‘Shadowhunters’ Review: Acts of Compassion (and Cruelty)

(Freeform/John Medland)

Up until now, I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on what’s bothering me about Shadowhunters third season.

The first four episodes were fine: a little confusing, a little fun, a lot of love for Malec, and then mostly forgettable.

“Stronger than Heaven” finally made me sit up and take notice because it brought back what’s been missing: emotional connections.

The characters have been going through the motions. Fight the bad guy, battle inner demons, conceal, don’t feel, and then wait for the next attack.

Not exactly a blueprint for Must See TV.

(Freeform/John Medland)

Thankfully, the latest hour put us back on track and set up new dynamics and major problems for our heroes that left me wanting more instead of turning off the TV with a shrug.

While she’s nowhere near Valentine’s league on the intriguing scale, Lilith became slightly more interesting in her quest to resurrect Jonathan at all costs.

She went to Magnus for a spell to make someone fall out of love. On the one hand, I was relieved she didn’t want to hurt Magnus, but on the other, erasing Jace’s love for Clary is not okay, demon.

Except it sort of is?

I spent most of Season Two impatiently waiting for Jace and Clary to admit they were in love and wanted to be together and now that they are, it’s falling flat to the point I wonder if I would care about them at all if not for my love for their book characters.

The show has made the fatal mistake of constantly telling us how much they love each other and mean to each other; usually through other characters. And while the chemistry is there between the actors, but something is getting lost in translation.

Now that Lilith has erased Jace’s love for Clary in order to turn him into her one-man-demon-creating-army, the show has the opportunity to tell a better version of this meant-to-be love story. Show us Clary fighting for Jace. Show us Jace struggling to ignore their connection.

Because if the show romance is going to be anything like the book romance, no magic potion, even one created by the great Magnus Bane, will be enough to keep these two apart for long.

Make us believe it, show.

(Freeform/John Medland)

On the flipside of the romance coin, we have Malec. Every beat of their love story rings true, which made it all the more heartbreaking when Alec snooped and discovered Magnus’ past love memories.

My heart hurts for both of them, but mainly for Magnus. It’s refreshing to see an immortal character onscreen who doesn’t remember every single person he’s ever met over the centuries. Most of us who’ve been around for mere decades can’t remember things that happened in our recent past.

Why would an immortal remember every person he’s lost? No one would want to live with that kind of heartbreak and pain over and over again. Is that the real reason Magnus is trying to put the brakes on Alec’s desire to move in together? It makes sense.

Alec’s jealousy makes sense, too. Is it rational? No. But when are emotions ever rational? Alec’s inexperienced in all relationships outside of his family, not just the romantic ones. And Magnus knows this, which is another reason he’s hesitant to take a huge step that Alec likely isn’t as ready for as he thinks.

I’m not worried about these two in the long run. Their bond is strong and they’re not going to let go. But things are going to be unsettled for a while; especially if Alec continues to hold onto that jealousy.

(Freeform/John Medland)

As for Izzy, she took a major step by going on a date with Charlie (the doctor). She might have more relationship experience than her brother, but she’s always picked men who were never going to be forever.

Charlie gave her a glimpse of the “normal” world and it made her realize how sheltered she’s been by living and working with her brothers. I can’t blame Izzy for wanting to extend that feeling, but of course, demon duty called and she had to go back to her version of normal.

Izzy deserves happiness and she’s been way too hard on herself for the mistakes of her past. But a relationship with a Mundane isn’t likely to last. Either she’ll have to keep lying to him and feel guilty about it or she’ll bring him into the fold and something terrible will happen to him.


Finally, we have Simon. He received an assist from Jace, who had nothing better to do on his day off than investigate Simon’s life. And, as always, I was here for it because these two are so much fun together.

After a few minutes of poking around the apartment, Jace deduced that things were way too Simon-friendly to be a coincidence and he let himself into Kyle’s room and discovered the truth: he’s a Praetor protecting Simon.

(Freeform/John Medland)

I don’t blame Simon for wanting to get out of there. This guy’s been manipulated left and right since he was introduced to the Shadow World. And yet he still manages to be well-adjusted for a guy who sits atop way too many people’s hit lists.

Jace broke through his stubbornness and pointed out to Simon that when someone offers to help him, he should take it (pot, kettle). Simon heard him, but instead of falling in line, the Daylighter took control. He’d let Kyle protect him except he wanted to do it in the open. Good for you, Simon.

(Please don’t make me regret applauding this decision, show).

Miscellaneous Musings

-The Shadowhunter (who may or may not have a name) thanking Alec for giving him the courage to come out at the Institute was a beautiful moment. We’ve seen over and over again how prejudiced the community can be as a whole so that made the scene extra lovely.

(I will eat those words if this guy is being brought on to come between Magnus and Alec. No one has time for that nonsense).

-I still think Magnus should have recognized that Lilith was a demon. If Izzy’s bracelet can detect demons, Magnus should have some sort of sixth sense on the matter.

-Alberto’s voice is beautiful, but can we not have a performance every single episode? This isn’t Riverdale.

-It was nice to see Jace telling Alec that he’d decided to go to the Silent Brothers and Alec offering to go with him. But I wish Jace had told him the whole truth.

-And while I was happy Clary told Luke the truth, I had to roll my eyes at how they’re failing to put two and two together between the Owl and Jace’s weird behavior. You’re a detective AND a werewolf alpha AND a former Shadowhunter, Luke. Come on.

(But I guess I can’t blame him for not wanting to assume the worst about one of his kids—because they’re all his kids, guys).

-Lilith killed an angel. Shouldn’t that be the kind of thing that reverberates everywhere and not just on Luke’s farm? I hope there’s more of this story next week.

-Kyle’s kind of awesome, right? I’m curious to see if they’re going to change his book backstory or not (starting with whether they’ll start referring to him as Jordan any time soon).