Five episodes in, Shadowhunters finally seems to be hitting its stride. While Moo Shu To Go was far from perfect, it was still much more enjoyable than previous episodes, with better dialogue, acting and chemistry. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.
The Portal Shard
Barely any time has passed since last week’s episode, and Clary is telling Jace about Valentine using her necklace to talk to her. Alec walks in on them and takes the necklace away so that Valentine can’t spy on the shadowhunters, but for some reason fails to realize the flip side of his argument: since the necklace works both ways, and Clary seems to have control over it, keeping the necklace would actually be beneficial to them, since it could tell them exactly where Valentine is.
We also learn that the necklace is a portal shard, which contradicts an element of the books that I guess won’t be introduced to the show. In City of Ashes, Jace holds on to a portal fragment that acts as a window into its most recent destination – Idris. However, the show has given this item a much different function, allowing Clary to get glimpses of her mother whenever she thinks of her. The rules of this necklace are still pretty unclear, but hopefully they’ll give us a bit more information in later episodes.
Clary wants to hold onto the necklace and go after her mom and Jace agrees with her, but Alec shuts them down, reminding them of their inexperience. Clary runs off and Isabelle comforts her, something she never did in the books. Their relationship is unique to the show, but nice. I’ve actually enjoyed it so far.
We’ll have to wait to meet Robert and Max, but Maryse certainly made an impression in her first appearance. She’s authoritative and powerful, just like the book character, but a lot meaner to her kids. It’s clear from the very beginning that she knows about her children’s recent antics, and disapproves. She immediately targets Isabelle, then punishes Alec, as the eldest, telling him to stay behind and watch over Clary while his brother and sister investigate the strange disappearance of the Seelies.
While I won’t complain about Alec and Clary spending time together because that was definitely the best part of the episode, I can’t help but wonder why Alec had to be the one to look after Clary when there were plenty of other shadowhunters in the institute who could have taken over for him, or why Jace and Isabelle had to be the ones to go on the mission when there were older shadowhunters who could have gone in their stead. So far, the addition of all these new shadowhunters has had absolutely no impact on the series whatsoever and really hasn’t made any sense. I don’t understand why the show felt the need to make the Institute so busy if it doesn’t add anything to the story and actually raises a lot of questions.
More Parabatai Problems
Shadowhunters continues its confusing act of telling us how important Jace and Alec’s relationship is, while showing them constantly fighting and disagreeing on fairly petty things. Early on, they have a slightly awkward conversation where Alec brings up last episode’s encounter with the greater demon and Jace responds with what most of us have been thinking all along: of course Alec loves him, they’re parabatai. Alec is clearly on the verge of a huge admission, but chickens out, and they hug. It’s the first time I’ve actually felt a connection between them, but it’s short lived, as they soon go back to arguing.
Jace tells Alec to look after Clary, and when Alec fails, he explodes. By the end of the episode, it’s clear there’s a huge rift between the characters, one that they’ll have to work out in the coming days. Jace has made it clear that he’s chosen the cute girl he just met over the parabatai who’s been by his side since he came to the institute, and his decision is more than a little confusing.
Simon The Vampire
Not only is Shadowhunters introducing this Simon storyline way too early, they’re also dragging it out and foreshadowing the hell out of it, leaving no doubt whatsoever that he’s eventually going to become a vampire.
First, we have him showing up at the Hotel Dumort, something that did happen in the books. But things get seriously weird when he meets up with Clary and starts climbing walls and breaking down doors. The show is not being at all subtle in the foreshadowing, and a lot of what's happening to Simon is just plain confusing.
In the books, Simon felt drawn to vampires, and it was this obsession that led him to believe that he was turning into one, which he was absolutely not. He flinched at sunlight and didn’t find vampire jokes funny because some part of his mind interpreted his obsession as him actually turning into one, in the same way that someone might convince themselves that they have an illness just by hearing about it. However, the show is doing the same thing as the movie in actually giving him certain vampire abilities, in this case super strength, the sight and a thirst for blood. So is Simon actually turning into a vampire already, or does he still need to be killed and reborn? And can any random mundane who drinks vampire blood suddenly get super strength? I guess we’ll have to wait to find out.
I May Be Falling In Love With Matthew Daddario
Back at the Institute, Alec teaches Clary how to fight, and when she runs off to find her mother’s box, he finds her because of her phone ringing. They have a conversation very reminiscent of a scene in the books, in which Clary brings up the fact that Alec is in love with Jace, and Alec seems strangely okay with it. While the book character lashed out at her and threatened to kill her if she ever brought up his sexuality again, show Alec lets it slide and goes along with her plan to meet up with Simon.
What follows is quite possibly the funniest part of the whole series so far, as Alec, Clary and Simon head off to Clary's apartment to look for the infamous J-C box, but don't actually take it as they are interrupted by werewolves.
Alec has been killing it since episode two, and he seriously upped his game this week. His phone conversation with Magnus was the first scene I’ve legitimately fangirled over, and his chemistry with Clary and Simon has been amazing. I know Alec's relationships with Clary and Simon weren't particularly important in the books, but I really hope we get more scenes between the three of them, because they are fantastic together.
Isabelle and Jace approach Meliorn about the Seelies not ditching the Clave, because apparently Meliorn is the only seelie they know or can talk to. Meliorn lets them know that the seelies are in mourning. They lost some of their own when Valentine killed their spies, and they’ve decided not to join the fight and risk losing more people. The seelies are clearly distrustful of the Clave, and with good reason, but I don't quite understand why the Clave finds them so important. In the first three books, it was made very clear that downworlders were not respected or valued by shadowhunters, who thought it was enough that the downworlders were no longer actively hunted - a relationship that was probably meant to reflect post-slavery racism in the US. But in the show, the seelies have already been helping the Clave, and Meliorn mentioned going to Idris in episode 3, so why are they still so distrustful of the shadowhunters? And if these alliances have already been formed, what's going to happen when they get to adapting City of Glass?
What Is Valentine Even Doing?
We got one long scene with Valentine this episode, and it definitely provided more questions than answers. I still don’t understand why the Circle has a dark mark when runes were given to shadowhunters by the Angel, not created by psychopaths who feel like creating evil cults. So is this circle rune one of the Angel’s? Or does Valentine have the power to create new runes?
Nevertheless, we learn that Valentine has been doing experiments on mundanes, giving them the sight by injecting them with Seelie blood. Valentine also puts runes on the mundies, turning them into forsaken just like in the books. However, he tells his mundane experiment that to take the Angel’s rune is an honor, while in the books the forsaken were always viewed as disgraceful, since they were unworthy of the angel’s marks.
Finally, what does Valentine even want with the cup at this point? Luke tells Alaric that he’s using his army to get the cup instead of using the cup to make an army, so what exactly is he planning to do with it? Control demons, because apparently the cup can do that? It's the only explanation I can think of, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.
The Jade Wolf
Clary and Simon are kidnapped and taken to the chinese restaurant where the NYC werewolf pack lives, and it’s clear these werewolves are not good guys. The alpha (who is not Luke) threatens Simon in order to get the cup from Clary, who pretends to know where it is.
Meanwhile, Alec meets up with Jace and Isabelle, and attempts to 'Parabatai Track' with Jace. For the record, Parabatai Tracking has become the funniest and most ridiculous thing on the show, and I’ve actually started to look forward to these scenes purely because of the comedy.
They realize that Clary and Simon are being held over a body of water, because apparently water makes tracking impossible.
The Alpha Leader
Luke finds Clary and explains himself, then helps get her and Simon out. He attacks the leader of the pack and wins, becoming the new alpha. I admit I laughed out loud when Jace called Luke “the alpha leader.” Jace, the Alpha is the leader. What’s the point of adding ‘leader’ to the end of his title?
Why Shadowhunters felt the need to show Luke becoming the Alpha instead of introducing him as such from the beginning is beyond me, since it made for an unnecessary plotline that could easily been scrapped in favor of something more interesting. Anyway, Luke is bitten during the fight, and apparently an alpha’s bite is lethal, so they need a warlock to heal Luke. While I'm not a fan of this new addition to the werewolf mythology, it means we get to see Magnus next episode, and I am always in favor of more Magnus. So you get a pass there, Shadowhunters.