form alliances, his chances of winning looked slim, but I love a good curveball closing off a season. 

While “The Circle” introduced different games and had a couple tricks up its sleeve, the novelty has worn off. Unlike past seasons, the episodes were easily forgettable, mouth-dropping moments were slim and the gameplay didn’t feel much different. 

“The Circle” had a few shining moments, but this season was the same game with different faces.