There is a particular hell to being a The Circle fan. Nearly every single Netflix series besides the brand-new reality show follows the same rules: Debut an entire season in one day, invite viewers to binge it all in one shot, pop up in pockets of Twitter for a weekend, the end. However, The Circle, about a group of strangers competing to win $100,000, ignores those traditional guidelines. The game show will release its full 12 episode season in four-episode batches over three weeks.
That's why we’re all left hanging on the cliffhanger of The Circle season 1’s fourth episode, “Planting Doubt.” At least this waiting time leaves viewers with some time to really contemplate the machinations of The Circle's many different players.
What you’ll find are hints that one competitor will be the one to watch out for in coming episodes. That person is Miranda, who is treating The Circle more like The Bachelorette.
In most cases, saying a woman is flirting to get ahead would be a cliched and rude insult. Especially when that woman is queer like Miranda (in “There’s a Catfish Among Us,” Miranda confirms she is primarily attracted to men but also “enjoys” women). Yet there is no cunning or malice to Miranda’s approach to The Circle. She isn't conniving. She appears to be genuinely looking for a love connection and is therefore sowing genuine and trusting relationships along the way.
Miranda telegraphs as much from her introduction in “Face-to-Face.” As the 26-year-old is setting up her profile, she emphasizes just how single she is. When other people chose that status they did it as part of a hollow seduction strategy. Miranda, however, just laughs and earnestly yells “Let’s make sure they know that!” This is someone who is ready to mingle. Then, as she is trying to settle on one person to message with first, she lets her heart lead her.
“Antonio doesn’t seem like he has much to say. But I really just want to know more about him,” Miranda says. “Because he is super sexy.”
Still, Miranda goes with “Mercedeze,” who is actually a catfish created by a queer woman named Karyn. Miranda is taken by Mercedeze’s good looks and hinted interest in women. Their conversion quickly turns into flirting, and Miranda sighs towards the end, “I hope everyone is as great as her, but they’re not going to be.” You only say something so romantically optimistic when you’re looking for a love interest. After just one conversation, Miranda has a solid ally — all because of real feelings.
Miranda continues to pursue romance in the remaining two episodes. She finally messages Antonio in “Catfish” and is practically buzzing with excitement to talk to him. He is Miranda's best foil when it comes to strategy (or lack thereof). While Miranda is simply interested in getting to know an attractive guy, Antonio, who secretly has a real-life girlfriend, narrates all the ways he hopes to manipulate Miranda through flirting. At one point he says, “I got Miranda where I want her too. I’m playing chess here and it’s all working out for me.” This is how Antonio has tackled similar moments with the other women of The Circle. Antonio, with all his steely plotting, is the one to go home during the next elimination.
Miranda, on the other hand, only grows her circle. She has two integral chats at the back-half of “Planting Doubt” with romantic prospects. The first is with Joey and results in some of the realest conversations of the series so far. The peak of their messages arrives when Miranda divulges her painful history as a foster care child. The situation is so raw that Miranda is left crying alone in her apartment. Joey supports her and, at the close of the conversation, says, “Now my heart is definitely with her.”
Miranda ends the episode by patching up her burgeoning relationship with Sammie. The Miami native is the person Miranda has been fawning over for episodes. The women pledge to have a “flirty” competition with Joey, which will inevitably only bring everyone involved closer together. In total, that means Miranda has three solid, honest connections and four remaining contestants, including newbie catfish “Adam,” to get to know.
Most people on The Circle are playing games. Miranda is playing her own version of open-hearted Hannah Brown cosplay. It’s working.