This review contains spoilers.
This week, this new magic-teen show from The CW attempts to introduce its audience to the rest of the circle, even if they are a less than pleasant bunch to hang around with. Last week, we got to know Cassie Blake and her relationship to friends and neighbours in the town, the consequences of which are slowly being revealed.
We learn that the group’s individual powers have had a little boost since Cassie came to town, and some are happier about this than others. Mean girl Faye is relishing the chance to do whatever she wants without supervision, but others are rightly showing a little more caution. If the group bind themselves together, their strength as a circle will rise, but they’ll have to give up some of their own in return. It’s a case of push and pull in this episode, leading to a climax you can see coming a mile off.
Cassie is still likable and good to watch in the central role, but it’s the turn of some of the others to show their worth. Unfortunately, the rest of the group are either so bland it’s a struggle to stay awake when they’re on screen, or incredibly stereotypical ideas of the fantasy teen seen a thousand times before. In addition, everyone involved keeps up the tradition of not telling their parents or grandparents anything important, cementing their place as cannon fodder further down the line.
Love interest Adam still has nothing much to say for himself, and Faye’s evil grin seems to be a permanent fixture rather than a personality quirk. The show needs to take care with its more interesting players, like Diana and potentially Melissa, if it wants to hold on to a target audience spoilt by superior shows on the air. The latter is given a lot more screen time this week, as it’s revealed that she is sleeping with bad-boy Nick. She’s the dutiful sidekick with no voice of her own at the moment, and that’s precisely the kind of character that comes into her own sometime around mid-season.
The relationships that are threatening to form are all a little Dawson’s Creek, which isn’t surprising, seeing as Kevin Williamson wrote the episode. I just wish the series would adopt a more measured approach to its romance, as it’s usually a mistake to prioritise romance and love triangles over the magic going on around them.
People tune in for both, so a balance must be determined at the start and stuck to. This, I believe, is why The Vampire Diaries became such a success story for the network, the genre, and LJ Smith’s novels. It realised early on, after a shaky couple of weeks, that the fantasy was more engaging.
What I will say for the show is that it moves as quickly as its sister series. What we’ve seen so far has been a little mediocre, but at least the binding of the group hasn’t been dragged out for half a season.
Wind back five years to similar shows like Charmed, and the writers will have milked the possibilities for group warfare for all they were worth. Here, we’ve gotten straight to the point, and it provides some tantalising potential storylines for the coming weeks.
You can read our review of The Secret Circle episode 1, Pilot, here.