‘Shadowhunters’ 1×03 Recap: “Dead Man’s Party”

In some ways, episode three of Shadowhunters was an improvement over the first two. The dialogue was less cringe-worthy, the acting a bit better and the plot less rushed. The story seems to be coming together very nicely, and the actors are starting to develop some chemistry. Maybe I would have been able to enjoy this episode, were it not for the inexcusable sexism it displayed, especially in regards to Isabelle.

If you’ve been reading my recaps, you may have noticed that I have been very quiet about Isabelle – in fact, I even said I liked her in the last episode. This is mainly because, until last night, I didn’t feel like I had seen enough of her to pass judgement and wanted to wait until I was certain of the direction the show was taking with her character before jumping to conclusions. Well, I saw enough last night, and I am not happy.

I hate that Isabelle’s job is to distract the demons or vampires while her brothers handle things. I hate that she enjoys having that job, because book Izzy would never stand for that. I hate that she doesn’t appear to even own gear, or weapons other than her whip, because the show felt it was necessary to put her in revealing outfits at all times. I hate that when the team needs information, she decides to go manipulate her boyfriend into telling her stuff by having sex with him, instead of finding things out on her own. I hate that Alec is portrayed as the better warrior, when Isabelle was clearly his superior in the books. And I hate that the other characters continuously slut-shame her, showing exactly what this show thinks of Isabelle’s character. This is not the Isabelle I read about in Cassie’s books, and don’t know why the show felt the need to turn her into a Femme Fatale.

And those are not the only problems I had with the treatment of the women in this episode. No, I have an entire list of things that bothered me, and I am going to tell you about them. Let’s relive the good and bad of that entire episode, shall we?

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The Hotel Dumort 

Simon is still the best thing about this show. This week, he was held prisoner at the Hotel Dumort, where he had plenty of great lines as he interacted with Camille and Raphael. He even threw a knife with incredible accuracy for a mundane who has never even used a weapon before.

As Raphael pulls the knife out of his chest and mocks Simon for trying to kill an immortal vampire, Camille make her entrance, barely clothed and looking at Simon like he’s her next meal – which he kind of is. Simon’s desire to leave suddenly becomes a little less urgent as he’s faced with the gorgeous, sexy vampire.

The graveyard replaces the church

Back at the institute, Clary convinces the others to go after Simon, and after much arguing, they agree to help, since the vampires did break the accords. They take her to a graveyard, where there are apparently shadowhunter weapons stashed in graves, because ancient mundane religions believed in arming their dead. Ignoring the question of why the shadowhunters needed to go to the graveyard instead of taking stuff from the weapons room at the Institute, it’s a cool idea, and certainly makes for a creepy scene.

Clary picks up a Seraph blade, and Jace teaches her how to use it in a scene that’s a little too cheesy and dramatic for my taste, but I’ll give it a pass because it included Clary and Jace building chemistry.

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Isabelle trades sex for information 

Ah, and here begin my problems with the episode. I’ve already expressed my feelings regarding this scene, so I’ll make this quick: Book Isabelle would never use her body to procure information as simple as how to get into a hotel. She would figure out a different way to get in, because she is a smart, resourceful badass. The Isabelle/Meliorn sex scene was nothing but an excuse to include a sex scene, in order prove that the show is edgy and sexy. It added nothing to the plot, it was weird, awkward and objectifying, and it showed us exactly what Izzy’s role is going to be in this show.

Camille seduces Simon

Continuing with the theme of attractive women using their bodies to get information out of men, Camille spent the episode making out with Simon (something book Camille would never do in a million years, but it’s pretty clear this isn’t book Camille), and also apparently biting him and maybe giving him her blood too. As we know, this is an essential step toward turning someone into a Vampire, and it appears that storyline will be moved up to the first season. It’s very clear that Simon was feeling the effects of all that biting at the very end, and I guess we’ll have to see if his transformation happens the same way as it did in the books.

Though I’m disappointed he never got to become a rat (seriously, how could you miss out on that opportunity, Shadowhunters?) Simon getting drunk off of Camille’s blood provided excellent comedy, on top of referencing one of the funniest scenes of City of Heavenly Fire. Despite the problems I may have with this show, Simon still never fails to make me smile.

OMG They’re Vampires! 

Jace takes Clary to a bar, where he teaches her to see through glamours, and she’s shocked to realize that the other occupants are vampires. With Jace’s encouragement, she approaches one of them and starts flirting, becoming the third(!) female character in this episode to use her feminine charms to get something from a man. But even that is kind of almost excusable because it leads to pretty much the best scene in the entire show so far, as she and Jace climb onto the back of a motorcycle and go for a little joyride, all the way to the Hotel Dumort. I don’t quite understand why they had to go get the motorcycle when they probably could have gotten to the hotel the same way the got to the bar, but I don’t even care because that scene was the best thing ever and I’m just going to keep watching it over and over again and forget the rest of the episode even happened.

Alec is conflicted about his Parabatai

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Alec was in the background throughout most of the episode, but what little we got of him was very strong. We learned about his bond with Jace and the two of them had some very heartwarming moments together. He was also confronted by Hodge at the Institute, who turned a blind eye to his rulebreaking but warned him against following his parabatai into danger. He even compared Jace to Valentine – foreshadowing, much?

The Fight 

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After so much buildup, the fight at the Hotel Dumort felt a bit anticlimactic. Izzy and Alec distract the vampires, because that is apparently the only thing this version of Isabelle is good for. Alec says that he hates being relegated to this role, and his sister replies with a perky and cringe-worthy “I don’t!” that may or may not have prompted me to throw something at my TV. Then Izzy taunts Alec about his sexuality, because why not change every other aspect of her character while we’re at it?

Clary and Jace break in, Isabelle uses her whip, and they all kill the vampires that try to stop them. Vampires, it appears, explode into fiery glitter when touched by the right kind of weapon, though they are immune to regular knives. Clary kicks a vampire in a very Clary move, but Alec finishes it off, and Isabelle is mysteriously absent once the real fighting begins, reappearing only once the dust has settled.

 

The Rooftop

Raphael eventually lets Simon go, but you can bet he knows exactly what’s going on with him, and expects to see him again very soon. They all meet up on the roof for a heartwarming scene that plays up the love triangle, as Clary tells Simon just how much he means to her.

Once again, I was not happy with this episode. I liked Clary and Jace a lot better, and I still love Alec and Simon, but the portrayal of Isabelle was a dealbreaker for me, and I can’t see the show fixing this. They have made it very clear where they are going with her character, and it is nothing like what we saw in the books. I am very upset about this, and extremely worried about the future of this show if they are going to continue to treat their female characters this way. It is unacceptable and pointless, and I’m sure I’m not the only one mad about this.

2 Comments

  1. I don’t really understand why you think Izzy is such a “slut” in this series. In the books she basically did the same stuff (without the sex because she was 16). In the books she knew how sexy she was and used it to her advantage (she wore short skirts and dresses for fighting, etc.). In the show, she does the same thing, but they just show her doing it (Plus she’s older so it’s perfectly normal for an 18 or 19 year old to have sex). What’s wrong with a girl having sex? NOTHING! There’s nothing wrong with it. Someone can be a strong character and like having sex. Those two things aren’t mutually exclusive. Acting like they are is contributing to the problem of slut shaming. Congrats. You’re doing the same thing you’re trying to condem them for doing. I mean for god sake, Simon was getting it on with Camille and you aren’t calling him a slut or Camille a slut. I’ll be the first to admit the show isn’t perfect, but Izzy isn’t one of the problems considering she’s basically just like in the first book. Sure she evolved as a character, but this season (and we aren’t even halfway through) is basically one book of character development.

  2. Spot on!! The writers have either never read the series, completely missed or are deliberately ignoring the fact that all Shadowhunters are warriors – – EQUALLY. When Isabelle told Clary she needs to learn to use her natural female superiority, she _wasn’t_ talking about using sex. She’s comfortable with her sexuality. That can be shown in ways not exposing more skin. Book Isabelle wore dresses, yes – but more often she was in jeans or gear similar to that worn by her brothers.
    I had a problem with the idea that “the mundane” is in the middle of a nest of vampires – so let’s go argue about rescuing him…..then go to the graveyard to get weapons,….then Alec has to go back to the Institute for his bow, and Izzy goes off to “interrogate” the seelie….while Jace teaches Clary how to use a blade, then go to a bar where she has to come on to a vampire (did she let him _bite_ her??!) so they can steal his motorcycle…..
    Simon could be a dry husk by the time they get their shit together.
    I _did_ like Raphael aiding them (sort of) getting Simon out of DuMort – – tho I missed the wolf attack.

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