Among the eight main characters of Shadowhunters, Luke Garroway occupies a special place. As both a Downworlder representative and all around father figure, Luke often takes over the role of a counselor and peace-maker. His journey has taken him from Shadowhunter to Downworlder, from Circle member to Pack Leader. Luke has a foot in both worlds, as well as a hand in the Mundane World.
All of that makes him the perfect mentor figure. However, to see him as a simple guide is too narrow a vision. Luke is not only there to teach the younger generation, he has his own story to live. Isaiah Mustafa lends his own light and charisma to make the character shine in the shortest of scenes. In doing so, he creates a rich character whose transformation has happened right in front of our eyes.
For Luke was not born a leader. He probably never expected to be one. For the most part of his life, though, Luke was a follower. Even so, he was always a caretaker, a fighter, an idealist. Those inherited characteristics were tempered with suffering and mistakes, only to emerge stronger and better guided. If the second season of Shadowhunters presents to us a leader in Luke, it was because the character grew into the title. He earned it.
Early Days: The Circle
Which brings us to the point; how did Luke do it? Born a Shadowhunter, Luke Garroway came to the world as Lucian Graymark. Unlike the families we know, Herondales, Lightwoods, Fairchilds, the Graymark are not a “noble” family among their society. Their name come from individual accomplishments, like how Lucian’s mother became an Iron Sister.
It is not surprising, then, that Lucian sought out a worthy cause to fight for. In his youth, the Shadowhunters were losing the war against the demons. More and more, Shadowhunters died, shrinking their numbers.
When Lucian’s Parabatai, Valentine Morgenstern, created the Circle, Lucian saw the salvation of their kind. Among others, Lucian and his sister Cleophas joined the Circle with the idea of protecting both mundanes and Downworlders. At the time, the Shadowhunters’ sacred duty drove the Circle. Lucian followed his best friend and leader with the dream of creating a better caliber of Shadowhunters.
In two years, though, that dream turned much darker. Valentine turned against everyone who had demon blood, such as the Downworlders he had sworn to protect. Lucian watched, helplessly, his Parabatai preach about the inefficiency of the Clave. When Valentine began lobbying to use the Mortal Cup to expand the Shadowhunters numbers, Lucian and Jocelyn, Valentine’s wife, joined forces. Together, they tried to sway him back to a more moderate stand.
But instead of dissuading Valentine’s darker impulses, Lucian and Jocelyn fell in love. Although they never acted on their feelings, Valentine found out of the emotional affair. Lucian points that as the reason why Valentine descended into madness. It was then that he began to experiment with Downworlder blood, in the search of becoming a better warrior.
One can presume that was also around the time Valentine gave demon blood to his own son, still inside of Jocelyn’s womb. It is a dark moment of Lucian’s past, when he still engages in an emotional romance with a woman who is, by all accounts, still married and sleeping with her husband. Clary was conceived just a month or two before the Uprising happened since no one seemed aware of Jocelyn’s pregnancy at the time.
Still, neither Lucian nor Jocelyn could fully comprehend the length of Valentine’s cruelty. No betrayal justifies setting up a loved one to die and that was exactly what Valentine did. Lucian found himself trapped with a pack of werewolves after his Parabatai locked him up to die. Although Lucian managed to survive the confront, he was scratched and set to turn into a wolf in the next full moon.
If not for Jocelyn’s support and his love for her, Lucian would’ve taken his own life right then. For a Shadowhunter, becoming a “lesser” being is worse than death. Valentine had condemned Lucian to either die or live his life in shame as Downworlder.
Love was what saved Lucian; he chose to live. Moreover, he chose to save others. Together with Jocelyn, Lucian stopped Valentine when he decided to go completely rogue. Valentine would have stolen the Mortal Cup if not for their interference.
Despite their heroics, the Uprising left serious consequences for both Jocelyn and Lucian. While Jocelyn exiled herself, Lucian decided to follow the love of his life. Once again, Lucian chose to join someone else’s plan, both out of love and the instinct to do the right thing. Once again, however, he shied away from taking control of his own life.
From follower to leader
Hidden in the Mundane World, Lucian Graymark became Luke Garroway. It isn’t unthinkable that the change of name was a culmination of factors. Not only his entire species had changed, Lucian was rejected by his sister. As a former Circle member and blind follower of Valentine’s, Cleophas too believed in the superiority of the Shadowhunters over the demon-blooded creatures. Seeing her brother as one of the “inferior” beings left Cleophas with no shortage of curses to throw at him.
That Luke chose a new name and surname after that is no surprise. Neither is the fact that he agreed to Jocelyn’s rules once they learned she was pregnant with Clary. Although Luke was against keeping the Shadow World from the girl, he respected her mother’s wishes. He helped Jocelyn raise Clary to the best of his capacities.
On the way, Luke got himself another surrogate kid; Simon Lewis. Clary’s best friend, the mundane boy was the closest thing Luke had to a son. And, as Simon had lost a father, the relationship was mutual. With Jocelyn, Clary, and Simon, Luke formed himself a new family. And one that loved him for who he is instead of who they wish he’d be.
Luke also found himself a suitable job to his inclination to serve and protect. He joined the mundane police, becoming a detective in time. Luke had a great relationship with his boss, Sargent Vargas, and a good reputation in the force. It was there that Luke met both Alaric and Maia. Just like him, they were both lost werewolves in need of a family. Luke guided them, helped them. Channeling his own experience, Luke was able to give them the help they needed to overcome their transformation into werewolves. Luke also showed them a pack to affiliate to.
However, Luke himself was never officially a part of that pack. He did not agree with Alpha Theo’s methods, but Luke still kept a good relationship with the pack. Luke is no blind follower. If he doesn’t believe in someone’s ideology or motives, he will not support them. He is loyal, sometimes to a fault. But Luke’s loyalty comes with trust and not passivity. He will not stand for things he doesn’t believe in.
Love is Luke’s driving force. Even when he settled down as a follower, Luke had the essence of leadership in him. His relationships with Simon, Alaric, and Maia all showed Luke’s potential as an alpha. Much like Valentine did with Shadowhunters, Luke gathered the underdogs of the Downworlder under his wing.
Unlike Valentine’s, though, Luke’s motives were devoid of personal ambition. Unlike Valentine, Luke did it to help others and not himself. While Valentine rose to power through authority and fear, Luke grew into the role by merit.
But when Luke has to kill Theo in order to save his surrogate children, effectively taking the Alpha’s position, he is still not ready for leadership. His idealized love for Jocelyn apart, Luke’s mindset hasn’t caught up to his skills. At that point, Luke was an alpha but not yet a leader.
The making of an alpha
Good intentions don’t always translate to good deeds. Luke knows his responsibilities as the leader of the pack, as well as the rules. He does not agree with the later but lacks the means to change them. Luke also has a problem with prioritizing.
As a follower, Luke’s priorities can be solemnly tied up to those he loves. This is why his first instinct is to always put Clary’s needs before the pack’s. For eighteen years, this is exactly what Luke has done. He takes care of his family, of his loved ones. The notion of collectivity is very different than taking care of a few people you have a personal connection to.
It takes Luke some time to figure that out. We see his mistakes, for example, when Luke brings Simon to live among wolves without even making sure there was a place for him. To Luke, this action is exactly like helping Alaric was. However, he misses the fact that the other wolves don’t look at Simon and see a nice kid trying to find his place in the world. They only see a vampire.
Idealized love also hinders Luke from fulfilling his role as leader. Luke’s feelings for Jocelyn drove him throughout the first season of the show. He is more than ready to leave the pack behind when Jocelyn is forced to move back to Idris. Luke is so in love, he ignores all implications of his actions.
Going with Jocelyn would leave the pack without an alpha. More than that, Luke would be moving back to the Shadowhunters’ country as a Downworlder. All of this is lost to him. All Luke thinks about is that he’ll finally be together with the woman he’s loved for over 20 years.
Jocelyn’s sudden death broke Luke in ways he’d never thought possible. The pain was so lacerating, Luke even lost control of his own body. In his wolf form, Luke wandered the woods and almost killed innocent mundanes. If not for Maia and Simon, Luke would’ve lost his guilt-free conscience as well.
This loss of control, however, revealed more than just an eviscerating pain in Luke’s soul. Luke went missing for days. Although the pack looked for him in the start, they eventually gave up on him. After so many times that Luke put the Shadowhunters over them, the wolves didn’t see the point in finding him anymore. Luke’s initial inability to prioritize the people he was now responsible for almost cost him too high a price. Because he was unable to care for the wolves, they abandoned him in return.
It is at this low point that Luke starts to really transform into a leader. Maia and Simon, his Downworlder pupils in a sense, turn the table around and take care of him. Simon talks about how important Luke is to both he and Clary. Maia, on the other hand, remembers Luke of the words he once told her. “Those that care about you will fight with you.” It is this sentiment, one that Luke applies to everyone else, that gave him the strength to carry on.
Finally, Luke’s natural leadership skills can be channeled to form the alpha he later becomes. The Luke that ran to the woods in pain emerges as a new man, more mature and assertive than ever before. It is at that moment that the alpha takes true form.
But that doesn’t mean Luke is done developing. He makes other, graver mistakes. When the Downworld learns Clary’s angelic blood can activate the Soul Sword and cause global genocide, Maia decides to take things into her own hands. She attacks Clary with the intention to kill her. Luke not only defends Clary, which is the right thing to do, but he punishes Maia in an exceedingly cruel way.
It is one of the most difficult scenes to watch. Luke locks Maia up, knowing full well she is claustrophobic. In his attempt to keep Clary safe, Luke hurts Maia, betraying her trust in him. The entire sequence is the worst time Luke put his loved ones above others but not the only one. When Dot is left behind by Valentine, Luke treats her like a threat instead of a victim. Blinded by his hatred of Valentine, Luke is still unable to keep his emotions at bay.
At the same time, Luke is slowly stepping on the role of a representative to the Downworlders. When he learns Clary and Jace kept the secret about the Soul Sword from them, Luke is quick to point out the Downworlders do not need to be saved from themselves. That they never asked for Shadowhunters saviors.
Step by step, Luke finally finds his balance when season 2B arrives. His willingness to agree to Jace’s plan resulted in the loss of two-thirds of his pack. Still, Luke refuses to let his wolves turn other mundanes, implementing a change of ways. Luke finally has the means to make things his way. He seizes the opportunity even if it means losing even more wolves.
Even so, the first sign of real change happens when a fight between Jace and Maia breaks out in the Hunter’s Moon. Luke was kept from interfering, which indicates a distrust by the other Downworlders. When he pushes his way into the fight, as Maia is chipped, Luke takes a stand. “It’s not about Clary,” he says. It is about stopping a full blown-out war.
At this points, things change for Luke. And, more importantly, Luke starts to make things change around him too.
Once Luke has stepped into his own, he is able to channel his caretaking tendencies into serving the community instead of just a few. That is not to say Luke is now flawless, no. His emotions can still overpower him, especially when they have to do with Valentine. In fact, it was because Luke wanted revenge that he accepted to represent the werewolves in Alec’s Cabinet Meetings.
But Luke has also shown growth and maturity where others lacked. Among the werewolves, Luke becomes a true alpha when he confronts the pack of rogue wolves his own lack of authority created.
In a spectacular performance by Isaiah Mustafa, Luke goes head to head with Russel. As they literally fight in a brutal choreography, Luke also figuratively fights yet another system he does not agree with. When he wins, Luke doesn’t only get the respect of the wolves. He creates a new set of rules, ones he can finally abide by.
It isn’t only among the wolves that Luke emerges victorious. When Valentine’s greatest threat fell upon the Downworlders, it was Luke who kept his cool and saw things clearly when Magnus could not. As a representative of the Downworlders as a whole, Luke was able to approach this impossible situation with a clear head.
While he agreed with Magnus that the Seelie Queen was their only real chance of survival, Luke did not agree to her terms. Yes, her realm might as well be the only true thing capable of saving the Downworlders if Valentine succeeded. However, Luke broke the Queen’s wishes and kept feeding the Shadowhunters the information they needed when both factions were hunting the Morgensterns down. This way, Luke secured his people real protection while still ensuring mutual cooperation.
It is fitting, then, that Luke becomes not only a representative of the Downworlders, but a guardian of the Shadow World as a whole. With a mundane partner like Ollie, capable of figuring out and accepting that he’s a werewolf, Luke is the perfect character to deal with the situation. Season 3 will bring resolution to this storyline, an original of the show. Luke’s responsibility keeps growing and he raises to the occasion every time.
Still, Luke’s role in the story is not merely political. With promises of exploring his past, Luke will certainly deal with the increase of his pack. His close relationships with Clary, Simon, and Maia will only strengthen and grow.
But work and kids are not the only things in Luke’s life. A possible love-interest has been teased (and asked for). Luke’s love for Jocelyn was pure and beautiful, but it does not have to condemn him to a lonely existence. It is time for a new lady to enter his life. Or rather, a known lady but with a new attitude. If season 2B was any indicator, Maryse Lightwood is a strong contender to win the alpha’s heart.
Hopefully, when this new and exciting pairing happens, Maryse will have gotten rid of her cheating husband. Luke deserves a mature relationship with an unattached lover for a change.