Shadowhunters (S03E12) “Original Sin”

I have to say that the titles of the episodes of Shadowhuntershave always been pretentious, sometimes more straightforward, sometimes more metaphorical or even cryptical. In fact, people sometimes have a hard time deciphering titles when they’re written in dead languages. I’m lucky my Latin is pretty good, but I still haven’t cracked this episode’s title. 3×12 was called “Original Sin”: whose sin? Jonathan’s for making his first kill since he was reborn? Cain killing his brother Abel? That would be kind of stupid since the actual Original Sin was performed by his parents Adam and Eve… I can’t wrap my head around it. I know it’s silly, but help me out if you had better luck understanding!

Keeping up with the Morgensterns

My pet peeve from last episode was how recklessly impulsive – yes, more than usual – Clary had been, and I’m pleased to say she learned from her recent mistakes this time. She started formulating plans that she could almost carry out if not for external circumstances (the phone being moved from the café table, a Shadowhunter seeing her starting to create a Portal in an open street). But I loved the little ways she learned to play Jonathan. That reiterated “I don’t think we’re quite there yet”, the offering of her arm, those little smiles and lies that did not go unnoticed and definitely had the desired effect on her brother. Dare I say Clary had a mini Sansa Stark learning curve? (To quote Game of Thrones, “I’m a slow learner, but I do learn.”) Maybe. Must be a redhead thing. Clary also displayed the stealth of a professional pickpocket in stealing that stele. I wonder where she learned that.

I love Luke Baines as Jonathan. His speech about wanting to be like Sebastian Verlac was touching in a City of Heavenly Fire ending kind of way (notice his use of the word “light”). But no suspension of disbelief will make me believe that he killed a man in the middle of Paris in plain daylight and left the corpse there and literally nobody seemed to notice. They mentioned the glamour rune to change appearance, not to be invisible to mundanes.

What goes with Malec (not much, but we’re giving them the most screen time anyway)

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The fans don’t call Shadowhunters “The Malec Show” without a reason. The writers are serving. Not real plot, but minutes and minutes of enjoyable content nonetheless. Magnus is coming to terms with his new mortality and wants to pile up experiences without really living them. Alec reminds him he needs to be in the moment if he truly wants to make memories.

The training scene is visually beautiful but so unrealistic plot-wise: Alec, who has trained in physical combat every day for ten years, is beaten within ten seconds by his warlock boyfriend who we never knew to have any fighting skills. He might’ve trained with famous martial artists, but he probably hasn’t done so in a while, and muscle memory can coexist with being rusty. But what is the point in having dozens of Shadowhunters in this city if Magnus Bane can just punch all demons in the face when his magic fails? (That is indeed a rhetorical question.)

Of course I giggled at all their scene. I love Malec and I love to see them in situations that aren’t always dire. I just wish something would happen.

Sizzy and the Bible… sort of

Izzy and Simon take a rather unromantic stroll through the sewers of New York. The writers made a point to make her say, proudly, that she’s sneaked down there on her own since she was a teenager to find demons to fight. I don’t know how that goes with her fear/repulsion of rats that was mentioned 10 seconds later, but people will say I’m too attached to details when I complain about inaccuracies.

Simon finds who he’s looking for and realizes he’s in the presence of the Cain who slew his brother Abel. I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for Simon to meet and identify with Cain. The condition that the Mark imposes on both of them is a not so loose metaphor for the Jewish diaspora: they are cursed to be wanderers, cast away from their land and unwelcome in their own home. Simon, born into a Jewish family, must know and feel all the resonances of this.

But the idea that Cain would’ve chosen to move (a century or two ago) permanently to the sewers of New York of all places, after hiding who knows where for literal millennia screams of preposterous America-centrism and I do hope that viewers are not encouraged to believe that the United States are the entire world, especially since this show likes to paint itself as a beacon of knowledge and culture (mostly by throwing in a couple of Latin and wrongly conjugated Ancient Greek words every once in a while).

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We witness a sad regression for the Seelie Queen. What happened to her impossible personality, and why would she want to help Simon so easily now, without asking for deals in her favor? (Book spoiler: hopefully this might tie in to her being allied with Jonathan and therefore not wanting Simon as an enemy that powerful and undefeatable, but the episode did very little to hint at anything of the sort.)

Sizzy’s development proceeds as expected – at a much faster rate than any fan could’ve wished for. It is obvious that they had to speed up the process after hearing of the cancellation. What I don’t like is that they had to choose Izzy’s yin-fen addiction (a rotten idea from the start) as a point of connection to Simon. I understand and appreciate that she trusts him enough to be this vulnerable for him, but I’m still not a big fan of this – too dramatic and heavily charged blood-drinking – scene. Taking away the element of addiction, in the source material the same scene would’ve had a very different, playful kinky vibe. Although the music and lyrics of “Carry You” by Ruelle and Fleurie in the background were a nice touch.

Is Maia still a main on this show? (And everybody else)

I made this point last season too. Maia was made a regular for tokenism, because no other main character has not appeared at all in more than one episode. I’m sorry for Alisha and for Maia, both of whom I adore dearly. I know her time to shine will come next episode but it’s still fair to say that she’s not receiving a main character treatment.

Luke also got about two total minutes of screen time. I appreciated the one second it took the writers to include Jace comforting Luke that they would find Clary, but I found it ridiculous to have Luke and Alec go through the Portal to Paris if the actors didn’t go to Paris and therefore could not make an actual impact in the scene. They could’ve just waited on the other side of the Portal and it would’ve made the whole scene less awkward when Clary and Jace tenderly kissed for a minute in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. But since it was written that they did go to Paris, it felt rude and disrespectful for Clary not to even acknowledge Luke who was this close to going insane in her absence. The morale is: if actors can’t interact via a green screen, rewrite those 15 seconds in the script, just take out Alec and Luke’s names from that entire scene, folks.

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My problem is that big chunks of these episodes seem to be written for the sake of every scene singularly, with no hints for future endeavors and no continuity in the bigger seasonal plot. This is something that this writer’s room was never brilliant at, perhaps they should take some advice from that Malec scene in this episode and find a balance of living for the moment and making plans for the future. It might be too late to do right by this in Shadowhunters, but not for each writer’s career perhaps.

Extra highlights of the episode:

  • At least we got to see some of Harry Shum Jr’s incredible dance abilities.
  • “Please don’t try to make pup a thing” (aka the most Alec Lightwood phrase of the episode)
  • Meliorn thought Simon and Izzy were (already) dating… and then asked them to a threesome

Hit me up on Twitter at @ladymultifandom for comments!