“The descent into Hell is easy.”
The Clave’s motto perfectly describes this episode as chaos breaks loose throughout the institute.
The episode opens with Clary visiting Jace in the City of Bones, where he is locked away until his trial. He is accused of treason against the Clave and the murder of two Downworlders. While Clary wants to get Jace out, he believes he needs to pay for his actions. He says he’s Valentine’s weapon and that she’s his weakness.
During the trial, Aldertree asks Jace a series of questions that he is forced to answer truthfully. He addresses Jace’s feelings for Clary and asks about his romantic relations with her prior to finding out they were related. Jace is forced to admit that he loves Clary differently than how a brother loves a sister. My initial happiness about this answer was immediately followed by disgust. I don’t know how to handle my feelings for Clary and Jace’s relationship, but I really wish Shadowhunters would stop talking about it unless the sibling storyline somehow isn’t true.
Anyway, the most important question is whether Jace can pledge his unconditional loyalty to the Clave, to which he responds “No.” He is then sentenced to life imprisonment. That is, until Valentine leads an attack on the City of Bones, killing the Silent Brothers in order to help Jace escape. He reveals that he set up a demon attack on the institute as a diversion for this plan. Jace, however, rejects Valentine’s help and fights him. This leads Aldertree to lift the charges against Jace and bring him back to the institute.
At the institute, Valentine’s demon attack begins with a dead mundane in the street with a hole punched through his stomach. Once Izzy and co. bring the mundane’s body to the institute, the demon runs rampant possessing and killing multiple people in the institute. Whenever the team finds a body dead by the demon, there is always someone sitting on the floor nearby suffering from a “demon hangover”: These people stare confused and upset at their blood-covered hands unable to remember what they did while they were possessed by the demon.
Though Alec has resented Clary throughout the series, we see the two working together in this episode, learning how to be friends. That is, until the demon possesses Alec and makes him kill Jocelyn in a shocking twist of events. Even though it’s not Alec’s fault per se, this certainly drives a wedge between them that they’ll have to deal with in the future.
At the same time, Clary is dealing with the news that Jocelyn has been reassigned to Idris because of her history with Valentine. Clary toys with the idea of going with her, but ultimately decides she needs to stay at the institute and be on her own. Of course, once she discovers Jocelyn is dead, she comes to regret these words.
Meanwhile, Aldertree demands that Raphael bring Camille to the Clave because many mundanes are being drained on her account. When Raphael says he doesn’t know where she is, Aldertree proceeds to torture the information out of him with UV rays. Later, Raphael seeks Magnus for help healing the wounds.
After his wounds are healed, Raphael asks Magnus to help him bring Camille to the Clave. At this moment, Simon shows up. Neither Raphael nor Simon are happy to see each other, but their rocky history is put on the back burner when Simon shows Raphael Camille’s box. The box contains Camille’s grave dirt, which can be used to summon her.
Magnus struggles with the idea of handing Camille to the Clave because of his long history with her. We learn that Camille saved Magnus when he tried to end his life years ago. However, he knew what she was doing was wrong and he had to be the one to handle it. He tells Simon and Raphael to leave so he can summon Camille on his own. Despite Camille’s persuasion, Magnus remains strong and transfers her to Idris. Harry Shum Jr. does an excellent job of portraying the complex emotions Magnus feels in the process and the internal struggle he had to overcome in order to achieve this.
Back at the institute, Izzy is possessed by the demon and starts attacking Alec, but Clary stabs her in the back before she can do any real harm. The demon leaves Izzy’s body and becomes a giant gray cloud in the middle of the room. In a strange and less-exciting-than-expected way, Clary simply stabs the cloud and kills the demon. I thought this was a weird way to kill the demon that has been doing so much damage for the entirety of the episode. I just imagined this scene having a lot more action and creativity in how the demon would die. But I guess there were bigger things to worry about (a.k.a. Jocelyn’s death).
After that anti-climactic demon death, the team then begins to deal with reality and the consequences of the attack. Simon hugs Clary as she breaks down in tears. Jace looks at them, clearly struggling with his jealousy and feelings for Clary, and leaves the room.