Let me start by saying, I’m relatively new to the Shadowhunters universe. I started binge watching the series April this year after trying to grind through the pilot episode like three times. I found the pilot to be cringeworthy as hell but that’s pretty much a characteristic of pilots, ya feel? So I knew I had to keep grindin’. Flash forward to 2×18 – almost two seasons and a book (the first in the instalment) later and I’m so glad that I did!
As someone who gravitates towards devilishly charming, immortal and handsome characters with a hint of darkness, it’s no surprise that a Magnus Bane centric episode (ft Malec – but we’ll get to that in a lil’ bit) would go down a treat with me. Magnus and Papa Luke enter the Seelie court and it’s clear the Seelie queen is about to spill some tea… so, what else is new? Our Seelie highness, played by the extremely talented Lola Flanery, gives Magnus a pretty hefty ultimatum; Alec Lightwood or the Downworlders? A series of long awaited racy, adorable and generally swoon worthy Malec flashbacks ensue throughout the episode; including the couples ‘first time’ (eek!) and it’s clear Magnus is completely torn. As the high warlock of Brooklyn, Magnus knows he has a duty to his people. Equally, as a being capable of love with feelings for and an (albeit, short) history with Alec, Magnus feels the gravity of the decision he has to make… possibly sacrificing his own happiness he’s been putting off having for one hundred years; head versus heart. By the end of the episode after some I love you’s are exchanged, we’re lead to believe that the couple are saying their goodbyes. For anyone who keeps up with the social media side of things or has any knowledge of the books, it’s clear this isn’t really goodbye. It’s still tear-jerking nontheless, though. #MALECFEELS
It’s easy to see the magnitude of importance this relationship holds for not only the fandom but for the industry and LGBTQ+ community as a whole, even if you aren’t a viewer of the show. I actually heard about Malec before I knew anything about the show! This episode is up there with the best I’ve seen in terms of representation on TV. A perfect mixture of tenderness, passion and conflict is felt between the two men and their chemistry is undeniable. Whilst this is, of course, due in part to the writing and directing… let’s not forget the actors themselves. Harry Shum Jr. and Matthew Daddario are spectacular and believable as always but especially so in their delivery of this episode. Their dynamic doesn’t feel rushed or forced, it feels real.
Although it’s hard to pull away from the Malec-ness of this episode, there’s a lot more going on outside of the pair. Luke’s position as alpha is challenged yet again by an ex-pack member who Maia discovered attacking a mundane (non-supernatural folk) and in turn, creating a new werewolf; a big no-no in the werewolf handbook. Luke defends himself and secures his alpha-ness, yet again. This whole plot seemed like a waste of time to me… it almost feels like Luke’s on a constant loop to keep dealing with the same exact problem over and over; people questioning his leadership. I just can’t wait until Luke has a storyline that doesn’t feel like he’s just an enabler for another character’s plot. Isaiah Mustafa as Luke owns the cards he’s dealt though and I guess ‘Bat’ (the normal human dude, now turned newbie werewolf through no fault of his own) had to be introduced to the show somehow, right? Plus, I love his and Maia’s dynamic so any scenes where they’re together is always a bonus.
Speaking of Maia, one scene of hers in particular within this episode took me aback. Following Simon and Maia first finding and helping the guy we now know as Bat injured in an alley, having just been attacked by a certain lone wolf, we’re given a glimpse into why it’s been so hard for Maia to open up in previous episodes. Whilst helping Bat through his first full moon transition, Simon asks Maia about the wolf claw-like scar on her neck. Reluctant at first, Maia tells him the story of how she became a werewolf. Maia’s ex-boyfriend, who she was unaware was a werewolf, became possessive and jealous of her new relationship and stalked her on her way home from a date and attacked her. The trauma in Maia’s eyes as she tells of the betrayal of something so dehumanising – literally – being forced upon her by someone she once loved is truly heartbreaking and almost parallels some very hard hitting situations that occur in the real world. On a lighter note, Simon and Maia share one of the most adorable kisses I’ve seen and it made my little heart sing, yay!
In light of mini-Lightwood Max’s condition having been almost killed by Sebastian after confronting him about his true identity as Jonathan, the Lightwood fam’ come together at a time of need despite their separation and conflict over the last few episodes due to their father’s infidelity. The Lightwood family have always been so about their duty and family name that it’s easy to forget they’re connected by blood and not just colleagues. Plus, don’t even get me started on the way Jace rushes to be at the side of the Lightwood family he grew up with, as if Max really is his brother – he’s always going to be a Lightwood, blood related or not. The scenes of them together were tender and gratifying, hopefully paving the way for a more family togetherness like we see in this episode.
Will Tudor’s portrayal of both fake-Sebastian and ‘burnt toast’ otherwise known as flower-killing-demon AKA Valentine’s son/Clary’s brother Jonathan has been so well executed throughout but prominently so in this episode. Specifically, towards the end of the episode where Clary discovers the real identity of Sebastian to be none other than her own brother, Tudor captures the feeling of deep betrayal and dark instability within Jonathan so, so well. Part of Jonathan’s dialogue for the scene is particularly riveting and it’s when he says ‘After ten years of torture in Edom, I learnt to endure pain… In fact, I rather enjoy it.’ in hushed tones as he holds his sister Clary up by the throat – such a captivating and creepy villain. Bravo, Will!
Kat McNamara’s acting within this scene definitely didn’t go unnoticed either. In fact, the scene where Clary discovers who her brother is and fights him for the mortal mirror is probably my favourite of her yet. At times I personally find the character of Clary hard to receive and relate to but in this scene her badassery is the focal point without any of the *sometimes* unnecessary and cringeworthy dialogue – this scene was the icing on the cake of an already amazing episode.
All in all, this episode is probably my favourite yet. It was perfect parts gritty and endearing alongside those Malec scenes we’ve all been waiting for. I will say, though, I missed Mr Raphael Santiago this episode! I think if they found a way to somehow include him, the episode would have been even more off the charts. We’ll see what the next episode brings!
Let me know what you thought of the episode in the comments below!
~ Emma, TV lover and Malec shipper all day err’ day xo