January 6, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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After a hiatus so long that it seemed as though CW had found its own witchcraft to create more repeats of THE SECRET CIRCLE than there’d been original episodes to start, the series finally returned to original episodes.
WHERE WE LEFT OFF:  The major revelation of the fall finale was that heroine Cassie (Britt Robertson) wasn’t just a member of the titular coven through the powers she’d gotten from her mother–she had also inherited “dark magic” powers from her mysterious dad.  Also (hunky) witch/witchhunter Jake (Chris Zylka) betrayed his fellow hunters to rescue Cassie from their clutches, and rode off on their boat to an uncertain future.

WHERE WE ARE:  The midseason premiere was a surprisingly self-contained hour.  Mostly it concerned the arrival of Diana (Shelley Hennig)’s grandmother played by Stepfanie Kramer (I’ll pass over how old the fact that Stepfanie Kramer is playing grandmas makes me feel).  After Cassie almost killed (hunky) Adam (Thomas Dekker) out of pique, Granny confirmed that Cassie’s dark powers come from an evil place–her dad was apparently much the Anakin Skywalker type–and lured Cassie to the woods to “cure” her of her evil potential.  It seemed like she was trying to murder the girl, but subsequent dialogue indicated that it was some kind of test, and the fact that Cassie lived meant she could be a force for good or evil.  This plot didn’t tell us much we hadn’t already guessed, but it had one good moment, with Cassie going all Kill Bill as she decisively escaped from being buried alive by Granny.
In the B story, the show increased its hunk quotient by adding a voodoo expert for Mean Witch Faye (Phoebe Tonkin) to exchange banter with as she tried to get power to perform spells without the rest of the Circle–doubtless we’ll be seeing more of him.  (And of Jake, revealed at the episode’s close to be done with his sea voyage.)
Although Secret Circle has Kevin Williamson as an Executive Producer, he’s not the showrunner, and the show is far inferior to Williamson’s own Vampire Diaries, lacking the self-aware wit and intricate plotting of that show.  Secret Circle is very much a 90210-level horror teenfest, with a cast that can’t bring much shading to their bland roles.  Still, with Diaries as lead-in, Circle is CW’s 2d-highest rated series, and considering how badly the rest of its schedule is slumping, the show is almost certain to be back for a 2d season.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."