The Secret Circle: Bound for Trouble (PHOTO RECAP)

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After last week's super solid introduction to the witches of Chance Harbor, it's totally understandable that this week's episode of The Secret Circle was a bit of a letdown. Call it the Second Episode Curse! See, pilots don't have to do much more than introduce characters and locations and then merely hint at stories to come. But second episodes—often filmed months later—have to actually get down to business. In The Secret Circle's case, Episode 2 included some ret-conning, personality shifts, modified mythology, and new haircuts! These growing pains are similar to what The Vampire Diaries experienced at its inception; let's just hope The Secret Circle can shift into gear faster than TVD did.

If this were any other network show, this week's episode would have been solid to above-average. However, The Secret Circle has the fortune/misfortune of airing after The Vampire Diaries, which had a real stunner of an episode Thursday night. It's probably not fair to continue comparing the two shows—there are certainly already major differences between the two—but The Secret Circle has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to sheer entertainment value. Heck, it doesn't even really seem that amusing to poke fun at it just yet—it's just a baby show!

Luckily there was enough good and/or intriguing stuff happening last night, so allow me to grab a chair, flip it around, and sit on it backwards to rap with y'all.

We began in Cassie's bedroom, where she was checking out the Book of Shadows her mom had left for her (that seems to be the proper terminology, as opposed to TVD's "grimoire").

Nerd alert! It's clear Cassie's mom was totally that girl in high school who was really into Secret of Nimh and played flute in the orchestra. Anyway, even though Cassie was initially, hilariously reluctant to accept her magical background, the temptation proved too much:

In the episode's most intriguing and entertaining subplot, whenever Cassie attempted magic, something random would happen instead. I sort of wish the show had played around with this one some more, but oh well! Naked teens:

Melissa's no longer the mousy sidekick she was in the pilot; now she's the low self-esteem girl who sleeps with '90s hunks in secret.

Aw, poor Melissa! An important new thing this episode did was lay down some relationships (and especially gripes) that the characters have toward each other. Melissa's jilted by Nick who's jilted by Faye. Plus Cassie and Adam's relationship threatens to really piss off Diana. Not to mention all the awful parents. I'm guessing a central thrust of the show will be witches gettin' dramatic with each other, and that's fine with me!

Also suffering in comparison to The Vampire Diaries? These hunks are strugglin'.

Haha accidental magic is the best!

Natasha Henstridge got her blonde hair back, just in time for a visit from crabby old grandpa!

This was a really intriguing subplot, as we learned more about the circumstances of the Incident, including the revelation that the parents' magic was stripped from them by THEIR parents. Disappointingly, this old dude never hooked up with Cassie's grandma during the episode (they must've been in the same circle, right?), but still, this intergenerational witch war sounds pretty great.

Also, the show more or less made clear that the evil parents have conspired to assemble the kids' magic circle so they can then steal their kids' powers? How rude!

Speaking of Vampire Diaries! Chance Harbor High School bears a STRIKING resemblance to the original, Vancouver-based high school of the TVD pilot!

I still can't believe they were trying to pass off Vancouver as the South. Crazy!

A new girl introduced herself to Cassie, but her name may as well have been Collateral Damage. Almost immediately Faye waltzed up and Mean Girled her way into things.

Did I mention that I love Faye? LOVE Faye. Phoebe Tonkin had a slightly tougher time with her American accent this week, but she more than made up for it with sheer charisma. I think I like Faye so much because she's really unpredictable. Like, is she evil? Is she just sort of confused? She's definitely got a great sense of humor. All these contradictions make her one of the more realistic teenage characters on TV.

Natasha Henstridge and the Queer as Folk dude (I'll probably learn their characters' names later) weren't too thrilled about Old Man Hassler walking around town investigating witchcraft.

The SECOND Cassie put on safety goggles, it was obvious things would be exploding. It's like a Checkhov's gun situation. Magic does NOT mix well with science lab, everybody knows this.

I loved how easily Faye talked Melissa into "practicing" during class. Teens, am I right?

Also, it was great how Cassie was SO MAD that Faye used magic on her, so she used it right back:

And Faye was, like, STOKED. Girl loves her some trouble. Anyway, it should go without saying that Cassie RAN out of class. That's kind of her thing.

Adam decided he'd tutor her in the ways of brooding hunky magicks, so he took her to their abandoned shack headquarters on a presumably super expensive piece of shorefront property that nobody cares about or checks up on.

Oh Cassie. It's like she'll never get the hang of it! But you know what she DOES have the hang of? Running out of rooms.

Cassie <3s running out of rooms so much!

The old dude was NOT happy with what he was hearing about all the magic being used, especially when Adam's dad spilled the beans about the Queer as Folk dude trying to kill him.

The main question of the entire episode was whether the six teens would "bind" their powers together in an ancient ritual. Most of them were in favor, as it would allegedly stabilize their gifts and give them more control over them. But Faye was the lone holdout, reasoning that she doesn't want to be subservient to anyone else.

I actually sort of agreed with Faye! Also, it was pretty clear that the evil parents were sort of hoping the kids would bind their powers, so it probably won't lead to anything good.

Oh look what we have here, our first ever town-wide social event!

I loved the scene where Faye and Melissa put their powers to good use by using them to win carnival games. Haha so imaginative!

Whoops, now the old man knew the kids had powers for sure!

Also, this was funny: The witches make their own drugs! I'd love to learn more about this, but we didn't see any real side effects other than Faye sort of acting meaner than usual.

Old Man Busybody ratted out the girls to Faye's mom. She denied knowing anything about them having powers, reminding him that the members of her circle had been stripped of all their powers by his circle. But I was like, wait a minute, the Queer as Folk guy was super powerful last week! You're telling me he doesn't have powers after all? That's how we got to the dumbest element of the show so far: MAGIC CRYSTALS.

So, now we're supposed to believe that the evil dude doesn't actually have powers, he just has some dumb crystal with a little bit of juice left in it. He handed it over to Faye's mom like it wasn't even a big deal. Ugh, fine. Kinda disappointing, but whatever.

I'm not sure I'm super invested in this Cassie-Adam possible romance subplot. I guess it's supposed to be a foregone conclusion that they'll have a legendary romance (the stars have said so!) but he's not very exciting as a character. Nice enough, but kind of a drip. You know? Like, it'll be good drama for Diana's inevitable turn into villain, but I just super don't care about them as a couple.

I'm weirdly way more invested in Melissa's angle—she seems legitimately put-upon but she never says much about it. The actress does a good job of shading in the clinical depression Melissa's probably going through, and I can't wait to see this girl finally getting revenge on folks. That said, right now it is IS pretty disappointing to see the only witch of color having Bonnie levels of low self-esteem. TVD influence strikes again!

Faye was out of her mind at whatever dockside dance they were all attending. She tried to bully Cassie into making magic with her? Good call, Faye! Way to make friends.

I think one of the reasons Faye's so well-drawn is that she tends to regret the horrible stuff she does. It's like in Game of Thrones how all the worst cartoonish villains from the book were made a lot more subtle for the TV show. Hopefully The Secret Circle will continue to walk the line between Faye's bitchiness and her vulnerability. That's interesting to me!

Same thing with Faye's mom—it's hard to pin her down. She's definitely got some dastardly stuff up her sleeve, but she also won't stand by and let innocent people get hurt. It's just good writing! (Sorry for all the compliments, this show is like a new crush I guess?)

HAHA so dumb.

Busted!

So after the dance incident, Cassie reluctantly agreed to the binding ritual, if only so that Faye would stop acting a fool. None of the kids trust each other and the hope is that fewer people will get hurt if they're all in it together. It's a pretty interesting idea for a show, especially now that The Secret Circle is taking pains to showcase what an odd fit the group is. Interpersonal drama is definitely in the cards, so it's intriguing to know their inevitable falling-outs just got so much more complicated! If this show doesn't regularly outdo the climactic witch catfight from The Craft, I'll be sorely disappointed.

Only minutes after saving someone's life, Faye's mom MURDERED a dude. With his death, a lot of questions went unanswered. To which "council" was he going to report her to? (I hadn't even considered that there might be a secret witch government!) Was he correct in his suspicion that SHE was the mastermind behind assembling the teens? Come back, Crabby Old Dude, we need more answers!

There was more of the nonsense about how Cassie and Adam have a special electricity when they're together. That basically just means power lines fall down and whatnot. Too bad they don't have an interesting rapport to go with all those metaphors! Oh well, supernatural omens are just as good sometimes.

And THEN came the final binding ritual!

In probably the most painful reminder yet that this ain't no Vampire Diaries, nothing at all happened! No cliffhangers, no twists, nothing. If this were TVD, upon finishing the spell, somebody's face would have melted off and a team of mercenaries would have burst through the bushes and opened fire on everybody. Seriously, Secret Circle, you need to work on your WTF moments!

Well, at least the main characters are a SECRET CIRCLE now. Pretty glad that's settled.

All in all, a solid, if slightly disappointing episode. I'm still gonna tune in next week. Will you?

 

QUESTIONS:
... Are you satisfied with the guy characters on this show?
... Do you wish the magic were more special?
... What do the parents WANT, anyway?
... Do you sorta miss Melissa's perm?