Remember that sense of potential and optimism that I held tight to in the beginning of Shadowhunters‘ second season? I was honestly expecting that optimism to fade fast heading into the third episode of this season, as that’s where it began to fade last season. But I have to admit that Shadowhunters still has me clinging to that optimism after this week’s “Parabatai Lost.”
Here’s the thing, Shadowhunters is far from perfect. But it’s made incredible strides since its unimpressive freshman season. You can really feel a renewed sense of hope in this season. Todd Slavkin, Darren Swimmer, and Matt Hastings have already made this show so much better. And even the actors have seemed to step their game up in this second season.
And this week’s episode showed exactly why this show has made strides. In “Parabatai Lost,” the entire Shadow World is after Jace after he escaped the clutches of Valentine. Only now he’s roaming free in the Mundane world without a stele with only his only weapon being himself. Jace soon finds himself the target of the Clave and the werewolves, as they believed it was him that murdered one of their own. The entire episode was like this big chase and a race against time as Jace had to fight off his opponents but also do it quickly in order to get to his Parabatai in time.
Meanwhile, Alec is clinging to life after last week’s episode where he went to extremes in an attempt to locate Jace and bring him back. So as Jace races to Alec, we get glimpses into Alec’s subconscious as his mind focuses on his relationship with Jace. We get glimpses of their first meeting, the moment they decided to become Parabatai, and the Parabatai ceremony, which reminds you why Alec is in this situation in the first place: he did this to find Jace.
Let’s dive into “Parabatai Lost”:
The Parabatai Bond
Without question, the strongest aspect of this episode was how the story focused on the Parabatai bond between Jace and Alec, and how the two were both trying to find their way back to each other — Jace, physically, and Alec, spiritually (I guess). While “Parabatai Lost” was far from perfect, there was a satisfying feeling to watch Shadowhunters focus on an element of the books that readers feel incredibly passionate about expanded upon.
I’m going to take a moment here and focus on the fans of the show that haven’t read the books. While fans of the books are well aware of the significance of Parabatai, fans of the show aren’t as well-versed about just how important Parabatai are. Parabatai are so much more than best friends. They’re family. This is the most important relationship one can have in this Shadow World. It means more — and it’s not just a title. So when Alec says “If he dies, a part of me dies,” he means it. He’s not over-exaggerating. That’s how deep this bond runs.
And as we’ve seen with Jace and Alec through the course of Shadowhunters, there has been some tension since Clary arrived. We’ve seen the two Parabatai go at each other both verbally and physically. And while some would think — Oh no, is their friendship going to survive? The truth is, this goes so much deeper than friendship. Despite even the ugliest of fights or the most disagreement of situations, there’s no turning your back on this bond. And we’ve gotten a glimpse of that this season.
While I wasn’t a fan of how the show put Jace and Alec at each other’s throats to the extremes it did last season, it did accomplish one thing now: it showed that it doesn’t matter what they disagree on or how big the fight, they’re always going to be brothers. The Parabatai bond runs deep. And this episode did a great job of showing that.
But perhaps my favorite part about this entire episode was that final scene when Jace finally found his way back to Alec. How Jace grasped his brother’s hand and recited the Parabatai oath: “Whither thou goest, I will go;Where thou diest, will I die…” And the dialogue was nearly verbatim. That is the perfect example of what book fans mean when they want this show to stay faithful to the books. Moments like that where it demands to be felt. Hearing those words and watching Dom Sherwood bring that emotion to a level that it hasn’t ever been on this show was something that was really powerful. And for the first time — at least on the show — you got a sense of just what that Parabatai bond represents.
Young Jace & Alec Flashbacks
With Alec being unconscious for the entire episode except for the final two minutes, our glimpses of Alec came mostly via flashbacks as he dreamed of him and Jace and their friendship. While most of “Parabatai Lost” was a solid hour, the one aspect where it faltered were the flashbacks that felt incredibly choppy and didn’t have the effect that they could’ve had. I understand where Shadowhunters was going with the flashbacks — and I loved the idea of them. But ultimately the execution fell remarkably short, whether it was the choppy dialogue or the subpar acting or the fact that these young reflections of Jace, Alec, and Isabelle looked nothing like their elder counterparts.
But with that said, I like that Shadowhunters took the opportunity to focus on characters when the time called for it. Alec being unconscious — and for a while appeared lost to us all — was the perfect chance to focus on his relationship with Jace, as well as on how Alec’s condition was affecting those around him — everyone from Magnus to Isabelle to ultimately Jace. Basically, Shadowhunters is learning how to let the characters drive the story instead of the other way around. It’s not perfect yet, but they’re making progress.
One of the things that struck me immediately when we got the flashbacks of a young Jace and Alec was how it reminded me of Clockwork Princess when we got to see Will and Jem meet for the first time as young boys. Actually, it was the brief flash of that flashback of Jace and Alec that started that feeling. There’s just something about seeing the beginning of a relationship that is so significant and has stood the test of time. Simply put, it brings the feels.
While most of the time had me finding faults in the flashbacks (they were distracting) — from how little they resembled the actual characters to the choppy dialogue to certain elements of what it takes to become Parabatai — I do admire how they decided to tackle something that’s so sacred to this world and to these fans.
Maia Roberts’ Introduction
Even though it’s only been one episode, I can already feel my excitement to watch Maia Roberts’ storyline develop. We never got to meet Maia in the movie, so getting to see her appear and hopefully flourish in the world of television, where you have time to explore characters and their motivations, is something that I’m really looking forward to. It’s also something I’m nervous about. I want Shadowhunters to do this character justice.
As fans of the books know, Maia is a character with a complex backstory. And yes, while I know we’re excited to see Jordan eventually make his way to the show, it’s still far too soon. We need time to explore Maia as an individual first. Hell, Jordan doesn’t even appear until City of Fallen Angels. And technically the show is around City of Ashes-City of Glass right now. It’s still too soon.
From what we got to see of Maia in “Parabatai Lost” — and knowing her history from the books — I can already see the complexity of her past and how that weighs on her but also how it doesn’t weigh her down. She’s become stronger from her past. But she also already has exuded that confident, badass aspect of her personality in just one episode. Alisha Wainwright’s portrayal really stood out to me because, while we haven’t met Maia on this show until now, I feel like Maia could’ve been here for some time. She really made a smooth transition into this show.
Something that, as a Simon fan, I’m really loving this season on Shadowhunters is how we’re branching out to see Simon’s storyline that is somewhat separate from the overarching one involving Jace. Basically, Simon is the only character whose story isn’t somewhat built around the situation with Jace and Valentine. Which is how it should be. We’re at the point in the series where it should be City of Ashes, and where Simon begins his journey to discovering himself and where he stands in this vampire lifestyle.
With that said, an element of Simon’s vampirism that fans of the books are well aware of is how Simon eventually comes “out of the coffin” to his mother later in the series and the reaction he gets as a response. So when Mama Lewis finally made her reappearance, it almost felt like that was being set-up. Because we came close to getting that moment.
When Simon checks his voicemail, it’s cluttered with messages from his frantic mother wondering where he is (because this show finally remembered her in the midst of everything that had happened last season.) So Simon decides to pay her a visit. Only when he steps through the door he immediately knows something is wrong. There’s no one in the house — unless you count the open containers of alcohol, which sends Simon on edge.
Simon calls Clary for help (more on these two below) and the two eventually track Simon’s mom down. And in the middle of it, Clary had helped Simon with the confidence to come “out of the coffin” to his mother. For so long he’s been worried about her reaction. And he even decided to continue to keep it a secret. But Clary encouraged Simon to tell his mom. That she’d love him for exactly who he was. But right when he was going to tell his mom, Raphael strolls in already having given Simon’s mom the “Simon’s band has been on tour” excuse, which temporarily shelves that significant moment for now.
Best Friends & Something More
With Shadowhunters second season, one element that has been teased to be developed and expanded upon this season is the evolution of Clary and Simon’s relationship. Meaning, their eventually testing the waters as boyfriend and girlfriend. That’s an element that, while not obvious, is definitely one that is being slowly developed and paced in the right way. So when Simon was in trouble — when he couldn’t find his mother — he reached out to Clary for help. And when Clary got that call, there was no way she wasn’t going to help her best friend.
I’m loving the focus on Clary and Simon this season. Their friendship has always been one of my favorite aspects of the series and that level of devotion. But also, on the Shadowhunters show, there’s a great rapport and chemistry between Katherine McNamara and Alberto Rosende that leaps off the screen. They’re so comfortable with each other, they play off of each other. It’s really nice to watch.
While it’s typically been Simon that aids Clary when she’s in trouble, this time it was time for Clary to help Simon both in physically finding his mother but also emotionally, as he struggled with his circumstance. Simon, being the self-sacrificial hero that he is, blamed his being a vampire as the reason his mother had gone off. So in “Parabatai Lost” we got to see Clary be there for her best friend and remind him that that wasn’t the case. But she also helped him build up the confidence to come out to his mother as being one of the undead.
And once again we got that brief spark of that “more than friends” vibe that’s coming. We were reminded that Simon is still very much in love with Clary, despite that not being as obvious last season, and we were reminded that we’re getting to the part where Clary begins to wonder if there could be something more. This is one of the elements of the show that I’m most looking forward to — and I can feel it after episodes like this when I just want to get to the moment where Clary and Simon make that leap from best friends to something more.
Rants and Raves
The Parabatai Bond Dialogue Came Right From the Books | See, this is the kind of stuff that, as a book fan, I want to see. I don’t expect every piece of dialogue the characters say to come from the books. But with something as important as the Parabatai bond — and those sacred words — that is the kind of stuff that I expect verbatim from the books. So that was definitely something that had me smiling and thanking the writers for.
Maia’s Introduction | Maia is one of my favorite characters in The Mortal Instruments, so I was both excited and cautious for her debut on Shadowhunters. But in her first episode on the show, Maia made her introduction one to remember and also teased her future impact on this show and in this world. She’s a confident, strong, badass character that you can tell — even if you haven’t read the books — that she has a complicated history that has made her stronger. I cannot wait to get to see her more on this show.
The Final Scene | There was a level of emotion that Shadowhunters hasn’t really brought to the table until this point. The kind of emotion that has to build for a season. The kind of emotion that’s expanded upon by circumstance and love. So that final scene with Jace and Alec was one that was so touching — as Dom Sherwood let it all out — and made you want to go hug your best friend. While we knew Alec wasn’t going to die, it didn’t change the emotional impact the scene had.
Dominic Sherwood | Speaking of Dom, this was really his episode to shine. There were so many things thrown Jace’s way in this episode — from leaving Valentine’s ship to trying to find his way back to Alec to the werewolves coming after him to almost losing Alec and then to be arrested by the Clave. By the Angel! Jace had a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day. And Dom played it all so well — and had us tearing up in that final scene.
Maia’s Transformation in the Hospital | There wasn’t much that I disliked about Maia’s first appearance on this show. She’s a complex, badass character that I can’t wait to see more of. But her transformation in the hospital hallway, where it looked like she was dancing, had me laughing. It was distracting.
Jocelyn’s Interaction with Jace | Remember how not only two episodes ago that Jocelyn was trying to kill Jace, now she’s all of sudden trying to help him? I’m sorry, but without the context to back up her complete turnaround it just feels random and inconsistent.
Since When Do Vampires Have to be Invited Inside Your Home? | Something that’s always been great about the vampires of The Shadowhunter Chronicles is how they aren’t bound to every cliche vampire rule. One of those includes the fact that you don’t need to be invited inside of someone’s house. So then why did the show drop that bomb on us?
No One Suspected Valentine Killing Gretel? | Like I understand the point of Jace’s arc in this episode, why was it so easy for everyone — including Luke — to believe that Jace had killed Gretel and never suspect that perhaps it was Valentine being Valentine?
Shadowhunters airs Mondays at 8/7c on Freeform.