S2 E18: All the Pieces Are in Place

If last week showcased the villains, this is the time for the heroes. We finally see hints of that unstoppable team Clary’s voiceover keeps promising in every recap. And our protagonists do so in the best possible way. Protecting those who cannot protect themselves.

Director Amanda Michael Row deserves a huge round of applause for her work. This is the best-paced episode of the entire show. Moreover, every single one of the dramatic moments hit the right mark. It is remarkable how much the production value of Shadowhunters has grown and this episode is the proof of that.

Awake, Arise, or Be Forever Fallen

Picking up from his arrangement to meet the Seelie Queen, Magnus and Luke are received at the Seelie Court. The three downworlder leaders discuss the danger hovering over them, as well as how to protect their people. However, while Luke and Magnus have alliances to the shadowhunters, the Queen does not. She demands that they break the Accords.

That is something Magnus cannot decide on a whim and so he asks for time to think. For the Downworlders, the Seelie Queen is a more trustworthy ally than the Clave as she is a downworlder herself. That, however, doesn’t mean she can be trusted. Besides, Magnus is now facing a terrible decision. He has to choose between protecting the warlocks and his love for Alec.

We are treated to a montage of memories from Magnus, as he remembers why he fell in love with Alec. By the end of the episode, there is no denying his feelings. However, Magnus reaches a heart-wrenching conclusion. Losing Alec is Magnus’ personal fear but the downworlder have to come first. He breaks up with Alec, a decision that breaks both of their hearts and the viewer’s hearts as well.

Hopefully, though, Alec words will prove true and they’ll find their way back to each other.

As Magnus fights his own personal battle, the rest oppose very physical attacks. Luke’s pack deals with the fallout from the realization that Russel bit a mundane who may turn into a werewolf. while the shadowhunter foursome fight off Jonathan’s attack on the Institute.

Maia and Simon stumbled onto Russel attacking young Bat Velasquez, effectively scratching him. They manage to bring him to Luke but it is too late to stop the transformation. Shadowhunters makes the right decision here. Instead of over-focusing on Bat’s turning into a werewolf, the show uses that as a vehicle to push Maia into talking about her past.

She reveals to have been turned into a werewolf by a jealous and possessive ex-boyfriend, named Jordan. The traumatic experience still haunts her every time Maia turns, making her remember what love has brought to her. The story touches us as viewers deeply and makes us love Maia even more for her strength and spirit. This is why she wants to take things slow with Simon, something the vampire is ready to agree with.

While the couple helps the scared boy as best as they can, Luke goes off to put an end to Russel’s reign of terror. He finds the rogue wolf with a pack of his own. After Luke demands that they stop turning mundanes, Russel challenges the Alpha as he has been wanting to do for a while.

The fight is brutal. Luke wins at the end, both the fight and the moral ground as he refuses to kill Russel. That is what the rules demanded but Luke thinks it’s time for new, better rules. One that will bind them to their humanity and stop them to succumbing to their worst instincts.  

True power comes from overcoming difficulties. That is something both Maia and Luke achieve by the end of the episode. We see Maia give her first steps towards happiness as she kisses Simon and takes charge of her own love life. We also see Luke fortifying his numbers by welcoming the rogue wolves back, Russel included. This glorious scene turns very alarming as we discover Detective Ollie and girlfriend Sam watching it from a hidden camera. Her prying into the Shadow World just might prove fatal for Ollie.

Hopefully, though, she’ll prove just as resilient as Max Lightwood. Every book reader had counted him out, as that is his fate in the TMI books. But Shadowhunters is not the books it is adapted from, as it has proved time and again. Therefore, Max survives Jonathan’s attacks and, in doing so, alerts everyone of Jonathan’s presence in the Institute.

When Izzy finds her younger brother unconscious and hurt, Jonathan’s countdown starts ticking. Alec puts the Institute on lockdown, so it is only a matter of time before he is found. Knowing this, Jonathan has to find a way out as quickly as possible or risk blowing his cover.

The sequence that follows both illustrates just how well the shadowhunter squad works together and how shrewd Jonathan has to be in order to beat them. Each of his steps is both frustrating and delicious to watch, as Alec, Izzy, Jace, and Clary stand in Jonathan’s way without even realizing it. And yet, Jonathan proves to be ever so cunning, adapting his plans as things happen around him.

When it is clear that he won’t be walking out of the Institute, Jonathan decides to finish off Max before he wakes up. Maryse and Robert’s arrival frustrate his attempt. But never mind; Max’s only chance of survival is undergoing a terrible surgery that might end up killing him. Relieved, Jonathan goes for the Mortal Mirror and is able to get it, but Clary stops him from escaping with the Mortal Instrument at the last minute.

Without the Mirror and with his cover revealed, Jonathan can do little more than run away after  Clary stabs him three times.

In his haste to leave, Jonathan misses an important discovery. Clary attempts to deactivate the Mirror just as she did with the Soul Sword, but her rune destroys the thing instead. When the shadowhunter foursome talks it out, they reach the only possible conclusion. The Mirror was just a decoy. It is then that Clary makes sense of her visions. The Mortal Mirror is Lake Lyn.

For the first time, our heroes have the upper hand. Let’s see if they manage to use it to their advantage.

Personal Notes

  • It takes courage to listen to the fans and make up for mistakes. Shadowhunters deserve the recognition for doing both after the controversy regarding Malec’s treatment in 2×07. There was never doubt that the couple is important to the show. However, the lack of equivalent LGBT+ intimate scenes was glaring when compared to the straight couples. Moreover, we finally saw Magnus’ missing consent. Well done, Shadowhunters. And thank you for listening.
  • Seeing the Lightwood family reunited was a bitter-sweet moment. Regardless of all their messy relationships, one can’t help but feel a part of that family.
  • I applaud the show for choosing not to kill Max. His murder in the books never went beyond the horror of a child’s death. Although that is a tragedy by itself, it was one chosen to be there. Anything that happens in a fictional story has to be there to serve the story. Max’s death would not. Jonathan is beyond salvation. After so many murders, that one would just pile up with the rest.
  • Ollie has a hell of a sixth sense for mystery. Even after Raphael erased her memory, she still maintains her suspicions regarding Luke.
  • Although my heart breaks at seeing Alec and Magnus broken up and I want them together soon, I am curious to see how this affects them. Alec is a different person than who he was before he met Magnus, will Alec retreat back in his shell or will be different.

Images courtesy of Freeform.
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