While Shadowhunters stumbled through most of the first season with its writing and inadequate storytelling, there have been glimpses of change and potential that have given me something I haven’t felt with this show before: optimism.
It’s a good feeling to have. It’s also a feeling that comes with a sense of caution as I don’t want to be let down. But thus far this change in ownership of the series, as Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer take over, has been one of the best things that could’ve happened. The show has really grown up in just two episodes this season.
With that said, “A Door Into the Dark” was a definite improvement although not a perfect hour. There are still some of those weaknesses that continue to be felt — be it the dialogue or inconsistencies — but hopefully those are some kinks that’ll be worked out as the season continues. I’m choosing to remain optimistic this early into the season. (Also hoping that that optimism pays off.)
In the show’s second episode of the season,”A Door Into the Dark,” Clary struggles with the belief that she doesn’t belong either to the Shadowhunter world or the Mundane world, which prompts Clary to try and find her place in this world — either world. Also, Simon turns to Magnus for help in tracking down Camille, as Raphael would have a certain part of Simon if he failed to deliver Camille.
This episode also served to set up the next episode, “Parabatai Lost,” where the Clave and the werewolves are after Jace. Having seen “Parabatai Lost,” there are some huge implications in this episode that will be felt next week. It makes for a nice progression of events from one episode to the next, as well as allows for some emotional moments that fans are sure to love.
Let’s dive into “A Door Into the Dark”:
The Struggle to Belong
Perhaps one of the more relatable storylines delivered on in the books is Clary’s initial struggle to find her place in this world — whatever world that might be. Last season found Clary thrust into this Shadow World without warning and forced to face some pretty rough stuff for a Brooklyn girl who had no idea that demons and Downworlders even existed prior to her 18th birthday.
Given the rushed pacing of the first season (they essentially fit City of Bones and part of City of Ashes into 13 episodes), Clary was never really given an opportunity for this moment to find her place. Sure, there was a pull to the Shadow World. But, as we saw in this episode, Clary felt very much like she didn’t belong in this world. More than that, she had people telling her she didn’t belong. Whether it was Alec telling her she wasn’t a part of this world or locking horns with her mother about living in this world, it’s no wonder Clary needed to escape to her old Mundane life to see if she felt a pull back to normal.
“I’m not a Mundane. I’m not a Shadowhunter. I’m not anything.”
As we all assumed, Clary’s old Mundane life felt like a stranger to her. While she has yet to feel like she belongs to the Shadow World, she’s already had years to exist in the Mundane world. She knows what it’s like. And yet now it feels alien to her. But she’s yet to fully experience the Shadow World enough to get a really good sense of where she belongs. She had 18 years in the Mundane world. She’s had, what, like a couple months in the Shadow World? Clary doesn’t know enough about herself in this world yet to decide that she doesn’t belong.
Even then, Clary having this moment where she’s questioning her place in the world is incredibly important for her character’s development. When she first came into this world she was a bystander. I feel like this was foreshadowing of Clary really stepping up as the season progresses. In order to find her place in this world, Clary’s going to have to fight for it. And she will.
Clary and Isabelle’s Friendship
Given Clary’s insecurities about where she belongs, it really allowed for a nice heart to heart between Clary and Isabelle. Just as Clary was feeling rejected from this world that she felt she never had a chance to choose or not choose, Isabelle came to her aid to lend some support and encouragement as Clary struggled with herself. It was a reminder that Clary is not alone in this world even though she feels like she is.
If there’s one element of this show that’s been different that I love it’s how Clary and Isabelle’s relationship has transpired on screen. Yes, it’s different. But that’s okay when it’s handled the way it’s been handled. This entertainment world could really use more female friendships. Friendships where the females serve to build each other up instead of tear each other down. Not that they’re completely drama free — this would be a comedy if it weren’t a drama — but it’s really done a good job of addressing certain issues on screen, including female relationships.
But while Isabelle is kind with Clary, she isn’t gentle. She’s not going to lure Clary into this false sense of security where everything’s okay. Instead she chooses to motivate her to fight for herself, which is something that Isabelle has done her whole life. Yes, sometimes Clary is going to need that shoulder to cry on. But other times she’s going to need someone to motivate her to keep on pushing. And she’s running short on support with Jace gone, Simon off discovering himself as a vampire, and her mother shooting her down. So Isabelle is incredibly important to Clary especially now.
But it also has me wondering about what eventually will cause a rift between these two friends (as Katherine McNamara and Emeraude Toubia told me at New York Comic-Con)…
Simon and Magnus Team Up
As Clary struggled to find where she belonged, Simon struggled to maintain his newfound place in this world as a vampire. When Raphael comes knocking, Simon is forced to search for Camille and return her to Hotel Dumort…otherwise Raphael will do some less-than-pleasing things to Simon. So how does one go about tracking Camille down? Why not turn to her oldest friend, Magnus, of course!
While I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the relationship between Simon and Luke this season, it appears as if Shadowhunters is also setting up a mentor-ship between Magnus and Simon. While their little trek to Camille’s house doesn’t prove successful for Simon (especially after a hilarious run-in with a cobra), the team-up served to set up a partnership between these two Downworlders. Magnus tells Simon that he had to discover this Shadow World alone and that he doesn’t want someone to go through that. (Although as book fans we know Magnus helped Raphael when he started out.)
I’m looking forward to seeing where this relationship goes. It’ll be interesting to see this dynamic of young vampire and ancient warlock plays out given their experiences and temperments. Also, Alberto Rosende and Harry Shum Jr. really have a nice rapport. Simon’s very energetic while Magnus is much more laid back and yet they complement each other. It’s enjoyable to watch. Plus, I’m all for all the relationships I can get on this show between the core cast of characters.
The Risk That Comes With Looking For Jace
Obviously a defining aspect of the opening part of Shadowhunters‘ sophomore season has been the search for Jace, who left with Valentine at season one’s end. The season premiere served to focus on the emotional fallout of the event, while “A Door Into the Dark” focused on these characters taking action to find him. That meant Clary risking everything to go with Dot to find him. That also meant Alec risking his life to find his brother.
This storyline has been great not only because of how it allows the world to be expanded, but it also allows some room for these characters as individuals to deal with the fallout. And no one has had it worse than Alec, who lost not only his brother but his Parabatai. It’s a physical ache that he feels, and it’s not something he’s willing to stop pursuing until he finds Jace. Which leads Alec to do something incredibly risky that has implications for the following week’s episode “Parabatai Lost.”
Luke managed to get a little something from his mom, who is an Iron Sister, that will help Alec connect with Jace in order to find him. But it’s incredibly risky. If he goes too deep and can’t pull himself out, there’s a chance that he can be lost forever. That’s where Isabelle is willing to draw the line (she’s not going to lose both of her brothers.) But we know Alec. We know the power of this Parabatai bond. There’s no way in hell that Alec was not going to do this.
And so he does. And as he does, Clary and Jace are escaping Valentine’s ship (and the magic that kept them there), which sends Alec into an unconscious fit that leaves us gasping and cursing cliffhanger endings.
Rants and Raves
Simon! Simon! Simon! | There has yet to be an episode of this show where Simon wasn’t a part of the raves. The continued ease of Alberto Rosende’s performance coupled with the down to Earth aspect of Simon’s character continues to be one of the best things about this show.
Clary and Isabelle | Television — and the entertainment world in general — can really use more female relationships. With that said, Clary and Isabelle’s friendship has been something that has been incredibly touching over the past couple of seasons. The real-life bond between Kat McNamara and Emeraude Toubia really allows for Clary and Isabelle’s relationship to exist as an emotional outlet for both. They support each other, and they care about each other. Love it.
Isabelle Kicking that Guy’s Ass | That was for every girl that has been put down by a guy because she’s “just a girl.” It was so rewarding to watch Isabelle bring that guy to his knees and do it all while wearing a smile. Don’t mess with Isabelle Lightwood.
Clary and Jocelyn Tension | While I’m still not a fan of Jocelyn being awake so early, I appreciate how the show is choosing to handle her reappearance. It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. You get to see the conflict between mother and daughter, which are both sides that the other isn’t aware of. Clary doesn’t know Jocelyn Fairchild, the Shadowhunter. And Jocelyn doesn’t know Clary Fairchild, her Shadowhunter daughter.
The Fact That So Many Raves are Character-Related | It’s good to feel optimistic about the potential of this season and this series. Praying that it keeps up!
Young Jace and Alec Flashback | It was brief, yes. But it gave me some serious feels. As in Will & Jem feels from Clockwork Princess. (Here’s a teaser: expect to see those young Jace and Alec flashbacks in “Parabatai Lost.”)
Demon Baby Flashback | Okay that entire scene was just incredibly awkward. The flowers. The demon baby. The eyes. Eesh.
Shape Shifting Rune | Once again it makes things way too damn convenient. Convenient is not good. Convenient is very, very bad in television.
Dot’s Return | Just when we thought we’d escaped her, Dot makes a convenient reappearance that hopefully was short lived and provided Jace and Clary the opportunity to escape.
Convenience | If there’s one thing that Shadowhunters needs to get a handle on it’s the convenience of certain events in these episodes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to have one every now and then. But there are too many in each episode that are too obvious.
Shadowhunters airs Mondays at 8/7c on Freeform.