Secrets All Around

Shadowhunters is now officially two weeks away from its highly anticipated series finale. Looking back, the season so far has had high and low points. The eighth episode lands somewhere in the middle.

The episode was idealized to captivate new viewers as a Halloween special. The cancellation and postponing screwed that up, but the effort still shows. It might have been the best encapsulation of the show so far: shadowhunting, scary demons, cool downworlders, and lots of relationship drama.

Unfortunately, that last element fell flat. At least, in the romantic versions of it. As always, the sibling relationships steal the show. That never gets old, unlike the dragging drama slowing down the other storylines.

The Beast Within

It’s Halloween in the timeline of the show – don’t ask, just accept it. That means a celebration for the Downworlders, who get to drop their glamour, and a headache for the Shadowhunters, who get to run around hunting demons. With the adorable plot device that is Becky Lewis, the secrets of the Shadow World get unveiled one by one.

It is delightful. Simon takes his “vampire” sister to the Hunters Moon and gives her a full crash-course on his new life. It can get a little tiring for those of us familiar with the universe, but Alberto Rosende and Holly Deveaux are too adorable to look away. The addition of Maia doesn’t hurt.

Neither does seeing the Shadowhunter foursome in action. It’s been a while since Alec, Izzy, Jace, and Clary were out on the field simply hunting demons. It feels nostalgic and surprisingly engaging to see our favorite Shadowhunters do their job. Saving mundanes, hunting demons, slaying Jabba the Hutt – I mean, the Queen Drevak. All of that and more.

Special shout-out to the Parabatai fighting together for the first time since the pilot.
Chills. Literal chills.

But the episode isn’t just about that. In the middle of all this gorgeous action, secrets flutter all around. From harmless secrets, such as the one Becky unveils about Simon’s feelings for Izzy, to devastating ones, such as Clary’s turn to the dark or Alec’s deal with Asmodeus.

That is where the storylines lose speed. After a failed attempt to burn away the Twinning Rune, Clary gets fully possessed by its demonic energy. Even Jace’s signature hug isn’t enough to bring her back this time. Clary successfully hides her new alignment, knocks Jace down, and saves Jonathan as the princess that was promised.

It would’ve been more worrisome if Jonathan was a threat to anyone besides Clary. As is, the storyline just feels like an inconvenience to Clary and Jace’s relationship. We have yet to see any reason why it can’t be resolved by a stronger dose of Heavenly Fire applied at the first opportunity.

Meanwhile, an even darker bond is forming between Maia and Jordan. After the trauma of Jordan almost dying in her arms, Maia seems to have forgotten what a selfish, untrustworthy coward Jordan is. She has put in her head that he’s changed despite no indications of that and many instances of the contrary.

It’s the perfect depiction of survivor’s guilt. Watching her whole life being shredded to pieces as the pack died in front of her, Maia is holding onto anything that links her to how life was before the decimation of her family. In the most horrific moment of the episode, Maia asks Jordan to stay and be her second-in-command in rebuilding the New York pack. She puts her faith in someone who has repeatedly betrayed those who trusted him, her most of all. A horror story, fit to a Halloween episode.

At least there is some relief with Simon and Izzy’s almost-kiss. Shadowhunters can’t stand the idea of Simon being single for more than three episodes, we know that. But, hopefully, the botched attempt means that, when Simon and Izzy do kiss, it won’t be because one of their siblings secretly nudged them into the relationship. It will be because they chose to act on their feelings. That is something to look forward to.

And finally, the biggest secret of them all happens with the two characters that embody the heart of the show. Prompted by Magnus’ drunk confession, Alec takes upon himself to fix Magnus’ problems for him. That is never the right move. Still, it is a move that comes from the heart. Alec finds a way to talk to Asmodeus that doesn’t involve summoning him – take notes, Clary and cia. Alec intends to convince Asmodeus to give Magnus his magic back.

Of course, it isn’t that easy. Asmodeus will do it only if Alec breaks up with Magnus. Manipulative as always, Asmodeus blames Alec for everything bad that has happened to Magnus. He conveniently ignores the part he played in taking away Magnus’ magic or destroying Magnus’ self-love as a child.

What a scene. Vera’s blurry reflection in the mirror only makes it creepier.

But Alec is desperate. One can feel it in his talks to Jace and Izzy. Meanwhile, Magnus finds some solace in Maryse’s support, telling her just how essential Alec has been in these tough times. When the couple finally meet at the end and Alec chooses to break up with Magnus, it should’ve been devastating.

It wasn’t. Not for any lacking in the performances, though. Harry Shum Jr. and Matthew Daddario couldn’t have done more with the material they got. Their performances were raw and deeply heartfelt. But the scene didn’t quite go there. Everything had to crumble down. The audience should feel like there is no going back.

But we know Alec’s secret. We know he is doing that for Magnus. We know that, as soon as Magnus finds out, things will go back to normal. That security blanket, along with no last reactions from Alec, emptied the scene of its emotion. Yes, it is sad. But “sad” doesn’t quite cut it at this point. If the characters don’t feel like they’ve lost everything, neither will the viewers.

Still, Asmodeus found a bloody way to summon himself to Earth. Maybe a confrontation between father and son is just what this storyline needs to pick up speed again.  

Personal Notes

  • Luke was in the episode. Blink and you’ll miss him.
  • I appreciate getting a reason why Lanaia stuck with Jonathan for so long. She was working for the Seelie Queen. At least, that’s what I assume she was doing.
  • So… That’s not how bees work. It really, really isn’t.
  • All my complaints aside, the shadowhunting and action in the episode have really been exceptional. Taylor Mallory is a fan of this world and it shows.

Next On

Shadowhunters will be back next week on April 22nd at 8/7c on Freeform and on April 23rd on Netflix worldwide. Check out the promo for episode 319: “Aku Cinta Kamu”

Images courtesy from Freeform
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