Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Shadowhunters Kickstarts Season 2B Talking Responsibility

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Season 2B, or the second half of Season 2, starts just a couple of days after the events of episode 2.10, so a recap is in order. The Soul Sword was activated not by Clary, who has pure angel blood, but by Jace, who supposedly had demon blood in his veins. Turns out, he too had been injected with pure angel blood by Valentine. With the activation of the sword, Valentine was able to decimate all the downworlders who were inside the Institute, with the exception of Raphael, who fled, and Simon, who can now withstand the sunlight.

Not everything is lost, though. Luke and Jace attacked Valentine when he tried to escape. Jace ultimately defeated and captured him and, in the process, he learned he is not Valentine’s and Jocelyn’s son. The sword was deactivated by one of Clary’s new runes, but it was taken away by a mysterious figure.

Romance wise, the first half of the season ended with Izzy putting a stop to the drug-induced fling she and Raphael had, Clary and Simon spinning happily under the sun, and Magnus and Alec exchanging their very first “I love you” after being terribly afraid one had lost the other.

Now, this is what we were waiting for!

Mea Maxima Culpa

Alright! After a short hiatus, 2B starts with the Parabatai training and discussing both Jace’s new angel blood abilities and the fact that he and Clary are not related. It is always great to see some shadowhunter action as well as Alec and Jace interacting outside of the ever pressing matters they deal with on a daily basis. The scene and the fighting choreography were beautifully done. It was nice to see a little bit more of the Institute’s grounds.

We also see Clary and Simon sunbathing. While Simon stresses about his new status as a vampire that can walk in the sun, Clary is more interested in enjoying a good moment after so much struggle. Since that is a couples scene, Jace obligatorily shows up to interrupt and to tell them Inquisitor Herondale is back at the Institute and wants to talk to Clary. Simon has a theory that drinking from Jace’s blood is what made him what he is now. Jace dismisses the theory and the hug Simon offered. Classic Jace.

Back at the Institute, Inquisitor Herondale tortures Valentine with the Agony Rune while they casually discuss the three Mortal Instruments. The Inquisitor demands Valentine tell her where the Mortal Cup is; he claims he does not know. When Jace asks her why she isn’t using the Soul Sword to extract the information from Valentine. Imogen tells him that, although the Clave retrieved it after the fight, the sword was damaged by Clary’s rune and it was sent to the Iron Sister to be purified. Yeah, right.

Blink and you’ll miss it! Aldertree was sent to Idris for punishment. That leaves the Institute without a Head yet again.

The Inquisitor is not the only one who is after the Mortal Cup. A powerful demon is on the loose in NYC, and he murders anyone who can’t deliver the Cup to him. That includes some shadowhunters from Imogen’s personnel and an entire bar full of mundanes. Some hellish work indeed. That gets to Luke when he is in the middle of calming the nerves of some of his pack members. The death of three-quarters of the pack has made the wolves desperate enough to consider turning random mundanes and challenging Luke’s position as alpha. Maia is worried about what that might mean if Luke can’t keep the situation under control.

Meanwhile, Izzy is going through detox from her Yin Fen addiction, which is secret from everyone but Alec. In desperate need of the drug, Izzy goes to Raphael for a quick fix but is refused. She then goes at a vampire den and is attacked by Azazel. Sebastian Verlac appears to twirl around and save the day in what has to be one of the coolest introductions of a new character yet. This half season has stepped up both on themes and execution, and we are all happier for it.

Alec, Clary and Jace investigate the bar mass murder with Luke, where they find some weird black sand among the victims. Alec takes the evidence to Magnus who, after a quick hello kiss from his boyfriend, tells him it must be Azazel, a Prince of Hell, behind the killing. Raphael tells Alec about Izzy’s visit and where she might have gone after he refuses her. Alec and Magnus go and find Izzy’s necklace broken. They conclude Azazel has her, which is a fair assumption.

What is not a fair assumption is agreeing with anything Valentine has to say. Unfortunately, Jace and Clary decide to talk to him and follow his suggestion of using himself as bait. The idea is to summon Azazel and offer Valentine for Izzy. When he gives them Izzy back, Clary will blast the Prince of Hell with her Sun Rune.

Doesn’t this look like your typical family reunion?

I have a few questions about this scene. The first is why the hell did they leave Alec, the only shadowhunter that doesn’t have a personal and close history with Valentine, out of that interrogation? Why did Jace and Clary think they were the best people to talk to Valentine, when he has again and again tricked and used them both to his own benefit?

One good thing came out of the scene, though. The little chat ended with the revelation that Jace and Clary are not brother and sister. Let’s all raise our hands in thanks as the incest plot dies a long-awaited death.

Unfortunately, this is Shadowhunters. For every nice thing, we get two angsty storylines. One of them is Jace’s refusal to let himself emote over his unknowing participation at the downworlder mass murder. Clary insists that he has to let it out and that he can’t keep bottling things up inside of him. She is correct and, finally, we get a very emotional scene between Jace and Alec where we see how deeply guilty Jace feels. Screw you, Valentine.

The other angsty storyline is that they go ahead with the plan and summon Azazel. The Greater Demon turns out to be the Patron Saint of the Trolls, because when Clary’s Sun Rune fails, he knocks everyone to the ground and changes Magnus’ and Valentine’s minds. As a “gift” for Valentine.

That means that Alec walks a trapped and very confused Valentine out of the Institute and that Magnus is now stuck in the Institute’s dungeon, inside of the shadowhunter supremacist’s body. Yikes. On the bright side, Jace is capable of activating runes without his stele, which he does to withstand Azazel’s power and attack him. Also, Jace’s eyes shine in gold. It’s very pretty.

While all of that was happening, Izzy and Sebastian get to know each other a little bit better, and he gives her yet another drug. Only this one actually helps. Izzy decides to stay with him and get better. She calls Alec to finally inform him she is alright, but misses Sebastian burning his palm on the stove like any sane person would, of course. Interestingly, that is not nearly as creepy as the fact that he too shares a past as a Yin Fen addict and seems to have traveled all over Europe once he got away from the London Institute.

Luke and his new partner, Molly, get a visit from Maia, who is there to roll her eyes at mundane gossiping and tell Luke that Russel and a few other wolves left the pack. It seems the downworlder situation is only getting worse.

Speaking of downworlders getting themselves into bad situations, Simon goes to The Moon Hunter in the afternoon and shows Maia that he no longer has to fear the sun light. She then advises him to keep the news to himself. That is what he tries to do when Raphael shows up and overhears Simon talking about his day. As in, the hours when the sun shines. It doesn’t take long for Simon to  admit the truth. Raphael then calls him a Daylighter.

Personal Notes:

  • We are finally seeing some intimacy between Alec and Magnus! Casual kisses, light touches, soft voices. Too bad it’s not the real Magnus at the end of the last two.
  • It’s very interesting to see Luke being so stern and private with his new mundie partner. Jocelyn’s death still hurts him deeply, and he is not ready to share his past. It’s a good thing, because we all know he’ll end up adopting Molly if he lets her win him over. Good call, Luke. Limit your children to only 10 at a time.
  • Azazel, the Prince of Hell, recognizes and names Magnus in under 0.3 seconds. I want to know everything about that.
  • Izzy’s detox scene was not sexualized or glamorized in any way. Well done! They let Emeraude suffer and look wrecked by the drug, something we don’t see every day. Focusing on her put on makeup to appear better than she is was also a nice move.
  • There has been some discussion about this body swap narrative and the biggest concern seemed to be how it was going to happen. The theories that Valentine would be the one orchestrating it were thankfully proven wrong, and, in my opinion, the show’s execution makes sense. Nevertheless, it still has issues. From a Watsonian point of view, bigot, supremacist Valentine would never “lower” himself to inhabiting a downworlder’s body. From a Doylist point of view, having him purposefully take Magnus’ body has some very uncomfortable implications that go way beyond the acceptable line.

Images courtesy of Freefrom


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