Shadowhunters | Season 1, Episode 5
Verdict: You were doing so well. And then you went and ruined it.
Basic plot line: Mama Lightwood comes to town and tells our Shadowhunters what idiots they’ve been. The gang split off: Jace and Issy, Alec and Clary, and Simon tags along again to show off his Spiderman powers. Oh, and there are werewolves and zero logic.
Disclaimer: I love The Mortal Instruments books by Cassandra Clare. I want this show to succeed. At this point I think I’m being unrealistic.
I think I’m developing a nervous twitch from this show. I’d like to think it’s repressed excitement but really it’s a mix of cringing and being confused.
The episode begins where the last one left us, with Clary having just spoken to her father via the necklace. Jace comes to the rescue and Alec appears too, quite sensibly asking Clary if she noticed any features they could use to track Valentine. Both Jace and Clary seem offended by this very idea and Clary whines a lot.
Alec: Were there any identifying characteristics? Equipment, weapons, photographs?
Clary: I don’t remember. It was awful.
Jace: Alec, lighten up.
Alec: I’m trying to get something we can use out of this. Clary, what did you see, exactly?
Clary: [with more sass that is strictly necessary] Valentine has my mother. That’s what I saw.
Anyway, Alec confiscates the necklace and Clary moans about it for a couple of hours. Isabelle bravely attempts to have some character development by talking about family with Clary, which makes Clary sound uncomfortably boastful about how amazing her missing mother is.
One thing to be thankful for: For once, Hodge isn’t getting in on the ‘We Love Jocelyn Club’ this episode. Where is he, anyway? Oh, who am I kidding, I don’t even care.
Enter Maryse Lightwood, Alec and Isabelle’s mother. Shadowhunters’ Maryse is a lot more severe than Book Maryse, but the change works quite well. Despite her originally reminding me of Miss Trunchball, Maryse grew on me quickly. She’s exactly what Isabelle’s characterisation needs: a backstory and some depth. Maryse comes in and hugs everyone but Isabelle, and clearly adores Jace more than her own two children.
Clary: She didn’t even hug you.
Isabelle: Shadowhunters aren’t big huggers.
[Maryse immediately hugs Jace. Isabelle looks at the ground.]
The outcome of her appearance is for Jace and Issy to be sent off on a mission to talk to the Faeries (Meliorn’s Random Tent makes a second appearance) and Alec and Clary are left at the Institute. Before Jace leaves, he asks Alec not to take his eyes off Clary, which is a bit unfair because Clary has already been told not to leave the Institute. If something happens to her then it’s her own fault because she’s a liability and has all the self-awareness of a two-year-old.
Isabelle and Jace visit Meliorn and I don’t care what happened. Something about butterflies and mourning, and the Faeries not caring about the Accords anymore; not wanting to side with or against Valentine. This is basically a convenient plot distraction to have the following occur:
ALEC & MAGNUS (& CLARY TOO)
Alec gets all the lick-and-stick gold stars this episode, because I’m really impressed with the actor and the character too. Alec has a moment with Jace when he tries to apologise for LETTING GO (see Episode 4). Jace proves himself to be just as obtuse as everyone thinks he is and Alec’s secret is safe for another episode.
Clary doodles moodily for a while and draws a striking picture of Valentine. She then huffily screws it up and throws it away, which is unlucky, because I really think Jace should see the drawing. Just so he knows what Valentine looks like. Because Reasons.
Alec then uses his downtime at the Institute with Clary wisely. He starts sparring with her, which reminds me…
A second thing to be thankful for: Clary spends this episode in ‘Clary’ clothes., a.k.a jeans and a t-shirt. Her boots are still inappropriate but at least they’re chunky, so all-in-all, the costume department is pulling it out of the bag this episode. Everyone, including Clary’s boobs, breathe a sigh of relief.
Clary, obviously, loses the sparring match, but the important piece from the scene is that Alec finds out about the box Jocelyn Fray has been hiding. Maybe that‘s where the Mortal Cup is! Clary suggests they go to the loft (her home) to retrieve it but Alec says no, there can’t be another unsanctioned mission. Considering he’s just been raked over the coals by his mother for all those other unsanctioned missions on Clary’s behalf, I can’t really blame him.
Magnus rings Alec to ask him out for a drink and Alec agrees. I’d throw a fandom parade, except I know exactly why Magnus chose now to ring. Alec turns around mid-conversation to find Clary has scarpered without permission – again – and he hangs up as politely as possible on the warlock before chasing after her. Magnus reacts favourably: he thinks Alec is playing hard-to-get.
So, previously we’ve only seen snippets of Luke (and his chicken teriyaki), but I guess he’s about to become more involved in our Shadowhunters’ lives. I don’t feel one way or the other about his character yet, as I haven’t seen enough to make up my mind.
Some werewolves are plotting to abduct Clary in order to force her to tell them the whereabouts of the Mortal Cup. Isn’t it convenient that Clary is, at this very moment, away from everyone who may possibly protect her from the werewolves? Too convenient, one might say, if one were thus far unimpressed by the writing staff, but it gets the job done.
Simon, meanwhile, has been chased away from Heartbreak Hotel by Raphael. He seems to have recovered from his cold / Vampire Menopause and is now displaying delightful superpowers without realising it. He catches up with Clary (but not before Alec finds her during a scene in which everyone learns what not to do when invisible). The three decide to go to the loft together.
Entering her home via the fire-escape, Clary sees protective runes that she’s never noticed before. Simon also sees them, much to Alec’s surprise. Alec asks when Simon got the Sight, but Simon is too distracted by Clary reminiscing about when she and Simon were engaged to be married. To be honest, this bit was rather sweet, because Simon had a goofy, ‘if-only’ look on his face as he entertained the fond memory. In fact, Simon can have lick-and-stick gold stars for this episode too. I really enjoyed all his scenes and even Clary seemed to play off well against him. Could this be a turning point? Dare to dream.
Anyway, they find the hidden box but Clary recognises none of the (baby) stuff in it. There’s no Mortal Cup, either. Alec gets separated from Simon and Clary, and the ditzy duo are abducted by Luke’s police partner (also a werewolf).
Weird side-note: Shadowhunters, generally, are meant to be faster and more agile than their Mundane counterparts. What’s weird about this is the way it’s displayed on the Shadowhunters TV show. Motion is blurred, as if they’re moving fast, but the film isn’t sped up and the Shadowhunters themselves don’t actually move any quicker than a regular human being. You see this with Jace’s training and, more notably, when Alec runs towards Clary as she’s being abducted. Seriously. Watch it. It’s so strange. Rather funny, too.
Alec tells Jace what’s happened and Jace loses it. I have no sympathy for Jace at this point because, as he has no chemistry with Clary, I can’t understand as a viewer why he’s so angsty about her disappearance. It seems like an over-reaction because the groundwork has been so abysmal. Come on, writers. You’ve shown what you can do with Simon and Alec this episode. Turn some of that charm to our main characters otherwise when it comes to The Big Revelation, no one’s going to care. In fact, it might explain a lot about the lack of chemistry!
Jace and Alec try the Parabatai Tracking magic trick, but it doesn’t work, which makes Jace angry at Alec for not trying. Whilst Jace looks constipated with the effort, Alec looks a bit stricken and irritated, which is fine, because if it hadn’t been for Clary running off in the first place, he could be having a few drinks with a good-looking warlock right that instant. As Isabelle helpfully points out:
Jace: Damn it, Alec.
Jace: Clary snuck out of the Institute.
Issy: And yet you’re blaming our brother? Fascinating.
So, Clary and Simon rock up at the werewolves’ den, which is a Chinese takeaway called Jade Wolf. Leader-of-the-Pack threatens Simon’s well-being and drags him out of sight. Clary makes up a lie to buy Simon some time, which is the most Clary-like thing she’s done all season.
Simon, meanwhile, is busy being awesome. He Houdinis his way out of a sticky situation and immediately sets out trying to a) escape and b) get help. Yes, go Super-Simon! He finds a phone, calls Jace and succeeds in making me laugh outloud with a one-liner. It’s all going so swimmingly. He sets off the fire alarms, all the werewolves evacuate and…
It all goes horribly wrong.
I’m not a werewolf purist. As far as I’m concerned, there are lots of myths about how to become a werewolf and the rules of the change are somewhat shaky depending on which country you source those myths from. It is for this reason that I let the ‘change at will’ foible slide earlier.
Personally, I think werewolves should only change during the full moon. Or, failing that, at least only be able to change at night. If they’re allowed to change at will then that makes them more powerful than vampires and gives a rather abrupt end to the Vampires vs. Werewolves debate that’s been going on for centuries (I assume this is what people talked about in the 1800s too). It basically makes them shapeshifters instead of werewolves but, y’know what, the writers have been doing so well this episode, it’s fine.
Worse, however, is the fact that when they change, they do so with a flash of green light. That’s just silly. Was that really necessary? I don’t think so.
But what’s even worse than that is what comes next.
Clary comes face-to-face with Luke, who is trying to help her, but she thinks he’s trying to give her to Valentine. He explains himself and then slings her over his shoulder like a naughty child, which I thought was funny and rather perfect, seeing as Luke has been Clary’s pseudo-Dad for a number of years.
Jace arrives and ruins it all by knocking Luke out (with one punch? Yeah, right). The werewolf pack regroups and the Alpha (Leader-of-the-Pack) is about to attack when Were-Luke jumps him and saves the day. They fight viciously off-screen because of budget issues, and Luke emerges bloody but victorious; the new Alpha and therefore leader of the Jade Wolf pack.
Writing rule number one: When creating your own mythology about supernatural creatures, ensure it makes sense.
Jace: [Luke’s] wounds are deep. Only a warlock’s magic can cure an alpha’s bite.
Clary: We have to get him to Magnus.
I’m sorry. WHAT?!
IN WHAT WORLD IS A WEREWOLF BITE LETHAL TO ANOTHER WEREWOLF? WHY IS IT LETHAL AT ALL (unless it punctures a vital organ or artery)?? IF WEREWOLF BITES ARE LETHAL, THEN HOW ARE OTHER WEREWOLVES MADE?? THIS. MAKES. NO. SENSE.
Argh! Perhaps only Alpha’s bites are lethal, which would be fine except that makes no sense either, because Luke just became an Alpha by killing the previous Alpha. If all Alpha bites are lethal then there would be no Alphas because they’d all be dead! Unless, of course, a werewolf managed to somehow fight and kill an Alpha without getting bitten at all. I don’t see that happening. Do you?
Writers, you were doing so well and then you messed it up. Warlocks have nothing to do with werewolf bites. I understand if Luke was bleeding really heavily and you needed someone magical to patch him up quickly, but that’s not what just happened. There’s no logic here. The logic is gone. Fortunately, now are the end credits so I can turn this thing off and seethe over a cup of tea and a good book.
Ugh. No sense.
End of episode announcement: I’ve decided to read The Mortal Instruments again because I need reassurance that I’ve not put the book series on a pedestal without good reason.
Roll on next week.