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TV Review: The Secret Circle – “Wake”

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The CW’s The Secret Circle meets its newest member this week in “Wake.” The town mourns the death of Nick (Louis Hunter), especially Melissa (Jessica Parker Kennedy), who is in love with him. Nick’s older brother Jake (Chris Zylka, 10 Things I Hate About You) arrives, and Faye (Phoebe Tonkin), whose heart Jake broke, and Adam (Thomas Dekker), whose family Jake stole from, are not happy to see him. But Cassie (Britt Robertson) sure is when an evil witch hunter shows up, and Jake saves her. The circle knows that Jake can take Nick’s place in their group, but they are unaware that he has come to town for a darker reason.

It’s a bold move for a freshman series to kill off a central member of the cast in episode five, completely unexpected, even if he is quickly replaced. This alone buys The Secret Circle some respect. Too bad the actor coming in to replace the offed one seems stiff, more a pretty face than a good addition, acting-wise. Looks can be deceiving, and Jake has a fine story set up, having to choose between his destiny and the witch hunters he is working for. It will remain to be seen if Zylka is up to the challenge.

Jake’s arrival serves an important purpose in that it will remind Cassie, who is already beginning to act like a leader, that she doesn’t know everything. The other characters have history in the town, and much happens prior to Cassie’s arrival that they have trouble forgiving and forgetting. Even Jane (Ashley Crow) isn’t all that happy to see Jake. Cassie is exuding the confidence that she’s well-informed enough to make major decisions, but without being clued in on a lot of back story, she is in the dark more than the others, and more than she seems aware of being. Cassie doesn’t realize this in “Wake,” but her quick ability to trust Jake, whom the others are wary of, and whom they have good reason to be so, will likely come back to bite her.

But will Jake ultimately prove to be an enemy? Despite Faye and Adam’s reservations, it’s clear that Jake is already growing a bit fond of Cassie. He comes to town with a purpose, but after seeing everyone, including his new neighbor, it may be that his purpose will change. After all, he kills the woman that attacks Cassie. This isn’t presented as an accident, and while it may help him maintain cover, that probably isn’t all that it does. How soon before Jake lets the others in on the threat that they face? The quicker, the better, as there is a whole group of baddies lurking nearby, led by Isaac (JR Bourne, Teen Wolf).

Given that The Secret Circle is a CW series, Jake’s presence in and after “Wake” will also serve to shake up the romantic chemistry, as that is as much a focus of shows on the network as the action plots. Obviously, Faye still harbors something for Jake, even if it has turned to hate. Also, as mentioned before, Jake is taking a shine to Cassie. This complicates matters, in that Diana (Shelley Henning) breaks up with Adam so that he can fulfill his destiny and be with Cassie. So all of a sudden, the central character will have two guys who want to be with her, and are available to do so.

The whole “destiny” thing between Cassie and Adam is weird. It’s odd that Diana steps aside so readily, when Adam stays loyal, despite simmering feelings. Perhaps she is trying to be noble, but that isn’t how it comes across. Also, considering that Adam’s father, Ethan (Adam Harrington), harbors similar feelings for Cassie’s departed mother, how is that right? Cassie and Adam would be siblings if the older pair worked out! Or is the blood fate just transferred to the next generation if the previous one doesn’t fulfill it? How does one determine which generation the fate is supposed to happen in? Do different age groups have different attractions to different families? If this continues among the circle, wouldn’t this lead to much inbreeding? After all, it’s only six families involved. Luckily, they all seem to always have kids about the same age. How has this chain not been broken over time?

It’s great that The Secret Circle brings Cassie’s grandma, Jane, in on the main action so soon, instead of leaving her in the dark for years, as so many similar series would do, and have done before. Jane is a great asset to the group, providing wisdom and power far beyond what the kids can muster at this time. Even though she doesn’t have a circle to back her up, at least not one that seems to be around, she is a valuable asset. But she’s also a protection for them, so it wouldn’t be surprising if she doesn’t live past the first season or two. They need to stand on their own, and can’t always have grandma fighting their battles for them.

What’s the deal with the crystals? Apparently, they allow a witch to have power individually, instead of needing another member of their circle to be with them. Who created them, and how do they work? It’s a convenience that pops up without a lot of explanation. So if each family has one, and Jake likely is holding onto his, given his knowledge of his power and how to use it, as well as the fact that he’s been alone, where are the others? When the elders break up the previous circle, they must have confiscated some of them. Whose does Dawn (Natasha Henstridge) possess? Where did she get it? Does it need a circle to recharge, and that’s why hers runs down? Lots of questions about this, that hopefully will get answered instead of glossed over.

Does Dawn really have Jane fooled? Jane is pretty darn wise, and Dawn has been acting suspiciously, a fact that has not gone unnoticed. Dawn’s plans to use the kids to get her own power back sort of her make her a villain, even if she does do things to protect them. Dawn’s alliance with Jane is barely that, as the two women don’t have any particularly warm connection with each other, and it’s doubtful there is much trust between them. Jane may feel like she has no one else to ask for help, since the magic needs to stay a secret as much as possible. But Dawn won’t be much help in any regard, unless their priorities happen to align in that moment. Or maybe she is just testing Dawn to see how Dawn reacts when she brings up the kids’ magic.

Nick’s death affects the kids in different ways, but it really does a number on Charles (Gale Howard). Having to live with the guilt of murdering a teenager, even if it is done to kill a demon dwelling inside, haunts Charles. Unlike Dawn, who is able to bounce back just fine, keeping her focus on their mission, whatever it may be, Charles seems distant and out of it. He did not sign up for hurting anyone, especially not someone in town, and so young. Taking out Nick, no matter how good the reason, changes the way he thinks about the magic. He is probably a lot less likely to pursue getting his powers back now that he remembers what those powers can cost, a fact forgotten over the years since the last disaster. Jane may want to start looking for a new sidekick.

The Secret Circle is just getting started. Watch it Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on the CW.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
  • rose

    The name of the actor who plays Charles Meade is GALE HAROLD not Howard. It´s very easy to know it, only you have to read the credits.

    Could you be so kind and correct the error? Thank you in advance

  • http://jeromewetzeltv.blogspot.com/ Jerome Wetzel

    Rose – No need to be snippy. I keep imdb open when I write, and must have read or typed it wrong while writing. Strangely, when I google the actors names, this usually corrects any such mistake, but while googling Gale Howard does bring up results for Gale Harold, google does not say “Did you mean Gale Harold?” as it usually does when I type in the wrong name. It is my error, and my regular safeguard did not catch it. I apologize for the mistake. I am not able to edit these articles, but will correct it on my blog. Thank you for catching it.

  • rose

    I don´t think I was snippy. If you have found it so I apologize. English isn´t my native language and maybe I haven´t known how to express myself. The confusion with the name of Gale Harold is a long time ago and it seems strange that after all this time, continue to occur. I think it’s a fair request to hope that an actor would be known by its proper name, don´t you think?

    Thank you for correct it anyway