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‘Shadowhunters’ Series Finale Review: ‘Alliance’ and ‘All Good Things…’

‘Shadowhunters’ Series Finale Review: ‘Alliance’ and ‘All Good Things…’

Well. There we go. Just like that, it’s all over. The end of an era. A strange, frustrating era, in which I for some reason committed to reviewing a show that’s mildly amusing at best and downright offensive at worst. An era in which I found out what it was like to be on the receiving end of an internet pile-on. And one in which I really learned how to use those AO3 search filters when looking up fanfiction about my favourite book series.

I can’t say I’ll miss Shadowhunters. I’m curious to see what will happen to the Shadowhunter Chronicles fandom now that the show is over, because it was one of the first fandoms I ever got involved in, and I feel like it slowly died as it got taken over by TV Show talk.

It’s strange, though, to think that this whole thing is over. This show has come a long way from the pilot, in a lot of ways. It’s not the show I wanted, not by a long shot, but at least it’s slightly better than the show I saw in the first few episodes of season 1.




This finale was about as satisfying a finale as I could have hoped for, I guess. It couldn’t have been a Shadowhunters episode without its fair share of ridiculousness and nonsense. It also needed a number of extremely pointless changes to the plot that definitely made the episode worse. But it also showcased the strongest points of Shadowhunters: the occasional good line (uttered by Simon about 90% of the time), the nice character moments, and the hard-hitting emotional moments that come out of nowhere and leave you wondering why on earth you’re crying about Shadowhunters.

There were highs. There were lows. There was good. There was bad. So much happened. Like, so much. Let’s try out a slightly different format for my last ever Shadowhunters review, as I try to make sense of everything that happened in the series finale.

WHAT WORKED

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Simon’s lines

Simon. Simon. Simon. My actual hero. This character, you guys. I might actually miss him. Simon has consistently been the best thing about this show for its entire run, so it’s fitting that he be given the chance to shine in its last episode.

It’s like every time Simon opens his mouth, I wonder why the show couldn’t write all their characters this well. Clearly, they have the ability to write good lines. Just only when they’re given to Simon, apparently.

Some of my favourites:

  • “I don’t have my mark anymore but I’m sure if you give me enough swords, maybe I can-” (It’s the delivery that really does it for me)
  • “Izzy’s right, I’m a terrible sire”
  • JACE: “Are you okay?” SIMON: “It stings a little”
  • “What could go wrong? It’s just hell.”

Sizzy, maybe, kind of?

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Speaking of Simon, he got a nice romantic storyline with Isabelle, and while I didn’t love it, it definitely surpassed my expectations by a long shot. This is absolutely instalove, on a show that clearly doesn’t know how to write romance without instalove. There was nothing there, and then suddenly there was something there, and by the end of the episode they were very much together.

Still, their scenes were cute. Maybe it’s because I like both of these characters a lot and I actually think they have great chemistry, or maybe it’s because I’ve known from the start that they’d end up together, but I enjoyed their scenes. I’m glad they’re together. It could have been done better, yeah, but what on this show couldn’t have been done better?

Sassy Jace


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Oh, hello Jace! I forgot you had a sense of humour!

I don’t know if I’ve ever liked TV Jace as much as I did in this episode. It wasn’t just the funny lines, either. He just worked. Even the emotional scenes really resonated with me.

I didn’t love how the Alliance rune was done, and I’ll talk about that more very soon, but I’ll admit that Jace not being able to lie was really funny. And brought about some very touching moments.

IZZY: No one’s dying, Meliorn.

JACE: Actually, he might die.

(Also, I feel the need to point out that he pronounced “Toronto” correctly, i.e. like “tronno.” Thank you, Dom Sherwood)

Malec

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I’ve said it so many times before, but I’m going to say it one last time: Magnus and Alec’s relationship on this show is extremely hit-or-miss. But my goodness, it worked in this episode.

No, they didn’t talk through their issues like I’ve wanted them to for who even knows how long. But everything that happened between them in this episode was absolute gold.

Alec refusing to accept that Magnus is gone forever. Being willing to get turned into a vampire just for a shot at bringing him back. Everything about their wedding. Was is as good as Book Malec? Hell no. Am I disappointed that they didn’t get married in Shadowhunter gold and warlock blue, and that Alec didn’t get to make his speech about how he wants to be remembered for loving someone so much that he changed the world for him? Absolutely. But it was good. It was about as good as this show gets.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK

Heavenly Fire

So. Heavenly fire coursing through Isabelle’s veins. That was a thing. Why? I’m not really sure.

First of all, am I missing how Isabelle developed this problem with heavenly fire because of a piece of shrapnel, when Clary was the person who actually got stabbed with Glorious? How exactly does that work?

Secondly, again with this thing about downworlders! Why does this show always lump them in with demons? Why does the heavenly fire have to destroy them too? And what even is the point of making it so that Isabelle can’t be around downworlders or demons? We knew it wasn’t going to last, and it didn’t. It didn’t serve any purpose to the plot, except to give us that adorable scene where Alec was extremely upset about her and Simon kissing (which, by the way, was comedy gold and very much appreciated).

I guess it also let Isabelle go into Edom by herself, but obviously she could have gone anyways thanks to Clary’s creative little solution, which, oh boy, we’ll get to that later.

And why did we have to have her throw fire from her hands? Just why? That was so weird.

Whatever they were trying to do with Luke

ISAIAH MUSTAFA

Luke’s storyline has been extremely weird this season, and I kind of get the impression the writers just didn’t know what to do with him. I don’t feel like he’s progressed much as a character, or done much for the plot. He’s just been there. And now he’s a Shadowhunter again. Which. What?

First of all. This isn’t something Luke would ever want. Why is he not more distraught about this? Especially since he was turned against his will. Let’s also not forget that the Praetor didn’t know if the serum would turn Luke into a shadowhunter or a mundane!

And then when Clary sees him, she says he looks “better than okay”???? What is that supposed to mean? This show spends so much time talking about how downworlders are great and not at all evil, only to act like going from werewolf to shadowhunter is some huge upgrade.

(Of course, that isn’t to say that it’s not an upgrade for some people. As this show has demonstrated, a serum like the one developed by Aldertree could be really beneficial to a lot of people. But Luke is not one of those people.)

And what is even the point of turning him back? I guess we can imagine that he’s a pro-downworld voice in the Clave, but somehow I doubt the Clave would be that willing to listen to a former downworlder.

But it’s not like Luke couldn’t be with his family before. It’s not like he couldn’t be with Maryse. There’s just no point to this.

Villains

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I’m not going to say much about Lilith, because I’ve always found her uninspiring. I didn’t care for her scenes in this episode either. I don’t understand how her feelings toward Jonathan could go from “so upset about his death that she forgets Simon has the Mark of Cain” to “will do anything to kill him” so quickly. I don’t really get her motivations either.

And Jonathan. Why? Just why? He could have been so great. But no. Instead he had a few scenes with the Seelie Queen that I didn’t care about, then he grew claws, because I guess before it wasn’t really clear that he was Evil.

He also gets the ability to kill people just by looking at them, for some reason. Why would you give that power to your villain?

The show tries to throw in his actions at the beginning of City of Heavenly Fire, but without bringing in his army of Endarkened warriors, which basically means that he goes around the world killing people. It’s not clear why he’s doing this, except for the obvious fact that he is Evil.

Seriously. Have we figured out why Jonathan does anything in this show?

Also, he kills everyone at the Los Angeles Institute except Robert and Max. Does this include the Blackthorns? Do the Blackthorns exist in this show? If they’re dead, why isn’t Helen upset about it? Actually, why isn’t anyone more upset about the fact that so many shadowhunters and mundanes were killed all around the world?

Anyways, Jonathan finally dies by being smothered by Clary’s angel wings. I don’t understand what happened in that scene. I don’t understand why the show ended that way. But honestly, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate ending to Shadowhunters.

The Alliance Rune

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In its quest to throw in as many book plot points as possible at the last minute, the show brought in one of Clary’s most famous creations: the Alliance rune. This time, instead of using it to unite shadowhunters and downworlders against Valentine, she uses it to allow Shadowhunters to enter Edom. Because apparently only demons and downworlders can survive there?

See Also

Again with the equating downworlders to demons thing.

In the books, the Alliance rune allows Shadowhunters and downworlders to share some of their powers or their strength. But this version essentially turns shadowhunters into downworlders, even allowing them to enter Edom, because that makes sense. It also makes it so that Jace can’t lie, which I’ve already said is hilarious, even though it makes no sense. ‘

The end of Edom

Honestly, this ending was kind of perfect for Shadowhunters. It was hilariously anticlimactic. Of course the trip to Edom is ridiculously short. Of course it hardly takes us any time to find a solution to Isabelle’s Heavenly Fire problem. Of course that solution results in the destruction of a demon realm, because that’s definitely something that can happen, right?

Parabatai

Once it’s all over, Clary and Isabelle agree to become parabatai, and I have some thoughts about this.

So first of all, let me preface this by saying that I absolutely love Clary and Izzy’s friendship in this show. I’m glad they had a moment. Their relationship has been one of the few things I think this show has done really well. However, them becoming parabatai just doesn’t work.

For one, they’re both over eighteen, so they literally couldn’t become parabatai even if they wanted to. Are we ignoring this rule or has the show never mentioned it? I can’t even keep track.

But also, Clary has Simon already. I know that Simon remains a vampire in the show, so they could never actually be parabatai, but Simon is Clary’s best friend, and the bond they have is pretty much as close to parabatai as you could get without the actual magical bond. I remember before City of Heavenly Fire came out when a lot of fanfic writers had Clary and Isabelle becoming parabatai down the line, and I kept thinking that that would never happen, because regardless of how close these two girls might get, Simon will always be Clary’s real parabatai.

Clave rules

I just. I don’t understand. Since when are vampires (and other downworlders, for that matter, but especially vampires) allowed in the Institute? Since when can you draw a pentagram in the Institute?

Since when is the Clave willing to host a wedding between a shadowhunter and a werewolf at an institute? And recognize it as a legal marriage?

This is more of a worldbuilding thing than a Clave thing, but how are Raphael and Maryse able to see the shadow world and attend the wedding when they are both mundanes?

And once again, what is Alec’s standing within the Clave? And Isabelle’s, for that matter? Are we really to believe that only a year after the events of the show, Alec will be appointed Inquisitor, and Isabelle will be appointed head of the Institute?

I’m not saying they shouldn’t have these positions. They’re both going to kill it. But why can’t the Clave just be consistent?

Clary’s punishment

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And now we get to the final talking point. The ending. In which Clary is de-runed and loses her memories of the Shadow world. I didn’t like it.

Let’s start with the thing about Raziel. I get that the show needed a way to tie up Clary’s storyline, but this just didn’t work. Throughout the series, we never got any indication that the Angels might not be okay with how Clary has been using her powers. Why is this suddenly a thing? Why do they even care enough to monitor exactly how she’s using them? And how exactly have they reached the conclusion that she’s doing the wrong thing with her powers?

I feel like if, at the very end of your series, your heroine has done so much more bad than good with her powers that the Angels feel the need to revoke them… you might have made some mistakes with her character.

But okay. Let’s pretend Raziel was justified in taking away Clary’s powers. Why take away her memories as well? And how did she know it would happen?

Obviously, this was meant to be a twist on Simon’s ending in the books, complete with Jace coming to find her at the end, but it doesn’t work for Clary. Clary has already been through this. She’s had her introduction to the shadow world. Her hero’s journey. And it didn’t happen because she was dragged into it by her friend. It happened because she was special, chosen by the Angels in a way. Remembering everything just means going back to her previous life, sans powers (because there was no mention of the Academy, so I’m assuming she’s not ascending?) This story worked with Simon because it gave him a second chance at joining the shadow world. On his own terms this time.

Also, are we to believe that Clary is only regaining her memories because Jace was praying to the Angels, asking them to recognize his and Clary’s love for each other? Because that seems like a bit of a cop out.

So yeah, it was cool to have that full-circle moment where Jace says “you can see me?” and she starts to remember. But this just wasn’t the right ending for Clary.

Shadowhunters is now available to stream on Netflix worldwide.




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