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Powerlessness and Guilt

Seven episodes in, we finally get answers. In one strike, the characters were able to dismantle the Heavenly Fire program and find a solution to Clary’s problem. Interestingly enough, it all happens in the episode that deals with the hardships of being powerless in the face of peril.

But, truth be told, that paled in comparison to what happened between Alec and Magnus. The masterfully crafted journey from Alec’s excitement to propose to Magnus’ heart-wrenching meltdown stole the show. Jonathan’s backstory notwithstanding.

It was so good, it made us forget the people who are really powerless here: Luke and Maia. The fate of the Downworlders in New York was at stake, but the two characters that would be impacted the most didn’t even get a scene in the episode. Talk about helplessness.

Heavenly Fire

As a whole, season three’s strength has clearly been in the character-focused storylines. Magnus’ journey to deal with the loss of magic is by far the strongest storyline. It particularly shines in this episode. As sweet as Alec’s plans were, the heart of the journey lies with Magnus.

Magnus has finally gotten a hug, but at what cost?

Harry Shum Jr. does wonders to keep Magnus’ pain just close enough to the surface so we have a peek. Magnus is clearly fighting off his depression, trying to focus on moving on and living his mundane life. He is searching for apartments, going along with what he thinks is just a romantic date with his boyfriend. Magnus is just barely holding it together, but he is trying.

That changes when he is confronted by the proof of his mortality. One white hair and Magnus’ efforts fall apart. When he shows up to dinner, Magnus is in a complete downward spiral. Harry Shum Jr.’s performance steals the show as Magnus drunkenly spats out bitter half-truths. Meanwhile, Matthew Daddario does a wonderful job in Alec’s realization of just how powerless he truly is.

Neither Magnus nor Alec can get Magnus his magic back. However, the scene doesn’t just end there. No, it goes beyond it. It ends with Alec literally supporting Magnus while Magnus voices his true feelings. It is heartbreaking, yes. But it also a testament to their love and growth. Magnus has always hidden the extent of his true feelings. Alec has been letting himself believe things would be okay. Not anymore.

Now they are on the same page. Individually, they are powerless. But together? We have yet to see a challenge Magnus and Alec can’t conquer if they work together.

Meanwhile, Izzy and Simon put their heads (and fingers) together to help Clary. They come up with a plan to infiltrate the Heavenly Fire program so that Simon can search for Glorious. What they didn’t expect to find instead was a serum that cleanses demonic blood, thus turning Downworlders into mundanes.

Or Helen Blackthorn, the half-Shadowhunter, half-Downworlder, and entirely ready to help second-in-command of the operation. Helen is an interesting gray character. She was willing to take away the “downworlderness” of criminals without their consent, but she drew a line when she learned the plan was to expand to innocent downworlders. She also bases her motivations on being half-Downworlder herself, but denies said motivation later on.

Very contradictory, but in the best Seelie way possible. Hopefully, we will see more of Helen – especially if she shares more screen time with Aline.

I wonder how a half-Downworlder got involved with Heavenly Fire to begin with.

The person that nobody wants to see anymore is Aldertree. Unless he is getting punched in the face by Izzy again, of course. In any case, Izzy and Simon managed to bring some of the Heavenly Fire serum back to the Institute. That might be Clary’s chance to cleanse herself for the Twinning Rune.

But that depends if she still wants to. Turns out, Clary has been dreaming about saving Jonathan ever since she was a child. The retcon works mostly thanks to Luke Baine’s and Kat McNamara’s performances. Although the addition of Clary’s childish drawings certainly was a bonus.

Learning that she was powerless to save her brother may have changed Clary’s heart. For now, she is still willing to go with the cleansing plan. But when push comes to shove, will Clary be able to look her brother in the eyes and destroy the only thing that keeps him alive?

Personal Note

  • In the end, the Heavenly Fire plot line was a big let down. Not only was it too easy to deal with, but the whole thing was also blamed on an already defeated villain. The fact that Aldertree was acting behind Jia’s back could not be a bigger disappointment.
  • Jace continues to be an awesome supporting character. The Parabatai scene and the quick shoulder-squeeze on Simon? Gorgeous character work.
  • As much as I despise the lack of Maia and Luke in such a Downworlder-centric storyline, the episode works best when it focuses on six main characters instead of eight. That said, it does not bode well that the two black mains are usually the first to be shoved aside.
  • When will Magnus and Raphael – now both mundanes – get a scene together? It would be interesting to see the contrast between their perspective on the same predicament.

Next On

Shadowhunters will be back next week on April 15th at 8/7c on Freeform and on April 16th on Netflix worldwide. Check out the promo for episode 318: “The Beast Within”

Images courtesy from Freeform
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