Is it too early to say I’m optimistic?
It’s no secret that I was not a big fan of Shadowhunters season 1, aside from a select few storylines. And though the season two premiere showed a lot of promise, that was all overshadowed by the huge disappointment that was the script. I’m sorry, but you can’t have a good show with dialogue that bad.
That said, episode two of the second season, A Door Into the Dark, was a definite improvement over the premiere, writing-wise. The script was still far from perfect, but it was passable, which, if you read last week’s review, you know was my low bar for the writing on this show.
So congratulations, Shadowhunters. Your writing was passable in this episode, by my standards. I guess that counts as a success at this point.
YOU HAVE ME
Clary and Isabelle’s friendship is honestly one of my favourite things about this TV show.
Clary’s storyline in this episode felt very much like one you’d see in a season premiere. She felt useless and powerless, as she was benched in the search for Jace. Just when she was starting to feel like a real shadowhunter, this episode reminded her that she remains very much an outsider in this world.
She’s at a point in her life right now where she doesn’t really feel like she can confide in anyone. Her mom is trying to keep her from getting involved in stuff, Jace is gone, Simon is off trying to figure out how to be a vampire, Luke is busy leading a werewolf pack and probably doesn’t want her getting involved either. She’s not a mundane, but not really a Shadowhunter either.
Which is why it’s so wonderful that she’s been able to turn to Isabelle. Her new friend has been there to remind her that she belongs at the institute, that she can make a difference in the world if she tries, and that she doesn’t have to go at it alone. Isabelle reminds her of everything that is good about being a shadowhunter.
It’s not a relationship that was in the books exactly, but I’m so glad they portrayed it in the TV show because it just works so well. We need more good female friendships in the media. I really hope Shadowhunters has more in store for these two wonderful women.
THE EVIL DEMON BABY
Let us take a moment to appreciate the best/worst scene in this entire episode. Yes, I am dedicating a full section to it because I had to pause the episode I was laughing so hard. I’m talking, of course, about the scene with evil baby Jonathan.
This scene is the best because it’s the kind of ridiculous, over-the-top scene I expect from season 1 Shadowhunters. From Jonathan’s extended evil stare at the camera to the dramatic music in the background to the flower dying in his hands, everything about this scene was hilarious. I don’t know if it was supposed to be funny or not, but I loved it.
But on the other hand… really? Shadowhunters has this problem where they keep simplifying the very complex dynamics of the books by separating everyone into Good and Evil. Valentine’s transformation into a caricature of a villain has been well documented on this blog and it’s disappointing to see them going the same route with Jonathan.
That’s not to say that Book Jonathan is a good person. He absolutely is not and I would never want Shadowhunters to pretend otherwise. Jonathan is a horrible, unforgivable excuse for a human being and so is Valentine, BUT they are both flawed people with human qualities, who clearly have the potential for good even if they don’t act on it.
It’s entirely possible that the show could present Jonathan as a nuanced character in later episodes, but the dramatic staring into the camera over villain music, coupled with Jocelyn’s use of the word “evil” when describing her baby, seems to point toward the simplistic separation of Good and Evil that I hoped Shadowhunters would move away from in season 2.
THE SNAKE WHISPERER
As it turns out, the last scene of the season premiere ended up being quite important, in a somewhat confusing way. Not because Jace killed Maria, no, but because the Clave found out about her murdering mundanes. I think? Am I understanding this correctly?
So last episode, Jace was sure that he would get in trouble with the Clave if he killed the Vampire. Then he killed her by accident, somehow the Clave found out about her… and then got mad at the Vampires?
However that happened, Aldertree decided that tensions between Shadowhunters and Vampires had gone too far, and threatened to prevent Vampires from interacting with Shadowhunters if Simon didn’t fix things.
Raphael, who took the fall for Maria’s actions, asked Simon to clean up his mess, threatening burning and dismemberment in an adorable scene that reminded me why I love this relationship. Faced with the daunting task of finding and confronting Camille, Simon sought out Magnus, who took him to Camille’s house in India. There Simon faced down a snake and finally learned how to use his encanto powers.
I’m kind of surprised that Shadowhunters is making such a big deal of the encanto spell, because I don’t remember it being a big part of the books at all. I always got the impression that it was a trick learned by very old and experienced vampires, since it wasn’t something that Simon ever learned to do.
I love that Shadowhunters is putting a comedic spin on Simon’s struggles with undeath, but I still kind of feel like this transition was a little abrupt. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE every single scene Simon is in, but I thought dying and being reanimated as a bloodsucking corpse would be a little bit more traumatizing? And that being forced to become nocturnal and drink blood instead of eating food (as a vegetarian, no less) would be a little harder to get used to? I don’t know, maybe that’s just me.
Again, I don’t want to complain about Simon’s storyline when he’s my favourite thing about the show, but that’s my one little gripe with his portrayal.
I HAD NO ONE
As much as I loved Magnus when he first appeared last season, he really hasn’t been doing it for me recently.
He seems so over the top, so exaggerated all the time that nothing he says ever seems natural. I don’t think it’s Harry’s fault at all, but every scene he’s in just feels so awkward, both because of the lines and because of the way he’s drawing out his syllables and emphasizing the wrong words. Just… talk like a normal person, please. Whatever it is you’re doing, it’s not working.
Which is especially disappointing because I really think his character is headed in an interesting direction this season. The showrunners have hinted at the possibility of some backstory for the warlock, and we got a tiny hint at that in this episode when he broke into Camille’s home.
Magnus has led a very lonely life, as most warlocks do. He knows that he will have to see most of his friends die, and that’s a very heavy burden to bear. Simon, however, will live forever as well, so why not get to know him? He’s safe. He won’t die.
Simon, for his part, is in need of a mentor. Much like Clary, he doesn’t really fit in anywhere. He doesn’t want to hang out with Raphael and he’s not welcome with the Shadowhunters or the Werewolves. Magnus can teach him about downworld, and maybe eventually help him understand the burden of immortality.
THINGS THAT DO NOT MAKE SENSE, A LIST
Even in a decent episode, there are a ridiculous number of inconsistencies. You thought last week’s 20 things that don’t make sense were a lot? Check this out. Shadowhunters is kicking Once Upon A Time‘s ass.
- Valentine barely flinching when he pulls an arrow out of his chest. Um… did I miss something? I get that he can activate an iratze immediately after, but I’m pretty sure Valentine still feels pain.
- Valentine saying that the shadowhunters’ numbers are dwindling. Oh, so we’re actually keeping that from the books, then? It looks to me like they’re doing just fine. Certainly not scarce enough to warrant Valentine’s actions.
- Jocelyn not realizing that Jace isn’t her son after seeing him last episode. Okay, come on. I’m pretty sure she’d be able to tell.
- Valentine injecting Jace with demon blood instead of making Jocelyn drink it. Alright, this is kind of a problem with last week’s episode, but why would he inject it? Wouldn’t she notice? If not, how did she figure it out?
- Baby Jonathan being able to kill that flower. I loved that scene, but… I don’t remember him having the power to kill things like that?
- Alec saying that leading the institute is the Lightwoods’ birthright. It was a throwaway line, but it bugged me. Are the shadowhunters a monarchy all of a sudden?
- Valentine having such a big army. The guy’s had the cup for how long? How has he already found so many people?
- If all the best fighters come to that one club, why hasn’t Valentine been there yet? I mean, with an army that size, he must have checked out a lot of places already.
- The random circle member disguising himself as the fighter whose ass Isabelle kicked. That scene was just confusing.
- Clary being allowed to just walk into the Academy of Art and use the art supplies. It was a cute scene, but kind of a little bit illegal.
- Jocelyn not telling Luke about Valentine’s experiments on downworlders and her kids. Why would that protect him? Why does she think she would “lose him”? Because she was still on Valentine’s side? Why was she on Valentine’s side, then?
- Nobody picking up on the fact that Jace isn’t Jonathan. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE JOCELYN AWAKE SO EARLY. IT’S TOO OBVIOUS.
- Clary being dumb enough to follow Dot into a portal.
- Jace turning on the downworlders after one conversation with Clary.
- Magnus being able to create snakes. I don’t remember that being one of his powers.
- Why did Simon have to encanto the snake? He has super speed and super strength. Also, encanto works on snakes?
- But seriously… why didn’t Luke bring up the stone when Jace first went missing? Does he not realize how important this thing is?
- Why are there so many different ways to track people? I hate it when shows keep introducing loopholes in their mythology – in this case, tons of different ways to track people and even more ways to block the tracking.
- Dot being able to mind control Clary. Um… is that a power warlocks have? I feel like I would know if it was.
- Magnus acting like Simon is the first downworlder he’s helped. Has he forgotten Raphael? Please tell me the writers haven’t.
- Jace turning on the werewolf as soon someone tells him she killed mundanes.
- Why didn’t Valentine ever put anyone else under a spell? You’d think it would have come in handy a few times over the course of his life.
- Valentine not killing Dot at the end.
TOP 3 WORST QUOTES OF THE EPISODE
- JACE: The wards around this ship will fry you like an egg.
- CLARY: Remember when you taught me to see through the glamours? I got encanto’d by that vampire. I wanted to be so angry at you, but… you took me on my first motorcycle ride.
- JOCELYN: He thought demon blood would make our unborn child strong. And it did… but it also made him… evil.
OTHER THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- I had to watch this episode so many times in order to figure out what was going on. That is a problem.
- Valentine does know that Shadowhunters can reproduce, right? Isn’t that one of their favourite things?
- “Why so angry? Is it the fleas or the tics?”
- I love Luke mentoring Simon. I hope it doesn’t stop just because he’s hanging out with Magnus.
- I really liked the easter egg of Luke’s mom being an Iron Sister. I’d actually forgotten that was a thing in the books.
- The scene in which that fighter with the tattoos hits on Isabelle and she kicks his ass is EVERYTHING. Maybe one of my favourite scenes the show has ever done.
- Yes, Simon. I’m sure there is a youtube tutorial you can watch on magical travel.
Shadowhunters airs Mondays at 8pm on Freeform.