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Reviews

S2 E17: An Ode to the Villains

In this week, the villains of Shadowhunters shine brighter than the heroes. Valentine and Jonathan are out and about in New York while the shadow of the Clave hovers over both the downworlders and shadowhunters. And if that wasn’t enough, secrets strain even the strongest of relationships.

This is the time for our heroes to either set aside their differences or crumble to pieces. As the Sandiego’s Comic-Con Trailer released shows, Shadowhunter is entering its final stage for the Season. From now on, the character’s decisions will define the fate of the Shadow World.

A Dark Reflection

The change of Executive Producers between Seasons 1 and 2 promised a more character-driven story. That is never as true as in A Dark Reflection. The character’s decisions drive everything that happens. It makes for a better story when the character’s hold the plot in their hands instead of being pushed around by it.

Surprisingly, Jonathan is the pivot of that factor. He decides to follow his father’s orders, albeit their relationship is still terse at best. Valentine’s plan of using the Soul Sword to wipe out the Downworlders is frustrated when the captive Sister Cleophas is unable to mend the sword. The plan changes then: Valentine decides to reunite all three Mortal Instruments and use the Angel Raziel to destroy all demon-blooded creatures.

In order to do so, he needs the missing Instrument, the Mortal Mirror. Off goes Jonathan to visit a warlock named Elliot Noure. That was a clever use of Jonathan’s effect on living things, such as flowers. He grows more demon-like by the minute. Jonathan is able to overpower Elliot and question him. We find out that not only was Elliot a friend of Jocelyn’s, he is the guardian of the Mortal Mirror. That means he carries the map of its location, as Jocelyn hid the sacred object somewhere nobody knows.

Before Jonathan can beat the information out him, though, Elliot kills himself. Now all that he can do is go back to the Institute and try his luck at figuring out another way to the Mortal Mirror.

Luckily for him, that way walked right into the Institute in the shape of Dot. After Elliot’s death, she became the guardian. Alec is smart to restrict the access to Dot to only Jace and Clary, effectively stopping Jonathan from learning the location of the Mirror, but Jonathan figures out yet another way. He follows Clary and Jace, when they go with Dot to recover the Mortal Instrument.

This confrontation is heavy in meaning. Up until then, Clary had every intention of saving her brother. After learning all the horrible things Valentine did to Jonathan when he was a child, Clary can only see him as the victim he is. Jace, on the other hand, is not so convinced. As a victim of Valentine himself, Jace is sure Jonathan is beyond saving.

The moment of truth is when Jonathan shows up in his true form, which Valentine had told him would make even Clary despise him. That doesn’t happen. Instead, Clary treats her brother as a human being and tries to reason with him. She offers him the choice between taking the Mortal Mirror or coming back to the Institute with them.

Hey there, bro. Not looking so good.

It is a powerful moment for Clary’s character. Being mundane-born, she doesn’t understand the barriers of the Shadow World. Therefore, she is able to see the potential of good behind Jonathan’s grotesque appearance, even after all the bad that he’s done.

Unfortunately, we never get the chance of seeing Clary’s action play out. Dot and Jace interfere before Jonathan can make his choice. Jace gets Clary and himself to safety, alongside the Mortal Mirror. Once again, Dot is left behind, though.

However, the Morgenstern aren’t the only villains of the episode. The Clave’s lie about having the Soul Sword forces Alec to take a stand. He fails to tell Magnus the truth when he comes for dinner, after a Downworlder Meeting in the Seelie Court. This betrayal is especially hurtful as Magnus praises Alec for his honesty and trustworthiness.

It’s no surprise then, that when Luke informs Magnus about the Clave’ deceit, Magnus is personally and deeply hurt. He confronts Alec and, although Alec apologizes, it is too little, too late. After everything that has happened to Magnus and the confirmation that the Cabinet holds little power to change the Clave, this deception sets Magnus down a spiral.

Their relationship is at risk but, more importantly, the Downworld is at Valentine’s mercy. Hiding that meant leaving the downworlders incapable of defending themselves and Alec condoned that. Hurt, scared, and feeling helpless, Magnus turns to the most powerful person in the Downworld, the Seelie Queen. Thankfully, Luke will attend it with him.

Everything would be okay if everyone just listened to Luke.

Meanwhile, Izzy and Simon lean on each other to overcome their struggles. The show has been doing a good job with this slow burn, letting them develop a strong friendship before they inevitably get together. While that doesn’t happen, though, Simon tries to ask Maia out but her rejection discourages him from trying again. It is only Izzy’s support – and a little meddling -, that gives Simon the courage. Ultimately, Maia says yes.

In exchange, Simon helps Izzy to train Max. He does letting out his full inner nerdiness, which was adorable to watch. The younger Lightwood is a prodigy but that doesn’t mean Izzy is willing to allow her baby brother in the field. Simon helps her to deal with her anxiety, convincing her to let Max follow on hers and Alec’s Shadowhunter footsteps. The boy was very out of line before, especially regarding Downworlders. Now, we get to see Max slowly coming out of his shell, especially around Simon. Shadowhunters has been doing a great job writing an impressional little boy who reproduces what he’s been taught, regardless of how smart he is.

But just as he is smart, Max also wants to prove himself. Unknown to either Izzy or Simon, Max is not waiting for anyone’s permission to start shadowhunting. He knows Clary and Jace had tried and failed to track Jonathan using Jocelyn’s J.C. box, so Max gives it a shot. He finds a forgotten strand of hair and is able to track down Jonathan as the villain was searching Alec’s office for the Mortal Mirror.

Unfortunately, Max might be highly skilled but he is a child still. Instead of running off and alarming the others, he directly confronts Jonathan. We can only hope Izzy’s fears won’t be justified next week.

Personal Notes:

  • So… Jocelyn had two of the known Mortal Instruments and she enlisted an army of warlocks to protect them. Sure, that makes sense. Also, when Dot finds the mark she goes to the Shadowhunters instead of going to Magnus. Who happen to not only her friend but also the High Warlock of Brooklyn. Should anyone buy that?
  • We finally get more of Alec interacting with other downworlders and, this time, without Magnus being present. The exchanges between Dot and he are awkwardly polite. One can’t help but wonder if Alec is aware of Dot and Magnus’ involvement.
  • Talking about interactions, we got a tease of the magic that is Magnus and Luke. I cannot wait to see more of them, especially with the Seelie Queen involved. Especially when Luke gets to be the level-headed one while Magnus is clearly being driven by passion. Once again, Shadowhunters has no time for racial stereotypes.
  • I want every character to learn about Jace/Maia, one by one. That is entirely because of that little knowing smirk both Jace and Maia do when talking about their hookup.
  • It is one thing to portray Jonathan as a psychotic monster, but to choose to do it by adding (real) incest was a no-no. Everyone could do without him kissing his sister. Clary has enough incest-related trauma for a lifetime and it wasn’t even real. I wish the show had taken a very, very different route.

Images courtesy of Freeform.
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