‘Shadowhunters’ 2×05 Review: ‘Dust and Shadows’

Shadowhunters is at its best when it focuses on its characters, and Dust and Shadows demonstrated that. The character moments were amazing: Jace and Clary’s chemistry continues to be amazing, Alec just about stole every scene he was in, and Isabelle… we’ll get to Isabelle later. We’re talking positives right now.

So as for the other positives… yeah, it was just the characters in this episode. But you know what? I watch TV for the people and for their relationships, not for the plot. That’s always been the case for me, not just with TV but with movies, books, any kind of storytelling. I’m here for the characters, everything else is just extra.

Still, it would be nice if Shadowhunters could provide a more compelling plot. Or at least something that actually, you know, makes sense. I seriously can’t understand this show if I’m only watching each episode once. And I’ve read the books. That’s a problem.

Overall, I’d say that as a collection of unrelated scenes, this was one of my favourite episodes. But as an actual episode of a TV show, it really didn’t work for me.

GRIEF AND GUILT

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Obviously, episode five centered primarily around everyone’s reaction to Jocelyn’s death. I didn’t expect Shadowhunters to really take the time to mourn Jocelyn, but I actually felt like they did a really good job of in this episode, and it looks like the repercussions will be felt throughout the entire season. At this point, her death is looking more and more like the right decision for the show going forward.

Clary dealt with grief in her own way: by looking for a way out. She pushed other people away, she brushed off their condolences, and searched tirelessly for a way to bring her mother back. I thought that was really true to her character: I can definitely see Book Clary acting exactly the same way.

Though we didn’t get to see much of Jace’s reaction to his mother’s death, I liked what we did see. He’s not mourning a mother, because that was never what Jocelyn was to him. He’s supporting his friends through a difficult time, and grieving the loss of a person that he could have eventually come to see as family, the idea of a mother he never had.

My favourite scene in this episode by far was the final one at the funeral. That one hit me. It was so well acted, and so true to these characters.

LET’S TALK ABOUT ALEC

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Alec was my MVP for this episode, as he dealt with his guilt over Jocelyn’s death. Everyone knows it wasn’t his fault, but he wouldn’t be a Shadowhunter if he didn’t beat himself up over things that are out of his control.

What I really liked was how he sought out Magnus, someone he knew would give him a different perspective on what happened. Everyone at the institute was mourning their companions while trying extra hard to absolve Alec of guilt, and he just needed to get away. His scene with Magnus was definitely one of my favourites of the episode.

That said, is anyone else really annoyed with the pacing of their storyline? We get one scene per episode. Each time, I think their relationship is finally going to progress, and then the storyline is dropped. “Nice seeing you, Magnus! See you next episode when I need advice!”




Just… give them some significant screen time, okay? They more than deserve it.

Malec is definitely not the only storyline that’s falling victim to the ridiculous pacing of this show, though. I feel like there’s so much going on that a lot of plots are either picked up and then forgotten about for a long time, or dragged out over so many episodes that we forget what was happening and they don’t really move forward. That’s not good writing.

WHY ARE WE STILL DOING THIS?

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The other plot that I think is really falling victim to Shadowhunters’ pacing is the one with Simon and his mother. I’m pretty sure he’s announced that he’s moving in with her three times in three different episodes already. I keep thinking Simon’s going to come clean to his mom, and then he tells more lies. And then very predictable difficulties arise. Just get to the point already. I’ve seen this plot before. I’m tired of it.

At least we finally saw a little bit of progress this week. Simon tried to hide his condition, with predictably disastrous effects, and Rebecca discovered him. Her reaction seemed a little too calm (I’m a big sister, and if I found a bottle of blood in one of my brothers’ rooms, I would be a lot more concerned than she was), but at least she mentioned it to their mom.

Mama Lewis also seemed weirdly unconcerned about this discovery, as her confrontation with Simon sounded more like a “I found drugs in your room and I’m very disappointed” talk, and less like a “I hear you’ve been storing blood and I cannot come up with a logical explanation that does not involve you being a serial killer” talk.

WARLOCK BABIES?

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I honestly have no idea what’s going on with this storyline.

I understand that Iris is doing experiments on babies, which of course immediately made me think of the cult in City of Fallen Angels. However, she specifically told Clary that she was breeding warlocks, which actually seemed like a really interesting storyline to me. I can imagine a lonely warlock, unable to procreate but wanting to create more of its kind, intentionally getting demons to impregnate humans. That struck me as a fascinating addition to the shadow world, and I was excited to see more, but of course, because this is Shadowhunters, my hopes had to be dashed within the next minute.

Apparently this warlock is trying to create Shadowhunter-Demon hybrids? That sounds a lot like something that was explored in the Infernal Devices series, and something that we definitely do not need in this already overcrowded show.

Except that’s not really the case either, because the shadowhunters apparently take an elixir, which allows them to get pregnant. That sounds closer to what happened in City of Fallen Angels, but with a twist that I don’t quite understand. I’m hoping this will be cleared up eventually, but his is Shadowhunters, so you really never know.

YIN FEN??????

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I did not like this easter egg at all. First of all, I hate it when Shadowhunters touches The Infernal Devices, and I’d much rather it stick to the book series it’s actually based on. Secondly, I feel like it was really awkwardly inserted into a show that already has WAY too much going on. Why do we have to bring in Yin Fen? Is Isabelle going to get addicted to it now?

I watch all these episodes two, three, sometimes even four times, and I simply don’t understand what’s going on right now.

THINGS THAT DO NOT MAKE SENSE, A LIST

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And we’re back to our usual 23 items. I told you it wouldn’t last.

  1. Alec being able to jump off the roof of the institute. Isn’t that a Jace thing?
  2. Simon being able to pray. I love that the show is bringing attention to his faith, but wouldn’t it be much more significant if, like in the books, he wasn’t able to practice because of the fact that he’s a vampire?
  3. Simon being surprised to learn that Clary was upset when he died.
  4. The fact that 26 silent brothers were killed in that one attack. I didn’t think there were that many silent brothers to begin with.
  5. The first warlock Clary meets being willing to do dark magic.
  6. Iris being able to resurrect that bird. Since when is that a warlock power?
  7. The fact that necromancy is as simple as holding something that belongs to the victim and saying a few magic words.
  8. Simon STILL thinking he can hide his condition from his mom.
  9. Rebecca being so nonchalant about finding blood in Simon’s room.
  10. Aldertree actually thinking that banning Jace from field duty will actually keep him from doing anything. You live in a world with a shapeshifting rune.
  11. Aldertree used to be a field medic? Let me rephrase that: the shadowhunters have field medics?
  12. How does Aldertree have Yin Fen? He’d better not be Sebastian in disguise because at this point it is way too obvious.
  13. How does the Yin Fen heal Isabelle? Wouldn’t that only work if the demon that first infected her was the one the drug comes from? Is that where they’re going?
  14. Clary and Alec being surprised that a warlock can see through their glamours. Isn’t that a thing for all downworlders? Not just warlocks?
  15. Alec needing to see Iris’ mark as “credentials.”
  16. Simon asking Raphael to come help him during the day.
  17. Simon actually thinking his mom believes him the first time he tells her he’s a vampire.
  18. Clary suddenly not being willing to take the risk of Jocelyn coming back as a demon. A few hours ago she was willing to do anything! What changed?
  19. Why would Iris take the time to wipe the women’s memories? Isn’t that a lot of work for people she’s just using as broodmares?
  20. Why didn’t the girl Alec met at Iris’ house have any runes? Isn’t she experimenting with shadowhunters?
  21. Clary drawing a rune on her hand that shoots out a beam of light. Which leads me to…
  22. Shadowhunters copying from the failed movie. Nobody liked that scene the first time, okay?
  23. Simon’s mom calling a doctor about his condition. What does she think he has? At this point it’s got to be pretty obvious.
  24. The shadowhunters performing magic at the end of the funeral. I loved that scene, but I didn’t quite understand the end.

OTHER THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS

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  • I’m retiring the worst quotes of the episode section, but don’t think that means the writing has improved that much. It’s just hard to pick out lines that stand out on their own as particularly bad ones. I’d have to write out most of the script. 
  • I liked the fact that Isabelle wanted to be an Iron Sister when she was little. I can kind of see that.
  • Magnus called Clary “biscuit” again!
  • Alec’s face when Iris asked if he was Clary’s boyfriend was my favourite part of this whole episode.
  • I don’t know what’s going on between Isabelle and Aldertree there but I despise it.
  • Did they say “Ave atque vale” at the end there? I definitely heard “hail and farewell.” Nice that they left that in.
  • I appreciated Luke’s reaction to Jocelyn’s death. Very true to his character.

Shadowhunters airs Mondays at 8pm on Freeform.

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