ABC Family’s The Nine Lives of Chloe King premiered this week. Sort of a cross between Kyle XY, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and literal cats, the titular character (Skyler Samuels, The Gates) discovers she is part of an ancient race that has been hunted down by humans for a very long time. With retractable claws and super agility, the Mai, as they’re called, seem to be part feline. But Chloe has something none of the others do – nine lives, of which one is snuffed out in “Pilot.” Yet, she has eight more, and the other Mai are convinced she is the one who will save their race. Which just makes the anti-Mai guys more determined to murder her eight more times.
Chloe is not pleased with this discovery, and would like to escape her destiny. Who can blame her? The assassin sent to kill her is scary, and even kidnaps her friend Paul (Ki Hong Lee) to lure her into a trap. Luckily, a couple of classmates, Alek (Benjamin Stone) and his cousin Jasmine (Alyssa Diaz, As the World Turns), are also Mai, and are ready to help her. Jasmine even takes a throwing star to the back to protect Chloe. While they only have one life a piece, they are prepared to give it up to help this very special girl.
As the “Pilot” of The Nine Lives of Chloe King progresses, many people around Chloe are surprised by her new, more aggressive personality. It’s too bad the series didn’t give viewers a few minutes of the old Chloe for comparison. By the time the character first shows up on screen, she is already becoming something much more than human. Not there’s anything inherently wrong with that, as it makes for some wicked pacing, but a little exposition would be nice.
Samuels plays Chloe with toughness, enthusiasm, and vulnerability. There is no doubt that the girl can kick butt and do whatever is called on her to do, but it’s also clear she has no desire to get involved. She is not used to getting attention, and certainly does not seek it out. It will be interesting to see how the character grows into the superhero she is sure to be, a la Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) on the aforementioned show, who has to be ready to save the world multiple times. Chloe does not have to fight vampires, and her combat skills are inherited, rather than trained, so she will likely have a more accelerated arc.
Mentioned above is Kyle XY, another ABC Family show. Canceled after only three seasons, and ending with a cliffhanger, The Nine Lives of Chloe King is the closest thing the network has delivered to a replacement. With a female-skewing audience, this one may prove to be more popular than its predecessor since it features a girl, rather than a boy. It’s nice to see the station go back to a more adventurous formula.
Chloe’s understanding of events is complicated by a reticent adopted mother, Meredith (Amy Pietz, The Office, Rodney). Meredith admits that she and Chloe’s adopted father, who has been missing for ten years, bribed officials to get Chloe out of the Ukraine, but gives few other details to her daughter about Chloe’s young life. Meredith also has a box of Chloe’s baby things that she does not tell Chloe about. Did she lie about Chloe being adopted? Or perhaps Meredith knows all about Chloe’s calling, and is assigned to protect her? Either way, wouldn’t it be easier for all involved, and safer for Chloe, to give her as much information as possible?
MIA dad will also be a component of the mystery in The Nine Lives of Chloe King. He breaks a decade long silence in “Pilot” to send Chloe an e-mail warning her not to trust anyone. Does this extend to Meredith? What about Alek and Jasmine? Surely, there will be some unexpected twists and betrayals. And where has he been? Fighting the bad guys who would like to kill Chloe? Or getting ready for whatever is coming?
Being ABC Family, there is some teen romance tossed in for good measure. Chloe’s best friends, Paul and Amy (Grace Phipps), are a couple by mid-episode, leaving Chloe as the third wheel. Which is fine, because Chloe has plenty of other things to worry about. Will their romance make things more dangerous for both of them, being friends of a marked girl, and worrying about each other? Can they find a way to contribute to Chloe’s mission? It’s too early to tell whether they are comic relief or a grounding element, or if they, too, may add something to the fight. If they will be sticking around, hopefully it will be the latter.
Chloe’s own love interests are far more dark. She finds two in “Pilot.” In a very sinsiter turn for the network, Chloe belatedly learns that her kiss can kill a human, and she inadvertently murders the first guy she locks lips with. There’s a second boy, Brian (Grey Damon, Friday Night Lights), who she will have to keep her distance from. Or maybe not. After all, his father (David S. Lee, Blood Diamond, Get Smart) is the one who is trying to kill Chloe, so there is no telling what Brian’s involvement is, or what he might be.
Pretty exciting, mysterious, and action packed for ABC Family! It is not their normal series. Be sure to check out The Nine Lives of Chloe King Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.