'The Secret Circle' E.P. talks fan interaction, dark magic, and romantic entanglements

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secret-circle-poster-coven-.jpgIf you're missing "The Secret Circle," don't worry -- you're not alone. Even executive producer Andrew Miller is counting down the minutes to the January 5 mid-season premiere. We caught up with him for a bit of a check-in now that the freshman series has found its footing, and he admitted that the hiatus is getting under his skin a bit.

"It's so weird!" he laughs. "We're used to seeing a response from the audience so quickly, and being able to read Price Peterson's recaps."

Miller is, of course, referring to the laugh-out-loud funny recaps that Peterson does for TV.com ( they're so good, you guys). But you don't have to be a big-time internet celebrity like Peterson to catch the attention of "The Secret Circle" writers -- they're always checking what fans are saying on twitter, on forums, and in their elaborate fan videos.

"We're so excited for the show to come back, because as we keep making the episodes and writing the episodes, it's been a little frustrating, not having the instant gratification of going online and reading what people are saying. We like all the fan response that we get; we're very appreciative of the fans. The interactive nature of TV makes it more fun."

Working on a supernatural teen drama on The CW, particularly one with a built-in book fanbase and an undeniable link to "The Vampire Diaries," Miller expected a certain level of fan enthusiasm in social media spheres -- but that's not to say that the level of dedication hasn't surprised him, particularly when it comes to a few unexpected fan favorites.

"The reaction to Gale Harold wasn't entirely surprising to me because we all think he's incredibly great and very sexy, but just how strong and vocal his fan base is was a pleasant surprise. The most surprising aspect of the fan reaction is definitely the Fayana movement," Miller says, referring, of course, to the fans who want to see Faye ( Phoebe Tonkin) and Diana ( Shelley Hennig) on screen, together, all the time, whether platonically, romantically, or in rivalry. "I can't believe creativity that goes into it. We spend inordinate amounts of time poring through the videos. I never cease to be amazed by how creative people can be with limited amounts of footage."

Yes, Fayana fans -- the girls' friendship will continue to grow more complicated as the season progresses, though not necessarily in the ways you might be hoping for. Where the roles in the circle were defined before Cassie ( Britt Robertson) showed up, now that she's exploring her ability to perform magic outside the circle -- she's throwing a wrench in the mix.

"Cassie's quest to understand dark magic will pit members of the Circle on different sides of that issue," Miller teases. "Some people in the circle feel they're more deserving of these dark gifts than Cassie."

Enter Grey Damon, the "Friday Night Lights" hottie who will show up in the Jan. 5 episode as Lee Labeque, a mysterious grifter who dabbles in dark magic... and who has the means to give certain members of the Circle help in certain arenas. (Vague, much?) "We're not really bringing him in to be a love interest," Miller says. "He's got some danger to him. He's coming in from a place outside the Circle, but he has his own links in the supernatural world. The ability to give certain people the kind of things they want that they've been unable to achieve on their own."

We're particularly interested to see where Melissa ( Jessica Parker Kennedy) fits in to all this. Melissa has been a very peripheral character since Nick was drowned (R.I.P.), but we've got our fingers crossed for lots more from her in the second half of the season, because she's a fantastic actress.

Miller promises Melissa will get her moment to shine... though it might not be a particularly pleasant moment. "There's no one more fun to throw bad news at then Jessica Parker Kennedy," Miller jokes. "It's just gripping to watch, so obviously, we're finding ways to make her life worse with every episode. We've got an episode coming up where she tries to be happy and go to a dance, and then we just throw her in a sh**hole again. She can take anything. There's a really cool storyline for her that starts emerging that of course I won't tell you anything about."

And then, of course, there is Adam ( Thomas Dekker), the man of the house (and the Circle) until Jake ( Chris Zylka) returns. "The first part of the season, Adam's story was really about his various romantic entanglements," says Miller. In the first episode back, Cassie shares her secret with Adam, though she doesn't feel comfortable sharing it with the rest of the gang. "Diana has pushed away from him now because of that whole 'written in the stars' thing with Cassie, and now that writing in the stars is becoming even brighter. Without Diana, Adam is really going to have to reconcile his feelings for Cassie. He's going to have to man up."

Now that Zylka has been (deservedly) upgraded to series regular status on the show, we can look forward to seeing the emotional fall-out of his witch hunter reveal very shortly after the series returns. He'll be deeply involved in Cassie's storyline as she explores the darkness within her -- and trust us, it gets dark.

"She goes very far [into the dark side]," Miller tells us. "What's fun about the transition is that Jake comes in with vengeance on his mind and the idea that Chris Zylka as an actor helped us cultivate was -- well, how angry can you really be when you're looking into Britt Robertson's sweet eyes? She broke him down. Then in Episode 10, she goes to a darkness that is so powerful and exciting. You've never seen britt like this, not on our show, certainly not on 'Life Unexpected.' Britt's at a point in her life where she's really ready to break down walls and expand as an actress. The first episode coming back is really a showcase of what she can do."

Tune in on Thursday, January 5 at 9 p.m. for what we're hearing is (yet again) the best episode we've seen so far. (They just keep doing that to us!)

Photo/Video credit: The CW