When it comes to Shadowhunters I’ve held nothing back if only because this series and these characters mean so damn much to me. No doubt it’s made me overtly attentive and critical. But rightfully so.
After all, criticism examines the good and bad in an effort to help better something. It’s something I learned in my Creative Writing class in college. You might not always like what you’re hearing people say about your writing, but in the long run it’s going to help you improve.
And that’s something we all want. Whether you’ve come into this as a book fan or as a show fan, we all want the best show possible.
With that said, Shadowhunters’ second season premiere, while far from perfect, was an overall improvement from last season. While it still has the feel of Ed Decter, there’s no doubt that Todd Slavkin, Darren Swimmer, and Matt Hastings did what they could with the script they were given.
You can definitely feel a shift in the tone of Shadowhunters. It’s something that’s been evident in the marketing aspect of things, as well. While Shadowhunters tried to establish that gritty tone in season 1, it just didn’t translate the way that it could’ve. But it appears as if Shadowhunters is aiming for a darker tone in season 2.
Let’s get something straight. Dark and gritty doesn’t mean upping the sex appeal of the series or putting characters in situations of conflict for the sake of conflict. Dark and gritty means giving these characters real instances to thrive in their conflict and emerge on the other side stronger than before. It means pushing these characters to the edge in a way that makes sense both to their character and to the story. It’s not something you force on them. It’s something that happens organically through the writing process. That’s ultimately what Shadowhunters needs to aim for to go to the next level.
While the Shadowhunters season 2 premiere was far from perfect, there were definitely aspects of “The Guilty Blood” that show promise for this second season. It’s always good to come into something with a glass-half-full mentality.
There’s an immediate, noticeable difference in the cinematography aspect of the series. It actually looks like a television show. It’s so beautifully shot with all of the camera angles and how the scenes jump out at you. Give all the credit to Hastings, who already has shown that he’s a brilliant addition to the Shadowhunters team.
When we last left Shadowhunters, Jace had left with Valentine as a means to both protect those he cares about and partly because he felt like he deserved what was coming because he’s Valentine’s son. It’s one of the aspects of Jace’s character in the books that I’m really hoping we get to explore this season.
“The Guilty Blood” picks up immediately after the events of the season one finale where our cast of characters is left reeling from Jace’s departure. The season premiere finds all of our characters dealing with Jace’s disappearance in their own way. There’s no question that this is going to be the driving force of most of this second season if not at least season 2A.
Given that Shadowhunters are warriors that reign superior, it’s something that we didn’t get nearly enough of in season one. And that mostly has to do with the writing. We didn’t get a focus on this warrior aspect of Shadowhunters. But the season 2 premiere definitely teased that it’s something that we might see more emphasis on moving forward.
With that said, the stunts in the premiere were also an upgrade from last season. They were more fluid in their execution. These looked like Shadowhunters and Downworlders fighting. It makes me excited for the possibility of huge fight sequences later in the season.
There was also a focus on certain character dynamics that gave me hope that Slavkin and Swimmer will bring the focus to where it needs to be: the characters. When it comes down to it, characters are the heart and soul of a book or a television show or a movie. They’re why we watch. We don’t tune in week after week to watch cool action sequences without ever seeing faces. We tune in every week to spend time with these characters that we’ve formed attachments with. That’s where the audience connection is formed.
The premiere did a really nice job of setting up some relationships that we’ll hopefully get to explore, whether it’s that of the romantic type or that of the familial type or that of the friendship type. Already you can that there’s a real potential to explore certain dynamics given the circumstances that have brought them to this point. That is where these writers really need to capitalize as I said before. The effective character evolution happens as a result of the response to adverse situations not because of contrived circumstances. I’m really hoping Shadowhunters will use these pre-established circumstances to build their characters’ storylines off of.
As far as the bad goes, some of the dialogue is still incredibly choppy. In terms of taking Shadowhunters to where it deserves to be I feel like the dialogue and the story direction itself is where the focus needs to be. But I’m holding off judgment of our new showrunners until we see more of the new season.
There was also some inconsistencies in terms of mythology that I noticed in the premiere. Without spoiling anything, Shadowhunters season 1 introduced the mythology of the Shadowhunters television series world. That’s one of the most important jobs of a sci-fi series in its first season. You need to establish how things work. And make no mistake, your audience will remember.
While it wasn’t like the book that didn’t bother me as much as the show changing certain rules without explanation or reason why. And while that might not seem like a huge deal, consistency on a television show is everything. While it might’ve been something minor now, you don’t want to risk that it might happen with something bigger. But perhaps it’s a result of the change of ownership as Slavkin and Swimmer take over the reins. That’s not something we can know for sure. I just hope they can maintain consistency throughout this show.
Right now we’re at a point that only happens once in a television season. It’s like Spring Training in baseball. The possibilities are limitless. Everything seems bright. Everything feels promising. Everything seems possible. But eventually the games start to be played and we get a real look at the product we’ve been dealt. The fresh possibility becomes “what have you done for me lately.”
Given my excitement over the new showrunners, I’m at that point in this season. There’s a new feeling of possibility that I equate to a new coach taking over a team. While things might not have gone the way you wanted last season, here comes someone new promising all of these great things and that you’ll eventually get to the promised land. Whether Slavkin and Swimmer will actually deliver on what they’ve promised remains to be seen. But I will say that right now there’s a feeling of promise that I haven’t felt before with Shadowhunters.
Overall, Shadowhunters season 2 looks to be promising. But promise isn’t everything. It’s execution that ultimately seals the deal. “The Guilty Blood” did what it needed to do. It established the overarching storyline of the season while also dropping hints as to other storylines that might come in future episodes. It hooked me in a way that season 1 never did. It has my attention. Now I sit and wait, like everyone else, to see if Shadowhunters season 2 can deliver on that promise.
Shadowhunters season 2 premieres Monday, Jan. 2 at 8/7c on Freeform.