By: Beata (Guest Contributor)
The first half of Shadowhunters season 3 ended tonight, and it was… not what I expected it to be.
Is that a good thing? I’m not sure. Honestly, I was kind of happy with the way things were going, and I’m less happy with the way things actually turned out.
This was a decent mid-season finale. It was exciting at times. It was emotional at times. I had fun, I guess. I was surprised, and that’s something, and I’m actually theorizing about this show, which is something I don’t do very often, but I also kind of felt like a lot of the changes were made simply for the sake of making changes.
It was also very confusing. I know that’s nothing new, but there were two episodes this team, and my goodness, there are a lot of things to keep track of.
Anyways, there was some good, and some bad. Let’s discuss.
We open the 2-hour finale with Clary being prepared for public execution, alongside a bunch of other shadowhunters, and a warlock. It’s incredibly disconcerting to see this kind of stuff happening in the Shadow World, because even though the books mentioned executions, we didn’t actually see any of them and we definitely didn’t get the impression they were a common occurrence, like the show is implying they are. Granted, the Nephilim are a dying breed in the books, and even though the show has said that the same is true in this world, it certainly doesn’t look like that’s the case.
In the books, it seemed like the Clave usually opted for different, more creative kinds of punishment that didn’t involve killing valuable members of their ranks, but we haven’t seen many of those in the show. De-runing was also a much bigger deal in the books than it is in the show, so obviously Shadowhunters had to find another form of punishment.
What really confused me about the execution scenes (aside from the fact that there were many scenes and they were very spread out, and that made them very hard to follow) is that there were so many people being executed at the same time. Does the Clave actually execute this many people on a regular basis? Or is this a special circumstance? Are these all Circle members who have been waiting around since season 2? If so, how convenient that Clary arrived right on execution day and didn’t have to hang around in the dungeons for too long.
Clary’s way out? Resurrecting Valentine, apparently. I am incredibly amused by all the holes in this plan.
First of all, can we talk about the fact that the actual Consul asked a warlock to perform necromancy – which is illegal! – and when she refused, actually had her executed. Since when is this at all okay? Does this not violate the accords? Where in the accords does it state that downworlders must do everything the Clave asks of them or risk execution? How on earth does this make sense?
Are we trying to turn Jia into a villain here? Because it kind of seems like we are.
Anyways, moving on, it seems kind of weird to me that everyone immediately believed that Clary would be able to create a necromancy rune, and trusted her alone with Valentine when she was literally about to be executed. Did they never consider that her powers might be useful to them before this? Also, it’s pretty funny that Valentine was able to escape so easily. You’d think the Clave would have taken extra precautions to ensure that they don’t resurrect him permanently.
Speaking of that, since when is it possible to completely revive someone? Clary uses this rune in the books, but it barely works and the subjects are in excruciating pain. My memory of the show’s last adventure with necromancy is a bit fuzzy, but I seem to remember the people not being fully themselves? It’s just bizarre that it’s suddenly so easy to completely bring someone back to life.
I mean. Valentine looked pretty alive there. So alive that I feel like this rune could have come in handy much earlier. If Clary can bring Valentine back, and have him come back looking so alive and so much like himself, could she not have done that to Jace? Could Lilith not have found another way to bring Sebastian back?
I also found it pretty funny that all Clary had to do to kill him for good was deactivate the rune. Is that something anyone could have done? Could we not have done that earlier? Did Valentine think he’d be able to go about his life just avoiding steles, hoping nobody would deactivate the rune and kill him?
I’m so confused about how this rune works, and I don’t expect to get any answers to my questions about it.
This episode showed Simon, with Jordan’s help, trying to figure out what the Mark of Cain is and how to get rid of it. We also saw him finally wake up to the fact that he can use the mark as a weapon.
Lilith, of course, is way ahead of him in that respect.
Making Lilith aware of Simon’s power creates problems with the plot, because suddenly she’s wary of him, and she’s taking precautions to ensure that he doesn’t hurt her using the mark. A mark that, of course, is only effective if someone is actually attacking him.
I was wondering how Shadowhunters would get around this in Lilith’s final scene. Would they have him jump in front of Lilith at the last minute like he did in the books? Or would they try something else? They went the second route, in the end, and I must say I’m underwhelmed. Lilith suddenly forgetting about the mark, after spending the entire scene actively avoiding Simon because of it, seemed kind of unrealistic and hard to believe, even though she was defending her son.
That said, I did appreciate that Lilith’s wariness of Simon brought her to create a distraction for him, trying to keep him away from his friends for as long as possible. This distraction, of course, took the form of essentially manipulating him into biting his sister right in front of his mother. He managed to avoid killing anyone, but he did lose his mother for good. I can’t decide what’s worse: having her despise him for what he is, or having her believe her son is dead. Right now, Simon is facing the worst of both those things. He knows that he has caused his mother unimaginable pain by faking his death, but he will always remember the sight of her kicking him out like she did.
May I just say, fuck, that scene where Simon Encanto’d his mom got to me. Alberto Rosende is a gem. Simon is the one thing Shadowhunters has done so well.
I’m glad that Simon is finally becoming a “wanderer,” an outcast, like he did in the books, but I’m also wondering why this is happening now and not earlier on in the season. Simon didn’t have that much to do in the first half of Season 3, and this particular storyline would have really strengthened his arc. Throwing it in during the midseason finale didn’t make that much sense to me, because I felt it sort of took away from the main storyline. As usual, Shadowhunters had just a little too much going on at once, and I really feel like cutting out this storyline would have helped make things less confusing.
However, this could mean good things for Simon’s storyline in 3B, and I am here for it.
Speaking of storylines that kind of distracted from the main plot, Magnus went to Edom in this episode to talk to his father.
I liked getting a bit of insight into Magnus’ past, and his relationship with his father, though I did find that second one a bit unrealistic. The guy is a greater demon; it’s hard to believe that he’d actually care for his son as much as Magnus claims he did, and as much as he honestly seems to. I just pictured him a lot scarier and less human, so the version of him that we saw in this episode was quite underwhelming.
I also don’t feel like that visit to Edom was at all interesting. Magnus’ banter with his father was pretty boring. The stakes didn’t feel that high. I didn’t really understand what Magnus was asking for, aside from vague “help” in defeating Lilith, and it doesn’t sound like the trip amounted to much after all. I mean, Magnus traded his magic for a chance to free Jace from the demon that had possessed him, which is huge, but we didn’t see them actually making that deal. Wouldn’t that have made it more intense?
With everything else that went on in this 2 hour finale, I didn’t really get the time to process the fact that Magnus has actually given up his magic. I don’t really care that much, though, if I’m being honest. Somehow, I doubt it will last.
Also, does this mean we’re not going to Edom in future seasons? Because I liked the trip to Edom in City of Heavenly Fire. That created some really good moments and would have worked really well on TV.
The one thing I did love about this storyline was the Malec moments it created. That goodbye before Magnus left! They said “I love you”!!! It was actually so good! Like I’ve said before, the Malec in Shadowhunters is very hit-and-miss, but in this episode it definitely worked.
I was excited about Sebastian finally being revived, and about what that might mean for Jace and Clary. Book Sebastian is a fascinating character, and I love what he brings out in the people around him. I was so ready to see this new, slightly off version of Jace who was tied to Sebastian, and I was definitely ready to see Clary’s internal conflict as she got to know the two of them.
And then. Um. They changed things.
If you haven’t read the books (lol why are you reading this), let me explain: In City of Lost Souls, Lilith resurrects Sebastian by binding him to Jace. The two of them run off, and we soon find out that if you hurt one of them, the exact same thing happens to the other one. We spend pretty much the whole book trying to figure out how to sever the bond. Clary hides out with Sebastian and Jace and finds that Jace is kind of off. He’s besties with Sebastian, for one, but he’s also just a different person. Also, to her horror, she finds out that Sebastian isn’t that awful all the time, and the whole book is actually a fascinating look into the villain’s psyche as we figure out why he is the way he is. It also provides a lot of insight into Jace’s character, because Jace has always been afraid that he might actually be evil, or that he and Sebastian might not be that different, and this entire experience kind of reaffirms those fears.
The show, however, has decided to swap Jace and Clary’s roles in this story, which is… interesting. Are we going to give Jace’s storyline to Clary, and have her grapple with Good and Evil and suddenly worry that she’s her father’s daughter? That would be cool, but the show hasn’t exactly done anything to suggest that Clary might have those insecurities already. Even without that extra layer of character development, though, it would still be cool to see Clary as a villain.
What worries me is that Shadowhunters hasn’t done much to humanize Sebastian, so I’m not sure we’ll actually get that much insight into his character in season 3B. Based on the way they’ve portrayed him so far, I’m guessing we’re more likely to see Sebastian essentially kidnapping Clary and holding her hostage. Or we might see Clary being completely brainwashed, kind of like Jace was this season.
I really, really hope I’m wrong. Please do better than this, Shadowhunters.
THINGS THAT DO NOT MAKE SENSE, A LIST
- Alec STILL being the head of the institute, even though the Clave doesn’t trust him enough to give him information about Clary.
- The fact that the Clave is executing a warlock for refusing to perform illegal magic.
- Everyone trusting Clary to come up with a necromancy rune.
- Clary saying that Valentine “despised demons more than anyone” The guy was willing to work with demons. He despised downworlders more than anyone. Not demons. There’s a difference.
- Clary being shocked to hear about the vials of demon blood that Valentine used. Haven’t we already been over that?
- “This is not the will of the angels” “but it’s my will” ummmm since when are these powers not tied to the angels?
- Valentine being able to take out so many Clave members so easily.
- The fact that Magnus can get “banished” for attacking his superior. What does that mean? Since when are warlocks this… official? This organized?
- Valentine addressing “circle members” when talking to the group of people the Clave was going to execute. Are they all circle members? Because that warlock certainly didn’t seem like one.
- Why did they use a younger version of Sebastian for the scene in Edom?
- Lilith calling Clary a “sassy little one” when all she said was that she doesn’t see the family resemblance between herself and Valentine. What sass was she talking about? I’m so confused by this line.
- How exactly does Simon plan to succeed in convincing his mom he’s dead? I feel like he needs to encanto a few more people for this to work.
- Maryse asking for a blade. Can she even use Shadowhunter weapons? Also, what does banishment even mean on this show?
- Whatever Izzy did to see through the glamour Lilith put up. Was it so strong that she could only see through it for a few seconds? And since when do people’s eyes look like that when they’re seeing through glamours?
- Simon saying he’s heard “Stele” pronounced in different ways. I liked that line, because it’s a big debate within the fandom, but the show has never pronounced it any other way.
- How did Clary draw the sunlight rune so quickly? Also why does the sunlight rune still exist?
- What happened to that anti-love potion Lilith gave Jace awhile ago?
ODDS AND ENDS
- Lorenzo literally said that Warlocks don’t have an obligation to kill demons like Shadowhunters do. but apparently they have an obligation to perform necromancy if the Clave asks them to?
- I like that they brought up that one time Simon died and casually walked out of the morgue. Good to know they haven’t forgotten about that.
- “I’ve read enough YA to know what happens” Rebecca… I love you.
- That whole scene with Becky was actually amazing.
- That Sizzy hug. I don’t know if I’m more excited or apprehensive, but I’m leaning toward the former because I love this ship.
- That last scene was overdramatic, but it was still very cool. I liked the music.
- Also, that Simon/Jace moment. I love this bromance. Please give me more of it.
- Poor Simon. I just want to give him a hug.