[All photos courtesy of Shadowhunters Facebook]
Shadowhunters is based on The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. It’s one of my favorite series, so if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do! The TV series has a lot of differences from the books, but it’s still very good, as well. I’m recapping the entire first season of the Shadowhunters show here, in preparation for the season 2 premiere at the beginning of the new year. If you want a really brief, very general overview of the season, check out this 1 minute recap!
Shadowhunters is a story about a young woman, Clary (Katherine McNamara), who is introduced to an entire world within the shadows on her 18th birthday. This becomes most apparent when she runs into the mysterious Jace (Dominic Sherwood) and none of her friends can see him. She ends up following this mystery guy into Pandemonium, a night club owned by Magnus (Harry Shum, Jr.), where she sees her first demon kill.
After freaking out, returning home, and getting pushed through a portal by her mom, Jocelyn (Maxim Roy), Clary finds herself at the police station seeking her mom’s best friend’s help. Luke (Isaiah Mustafa) is overheard telling a couple Circle folks (aka, the bad guys) that he doesn’t care what happens to Clary, so she runs back home, which makes perfect sense since she was just pushed through a portal in order to get her away from her house. Also, considering she’s known Luke her entire life, it just doesn’t make sense to me that she would immediately take this single episode to mean he’s completely untrustworthy and not the person she’s always known, but I digress.
Meanwhile, Jocelyn downs a sleeping potion and — now catatonic — gets taken to Valentine (Alan Van Sprang), the leader of the evil Circle. When Clary gets home, she finds a demon, gets stung, and falls into the arms of her savior, Jace.
After healing at the Institute, where the Shadowhunters live, Clary wakes to find that everyone wants her because she may know where her mom hid the Mortal Cup. This cup can be used to make new Shadowhunters, which is the reason Valentine wants it. In an attempt to unlock Clary’s memories from the spells that were placed there, the Shadowhunters take Clary to the Silent Brothers. Their methods only result in the realization that Valentine is Clary’s father, and her best friend Simon (Alberto Rosende) gets kidnapped by vampires while waiting for her to get done retrieving her memories.
After a steamy night with the leader of the vampires, Camille (Kaitlyn Leeb), Simon is rescued by the Shadowhunter gang. There’s definitely no shortage of action and plot in each episode. The story is always moving forward, usually in multiple ways, so it’s very engaging from the beginning.
The group finds out that Magnus, the High Warlock of Brooklyn, is the one who took Clary’s memories, but when they confront him, he confesses to feeding the memories to a demon. After Valentine returns and kills most of his warlock friends, he agrees to help the group get Clary’s memories back in order to protect the Cup. Unfortunately, the plan goes awry and the demon is destroyed, taking Clary’s memories with it. This part just doesn’t sit well with me.
Alec (Matthew Daddario) breaks the circle, causing the demon to go on a rampage, but he does so because the demon might have hinted to everyone that he has feelings for Jace. I understand the secrecy, but I feel that Alec’s character should be stronger than that, especially after it was very heavily emphasized not to break the circle for any reason. He’s always the one who’s best at following the rules in intense situations, so for him to unleash a demon in that instance just doesn’t feel like it fits him. Maybe that’s just me.
Eventually, Clary remembers a secret box her mom has, so she goes with Alec and Simon back to her house to retrieve it, in case the Cup or a clue is in there. After finding the box, Clary and Simon are taken in by Luke’s partner, but not to the police station. They end up at the Jade Wolf, a werewolf hideout, where they’re threatened for information on the Cup’s whereabouts. Simon is able to call the Shadowhunters for help, and they arrive just in time to find Luke carrying Clary out of a shipping container. Werewolf drama unfolds, and Luke transforms into a werewolf to take out the current pack alpha in order to protect Clary. Unfortunately, his wounds are severe, so they take him to see Magnus for healing.
While there, Magnus tells Clary that Valentine actually started a war called the Uprising when he was young in order to get the Cup and destroy the downworlders. Luke and Jocelyn were the only two who were able to stop him. When Jace requests Alec’s help at the warlock’s place, he comes over to lend his strength to Magnus, and a beautiful relationship begins to bloom.
When Clary realizes she can turn objects into drawings when placed on paper, she suddenly knows where the Mortal Cup is: in a pack of tarot cards her mom’s friend had! The group breaks into the police evidence room where the cards are, but they are attacked by demons on their way out. Clary runs ahead to make it back to the Institute safely. It’s only when she’s cornered, though, that she’s able to pull the Cup from the card and push the demons back.
The fact that she was cornered, though, was confusing to me, as Jace had identified that way as being the path to the Institute. When she got to the end of the path, there didn’t seem to actually be a way to progress any farther. After a very tense scene in which Clary kills demon Jace (I’ll admit, that one had me in suspense!), Luke and Alec find her and return her safely to the Institute. In his excitement, Jace kisses her, and the Clace ‘ship is born!
Simon ends up being turned into a vampire after being attacked again and then gets buried by Clary to bring him back. When Izzy’s (Emeraude Toubia) Seelie lover is taken into custody and sent to the Silent Brothers, Clary unites the downworlders to rescue him. With their help, the Seelie knight is saved; however, Izzy is arrested for treason and Clary and Jace go on the run because of their involvement.
The knight, Meliorn (Jade Hassouné) promises to help Clary find her dad in exchange for saving her life. He opens a doorway to another dimension which has the portal that will lead her to Valentine. Clary and Jace both end up going to the other world and finding the correct portal. When they end up in Valentine’s lair, though, the only person to be found is Jace’s father, Michael (Adam Harrington). Michael mentions he heard Valentine say they were moving Jocelyn to Renwick’s, an abandoned mental hospital.
Clary, Luke, Jace, and Michael head to the asylum to rescue Jocelyn, who they find safely in a back room. Once inside, Clary tries to push back the demons with the Cup, but it doesn’t work. She hands it over to Michael, who then transforms back into Valentine. Fortunately, Clary put a glamour on a mug to make it look like the Cup, so he doesn’t have the real one. Side note here: when Jace and Clary thought Meliorn had led them astray because he’d gotten them to Jace’s dad instead of Valentine, they were actually wrong because it was Valentine the whole time! In the scuffle that follows, Valentine tells Jace he’s his father, making Jace and Clary siblings. Because of this, Jace can’t kill him, and Valentine escapes again.
Back at the Institute, Alec is all set to get married in order to restore his family’s honor, but when Magnus crashes the wedding, he leaves his bride at the altar and makes his true feelings for Magnus known with a super romantic kiss. Immediately after the failed wedding, Hodge (Jon Cor), who is the Shadowhunters’ trainer, turns out to be in cahoots with Valentine, and he steals the Mortal Cup from the Institute and returns it to him. The group ends up finding the spellbook they need in order to remove Jocelyn’s sleeping spell, but on their way out, they’re stopped by Valentine. With all of his friends held captive, Jace decides to join his father and the newly created Shadowhunter army. In the end, Magnus is able to remove the spell from Jocelyn, and she wakes to learn of the destruction that’s about to unfold.
I really did end up enjoying this series. It took some warming up, as it is very different from the books I love. The biggest discrepancy for me is the fact that Jace lacks all of the sass and sarcasm that his book counterpart is famous for. Aside from that, the show certainly works on its own. By far my favorite part was when Clary and Jace go into the alternate dimension. Izzy’s adorable geekiness, Jace and Simon’s awesome secret handshake, and the cameos of Chairman Meow and Church, all made it really stick out. That episode in particular had a lot of little Easter eggs for the book lovers in it.
I thought all of the acting was great in the whole show. Matthew Daddario is my favorite actor in the series. I think the intensity and pessimistic seriousness he brings to Alec is just spot on for the character. Harry Shum, Jr. is also right up there with Matt. And, of course, I love their chemistry together! The Malec ‘ship is my favorite of the series, both in the book and in the show. They work together perfectly and my heart did a little jump when Alec finally walked over and kissed him. I also just love Dominic Sherwood’s eyes. His left one is half brown/half blue, and it’s mesmerizing.
I’m definitely hoping to see more Malec in the upcoming second season, and I’ve heard that my favorite character should be making an appearance, as well! So tell me, what did you think of season 1 of Shadowhunters? Do you agree or disagree with what I’ve commented on? Why? Comment below! And just to get you excited for season 2, here’s the trailer!
Don’t forget to tune in to Freeform on January 2, 2017 for the season 2 premiere. You can also catch up on and binge season 1 on the Freeform website or app!