I have a hard time investing in network TV primarily for two reasons. One is cancellations, which are tough when you make the time to invest in a show that seems great, might only be good, but you stick it out until sometimes in May when the studios decide good isn’t good enough.
The other reason is inconsistency. I’ll get in the groove of new episodes when all of a sudden, a slew of repeats come back to back to back. By the time we get back to the new episodes, I’m lost, or bored, or both, which is what happened with The Secret Circle. That and the unreliability of my DVR which decided to record a rerun of America’s Next Top Model in its place, a show I’ve never had any desire to watch.
I’m not heartbroken about this cancellation, or even the blip in the viewing schedule. This show, attempting to build on The Vampire Diaries success, just couldn’t cut it. Witches just aren’t inherently sexy the way the undead are, and adding the teen angst without a Hogwarts setting just felt rote and overly sexualized…I might be a fuddy duddy but I really hope 16 year olds aren’t sexifying like they do on this show (good grief).
It was hard to buy certain things too, such as Cassie being dark with her kewpie face, and trying to form a triangle within the Circle of Cassie, Adam and Jake. People and plotlines sometimes disappeared (for example, Cassie’s mother) to have those absences/holes explained away when convenient. Melissa was underused, as a good actress with very minimal to do but be something of a 5th wheel. And the motives of the adults on the show were as immature as their teenaged children.
Despite all this, I resolved to give the show its due and caught up on the last seven episodes.
So what happened to this Circle of Witches? In “Lucky” we confirm that Ethan did sell out his Circle to the witch hunters, but he didn’t think they’d all get killed. Adam and Cassie finally consummate their relationship, but their forbidden love isn’t such a great thing – it’s a curse too and might have been part of the reason why Ethan and Amelia never really got together either, destiny be damned. Diana meets an Australian dude named Grant who seems well to do and she is pretty forward with him, though it’s just smooching and not much else. Cassie’s still convinced that she can handle her dark side, no matter what Blackwell says, and Ethan gets a first-hand glimpse of what she’s capable of. Also, Dawn finds out Blackwell’s in town but he’s pretty upset when they do meet, as she wants to encourage bad things, and he’s done with dabbling in the dark. Blackwell’s also trying to locate something called the Sway, which apparently saps a witch of their powers and gives it to anyone, including non-witches. That was the upper hand that the witch hunters had on the boathouse. And Faye runs into Eva, Lee’s no longer comatose girlfriend, who’s gone crazy but also full of power from Lee trying to fix her with the voodoo doll with Faye. And I’m pretty sure Lee is now dead (but you never know when it comes to magic).
Blackwell may not do the dark (magic) but he is definitely still capable of manipulation and lying, since he spends most of the next episode, “Curse”, convincing everyone (and using people to convince everyone) that Adam and Cassie staying together means cursing the Circle. He even manages to hurt Jake in the process, until both Adam and Cassie give in to giving up their love by erasing it in the form of an elixlir (except dark magic apparently makes Cassie impervious to it and she still remembers and feels love for Adam). His motive seems to be to insure this Circle stays solid, or maybe he just doesn’t want his little girl having sex.
Everyone is taken in by Blackwell, except for Charles, who goes to Jane, Cassie’s grandmother and takes back the memory spell and asks for her hand in ending Blackwell and Dawn, who still wants allegiance with Blackwell, but there doesn’t seem to be any love lost (or lust?) between them anymore. Also, Lee is definitely dead, Eva is still nuts but Faye gets her power back, and Melissa might be the other Blackwell kid, which would be creepy if she is indeed crushing on him as her moony eyes sometimes lead to believe. One more thing: now everyone knows that Jake killed Calvin, the apothecary guy from the “Masked” episode earlier in the season.
I’m not entirely sure what the “Sacrifice” of the next episode is: I would have figured the “Curse” episode of Adam and Cassie putting the kibosh on their love would be the biggest sacrifice, but it’s what the creators decided should be this episode’s name. Ok, so is it that Diana sacrifices when she learns that Grant is a liar and not a boat owner (but forgives him because he must be a helluva kisser)? Or is the sacrifice that Cassie has to pine for Adam, still cognizant of their love while he isn’t? Is it killing Samuel and letting Eben (not Evan, as previously named by me) get imbibed by demons? I don’t know. All I do know is that each of the Circle families has a crystal, and getting all of them together will rid them of the witch hunters for good.
“Crystal” finally reveals who the other Blackwell daughter is: no, not Faye or Melissa, so, by process of elimination, Diana! This episode is a quest for finding the crystals, and also about Charles and Jane working together to bring down Blackwell, which fails when Jane realizes that Blackwell didn’t kill Amelia (Charles needs to improve his poker face). In the end, Jane is killed or “sent to hell” and Blackwell spares Charles because he’ll (supposedly) come in handy later. Cassie is the one who pieces together who her sister is, and tells her so, even though Dian’s decided she wants to break from the Circle and live a normal life, having caught a glimpse of what that is with Grant (though, I have to say, I’m wondering what mystical part he plays in this, eventually – he can’t just be “normal”, right?) I’m a little bummed Faye isn’t a Blackwell, but she’s dark on her own, in her snarky fun way, so I guess being a Blackwell daughter could also make you a little lame, and I’d hate for Faye to be that. I’m also a little amused by Diana being a Blackwell, because she’s such a structured girl, and dark magic, as it denotes, is about tapping into darkness. Though she occasionally breaks out of her rigid self to kiss a random guy or break a small rule, Diana isn’t the type that would allow herself to able in the darkness the way Cassie does.
Nick is alive! And back! And still a better actor than big brother Jake (even though he’s shrouded and revealed for 2 seconds, still better)! He’s also the “Traitor” of this episode’s title, being the one that’s been helping the witch hunters. Cassie grapples with the fact that Diana is her sister (as does Diana) while also mourning her grandmother’s death. She and Adam kiss, but it doesn’t reignite the spark. Faye and Jake reconcile (somewhat) with heavy making out. Charles instigates a public fight with Blackwell to ensure that if something happens to him, Blackwell is the head of the suspect list (go Charles, always thinking of his self-preservation).
Maybe it was to capitalize on the success of The Walking Dead, Nick’s something of a zombie (note the greenish skin) in the penultimate episode “Prom”. Melissa’s the only one excited to see him and (potentially) rekindle the love that got cut too soon, but he doesn’t last as he dies once again, and Melissa is the one forced to kill him. I most appreciated the 90’s flashback where Diana and Cassie can go back in time to see their parents and the glory of the clothes back then – hey, I’m a Class of ’91’er and I looked cool. Back then, however, I was not involved in some weird plot ala Blackwell to get impregnated at 16 (thankfully) though all the girls in the Secret Circle 1990’s version were. (I remember my sex ed class was pretty weak then, but still…). Charles has an emotional breakdown, finally admitting killing Amelia to Diana, of all people, who is still absorbing that the guy she called “Dad” for sixteen years isn’t really. The episode ends with Faye getting kidnapped, which bothers me since she isn’t the damsel-in-distress type, although that’s exactly what she is. And to save her the others need to build a crystal skull, which is cooler than the last Indiana Jones movie was.
Everything comes to a head in the season/series finale “Family”. The cool things about creating the crystal is that it unbinds their circle and restores everyone’s individual powers (which, if Faye had been there for Blackwell’s speech she would have high –fived him for). Blackwell has his daughters come with him while the rest of the group go to rescue Faye (even though she supposedly can’t be rescued without the help of the skull). Cassie is all about the skull when it forms, cradling it like a lover, which was creepy. Jake, Faye and Melissa get captured and put to fire like Blackwell was, but thankfully Dawn and Charles have been imbibed with his mother’s magic so they can save them. And though Jake gets justice by killed Ebe, because Charles has absorbed the demons that were in Eben, he jumped in the ocean to drown himself. We finally learn more of Blackwell’s true motives for everything he’s been doing since even before that fire 16 years ago: he’s actually his own witch hunter. He wants the Balcoin (Blackwell) name to rule them all, and he’ll kill everyone else in the process, including his daughters.
Wow, World’s Worst Dad. Of course, he confesses this to his daughters, taking from the handbook of Evil Guys Who Reveal Their Evil Plan to the Very People Who Will Destroy Him. While everyone else starts to burn from the skull’s powers, Cassie tries to kill Diana (huh?) to unleash her dark side (oh, ok…). It works, and together they bring Daddy down; i.e., kill him. This is after he’s already told them that in his quest for a Circle of pure Balcoin blood, he has four other sires running around, which propels Cassie to implore the others to rebind the Circle, but Diana won’t do it – she wants a normal life with Grant in Australia. So the season ends with Diane leaving, Faye and Melissa celebrating their solo powers back, Jake receiving a cryptic note about other Circles forming along with some ancient vial of some kind, Charles potentially alive but catatonic, being taken care of by his mother, Adam tasked with getting rid of the Crystal Skull, embracing it instead with the same googly eyes Cassie gave it, and Diana and Cassie having the Balcoin symbol burned on their palms. Oh, and a group of four looking over Chance Harbor, the same symbols on their hands. Looks like a family reunion would’ve been in store of Season 2.
As mentioned, I’m not necessarily sorry to see the show go. It was a little too teeny-boppy in some ways and overly adult (i.e. the sex) in others. I appreciated that they did close one major arc this season, with Cassie getting answers about her lineage, even though she ends up without any family known to her except for Diana, who does leave. We met Blackwell and he really was evil, part of that badness stemming from how manipulative he could be. But no one – with the exception of Charles, in a literal last ditch effort – really “grew up” in this season. They learned a lot, they had to deal with a lot, there were minor changes, but it looks like they are still going through the growing pains of consequences of everything that happened the moment they bound the Circle. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that – one of the perks of television shows is that characters benefit from the lengthy arc of development over episodes instead of hours. But I think the show didn’t quite know what to do except try to replicate the success of the Vampire Diaries without just capitalizing on its own voice. Ultimately, the Secret Circle became broken, in more ways than one.