Slowly but surely, Shadowhunters seems to be finding its stride. In this second season, the cinematography has been good, the acting has gotten much better, the script has improved considerably since the premiere, and the plot isn’t totally dumb anymore. I’m still apprehensive because I’ve been burned by this show before, but How Are Thou Fallen was probably one of my all-time favourite Shadowhunters episodes. It was exciting without being infuriating, which is new. So “cautiously optimistic” is probably the best way to describe my feelings toward Shadowhunters at this very moment.
While last week’s episode was aggressively mediocre aside from all the Malec stuff, this one was both interesting and engaging. It had a number of fangirl-worthy moments, a few surprisingly smart storylines, and it didn’t even make me that angry.
That last part was a bit of a lie, actually. Remember in my last review when I said that I wasn’t mad about anything yet but that that might change in a week? Well, it’s been a week, and my feelings have changed. And not for the better.
But it wasn’t all anger and disappointment! Not even mostly anger and disappointment! There were a lot good moments too! Let’s go over them.
MALEC MALEC MALEC MALEC MALEC
Alright, I’ll just come right out and say it: Malec deserves to be the main couple of this show, right now. Clace is cool and all, but right now Clary and Jace are focused on things other than their relationship and to be honest, as much as their dynamic has improved in season 2, I still don’t totally trust Shadowhunters to write them well as a couple.
But Malec? Malec is magic. Now that their relationship has been given the spotlight, they have been absolutely killing it. Their chemistry is off the charts. The writing and acting are both decent even though the characters aren’t very much like their book counterparts. Mostly, their storylines have been really interesting and authentic. One of my main issues with the way they were put together in episode 12 of season 1 was that I was worried the writers would treat that as the end of their story and abandon the pairing, like writers tend to do with fictional couples once they get together.
There’s often this sense of “Well, they got together: now what could we possibly do to make that interesting?” Which usually leads to pointless breakups or total sidelining. This is why I’ve been so impressed with Magnus and Alec’s storyline in the two most recent episodes. They’re taking their time, dealing with obstacles, figuring out how to be together despite their differences. This is what Malec always deserved and what I wanted them to get in the first season. But we’re not close to it being done. The fade to black at the end, was a travesty. While we are getting bits and pieces – the fade to black of Malec’s first time shows that the writers don’t know how to carry their story through.
Let’s hope Shadowhunters keeps the good parts of their relationship – the ones that they are excelling at, because I think Malec has been the most improved storyline from season 1 to season 2.
Shadowhunters had opportunities in this episode to push Simon toward both Maia and Izzy, but opted out of both, which is an interesting choice that I’m actually glad they made. I always thought that Simon’s dating multiple women (he wasn’t actually cheating) storyline was symptomatic of how completely messed up his life was at the beginning of City of Fallen Angels. His mom had kicked him out, he wasn’t welcome with the Vampires, things hadn’t worked out with Clary, and to top it all off, he suddenly found himself dating two girls who he really liked, and who just so happened to be friends (which was what the issue was). At this point in the story, I just don’t think it would have been that believable to have him date Maia and Izzy, or Maia and Clary, at the same time. He’s not there yet. But we have a feeling he will get there.
Besides, his relationships with both of those girls take a lot of time to develop in the books, and I hope the same thing happens in the show. I like the idea of him befriending Maia and Izzy before he eventually takes the next step. Right now, it’s Clary that he needs to go out with. Like I’ve said before, Simon and Clary’s failed attempt at dating only strengthens their relationship in the long run, and figuring out that romance is never going to work between them is an important stepping stone for their friendship. This confession of love has been a long time coming, and I hope Shadowhunters does it justice next week.
ALTERNATE UNIVERSE JACE
Ok, here’s my theory about Jace in this episode: there’s this alternate universe in which the show is almost exactly like the books. Awesome universe, really. The best. Full of snarky lines and sexual tension. 10/10 would recommend. Yet for some reason, in this universe, Shadowhunters can still travel easily between parallel universes, because why the heck not? So Book Jace was on this mission that required him to travel to the TV universe and inhabit the body of TV Jace, who’s pretty boring and won’t really be missed. He spent one episode trying to act like TV Jace and failing miserably, because he’s physically incapable of reeling in his sarcasm and narcissism. And that’s how we ended up with the greatest Jace scene Shadowhunters has ever done.
I hope Book Jace never figures out how to go back to his home universe. I like him here.
WHY ARE WE STILL INSISTING THIS DRUG IS YIN FEN JUST STOP ALREADY
I’m a bit conflicted about Isabelle’s drug addiction storyline. On the one hand, I’m really intrigued by it and I think it’s being handled well – but we’re not seeing the purpose yet. The idea of Isabelle being addicted to vampire venom is actually really cool, and it’s a plot for a character who deserves lots of screen time – but how is this going to play out? I can see it eventually pushing her toward Simon in a way that feels natural. I also have no idea where the writers are going with it, which is pretty nice.
On the other hand, I’m still really upset that they felt the need to call it Yin Fen, and mention Jem as well. The drug Isabelle is addicted to clearly has nothing to do with the one that Jem was addicted to in The Infernal Devices, so why pretend they’re the same thing? It’s clearly just an attempt to attract book fans without actually using book content, and it’s having the opposite effect for me.
I was actually interested in your original, non book-related storyline, Shadowhunters. Why did you have to ruin it?
THE MOST UNLUCKY ANGEL OF ALL TIME
This episode introduced us to the Shadowhunters version of Ithuriel, our angel friend with an unfortunate habit of getting captured and used by bad people. I thought he was decidedly underwhelming, and introduced much too quickly. The book scene in which Clary and Jace find him is so epic, and this one was a huge letdown. There wasn’t enough information revealed or enough Clace bonding, and I don’t think the show accurately conveyed the absolute horror of what Valentine did. Imprisoning an angel is a huge deal. Using one for your own experiments is absolutely unthinkable. I simply can’t believe that any of Valentine’s supporters could possibly know about this and still stand behind him.
A QUICK RANT
I still don’t understand why Shadowhunters felt the need to change the use of the Mortal Instruments (or at least the Mortal Sword) when it only weakens their story. Valentine apparently doesn’t need downworlder blood anymore, which is a huge part of the plot of City of Ashes, not to mention that most of City of Glass is completely messed up because Valentine apparently no longer needs to raise an angel using all the instruments in order to achieve his goals.
Most concerning to me, however, is the way this weakens Valentine’s character, and makes him a lot less compelling as a villain. In season 1, I was upset with the way the show had made everything a lot more black and white by having Valentine seem entirely evil and the protagonists seem entirely good, and it’s really disappointing to see this continue in the second season.
The fact that Valentine wants to raise an angel to do his bidding plays into the idea that he considers himself the hero of this story, a second Jonathan Shadowhunter, willing to go against his people for what he considers to be the Greater Good. He’s convinced that Raziel will be on his side. It also shows why people were so eager to follow him: he truly, honestly believed that he was doing the right thing. Turning the Sword into a genocide tool lessens that, and makes Valentine out to be more of a Voldemort type, doing what he wants regardless of what everyone else thinks. While I adore Alan Van Sprang, I really don’t think Valentine is being done justice as a villain in this TV show.
THINGS THAT DO NOT MAKE SENSE, A LIST
- Sister Cleophas being allowed to join the Iron Sisters despite being a known member of the circle. Again, let me remind you that talking back to the head of the institute is grounds for de-runing. But joining the circle doesn’t disqualify you from the Iron Citadel?
- Is the circle rune actually like a dark mark? What does Valentine mean when he says that Cleophas “ignited” her circle rune? Why is everyone else’s already ignited?
- Valentine being reluctant to accept Cleophas’ support when having an Iron Sister on his side would actually be hugely beneficial to him.
- Valentine saying that he freed Ithuriel from his entombment. He can’t be talking about Tessa’s necklace, so what entombment was Ithuriel in?
- Valentine threatening an angel. Nope, I don’t believe he has so little respect for Ithuriel. Trapping him for the Greater Good is one thing, but acting superior to him is too far.
- Why did an angelic power rune pop up on Clary’s phone screen?
- What species was that girl Jace was hooking up with? She was talking about runes but didn’t have any of her own, so she couldn’t have been a shadowhunter or mundane. Maybe downworlder?
- Big storms increase demon activity? Okay. Whatever. You do you, Shadowhunters.
- The same random shadowhunter talking twice in the same episode. That never happens. It’s weird enough that the shadowhunters at the institute talk once, but twice?
- The fact that haven’t seen Pandemonium since the series premiere despite the fact that Magnus apparently owns it. Couldn’t Magnus have taken Alec there?
- Shadowhunters casually spoiling TID by saying that Yin Fen “almost” cost Jem his life.
- Simon saying he will be “forever in need of a fake ID” when his birthday will stay the same. Pretty sure his real ID will say he’s 21 when he’s 21.
- Why did Cleophas need to stab herself to just spy on Luke and Clary? Unfortunately, the shapeshifting rune does exist. Why didn’t she use it?
- How does Jace know who James Bond is? I’m very confused about which pop culture references he gets and which ones he doesn’t.
- The girl at the bar not noticing that there are two Simons in her line of sight when Jace flirts with her disguised as Simon. All she had to do was turn around.
- Luke’s pack being totally okay with his return to the Jade Wolf. Hold on. These guys didn’t want to go looking for him one episode ago when he was grieving Jocelyn. You’re telling me they’re all cool now?
- Clary being the only person who can hear Ithuriel. I’m assuming this is because of her angel blood but… ah… she’s not the only character here with angel blood.
- Why was Ithuriel simply crying out instead of sending Clary visions like he did in the books?
- Clary casually breaking Ithuriel’s chains. Was this part of her powers? The really powerful runes? Why was that not a bigger deal?
OTHER THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Simon being ready to drop everything and look after Clary was so cute and so true to his character.
- The scene in which Alec walked in on Jace having sex with a random girl made me think of Alec’s problems in City of Heavenly Fire.
- Even though Alec didn’t react the way he would have in the books, I thought that interaction was pretty true to their relationship.
- Jace refusing to discuss Clary was also pretty true to his character and I really appreciated it.
- I liked that Izzy felt snubbed by Clary when she wasn’t told about the rune. It shows that they’d really started to trust each other.
- Also, I hope they don’t stay apart for too long. They’re too good together.
- I love that Magnus is looking out for everyone and isn’t buying Izzy’s bullshit.
- Every one of Maia’s interactions with Jace are amazing.
- I actually totally understand why Jace is pushing Simon toward Clary. He’s trying to push her away.
- Jace and Simon’s interactions in this episode felt very COFA, and I loved it.
- “Did someone spike your blood supply?” Was that a COHF reference?
- I wasn’t a huge fan of Cleophas’ redemption, but I appreciated her being on the side of the angels no matter what. There are some lines Shadowhunters simply can’t cross.
Shadowhunters airs Mondays at 8pm on Freeform.