Nothing says party like a dead man’s party at Hotel Dumort. Although just three episodes in it kind of feels a little early to be introducing a storyline that fans of the books are familiar with further down the line. It bears repeating that this isn’t a sprint. There is plenty of time to explore each of these storylines as time and sense permits.
In “Dead Man’s Party,” Clary, Jace, Alec, and Isabelle are searching for Simon following his kidnapping by Raphael and the vampires. While it’s a vast deviation from the books where Simon is turned into a rat and taken by the vampires, it does introduce Raphael, who was noticeably absent from the film adaptation. But it also introduces Camille, who fans later meet in The Mortal Instruments and know as one of the most powerful vampires in New York City clan.
Clary is fuming at the Shadowhunters – particularly Isabelle whose watch he was under when he was taken – and she insists that they need to find Simon before he has to suffer any more than he already has. The vampires took Simon because they want the Mortal Cup. So the trade is obvious: The Cup for Simon. Only that’s not going to work.
We find Simon locked inside Hotel Dumort being his usual self despite the fact that he’s freaking the hell out (“I’m just an accounting student. I have no value no anyone.”) Here he is locked inside a vampire lair when not just one day ago he had no idea that vampires even existed. Talk about being thrown into the lion’s den — eh, vampire’s den.
Back at the Institute it’s time to devise a plan. “Look at all the stuff; these screens. Can any of this help me find Simon?” No, Clary. The Shadowhunters are all you need. So they’re going to need to find another way; a way that involves breaking in and getting Simon the hell out of there. But the problem is they’d never get permission for such a mission. Better yet they’d need to sneak out past all of the people in the Institute (which wouldn’t be a problem if it was just Jace, Alec, Isabelle, and Hodge living in the Institute like the books, just saying). It was nice of the show to accurately acknowledge the Accords this time around. Despite the Shadowhunters not attacking the vampires right then and there when Raphael was dangling Simon off of a roof, Jace says here that the vamps broke the Accords by kidnapping a mundane. Well, better late than never I guess.
Back at Hotel Dumort — which is being referred to as Dumort Construction because okay — Simon tries to make his grand escape by throwing a dagger at Raphael. Yeah that obviously doesn’t work. Simon meets Camille, who seems to have taken a liking to him.
They manage to escape the Institute without notice, but the problem is they couldn’t bring weapons with them so as to risk being noticed. So they head off to a cemetery to get weapons against the vampires. It was a nice nod to the book when they go to a church to get weapons in what was an unplanned attack (seeing as it happened at Magnus’ party and with no time to waste), but it fell a bit short in its execution.
Alec pulls Jace aside and “we’re crossing a line.” “This isn’t about the mundane this is about Clary.” Thank you Captain Obvious. Alec doesn’t know why Jace trusts Clary — and at this point I don’t really know either — but Jace says he doesn’t have to, that doesn’t matter. What does matter is if Alec doesn’t trust Jace.
After they locate the weapons, Alec heads back to the Institute to get his bow — but not before reassuring Jace that he can always trust him no matter what he says because they’re parabatai. Jace teaches Clary how to use a seraph blade, which allows him to get close in that clichéd, Oh, let me show you how to do it, way. Which is adorably cute.
Clary wonders why Alec doesn’t like her — “Alec doesn’t liken anyone,” Jace says — and Jace takes a moment to explain their relationship, their bond, them being parabatai. He explains that there’s no human bond like the one him and Alec have; they’re bound for life in battle, in protecting each other. “In battle our hearts beat as one. If one of us were to die part of the other would die inside, as well.” And while this show may be based on The Mortal Instruments I suddenly found myself thinking about another pair of parabatai; two that know what Jace said better than any other: Will Herondale and Jem Carstairs. How is it possible that just that thought gave me more feels than this show? That’s the power of the characters in this world and of Cassandra Clare’s stories. They transcend time.
Back at Hotel Dumort, Simon is anxiously rambling about throwing the dagger at Raphael while Camille and Raphael look on as if they’re watching a puppy bounce off the wall. Simon is precious. So while they don’t find any of this amusing, Camille stops Simon in his tracks. No, not by a look, but by stopping time. I’m sorry, what? Since when can vampires freeze time? Camille knows that Clary will come for Simon so breaking the Accords was worth it because the way to the Mortal Cup is through Clary. “She who controls the Mortal Cup controls the Shadow World.” Well, at least Camille has her priorities straight.
Isabelle goes to Meliorn to try and get information about how to get inside Hotel Dumort in what was my least favorite part about this episode: Isabelle selling her body for information. Sure, Isabelle is an empowering character in her inception, but this was a demeaning storyline for the character that the fans know her to be. “The only thing I have to do is you,” Isabelle croons as she unzips her dress. The only thing missing was a pole. This is not the Isabelle that I know.
Jace takes Clary to a vampire biker bar where she gets up close and personal with a vampire named Brad (really?), thanks to some suggestion from Jace, and he uses this compulsion of sorts, which they call Encanto, to charm Clary into oblivion. All the while I’m standing here wondering why Jace is standing on the sideline smiling at the sight. Back at Hotel Dumort Camille is using that charm to essentially drug Simon and try and get information out of him. So here we have back-to-back scenes of Clary and Simon being seduced and used by vampires and it’s just not appealing at all.
Meanwhile, Alec headed back to the Institute to get his bow and rune some arrows — hmm, that was smart — when he happens upon Hodge. Hodge tells Alec that he reminds him of him — “the loyal friend standing in the shadow of the Chosen One.” Like he was to Valentine. He warns him not to make the same mistakes he did, which is essentially following his parabatai blindly and without question. Isn’t that the exact opposite of what it means to be parabatai? That’s the risk and sacrifice you make as parabatai.
Back at the vampire biker bar, we have Brad the vampire feeling up Clary still and I’m so ready to hop on that bike that’s being left unattended and drive the hell out of this scene. Jace finally intervenes — about damn time — and we get some Shadowhunter-on-Vampire action as Jace outsmarts him and him and Clary ride the vampire bike out of there. “Why did you let him do that to me?” Clary is literally me when she asks this question. Jace explains that he couldn’t just steal his keys from his pockets. Oh, so Jace used Clary to get something. Just like Isabelle did earlier in this episode. Yeah, that’s not something I want to see more of in this series.
We find ourselves back at Hotel Sex where Simon and Camille are making out and biting each other’s necks, and this is something I want to erase from my memory at this point. It’s not sexy despite what the show wants us to believe. Alec meets Isabelle at a secret entrance to Hotel Dumort where they plan on distracting the vampires while Clary and Jace find Simon. Camille is aware of the Shadowhunters’ arrival.
Jace tells Clary that the only way to become a vampire is to drink the blood of a vampire and a whole bunch of other mumbo jumbo. Real technical stuff ya know? “He’ll feel high,” Jace explains. Well, I guess there’s a perk. Kind of like being in love, which Jace admits he never has been in love before. “You’ve never been in love,” Clary says. And this would’ve been the perfect place for Jace to utter “to love is to destory and to be loved is to be the one destroyed.” Alas, not.
Meanwhile we find the Lightwoods sneaking their way inside Hotel Dumort and I’m loving the brother-sister duo. But what I’m not loving is Isabelle going into battle…in a dress. I’m sorry but who wears a dress going into battle? It’s not practical or comfortable. And, no, Isabelle does not dress like that in the books. And I’m sorry but kicking ass in a dress does not make you a badass. You’d be just as equal a badass if you were doing it in battle gear like she does in the books. But later that scene Isabelle shows exactly what makes her a badass: using her smarts to save them and lock the vampires inside. Now that is the badass Isabelle I want to see more of.
Clary and Jace manage to find a room where Brad the vampire (yeah, never going to be able to forget that) just so happens to be and attacks Clary while another vampire romps around with Jace. We see Brad try and use his encanto on Clary again and it looks like it’s working until Clary kicks him where it hurts, and that calls for a fist pump celebrating Clary the badass. But Brad gets her in a choke hold and low and behold Alec Lightwood saves Clary by shooting an arrow at the wall to let sunlight pour down. After the vampires have been dealt with — including Clary getting her technically second kill — the four of them head off to find Simon.
As Camille commences to freak out now that the Shadowhunters have found them – as she needs to remain out of sight – Raphael holds Simon at knife point and promoses to end him as she escapes. The four of them come across Raphael holding Simon at knife point. Raphael hers the four of them outside of Hotel Dumort and then lets Simon go. We learn that it wasn’t Raphael being generous so much as it was about protecting himself from what Valentine’s return would entail for him and his race.
When everyone is safe on the rooftop, Clary and Simon reunite in what’s a powerful show of friendship. “I couldn’t live without you, Simon,” Clary says, as she admits that she needs him in her life; she needs that reminder of who she really is despite all of the craziness of this new world happening around her. But she also friendzones him with a kiss to the cheek, but it doesn’t matter because she just told Simon all he needed to know: she needs him in her life.
There was an interesting parallel in this episode with friendship. The show introduced Jace and Alec’s parabatai bond to the new fans, as well as stressed the importance and strength of Clary and Simon’s relationship without that bond. It’s a theme that I hope is stressed throughout this series – the importance of these characters and their relationships with each other. More than that, a fleshed out relationship that employs elements of what makes the relationships so meaningful in the books. Sure, it’s only fair to expect differences, but it shouldn’t be hard to maintain the integrity of the characters and their relationships despite changing aspects of the story for the show. So long as the characters, their relationships, and that importance to the audience is respected then the minor changes don’t really matter in the long run.
Interestingly enough while Clary and Simon’s relationship is flourishing we see that Jace and Alec’s friendship is on the rocks. Alec once again tries to convince Jace that he shouldn’t trust Clary, especially given who her father is, and Jace just snaps, “Stop!” Alec makes it damn clear that he won’t let what happened to Hodge happen to him when he says he’s not in Jace’s shadow. Clearly these two need some parabatai couple’s counseling to soothe over the tension that has rocked their relationship.
Just when everything seems to have turned out for the better we see that Simon notices the vein throbbing in Clary’s neck, and it’s in that moment that the show has made one thing clear: Simon is going to become a vampire. Already. Way too soon. We’re in the third episode of this show and a storyline from the second book is already being explored. I have no problem with differences so long as they make sense. But this makes no sense. This has once again exposed the shows major flaw: writing and pacing. At this point we’ll be into City of Lost Souls by season’s end.
Here’s a look at the good (raves) and the bad (rants) of “Dead Man’s Party”:
- Parabatai: Not only was the term “parabatai” introduced, but we saw a real focus on Jace and Alec’s relationship. Clary has definitely shaken things up with her arrival and there’s definitely a rift between Jace and Alec as Jace can’t fight the pull toward her and Alec can’t fight the mistrust that he has in her. So the two disagree, but there’s a focus on that parabatai bond and importance that despite what happens they’re always going to be each other’s other half. (Also: The scene where Jace talked about the parabatai bond and how if Alec would die it would feel like a piece of him dying brought me feels that had nothing to do with this show: Will and Jem from The Infernal Devices.)
- Clary and Simon Friendship: I loved when Jace said that Alec would die for him and how Clary was able to demonstrate that that’s exactly what her friendship with Simon is like. They might not have a parabatai bond, but their friendship is incredibly strong and lasting.
- Encanto: One of the things I really enjoyed with these vampires was that they possessed a compulsion of sorts that is able to charm mundanes – and even charms Clary at one point (though that scene makes our rants list). It illustrates a strength of Shadowhunters and how they can’t be controlled by it unlike mundanes who appear susceptible to a vampire’s power.
- Badass Clary: It was nice to see Clary kick a little vampire ass. Obviously we’re in the third episode and Clary has just been introduced to this world, but it’s still nice to see her defend herself in what way she can right now. It’s that kind of female empowerment that we need more of on this show.
- The Writing and Pacing: Once again my major concern lies with the way this show is being written and with that the pacing of the show. Didn’t they tell us that the first season would pretty much cover the first book with elements from other books brought in? I’m sorry, but Simon becoming a vampire isn’t a minor arc that you can move around and expect the story to still have the same outcome. Writing wise, there is one line that I will hate forever: “The only thing I have to do is you.” Really? Who thought that was a good idea?
- Isabelle and Meliorn: From the start I’ve been preaching for Isabelle to be regarded as someone more than a hot bod (quick question: why did she go out prepared to fight the vampires…in a dress?). But this episode showed that Isabelle would literally sleep with someone for information. (“The only thing I have to do is you.”) I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t show the strength that’s characteristic of Isabelle. Where’s the Isabelle that uses her beauty as a weapon but is always in control, who’s strong, confident, but always a tad vulnerable. In this entire scene it felt like I wasn’t watching Isabelle, which is a shame. It wasn’t about Isabelle being empowering it was about demeaning oneself to get needed information.
- Hotel Dumort: Look, I understand that there are going to be changes to certain storylines, but personally speaking I had a problem with how the Hotel Dumort scene played out. In the books there was a significance to it as it served as a means to introduce this Downworlder race, as well as introduce us to the werewolves. But it was just a rough introduction to the world of the vampires that lacked the suspense and high-stakes of it all.
- Simon and Camille: Changes from the book are going to be common in this show, I get that, but I really disliked how Camille was introduced early merely to make-out with Simon and turn him into a vampire. Once again it feels uncharacteristic of this strong vampire who’s confident and smart in what she does.
- The Vampires: Um…so vampires can stop time? Really? I don’t mind changes so much that they make sense with what we know about vampires in our pop culture. Stopping time? Not something we associate with vampires, and it seemed too convenient for the storyline so Camille could provide some exposition to the audience. These vampires lacked the swagger of the vampires we’ve come to know in Cassie’s books. They weren’t intimidating nor respected. Also, how is it possible for them to say, “God?”
- Simon the (Almost) Vampire: While we all know that Simon eventually becomes a vampire, for the show’s third episode to hint so early what appears to be Simon in transition to becoming a vampire is just not right. It’s just way too soon. The show really needs to take a breather at this point with pacing.
- The Demon Bike Scene: While it was nice to see a reference to the demon bikes from the book, it was not pleasant watching as Jace seemingly offered Clary up to distract the vampire and steal the bike. He stood back and let her be compelled and laughed about it before finally stepping in to take the vampire out and steal his bike. It’s just so uncharacteristic of Jace. Jace who wouldn’t let anything happen to Clary, Jace who respects Clary, Jace who would snap if someone looked the wrong way at Clary. Even Clary tells him she doesn’t appreciate what he did to her back there. It’s those deviations from the characters that doesn’t sit right with me.
Shadowhunters airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Freeform.