Shadowhunters: Dead Man's Party

"Remember who your friends are."

My initial viewing of this episode made me question my decision to review this show. The focus on Clary and Jace’s budding relationship overshadowed everything else and left me cold. However, subsequent re-watches convinced me there was more here than just your typical YA romance.

The thing about inciting incidents is they force characters to change. In Clary’s case, we saw her in her normal “habitat” before bumping into Jace upended her world. But we’re introduced to Jace at the moment of change. Therefore, we’re left wondering if his recklessness in the face of danger (and the Clave’s displeasure) is the norm. Or is Alec right? Has meeting Clary changed him?

Narratively, we know the answer to that. Meeting Clary has set them all on a new and probably much more dangerous path. And undoubtedly that new path will include romance between Jace and Clary. Yet the sole flashback prior to Jace and Clary’s meeting shows Jace always leaned towards the reckless. So, what is Alec’s beef?

If you ask Alec, he’d say it was a question of trust. Why is Jace trusting a girl he just met over his parabatai? A girl who happens to be their sworn enemy’s daughter. However, I think it’s more than that.

As we’ve learned parabatai have literally pledged to die for one another. For Jace that means Alec will always have his back as, it appears, he always has. But if Jace and Alec’s “hearts beat as one” Alec is left wondering why Jace is so willing to risk their lives over a potential threat.

From an objective standpoint, I agree with Alec. This may be the third episode, but if I’m not mistaken, everything we’ve seen up to this point has taken place in a single night. I don’t mind the whole “destined to be together” thing. Love it, in fact. But Jace and Clary’s relationship feels unearned. Now, if we learn in the not too distant future that some mystical MacGuffin caused their attraction, I will eat my words. Till then, The Powers That Be have some work to do.

Isabelle’s conversations with Alec piqued my interest. On one level, it’s a little sister needling her older brother. On another, this feels like the latest chapter in a longer conversation. That someone as straight-laced as Alec would seem repressed by Isabelle's standards is a no-brainer. But I have a feeling she’s referring to something more specific. Regardless, this is a conversation Alec wants no part of.

I spent much of this episode trying to get the lay of the Shadow World land with middling success. It seems Mundanes aren’t the only ones Shadowhunters look down on. Humans may not have been graced by angels, but at least they haven’t been tainted by demons. Downworlders, however, are inferiors unable to control their emotions. Even Isabelle, who has her “thing” for Downworlders, describes them in terms I consider belittling. Besides, sleeping with a Seelie to get information isn’t exactly a mark of respect.

If the Accords govern the relationship between Shadowhunters and Downworlders, where can I find a copy? They sound very convoluted to me. Last week Raphael stated he was not breaking the Accords by taking Simon. This week he says he did. Jace claims taking a Mundane was a big No-No. Yet rescuing Simon is flouting Clave rules if not directly breaking the Accords. Accords or no Accords, the Shadowhunters had no compunctions about killing Vampires. Although, to be fair, the vamps seemed eager to return the favor.

There also appears to be animosity between the Downworld species. This is exemplified by Meliorn keeping his relationship with Camille on the down low to maintain appearances. It makes me curious to see how the other Downworlders fit into this hierarchy.

Then there’s the Clave. I get the impression they are the head of the Shadowhunter government and not of this particular Institute. If so, do they always micro-manage the day-to-day operations in this way? Or is Jace’s foray into the Hotel DuMort a much bigger deal than he lets on? I’m having a hard time understanding the stakes here.

Like the fact our heroes weren’t supposed to leave the Institute without permission. Do they need permission every time they leave or is it just because they were supposed to be babysitting “the little girl”? And if weapons are stashed in churchyards all over the world, then why were they so concerned about leaving the Institute without any?

Speaking of weapons, what’s the deal with seraph blades? I get they only work for Shadowhunters. But Jace’s description made it sound like the blades had an independent will. Are they sentient or spelled to assist in battle? And do Shadowhunters have inherent fighting skills? Or are they just stronger and faster than Mundanes? For Clary’s sake, I hope it's all of the above.

And poor Simon. As the only Mundane, he seemed destined to be the plaything of Downworlders and Shadowhunters alike. But now that he drank vampire blood... I’ve watched enough supernatural shows to know that spells trouble with a capital T.

As I mentioned in the opening, I was unimpressed by the choices made in this episode. Although since the producers have the final editing pass on most TV shows, I’m unwilling to lay the ham-fisted focus on Clary and Jace solely at the director’s feet. Those decisions negatively colored what would otherwise be a decent outing of a new show. Fingers crossed for next week.

3 out of 5 Original Recipe Bloody Marys

Parting Thoughts:

For a good Jewish boy (his description, not mine) who doesn't like to throw things, Simon was pretty handy with that knife.

I'll say it again, how did Camille and the Vampires know about Clary? Clary just found out she's a Fairchild. Yet the vamps knew about that, her connection to The Mortal Cup, and that Simon was her best friend. HOW?

Then again, if Meliorn is anything to go by, the Seelies knew about Clary as well.

Quotes:

Simon: "If your goal was to scare the crap out of me, mission accomplished."

Alec: "Downworlders are slaves to their impulses. We are not."

Clary: "While we consider other options, my best friend is suffering. Is that something Shadowhunters understand or am I just being a Mundane?"

Raphael: "The answer to that is above my paygrade."
Simon: "Paygrade? They pay vampires?"

Isabelle: "All the ancient religions recognize demons. Or, at least, they used to."
Alec: "They forgot about the threat because we've been here to protect them. Typical Mundane failure of imagination."
Isabelle: "Are you saying we did too good a job?"

Camille: "How much longer have I been at this than you?"
Raphael: "Three, four hundred –"
Camille: "You weren't supposed to answer that." (Raphael should know you never discuss a woman's age, even if she is a vampire.)

Hodge: "You remind me of me, Alec. A loyal friend standing in the shadow of the chosen one. Hey, don't make the same mistakes I did. Look where it got me?"

Isabelle: "Whoever said the pen was mightier than the sword was an idiot."

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.

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