After what seems like months, The Secret Circle returns with a brand new episode that focuses primarily on the girls – Britt Robertson’s Cassie (the good one who might be bad) and Phoebe Tonkin’s Faye (the bad one who’s more of a poser). As the show nears the half-way point of its first season, it’s beginning to settle into a certain formula. Whether this is good or bad depends on how much you like irrelevant danger.
Let’s break it down…We left off in the fall with hottie Jake (Chris Zylka) choosing Cassie over his fellow witch hunters and leaving town. The majority of “Darkness” deals with Cassie’s attempts to come to grips with the fact that she has dark magic in her. The show’s trying to mine a lot of drama out of whether or not she’s dangerous, but this isn’t overly effective given that Cassie is a cute little blonde who is about as dangerous as a newborn kitten. If it was pretty much anyone else in the group it might be believable, but here it doesn’t quite resonante. I’m prepared to revise this opinion if the show really goes for it, but thus far Cassie is too tame to be dangerous. That’s why Faye’s line “It’s always the short, quiet ones you have to watch out for” is funny, and not telling.
This is not to say that Cassie hasn’t demonstrated that she’s the most powerful witch in the group. She’s already spontaneously combusted someone, and in this episode, got the most “buzz-worthy” scene when she was buried alive and had to explode a coffin she was buried in from the inside (Side Note: Great use of special effects and overall a really effective scene). There’s still a lot of potential in a storyline about Cassie learning to control her individual powers, which I think is the more interesting route to go. Thankfully the show seems to be heading in that direction if the ending is any indication: Cassie confesses to Diana (Shelley Hennig) that she liked having so much power. More of that, Secret Circle, and less “how dangerous is she.” Mmkaythanks.
The entire coffin saga is courtesy of Diana’s MILF-y grandmother, Kate (Stepfanie Kramer), one of the previously unseen elders. Kate is intriguing because she has the ability to detect magic. This allows her to sniff out Cassie’s dark side and recognize that her son, Charles (Gale Harold) is practicing magic, despite having his powers stripped. There’s a lot of potential for interesting uses of this kind of ability, but they weren’t really explored beyond giving Kate a rationale for tossing Cassie into the coffin in order to test how powerful she was (congratulations you figured out that she’s more powerful than you! Now beat it out of town before blondey-bear comes after you).
Kate plays one other important role in her one-episode stint: she ruffles Faye’s mother, Dawn’s (Natasha Henstridge) feathers. After Diana implies Charles is dating Dawn, the elder visits the school principal to lay into her for using people and throwing them away. It’s clear that Kate knows lots of juicy backstories about what the parental generation was up to, but the show again wasn’t overly interested in exploring them. Instead we got a couple good confrontations between Kate and Dawn (including Dawn seemingly trying to poison Kate with a glass of expensive red wine), and then it was all Cassie-in-the-woods drama. I would have liked Kate’s story to simmer a bit more instead of having her go straight for the kill. There was a lot more potential had she stuck around for a while and caused more problems instead of simply disappearing into the night. You can tell the show airs on The CW because adult characters get the shaft so that the pretty young things can take center stage.
- Faye’s storyline consists of taking Melissa (Jessica Parker Kennedy) on a visit to a voodoo shop in an attempt to get their individual powers back. This one was a throwaway, despite introducing Lee LeBeque (Grey Damon) who will clearly stick around for a while. Did Faye honestly expect to get a usable spell from a voodoo store she googled and selected because it is the closest to Chance Harbour? That’s just stupid.
- Oh…and dump Melissa already. Frizzy hair is a waste of space and a narrative vaccuum. Send her to the same boarding school as Juliet from Ringer and Declan from Revenge tout suite!
- How dumb was it of Dawn to immediately petition Charles to kill Kate after the elder threatened her? Just a few scenes before she complained to Charles about the results of killing one elder (her stepfather) and mentally schizo-ing another (Cassie’s grandma, who spends the episode at “a retreat”). I’m unsure if we’re supposed to think that Dawn is a hypocrite, or desperate, but she mostly comes off as a big old impulsive beyotch. Can we have some character consistency, or bring back the devious, manipulative Dawn we saw earlier this season. New Dawn seems DOA.
- Jake returns in the closer, staring in a creepily Twilight-esque fashion at Cassie through the window. With the hoody up, he only remotely looks like a pedophile. Are we excited to have Jake back so soon? Does your answer depend on when he takes off his shirt? (Dirty!)