‘The Secret Circle’ debuted this fall on the CW. Set in Chance Harbor, Washington, the show centers on Cassie Blake, a girl who comes to town after the death of her mother Amelia. Unknown to Cassie was her true heritage; she is descended from a long line of witches. Chance Harbor has a long history of witchcraft. Being in Chance Harbor and around other witches triggers Cassie’s natural magical abilities.

Chance Harbor is home to six main magical families, and Cassie’s arrival makes the powers of the other five witches increase in strength and become unpredictable. The five tell Cassie who and what she is. The five and Cassie debate about whether to form a circle or not; forming a circle will bind the six together and help them control their powers. Cassie is reluctant, but after an incident in chemistry class and an accident involving a fellow high school classmate, Cassie agrees. The six form a circle in secret; they have to practice witchcraft in secret because witchcraft has been banned in Chance Harbor for sixteen years after a devastating fire killed many of their parents.

Binding the circle did not solve all of their problems. The circle has had to fight demons and witch hunters. Also, two of their parents, Dawn Chamberlain and Charles Meade, plan to use the circle to achieve their own goals. Because of the fire sixteen years ago, they were stripped of their powers, and they want them back. How the circle plays into their plans is not clear yet, and the duo is a threat to the circle because they know about the circle, but the circle does not know about them.

Another threat to the circle comes from within. Cassie recently discovered that her father, John Blackwell, was a wielder of dark magic, and Cassie has inherited dark magic from her father’s bloodline, the Balcoin family. The dark magic inside her allows her to perform magic on her own; normally witches bound by a circle can only perform magic when there are at least two members together. Now that she knows about her heritage, will Cassie be able to resist using her dark powers? Complicating matters even more is the revelation that there is another Blackwell in the circle. Cassie has a half-sibling she does not know about, and the person who is her half-sibling does not know John Blackwell is her or his father.

Because many characters are involved, here is a list of who’s who and what has happened to them so far:

Cassie Blake (Britt Robertson) – Her mother Amelia Blake left town shortly after the fire that killed her father and raised Cassie without telling her about her magical heritage. After her mother’s death, Cassie found her mother’s Book of Shadows and a letter from her mother telling her that people are going to want her power. Cassie is trusting and wants to see the good in people. Because it was just her and her mom, Cassie has a difficult time making friends and can be socially awkward at times. She has been accused of being a boyfriend stealer because of her instant connection to Adam, Diana’s now ex-boyfriend, and her attraction to Jake, Faye’s ex-boyfriend. She now lives with her grandmother Jane Blake.

Jane Blake (Ashley Crow) – Jane is a nurse and a witch. After the fire, her circle either stripped Amelia’s circle of their powers or reported the incident to the Elders and let the Elders strip their powers. Jane’s circle is either broken or faded over time. Recently, Jane gave Cassie the Blake family crystal after Cassie confessed the truth because her circle needed help fighting a demon. The crystal allows a witch to perform magic on her own and stores magic which can be tapped into by those without powers. Currently, Jane is under the influence of a memory spell cast by Charles Meade. Charles wanted her to forget about seeing Henry Chamberlain’s dead body, but Jane is getting migraines and forgetting other things as well, so the spell is causing Jane harm, which was not Charles’s intent.

Diana Meade (Shelley Hennig) – Diana is Charles Meade’s daughter; her mother died in the fire. She was the first to find a Book of Shadows, the book that is passed from generation to generation and is a record of a witch’s spells and experiences. After finding her mother’s Book of Shadows, she became the leader of the group. Diana tends to be rational and thoughtful. She convinced Cassie to bind the circle, and without her knowledge, the ritual would not have been performed correctly. However, with Cassie’s growing powers and everyone knowing Cassie has a Book of Shadows too, Diana’s role has diminished to make room for Cassie. Before Cassie arrived, Diana was in a solid relationship with Adam Conant, but Adam and Cassie have a connection. Tired of their lingering looks and fueled by comments made by Adam’s father, Diana broke up with Adam.

Charles Meade (Gale Harold) – Charles is Diana’s father. Evidence suggests that he allowed Diana to find her mother’s Book of Shadows in order to get the circled formed. Charles was part of the circle whose powers got stripped, and he would like his powers back. He has teamed with Dawn Chamberlain to find the crystals and use the current circle to achieve his goal. He murdered Amelia Blake by magically burning down the house, so Cassie thinks her mother’s death was a tragic accident, not a murder. He helped Dawn cover up her murder of Henry Chamberlain, and he killed Nick Armstrong because Dawn convinced him Nick was possessed by a demon and drowning is one of the ways to kill a demon. Nick was possessed by a demon, but the demon could have left Nick’s body before Charles held him down in the water. Charles is not proud of killing Nick; killing adults, fine, but not kids (at least he has standards). His regret has fueled a renewed confidence. After getting the Chamberlain family crystal, he refuses to give the crystal to Dawn, telling her that they will use the crystal the way he thinks it should be used. Charles is concerned about what his spell could be doing to Jane Blake.

Dawn Chamberlain (Natasha Henstridge) – Dawn is Faye’s mother and principal of the local high school. She had Charles Meade kill Amelia Blake to make Cassie live with her grandmother. Dawn knew that Cassie’s presence would trigger the need for the circle to form. With the teens binding their powers, Dawn’s plan of getting her powers back could be achieved. It seems getting her powers back is not all she wants, but the rest of her plans have not been revealed. Dawn and Charles want to find the rest of the crystals; they have used one up, and Charles is in possession of the Chamberlain family crystal. Since they do not have powers, Charles and Dawn must tap into a crystal’s magic, but a crystal can only store a limited amount of magic. She has wanted power even when she was a teen; she had a thing for John Blackwell, and she summoned a demon. Dawn’s ruthless ambition has caused three deaths (Amelia, Henry, and Nick), and her determination will likely cause more pain and death in the future.

Faye Chamberlain (Phoebe Tonkin) – Faye is Dawn’s daughter; her father died in the fire. Faye is impulsive and is not thrilled being bound by the circle; she wants her independence so she can perform magic on her own. Although she has a tough exterior, Faye cares for her friends, especially her best friend Melissa. Faye and Cassie aren’t friends, but they’re not enemies either. Cassie and Faye have teamed up, but Faye does not appreciate Cassie’s attraction to her ex-boyfriend Jake Armstrong. She is still grieving over the loss of her grandfather, Henry Chamberlain (her father’s father). With Cassie’s help, she discovered her grandfather’s body in the lake. Because of her impulsive, independent nature and of her mother’s fascination with John Blackwell, Faye is the obvious candidate for being the other Blackwell. However, the obvious is not always fact.

Adam Conant (Thomas Dekker) – When we first meet Adam, he is in a relationship with Diana, but his connection with Cassie is apparent. They bonded quickly when Adam taught Cassie about magic. Their flirtation is sweet, and they have only almost kissed. Adam’s father Ethan has a drinking problem, either from losing Adam’s mom in the fire or because he lost Amelia to John Blackwell. Adam is angry at his father for telling Diana that he and Cassie are fated to be together. After Diana broke up with him, he has tried to win her back, but she has made it clear that she wants to be apart for a while. The sweet and kind Adam we first met has gotten darker after losing Diana; Adam has become clingy and a bit possessive of Diana. If he doesn’t get a grip soon, he risks losing her for good.

Ethan Conant (Adam Harrington) – The owner of The Boathouse Grill has a drinking problem, which is why his son Adam does most of the work at the Grill. He talks more about Amelia Blake than Adam’s mother; he believes that he was supposed to be with Amelia and would have been if John Blackwell hadn’t come to town. He also believes that Adam and Cassie are destined to be together, going so far as to tell Diana that it is written in the stars for Adam to be with Cassie.

Melissa Glaser (Jessica Parker Kennedy) – Melissa is mourning the death of her boyfriend Nick Armstrong, and she is Faye’s best friend. It is not clear which of her parents died in the fire; she has mentioned both her mother and her father, so one must be a step-parent. Melissa was possessed by a demon for a short time; the demon left her body and possessed Nick.

Nick Armstrong (Louis Hunter) – Both of his parents died in the fire. Nick started as a jerk, but he came to care about Melissa. He was possessed by the demon Dawn Chamberlain summoned sixteen years ago. While possessed, he went to Dawn; it is possible that the demon left Nick and entered Dawn. Charles Meade killed Nick because Dawn convinced him Nick was possessed by a demon.

Jake Armstrong (Chris Zylka) – Jake came to town after his younger brother’s death. Jake and Nick were not close. Jake left town two years ago without saying why. He broke Faye’s heart, and he stole from Ethan Conant before he left. During his absence, he was found by a group of witch hunters. He joined the witch hunters because witchcraft is responsible for the death of his parents. He killed Calvin Wilson because the witch knew Jake was a witch hunter. Although he is a witch hunter, he has grown to care for Cassie. He was last seen leaving by boat with the witch hunters. He is aware that there is another Blackwell in the circle.

Isaac (JR Bourne) – Isaac is the leader of a group of witch hunters. He is not the leader of all of the witch hunters; he does have to report to a council. He agreed to have Jake become a witch hunter so they can fight and kill witches by using one of their own—fighting fire with fire. Isaac was last seen on the boat leaving Chance Harbor with Jake.

The first part of ‘The Secret Circle’ established a world full of magic, suspense, and thrills with a rich backstory. There is an intergenerational witchy war brewing between three generations. Cassie will have to fight external and internal dark forces. The circle has faced demon possession, witch hunters, and a loss of their own. Sometimes they might not like each other much, but they have learned that they are stronger as a united circle.

‘The Secret Circle’ airs on the CW after ‘The Vampire Diaries.’ ‘The Secret Circle’ returns Thursday, January 5.