The Corruption of the Shadow World

If last week’s episode was all about wrapping up the past storylines, this week’s episode is full on moving the story forward. Shadowhunters is over larger-than-life demonic villains. The new challenge is corrupted institutions and power struggles.

If the episode is anything to go by, the season ahead is about to dive deep into the rotten of the Shadow World and clean it up. And, maybe even more excitingly, the characters leading this revolution are all female. Maia reigned supreme in the episode, but Izzy and Clary had their own moments to shine.

Among the supporting cast, Maryse was there to remind us of her value as both a shadowhunter and a mother. Even Heidi made a comeback, proving she is still a force to deal with. Now, this is what “girl power” really is.

Beati Bellicosi

At the center of the episode, we find two mirrored stories focusing on the Downworlders for a change. It’s always refreshing to see the dynamics within the packs and clans. Sometimes, Shadowhunters can focus a little too much on the group titular to the series and forget that everyone else is living their own lives even when Clary is fighting demonic royalty.

But not in this episode. This week, the Downworlders shine. The power struggle between the New York Pack, which protect the agents of the Praetor Lupus, and the Brooklyn Vampire Clan are a breath of fresh air. Alpha Russel and Clan Leader Griffin make for interesting leaders with no ties to our main characters whatsoever.

Griffin, especially, is a compelling new character.

Interesting as they might be, though, they are not our lead characters. Those would arguably be Maia and Heidi, who play opposite but similar roles in the episode. Both are subjects to their leaders, both disagree with their decisions to best protect their own people, and both decide to undermine them by getting the rest of the group on their side.

Only, while Heidi does so through deceit and hurting others, Maia does it through sacrifice and honor. When Maia realizes she has to step up and become the Alpha her pack needs, she sacrifices her love for Simon for what she believes to be the best for everyone. Heidi, on the other hand, wants – and succeeds – to trick Griffin into solving her problem for her, breaking a full out war between the werewolves and the vampires. Maia, on the other hand, focuses on protecting her people: even her abusive ex-boyfriend whose hot-headedness and hurt pride allowed this whole mess to happen.

The end result is that the vampires attacked and killed most of the werewolf pack, including Russel. Maia shares a moment with her dying Alpha in a scene that looks like Russel was passing the position to her. But that’s still to be seen since Maia is barely able to drag a lethally injured Jordan away and lock themselves into safety – though not for long. It will depend on what will get to them first in the next episode: the vampires’ silver daggers or Maia’s claustrophobia.

But Maia isn’t the only one dealing with a corrupted institution and authoritarian leadership. Izzy followed through her investigation on the treatment of Downworlder prisoners at the Guard. She got a lead and Alec promptly volunteers to tag along. Their search is narrowly fruitless when the only Shadowhunter willing to talk was killed just a couple feet away from their meeting point, but they get a name out of him: Caelesti Igne or Heavenly Fire, an off-book program ran in secret by the Clave (and a wink to the book fans).

Now we know who was torturing that Seelie prisoner. And we are bound to know more, considering how neither Alec nor Izzy promised to stop investigating when Maryse asked them to.

Not to be biased, but this is my favorite plot with my favorite people.

However, dirty organizations are not the only sort of corruption Izzy was confronting in the episode. She was also dealing with the corruption of her own body by the vampire venom from Simon’s fangs. The good news is that Izzy doesn’t have to go through it alone. As Alec so beautifully said, he’s with her all the way. It’s a great moment and an important message.

Clary too deals with the corruption of both her body and her physical safety. Back and fiercer than ever, Clary is determined to get rid of the rune connecting her life-force to Jonathan’s. As Clary says, she can feel Jonathan under her skin: he is a constant presence now and not even when he’s hurting himself to get his sister’s attention. However, even derunning isn’t enough. The rune bonding them is still there.

Still, by the end of the episode, Clary chooses to claim her body autonomy back in the only way she can: by having sex with her boyfriend. It doesn’t work to get rid of that corruption, but it gives Clary some sense of control over herself that she was missing since the first episode. Unfortunately, Jonathan is still bonded to her and Clary has yet to figure out a way to stop that before he has carved out her entire body.

Lastly, we get Maryse working with Luke. There isn’t so much a power struggle as there is a balance of power between them. Two people who were once Shadowhunters, who took completely different paths, lost their respective loved ones to death or betrayal, and who now are in equal ground to reconnect and maybe, just maybe, rebuilt a life together.

Lovely, though we all know for how long “lovely” lasts in the Shadow World. Let’s hope that information Luke and Maryse got on the Morningstar Sword helps to solidify a future for them and for all of their loved ones.

Personal Notes

  • Although the Simon/Clary reunion was adorable, I missed seeing Clary and Luke/Clary and Magnus reunite. I really did.
  • Luke and Maryse! Not going to lie, I expected a little bit more before the first kiss, but I will take it!
  • If only someone thought about calling Raphael, they might have known where to find Heidi’s grave dirt. It worked when summoning Camille.
  • Not a lot of Magnus in the episode, but I for one adore the little bits and pieces that prove just how skillful and intelligent Magnus is on his own (Magnus has the New York ley lines memorized? What even?) and how he doesn’t see it because he still thinks he is helpless now that he doesn’t have magic. Very good storytelling.

Next On

Shadowhunters will be back next week on March 18th at 8/7c on Freeform and on March 19th on Netflix worldwide. Check out the promo for the 314: “A Kiss from a Rose.”

Images courtesy from Freeform

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