As avid fans of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments, we’ve been missing the lovable cast of Freeform’s Shadowhunters following its first season finale. Luckily Freeform saw potential in the show and answered fans’ desires to bring Shadowhunters back for a second season, which is due to start filming this year.
While the first season of Shadowhunters was far from perfect, there were elements that we enjoyed and saw potential in. Together Fangirlish and TMI Source got together to discuss some of our hopes for this new season — things that we not only want to see but things we believe will make the show even better.
Here are our 12 hopes for Shadowhunters season 2:
1. The Writers Read The Books
Everyone involved with this show needs to read the books. This isn’t a joke – because it’s come across that the only person who knows what is in the books is Alberto (no offense). That is often what differentiates a good adaptation from a bad one. This is not a call for totally fidelity to the books, but you have to have read the books in order to make changes that make sense. In the same way you actually need classical art training even if you intend to draw like Picasso. You need to know the rules you’re breaking so they are not random.
2. Quotes From The Books That Make Sense
One of the things that makes these book to television adaptations so great is when there are subtle nods to the source material. One of the easiest and most satisfying ways to do this are quotes from the books. But not just any quotes from the books. Quotes that fans have memorized, can recite on demand, or have even gotten tattooed on themselves. They’re quotes that have meaning in the grand scheme of the story.
Last season there were a few quotes that we recognized, but then there were more opportunities where the show severely missed out, including, “To love is to destroy, and that to be loved is to be the one destroyed.” Watching the scene I immediately was expecting to hear that telling line from Jace. But it never came. So perhaps on the most important things that needs to happen is that there needs to be more awareness of the significance of the source material and those famous lines that make readers’ hearts swoon.
3. Jace to be more “Jace”
Perhaps one of the biggest problems with Jace in the first season was how we felt so very “un-Jace” in terms of his goals and his desires. When he wanted Clary, she liked him back. When he found out that he’s her brother, he didn’t seem to care or wasn’t upset. When nothing is ever denied to someone, sarcasm doesn’t seem like a defense against being hurt, it just seems like assholery. Also Jace’s sarcasm is not actually funny on the show – being actually funny is key. Jokes that don’t land don’t endear you to anyone. Yes, the show is different from the books, but the characters have been touted as being like their book counterparts. So when the show fails to deliver on that promise it feels like a letdown. Hopefully the show will really focus on why fans loved these characters in the first place and show that on screen.
4. Clary to Not Be So Whiny
Perhaps the greatest strength of The Mortal Instruments is the strong, confident, complex characters that Cassandra Clare created. They were far from perfect, but it was their complexities and struggles that made them inspiring and attainable. And one of the strongest characters was the series’ protagonist Clary, who while far from perfect was the perfect display of strength in a world that was alien to her. Sure, Clary was stubborn, but that was part of her charm. One of her most admirable qualities was the almost fearless way she approached the unknown. That was something that we were looking forward to seeing on screen.
Instead Clary was written as a somewhat whiny character, which was never a characteristic you’d associate with her. Clary, no matter how scared or sad she was, always portrayed herself with a sense of strength and confidence, which was something lacking from the television portrayal. It also made those moments in the books when she broke down all the more emotional because she was always so good at keeping her emotions in check. One of the things we’d like to see is that Clary from the books that fans — and Jace — gravitated towards. Clary’s appeal was never about her looks, it was always about the beauty and strength from within.
5. Some Actual Build Up of Tension Between Alec and Magnus
One of the things we were really looking forward to on this show was seeing Magnus and Alec’s relationship really develop. No one wants to watch two people meet and instantly jump into a relationship. Honestly, those are the relationships that never work out. Slow burns throughout literature and television lead to successful couples for a reason. It’s because you get to explore these characters as individuals and as a couple. You get that sexual tension that leaves fans jumping for joy or sobbing in a ball on the floor. That’s what we wanted to experience with Magnus and Alec.
Instead the relationship was seemingly rushed in this first season. In fact, Magnus and Alec spent at the most 15 minutes of screen time together, which obviously doesn’t leave much or any time for development before the big kiss. Alec actually spent more time Lydia than he did Magnus. A huge amount more time was given to dead-end side plots when it could’ve been used to explore more with Magnus and Alec. Because we didn’t get to see this relationship develop, Alec never appeared to be interested in Magnus until the moment that they kissed. The scene where Magnus forces him using magic to experience feelings of love and attraction simply highlights that he doesn’t feel that way about Magnus normally. You don’t ever have to rush a relationship, in fact it’s highly discouraged. Your audience wants to watch these two strangers meet, have that instant connection, take time to explore that connection further, and take those next steps in their relationship before they have that big moment. It makes that moment even more significant.
6. Isabelle To Have A Plotline of Her Own
So far Isabelle has not been a character who’s been allowed to have things she wants for herself. She isn’t even actually interested in Meliorn, or Simon, or anyone else. She also doesn’t really have any kind of personal or career goal. Her whole personality is subsumed in displacing her wants into doing things for Alec, like mending his relationship with Jace and protecting him and shipping Malec. Even the plotline in which she gradually learns to trust Clary, proceeding from a perfectly reasonable point of mistrusting Valentine’s daughter, is taken from her and given to Alec, leaving Isabelle to just like Clary for no particular reason. While strong female friendships are important to depict, it’s also significant to show how they got that way — insta-friendship is no more believable than insta-love. Why do these people get along? And most significantly, Isabelle’s plotline and conflict with her parents has been taken away. With the reversal of the roles of the Lightwoods, so that Maryse is a cruel tyrant and Robert is warm and understanding, it’s hard to see how Isabelle will end up bearing the weight of her father’s betrayal. Without that, what will shape her character? We hope it’s something interesting.
7. Luke To Have Some Sort of Purpose or Gone/Jocelyn Gone or Back in a Magical Sleep
One of the core elements of these books was the inclusion of the adults in terms of storyline and significance. The usual purpose of adults in YA adaptations is to serve as mirrors for the children and to exemplify what they do or don’t want to be. But because the show has aged up the kids that no longer fits. The adults feel extraneous, especially the Lightwood parents. You’d like to see them sent back to Idris or in some other way out of the central action.
As for Luke, the fact that he was a cop disappeared halfway through the season, and now the character is struggling to have a place in the story. Then you have Jocelyn’s waking up from a coma a good two seasons before it should’ve happened. Part of the importance of needing to wake Jocelyn up was due to the storyline in City of Glass. So where does this leave her in the story now? The simple fact of the matter is that the show has edged out the adults in terms of need to the plot. So they’ve become merely decoration.
8. Let’s Not Visit Idris Yet
We haven’t seen these characters be Shadowhunters in New York. All they’ve done is stand around in dim rooms and argue about their relationships. We need to see them fighting demons in our world before we go to their world. There is no need for us to travel back and forth to Idris yet. We need to see the world in NYC developed.
9. No Characters That Add Nothing To The Story
Maureen, Dot, Ned Fisk, Captain Vargas, Lydia — none of these characters actually contributed anything to the storyline. There are some who will argue that Lydia had a point in that she gets engaged to Alec and seems to represent the worst of the Clave, but most of the plots she engenders are dead ends — she gets Izzy put on trial, but that doesn’t advance the plot. Neither does her engagement to Alec. Plus, there was really no need to invent Lydia — why not introduce Aline in this role, since as a lesbian, Aline has a reason to want to marry a gay man if she is as insistent as he is on remaining closeted, and this would have given us a queer POC character instead of another white straight girl. As for the others, they literally do nothing but clog the story up — we need to be able to get to know the main characters, and throwing literally dozens of minor characters who contribute nothing at all prevents us from being able to do that.
10. Valentine to Actual Be Sinister – Not Comical/No More Chernobyl
We keep thinking that Chernobyl was a bad joke and that we’ll awake and that he’s not there. It literally made no sense.
We need to see the Valentine that people fear. The Valentine that was so sinister that people dared not say his name. We know that Alan can play crazy – we have seen Reign. But this is just a joke. Valentine is written like a Z list movie actor in a student film. It’s embarrassing.
11. Less Plot Holes
There is nothing that throws the viewer out of a story faster than plot holes and contradictions. For instance: If a werewolf has to fight “an alpha” in order to become leader of a pack, why is an alpha’s bite mortally poisonous? Wouldn’t that mean that no one ever became the leader of a pack since they’d all die of alpha poison?
Why, when we are showed that people who are traveling between this dimension and the “through the Looking Glass” dimension move from body to body, does Jace — after leaving behind the body that was bitten by a demon — still seem poisoned?
Why does Alec say that it would be against the Accords to attack Raphael when Raphael is dangling Simon off a roof, shortly after it’s been explained to us that saving mundanes who are threatened by Downworlders is part of a Shadowhunter’s job?
If Clary has known Dot all her life, and Dot is as close to her as a sister, why has Clary not noticed Dot has never aged? How was Simon able to attend Alec’s wedding to Lydia when he can’t come into the Institute?
These and hundreds of other gaping plot holes drove away a huge portion of the audience.
12. A Cohesive Storyline
In most fantasy shows, the characters have a comprehensible goal. Defeat a villain. Win the throne. In season one, the mythology of the books was so chopped up and rendered so nonsensical that no one could figure out what the characters were trying to do. Having all the Downworlders be after the Cup was a bad idea, because it’s of interest only to Shadowhunters, and their need for it never made sense, and seemed to come and go depending on the scene. valentine’s plans and goals were incomprehensible. Why was he ever buying worthless human blood?
The show clearly desired to make this less Clary’s story and more an ensemble. That’s understandable, but it requires changes to the basic story structure. They seemed to want to both keep the idea that this is Clary’s hero’s journey, while surrounding her story (defeating evil, looking for the cup) with low-stakes stories for other characters (Alec’s fake marriage, Isabelle being on trial for sleeping with Meliorn.) The fractured storylines never dovetailed, and the audience was left scratching their heads about what the actual fantasy story was.
With those hopes in mind we can’t wait to see what season two of Shadowhunters holds in store.
Shadowhunters season two returns in 2017.