Introduction to ABC Family’s The Nine Lives of Chloe King

The Nine Lives of Chloe King premiered June 14 on ABC Family. Based on the book series by Liz Braswell, who formerly wrote as Celia Thomson, this show stars Skyler Samuels as a girl who suddenly finds herself living a very different life than she ever could have imagined. Just before she turns sixteen, she discovers that she can do things she couldn’t do before, and she’s stunned when she finds out the reason.

Who is Chloe King?
Chloe King is a cat–sort of. At first, she seems like a typical American teenager living in San Francisco, where she attends high school and hangs out with her friends, Amy (Grace Phipps) and Paul (Ki Hong Lee). Then, something happens. The day before she turns sixteen, she wakes up with some new traits and abilities that are very catlike.

Before long, Chloe learns that she’s a member of an ancient race known as the Mai. She also finds out she’s not the only Mai in the area; there are two more in her school: Alek (Benjamin Stone) and Jasmine (Alyssa Diaz). Although Alek and Jasmine say they’re cousins, we don’t know whether that’s true. They out themselves as Mai when they try to protect Chloe, but then they learn that she’s the one who will ultimately save them.

The Rogue
As if it weren’t enough to know that she’s not human, Chloe realizes that someone is trying to kill her. Assassins known as The Order have hunted Mai for millennia, and now that Chloe is transforming, she’s their newest target. It gets even worse: her would-be assassin (Kiko Ellsworth) is intent on killing her nine times–which is what it would take for it to stick–because she’s special among the Mai. As the Uniter, she’s destined to unite her people if she doesn’t use up her nine lives first. One of them is already gone; she died when the assassin, who is known as The Rogue, pushed her off the Coit Tower.

The Cat Connection
So, what can Chloe do that makes her seem like a cat? For starters, she has terrific balance, feline reflexes, and phenomenal hearing. Besides those and a few other traits, she has two that are real doozies: retractable claws and nine lives.

This makes perfect sense, considering the fact that the Mai are the offspring of the Egyptian goddess Bastet or Bast, known as the cat goddess. The Mai are neither completely human nor completely god.

Amy and Paul have witnessed some of Chloe’s new catlike abilities, and they can’t figure out what’s going on with their friend. They get an even better look at what she can do when The Rogue kidnaps Paul to use as bait. Chloe goes to rescue him, with Amy along to help. The wound she sustains is worrisome until it miraculously heals that same night.

Trying to Adapt
Chloe tries to adjust to these huge changes in her life, but it’s not easy. Guys are suddenly attracted to her, and she’s even found two that she likes. Unfortunately, one of them died, and it’s her fault. After spending the evening dancing with Xavier (Jose Brooks), she gave him a passionate kiss. She had no idea that a kiss from a Mai was fatal to humans. When she kissed him, she didn’t even know she was a Mai!

This turn of events definitely complicates things, especially considering the fact that she’s interested in Brian (Grey Damon), whom she just met. He’s a little older and doesn’t realize she’s lying about her age. What Chloe doesn’t know is that his father (David S. Lee) is the one who ordered The Rogue to go after her. At this point, Brian doesn’t seem to be aware of any of this, although it’s a bit suspicious that he chose to flirt with her by trying on a hat with cat ears.

Search for Answers
An adoptee, Chloe wants to know about her birth parents but doesn’t mention her reason for asking. Her mom (Amy Pietz) says there’s nothing to tell her that she hasn’t said before. Chloe’s dad found her in the Ukraine when she was a baby, paid some money to get her out of the country, and brought her home. He abandoned Chloe and his wife several years ago, so he’s not around to provide any more information. However, he’s apparently been keeping tabs on his daughter or at least is aware that she would transform around her sixteenth birthday. After her run-in with The Rogue, her dad sends her an e-mail warning her not to trust anyone.

Worth Watching?
The Nine Lives of Chloe King started out well. Pilot episodes are often confusing, since they have to introduce the plot and the main characters. This pilot successfully introduced everyone and everything it needed to and still managed to keep my attention. Author Liz Braswell is pleased with the adaptation and even describes the onscreen chemistry between Chloe, Paul, and Amy as “spot-on.” Samuels is likeable and someone to root for as Chloe, and Ellsworth’s performances as the villain are inspired.