On a dark road, a car swerves, a tire has a blowout, and the driver, Cassie Blake, pulls over. The car that cut her off waits for her. For a moment, I hold my breath. Is he going to help her or attack her? He does neither. She starts changing her tire, and he speeds away. Cassie calls her mom. Outside of their home, the offending car sits. A man gets out, pulls out matches, lights one, and drops it. Inside, a fire starts in the kitchen, and Cassie’s mom, Amelia, tries to put it out, but the man outside keeps striking matches. Flames consume the house and Amelia’s life. This tragedy begins CW’s new show, ‘The Secret Circle‘, a supernatural drama about Cassie’s journey on a new magical path.
Nine months later, Cassie, 16, moves to her mother’s hometown of Chance Harbor, Washington, a small seaside town, to live with her grandmother, Jane Blake. Cassie is not close with her grandmother; this is the first time she’s been to her mother’s childhood home. Cassie’s father died shortly after she was born, so her mom moved them away. The adults see Amelia in Cassie since they knew her mother, especially Ethan Conant, a man who claims Amelia was meant for him. Many seem sad to hear about Amelia’s accident, but a few kids at school are excited Cassie is in town.
After school, many hang out at The Boathouse, which is owned by Ethan. Faye Chamberlain shows a lot of interest in Cassie, but Cassie’s not amused by Faye’s taunts. Outside of The Boathouse, Cassie can’t start her car. Inside, Faye tells her friend Melissa that Cassie needs a “nudge,” so she magically sets Cassie’s car on fire. Faye wants Cassie to realize who she is, a witch. However, Cassie panics, and Adam, Ethan’s son, saves her by staring at the fire; he has the gift as well. Cassie’s confused. At first Cassie’s new friend, Diana Meade, wants to keep everything a secret, but changes her mind and takes Cassie to an abandoned house in the woods. Also at the house are Adam, Melissa, Faye, and Nick Armstrong, Cassie’s neighbor. They tell her that they are witches, that their parents were witches, and that she’s a witch too. Diana wants Cassie to perform a binding ritual since the circle is complete—six children, one from each of the six families. Cassie runs away; Adam finds her and shows her what she can do. He places a leaf in her hand, he puts his hand under hers, and they chant. They make magic together by making water drops suspend in the air. The special effects are seamless and not overdone, and the cinematography creates a glowing, touching moment. Perhaps Ethan was right; maybe their families are destined to be together. The chemistry between Adam and Cassie ignites the screen, and since the two almost kiss, a love triangle between Cassie, Adam, and Diana, Adam’s girlfriend, would be believable. Frightened, Cassie breaks the spell and flees.
Although the six think they are a secret circle, they’re not. Jane suspects that the children might be practicing even though witchcraft’s been forbidden for sixteen years, but Dawn Chamberlain convinces Jane that they’ve been successful in keeping the past a secret. Later, Charles Meade, Diana’s father, meets Dawn at her home. Dawn is pleased that Charles, the man who murdered Amelia, was able to motivate Ethan to stay quiet (Charles does this by magically filling Ethan’s lungs with water, almost drowning him). They have plans for the circle and for Cassie. Evidence suggests that their plans are connected to the incident that happened sixteen years ago and why each member of the secret circle has lost a parent.
Back at home, Cassie, who sleeps in her Mom’s old room, finds her mother’s book. Each family has a book containing the family’s history and spells. In the book is a letter to Cassie from Amelia. Her mother has feared this moment; she wanted to protect her daughter, which is why she kept the truth a secret. She warns Cassie that people will be after her power. Cassie’s choices are going to be the heart of ‘The Secret Circle‘. Cassie says she doesn’t want to be a witch, but will she be able to resist the circle? If she becomes a witch, will she use the magic for good, as Diana wants to, or will she become more like Faye, who is impulsive, but not necessarily evil? It will be interesting to watch Britt Robertson develop Cassie as the character is faced with these choices. Robertson gives a grounded performance in the pilot, hinting that it might not be that easy for the circle to win her over. The pilot wove acting, writing, tone and pace together very well, casting a spell I hope remains for the rest of the season.