Shadowhunters | Season 1, Episode 3
Verdict: “No thank you. None of this.” “You just gestured to all of me.”
After episodes 1-2 getting off to a rocky but somewhat promising start, the writing staff of Shadowhunters develop a bad case of verbal diarrhea and accidentally wipe the resulting bodily excretions on the script.
Basic plot line: Simon gets kidnapped by vampires, who want the Mortal Cup for some unfathomable reason. Clary guilts and whines until the Actual Shadowhunters agree to go rescue him. Laughably awkward dialogue and complete lack of sexual chemistry ensues.
Okay. I feel like I should stress at the beginning of each of these reviews that I love The Mortal Instruments book series to pieces and I want the Shadowhunters show to succeed. I really, really do. That said…
In the name of Ithuriel’s bad judge of character.
Did I just watch?
I’m not entirely sure anyone, bar Matthew Daddario, actually knows which show they’re on. In fact, I have decided that Daddario is far too good for this show. In fact, Alec Lightwood is too good for this show and I don’t even LIKE Alec because of what a little ::SPOILER:: he is to ::SPOILER:: in the later books. But he is Shadowhunters‘ one saving grace at the moment and, for that, I thank him.
Let’s start with the main problem, shall we? Because it’s a big one.
At this point, I’m not wholly convinced the writers of the show have actually read the books. It would explain a lot. In fact, I’m kinda hoping that they haven’t read them and that’s why this episode was so bad, because if they HAVE read them and this is the result? There is no hope.
There are problems with line-delivery too but MY GOD what was that scene between Jace and Clary in the graveyard? THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN. WHAT EVEN WAS THAT?
No, no, no, wait, wait. I can’t just describe this scene. I have to show you.
Actual Dialogue from the Actual Show
*Jace is showing Clary how to use a Seraph blade. They are in the stereotypical Boy-Shows-Girl-How-To-Play-Golf/Tennis/Bowl position*
J: Now, it knows you’re a Shadowhunter, so it wants to respond. But you have to be firm with it. Let it know who’s boss. There. You make it a part of yourself and it a part of you. Now, the blade never dims. It’s saying you belong together.
C: How does it know?
J: ‘Cause you’re part angel, Clary… like all Shadowhunters.
*They thrust the blade into the air together*
J: You understand?
C: Not even a little.
J: You’ll get there. It’s not something you understand in your mind. It’s something you know because it’s pulsing through your body. It’s in your blood.
*Jace steps away and Clary goes through the motions by herself*
C: Could I even do this without you?
J: You just did.
C: But it… felt like you were still with me.
J: I am. I will be.
Nothing says impending romance than cringe-worthy attempts at innuendo. In case you missed them, they’re the words I highlighted in red. In case you don’t understand why they are innuendo, please watch that scene again because line-delivery whilst holding a phallic weapon is everything. For your convenience, I’ve also highlighted the Sledgehammer Foreshadowing in green. Subtlety? Pfft, what even is that?
Let’s revisit one line though.
C: Could I even do this without you?
At this point, Clary has literally moved the blade side to side and stabbed the air straight in front of her. THAT IS ALL SHE HAS DONE. Basic ‘pretending to wield a sword’ movements that a six-year-old can imitate. Not even six. Two. A two-year-old can do this. If Clary couldn’t do this without Jace, I’d be worried about her general function as a human being.
ALSO – WHO TALKS LIKE THAT? NO ONE.
Jace and Clary
The problem I’m having is that Jace is not Jace and Clary – bless her heart because I’m sure she’s trying her best – cannot act. Part of this is genuinely due to the dialogue they’ve both been given, which is dire (if we’re being polite). You can’t expect to shine in an acting role if the script you’ve been given would be better served in the set’s Portaloos. I honestly think Clary is trying her best here, because she does have moments when the real character shines through, as does Jace, but you have to look really hard through the muck of saccharine flirting that gives the two about as much chemistry as two asexual slugs.
Where is Clary’s fire? Why is she whining all the time? Why isn’t Jace funny? Who says Abracadabra? Where the bleeding hell is the Planet Bongo and why is it in my Shadowhunters episode?
Isabelle and Meliorn.
I like my women sexy. I like my Isabelle sexy. Part of what I love about Book Isabelle is that she’s clearly attractive, knows it, owns her sexuality, is blunt, forthright and very biting. Shadowhunters’ Isabelle… looks good in underwear? She seems to have been reduced to ‘Hot Totty’ who apparently has to sleep with people to get information.
Uhm, no. No thank you. None of that. That’s not Isabelle.
Again, this isn’t the actress’s fault. She has moments of being a BRILLIANT Isabelle (notably when she’s fighting and using her whip. The whip is fantastic and so is Isabelle’s action capability. Everything about that is right.)
Yet the dialogue – yes, that again – in the Random Faery Tent Scene was just… is awful too strong a word? No. As my fellow TMI fan described, it was ‘a hot mess’. I would just call it a mess because I don’t want to imply that anything about that scene was hot.
Note to writers: Read the books please. Stop making your portrayal of Isabelle so reductive. Your actors and actresses can only work with what they’ve been given.
Oh God, that scene was so terrible.
No, but seriously. Terrible. So, so terrible.
Simon, Camille and Raphael
Yeah, so… err…
Okay. Apparently Simon was kidnapped for an Unexpected Making Out Session with Camille, Head Vampire. She of the Effortless Grace and Immortal Agility, who apparently can’t walk in her heels. I spent most of Camille’s scenes a) wondering if this was, in fact, Camille, or some other random vampire we’re being introduced to and b) fearing for the actress’s ankles. Perhaps she was going for ‘willowy’ but I got ‘shoes don’t fit properly and she’s afraid she’ll break her neck’.
Apart from that, Camille was alright. Or at least alright in the grand scheme of things because I still can’t equate her with Actual Book Camille. So as a Generic Femme Bloodsucker, she was good. As Camille herself… no. Because the writers haven’t actually written Camille’s character. Case and point: the make-out session with Simon.
So. Baffling. Why was Camille kissing Simon? IT MAKES NO SENSE. I have zero idea why Camille would kiss Simon. REPEATEDLY FOR GREAT LENGTHS OF TIME. That’s not a Camille thing to do at all.
Vampires, generally… meh. A bit cliche, again, but at least they don’t sparkle. Raphael’s lipstick is somewhat erratic though, you might want to check on that. Also, the bike-stealing scene with Biker Vampire was another stream of train-wreck gems. (Jace just kinda… watched as Biker Vampire groped Clary’s arse. Hm. Right, okay.)
Simon has started slipping into weirdness. I had such high hopes for him after the first two episodes because, although he was sometimes erratic, he mostly nailed Simon’s lines. His lines were much better in the first two episodes though… oh wait. Is that a Writer Problem again?
Hands up and let’s put the blame where it belongs. Simon is erratic in this episode but, to be fair, he’s playing against Camille and Clary all the time and it’s difficult to act well when you’re put in a position that a) WOULD NEVER HAPPEN and b) given excremental dialogue to read out.
The fight scene
It bothers me greatly that both Clary and Isabelle go demonhunting in huge heels. They’re not even stable ‘boot’ heels. They’re pin heels, the kind that people slowly walking down the street would break their necks wearing. The ones that are completely impractical for moving in AT ALL, let alone demon hunting.
*gentle push* Oh look, I’ve defeated a Shadowhunter.
Let’s put aside the complete nonsense that was Clary ‘learning to fight’ in under a minute back in The Graveyard of Bad Innuendo. Isabelle and the whip was an excellent moment, and Alec gets all the praise from me. Everything from his dress, his body movements to his facial expression make me think YES, this is Alec Lightwood. Unfortunately, much of the dialogue between the siblings seems to revert back to:
I: Hey, Alec, you know you’re gay, right?
A: Yeah, but let’s focus on the fight-
I: But Alec, you know if you just had some gay sex with someone, you’d be less uptight, right?
A: Okay, but, demons-
I: Because you’re gay.
I GET IT. We all get it. Even Magnus Bane gets it and he hasn’t even met Alec yet. (Although, hand on heart, I’m really looking forward to that). I have about as much time for this laborious script as Jocelyn does, and she put herself in a coma in the first episode so she wouldn’t have to deal with it.
Anyway, fighty-fighty, stabby-stabby, and Clary gets to show off her newfound battle expertise. By which I mean, she stands still and stabs a vampire. Literally, all she does. She stands still (possibly because she can’t move in those ridiculous heels) and stabs. a. vampire. The great thing about Seraph blades is that you don’t even need to be remarkably accurate (such as with a stake, when you need to hit the heart). You can stab pretty much anywhere in the huge torso region of Biker Vampire and it’ll do the job. Like Pin the Tail on the Donkey, but easier and without a blindfold.
So, after this marvellous fight scene, we very nearly get some actual feelings about Clary’s first purposeful murder.
C: I killed him.
J: He was already dead. Plus, he wanted to kill you. Remember that.
And then we forget feelings and swiftly move on to the most un-Isabelle line in the history of Isabelle lines (so far, but I think there are going to be some absolute crackers):
I: [big smile plastered on her face] She did great, right?
ISABELLE LIGHTWOOD DOESN’T TALK LIKE THAT.
She wouldn’t give Clary undeserved praise! She wouldn’t give Clary deserved praise half the time! Literally all Clary did was stab a huge vampire whilst standing still. I mean, alright, prior to that, she kicked him between the legs, which was almost cool, but that wasn’t what Issy referred to because I don’t even think she was in the room at that point. She was referring to most half-arsed vampire slaying to ever make Buffy turn in her grave.
But Jace (who is also not known for giving undeserved praise) agrees and apparently Alec is the only one with perspective in this entire show. As Jace and Isabelle wax lyrical about how wonderful Clary is, Clary just kinda takes it as ‘yeah, well, y’know, I’m amazing, I’m used to this’ instead of ‘OH MY GOD I JUST KILLED SOMETHING THAT NOT TWO HOURS AGO I WAS FLIRTING WITH AND STEALING FROM’.
…Man, Biker Vampire actually got a pretty tough break this episode. Used for his bike and staked by the Little Shadowhunter Who Could? At least he doesn’t have to deal with being in any more episodes of this rubbish.
Anyway, Clary, sounding irritated at all this praise, says:
C: Thanks, but it’s not about me.
YOU’RE RIGHT. BECAUSE YOU DID PRACTICALLY NOTHING.
Anyways, they find Simon, save him thanks to some weird character backflip Raphael is doing where he’s a scaredy-cat now, apparently. So there’s that. They’re all out in sun, and we get another Awkward Dialogue moment between Clary and Simon before he stares at her jugular for a bit and they all skip into the end credits.
A few last observations about the Awkward Dialogue
- Book Clary is fully aware that Simon likes her. As such, she tries not to flirt with him, or lead him on in any way that might suggest she wants more than friendship.
- Shadowhunter Clary is very flirty with Simon. She just is. Watch her movements. Listen to the dreadful dialogue. LOOK AT SIMON’S FACE WHEN SHE SAYS THIS STUFF. So that leaves two options…
- Shadowhunter Clary doesn’t know Simon likes her, unlike Book Clary. This is OK. It means she’s oblivious to everything, but then again this is the girl who didn’t notice when she spray-painted an elaborate rune on Simon’s van. This must have taken at least five minutes, of which she was completely unaware. So I can believe she doesn’t have a clue Simon likes her because she is the single most unobservant person ever.
- Shadowhunter Clary knows Simon likes her, as does Book Clary. The difference is, Shadowhunter Clary is totally alright with flirting and leading Simon on if this is the case. Shadowhunter Clary is a tease and not a very nice person – therefore the opposite of Book Clary in every way. Which, y’know, seeing as she’s the protagonist of this series, might be something the writers need to look at.
Come on, Episode 4. I’m rooting for you. Especially because Episode 4 is released on my birthday and I don’t want to be dealing with all this fandom rage I have inside right now. Not on my birthday. You can do better than this.
You can’t do worse. And no, that’s not a challenge.