It is no understatement to say Season 3 has surpassed its predecessors. Shadowhunters has improved in both storytelling and production value. The storylines feel more fluid, the characters are faced with more complex challenges. And none of that comes in detriment of a good narrative. The show is able to explore difficult moral questions while delivering entertaining episodes week after week.
The seventh episode of the season does that by having the characters make tough decisions. Or run from them. Writer Celeste Vasquez’s debut puts the characters in difficult positions. They either have to own up to their mistakes or take bigger risks than ever before. It is all about agency and what they do with it.
This deep study of human nature is complemented beautifully by Joshua Butler’s directing style. Full of action and touching moments, the episode raises the stakes considerably to every character in the show. The half-season finale approaches, but first the characters have to face a more heart-wrenching challenge than the Queen of Edom: one of their own.
Salt in the Wound
Starting out with characters owning up to their mistakes, the biggest story is about the one that doesn’t. Kyle entered the show as a shady agent of the Praetor Lupus, the secret, all-wolf organization that Luke hired to help Simon deal with the mark on his forehead. Once that was revealed, Simon appeared to be the only victim of his treachery, although that treachery was supported by both an Alpha and a Shadowhunter.
As the episodes went, Kyle endeared himself to Simon, helping him out with the mark and solving the Heidi problem for him. Still, there was something sketchy about Kyle’s behavior whenever it had something to do with Maia. From the start, he set up a “girlfriend warning” and did everything in his power to avoid Maia even when a deranged vampire was threatening her.
And now we know why. Kyle is the last name of Jordan, the werewolf that scratched Maia. As the lovely flashbacks turn into a horror story, the audience learns that Jordan changed from cheerful boyfriend to aggressive stalker once he was scratched and Turned. There is a touch of melancholy there, as the audience knows newly turned wolves or wolves stricken with very strong emotions cannot control themselves.
But, at the same time, the show never shies away from portraying Jordan’s abusive behavior. He knew there was something wrong with him and still wanted to take Maia away from her home, to a place where she’d be completely dependent on him. When he wakes up after losing control and attacking Maia, Jordan turns his back on her. He leaves, too focused on his own shame to help the girl he supposedly loved. And that pattern didn’t change when he joined the Praetor Lupus either. As Maia rightfully points out, Jordan was going to abandon Simon the moment things went south.
In clear contrast, there is Magnus. No matter how many times he says there was something off about Lilith, the truth is that Magnus fell for her sob story. He gave her the elixir and now Lilith has Jace under her complete control. She is the Mother of All Demons, thousands of years old. More powerful than any other demon around.
As strong as Magnus is, there is no comparison. And yet, he vows to mend what he did. Magnus enlists Catarina and tries to find a way to revert the elixir. Unlike Jordan, he takes responsibility for his inadvertent part in the problem – Magnus even blows it out of proportion, blaming himself for what Lilith has caused.
That Maia cannot forgive Jordan while Alec can only thank Magnus is no coincidence. Mistakes happen and sometimes there is nothing that can be done to stop them. But it doesn’t mean they cannot be fixed, minimized, or forgiven.
Clary learns about that last possibility when she finally tells Alec about using the wish to bring Jace back. There is a dramatic pause before Alec’s reaction, but the only thing surprising about it is the brotherly hug Alec gives her. Anyone that thought Alec would turn her to the Guard has not been paying attention.
With everything out on the open – including Ithuriel’s death and Lilith’s identity – a joined effort starts. Luke and Simon use Ollie’s investigation to find the Church of Talto and, hopefully, Lilith herself. Meanwhile, the Shadowhunters go to Idris to try and persuade Imogen to lend them a cage strong enough to hold the Owl.
The confrontation between Luke and Ollie was nerve-wracking, but thankfully neither Ollie nor Sam have been hurt so far. Instead, two other disciples literally turned to salt when trying to attack Simon. Judging by Lilith’s pain, it seems the mark on Simon’s head might be their best chance at defeating her. If only they found Jonathan’s body, though.
The Idris mission turned to be more successful, but no less lethal. Alec, Izzy, and Clary were able to enlist Imogen to help them and capture Jace using the Malachi Configuration. Clary stayed behind so Izzy and Alec could take Jace to Magnus’, but in doing so, she was arrested by the Shadowhunters.
Though being behind bars is no comparison to Imogen’s fate. Completely under Lilith’s control, Jace no longer has any agency. When Lilith told him to fetch Valentine’s flesh at the Cemetery of the Disgraced, Jace had no choice. Nor can he be responsible for killing Imogen when she stood in his way or dropping Clary from the top of a building.
The real Jace is locked up inside of the Owl. The audience knows that because Lilith said so and because the Owl is able to access Jace’s memories to taunt Alec and Izzy. That last scene with the Owl stuck in the cage was chilling in more ways than it seemed.
Possessing demons can use the darkest feelings surface, as we saw when Alec and Izzy were possessed back in Season 2. Although, that is just the cherry on top of horrific sunday of things Lilith made Jace do. Her plan to bring Jonathan back might have been stopped for now, but Lilith’s revenge on Jace has been more than effective.
If and when Magnus can dispossess him, it won’t matter to Jace that he had no choice. The wake of the destruction is sure to break him. It is up to the rest of the heroes to make sure Lilith won’t create about even more tragedies in her quest to bring her son back. And it seems Simon is the key to make it happen.
- Okay, but how did Clary get out of that car and was standing in the Institute minutes later? Can Simon heal her? That was a weird follow-out.
- Talking about weird things, why did Jace cut out Imogen’s finger? No way he knew about the specifics of the recent security improvements. Not when they were a novelty even to the Head of the Institute.
- The new fire-messages continue to be the coolest change since the new weaponry in Season 2.
- Izzy is the only Shadowhunter that can lie. Alec is improving but anyone could see the reliefonn his face when his bluff didn’t end up with a forced promotion. Clary, on the other hand, wouldn’t have fooled a ten-year-old. A tour? Sweet girl, not your brightest moment.
- Consul Penhallow made an appearance! And she called Alec, Izzy, and Clary the jewels of the New York Institute! I wonder what she would’ve said if Alec wanted to discuss Maryse.