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Reviews

S2 E05: The Madness of Pain

In a highly character-driven episode, Shadowhunters takes a moment to explore personal storylines. The overall plot is set aside this week and the show benefits from it. The characters are given time to breathe and work out the last couple of days.

Every now and then, it is important to focus on our hero’s personal struggles. Mid-way through the season, that is the time for it.

Dust and Shadows

Following the attack on the Institute, the characters are having a tough time recovering. Izzy can’t properly heal from the infected wound the demon left her. When she and Jace train, the pain is too great. Aldertree realizes that. As an ex-field medic, though, he has a solution. He gives Izzy yin fen, a highly addictive substance. It rids her of the pain. However, the effects are too sinister. Izzy immediately seems taken by the drug and there is an ominous feel to it as Aldertree gives her a small tin with yin fen for her to keep using.

And as he torments a sister, Aldertree also goes for a brother. He makes a public speech of how brave Jace was in the City of Bones. He communicates that the Clave has freed Jace of any charges of disloyalty. However, in private, Aldertree chastens Jace. He was supposed to let Aldertree die if that meant taking the Soul Sword from Valentine. Aldertree than banishes Jace from field duty.

Alec blames himself. Since nobody else seems to share his thoughts, he punishes himself by shooting arrows until his hand bleeds. Jace tries to talk to him but Alec literally prefers to jump off the building than to be exonerated of guilt by his Parabatai.

Luke is also turned apart: he disappears in his grief. We find out by the end of the episode the pain has sent him into a feral state and he is lost in the woods.

Lastly, Clary is having a hard time accepting her mother’s passing. Simon tries to help with a Jewish prayer but Clary is too numbed to be able to appreciate it. He keeps trying to cheer her up. Unfortunately, nothing Simon says works. What pulls Clary out of her apathy state is remembering that Simon was dead and came back. Maybe she can do the same to her mother.

The duo asks Magnus about it. The High Warlock is adamant: there is a way but it is dark magic and should not be done. The consequences are unpredictable. Instead, Magnus gives Clary one of his memories from when she was a child and an advice. Magnus had to deal with his own mother taking her life when she found out he was part-demon. He tells Clary that, over time, it gets easier to endure the pain. Never easy, but easier.

Magnus also talks to Alec, when he shows up at his apartment. They briefly discuss Camille. Magnus thought talking about his ex might be something that set Alec off, but he’s wrong. Alec is more worried about Magnus’ feelings than perpetuating biphobic notions. In return, Magnus doesn’t exonerate Alec of the guilt he feels, because Magnus knows that won’t help him. Instead, he reminds Alec that he can face Clary and make things right.

Sadly, neither Clary nor Alec quite understands Magnus’ advice. When Clary and Jace talk about Jocelyn when Jace admits he wished he and Jocelyn had more time to get to know each other, Clary makes her mind. She searches for a warlock that deals in black magic. Iris Rouse appears in her research and Clary sought her out. Iris says she’ll bring Jocelyn back. She proves it is possible by reviving a raven. However, when Jace catches Clary and warns her about the risks, Clary is torn.

It does no good, then, that Alec comes to apologize. He says he’d do anything to take back what happened. This prompts Clary to tell him about Iris. Moved by guilt, Alec is willing to go with her and give it a try.

However, as they meet with Iris, Alec starts to grow increasingly suspicious. Clary is too taken by hope to notice the creepiness of Iris’ place, though. The pregnant and aloof mundane isn’t enough to raise red flags and neither is silent Madzie, a little warlock girl that immediately takes a liking to Alec.

Grief makes Clary go along even when Iris says that Alec has to stay behind. The suspicious behavior only strikes Clary after she’s agreed to exchange her mother’s life for a favor. When the raised raven comes back into a frenzy, Clary calls off the ceremony. It is too late, though. She owes Iris and the warlock knows what she wants. Mirroring Valentine, Iris wants to bring back more warlocks. In fact, that is what she does: lure young woman who she gets pregnant from her own personal demon.

She drugs Clary, who passes out. Alec realizes something is off and tries to find his friends. He runs into Iris but she is ready for him. She knocks him out and it is Madzie’s intervention that stops Iris from killing Alec. This is when Izzy and Jace are able to locate them. Izzy saves her brother but Iris is able to escape through a portal with Madzie.

Can someone please save the little girl?

In the basement, Clary wakes up just as the demon comes for her. Without her weapons, she’s desperate for a way to protect herself. As the demon is about to attack, Clary has the vision of a run. She draws it in her palm and, from it, comes off a ray of sunlight. It disintegrates the demon. Jace appears just in time to witness it. When Clary tells him of her vision, Jace judges it is best if they keep it as a secret.

The four Shadowhunters return to the Institute. There, Aldertree conducts the Rite of Passage. As Jocelyn turns to dust and is elevated to the skies, Clary finally breaks into tears.

Meanwhile, Simon encounters a crisis of his own. Urged by Clary to be with his mother, Simon goes home. He has a hard time hiding his vampirism, especially when his sister Rebecca finds blood storage in his room. Starved, Simon is desperate for anything to eat. Elaine was already suspicious of her son’s behavior, but when she catches him drinking from a rat, she is shocked.

Personal Notes

  • Shout out for Kat McNamara. Her performance when Clary finally breaks in tears is truly moving. It is satisfying to watch just how far she has grown as an actress since the pilot.
  • In an episode about death and grief, I applaud Shadowhunters for murdering “clalec.” No sexuality erasure here.
  • Aldertree is proving himself as a true villain. For all his talk about following the Accords, he’s used his power to do terrible things. First, he used Alec’s condition to lure Jace into a trap. He then tortured Raphael. Now, he is bullying Jace and turning Izzy into an addict. I wonder if the Clave is at all aware of what kind of monster it is putting in charge of things.
  • The Rite of Passage was a beautiful scene. From all the races of the Shadow World, the only one we aren’t overly familiar with are the Shadowhunters themselves. These moments where the show introduces parts of their culture makes for a stronger world-building. As a warrior race, the Shadowhunters are accustomed to losing their people. Honoring those who have fallen is a part of the culture, as is the parting saying, “hail and farewell.”

Images courtesy of Freeform.

 

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