‘Shadowhunters’ 3×17 Review: ‘Heavenly Fire’

Shadowhunters seems to be making up for all those pointless filler episodes at the start of the season by cramming lots of stuff into this one. I enjoyed a lot of it, and it made me feel things at times, and generally there was a lot to talk about, which is pretty much all that matters to me when it comes to this show.

Seelie Rings


This episode saw the (somewhat unexpected) appearance of a pair of objects that was pretty important to the books. In City of Lost Souls, Clary and Simon are able to communicate telepathically while Clary is undercover with Sebastian and Jace, and Simon and friends are working to find a way to break the bond between the two boys.

The show decided to write the rings into this episode, this time as a line of communication between Simon and Isabelle as Simon goes to investigate an off-the books Clave program that’s using downworlders. I actually didn’t totally hate this storyline, and was excited to spot this little easter egg from the books, but as always, knowing what the writers could have done and decided not to makes the storyline a little frustrating.

First of all, we’re really committed to giving every woman’s storyline to a man this season, huh? Clary has been really useless so far, and I don’t appreciate her storyline essentially being given to Simon.

Also, I’m kiiiind of questioning the logic behind sending Simon in there as soon as we find out about the Clave program, and not giving him much of a choice in the matter either. Our main characters don’t know much about the program, and they have no idea if sending someone into it will help them at all. For all they know, Simon might be killed immediately, or have something bad done to him, without ever gaining access to Glorious. This almost happens, when he actually passes out, making himself completely useless to Isabelle and to the other shadowhunters. And I know that this kind of mission will always involve some kind of risk, but this just seems so unnecessary. Could they not have done some more digging into this program beforehand? Does Alec’s position as head of the Institute not give him at least a little bit of power, or at the very least security clearance, in this situation? It’s not like they’re in a huge rush either – Jonathan is already locked up. I feel like they should evaluate their options here.

And look. I, along with every single character in this show, know that Simon would do absolutely anything to save Clary. It makes sense that Isabelle wouldn’t ask him if he’s comfortable doing this. She knows the answer. But it almost seems more manipulative that way? I feel like everyone here should care enough about Simon to look for other solutions before presenting this as the only one.

At least in City of Lost Souls, we know that Clary can create a portal and leave if she really doesn’t feel safe. If Simon had been taken by those guards and had had something bad done to him as soon as he arrived, the other characters wouldn’t have been able to do anything to help him. He probably would have been stuck there if it weren’t for Helen. This whole thing seems very ill-advised and badly thought out.

I forgot Victor Aldertree existed


Does anyone even remember what happened to Victor Aldertree? Did he not die? I swear I thought he was dead.

Does this make me a really unobservant viewer? Am I uniquely bad at remembering stuff that happens? Because I have seen every episode of this show at least twice and dedicate several hours every week to breaking down everything that happened so I feel like I of all people should remember what happens? But alas.

Anyways, Aldertree comes back and is just as shady as ever. He apparently has some kind of master plan to “cure” downworlders, because his wife turned into a werewolf and he wishes he could have prevented that from happening, because as A Man, he has the ultimate authority on what happens to his wife’s body and his feelings about what happens to her are all that matters. Seriously though, do we even know if the wife would have wanted to be human?

He also goes out for dinner with Isabelle while Aline secretly searches his office, which is uncomfortable, and I don’t know why we keep making Izzy do this kind of stuff and why it keeps working.

Also, the solution to this problem is arresting Aldertree for breaking the Clave’s rules? We really spent all this time talking about how the Clave is bad and has bad rules just to turn around and get back on the Clave’s side again?

Was Jia actually not aware that all this stuff was happening right under her nose? If not, it’s still super suspicious that she didn’t even try to listen when people came to her with concerns about the Clave engaging in torture. It’s also suspicious that a few people who are relatively low in the ranks of the Clave can figure all this out AND come up with a solution

Breaking the rules is not always a bad thing. Let’s stop pretending that anything that goes against Clave law is always bad and that the best way to catch bad guys is to catch them breaking the law.

Helen Blackthorn

Helen was introduced in this episode, and I had very low expectations, but she was okay, I guess. I adore book Helen so I was fully prepared to be disappointed by show Helen, and I was, but I guess I also wasn’t because I had expected her to be bad?

It just doesn’t make sense to me that Helen would do this kind of stuff to fellow downworlders, and without questioning it either. The switch from fully indoctrinated to totally against the Clave happened way too quickly.

She’s not the Helen I wanted, at all, but at least we got a good scene between her and Aline.



The most boring part of this episode was by far the flashbacks to Jonathan’s life in Edom. We learn, essentially, that Jonathan was told his whole life that nobody in the world loved him or would ever love him, then found out that he had a sister and held on to that belief for a long time.

While I didn’t care for those scenes, I am glad that we’re getting some very belated character development for Jonathan. At least now we know what his motivations are. He’s probably one of the most complex characters in this series, which, yikes, but it really is nice to finally find out why he is the way that he is, beyond “he’s evil because demon blood and also torture!”

Still, understanding doesn’t have to equal sympathy, and I hope Clary doesn’t keep finding reasons to show him mercy. A big thing about his storyline in the books was how, even though we could empathize with him to a certain extent and he did feel remorse eventually, there was so little good in him that there was no going back. The tragedy of his life is in the person he could have been but that never got the chance to exist, because of Valentine’s actions.

The fact that Clary seems to be falling for Jonathan’s story – or even for him – is gross and I hate it.

And also, are we just going to cut out his entire evil plan from the book series? Is that not a thing anymore? Because I feel like that was pretty important and it seems too late to throw it in now. Though I wouldn’t put it past this show.

We need to talk about the worldbuilding in this show

I just… don’t understand. I feel like I need to revive the “things that don’t make sense” list just for my questions about the worldbuilding.

First of all, if, say, a shadowhunter-turned-downworlder, like Aldertree’s wife, were to go through this program, would they become a mundane or a shadowhunter?

Second of all, how the actual hell is it possible for shadowhunters to make all these changes occur? Shadowhunters are pretty powerful and I can believe a lot of them, but this just seems ridiculous. In the books, the only time a downworlder is ever turned human again, it’s an extremely special circumstance and it’s the actual prince of hell that makes it happen.

Thirdly, I don’t understand how this works with warlocks. Was Magnus no longer a downworlder when he lost his magic? Because he apparently lost his immortality along with it. And how is it possible to take away someone’s immortality and not have all their years of life catch up with them?

Also, if it wasn’t just vampires being used for Project Heavenly Fire, how did UV lights work to contain them all? Unless vampires were being help in a separate facility? Which would make sense but it definitely was not communicated well.

And finally, how does it not take Raphael longer to adjust to his mundane strength?



Alright, I saved the biggest conversation topic for last. Let’s dive in to Alec and Magnus’s relationship, because oh boy is there a lot to talk about there.

So. Alec almost proposed this week, and it was adorable, but he didn’t go through with it because Magnus is not at all in a good place right now.

While my heart is breaking for Magnus, I understand why it’s taking him such a long time to come to terms with the loss of his magic and of his immortality, especially after having briefly gotten it back. I’m also glad that the show is addressing his problem with alcoholism.

What I’m not so happy with is how he wasn’t talking about this with Alec, and how Alec seemingly never caught on to the fact that Magnus wasn’t okay.

Shadowhunters airs Mondays at 8pm on Freeform


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