‘Shadowhunters’ 2×20 Review: ‘Beside Still Water’

And just like that, another season of Shadowhunters has come to an end.

It was fun, it was ridiculous, it barely made any sense, and it was a whole lot better than the first one. It was not perfect, but it had it’s moments, and it sure as hell showed lots of potential. As we head into the third season, we’re left with lots of unanswered questions and storylines that haven’t quite wrapped up yet. There’s plenty to be excited about, whether you’re a book fan or you’ve only ever watched the show (though to be honest, if you’re reading this site, you’re probably a book fan). I’m not sure that the season 2 finale was entirely satisfying, but I know I’m excited to see what happens next season.



Oh, right. Anyone could have guessed.

I’ll admit I had forgotten that Malachi was in the Circle, so it did kind of take me by surprise when he revealed himself to be on Valentine’s side. I was mostly distracted by the fact that he appeared to be camping in the middle of the woods with his friends when we found him, but it was interesting to see just how pervasive Valentine’s ideology is.

It was shockingly familiar to see our heroes learn that the people with the most power in their society are just as bigoted and corrupt as the worst of them. It’s a theme that can really resonate with people these days, perhaps even more than ten years ago, when the books were first published. I hope the writers continue to explore it.

I also really hope it’s made clear that bigotry doesn’t end with Valentine’s death. In the books, the outrage against Valentine was often as much about his disregard for the lives of other Shadowhunters as his stance against Downworlders. One of the first things we learn about him in City of Bones is that he committed the unforgivable crime of turning against his own people. In City of Glass, the Nephilim are afraid that everyone who didn’t drink from the Mortal Cup will become forsaken when he enacts his plan. Just because they’ve reluctantly decided to ally themselves with downworlders, partly in self-interest, doesn’t mean they’re not bigoted pieces of shit.

We’ve still got plenty of work to do.



So the ending of this episode stayed relatively close to what went down in the books, with a few changes that are a lot more meaningful than they might appear to be at first. Namely, the way Jace’s death went down.

In City of Glass, Valentine intends to sacrifice Clary, because he needs Shadowhunter blood in order to summon the angel. Jace intervenes, and Valentine is forced to kill him. He then collapses over Jace’s body, clearly upset about having just killed his son. I’ve always liked that scene because, as I’ve explained before, it humanizes Valentine and consequently makes him even scarier as a villain because we can understand him and relate to him.

In Shadowhunters, Valentine appears out of nowhere, stabs Jace and not Clary, then awkwardly stands off to the side, giving Clary space to mourn Jace on her own. Then he offers some bullshit explanation about the two of them being too powerful to coexist, and moves on with his plan. Don’t get me wrong, Jace’s death was a very powerful scene that reminded me of Clockwork Princess, but I was a little bit distracted by the lack of logic in this scene.

If Valentine didn’t need Jace’s blood for the ritual, why did he kill him? If it was in self-defense, why didn’t he kill Clary too? And why did he let her cry over Jace’s body, then forget about her? If it was actually about the two of them being too powerful together, why did he choose to kill Jace, the kid he actually loves and considers his son, instead of Clary, the girl he didn’t even know existed until recently? I just don’t understand.



The second big thing that bothered me about this ending is the way Valentine died. In the books, Valentine is struck down by Raziel, but not before the Angel rejects his suggestion to annihilate all Shadowhunters who aren’t on his side and basically roasts him for his horrible morals. Clary wins by breaking through Valentine’s binding spell to write her own name over his in the sand, meaning that she is now the person who can ask the Angel for a wish.

I understand why the show would want to have Clary kill Valentine herself. She’s the hero, they want her to kill the villain. Still, I’m not sure it was the right choice for Clary’s character. There are so many different kinds of strength, and Clary’s has never been fighting. She’s good, sure, but she’s not like Jace or Isabelle or even Alec. Her strength is in her resilience, her willpower, her morals and, obviously, her runes. In City of Glass, Clary defeats Valentine in a way that only Clary could: by simply being too stubborn to be bested by her father’s binding spell, and by using her stele instead of a weapon. That’s remarkable. That’s amazing. That’s Clary. It also aligns with the journey of the archetypal hero as outlined by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, in which the hero kills the villain indirectly so that that the villain dies but the hero doesn’t actually commit murder.

But the thing is, anyone could have killed Valentine the way Clary did in this episode. It’s actually kind of hard to believe that Clary would actually beat him in a fight when she hasn’t had much training. So even though it’s a huge moment for Clary to kill her dad and end the war, why is it special?

Furthermore, isn’t it so much more satisfying to have Valentine struck down by the very deity in whose name he has been committing all these horrible crimes? Valentine represents every radical who grossly misinterprets their religion and uses it to further a hateful agenda. He has sacrificed everything, and would undoubtedly give his own life, in the name of Raziel. He is convinced that his hatred of everyone who isn’t like him contributes to the Greater Good. In his mind, he is Jonathan Shadowhunter 2.0. And so the most poetic way for his story to end is for him to be told by the angel he has devoted his entire life to: Fuck you. This isn’t what I stand for. So yes, I’m a little disappointed that Valentine didn’t get that moment in the TV Show.



And here we have it. The final tally of Things That Do Not Make Sense. I have gone through every one of Lizzie’s Once Upon A Time season 6 reviews and every one of my own Shadowhunters season 2 reviews, and I think it’s safe to say that I won in a landslide.

  1. Sebastian having enough blood left in his body to make that pentagram.
  2. Magnus being so reluctant to help save Maia.
  3. Why did all the cars stop for Shadowhunters who are, presumably, glamoured? And why did they leave just the right amount of space for them?
  4. Why is the Seelie Queen so interested in Simon’s daylighter powers?
  5. How does Isabelle immediately identify the demon as a Wraith just from the dot on the screen?
  6. Izzy, Alec, Clary and Jace actually thinking a block-by-block search of NYC would be possible.
  7. The Seelie Queen working with Valentine when his main goal is literally to eliminate all downworlders.
  8. Everyone being surprised that the Seelies would betray them.
  9. Why weren’t they able to track Valentine?
  10. How can Clary’s portal rune pierce the wards so easily?
  11. Can we get some clarification on how the portals work, please? Because I know that Clary can travel to Idris because of the dream, and then because of the one trip, but that’s only because I READ THE BOOKS.
  12. Alec running away from the demon. Alec would never do that. He’s too protective of Magnus and Isabelle. Also, he’s seen how easy they are to kill. He would at least try.
  13. Magnus being able to seal that rift as quickly as he did.
  14. Why was the Clave camping in the woods?
  15. Malachi being able to serve as Consul for so long with that huge circle rune on his neck.
  16. Meliorn suddenly having a strange accent. That was Meliorn, wasn’t it?
  17. Clary and Jace being surprised that the Clave would be anti-downworlder.
  18. Was the entire Clave on Valentine’s side? Because it seems weird that no one would try to stop Malachi from killing Jace and Clary.
  19. Circle members thinking it’s okay to kill Valentine’s children without asking first. HE HAD PLANS. HE SAID HE LOVED THEM. WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS?

  20. The fact that Valentine doesn’t even look sad about killing the son he used to make spaghetti for.
  21. Valentine killing Jace and not Clary.
  22. Clary and Jace somehow being too powerful when they’re together, and Valentine knowing about it. That’s a Dark Artifices thing.
  23. Valentine stabbing Jace with what looks like a switchblade or possibly a butter knife?
  24. Valentine not even trying to restrain Clary while he’s performing his ritual.
  25. That ritual being as simple as walking into the water and saying a few words.
  26. Valentine being so rude to the angel.
  27. Clary being surprised that the angel knows her name. He’s an angel.
  28. Clary not even considering bringing her mother back from the dead. This version of Clary definitely does not love Jace more than she loves her mother.
  29. Shadowhunters and Downworlders mingling in the bar at the end as if all their problems have been solved by Valentine’s death.
  30. Does Simon know about Jace’s death or not? Because it was kind of unclear. And if Clary told him, who else did she tell? And if Jace didn’t want other people to know about it, why didn’t he ask Clary not to say anything?

This means that in total, I have managed to find 334 Things That Do Not Make Sense in season 2 of Shadowhunters, or 16.7 per episode.

Lizzie managed to find a total of 99 Things That Do Not Make Sense in season 6 of Once, for an average of 4.5 per episode.

So yes, I totally kicked Lizzie’s ass. Shadowhunters is the most ridiculous and nonsensical of the two shows, and it’s not close. I win bragging rights for the rest of eternity. Feel free to Tweet her so that she doesn’t forget it. 

This is definitely a completely objective way of determining which show makes the least sense, and there are absolutely no flaws in our system.



  • It’s been a long time since I last had this much trouble making sense of an episode. My notes were pretty much just Things That Do Not Make Sense.
  • Also, for those wondering, yes, I have read City of Glass more times than I can count, and I do remember almost everything that happened.
  • “When am I ever not careful?” LOL
  • Magnus has been acting wildly out of character in these last two episodes.
  • I just don’t buy into the idea that, after all the life experience he’s had, the thing about the Soul Sword would be enough to push him over the edge and away from Shadowhunters.
  • I have a theory that it was the torture at Valentine’s hands that changed him, but that was definitely not made clear in the script.
  • Still, I’m really glad that Malec is facing challenges, and overcoming them.
  • I laughed at the Angel’s voice.
  • I have never liked Ollie and I fully admit that I don’t really care that she has figured out Luke’s secret.
  • I am so ready for this whole Lilith/Sebastian storyline.

Shadowhunters airs on Freeform. The cast is beginning to film Season 3 now. 

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