By Beata (Contributor)
Oh, the joys of season (or in this case, mid-season) premieres.
They’re always my favourite episodes of every season, because they hold so much promise. I haven’t been worn down by a full season of ridiculousness, bad CGI and cringey dialogue yet. I’m just excited to dive back into this world and talk about it with fellow fans.
I like to approach every episode of Shadowhunters with optimism, and season premieres especially. This one was no different. Season 2A was actually pretty good. I know I laughed at the bad dialogue and the ridiculousness of the plot, but the first ten episodes of season 2 were a huge step up from season 1. This show is no longer just a silly thing that I like to laugh at every week – it’s a reasonably entertaining hour of television.
I can’t say Mea Maxima Culpa stood out to me very much, but I definitely liked it. I wasn’t particularly interested in much of what was going on, but it was a solid episode. Nothing too egregious happened. I’m mildly intrigued to see what happens in the future.
So far, I really like Will Tudor as Sebastian. I don’t quite understand what his motives are or how he knows everything he knows, but I’m intrigued. Tudor has that unnerving charisma that Sebastian showed in City of Glass when we first met him. You want to like him, but there’s something slightly off about him that makes you suspicious.
I will say that I’m really glad the show is going this route with the character. I was worried after the demon baby incident in episode two that they would turn him into some sort of obviously evil monster and forget the tiny slice of humanity that makes his character so incredibly creepy. Even though he isn’t seeking out Clary right away, I like that our first introduction to him is still as Sebastian Verlac. We get to see his human side first, and that helps us better understand his motives.
Sebastian is such a fascinating character, because he has absolutely no moral compass or qualms about killing people, and yet he has that very human desire to be loved, and to belong somewhere. I assume he’s seeking out Isabelle right now because he knows she’s close to Clary and Jace, and yet sees that she’s very vulnerable at this moment.
What I really liked about Sebastian in this episode is that I could understand why Isabelle trusted him, and yet at the same time I wanted to shake her for trusting someone so obviously sketchy.
THE CHANCE AT LIVING A NORMAL LIFE
This line, right here, perfectly encapsulates Simon’s feelings about being a daylighter. He still drinks blood and doesn’t have a heartbeat and is immortal, but he can go outside now. That was the biggest challenge for him before. I still wish we’d gotten more focus on his inability to go out in sunlight, but it was still really nice to see him out and about.
Of course, Simon will soon learn that “normal” is relative. He won’t have to spend his days in the dark, sure, but it’s not like he’s a normal human yet. He’s also given up any chance he might have had at being a normal vampire. A lot of craziness is going to come into his life because of this little anomaly.
I enjoyed this brief, but powerful dive into Jace’s psyche. He’s so used to bottling everything up inside, growing up in an environment where he’s constantly being told that emotions are bad. Valentine punished him for showing compassion toward a falcon. Everyone at the institute and in the Clave expects him to be this emotionless warrior. It’s clear that he’s internalized a lot of those very harmful ideas.
Jace has been through so much in the last few days/weeks/months, and he’s reacted by bottling everything up. He’s practiced his fighting. He’s kept secrets. He’s become distant. He didn’t tell Clary about his real lineage because he didn’t want to confront his feelings for her. In the 2A finale, I wondered why Jace didn’t even stop to wonder who his real parents were, but I think this fear was a big part of that: he didn’t want to deal with the emotions that would arise.
In this episode, he finally took Clary’s advice: he let himself feel, if only a little bit. That scene in which we actually saw Jace crying, and turning to Alec for comfort, was so powerful. It’s so rare that male characters on TV are allowed to be vulnerable, especially when those characters are as tough and masculine as Jace. It’s really nice to see a show breaking those stereotypes and challenging that toxic masculinity. So good job with that, Shadowhunters.
I’m not going to spend much time wondering what Azazel is doing here, because I have no clue, but I thought I’d give you all a quick refresher on who he was in the books, because I had forgotten. There were a number of powerful greater demons with similar names in TMI.
Azazel appeared briefly in City of Lost Souls and was never heard from again. He is the Forger of Weapons and a Prince of Hell. According to the Shadowhunters Wiki, he is the angel who taught humans how to make weapons, and so he is knows as the corrupter of mankind. Ironically, he taught them how to kill demons.
In COLS, Magnus summoned him in his apartment when Team Good was looking for a weapon that could break the bond between Jace and Sebastian. You might remember him as the guy who asked each character for a happy memory, and didn’t fully leave the dimension until he was repelled by the Mark of Cain.
What’s interesting about Shadowhunters bringing him in is that, in the books, he actually wasn’t able to physically leave the rocks of Duduael, where he was chained: Magnus could summon his spirit, but not his corporeal form.
It’s clear that the show is going in a very different direction with him, and that he’s not as powerful as he was in the books. Of course, the show hasn’t exactly made greater demons very powerful so far: I seem to remember Clary easily killing the last one we met.
THINGS THAT DO NOT MAKE SENSE, A LIST
Yup, Shadowhunters is still kicking Once Upon A Time‘s butt.
- Weird dance music over every fight scene. Maybe some people find it cool, but I think it sounds really out of place and just doesn’t work.
- What runes are the inquisitor using to torture Valentine?
- The inquisitor thinking the downworld rebellion has anything to do with Jace and Clary being Valentine’s children. She knows Valentine is about as anti-downworld as it gets. Wouldn’t Clary and Jace teaming up with downworlders prove that they’re NOT with him?
- Valentine acting like he’s above working with demons.
- Azazel just casually asking for the Mortal Cup at a bar.
- How is Luke still a cop? I feel like he’s been absent enough that he should have been fired by now.
- Luke talking to the Shadowhunters out in the open while they’re glamoured.
- Actually, why were they glamoured in the first place?
- Clary not knowing the difference between a regular demon and a greater demon.
- Sebastian being able to fight off Azazel. He’s a greater demon.
- Simon needing Maia to tell him to fly under the radar after doing exactly that earlier in the episode.
- How did Izzy’s necklace break?
- The Mortal Cup actually being able to control greater demons. Controlling regular demons is one thing, but come on.
- How does Sebastian know so much about Yin Fen?
- Sebastian acting like he actually knew his mom. What’s all this “she loved me” and “I forgave her” stuff? He has literally never met her in his entire life.
- Raphael acting like there are already rumors going around that Simon is a daylighter. Isn’t that kind of thing rare? Who would have guessed? Has Simon been spotted outside?
- Magnus summoning Azazel without speaking any demon languages. Was I the only person who laughed at the summoning spell being so… simple?
- Why didn’t anybody think of poking Azazel with a seraph blade? And why didn’t it work the one time they did try it? I’m not complaining, but I’m pretty sure the last time we met a greater demon, it exploded at the touch of a Seraph blade.
- Sebastian burning himself on the stove. That’s what he was doing, right? Maybe the meaning behind this will be revealed later in the season, but right now I’m just confused.
OTHER THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Luke’s new partner is both annoying and sketchy and I don’t like her.
- I’m still surprised by how much I love Raphael.
- I still can’t with the dialogue in this show.
- So one of Jace’s special powers is that he can activate runes without a stele. Cool, I guess?
- I know it’s not going to last, but I love that Simon is going back to university.
- Is there a reason Sebastian is from London and not Paris? I am too attached to that London institute.
- If this Magnus thing turns out to be someone using the shapeshifting rune to turn into him, I will flip a table.
- I kind of assumed it would be a demon possessing him, so let’s hope that’s it.
Shadowhunters airs Mondays at 8pm on Freeform.