Every week we’re teaming up with fellow fansites and fans to share our thoughts, feelings, and opinions about the latest episode of Shadowhunters.
This week we’re talking about “The Descent Into Hell Isn’t Easy,” including our thoughts on an overcrowded and technological Institute, our overall thoughts, and whether or not that Valentine reveal was too rushed.
What were your overall thoughts on “The Descent Into Hell Isn’t Easy?”
TMI Source: I thought the episode was stronger than the pilot but still lacked the elements to be a well-rounded hour of television. There are definitely flaws with the show – the writing stands out most to me – that seem to be hindering it from being something great. There was a couple of nice book references that I enjoyed (whether it was alluding to Isabelle’s terrible cooking or “Looking better in black”), but once again the episode felt super rushed and all over the place.
Fangirlish: I am wondering when it will come to the point that we stop getting an information dump and I will stop feeling like I am watching an infomercial. It was stronger than the pilot – but still felt like a rush to tell me what is going on in the world, rather than building it. I will give credit where credit is due, and there were a few references to the book – but let’s all be honest with each other – this was like trying to be force fed the history of the Shadow World in 40 minutes.
Caralynn: It was a definite improvement over the series premiere, but there’s still a way to go before this show becomes a must-watch for me. The premiere was crazy busy and very exposition-heavy. “The Descent Into Hell…” was still heavy on the exposition, but it significantly slowed down and allowed for more immersion in the Shadowhunter world. I feel like we need to get to know these characters by watching them interact organically, because they still feel like strangers who have been thrust together to me.
Katherine, A Fan: I was so relieved that it wasn’t as info-dump heavy as the premiere. It seemed smoother, a little bit less cheesy, and filled with more great moments to immediately check Tumblr for afterwards.
Mortal Instruments UK: I actually really like the show! I watched it with low expectations which I think played a part in why I think it’s a great show. There are some pros and cons obviously like the characters, the humour, the fight scenes etc was great, but the level of cliched dialogues are too high. I am also very unhappy that the slap was not in the show.
In the show the Institute is crowded with people and technology that’s not in the story’s original incarnation. What are your thoughts on the overabundance of technology in the Institute?
TMI Source: I’m not a fan. In fact that’s one of my main issues with the portrayal of the mythology is that it doesn’t make sense. The Shadowhunters are a race that have never been reliant on technology so making these warriors dependent on it to track demons and fellow Shadowhunters makes no sense. In fact it renders their magic useless. I also disliked all of the people that crowded the Institute. It didn’t feel right. Coupling that with the technology and it feels like the Shadowhunters have been turned into some kind of supernatural branch of the FBI.
Fangirlish: Here’s the thing – the crowded institute makes no sense. If you know the world and why the Mortal Cup is so important – you know that Shadowhunters are a dying race. Hence why the Institute is void of so many people. I accepted a long time ago that there would be changes from the book to the show – and I could for a second understand the amount of people there if one of them interacted, if one of them said something about the red head in the Institute. But they aren’t. Hell, it reminds me of a wanna be Alias, a supernatural CIA – either way – it doesn’t make sense.
Caralynn: I was wondering about that! I’ve never read the books, but I was surprised at just how modernized the Institute was–especially ironic for an organization housed in an abandoned church. All of the tech everywhere made it feel as though the Shadowhunters organization was something more akin to a secret spy organization rather than an ancient order of demon hunters. It was weird and incongruous.
Katherine, A Fan: While it’s clearly a big change from the quiet halls of the books’ Institute, it’s actually not an irritating change for me. I’m even surprised to be saying that. It’s adding a modern edge to an ancient place, kind of like how they’ve adapted a lot of other aspects, so it fits within their interpretation.
Mortal Instruments UK: I am definitely not a fan of the big crowd of people in the institute. They didn’t even tell us what they do! They just walk around using the technology just for show. I feel like they are just placed there to die i.e. Valentine will kill them all just to send a message etc.
A major plot point was revealed in just the second episode: Valentine is Clary’s father. What did you think about the timing of the reveal?
TMI Source: The reveal was much too rushed from a book standpoint and a storytelling standpoint. There was no suspense leading up to the reveal, which you could tell was intended to be a huge shocker but fell flat because it lacked that build-up. If this was intended to be one of the show’s bigger reveals it wasn’t handled in the way it should’ve been. There were no seeds planted, no time for the audience to build their own theories, and no real resolution with the reveal.
Fangirlish: This makes me so mad. They took away a big reveal and made it inconsequential. I wanted some suspense to it – but I didn’t get that. I got no feeling of “wow” or “omg” – just meh. And that angers me.
Caralynn: It was sooner than I thought it would be, so I was rather impressed at the guts it took to blow that big secret right away! I do think it was fairly clear after the first episode that Clary’s mother Jocelyn and Valentine had once had a thing. He poured on the creepy, adoring kidnapper “charm” real thick over her comatose body. I’m wondering now if Valentine has any idea that he’s Clary’s father? His interest was very piqued when he found out about her existence at the end of the premiere, so I’m thinking yes.
Katherine, A Fan: I was shocked that they’d play this crucial card so early. I would’ve expected the writers to hold onto to the father storyline until at least halfway through the season. I think it’ll be a good thing in the season-long story telling, though. It’ll bridge the gap between New York City and Chernobyl and, hopefully, allow Clary to put the pieces together to find Jocelyn.
Mortal Instruments UK: Episode 2 is too soon for that to be revealed. They should’ve waited for longer to say that. However, since they have released the information, I am eager to see the multiple plot lines coming our way.
Let’s talk about Isabelle. What are your thoughts on how she’s being portrayed on the show in these first two episodes?
TMI Source: Let’s get one thing straight: Isabelle Lightwood is a badass, confident, powerful woman. But the one we’re getting onscreen isn’t the Isabelle that I fell in love with in the books. One of my biggest issues with Isabelle is the manner in which she’s portrayed – in the writing and physically. There’s nothing wrong with a woman being sexy and using that as a weapon, but it becomes a problem when she’s being exploited for her sexuality. Sure the clothes play a big part in that (seriously how is it appealing to fight in a dress?) but it’s also the way that Isabelle views herself. Of course Isabelle should feel confident in herself and what she wears, but that’s not what’s the important thing to her. But in the show that’s the way I perceive it to be.
Fangirlish: Well, I am not enjoying this question – because the trolls will rake me over the coals for this question. Look – I understand that Isabelle is confident and I wouldn’t have an issue with how she is dressed, except for the fact that it’s used to define her. She’s being exploited. She is so much more than her boobs and butt – and what irritates me is that powerful women has been reduced to less than what she should be. I hate that. I honestly don’t like her right now and that scares me.
Tell Tale TV: She’s just terrible. She’s a caricature of the “sexy, flirtatious bad girl” trope. I can’t really tell if it’s the writing for the character or her portrayer (or both), but something needs to change. It’s just not working. Also, it’s fairly clear that Simon and Izzy are going to be a thing, and for me to buy into that, Izzy will have to get an actual personality rather than a collection of lame cliches. There’s honestly nothing I like about her right now.
Katherine, A Fan: I love what Emeraude is doing with Isabelle so far. She’s got the physicality down along with the smarts. One of the toughest things about Isabelle is how she uses her sexuality to her advantage and I think that so far its walked the line perfectly without making her come off in a bad way. The only thing I’m not really feeling is that white latex outfit she wore in the premiere (and the purposeless blonde wig?!). Isabelle is extremely fashion forward and that just felt way past the mark.
Mortal Instruments UK: I love Isabelle. The major talked about thing about her is her dressing and in my opinion, if she feels comfortable with her body, then by all means, dress the way you want. When I think of Izzy, I think badass and in the show she knows how to handle a fight – though I want to see her kicking ass more.
Let’s talk about Dot (RIP). Did you feel she had a sense of importance in the show?
TMI Source: Heading into this show I knew there were going to be changes, but I encouraged them so long as the essence of the story and the characters remain in tact. But Dot was one of the new characters that I was indifferent to and never really understood her importance. She was a character that was added to fill the role that other characters already filled in the books, particularly Magnus. What’s even more discouraging is that she’s a character that wasn’t even intended to have a long-term presence on this show, as we saw her murdered by Valentine in the second episode. So what was the point of having a new character – and using her in ways that other characters already served – if you were only going to kill her two episodes in? Whatever importance she could’ve served moving forward was completely negated with her meaningless death.
Fangirlish: I will reiterate again that I accepted the changes, but this is by far a change I will never understand. I would understand if she had a purpose – but in the show she’s basically wall dressing. She serves no purpose – she was there, played up to be important and then disappears. It’s just stupid.
Tell Tale TV:I honestly thought that she was dead after the first episode, so seeing her apparently die again sort of fell flat to me. She didn’t feel very important; I was surprised that she was revealed to be alive in this episode. We really didn’t know much about her (other than the fact that Clary was very upset that she’d been kidnapped). Also, it was extremely stupid for her to have taken the time to explain herself to comatose Jocelyn rather than, say, escaping the Chernobyl holding location!
Katherine, A Fan: I think that the writers wanted her to be an important bridge between the Mundane and Shadow World for Clary, but since she’s killed off so early I can’t feel a whole lot for someone we barely got to know.
Mortal Instruments UK: Like I said before, I feel that created a big role for her in the two episodes just to [SPOILER] kill her off.
What character is most endearing to you so far in these two episodes?
TMI Source: Hands down it’s Simon. Simon has been the most faithful and relatable character on the show. Every scene that he’s in he lights up the screen and that’s really a credit to Alberto Rosende who has done an impeccable job of embodying who Simon is and why we love him. Simon is so much more than the comedic relief, as he’s already proven in just two episodes. He cares so much about Clary and he’s struggling to understand his role in her life now that this whole new world has been revealed.
Fangirlish: Simon. OMG he’s just perfect. He’s sweet. He’s strong. He’s just the quirky mix of everything that we need to believe that they Simon we all love is present. I love Simon in the show so much.
Tell Tale TV: Definitely Simon! He’s easily the funniest of the bunch, and I think that Alberto Rosende is one of the better actors in the cast. I also generally just have a huge soft spot for the lovelorn best friend character, so he’s tugging at my heartstrings with the whole “unrequited love for Clary” thing. She’s kind of a doofus for not picking up on it. It’s so painfully obvious.
Katherine, A Fan: Simon freaking Lewis. Simon not only has the best one liners (“Are you kidding? I was born afraid…which sounded a lot better in my head.”), but the casting is spot on. Alberto’s made me feel more love for Simon in just two episodes than I did reading the series (my head was clouded with Jace, okay?).
Mortal Instruments UK: I wasn’t a big fan of Alec in the books but I loved him in the show (and not because Matt was Alec). His willingness to stay by the rules is very entertaining as it never goes his way from what I have seen.
What character do you think needs the most work?
TMI Source: Clary. Being that she’s our leading heroine and the one that we’re going along on this journey with, we need to be able to truly connect and feel a connection with, but I’m not feeling that right now. We need to see more development with Clary in how she’s feeling being thrust into this new and dangerous world, as well as what’s motivating her to keep pushing forward. It’s her mother, yes, but I’d like to hear her more than vocalize it if that makes sense. But then I’d also put Isabelle in this category, as well. I’d like to see more personal development with her character and to see her evolve into the badass we know her to be in the books.
Fangirlish: Do we have to listen to Clary whine? Cause that’s all she does. The Clary that I know and love has strength – we know why she’s pressing forward. We know why she is motivated – ultimately. But in the show it’s like she’s this whiny doll who never says anything concrete. Speak. Say what’s on your mind Clary – but do with some strength instead of sounding like a two year old who had their favorite doll taken away.
Tell Tale TV: Definitely Isabelle. She’s just terribly annoying. I didn’t think anything could be more ridiculous than her climbing up on the table in Pandemonium and distracting the demons with her “sexy dancing” last week, but she’s actually consistently that level of ridiculous when being flirty. Her outfits are kind of badass though.
Katherine, A Fan: While I like Alan Van Sprang’s portrayal of Valentine on a base level, I’m really not feeling the character as a whole at all. I cannot get over the Chernobyl location. Every time he’s shown there I just ask the TV why?! Alan has one of those faces that’ll always lend itself to a villainous character and I feel like everything’s currently hinging on that. Well, that and the never-ending supply of syringes filled with mysterious liquids he has on hand to manipulate people with.
Mortal Instruments UK: Clary. I am very sorry to say this because I love Kat so very much. I love actors being natural and acting/ reacting like a normal human should and I feel like she didn’t. She went overboard with her reactions and I hope she gets better in the season. If you like her, then by all means, disagree with my opinionated statement.
How do you feel the pacing of this show is moving so far?
TMI Source: One of the most important things in storytelling is the pacing, and one of the struggles that Shadowhunters has been facing is being too rushed in its pacing of the story. This is a 13-episode season that from what we heard essentially covers the first season so there’s plenty of time and plenty of story to tell. But the show is really rushing certain storylines and relationships just two episodes in. And that in turn in hurting the new fans that haven’t read the books. The first couple of episodes should’ve been dedicated to exploring and explaining the Shadowhunters mythology, as it’s a lot to take in when moving at a sprinting pace. But there are also certain events happening – like with the vampires, for example – that seems to be happening much too early on in the story. There needs to be more dedication to exploring the characters and the mythology than simply diving head-on into the major storylines of City of Bones and beyond.
Fangirlish: I will just leave it with this word – RUSHED. Show me stuff instead of always telling me.
Tell Tale TV: The pacing has really improved since the first episode. It slowed down significantly. The premiere was moving at breakneck speed. I understand that they wanted to cover a lot of ground to set up the world of the show, but it was hard to register anything since it was all moving so quickly. This episode was much better in terms of pacing.
Katherine, A Fan: The first episode covered a ton, which is about on par with a lot of series premieres. The second episode slowed down, in a good way, and allowed for more character exploration. If they keep up with the second episode’s effective pace, while keeping character motivations in check, then I think they’re on the right track.
Mortal Instruments UK: Its quite fast paced at the moment with a lot of major plot lines being revealed already. However, I am eager to see other major plot lines coming into play later on in the series. There must be a reason for the revelations so far so I am beg excited to see the rest!
What would you like to see fixed/changed in the show?
TMI Source: The writing. That is by far the weakest part of the show, and it’s a shame because the writing in Cassandra Clare’s books is incredibly strong. And it’s there for reference and use. The dialogue is choppy and cheesy at times so that’s definitely something I’d like to see refined. But I’d suggest including more quotes from the book because those have been the moments that have felt the most genuine to me. But seeing as the first season is already filmed we’ll have to see how the writing progresses or regresses this season.
Fangirlish: The writing. I feel like they have taken something that is so good and replaced it with lackluster writing. There needs to be a major writing overhaul if we journey into season 2. I want the writers to remember pacing and that not everything needs to be an information dump.
Tell Tale TV: The acting is a bit weak, but I don’t know how fixable that is. I suspect that once the cast gets more comfortable and familiar with one another (and the world and the material) as the show goes on, it’ll feel less wooden and awkward. The dialogue has a tendency to be cheesy, but that was more of an issue in the first episode, when there was a ton of exposition. It just felt very cheesy, and as though they were working overtime to explain every single thing to us. Like we were a bunch of idiots. So, in all, I think the really important thing the show needs to work on is relying more on “showing” instead of “telling.”
Katherine, A Fan: I’m hoping that the scripts improved over the course of the season. So far it’s been the small details that are aggravating: Circle members outfits looking like wannabe Agent Smith’s from The Matrix (and the fact that they apparently drive a red Mustang?!), demon’s deaths resulting in disco ball sparkle, and Chernobyl. It’s not that I’m not open to changes (because I love that Luke’s now a police officer), it’s just that certain details are not clicking for me yet.
Mortal Instruments UK: I don’t think it is possible for any of our opinions to be taken into consideration but since I don’t know what the future holds, I wouldn’t change anything. I want to see how the story line develops.