Tonight, Shadowhunters wrapped up a storyline that had been dragging on for way to long, finally showing Simon’s vampire transformation in one of its strongest episodes yet. It was far from perfect, but still did a good job adapting some of the more powerful book scenes.
The episode starts with Clary, Jace and Izzy trying to decide what to do with the Mortal Cup. Jace, thinking only of Clary and her well-being, wants to trade the cup to Valentine in exchange for Jocelyn, but Clary has acquired a much more extensive knowledge of the shadow world, as well as a fair bit of wisdom. She knows that handing the cup to Valentine could be disastrous, and plans to use the Cup against him instead. How she intends to use a cup as a weapon is beyond me, but the show has done some weird things to it already, so why not?
Now that she finally has a moment of down time, Clary remembers that she has a best friend that she hasn’t talked to in a long time. She calls to tell him the good news about the Cup, but has to leave a message when he doesn’t pick up. Raphael soon shows up at the Institute, carrying a lifeless Simon in his arms in a scene straight out of the books. They lay him out on a table as Clary weeps over his body, but it’s too late. Simon is dead.
He is not, however, beyond saving. Raphael tells Clary that because he drank Camille’s blood, he is a fledgling which means that Clary has two options: she can kill him, by stabbing him with a stake, or bury him and hope that he is strong enough to claw his way out of the ground and be reborn as a vampire. It’s a tough decision, and one Clary can’t bring herself to make just yet. Jace and Isabelle try to convince her to kill him, but she wonders if that’s the right choice. She has until sundown to decide what to do with Simon.
Clary blames herself – rightfully – for dragging him into the shadow world, and we see her struggle with the choice she has to make.
Meanwhile, Lydia Branwell makes her first appearance, strutting into the institute disguised as Valentine, just as a test for the shadowhunters of the Institute. Alec shoots an arrow at her, which she catches, but he’s the only one who reacted in time.
She announces that she’s taking control of the Institute, because of all the unsanctioned missions the kids have been on. Alec and Isabelle continue their mission to restore the Lightwood name, because apparently the Clave really hates it when shadowhunters save their friends from vampires and when girls wear revealing clothing, enough to disgrace a family and take away their power.
My main problem with the way the Clave has been portrayed in the show is how they’re taking the power and control away from the main cast of characters. We’re supposed to feel like the weight of the world is on the shoulders of Clary, Jace, Simon, Isabelle and Alec, but right now it feels like they’re just a bunch of kids running off and doing their own thing while the grown ups take care of the serious issues. In the books, the Clave is very unhelpful and ignorant, so the characters don’t feel like they can turn to them for help, but now it feels like the Clave is forcing itself into the lives of these characters, and trying to take control of the situation. It’s a minor annoyance, but an odd choice considering they aged up the characters, and are definitely setting Clary up to be a ‘Chosen One’. Right now, it feels like the responsibility is on the shoulders of the Clave, rather than Clary.
Tonight’s episode also introduced the forsaken, as Valentine’s minions went to the Jade Wolf, and one of them broke into the Institute. The reason it was able to enter is made clear later in the episode: the forsaken warrior had angel blood, which allowed it to open the doors. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought of the automatons from The Infernal Devices when Valentine found that little loophole.
While she’s still trying to decide if it’s worse to kill Simon or turn him into a vampire, Clary visits the Lewis’, saying that she owes it to them to at least give them an idea of what’s going on with Simon. She has a touching conversation with his mom while Jace lurks, invisible, in the background, but she can’t quite bring herself to deliver the fake news that Simon was killed in an accident, and leaves feeling even worse than before. She realizes that she can’t do this to Simon’s family, and confesses to Jace that her head and heart are telling her different things.
Jace decides that this would be the perfect moment to tell her the falcon story, in what ends up being quite possibly the most awkward, cringe-worthy use of a beloved book quote yet. I love the falcon story, but in this context it just doesn’t work. First of all, he tells it in third person like the bedtime story it was in the book, when it would have worked so much better if he had just told it like an anecdote. Then, he leaves out the most important part of the quote (which I admit probably wouldn’t have worked, but none of the story worked in this context anyway). Finally, he tries to make it relevant to Clary’s situation by using it as some way to explain that shadowhunting needs to be emotionless. Now, I know that that is kind of the message of the original falcon story, but I’ve always thought of shadowhunters as creatures ruled by emotion, who love much more passionately than regular humans, and it’s disappointing to see them portrayed as these emotionless soldiers.
More Lightwood drama
While talking to Luke, Lydia accidentally lets it slip that the Lightwood parents were in the circle together, a revelation that comes as a great shock to Alec, who is understandably upset that his parent kept such a big secret from him. He takes a long time to digest this information, feeling betrayed by his family in a way that Clary can probably relate to.
Once again, I have to wonder why the Clave sees Alec and Isabelle’s antics as a bigger threat to their family’s honor than their parents being in the circle. You’d think that any honor they retained after the worm incident would have disappeared when they got involved with Valentine, but apparently not, because they still have something to lose. This makes me wonder if the show might have given a bit more backstory to the family, coming up with an excuse for the Clave to hold them in such high esteem when they don’t appear to deserve it at all.
The end of Malec… for now
It’s sad that Malec had to hit such a major roadblock right when they both seemed to be chasing each other. The first Malec moment comes when Alec learns that Magnus will be coming to the Institute, and gets adorably bashful as he tells Lydia about him.
We then see Magnus and Isabelle wearing absolutely ridiculous helmets as they heal a forsaken warrior, because apparently shadowhunters receive medical training beyond “put an iratze on them, and if they can’t wear one they’re not worth saving”. Isabelle, as Malec’s biggest shipper, offers Magnus some advice, and tells him about the Clave’s plan for her brother. Magnus, disappointed, goes after Alec.
He finds him shirtless in the training room, and echoes all of our thoughts when he tells Alec not to put any clothes on. He offers a piece of advice that Alec will completely disregard later in this episode: “You should start living for yourself.”
But just as hope is running strong for this couple, everything comes crashing down. Alec starts spending a lot of time with Lydia, and they find out that they have a lot in common (she also name-drops Henry when talking about Magnus!). Instead of living for himself, Alec decides to conform to the Clave’s pressure and put his family’s name above his own happiness. He gives a speech about pretty much exactly what Magnus said to him earlier, gets down on one knee, and proposes to Lydia Branwell. A woman. That he just met.
Let me start by saying that this is not something that Alec Lightwood would ever do in a million years. He may be in the closet, he may be hiding who he is and he may be unhappy with the person he is hiding, but he would never marry a woman just to please his family and his government. I hope that this storyline doesn’t take up much time in the show, because I hate it, but I do realize that I’m supposed to hate it. The show is trying to make me mad. I think it’s a cheap, unnecessary plot that’s inconsistent with Alec’s character, but I also know that Malec is still endgame and that Lydia is probably going to be used as a way to make Alec more confident and encourage him to embrace his sexuality. I don’t like it, but hopefully it won’t take up too much screen time.
Back to the graveyard
After a nice chat with Luke, Clary decides that she’s going to take a risk and let Simon turn into a vampire. She takes him to the graveyard in another emotional and brilliantly acted scene. Give credit where credit is due – Kat’s acting has improved a lot in these last few episodes.
It doesn’t take long for Camille to turn up, asking for her “property”, AKA Simon. She says that she wants to kill him so that the Clave doesn’t have proof that she broke the law. Clary steps in and punches her in the face, and though the vampires flock to her, she clearly manages to fend them off.
What follows is, hands down, one of the best scenes in the entire show. Simon claws his way out of the ground, drinks the blood they’d left out for him, and then finally comes to. He calls himself a monster, and as Clary pleads with him, he breaks down in tears, which only get worse when he fails to utter the word “god”. The acting in this scene is phenomenal, and even more proof that Alberto Rosende is a wonderful human being and the best thing to ever happen to this show.