Following hot on the heels of The Vampire Diaries is another CW series based on a book series by L.J. Smith, The Secret Circle. Like it’s CW sibling, The Secret Circle is also really just based on ideas from the books of the same name. Unlike its CW sibling, it didn’t take a third of a season to get interesting.

The Secret Circle follows Cassie Blake’s move to Chance Harbor, Washington after the death of her mother. Her grandmother lives there and it’s where her mother grew up. The small town has quite a few secrets, namely that it is an epicenter for witchcraft. Cassie’s mother intentionally kept her in the dark about her heritage, so Cassie is at a severe disadvantage when she meets kids her own age who know much more about her than she does of them.

The founding families of Chance Harbor are the pillars of the witchcraft circles. A circle requires a member from each family of the same generation to perform a ritual that binds all the members together. This strips each of the members of their individual magic, but makes the group very powerful. Shortly after arriving in town, Cassie finds out that the circle her mother belonged to had something go terribly wrong which caused the death of some of the circle members. The elders shut down all magic activities and everyone was supposed to have moved on.

Except two of the members of her mother’s circle didn’t take too kindly to having their magic taken away. The death of Cassie’s mother was not accidental and was meant to bring Cassie back to Chance Harbor so the next generation’s circle would be complete. And while the death of Cassie’s mother did bring her back to Chance Harbor, Cassie was reluctant to embrace her gifts. Still reading?

For most of the first nine episodes of The Secret Circle Cassie (Britt Robertson) comes across as a whiney and reluctant girl who doesn’t want the burden of being totally awesome. She is the anti-Harry Potter. In these first episodes the smart, sarcastic, self-absorbed Faye (Phoebe Tonkin) really carries the show. We are introduced to the “head” of the circle, Diana (Shelley Hennig), who’s dad unknowns to the kids actually killed Cassie’s mother. There is Diana’s boyfriend Adam (Thomas Decker), who the writers force a destined to be together story with Cassie. And finally the outsiders, Melissa (Jessica Parker Kennedy) and Nick (Louis Hunter), who spend a lot of screen time raimently-challenged in Nick’s bed. Melissa is also Faye’s mistreated side-kick, while Nick is the dark mysterious bad boy. Nick also is killed in the fifth episode with no warning. In the books he’s a big deal, but not so much here. And that’s when I knew The Secret Circle meant business.

So what kind of a show has a top-billed character killed near the start of its run? A very cool one apparently. Soon after, Cassie becomes less whiney and starts to take control of, well… everything. Nick’s even badder boy brother returns and sparks start to fly between him and Cassie. This makes Faye upset since it’s her old flame. Diana breaks up with Adam because she sees how he is totally obsessed with Cassie. In among all this teenage hormones are at least two conspiracies.

The first is Charles (Gale Harold), Diana’s dad, and Dawn (Natasha Henstridge), Faye’s mother, trying to get their magic back. It was taken away from them by the elders after something really bad happened in their youth that resulted in the death of many of their circle. It is heavily implied that demons were involved as demons are attracted to magic being used.

The second conspiracy is that Nick’s brother Jake (Chris Zylka) is actually part of a witchhunting group. This group neutralizes witches, by which I mean burns them alive. Unfortunately for those hunters things aren’t as they appear. Seems Cassie’s dad was from a powerful line of dark mages who were thought to be dead. Cassie can cast very powerful magic by herself when under extreme stress. This excites Jake, but not so much his mundane witchhunting handler. And as if Cassie wielding dark magic weren’t enough, we find out that her dad was a very busy fellow and fathered someone else in the circle. The smart money says that Faye is actually Cassie’s half-sister since Faye’s mother had an unhealthy fascination with Cassie’s dad back in high school.

The show has always been entertaining from the start, but after Nick’s death it really started to embrace its darkness. The writing could be a bit better and there is a weird Jekyll and Hyde thing going on with Cassie. For the record, I prefer the Hyde Cassie even if she out bitches my favorite Faye. I’m just hoping this team can do what The Vampire Diaries crew has done, which is to set up a wild roller-coaster ride that just doesn’t stop. We’ll see if they have it in them in the coming months. They’ve done a pretty good job setting things up and with the death of a major character so early in the show, we know they aren’t afraid to do some crazy things.

There is one thing that I do find a bit… creepy. And that’s the PG-13 porn thing going on with the show, but alas I’ll complain about that another day.

Iain McGregorTVCW,The Secret Circle
Following hot on the heels of The Vampire Diaries is another CW series based on a book series by L.J. Smith, The Secret Circle. Like it’s CW sibling, The Secret Circle is also really just based on ideas from the books of the same name. Unlike its CW sibling,...