In its eleventh episode, Shadowhunters brought a combination of storylines that were not in the books at all and storylines that were in the books but not exactly as they were presented in the show. This episode was supposed to be shocking and fast-paced, with a huge reveal at the end, but it fell flat. Everything was rushed, hard to follow and yet painfully dull. While last week’s episode was at least entertaining in its ridiculousness, this one was just plain boring, and not only because I knew what was going to happen. I was bored because the pacing was bad and I wasn’t at all invested in these new storylines the show has come up with.
The Wayland Family Reunion (sort of)
So we’re sticking with this whole Michael Wayland thing, huh?
Jace’s father, recently back from the dead, fills the shadowhunters in on his incredibly questionable story, and the intel he managed to gather on Valentine while he was imprisoned – basically just that Valentine is hiding out in Renwick’s. He doesn’t have too much trouble adjusting to this new life, as he reconnects with Luke, talks up Valentine’s love for Jocelyn, and helps the squad save Jace’s life.
Because of the demon sting, Jace needs a blood transfusion, so Clary portals to Simon, who asks Raphael for help. After much arguing, the new leader of the vampires shows them Camille’s secret blood stash, and they grab a bag to give to Jace, though Simon has to stay behind as Raphael’s advisor.
Back to full health (seriously, what was the point of that whole demon sting, anyway?), Jace trains with his father, who reminds him of moments from his childhood and gives him some fatherly advice about Clary. Even though Jace didn’t see it for obvious reasons, it was abundantly clear throughout the entire episode that he was actually Valentine in disguise. The big reveal didn’t come as a shock at all.
Back at the institute, Isabelle is still on trial for High Treason. The reason for this accusation is made slightly more clear when we learn that Isabelle is in trouble for saving Meliorn two episodes ago. While I get that Izzy can be punished for freeing a prisoner, I cannot imagine why the Clave would actually go so far as to strip her of her runes and exile her – a punishment reserved only for the most horrible, unforgivable crimes a shadowhunter can commit. I mean, all Jessamine Lovelace got in TID was a few nights in the Silent City, and she was probably begging to be turned into a mundane. You’d think that if the Clave doled out this punishment so often and for such petty crimes, their numbers would be a lot smaller, and the otfyeahizzyher shadowhunters would have faced the possibility of this punishment before. It just doesn’t make sense.
Anyway, the Clave decides to give her a trial, and the Inquisitor arrives to enact it. She seems pretty close to the raging bitch we saw in the books so far, and I’m interested to see what she does to Jace when she finds out who his father is.
Alec, in his desperate attempt to save his sister’s life, visits Magnus, who is acting pretty cold about this whole arranged marriage thing. Magnus agrees to help, but for a price – he wants Alec. Whether he means this in a sexual or romantic way is left unclear, though the wording he uses suggests it’s probably the former. Either way, it’s uncharacteristic of Magnus and just plain awkward. When Alec refuses, he asks for something a little more manageable: Alec’s bow and quiver, something that Magnus later admits he has absolutely no use for, so why he wanted it in the first place remains a mystery.
Isabelle’s trial ends up being a lot like a mundane trial, with her pleading her case and Magnus acting as her lawyer. I don’t understand why they needed a trial at all when they literally have the mortal sword right there, and it can force Isabelle to tell the full truth whether she wants to or not.
Izzy finally makes a big speech about the Clave’s ignorance, bigotry and racism toward the downworlders, declaring that she doesn’t want to be a part of a world that condemns her for saving a life. This prompts Lydia to have a change of heart, make her own speech about how the Clave tearing the Lightwoods apart, and withdraw the charges, ensuring that Isabelle can remain a shadowhunter. It would’ve been nice if that had come a little bit earlier, and that seems like a much too easy way of ending the trial, but I didn’t really expect anything better. Also, while the messages behind Isabelle and Lydia’s respective speeches were very nice to hear and extremely relevant to today, they were a bit heavy-handed, and it feels too soon to be introducing this aspect of the story already.
However, I would like to say that this version of Isabelle has really been growing on me. I don’t like that she’s being held back and repressed by her mother, but ever since Maryse showed up, Isabelle has really blossomed as a character. I feel like the writers are finally doing her justice, and portraying her as the strong, independant woman she is. She’s nothing like the book character, but I can still appreciate her on her own, and I’ve really been enjoying her these last few episodes.
Clary, Jace, Luke and Michael Wayland head out to Renwick’s, to find Valentine. They encounter a few circle members, and Luke volunteers to stay behind as they go on without him. Clary rushes into the building and finds her mother right away, but of course, things can’t be that easy. Demons attack as the group is leaving, and nothing happens when Clary uses the Cup to command them to attack Valentine. Michael suggests that he give it a try, and Clary willingly hands the cup over. To the surprise of absolutely nobody (except Jace), “Michael” cuts through a shapeshifting rune on his arm to reveal himself as Valentine, because, like all villains, he felt the need to tell everyone his plan before running off with the cup. Clary foresaw this, though, and had the sense to give him a fake cup, so Valentine doesn’t actually have the object he wants.
But that’s not all! Valentine is actually Jace’s dad, and was using the shapeshifting rune throughout his son’s entire childhood. Which means that Jace and Clary are brother and sister! The reveal is extremely rushed and anticlimactic, as everybody sort of accepts the news and moves on, as if they didn’t just blow through one of the most important scenes in the entire book series.
They then enact some semblance of the famous portal scene, when Jace holds a knife to his father’s throat but can’t quite bring himself kill his him. There’s no mention of the Wayland Manor in Idris, and the portal doesn’t burst into fragments, because these portals are purple and can’t just be broken like mirrors. The show later attempts to portray the devastation of the two characters at this news as Clary tries to work up the courage to talk to Jace but can’t, and Jace breaks down into tears. While it’s a nice scene supported by decent acting, it’s still way too rushed.
This whole Michael Wayland storyline was pointless and a total waste of time, but I’m also worried about what it will do to the relationship between Jace and Valentine, which has always been one of the more interesting ones in the book series. In the books, Jace has trouble going against his father, because a part of him still loves him, and still sees him has his father, and while I’m sure that the show will address that relationship, I don’t think it will be quite as powerful now that we know that Valentine was wearing a different face when he raised Jace. So from now on, when Jace looks at his father, he will not see the face of the man who raised him, but rather that of the man he has grown up hating and fearing. I highly doubt he’ll be quite as hesitant to kill Valentine Morgenstern.
Luke and Simon
I’m really enjoying the relationship that Luke and Simon have started to develop ever since Simon’s transformation. They don’t get much screen time in this episode, but they provide some comic relief when Luke tries to get Simon to feed on blood.
In the end, it’s Luke who tells Simon the good news about Clary and Jace being brother and sister. Simon accepts it immediately, and resolves to finally make his move on Clary, without even thinking of her well-being or going to comfort her. I guess they will be going down that path after all.