Shadowhunter Thursday: Episode 4 – Raising Expectations and Dashing Hopes

Shadowhunters | Season 1, Episode 4

Shadowhunters_1.04_Raising_Hell_pentagram

Verdict: Much, much better than last week, but we’re still having teething problems.

Basic plot line: The Littlest Shadowhunter and the gang find Magnus Bane in an effort to restore her memories. Everything is camp and almost worth it. Simon’s experiencing mood swings that may be unnatural. Supernatural, one might say.


Disclaimer: I love The Mortal Instruments books by Cassandra Clare. I want this show to succeed. I’m just not completely certain it will. 


Okay, so yesterday’s episode was much, much better than the awful offering we were given last week (see here for review), but before I wax lyrical about the good things, let’s be clear: there were still a fair few faults. Definite. Faults.

Let’s run down those before I get dizzy with the praise.

  1. Clary’s breasts called. They want the costume department to stop suffocating them. Or, alternatively for the scriptwriters to give them a few lines because they’re obviously meant to be characters in their own right. Come on now. I appreciated the line “I’m more of a jeans and t-shirt girl” which means that, yes, they have read the books, but it’d be nice let Clary’s natural side come out a bit more. Tight-fitting clothing and curves is meant to be Isabelle’s bag.
  2. Is it completely necessary to have everyone call Clary by her full name? Really.
  3. Isabelle’s lines are, yet again, exposition. It’s not even well hidden exposition. This character is more than a pretty face and convenient plot progression.
  4. There was so much stating the obvious in this episode, I don’t know where to begin.
  5. Jace and Clary still have all of the chemistry of asexual slugs.

Right. Now onto the better stuff.


As episodes go, this one was quite concise and well paced. It didn’t have the bloated feel of Episodes 1, nor did it fill in dead space with Unexpected Make-out Sessions like Episode 3. The same issues with dialogue appear throughout though, and there are a fair few problems with logic, too…

The mystery of Clary’s missing memories resurfaces during a hilariously over-acted opening scene. Clary is having a nightmare, which makes her act like she’s drowning in a pool of bees. The nightmare is really a fragmented memory of Magnus Bane casting a spell on Clary, which requires her 8-year-old self to be tied up. Right… why, exactly? All he does is wiggle his fingers at her. Why he couldn’t have done that over icecream, I don’t know. Good parenting, Jocelyn. Way to unnecessarily freak your child out.


I was strapped to this piece of furniture and my mom was there. She kept telling this guy to protect me, but then he reached his hand into my skull and ripped out my brain.

– Clary’s not-quite-accurate description of what her dream was about. 


Anyway, this leads Simon to correctly guess the warlock who took Clary’s memories is Magnus Bane. Hey-ho, it’s off to work we go for the Actual Shadowhunters, but Simon’s sitting this one out because he, after a weird moment in front of a magic mirror that grows and shrinks at will, has had enough of the Shadowhunters’ craziness. He heads off home.


JACE & CLARY


Slugeo and Slugette are clearly meant to be getting closer this episode. At least, that’s what I think the staged shirtless scene was all about, which had about all the subtlety of Magnus’ wardrobe. Despite this scene – in which Clary had a pretty good reaction to seeing a topless Jace – the couple still display zero chemistry, and I’ve officially lost interest in their would-be romance.

If I’m completely honest, the shirtless scene itself was a Teen-Show-By-Numbers cliché, and made me roll my eyes. At this point I’m waiting for Brother-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named to appear to add a little spice to this bland relationship.


Sidenote: ... it's just occurred to me how long I will have to wait for him to appear and I'm not sure I can stomach this show for that long.

The one great thing about the interaction with Jace and Clary this episode – and I’m sad I missed it the first time and had to rewind (because it is truly epic) – is Clary’s complete dependency on Jace.

Fun fact #1: There are five people in a room. There is a pentacle on the floor. A pentacle has five points.

Magnus: Everyone take your rightful place on the pentagram.

Fun fact #2: Magnus Bane is one of the most powerful warlocks ever… who doesn’t know the difference between a pentacle and a pentagram. *shakes fist* Thanks, writers!

Anyway, I digress. Five points, five people. Everyone takes their mark, obviously, you say, at each of the five points, right? Well, everyone except Clary anyway, who looks hopelessly, helplessly lost until Jace nudges her barely a centimetre to her ‘correct’ place. It really is as ridiculous as it sounds.

J: Here.

C: Thanks.

What would she do without him?


Why does no one (except Alec – and I’m going to bite his head off in a minute too) have any logic in this show? Why is Clary a complete imbecile? Where is her sharpness, her wit, her fire, her… y’know, everything that makes her Clary? At this point, if I were Alec, I’d be quite frankly embarrassed that I fancied someone (Jace) who had such bad taste in women.

SO. MANY. WHYS.

To summarise: I’m bored with our two protagonists now.

But what about someone’s romance I haven’t lost interest in?


ALEC & MAGNUS


Let’s be honest. I’m not impartial when it comes to Alec and Magnus. Alec is the golden boy of this entire show, because he’s the only one who is consistently hitting the mark with his character. And Magnus, I have loved of old, and is a favourite of mine in the book series. The whole ‘Malec’ situation was one that delighted me (in the first part of the series) and angered me (in the second part of the series), so I have a lot of emotional investment in these two characters.

Well, it’s time to get the ball rolling.

Sorry, Harry Shum Jr, because I do like you and you’re still getting used to a role that I have very specific ideas for, but Shadowhunters Magnus isn’t quite right. He’s far too ‘Johnny-Deppish’ for a start and, although I like the aloofness you’ve got going on, Magnus is a bit too obvious. For instance: when Alec and Magnus first meet, it’s when Alec runs past him to retrieve an arrow (after saving lives). Magnus give Alec a great look of approval – which would have been enough – and then spoils by adding “Who is that?”

This foray into blatancy repeats itself throughout the episode whenever Alec and Magnus meet but, for the most part, its easy to ignore the downsides because Magnus and Alec at least have something Jace and Clary do not: chemistry.

ARgx17t

Hooray! This show might not be a total loss after all.

There are two other downsides to Magnus which are both the fault of the scriptwriters. There’s not really much that can be done about them unless we fire the writing staff (can we fire the writing staff?) but props to HSJ for doing the best he can with what he’s got.

  1. The script is making him look weak. Magnus is not weak. He’s one of the most powerful warlocks around. I really don’t think this concept occurs to the writers, who seem to think it would take Magnus more than five seconds to get rid of one random Circle member who was actively trying to kill him. Also, let’s not forget the whole ‘necklace’ business. For starters, Magnus wouldn’t really be that bothered by a necklace if he wasn’t already intending to help Clary and Jace. Secondly, the minute Jace snatched it away from Magnus, I was on tenterhooks waiting for his response, which was… nothing. Magnus just took the insult. Magnus Bane would not take that from a baby Shadowhunter. No way. So no, writers, get yourselves together.
  2. Magnus, like Issy, is falling dangerously close to Exposition Dump City. In fact, Captain Obvious and Exposition Girl would be good superhero names for the dynamic duo. Not only does this make him act non-Magnus-like, for example telling Clary what an unusual girl she was for saving a warlock (that little girl who looked nothing like a warlock and just looked like a little girl about to be murdered – what’s unusual about saving her again), but it’s irritating. By having your characters explain on-screen what they can literally see happening because it’s a television show, it undermines your viewership and your show. Don’t tell us Clary has a good heart, show us. Don’t tell us the demon is getting stronger and you can barely hold on, show us. Don’t tell us if Clary kills the demon that ate her memories, she won’t get them back – WE CAN WORK THAT OUT FOR OURSELVES BECAUSE THIS IS PRECISELY WHAT THE ENTIRE EPISODE HAS BEEN ABOUT.

Right. Well. Yes, there’s that.


A side-note about Alec in this episode: Alec is obedient. That is who he is as a person and as a Shadowhunter. He worries about not conforming and, as a rule, would never do anything to endanger his friends, family, or his mission.

At the beginning of the whole demon-summoning debacle, Magnus stresses a fair few times (in his role as Captain Obvious) that, no matter what happens, the circle should not be broken and NO ONE SHOULD LET GO OF THE HANDS THEY ARE HOLDING. (This should also come under the heading ‘Sledgehammer Foreshadowing’).

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES. UNDER. NO. CIRCUMSTANCES.

In order for Clary’s memories to be exchanged, the demon will take one memory from the each of the gang. The memory will be of the person they love the most. For Clary, this was her mum. For Issy, it was Alec. For Alec, OBVIOUSLY, it was Jace. Because Alec is gay for Jace. Duh. But besides that, Jace has been living with Alec for years. They are as close as brothers. They are Parabatai. They are the closest two people could possibly be without being lovers. Their bond may be more profound than that because Parabatai are a magical, mystical unit. Basically, they’re family, friends and something special all rolled into one. Therefore it comes as no surprise that Alec’s ‘most loved’ person is Jace.

Yet Alec freaks out. Fine. I can understand that if I really stretch Alec’s personality. Perhaps he’s not thinking logically for once. He’s being dramatic. I can get why he would panic. But this is not like Alec when he’s in the middle of a mission. Middle-of-a-mission Alec would take the hit to his pride and come up with a feasible lie later.

But then Shadowhunter Alec LETS GO.

ALEC LIGHTWOOD WOULD NOT LET GO. ALEC LIGHTWOOD WOULD NOT DISOBEY A DIRECT ORDER WHEN THERE ARE LIVES AT STAKE. THERE IS SIMPLY. NO. WAY. ON. EARTH. HE WOULD PUT PEOPLE’S LIVES AT RISK BECAUSE HIS BEST FRIEND’S FACE SHOWED UP IN A SHADOWY MIST.

Writers, get your act together. I know Alec is dramatic. But he’s also super-serious and the best Shadowhunter of the group (Jace notwithstanding because Shadowhunter Jace isn’t a patch on Book Jace). More importantly, what on earth would Magnus think?

Scenario: You meet someone who’s kinda cute, athletic and apparently not-disinterested in you. You then see said person freak out like a baby over absolutely nothing, put everyone’s lives in danger – including your own! What’s your reaction? It certainly isn’t to then ask them out on a date.

Well done, writers. Well done. You ruined Malec about twenty minutes after introducing them. You’d better fix this next week.


ISABELLE


Did Isabelle have a function this episode apart from holding Clary’s hand through what was going on around her? Example: the laughably intense ‘Parabatai Tracking’.

Key:

  • Acceptable explanation.
  • Completely unnecessary exposition because we’re not as thick as Clary. 

[Magnus has run off, Clary managed to ruin his ensemble by tearing a button off his coat. Isabelle explains what Jace is doing with the button.]

Clary: What is he doing?

Alec: He’s tracking Magnus. Be quiet and keep your distance.

Isabelle: The button belonged to Magnus. Jace can pinpoint the location using that.

Jace: No. The signal’s not strong enough. Magnus must be blocking the track. Let’s do this, Alec.

Clary: Do what?

Isabelle: Parabatai tracking.

Clary: Of course they are.

Isabelle: When parabatais track, their power grows stronger. Jace and Alec are gonna track Magnus together.

Well, no, Isabelle, really? I thought Jace just wanted to hold Alec’s hand!


UGH. Give Isabelle some actual lines, please. At the moment, I’m pretty sure we could go an entire episode without her speaking and it have very little effect on what we understand.


Okay, most of that was actually negative, whoops. I’m sure I liked this episode more than last time. What was it I liked apart from Malec? Oh yes!


SIMON & MAUREEN


I had my doubts, I will admit it. At first, I wasn’t sure why Maureen was older and Simon’s friend, but now I’m glad of that change. The scene between Simon and Maureen was hands-down the best scene in the episode. Maureen herself shone and the entire ‘I would like to date’ conversation went perfectly. You hear that, writers? I said a scene you wrote went perfectly. That means you have a standard to hold yourself to and that now I know you can do better, I expect it.

I feel like a teacher. Or a mother, or something.

Anyway, yes, so, Maureen asks Simon out and he doesn’t really reply because he’s currently going through Vampire Menopause. Maureen stomps off, irritated – as you would be when your friend won’t take you seriously – and Simon realises something is horribly wrong with him because he was fixated on Maureen’s blood.

Simon goes back to Camille’s Hotel of Unexpected Making-Out, seemingly unwittingly. Seems like a bad idea if you ask me.


Wrapping up


To conclude: the mission to retrieve Clary’s memories was a complete failure. Sigh. Didn’t you know she wants her Mum back? This isn’t helping.

The episode ends with Valentine getting extremely close to the camera (a.k.a. Clary’s portal-necklace image) and demanding the Mortal Cup from his daughter. And I’m back to being on the fence about Valentine because that scene was just stupid.


The episode was a vast improvement on last week. Is it a sign of things to come? Let us hope so. This episode was almost acceptable!

More next week, woohoo!

 

 

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