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‘Shadowhunters’ Review: ‘Bound by Blood’

(Freeform/John Medland)

Pacing continues to be an issue as Shadowhunters nears its midseason break.

“Bound by Blood” moved like a bullet train. The hour hurdled by in a blur of hastily thrown together reveals as Valentine manipulated everyone into place for the winter finale.

I love this show just as much as it frustrates me. It’s not lacking in intriguing material. In fact, most of its problems stem from trying to juggle too many stories at once. Pacing makes or breaks any story.

Shadowhunters alternates between giving the audience whiplash and dropping threads for weeks at a time. Then, there are the out of nowhere character turns that we’re just supposed to accept.

(Freeform/John Medland)

Take Maia, for instance. She wanted to kill Clary to save the Downworlders. Obviously Luke wouldn’t let that happen. But Luke, kind, strong, heroic Luke, chose to lock her up in a small space knowing she had claustrophobia?

I know Luke loves Clary like a daughter. I also know that he’s been there for Maia since she turned, and he owes her his life since she sought him out along with Simon when Luke was grieving. Desperate times or not, the Luke we know would have found a more humane way to keep her from killing Clary.

Then, there’s Izzy and Raphael’s accelerated relationship. Is Magnus right? Are they just addicted to the blood and venom? I think it’s more than that. Raphael opened up to her about his family. She must have told him about her terrible cooking skills. Even though their addictions are not healthy, I like their chemistry and the possibilities here.

(Freeform/John Medland)

Creepy Aldertree’s secret is out—something I’m happy to see, but also felt like the resolution came too fast.

I’m glad Raphael spilled the beans to Alec. And I’m even happier to see Alec asserting himself like a BAMF and telling Aldertree that he’s in charge now. I may or may not have applauded.

But here’s the thing: we still don’t know why Aldertree did this in the first place. First, he wanted information on Clary. Then, he wanted a date? He backed down to Alec pretty fast so I don’t think he’s working for Valentine. After all this buildup, the audience deserves a clearer motive from him. Is he over his Jace vendetta, too?

I did enjoy the meeting between the heads of the various Downworlders. Again, I wish we saw more of the Seelie storyline. This is the first time Meliorn’s popped up this season. Which, could be a guest star availability thing, but it feels like one more dropped plot. Now, he’s back just in time to rat out Raphael and Izzy and join the Downworlders against Clary fight.

(Freeform/John Medland)

The moral dilemma—one life versus four different species of Downworlders—should feel like a more fevered argument. Even some of the Shadowhunters might question keeping Clary alive if it meant they could stop Valentine.

But the episode made it feel like an afterthought since she was also dying from the blood oath she failed to complete.

Putting my bias against Clary and Simon’s romance aside, their scenes were sweet when they thought Clary might not make it. And I love seeing Jace and Simon work together. They had to trust each other to do what’s right for Clary. Simon stepped up and so did Jace. And everyone failed because in the end, Valentine kidnapped Simon.

I’m not sure where this story is going next. Clary’s not going to die because she’s the main character. It’s a fairly safe bet that she won’t activate the Soul Sword either because they’re not going to wipe out all the Downworlders and half the cast/most of the love interests. And knowing that takes the urgency and excitement out of the story.

(Freeform/John Medland)

Now, one quick thing: Magnus and Alec. How cute was Magnus’ expression when Alec said he was his responsibility? Heart eyes everywhere.

But then came the part where Alec found out Magnus knew about Izzy and lost it. He’s not wrong in the sense that Magnus should have told him. But, as Izzy herself pointed out, it’s not like Alec noticed something was wrong. I’m guessing that’s part of the reason Alec lashed out—he feels guilty for not seeing it sooner.

I love the contrast between their relationship and Magnus’ with Raphael. Magnus did the right thing when he stopped Alec from killing him. But he assumed Raphael was only addicted to the blood rather than having actual feelings for Izzy. Raphael disagreed and Magnus’ response was basically, let’s wait and see.

Going forward, if they continue the Izzy/Raphael relationship, it’ll be interesting to see how Magnus and Alec cope with that. Something tells me it could cause a few problems for them. Of course that all depends on if the show remembers these stories exist from week to week.

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.

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