‘Shadowhunters’ 1×11 Review: ‘Blood Calls to Blood’
As we near the end of Shadowhunters’ freshman season, several significant storylines are ramping up, as are the stakes, as evident in the latest episode, “Blood Calls to Blood.”
There were two significant storylines playing out in this episode – both inside and outside of the Institute. As Isabelle went on trial for her affiliation with the Downworlders – which was really just an excuse for the Clave to try and get the Mortal Cup – Clary, Jace, Simon, Luke, and – surprise! – Michael Wayland, Jace’s not-so-dead father, were fixated on retrieving Jocelyn from Valentine’s evil clutches.
While there were some moments that we weren’t so fond of – Isabelle being put unjustly on trial because of Lydia – there were some good moments that including the reveal of a certain storyline that had me screaming because it was like it was taken right from Cassie Clare’s book (writers, take note for season 2 reference).
Speaking of that, Shadowhunters did thankfully remain true to a particular and significant storyline from the books that might have some non-book fans going, “WHAAAT?” Sorry, guys. We’ve all been there before. Welcome to the club.
Oh, and, SPOILERS AHEAD:
Jace and Clary Learn They Are Brother and Sister
When it comes to adapting The Mortal Instruments, one of the controversial storylines that we always fear will be cut is when Clary and Jace learn that they are both related. It was one of those shocks that you remember where you were when you read it; you remember your reaction; you remember the angst that followed.
While Shadowhunters has shown that it’s not afraid to divert away from the source material (which hasn’t always worked in its favor) this was just one of those storylines that if they didn’t include in the show would’ve sparked outrage. Because the reveal – and most importantly the angst that followed in the next two books – is central in Clary and Jace’s relationship and the people that they become.
I understand that Shadowhunters isn’t a carbon copy of the books – and I’ve never expected it to be – but I have always expected for the show to remain faithful to the spirit of the books, including certain storylines that are signature of this series. It hasn’t always done that, but when it does it’s magic. Case in point: The scene at Renwicks.
Everything about the scene inside featuring Clary, Jace, and Valentine – from the setting, Renwicks, to the dialogue and action that followed literally transported me into the book. To this point I haven’t felt connected to this show like I have the books. But this scene literally had me screaming it was that good. I’ve been waiting for years to watch this scene come to life in this manner and it was overwhelming as it was happening. Everything from the way Valentine revealed the news to Jace’s gut-wrenching reaction to the awkwardness that followed with Clary and Jace, this storyline might just be the thing this show needed.
The thing is that this scene wasn’t exactly as it was from the book, but there were elements from the books that were present and it made the scene thrive. Everything down to the dialogue – “Why do you think you two were so drawn to each other?” – was exactly something Valentine would say. THIS is what I meant by being faithful to the source material. It’s not adapting it word-for-word rather than incorporating the essence of it. Also, kudos to Dominic Sherwood and Alan Van Sprang for their performance in this scene. It still gives me chills.
It just goes to show you how amazing this show could be if the show tried to bring more of the book into the series. And with season two confirmed, I’m hoping that’s one of the things at the top of its To-Do list.
The Valentine Twist
When it came to the introduction of Michael Wayland – and reveal that he was very much not dead – it was not a storyline welcomed with open arms on this end. Being as it deviated so far from the book – and actually created a plot hole instead of solving one – this was not a storyline I was looking forward to. But I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by episode’s end.
Turns out Michael Wayland isn’t actually alive – Valentine was actually posing as him in his true form. In fact, that’s how the show justified Jace recognizing Michael and confirming that he was the one that raised him until his “murder.” I’ve gotta admit, I didn’t see it coming. But I’m so glad the show went there.
Thinking back it was all a little too convenient that Michael Wayland just happened to show up just in time to help Clary and Jace – two Shadowhunters that have the Mortal Cup – rescue Jocelyn from Valentine’s clutches. But I never expected it from this show.
In a way it made sense with the way that “Michael” treated Jace when he was with him – whether it was criticizing him during training or preaching that love is weakness. Suddenly things are beginning to make sense on that end.
I’ve got to give it up to the writers and producers on this one. Well done.
Isabelle on Trial
Well, at least the show itself acknowledged that this whole trial with Isabelle makes no sense whatsoever. Isabelle knows that this is a farce. We all knew this was a farce. This was all done as a means for the Clave to get what they want: the Mortal Cup.
After Alec essentially laid the groundwork for this trial – by siding with Lydia – he finally decided to wake the hell up and help his sister. Alec asked Isabelle for him to let her help him. But how has he earned that right? Alec has a long way to go to earn Isabelle’s – and my – trust back. But no one is perfect and there are always consequences.
We had the introduction of Inquistor Imogen Herondale – her first live action debut – as she was the judge on this trial with Magnus acting as Isabelle’s defense attorney (bless this), and Lydia as the prosecution. Being as this entire trial was pointless, Isabelle knew that she had to speak her mind when it came to the matter.
What makes the Clave so different from Valentine if they’re willing to do – and doing – things like he’s doing in order to get what they want? And, as Isabelle said, they eventually will turn on each other. And we actually saw that as Isabelle was being prosecuted for being a compassionate person. The morality of the Clave is seriously compromised. But Isabelle’s inspiring speech clearly has an effect on Lydia, and when she was called to the stand she couldn’t lie. She didn’t understand why they were punishing Isabelle for caring. So Lydia decides to drop the charges.
Despite Lydia dropping the charges against Isabelle, Imogen Herondale – being the delightful woman that we’ve known her to be – declares that doesn’t matter. The Clave has decided to move forward with finding Isabelle guilty and she’ll be stripped of her runes and sentenced to exile if they don’t get the Mortal Cup.
So the Clave got what they want: they got the Mortal Cup and Isabelle got her freedom. And there’s just no way this is going to end well.
Magnus Tries to Get Through to Alec
Recognizing that Isabelle needs an advocate – or an attorney as us Mundanes refer to it – Alec goes to Magnus for help in advocating on Isabelle’s behalf. While Magnus basically says he’ll represent Isabelle if Alec sleeps with him (really? I love Malec, but really?), Magnus instead accepts something else of importance to Alec: his bow and quiver.
But that’s not what’s important here. The interesting aspect of this dynamic came at the end of the episode when Magnus tried to get through to a very stubborn Alec. Magnus understands Lydia, but he doesn’t understand why Alec would subject himself to a life of loneliness and unhappiness. Alec and Lydia don’t deserve it. And neither does Magnus.
The question here – especially with next week’s episode set to feature Alec and Lydia’s wedding – is will Alec recognize that marrying Lydia is settling – settling for a life that isn’t living rather just existing. Considering the draw of Malec, I doubt that these two’s love story is over.
Rants and Raves
- Jace, Clary, and Valentine at Renwicks: This is probably my favorite scene from this show thus far because it has been the most faithful in regards to the storyline and the execution. Of course it wasn’t exactly like the book, but it had significant elements from the book and storyline that contribute to its emotional impact. This is what I meant when I said I wanted the show to be faithful.
- The Twist with Michael Wayland: I have to hand it to Shadowhunters because that was one hell of a twist, and it was executed nicely. Somehow it never crossed my mind that Michael Wayland was actually Valentine, but I loved how this plot hole was actually solved with this reveal.
- Luke and Simon: Okay so I continue to love the exploration of the relationship between Simon and Luke. There’s a natural rapport between the actors and the moments were subtle, but this is a relationship I definitely want to see more of.
- Clary’s Inconsistent Character: There were a couple of times where book Clary made her presence known as she possessed a sense of determination, but then there were some moments that made us cringe. There needs to be a consistent portrayal of this character in the writing.
- Alec Claims He Has Isabelle’s Best Interests at Heart: Really? Because it wasn’t too long ago – last episode, actually – that Alec took Lydia’s side over his sister’s. That doesn’t sound like loyalty to me. Once again, it comes down to an inconsistent portrayal of the character. If Alec is supposed to be a certain way make sure that it’s consistent with what’s expected of his character. But it’s also something that can be fixed.
- Jace and Alec Seriously Need a Relationship Counselor: Seriously how much longer are we going to have to endure this constant bickering between these supposed Parabatai? Because at this point I find it hard to believe they are Parabatai with how easily they’ve seemingly turned away from one another. And how dare Alec try and blame Jace for everything that’s happened and not accept responsibility for his own actions?
Shadowhunters airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Freeform.
What are your thoughts on “Blood Calls to Blood?”
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Oh show, I think I love you but also not!
Great recap! You really nailed all the important plot points in it.
I agree with you on the Michael Wayland twist. I was very iffy about it at first, but in the end I really liked what they did with it.
Also, I think you’re totally right about your reaction to Magnus’ first payment method suggestion (Magnus is my favorite character and I think he might not have been serious, but it was just weird).
However, I’m a little more forgiving about Alec (not that I think you’re wrong about the inconsistent characterization though). It’s probably ’cause I’m an older sibling myself, but I get were he’s coming from. He’s used to being the responsible one, the one that has to take the heat from the rash actions and mistakes of the others, the one that has to find a way to fix those mistakes, so that’s probably why siding with Lydia seemed like a good idea to him (don’t get me wrong though, I think him proposing to her was beyond stupid). Also, unlike Jace (who’s in love with Clary) and Isabelle (who used to be romantically involved with Meliorn) Alec really didn’t have a reason to risk everything he’s worked for all his life. As to doing it out of compassion, I don’t think if it had involved any random downworlder and not involve the cup, the would’ve been willing to rescue him/her. I might believe it from Izzy (cause she’s awesome like that) but I really don’t believe it from Jace.
That brings me to my least favorite aspect of the show: Jace and Alec’s relationship! I hate the way Jace behaves toward Alec. In my opinion, Simon was right when he told Jace he treated Alec like a lap dog.
All on all, I liked the episode but still think it was a little shaky. Hopefully the others (and season 2) will continue to improve.
The movie City of Bones didn’t fully develop Alec’s personality. The TV series is portraying him as a courageous and intelligent with deep family loyalties. Also the bond between Alec and Jace is being emphasized more. His dilemma over his decision about Lydia, his relationship with Magnus and his breach in his relationship with Jace gives the show plenty of avenues for exploration. Jace’s grief stricken response at the end of the show about Clary being his sister delivered on angst. Simon’s glee was almost comedic. I am a little disappointed about the extent of the deviation from the books. I am, however, thoroughly enjoying this show and eagerly await each episode.
I totally saw the twist with Michael/Valentine coming from a mile away. I applauded it before it was even revealed on screen. I think the fact that Jace was raised by Valentine and never knew it was always a plot hole. I love that they fixed it in an interesting way.
I said the same thing about he scene at Renwicks, it was amazing. The show is really finding it’s pace, and I’m so excited about it!
Again good work. I am happy the plot differs greatly from the books’. So we can enjoy this as something almost independent. This show really develops to something.
Renwick scene was very good. I liked Clary’s idea of tricking Valentine. Go girl!
First time we saw serious believable acting from Kat. This is promising. And I was surprised at the deep emotions Dominic shows in the end, his torn feelings, knowing Clary is his sister and he is the son of a monster, he hated his whole life. First time I could appreciate Dominic’s work.
Chapeau at Emeraude as Izzy. Her role really got depth. Her speech and her proud demeanour was quite impressive. She is a strong character and more beautiful as ever.
The inquisitor could have been a little more unpleasant and darker, threathening and crazy. This was just a ruthless logical person, a clave “roboter”. Not much crazyness there.
Magnus and Alec: I think Magnus tested Alec with his preposition of payment. He didn’t mean it, but he wanted to see how Alec would react and what Alec is ready to give or not give. I really like Magnus character and Harry plays him wonderfully.
Alec and Jace: I do not get the broken relationship of these two. Does the script writer know what a Parabatai bond means? Alec used to be in love with Jace. Where are these feelings? Jace has fierce loyality to Alec above everything and everyone else. Where is this? I do not get this. They are acting as they hate each other, like strangers unwillingly put together. The friendship between Jace and Alecused to be something special, something bright and solid, something both could always rely on. They don’t have anyone else outside of the institute, just Jace and the Lightwoods. What will further happen with these two? It would be a shame, if this remains broken. Hopefully they can bond again and overcome there difficulties to become again the Parabatai and friends, brothers, they used and need to be.
Simon and Luke… no comment. The scene with the steak was funny. This relationship is very nice to see. These two have a chemistry, that does the show good. It couldn’t be better.
Raphael: Most do not comment on him, but I really like this character. I loved him in the books and thank god they did a not as bad job as with the others at the show with his character, and I like David. His acting is great.
I am looking forward to seeing the actual episode this evening on Netflix. And I am really happy (didn’t thought I would say this), that the show got a second season.