[Header image courtesy of Freeform/Justin Stephens]
Episode 2001 “This Guilty Blood”
Directed by Matthew Hastings
Shadowhunters is back and already exciting! Season 1 ended with Jace (Dominic Sherwood) joining his father Valentine (Alan Van Sprang) in order to save his friends and family. Valentine also has the Mortal Cup and is actively trying to create a new Shadowhunter army on a boat, so they can’t be tracked, because apparently water is some kind of buffer that wards off magic. If you need a refresher on Season 1, check out my full recap here. For a quick recap of this episode, you can watch my 1-minute video recap below.
Season 2 starts off by showing us life on the Morgenstern ship. It looks lovely, and is also kind of confusing. Are those failed Shadowhunters who died as a result of drinking from the Mortal Cup? Are they just in transition to becoming Shadowhunters? Given what we know about the Cup and its dangers, I assume they’re all dead. As Jace walks among the bodies, Clary (Katherine McNamara) appears in order to rescue him. She says she portaled there. Now that definitely doesn’t make sense, since in a previous episode, we’re told you can only portal somewhere you’ve been before. Has Magnus (Harry Shum Jr.) been on the ship? Doubtful.
That means something doesn’t add up, and that’s because it’s actually a trap. After fighting a bad guy with some really awesome music in the background (seriously, I loved it!) and killing Valentine twice, we find out the whole thing was a ruse to test Jace’s loyalty. It looks like he failed that one. This calls for some good old fashioned fatherly torture!
The fight scene sound effects with the clashing metal add some excitement, but I don’t believe, and I’m no expert here, that swords make sound just from moving them or switching hands. Maybe because they’re magic swords they make magic sounds just from slicing through the air. I will say, though, that when Jace blocks Valentine’s blow and his sword lights up, it really added to the intensity of Jace’s fight for me. I also thought the special effects for the transformation from Valentine’s form to the dead Shadowhunter, and from Clary to Valentine, were really fun. The effect reminds me of certain Mystique transformations in the X-Men movies.
Back at the Institute, Lydia (Stephanie Bennett), Alec (Matthew Daddario), Magnus, and Izzy (Emeraude Toubia) are trying to locate Jace while Clary, Luke (Isaiah Mustafa), Simon (Alberto Rosende), and Jocelyn (Maxim Roy) all catch up on what’s happened since Jocelyn took her sleeping potion. My favorite actor in this series is Daddario, but his first scene in this episode seems a lot more forced and the lines feel less real and fluid for him. Magnus’s interactions also feel disjointed, especially from Alec. Maybe they’re both pushing too hard to sell the stress their relationship, and therefore their characters, are under. They do smooth out the next time they get screen time, which is good, because Malec is my favorite couple, but the awkwardness seems to come and go some throughout the episode.
On the subject of acting, I feel McNamara, Sherwood, and Rosende are really fitting into their characters better as the episodes progress, this episode in particular. I love Rosende’s transformation into his vampire character, and I think he really shines as a vamp (not in a Twilight way!).
New on the scene is Victor Aldertree (Nick Sagar), who is taking over the Institute from the Lightwoods and Lydia. Not only does Sagar have a beautiful accent, he also fits immediately into his role. Two thumbs up for the newcomer!
On the boat again, we find out that Valentine injected a very pregnant Jocelyn with demon blood in an attempt to create the perfect weapon and fight fire with fire so he could destroy those who are part demon, a.k.a. the downworlders. The scenes between Jace and Valentine are always intense, and both Sherwood and Van Sprang really feed off each other’s energy to create a compelling interaction. I also thought the editing for the flashback scene was great. The flashes of various aspects of the memory and the hazy effect really added to the evil feel and the jumping from image to image at the end made it feel like I, too, was coming out of a memory rune. Trippy!
At the Jade Wolf where Luke is letting Simon stay, we get a little bonding between the characters in Luke’s characteristic fatherly way. He seems to take up that role for both Clary and Simon, and since neither of them have a real father in their lives, he fills that void for both of them. Simon also offers a little humor to the otherwise serious episode when confronted by the werewolf pack that doesn’t want him there. While it lightens a little of the tension of the scene, it doesn’t last long and he’s quickly thrown out with the dramatic flair of his rival creatures. I really enjoyed his more lighthearted take on the confrontation, and it just fit with his geeky, awkward character. This episode was definitely a good one for some Simon humor. Never change, Simon.
When we return to the Morgenstern ship, all of the dead mundane/Shadowhunter experiments are replaced with new, training Shadowhunters. I’m always curious with shows that kill a lot of people to show the evilness of this villain as to what they do with the bodies. I guess they could have just thrown them overboard, though given the spell that surrounds the ship, they probably would’ve just been incinerated. It also makes me wonder where they got so many successful Shadowhunter creations, as the last time we were on the ship, there were more bodies than living people, and Jace killed two of the successes himself. Talk about Jace, his internal struggle of mentally fighting Valentine while still having to listen to him is well portrayed by Sherwood. I really feel bad for Jace, and it has a lot to do with his subtle reactions and expressions.
The training scene with Izzy and Clary seems to be very symbolic of Clary’s progress. Sure, she has a lot of strength and can certainly hold her own, but she doesn’t know everything. She has a lot still to learn, but also has a trick or two up her sleeve. She is still letting her passion and even her anger determine her actions, while Izzy shows the skill and patience of training. Izzy maintains her composure and moves smoothly while Clary lashes out with fierceness, which is physically visible on her face. She’s arrogant, but learns quickly, so when Izzy tells her she must become her enemy, Clary is able to form her plan for escape from her lockdown at the Institute before sauntering off.
Maryse (Nicola Correia-Damude) is becoming one of my least favorite characters. She’s hardheaded and strict with very little give to her. When she essentially tells Alec she feels it was a mistake to take Jace in and that he needs to be taken care of like a cancer, it just made me like her less, especially because she knows full well that if something happened to Jace, it would be devastating to Alec, both emotionally and physically through his parabatai bond. Maybe she’s coming down hard on the Jace situation because she and her husband were members of the Circle, and she still feels the need to prove she is not aligned with Valentine in any way.
Perhaps the most unrealistic part of the episode is when an 18 year old willingly gives up her cellphone without asking why. As Jocelyn is running out with basically everything Clary needs to find Jace, I can only assume Simon just didn’t think about vamp running out the door before she closed it because he’s still new to his powers. Regardless, he does at least know about them as he uses his speed to get to the top canoe, and to run into the locked door (after it’s closed, of course), and he mentions he’s running slow later on when Clary asks if they can go any faster, so it seems weird that he wouldn’t use his speed when it’s most important, like to escape being trapped in the storage building. I guess it’s because it would ruin that awkward teen scene several minutes later where he actually tries to confess his feelings for Clary just as the door he tried breaking down falls over. I do love the lighthearted banter of the longtime friends, though.
My favorite scene in this episode occurs over at Magnus’s house. Alec shows up to apologize, and after Magnus forgives him and insists that Alec not push him away when times get rough, he actually shows some open affection for Magnus in the form of the best smile he’s displayed in the entire series so far. My happy little heart swooned at their cuteness. I could probably watch that scene over and over if only for that brief outward glimpse of Alec’s (romantic) emotions. I love Magnus’s facial expressions and reactions during the whole scene, as well, and having him practice magic shirtless doesn’t exactly hurt.
It’s at this time that Jocelyn, Alec, and Aldertree & Maryse are all tracking Jace. It’s also at this time that he happens to step foot off the ship so that he is trackable. Valentine and Jace portal onto land for some more father/son time and so Valentine can test him again. This lesson is all about Jace being a killer who will never be able to fully control those instincts. Jace’s internal struggle shifts from hating Valentine, but having to put up with him, to questioning if Valentine may actually be right about his true nature. The fight scene that ensues between Jace and the den of vampires is pretty great. It really shows how strong of a fighter Jace is, and the slow-motion really added to the excitement and intensity for me. I also loved the music during this fight, as well as in the show as a whole. By killing Maria (Jessica Matten), even though she lunged at him, Jace really seems to question himself. He looks shocked and resigned, but also kind of angry. When he picks up Valentine and carries him through the portal, even though he could easily kill him since he’s already wounded, it may symbolize a huge turning point for him, and not in a good way. He willingly leaves Clary this time, as opposed to by force like last time.
Overall, Season 2 is just beginning and already it’s full of action and drama! Watching all of the characters continue to develop and fight the inner turmoil they’re all facing adds a lot of depth to each of them. Jace’s changes are the most interesting to me because he’s the most stubborn and may be changing in the worst way while also fighting against that change the hardest. And of course, I love the continuation of the Malec relationship and seeing it slowly unfold between them. Alec is so closed off from everyone, so it’ll be fun to see if he can open himself up to Magnus and maybe become a little more carefree and outwardly loving. I’m really excited for some of the new characters that will be introduced and to see how they all interact with each other. What are you most looking forward to in the second season? Comment below!
Shadowhunters airs Mondays at 8/7c on Freeform. You can also watch/rewatch Season 1 on the Freeform app or site. Don’t forget to check back here each week for your recap!