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‘Shadowhunters’ Review: Emotion in the Shadow of Creeps

(Freeform/John Medland)

Things got a little weird on the latest episode of Shadowhunters.

And that’s saying something for a show centered on fighting demons.

The weakest episode of season two so far, “Dust and Shadows” dealt with the fallout of Jocelyn’s death at Alec’s demon-possessed hand. While emotional at times, the episode had one too many WTF moments.

A grief-stricken Clary tried to bring Jocelyn back from the dead.

I don’t blame her for wanting more time with her mother. And why not use the magic at their disposal to undo a wrong? But Jace and Magnus each warned her against it. Dark magic carries unforeseen consequences.

Magnus took it a step further and shared the pain of his mother’s death. It turns out she killed herself with that mystery dagger he discovered in Camille’s apartment. In an effort to help, he gifted Clary with one of his memories of her and her mother.

I do love the way the show layers in Magnus’ backstory. He’s been alive for centuries so there’s a lot to tell. But he plays his cards close to the vest most of the time. Every bit of new information just makes me love him more.

(Freeform/John Medland)

After striking out twice, Clary found a surprising ally in Alec.

He’s been struggling to deal with his role in Jocelyn’s death. Unable to face Clary or take the comfort Jace offered, Alec left the Institute and went to Magnus. In a move demonstrating his character growth, Alec listened to Magnus talking about Camille without judgement or jealousy.

Magnus, in turn, eased some of Alec’s pain by believing in him. He reminded him of his wedding and how far he’d gone in an attempt to do what he thought was right. Alec took this to heart, and went to see Clary.

And then he jumped onboard when she explained her plan to get her mother back.

Obviously it was a bad idea and Alec of all people should have been the first one to say that. But I’m not even a little mad about these scenes. Because of that character growth I mentioned earlier. Alec’s learning that the Clave rules aren’t always the best rules, and sometimes, you have to stand up for what you believe in.

I applaud the principle. But this is where things started to get messy and weird.

The shady warlock who made the deal with Clary turned out to be running a warlock breeding factory. Since their population has been dwindling, and Valentine’s waging war on the Downworlders, she’s using demons to impregnate girls, and then she erases their memories, and starts the process over.

There’s way too much grossness to unpack in this story. Rape, slavery, innocent babies being raised by a crazy lady…WTF, show?

And considering the villain escaped through a portal, and there was no mention of the Clave rushing in to save everyone, all of this is way too heavy to toss in for shock value, and then sweep under the rug.

(Freeform/John Medland)

Besides Alec’s growth, the one good thing to come from this story was Clary saving herself. She stopped the resurrection, and defeated the demon before Jace could rescue her. Book spoiler alert: the rune she drew, the one Jace didn’t recognize, this talent of hers is a big deal. I’m happy to see the show incorporating this story.

The funeral scene, with everyone dressed in white, was lovely. I loved Clary trying to be strong (again, props to Kat McNamara), and then slowly falling apart. This time, Jace did rescue her, and stepped up, not only for Clary, but for the (alleged) mother he never had a chance to know.

Elsewhere, the verdict is in and Aldertree is even creepier than we imagined!

First, he took Jace off active duty. This made little sense for several reasons, starting with the fact that Jace saved his life, and he’s the one who brought him back to the Institute, even before the Clave cleared him.

But fine, whatever. It led to a great scene with Jace and Izzy. I like seeing their sibling bond since it’s not stressed as much as Jace and Alec’s or Alec’s and Izzy’s. He vented his frustration and picked up on the fact that Izzy wasn’t healing from the demon attack.

It’s hard not to be nitpicky here, but it seems like the writers play fast and loose with the healing runes, doesn’t it? Lydia’s on the mend in Idris, but Izzy’s not recovering? This feels like plot contrivance to make this new story work.

As in the story where Aldertree takes advantage of Izzy’s injury to get her hooked on a drug (for those who didn’t read the books, this plot is actually taken from the prequel series). Why does Aldertree want Izzy weakened? Most likely to make her easier to control, but for what purpose?

Shady.

(Freeform/John Medland)

Finally, we have to talk about Simon. As much as I love him, this felt like the wrong episode to shoehorn the climax of this story.

Yes, it made sense to have Simon want to go home to his family after watching his best friend grief for her mother. And yes, Raphael was 100 percent right when he said a vampire couldn’t just go back to his normal life.

But it seemed like these moments were being played for comic relief in a heavy episode. Oh no, Simon’s sister nearly burned him with light! Oh no, Simon’s got to talk his way out of having a blood thermos in his room!

Even the big reveal to his mom fell flat. Somehow, it felt drawn out, and like it happened in the blink of an eye, at the same time.

And then there’s Luke—did I miss something? Does he know Jocelyn’s dead? It’s hard to believe he wouldn’t be by Clary’s side if he knew.

Strange ending to a strange episode.

About the author

Mandy Treccia

Mandy Treccia has served as TVSource Magazine’s Executive Editor since 2016, formerly as Editorial Director from 2012-2016. She is an avid TV watcher and card carrying fan girl prone to sudden bursts of emotion, ranging from extreme excitement to blind rage during her favorite shows and has on more than once occasion considered having a paper bag on hand to get her through some tough TV moments. Her taste in TV tends to rival that of a thirteen-year-old girl, but she’s okay with that. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceMandy.