The alternate dimension has become a bit of a TV cliché. Once Upon A Time did it last year with the Heroes and Villains book. The Flash did it this year with their Earth-2 storyline. Even Supergirl had a whole episode that explored what would have happened had Krypton not exploded. It’s become an integral part of the hero’s journey, whether it’s used to make the main character nostalgic for what they’ve lost, or just as a source of comic relief.
You had to know that Shadowhunters would try out any and every cliché, and manage to screw up their world building along the way in a completely pointless episode that was so bad it was funny. Interdimensional travel is totally no big deal, right? It’s not like it changes anything within the shadow world. I wonder if there’s a dimension in which the show is close to the books. I’d like for them to go to that dimension, please. And then they’d never be able to go back because there is no interdimensional travel in the shadow world.
We open with Meliorn, Clary and Jace trekking through a beautiful Ontarian forest (not as big as the BC ones, but I’m partial to them because I camp there all the time). Meliorn explains that ‘normal portals’ can only take you to places you’ve already been, which seems like a pretty stupid rule, and that Clary’s portal shard can show her whoever she’s thinking of, which means it’s from an alternate dimension. How Alec knew that it was a portal shard when it is literally the only thing of its kind and its powers should have been completely unique is never explained.
Clary’s job is to jump through a special portal that the Seelies have hidden from shadowhunters, find the only portal in the other dimension, and find Valentine by thinking of him, because that’s how portals work in that dimension but not in this one. Let me list the problems with this plan.
- If this is the Seelies’ biggest secret and it could get them executed, why is Meliorn telling it to a random shadowhunter he just met, just because she saved his life?
- How can the Earth-2 portal travel between dimensions? Or did I miss that bit of information? Wouldn’t Clary be taken to alternate-universe Valentine instead of the one in her world? How does the portal know which Valentine she’s thinking of?
- And if they can get back to their world so easily, why is it so important that Meliorn keep the interdimensional portal open? How is he going to know that Clary and Jace made it back to this world?
- How do we know that the portal is in New York and not, like, Switzerland?
Anyway, after some weird nature magic and bad special effects, Clary finds herself in the alternate reality, standing in the shoes of the alternate Clary. She soon figures out that she’s living in a world in which she, Jocelyn and Valentine are a happy family, but Sebastian is nowhere to be seen because we haven’t gotten to that part of the story yet. Really, this episode would have been way more accurate, and more powerful, if they’d just waited until season three or four at least. Then we could have gotten the whole story of the boy with the green eyes, we could have wept over how sad this whole mess is, and it could have made sense. But hey, maybe we’ll go back to this universe in a few years and Sebastian will have magically appeared there. You never know with Shadowhunters.
After seeing a hilarious commercial for Magnus’ tarot card reading services, which featured easter eggs like Luke opening a bookstore, Clary goes off to find her friends, who are apparently huge nerds – including Izzy and Alec. Seeing Isabelle in a Star Wars shirt made me nostalgic for the Izzy of COLS, COHF and Tales From Shadowhunter Academy. That Izzy was awesome and adorable. I miss her.
Jace shows up and immediately starts making out with Clary in public, because I guess that’s kind of their thing after their first kiss. He says he’s looking forward to tonight, but Clary soon pulls away and runs off in search of Magnus.
The ambassador of the werewolves
Meanwhile on Earth-1, Simon shows up at the Jade Wolf, announcing that he has been appointed ambassador of the werewolves. Thankfully, that is not actually a thing, and Simon was actually just told to take a walk and decided that going to see a werewolf pack was a totally normal and non-suicidal thing to do. He has a short, but heartfelt speech about wanting to go home, and soon learns that Luke is wanted by the police. Of course, they devise a plan to clear Luke’s name.
Simon kidnaps an officer, ties him up to a chair, and pretends he’s going to drain him of all his blood using a machine. Luke then comes out of nowhere and shoots him a few dozen times (once is enough, Luke, those things still hurt), effectively clearing his name.
They put Simon in a body bag and take him to the morgue. Now, I won’t pretend to be an expert on the subject, but I’m pretty sure the police would at least try to identify the body? And, like, call his family to let them know he’s dead? Or maybe that’s just me. I’m not a cop. What do I know about this process?
Anyway, Simon calmly steps out of the body bag and goes about his business, because he is legally still alive and nobody will notice that the body of the person who killed all those cops has gone missing.
Back at the Institute, Lydia decides to arrest Isabelle for… sleeping with Meliorn. I don’t remember what crucial information Isabelle gave Meliorn but apparently it’s not important because nothing has come of it. Except that Izzy can apparently be stripped of her runes and banished for it. Because the Seelies know something they shouldn’t and Isabelle slept with one of them? Was Isabelle not aware of this law when she decided to sleep with Meliorn? The law is hard, but it is also pointless, I guess.
In order to clear his sister’s name, Alec decides to help Lydia find the cup. When he realizes that Jace took it from its hiding place and went to the untrackable realm of the Seelies, he decides to undergo a painful tracking process that could very well sever the parabatai bond entirely, which is supposed to be impossible. Please, take me to an alternate dimension in which the show follows the books. I don’t want to live in a world in which parabatai means so little.
Clary finally finds Magnus, who tells her her fortune. She is also introduced to Church and Chariman meow, and I don’t understand why they can only exist in this universe because they are the greatest. She announces that she knows Magnus is a warlock, because she is a shadowhunter. Shocked, Magnus declares that that’s impossible because there are no more shadowhunters in this world, since their purpose was fulfilled. So apparently when the demons were defeated, the shadowhunters… disappeared? Or lost their powers? I don’t quite understand how Fairchilds and Morgensterns can still exist without any supernatural abilities (because apparently Earth-2 Clary doesn’t have angel blood, so she must not be a shadowhunter).
Clary convinces Magnus by drawing some very complicated sketches of demons in like two seconds, and then helps Magnus re-awaken his powers, which have apparently been dormant for a long time (because Magnus freaking Bane would actually abstain from using his powers – as if). Magnus makes a bit of progress, and tells Clary that the portal is conveniently located at the Institute, where Clary’s dad just so happens to be holding a party.
Soon after, Clary finds herself at a giant advertisement for Alice Through the Looking Glass, dancing very closely with Jace, who is awkward and unconfident and actually not all that different from regular TV show Jace. She soon ditches him for Magnus (who was let in by Alec, in a cute role reversal that should have been given more time), and Jace catches them disappearing into a room. Thinking Clary is cheating on him, he follows them.
A confrontation follows, as Jace totally misinterprets the scene he walks in on, and Clary finds herself trying not to totally ruin the lives of the alternate Clary and Jace while continuing to look for the portal. She finds it, but a demon arrives from her dimension, and Not-Jace starts freaking out.
Back on Earth-1, Jace decides to go after the demon, even though he won’t have his seraph blade, so killing demons will be much harder than just poking them and watching them poof. He takes the place of the other Jace, and he and Clary fight off the demon using whatever they can find, but Jace is stung. He decides to push through the pain, and they jump into the portal.
Sure enough, they find themselves in Valentine’s evil lair in Chernobyl. They open up a cupboard, and Jace gasps, not believing his eyes. The filthy prisoner they found is his father, Michael Wayland, which can mean one of two things. Either Valentine was using the shapeshifter rune all along, and somehow knew to put it back on before Clary and Jace arrived without warning, which messes up the world and story like crazy; or the show has screwed things up beyond any of our imagining. I guess we’ll find out next week.
Shadowhunters airs Tuesdays at 9pm on Freeform.