I’ve said this so many times before about Shadowhunters, but it really is uncanny how this show always manages to defy my expectations no matter what they are.
After Those of Demon Blood, I thought I had finally figured this show out. It wasn’t terrible, but it was a bit bland and predictable. The characters were kind of passive. The plot was uninspiring. I didn’t have any strong feelings about the show one way or the other. I wasn’t even entirely certain I would still be watching it if I wasn’t writing these reviews. I expected much of the same from this episode.
Really, that should have been a sign that Shadowhunters was about to take a strange turn.
The Fair Folk was definitely not boring or predictable. It wasn’t nearly as cringey as a season 1 episode, but it had its moments. I actually enjoyed it a lot, even though most of that enjoyment came from laughing at it. I’m even pretty interested in a lot of the storylines it introduced. In typical Shadowhunters fashion, important social and political messages were brought in with all the subtlety of an elephant rampaging through the Institute. The love geometry got even more complicated. And at this point, it’s probably better if just abstain from mentioning the dialogue at all because you already know how I feel about that.
As is so often the case with this show, I’m torn between applauding the writers for bringing contemporary issues into the story, and laughing at their total lack of subtlety or nuance when addressing said issues.
In all honesty, I really do like that Alec is assuming the role of peacemaker between the downworlders and the shadowhunters. It’s a great reference to the work he does after the end of the Mortal Instruments series, and it really suits his character, since he’s obviously a very loyal and dedicated Shadowhunter who also hangs out with a lot of downworlders. I also really appreciated the way the whole thing paralleled the current issue of Islamic terrorism, with the Clave blaming all downworlders for the actions of a select few and letting fear drive them toward radical and irrational solutions to their problem.
That said, the episode still exhibited a problem I’ve had with Shadowhunters for a very long time, which is that everything was too black and white. The good guys were saying all the right things, and never wavered in their belief that downworlders were completely in the right. Meanwhile, the rest of the Clave was so bigoted, so obviously in the wrong, and I didn’t really see a grey area.
Of course, real people keep surprising me with how caricatural they can be, so maybe Shadowhunters isn’t that unrealistic after all. I also realize that it’s important that fiction call out problematic behaviour and make it clear who the good guys are, which is what this show is doing. However, I think it’s important that writers do that while also showing that sometimes this disgusting rhetoric can come from people who outwardly seem very nice and respectable. It’s so important that we learn to call out this kind of stuff in people we like. As someone who is descended from a very large and very problematic South Carolinian family, I always appreciated that a lot of the characters we were supposed to like in The Mortal Instruments – Jocelyn, Maryse, Robert, etc., had been huge bigots in the past, and often the really nasty people were characters with close relationships to our main cast. I’ve definitely felt like that’s been dumbed down a little bit in the show, with the way Valentine’s backstory was changed.
But mostly, what I really wish we’d seen more of in Shadowhunters is internal conflict for our main characters. In the books, the Lightwoods and Jace start out with quite a bit of disdain for downworlders, and that changes over the course of the series. Again, I think it’s important that fiction teach us to recognize the ways in which we can be ignorant or bigoted, because if we believe that we’re the perfect, unproblematic good guys then we don’t challenge our views on the world and work to improve ourselves.
The storyline I was most pleasantly surprised by in this episode – and the one I’m most excited to see play out – is Luke butting heads with Alec a little bit. I feel like it’s a bit out of character for him, but I like that he’s getting frustrated with the Clave’s lack of interest in actually helping downworlders. It shows that he doesn’t entirely trust Alec to change everyone’s mind and trigger real change. Hopefully, this can complicate matters a little bit and make and make the storyline more interesting.
This might be wishful thinking, but going back on what I just said about nuance and subtlety, I hope Luke can force the main characters to rethink how they’re approaching this issue and how they can do a better job of helping downworlders.
Amidst all this drama was Maryse’s return to the forefront, as Alec finally confronted her about Robert’s affair and convinced her to tell Isabelle the truth. I really wasn’t expecting Izzy to know about this already, so that really threw me off guard. I remember hearing at the start of season 1 that the reason Isabelle seemed so much happier in the show was because she didn’t know about her dad’s affair. Going back on that decision changes a lot about her character, but I feel like it still kind of works for the Shadowhunters version of Isabelle.
I also appreciated that we got to see so much of Izzy’s struggle to come clean to her mom about the Yin Fen. I loved that Maryse was so supportive, and I really loved that at the end of it all, Isabelle and Clary went to each other. Healthy female relationships are the best.
THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I WAS AFRAID OF
So… the kiss in the Seelie court happened.
As soon as Simon said he was coming along to the Seelie court, I knew the show was going to go down that road, and I am so disappointed.
Ever since Jace found out he wasn’t Clary’s brother, I’ve been saying over and over again that I’m worried Clary and Simon are going to break up because of Jace, and not because their relationship isn’t working.
That’s what I always liked about Climon in the books. It wasn’t ever a real love triangle. They tried dating because Jace was out of the equation, and then they broke up because they realized it just wasn’t meant to be. Simon was mature about it, he realized Clary only loved him like a friend, and just like that, it was over.
But now, we’re going to get so much drama, with Simon being jealous of Jace and hurt that Clary doesn’t love him, while Clary is conflicted about her feelings. I hope it’s all resolved quickly because I truly have no interest in this storyline. At this point, the show has skipped over so many important building blocks in Clary and Jace’s relationship that I’d be okay if they just forgot about each other and did their own thing. We’ll be fine with Malec and Sizzy.
THINGS THAT DO NOT MAKE SENSE, A LIST
I can’t tell if this show is making more sense or if I’m just getting lazy.
- What does the Clave plan on doing with Valentine?
- Since when is Maryse all pro-downworld? I get that she’s learning and trying to better herself, but that was a quick 180.
- With all this high-tech security the Shadowhunters have, is nobody suspicious of Sebastian?
- The Seelie queen can “manipulate her age?” I thought time just worked differently in Faerie.
- Clary thinking she’s an only child. Her mom told her about the baby with the demon blood. Does she think that kid doesn’t exist now?
- Luke trusting the creepy voice that keeps calling his phone. I get that he’s looking for other options, but that doesn’t seem like the best idea.
- Valentine not recognizing Sebastian. Okay, now I’m kind of intrigued.
OTHER THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- The amount of times I wrote “I HATE THIS DIALOGUE” in my notes for this episode is unbelievable.
- My favourite part was the first scene Sebastian walked into the room where Jace was playing piano and I was super excited until he and Jace started talking and the dialogue ruined everything.
- Honestly, I might like this show better if they just didn’t talk
- I love that Shadowhunters films in Ontario, because it makes our forests look so beautiful and it always makes me think of camping.
- That line about the forest looking like a fairy tale was SO GREAT because I used to pretend there were fairies in the forests when I went camping.
- That fire message Luke received actually looked really cool.
- Luke’s partner is now creepy as well as annoying
- I now get excited every time Raphael walks on screen.
- The scene where Magnus and Alec were trying to be formal and professional was so cute.
- The Seelie Queen’s pop culture references are so cheesy. That works in Percy Jackson books, but seems childish in this world.
- “Jace was wrong: this is exactly like middle school.” EXACTLY. THIS IS DUMB.
Shadowhunters airs Mondays at 8pm on Freeform.