We’re now less than two weeks away from the Shadowhunters season 3 premiere, and as always, we have mixed feelings here on Fangirlish.
We’ve never been the biggest fans of this show, but we’re still invested, and we still want what’s best for it. Season 2 was a huge step up from Season 1, and so we’re hoping Shadowhunters maintains that momentum and continues to improve this year.
Here are the 5 biggest problems we hope Shadowhunters fixes in its third season.
One of our biggest problems with season 2 of Shadowhunters was the pacing. New storylines would get introduced in one episode, then dropped, then picked up right as we’d started to forget about them. Some of them would get one brief scene per episode, so that they never really got fleshed out. Everything was either completely unforeshadowed, or dragged out for so long that we just wanted the show to get to the point already.
Take Simon’s arc of telling his mom that he’s a vampire, for example. We had several episodes where the story seemed to be going in circles. He wasn’t making any progress with his mom. They were having pretty much the same conversations over and over again. It was incredibly frustrating for the audience, because we couldn’t get really invested in the storyline.
Hopefully that can change with the new season.
Fewer loopholes in the world building
Anytime you’re telling a story in a fantasy world, you need clearly defined rules. If your world doesn’t make sense, then neither does your plot. If you keep adding new loopholes, then adding new ways to close up those loopholes, you eventually reach a point where everything is possible and there’s no suspense anymore. Too many fantasy shows fall into this trap.
Shadowhunters already has a fully fleshed out fantasy world that it can use. Sometimes, it makes changes to that world in order to fit its plot, and that’s not a bad thing in itself. But when those changes have a ripple effect that messes up other elements of the world, then the worldbuilding falls apart and so does the plot.
The shapeshifting rune doesn’t work. Shadowhunters needs to find ways to make it harder to use, so that its audience can understand why the characters aren’t using it all the time. There are too many ways to track people and too many ways to block people from tracking you. Fix that. Make tracking harder to do. Force your characters to find creative solutions to problems instead of introducing a new magical fix every time.
For season 3, we want the rules to be more defined. If you’re adding new rules, make sure they work in the context of the show, and make sure they’re not going to create new problems later on. Your audience already knows a lot about this world. People will notice when you change things.
More grey areas
One of the things the Mortal Instruments series does best is blur the lines between good and evil.
Even the most disgusting characters, the worst villains in the series, are somewhat likable characters. The audience can understand their motives. They often have personal connections to the main characters in the series. That’s what makes them so compelling as villains.
On the other side, the main characters are flawed. They say problematic things, especially at the beginning of the series. A lot of them are forced to challenge and correct their views on downworlders throughout the books. The series presumes that its audience is smart enough to know the difference between what is right and wrong. It teaches us the importance of recognizing and calling out bad behaviour even in people we like, and in ourselves.
Shadowhunters has eliminated a lot of these grey areas, making Valentine and Sebastian caricatural villains and pretending that the main characters have always been pro-downworld. That’s boring. We don’t want that.
This season, we’re hoping Shadowhunters takes advantage of the excellent opportunity it has with Sebastian, and gives us lots of moral complexity. Sebastian is a complicated villain and he brings out a lot of complicated feelings for our main characters. Use that!
More agency for our main characters
Last season, Alec became the head of the New York Institute, and that created a lot of great opportunities for his character. However, it continued a trend of our main cast of characters becoming a little too tied to the Clave and too obedient to people in positions of authority.
No good stories have ever been written about young people obeying all the rules and doing exactly as they’re told. We don’t want to watch a show about a few members of the Clave. We want a show about amazing characters doing what they know is right, even if that means going behind the Clave’s back.
We want our main characters taking matters into their own hands, and doing things on their own. They need to be actively affecting the plot, not passively reacting to whatever happens in the show.
Better balance between book and show content
Look. We know the show is never going to be like the books. At this point, we’re not watching for book content anymore.
However, it is very annoying to see the writers constantly throw in references to the Shadowhunter books, or tease book content by introducing characters or storylines that we recognize, then completely drop them and go in a different direction.
Like naming that drug “Yin Fen” even though it had nothing to do with actual Yin Fen. Or almost killing Max, then backing out at the last minute.
Make up your mind. If you want fans to get excited about book content, maybe deliver on your promises every once in awhile. If you want to completely separate yourself from the source material, maybe stop constantly throwing in references to the books.
Shadowhunters premieres Tuesday, March 20th at 8pm EST on Freeform.