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Reviews

S1 E09: Shadowhunters Misses Its Own Point

For a fantasy teen show with angel and demons, Shadowhunters carries a lot of real-world allegories. There are racial minorities being oppressed by the law, the excuse for police brutality and abuse of power from the authorities, and complex society. These relations give the show a grounding feeling, making for a better story altogether. Shadowhunters knows that, as Simon spells out the inequalities between Shadowhunters and Downworlders to Clary.

This is why it is so sad that the show falls into tropes such as the White Savior. Since the pilot, Downworlders have been helping Clary and she has recognized it before. But that does not give her the right to speak for them. And it certainly doesn’t make her the catalyzer for the Downworlders to put their quarrels aside and help each other out.

Rise Up

Everyone this week seemed to have lost their minds. Character’s motivations are all over the place, the storylines make no sense whatsoever, and the stakes get higher and higher for no reason. Worse, the writing is so messy, the entire episode misses the point it was trying to make. On top of breaking with pre-established information, Shadowhunters throws Clary’s good development under the bus by making her the white savior of the Downworlders.

But I’m getting ahold of myself. There is one character whose actions make sense and, curiously, that would be the recently risen from the dead vampire. Simon is running loose in New York, with Clary, Jace, and Raphael chasing after him. However, when he ruins yet another of Raphael’s jackets, the leader of the New York clan is done. He tells Jace and Clary to call when they find Simon, preferably in a less disturbed state.

That makes Jace call for reinforcements. He doesn’t get any, as the Institute has been attacked by a hybrid Seelie-Forsaken and Alec is hurt. Jace decides to go back, but not before sharing a kiss with Clary. That is quite the “define your relationship talk” they need to have but it is rather sweet.

Clary then stays and keeps searching for Simon, now with Luke’s help. They finally locate him at his house. Elaine, oblivious of her son’s transformation, hugs him. Clary arrives just in time to stop Simon from biting his mother. She cleverly comes up with a cover story for them to leave that doubles as a declaration of unwavering support. They meet with Luke, he is ready to help Simon navigate this transition to Downworlder.

Back to the Institute, Magnus reinforces the protective wards. He is not shy to offer Alec some healing magic “free of charge” but Alec refuses it. Magnus is worried, though – and maybe a little too worried about someone he met a couple of days ago. Still, it is endearing.

Too bad Alec is engaged to Lydia, something Jace and Izzy are shocked to learn. They actually seem more distressed about that than learning that their parents were former Circle members.

But… You know she’s a girl, right?

But maybe this makes sense, since the Clave enjoy is ruthless. Lydia calls Meliorn in, which causes for a slightly awkward but very emotional encounter between Izzy and him. Her attempt to rebrand herself made Izzy break up with Meliorn but it is obvious that she cares for him. So obvious, the Clave thinks Meliorn used their relationship to gather information. Lydia arrests him under a flimsy assumption that the Seelies have sided with Valentine and that is how the forsaken had Seelie blood.

Even when Izzy points out that the blood most likely came from the scouts send by the Clave, Lydia needs proof. I get that the Clave is prejudice against the Downworlders but this is some dumb logic. Still, Meliorn is taken to the world’s worst interrogation session while Alec, Izzy, and Jace watch. Not only Lydia makes ridiculously generic questions, Meliorn cooperates freely. He re-iterates the origin of the Seelie blood and goes one up: Meliorn outright tells Lydia that Clary has the Mortal Cup.

I’m not sure how he could possibly know that, but he does. The Shadowhunters search Clary’s room. While this is happening, Alec tells Jace they have to give the Cup back to the Clave. That is the closest Alec is to reasonable in the episode, as returning the Mortal Cup to the Clave would definitely stop it from pointing fingers.

However, Jace disagrees. When Alec says either Clary gives it back or he will, Jace lies and says he’ll get her back into the Institute. Instead, he teaches Clary a way to block tracking and tells her to stay as far away from the Institute as possible. She decides to go for Raphael for protection and he only agrees because that means having Simon back under control. I will comment on the ridiculousness of the insult exchange between Raphael and Luke.

Though that should be a head-ups to what comes next. At this point, the episode spirals into idiocy. The Clave wants to torture even more information of Meliorn, who was already giving them more than they’d asked. That means sending him to the Silent Brothers, a trip that could be lethal to a Downworlder for whatever reason. Alec is fine with that because those are the Clave’s orders. Yes, having to marry someone sends him into rebellious mode but torture? That’s alright because Lydia has a sob story to justify it.

However, on an equal level of craziness, Jace and Izzy are suddenly very worried about what the Clave could do if it had the Mortal Cup. Jace enlists Magnus to steal Alec’s stele and then he takes the Mortal Cup tarot card. Izzy and Jace intend to rally the Downworlders to break Meliorn free as he is taken to the City of Bones. Unfortunately, the poor Downworlders are too petty to work together. Here comes Clary, who after being a Shadowhunter for seven days, is able to talk the buffoons into cooperating.

Seriously. This storyline comes with the cherry on top of Clary breaking off another petty mid-action dispute between Luke and Raphael with the line “tonight, we are all Downworlders.” We are all so glad she’s there to talk sense into them.

They attack as the Shadowhunters are about to deliver Meliorn to the Silent Brothers. Izzy starts off the attack by taking down Raj with her whip. Alec has to leave the rest of the soldiers behind to protect the entrance as he brings Meliorn personally. That sets off a confrontation between Alec and Jace, as Clary escapes with the Seelie.

Great. Now my entire family are traitors. Perfect.

The “Parabafight” is the best thing to come out of the episode. It is emotional and well-executed. The outcome, as Alec wins against the best of the best Jace and refuses to go rogue with him, is a powerful moment in an otherwise mess of an episode. Both Alec and Jace look distraught of where their relationship is left. I am excited to see how they come back from this.

Unfortunately, the episode misses the opportunity to end at a high among so many lows. It proves Lydia’s suspicions right as Meliorn was indeed withholding information. Thankfully, Clary is so outstandingly special, he is willing to share it with her. Meliorn knows how to get to Valentine.

Hopefully, next episode will do better than this.

Personal Notes

  • I don’t understand why Jace and Izzy are so against giving the Cup to the Clave. Clary has her reasons, but they absolutely don’t. The Clave has had the Mortal Cup for centuries, aside from the last 18 years. They certainly haven’t used it to destroy the Downworlders or start a war. If anything, their dilemma should be between choosing to save Meliorn or Jocelyn. Not preventing a war by keeping Alec from delivering the Cup to Lydia.
  • It’s funny that they tried to make it look like Simon was going to attack Clary. Alberto Rosende’s is a rare jewel of an actor but nobody really bought that.
  • It doesn’t look at better that Clary was willing to call off the entire operation because Jace might be upset they would have to fight Alec. I guess we are all Downworlders until the Shadowhunters are inconvenienced.
  • I wonder if the fight between Jace and Alec was supposed to be a morally ambiguous dilemma. It was to an extent. On one hand, Alec was desperately trying to prove the Lightwoods were abiding Shadowhunters. On the other, Jace was trying to prevent the murder of an innocent. But then Jace blew it. By making all of Alec’s actions about him, Jace assured I vibrated every time he got punched in the face.
  • Aside from his excessive worry for Alec’s safety, Magnus’ reaction to learning about the engagement seemed on point. He was very, very angry about it. But then he backed off. It sucks when your crush decides to stay in the closet by marrying someone else.

Images courtesy of Freeform.

 

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