I still haven’t quite figured out how I feel about Awake, Arise or be Forever Fallen. Objectively, I think it might have been one of best episodes Shadowhunters has ever done: the writing was decent, the pacing was excellent and there were three clear storylines that were all given just enough screen time to be interesting without making the episode feel overcrowded. This show has been on a stretch of very good episodes lately, and I’m quite happy about it.
Still, I definitely have some major reservations about the big thing that happened- or rather, didn’t happen at the very end. Shadowhunters has always strayed very far from the book canon, but this is a lot to cut out, and I’m not sure I like what it means for the character development of Isabelle, Maryse and Robert.
MAX IS… NOT DEAD?
Max’s survival took me completely by surprise. I went into this episode emotionally prepared for the youngest Lightwood to be murdered by Sebastian, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone. If the Shadowhunters writers wanted to keep book fans guessing, they definitely succeeded. That entire plot was intense, if a bit overdramatic at times.
As anyone who has read The Mortal Instruments series is surely aware, Max dies in the books, and his death is a pivotal moment in the series. It has a massive effect on all of the Lightwoods, especially Isabelle. Its repercussions are still being felt in The Dark Artifices series. So I’m a bit shocked that the show would eliminate something so vital to the plot and to the development of so many characters.
Did I say shocked? I meant disappointed. Nothing shocks me in this show anymore.
Cassandra Clare doesn’t often kill off her characters, but when she does, it’s for a reason. The fact that Shadowhunters is keeping him alive shows that the showrunners have very different plans for the Lightwoods. I’m sure they’ll throw plenty of new obstacles in their way, but I simply can’t see how Robert, Maryse or Isabelle could get to the point they reach in later books without the trauma of Max’s death. Of course, Shadowhunters has already taken them in very different directions, so that’s not entirely surprising, but I guess it’s a confirmation that they won’t be following the same arc in this version of the story.
Also, does this mean Max will have a more important role in the show than he does in the books? If the writers are keeping him alive, I certainly hope it’s for a good reason.
However, I will say that I don’t think this would have been the right time for Max’s death. I don’t get the impression that the show has any time for mourning with all that’s going on with Jonathan and the Mortal Mirror. I’d expect it to happen in the season finale, perhaps, but not now.
For so long now, I’ve wanted Shadowhunters to focus a bit more on downworlder culture and the process of becoming a downworlder. It’s not necessarily a focal point in the first few books, but that’s one of the advantages of book-to-television adaptations. When Simon Turned, for example, I was disappointed that there wasn’t much focus on that transformation.
That’s why my favourite part of this episode was the story of Bat (a familiar name, for anyone who’s read the books) getting bitten by a werewolf and being welcomed into the pack. I loved seeing how all these people from different backgrounds, who have all had their lives altered irrevocably because of a traumatizing incident, are all coming together and making a new family for themselves. That could be a metaphor for so many things, and I love it.
MAGNUS’ ONLY FEAR
This week’s episode featured lots of Malec flashbacks that actually would have been great to see in season 1. Where were these scenes when Magnus and Alec first started dating? These are exactly the little moments I would have loved to see at the start of their love story. Still, I’m glad we got these scenes, even if they were a bit late.
I also really appreciated all the insight this storyline provided into Magnus’ character. As an immortal, he’s afraid of opening up to people and getting too attached. He flirts with people and he dates around, but now that he’s actually falling in love with Alec, he’s afraid.
But most importantly, right now he feels like his love for Alec is preventing him from doing what needs to be done. Book Magnus was always very close to Shadowhunters, one of the first downworlders willing to work with them. This version of Magnus is not like that. He doesn’t trust the Clave, and has no loyalty to Shadowhunters not named Alec Lightwood. Right now, he thinks that the best way to protect downworlders is to distance himself from the Clave and ally himself with the Seelie Queen. I can’t say I agree, but I definitely understand where he’s coming from.
THINGS THAT DO NOT MAKE SENSE, A LIST
- Magnus and Luke acting surprised that the Seelie Queen wants to start a war with the Shadowhunters when that was pretty much their main reason for going to see her.
- Why doesn’t Alec try texting Magnus when he doesn’t answer his calls? You know Magnus would at least read them and understand the emergency.
- How did Sebastian send a text from Alec’s phone? Did I miss something?
- Why did Clary hide the mirror in some Shadowhunter’s ashes?
- How did she and Sebastian both open the vault? Is it something all Shadowhunters can do? If so, that doesn’t seem very safe?
- How did the other Shadowhunter know where the mirror was? Did Clary entrust him with its location?
- How was there no blood on the electrum after Sebastian held it?
OTHER THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- I’m still pretty neutral on the whole Simon/Maia thing. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it.
- Is it just me or is the rose the Seelie Queen gives Magnus very reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast?
- Annoying Partner is still annoying and shady and I don’t like her.
- Also, is this going to turn into some sort of Teen Wolf-style Mundanes vs the Shadow World type thing? Because if so I am not here for it.
- I like how painful that first transformation looked for Bat. Very realistic.
- Isabelle’s love for her younger brother is so heartbreaking.
- That evil smirk Sebastian did as he walked away from Max was so creepy and perfect.
- “Were you really afraid I was going to go?” Alec, Magnus had every reason to believe you would dart off to the Institute as soon as you woke up.
- Dom Sherwood did some great acting in all those Max scenes.
- I like that Sebastian still expected Clary to show him mercy after everything he did. It shows how twisted his view on relationships is.
- I can’t believe so many Shadowhunters actually thought the Moral Mirror was that tiny compact.
Shadowhunters airs Mondays at 8pm on Freeform.