Shadowhunters (S03E14) “A Kiss from a Rose” and (S03E15) “To the Night’s Children”

The writers of Shadowunters keep acting like the show isn’t coming to an end. There are too many subplots going on, too many villains, and they keep starting new things rather than wrapping them. Jonathan, Heidi, Lorenzo, the civil war in Downworld, the torturers in the Clave, Magnus’s magic, the Seelie Queen who’ll be coming back soon, and more. We did just receive news that the finale will practically be a full-length feature film, but that doesn’t mean they will not have to rush a conclusion with all these points. Events are being driven by plot and by secondary characters so much that I feel like our main characters haven’t moved or evolved in a long time.

The only character who might be having some attitudinal development this season is Clary. She is getting smarter and more streetwise every episode. I was surprised it took her so little to realize something was off with Jace, and her trick with the rose, of stinging herself to spy not Jace’s reaction, was some really quick thinking. She called Izzy in time of need, realizing that Jace must have been compromised by Jonathan, when I was expecting her to call Simon, but he wouldn’t have been able to help. Alec and Magnus would’ve been in the midst of some romance drama, and Luke is beyond being a functioning character at this point.

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(You probably don’t remember this scene… because it was cut)

Izzy keeps having very limited screen time and importance. She was relegated to playing princess forensic pathologist again (still waiting to hear when she went to Shadowhunter med school), and the only scene she had where she was allowed to be somewhat human was criminally cut: the showrunners had previously shared a still of Simon walking into Izzy’s lab and initiating a conversation, but the scene didn’t make the final cut because there were more important things to show, and it’s not like Sizzy has 6 episodes left to become endgame.

Magnus, having gotten his powers back, is drunk on magic. So much that he’s willing to rob a dead man’s grave without blinking an eye. Alec isn’t exactly happy, but he still tags along on that pointless adventure in search of the Morning Star sword (Phaesphoros in the books). I don’t see how it would be so hard for Malec to put the pieces of the puzzle together: “The sheath has been here for twenty years” They were so accurate at judging time only by the cobwebs… I wonder who might’ve taken the sword from the grave? Maybe Valentine Morgenstern? (Side note: Alec mispronounced his Latin again. It’s fine. I’m fine. I didn’t waste 10 years of my life studying a dead language so that Americans who have their lines fed to them could mispronounce it on television.)

The scenes of Maia and Jordan in the Jade Wolf’s refrigerating cell were what slowed down the episode, but in a good way. Every other scene was moving at a too fast pace, and then time seemed to slow down with Maia and Jordan, who seemed to exist in their own bubble world. Maia came the closest she’ll ever be to forgiving Jordan, and I’m glad they shared this time together and that they talked their feelings through.

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Luke is paralyzed and completely annulled when he sees his absentee alpha behavior has killed his entire pack. He’s willing to face the consequences now but it won’t do anybody any good if he’s in prison, it won’t even atone his guilt.

There is no arguing over Jonathan being sick in the head with the way he thinks of Clary, like an object for him to chase and play with and possess. He even hires Seelies to role play with him and gives them a script to abide by. Ultimately, there’s no sense in pointing out how wrong that is, he’s the villain, he’s supposed to do problematic things. I’ve seen people online condemn Cassandra Clare as problematic (as if this discourse was new) for Sebastian’s actions in the books, but I think people are missing the definition of what a villain is and does in order to be a villain.

A character who did truly disappoint me this episode, because I expect better from him, is Alec. He’s making a big fuss about Lorenzo taking Magnus’s home when Magnus literally agreed to the deal, but Alec still felt like he needed to be a bigger bully than the bully for no reason. Additionally, Magnus is a millionaire with magic who can recreate the same exact apartment and move all his belongings in an instant. I don’t like the way Alec implies he will do everything in his power so that Lorenzo loses his seat, it reeks of Shadowhunter privilege. As if the Clave decided for the warlocks. He better lose this attitude of wanting to be judge, jury and executioner for the Downworld. This is not the Alec who will found the Alliance.

Clace deserved a note of positivity, their scenes were cute. Kudos for another book quote: “I swear on us, because there isn’t anything I believe in more.” (originally from City of Fallen Angels.)

 

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In episode 3×15, “To the Night’s Children” we’re still taking a break from Jonathan being the scary, world-destroying evil villain to make space for crazy, vindictive Heidi. Narrative structure keeps being discontinuous and feels almost random at times.

Heidi cleverly manipulates Alec into believing her an innocent victim: she alienates him from Izzy by revealing Isabelle lied about Raphael and uses that information to her advantage to open a rift and create mistrust between the Lightwoods. Izzy spends the rest of her screen time in the company of Raphael, and I truly cannot believe they’re still writing this pathetic excuse of a romance based on addiction and people think it’s cute.

Malec is in domestic trouble (again) as Magnus moves to the Institute and experiences prejudice for being the only warlock at the breakfast table (yes, the metaphor for racism is clear). Alec isn’t strong enough to have his way in the Institute, even as its head, or to change the No Downworlders Allowed suggestion/rule, so he goes around the problem. It all ends well as Alec asks Magnus to move in together outside of the Institute.

We finally see Aline Penhallow again, although she’s got a different face (new actress, the lovely Jacky Lai) and also has a different personality. She shows up at the NY Institute unannounced (this one feels familiar) wanting to help capture Jonathan. She would have no problem killing him too, not caring too much about the fact that Clary’s tethered to him. Aline and Clary spar and the latter is momentarily possessed by evil un-control and beats her training partner bloody. Jace intervenes to defend his girlfriend, but Aline is this close to reporting that Clary has been behaving weirdly, exposed as she is to such darkness via Lilith’s demonic rune and connection to Jonathan.

Luke seems to have lost his will to live and fight and even refuses Clary and Jace’s help to be broken out of jail, despite Clary’s pleas. It’s very illogical that he abandoned the pack because of Clary and he’s now abandoning Clary because of the pack, but logic has never been this show’s forte.

Thankfully, Maia shines brightly enough to overshadow every other character this week. She’s out for blood and vengeance, and who could blame her? Heidi killed her entire pack – I would love to know what happened to Bat though – and isn’t even deemed guilty. Cunningly and in a moment of rage, Maia orchestrates a flawless plan to kill Heidi by injecting herself with holy water which is deadly to vampires, the same method she uses to kill Maureen in City of Heavenly Fire. She can’t even be trialed for killing Heidi, because it would be clear to any judge that Heidi had to bite Maia first and therefore killed herself.

I hate that Alec only reluctantly lets Maia go without pressing charges and that Simon wants to play the part of the moralistic. For all their talk of being better than the enemy and going around problems peacefully, dozens of people were dying every day and no solution was being found. Maia thought outside of the box and had the guts to execute her plan alone, took a huge risk, and got the job done. She rid the world of Heidi, and the Clave and Council of a really big problem. Simon is just being a really big hypocrite and Maia doesn’t deserve that. What she deserves is a massive thank you and some sleep.

Not good, Shadowhunters. You’re not proving why you deserved not to be cancelled.