Remember episode three of the first season?
I’m not trying to bring up bad memories, I promise. I know nobody could ever forget the total shitshow that was 1×03, or the controversy and drama that arose from it. The point is that my most vivid memory about that episode was that it was a turning point for the show, at least in my eyes. While the first two episodes had made me optimistic about the direction Shadowhunters was taking, the third dashed all those hopes and made me rethink everything I had previously liked about the show.
How far we’ve come since then.
One season later, Shadowhunters has managed to pick itself up and deliver, if not a quality television show, at least an entertaining one. A show with fantastic representation, decent acting and a wonderful cast of characters. With the new writers shows due to start anytime now, I’m hopeful that Shadowhunters will eventually come into its own and become a show that I can be proud to say I followed from the very beginning.
WHITHER THOU GOEST
The main reason I liked this episode was because it focused on an aspect of the Shadow world that neither the movie nor, up until this point, the show, had fully been able to grasp.
Parabatai is THE most important bond in the Shadowhunter universe. No, Alec and Jace don’t seem as close as other pairs we’ve seen in Cassie Clare’s books, especially at the start of the series, but you can’t just pretend that their bond is the same as any pair of best friends. It’s not.
So far, Shadowhunters has given us very mixed messages about parabatai. Alec and Jace were at odds for most of the first season, and yet kept telling everybody else how much they meant to each other. Valentine and Luke sure didn’t seem to care about each other very much in the episode 6 flashbacks. The writers even introduced a new and unnecessary way to break the bond. The focus seemed to be on the magical benefits of having a parabatai (which apparently involves a whole lot of tracking) rather than the personal effects of having a partner, of being bound for life to another shadowhunter.
But this episode got to me. I don’t know if this means we’ll get an accurate portrayal of Jace and Alec’s relationship down the line, but it made me a little bit more confident in the writers. For the first time, I felt like they truly understood Alec and Jace, in the last 10 minutes.
I hope Shadowhunters does well by Maia, because she’s a character that is often misunderstood by the fandom.
We don’t need Jordan yet. He doesn’t even appear until City of Fallen Angels anyway, while Maia was introduced in City of Ashes. Let Maia have her own storyline, let us understand her motivations and fears like we did in the books, let her become a fan favourite before you bring in her complicated relationship with her former abuser.
So far, she doesn’t quite feel like Maia to me, but it’s only one episode. I still have hope that, given adequate screen time and decent writing, the TV version of her will be done justice.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE FLASHBACKS THOUGH
While I understand the importance of the flashbacks, and I honestly think they had the potential to be very emotional, I thought they really fell flat in this episode.
The dialogue was choppy and the acting was pretty bad, but most of all I was constantly distracted by how little the young actors resembled their older counterparts. Especially Izzy. Couldn’t they have chosen someone who looked even the slightest bit like Emeraude?
This is kind of like episode 6 of season 1, when the show insisted on casting teenage versions of Jocelyn, Luke and Valentine even though that was entirely unnecessary and ended up being a huge distraction.
If Shadowhunters wanted to show us clips of Alec and Jace as kids, that’s fine, why didn’t they just stick with the really young actors? Why confuse us even further by finding different actors for each stage of their lives?
Actually, why are Alec and Jace teenagers when they take the parabatai oath? Why not stick with the young actors and say they’re about 12-13 years old? That’s how old Shadowhunters generally are when they take the oath anyway. And if you really want to make them teenagers, I’m sure you can find ways to make the regular actors look a little bit younger.
LEWIS FAMILY REUNION
Hey, Mama Lewis! It’s about time you showed up! We were all wondering where you’d been since the last time we saw you.
I wish Simon’s reunion with his mom had been given a little bit more attention instead of being resolved in one episode, because cutting ties with his family is a huge step in Simon’s life. It felt like he and his mom resolved their issues very quickly, and swept a lot of stuff under the rug. I have no doubt that this stuff will be brought up again later in the season, but it was very jarring to see this happen so suddenly.
I think all my issues with Simon’s storytelling are really about the lightning-fast pacing of this show. By no means are Simon’s arcs the only ones that are being handled way too quickly, but since his character generally has the best writing, I have higher expectations when it comes to him. Again, I’m still loving every moment Alberto Rosende is on screen, I just feel like they could be even better if the pace would slow down a bit.
THINGS THAT DO NOT MAKE SENSE, A LIST
Every week, I think I’ll finally have a list closer in size to Lizzie’s lists in her Once Upon A Time reviews. Then I rewatch the episode.
- The parabatai bond being basically like that OTHER bond from City of Lost Souls. How is their connection so strong? What do you mean Alec is “stuck” between himself and his parabatai?
- People assuming Jace killed Gretel just because they washed up on shore at the same time. I would have assumed they were together? Like, they were on the same boat and both washed up at the same place?
- Why does Maia think Jace can help her find a werewolf who was kidnapped by Valentine just because he’s a Shadowhunter? I’m pretty sure we’ve already established that the Shadowhunters are kind of lost when it comes to Valentine.
- Wait, there’s a civil war brewing between the Vampires? Hold on. Time out. Where was the buildup for this? Where did that come from? WHAT?
- Maryse wanting to take Alec to Idris to be healed. I’m so confused. Does Alec actually have to go to Idris to be healed? That wasn’t just an excuse to bring him through a portal? Then why didn’t they take him there? And does Maryse not know that Alec needs Jace in order to get better? If she doesn’t, WHY NOT? And if she does, is she seriously willing to risk her son’s life just to keep him away from his parabatai?
- What happened to the Silent Brothers? Having Magnus heal everyone is one thing, but when it comes to runic magic and ancient bonds, I don’t understand why nobody thought to call them.
- Luke vowing to kill Jace himself if he’s on Valentine’s side. Why do none of the former circle members have any sympathy for Jace? THEY KNOW WHAT VALENTINE IS LIKE.
- Aldertree blaming Magnus for Alec’s slow recovery. Dude. I don’t see you coming up with a better plan.
- The institute having fight simulation training technology straight out of the Capitol. Not exactly something that doesn’t make sense, but I’m just really annoyed with all these changes to the world. These aren’t the shadowhunters I know and love.
- Jace and Alec having to go through a series of tests in order to become parabatai.
- The paramedics not seeming even the slightest bit concerned about Jace’s dying brother. I’m not going to pretend to know anything about this subject, but I’m assuming they’d at least try to investigate this claim? Why would they just brush off an announcement that somebody is dying?
- Clary equating hypochondria and mustard sandwiches to being an undead supernatural creature. I’m sorry, but “Mom, I’m dead,” is a bit of a step up from “Mom, I like mustard sandwiches.”
- Magnus almost killing that random Shadowhunter. I get that he was upset, but Magnus would never do that.
- Jace trying to kick open a door that clearly opens toward him. It was a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, but I laughed.
- Jocelyn suddenly wanting to reconnect with Jace. Make up your mind, woman.
- Jocelyn STILL NOT KNOWING the truth about Jace. It gets more ridiculous with every episode.
- Aldertree saying that the Clave doesn’t murder werewolves. Um. Excuse me?
- Why does Aldertree want to find Jace anyway?
- Magnus trying to wake Alec by kissing him. Oh come on. Magnus isn’t that sentimental.
- Young Isabelle suddenly conveniently figuring out why Alec doesn’t want to be parabatai with Jace. That interaction was pretty cringey.
- Why didn’t anyone think about the possibility of Valentine killing Gretel?
- Simon’s mom not being even slightly mad about Simon not telling her his band was on tour.
- Simon’s mom not noticing that Simon isn’t wearing glasses anymore.
- Simon eating and drinking at the restaurant. HE ONLY DRINKS BLOOD.
- Simon deciding to move back in with his mom. He definitely can’t hide it now.
- Maia taking pity on Jace.
- The werewolves answering to Izzy.
- How did Jace even heal Alec? What were they doing with the Adamas?
TOP 3 WORST QUOTES OF THE EPISODE
I almost didn’t make a list this episode. These truly were the only lines that really made me cringe. We’re getting there.
- JACE: I don’t want to hurt anyone. MAIA: That’s too bad. ‘Cause we do.
- MAGNUS: This isn’t waking Sleeping Beauty with a kiss. Runic power is deep and requires magic that can’t be accessed within the walls of this institute.
- JACE: I’m a little soggy, but I’ll live.
OTHER THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- This is your regularly scheduled plea to maybe not forget your female characters when giving everybody else significant storylines this season?
- This is such a small thing but “memory wipes” sounds so weird.
- “Come out of the coffin” was my favourite line of the episode. Oh, Simon. The only thing bad about this – is it’s taken from True Blood… so…
- The werewolf transformations look SO much better this season.
- Jace’s feelings toward Jocelyn are so genuine and so true to the books. I’m really looking forward to seeing more of that.
- Okay, is Shadowhunters doing that thing where vampires can only enter your home if you invite them in? Because that’s what it sounded like from that conversation with Raphael.
- I’m definitely getting used to Magnus. Hopefully he’ll grow on me over the course of the season.
- I’m still really giddy that they included the parabatai bond from the books. WORD FOR WORD. It was beautiful.
- Jalec fans will be happy.
Shadowhunters airs Mondays at 8pm on Freeform.