Some of you may know that last year’s Shadowhunters was a TV show that I never expected to like but ended up very much enjoying. And while the writing is still pretty sketchy (though it got WAY better over the season), the acting is pretty bad (that also got better, though it’s still pretty ‘eh’), and this season adds to those flaws with a VERY WEIRD way of framing shots that makes it seem like the DP was drunk at the time, it was and, so far, still is a really intriguing TV show.
Season 2 premiered Monday, and other than that very, very weird Drunken DP thing I mentioned, it was a great episode!
(Warning, this post is gonna be kind of long because I’m gonna give some background since I didn’t have this blog when Season 1 was airing so there’s nothing for you guys to go on there.)
A little background for the non-watcher: Shadowhunters is based on a book series called The Mortal Instruments written by Cassandra Clare. (Little forewarning: I cannot stand those books or that woman, the plagiarizing jackass that she is. Plagiarism is, to me as someone with an English Degree, one of the most despicable things someone can do and not go to prison for doing so. The books are horrible, she’s a horrible human being, all of them can burn in hell for all I care. You need not know a THING about those shitty books to watch the TV show.) The story is about a girl named Clary who has just turned 18 and is headed off to art school when her mother goes missing. She discovers that her entire life has been a lie and that she isn’t even human, but rather of a race of people who have angel blood and protect the humans from the demons among them called Nephilim.
The story is really interesting, and Shadowhunters does a good job of telling a good story so that all of the flaws aren’t that abrasive. Don’t get me wrong, this is no Fargo, but it is an entertaining show that has good characters and a great story.
Season 1 covered Clary’s mother going missing, kidnapped by Clary’s father, who isn’t dead like her mother and most everyone else thought he was. Clary’s father, Valentine, is sort of like Shadowhunter Bin Laden, because back before Clary was even born, he led a band of radical Nephilim who believed, as he did, that all Downworlders (Vampires, Werewolves, Faeries, Warlocks, ect; people with some level of demon blood in them but who aren’t demons) were incapable of being good and following the law against harming normal humans (called Mundanes) and should all be slaughtered in droves. His band of followers, The Circle, were taken down by the rest of the Shadowhunters and the Shadowhunter government called The Clave and Valentine was assumed to be dead, leaving Clary’s mother free to raise her unborn daughter in the normal human world without any knowledge of what was going on. Over the course of Season 1, Clary’s best friend gets turned into a vampire, she befriends other young Shadowhunters who are siblings, one of them falls in love with her, there’s a lot of fighting the Circle members, a lot of trying to find her mom and save her, and basically your normal fantasy adventure story.
What I fell in love with when it comes to this show is the characters. There was a lot of real humanity to these characters, and I won’t bother giving you the full rundown of everything from Season 1 regarding all of those characters, but I will say that’s honestly the main draw to the show.
This week’s episode picked up where Season 1 left off, and for full details, you can look it up, but I’ll cover the important details: At the end of Season 1, Clary needed to find a book so that Magus could wake up her mother from her magically induced coma, they found out the book belonged to the vampire Camille (who turned Clary’s best friend Simon into a vampire), they freed her and she told them where to find the book, they went to find the book, and while they were there, Valentine showed up and kidnapped Jace, who was revealed to be Clary’s brother (Gross, gross, gross, dude kissed his sister, blech), and disappeared with Jace after Jace agreed to go quietly so Valentine would spare his friends lives. They went back, woke up Jocelyn, and got ready to go after Valentine and get both Jace and the Mortal Cup (thing that turns Mundanes into Shadowhunters) back from Valentine.
After the shocking turn of events from the Season 1 finale, the other night’s episode had a lot to deliver on, and it actually did a pretty good job doing so. We met the new head of the institute, Victor Aldertree, who immediately decides that Jace is in league with Valentine and should be brought in dead or alive. Obviously, for Clary and her friends, this is a serious issue. Because Alec is Jace’s parabatai (it’s like a platonic soul connection thing Shadowhunters can do when they’re kids), Alec freaks out a lot over this. He and Isabelle both get put under house-arrest with Clary because Jace is Alec and Isabelle’s adopted brother and Clary’s brother-she-didn’t-know-about, and Aldertree knows that they will try to go save Jace rather than capture or kill him.
I loved the way that, in such a hectic episode, there’s a lot of character information given to us. We see that, even though he voluntarily went with Valentine, Jace is fighting to escape from him. He is able to stand up against his father to try and go home, and it shows just how far from the narrative Aldertree believes Jace really is. It’s a great contrast to see the reality versus the common believe.
I also really enjoyed the Downworlder interactions we got. It was so sad to see Luke get kicked out of the whole situation even though he used to be a Shadowhunter and Jocelyn is his not!wife. Luke’s interactions with Simon are so fatherly and affectionate that it breaks your heart when he leaves and the other werewolves drive Simon out to sleep in a boat shed because of their hatred for vampires. Simon is so alone because he’s not really welcome anywhere and he can’t help out the way he would like to.
Another great thing about the episode was that, for how frantic everything was, Alec was appropriately human. Stress brings out flaws in people, and it was nice to see Alec crack and be a bit of a dick. He was harsh with everybody, but he was the most of a dick to Magnus, basically calling him useless and blaming him for not helping him, and a lot of people didn’t seem happy that he was such an asshole, but I think it’s realistic. You don’t often see outside stressors cause issues in a relationship in a real way. It’s normal for people to snap at their significant other because they’re freaking out. Usually in fiction that would’ve been some big friction-causing potential-break-up moment, but instead, once he’s calmed down and got himself sorted out, he went to find Magnus and apologize.
It’s worth nothing that most relationships in fiction are highly unnecessarily complicated, but especially queer relationships in media, so to see such a realistic level of communication for any couple is great, but for a queer couple it’s phenomenal. Their relationship is handled so well in this TV show. Also, the fact that Magnus doesn’t do the ‘female love interest’ thing that happens usually to women in fiction where ‘I’m sorry’ ‘oh that’s alright’ is all there is to it. Alec says he’s sorry, and Magnus makes him admit what he did that was wrong, explain why he did it, and then ask for forgiveness for doing something stupid under stress. Alec shows genuine remorse instead of rote apology. And, because he didn’t just apologize cause he had to, but because he meant it, Magnus forgives him and they talk about how Alec can keep from doing that again in the future.
Healthy relationships are always a big plus in fiction.
Most of all, however, I liked this week’s episode because Alec straight up called his mother out to her face on her shittiness. Maryse is like the Dolores Umbridge of this universe, because she’s such a terrible person who is selfish as hell. In Season 1, she was a d-bag to Isabelle because Isabelle isn’t a good little soldier, she’s a normal young woman who does her own thing, and sometimes ‘her own thing’ is banging hot Downworlders (as would we all, let’s be real, have you seen Meliorn?!). She loves Alec and Jace and gives a cold shoulder to Isabelle, and then when Alec starts being defiant and proposes to Lydia to spite them, she starts giving him the cold shoulder, and now when it comes to Jace, she literally says, “Jace isn’t family” even though Jace has actually said the words, “Maryse is my mother” and “The Lightwoods are my parents”. When Alec calls her out on being selfish and self-centered about his ‘brother’, she actually says the words, “When you have a cancer, you cut it out before it can destroy you.” This bitch compared her adopted son to CANCER, so it was very satisfying to have Alec finally call her out on it. I loved that more than anything else in the whole episode.
I can’t wait for next week, and to anybody who made it to the end of this week’s write-up, don’t worry! Next week will be way simpler and more coherent.
What did you guys think? Do you like this show? Did you give up on it because of how bad it was in the very beginning? Let me know in the comments!