Shadowhunters: The Descent Into Hell Isn't Easy

“Clary, is there a war going on that I don’t know about?”

Is it possible to be a bad luck charm? If so, Clary might be it. First her mother. Then Dot. Now Simon. Caring for Clary is a dangerous thing to do.

In the grand scheme of things, there is little forward progression until the end of the episode. The bulk of the show is spent developing and deepening the characters and their relationships. The rest is used to orient any newbies who might have missed the premiere.

First up in the character development department is Jace. We learn he’s an orphan taken in by the Lightwoods when he was ten. Alec and Isabelle may consider him their brother. But Jace's empathy for Clary makes it clear he still feels alone. We all knew his arrogance had to be a cover for something, right? It’s an added bonus that helping Clary dovetails with avenging his father’s death. For all Jace's proclamations about not having emotions, his desire for retribution burns brighter than his witchlight.

This on top of solving the mystery of the amnesiac Shadowhunter explains Jace's willingness to break Clave protocols for a woman he’s known for mere hours. And no, I’m not oblivious to his attraction for Clary. However, I believe empathy and his desire for vengeance might pull more weight this early in their relationship.

Alec confuses me. He seems to be their leader, yet he backs down whenever Isabelle and Jace disagree with him. Plus, there is Izzy’s claim that Jace is “fiercest, strongest, fastest.” In a society permanently at war (I doubt demons take vacations) I would think those skills would be prized in a leader. Has Alec risen to the top, or has Jace refused the leadership role he could rightfully claim?

Like Jace, Alec has no love for Mundanes. However, where Jace seems to have a specific animosity towards Simon for obvious reasons, Alec’s disdain applies to Mundanes in general. If he has an issue with Simon in particular, it’s only because his presence apparently flouts Clave rules. I must admit that Alec’s deadpan commentary amuses me more than it should. As does his references to Simon as “it.”

Isabelle doesn’t play games. She is exactly who she seems to be. She’s not shy about her body, so why not flaunt it? She’s not threatened by Clary, so why not befriend her? She thinks Simon is nerd-hot, so why not flirt? I love that about her.  However, having no filter usually lands you in hot water.

The jury’s still out on Luke. At best, I’d put him in the morally grey category. Maybe he isn’t the bad guy he was pretending to be, but it sounds like he reports to people who may not have Clary’s best interests at heart. The woman he killed would also be a strike against him but for the fact she was a Circle member and, therefore, BAD. For now, I’ll give him a pass.

I like Dot. She seems to be the only person who knows about the Shadow World and is still unquestionably on Clary’s side. But at the moment, I don’t like her chances. Then again, we didn’t see the killing blow and we should all know Billie’s Rules by now.

The only thing we learn about Clary is that she suffers from the twin conditions of so many other protagonists. Moral righteousness and stubbornness. Who can argue with a young woman who wants to save her mother? Yet she is willing to cannonball into deadly situations with no thought for the consequences. What’s worse, she assumes she’s entitled to the Shadowhunters’ assistance. As bad as Valentine may be, he’s not a demon. And the Shadowhunters feel more like a military operation than a police force.

As for Simon, it’s notable that once Clary chooses to stay with Shadowhunters, he refuses to abandon her. That his head gets turned by Isabelle only proves he’s a straight male. I imagine a flirty Isabelle will turn almost any man’s head.

We are also introduced to Hodge, another former Circle member. He recanted, and the Clave sent him to the New York Institute as a weapons master to make amends. Not so bad as far as prisons go. But burning him for mentioning anything related to his old life smacks of torture and doesn’t leave me with warm fuzzies about the Clave.

It also seems short-sighted. Hodge has useful information. Why punish him for offering it? Speaking of, why would the Clave, as Clary so pointedly asked, need to hide this history? Especially when so many people are still around who lived through it. Why forbid mention of the Circle? Why restrict information on former members such as Jocelyn?

Besides our heroes, we also learned more about Valentine and The Mortal Cup. He’s sacrificed two followers in two episodes for what amounted to whims. This solidifies his claim to the term evil. The Mortal Cup would give him the ability to create more Shadowhunters and grant him control over demons which seems antithetical. But see above (Valentine = evil).

What have we learned?

First and foremost, the Silent Brothers are creepy. But considering they live in the City of Bones, I guess that was to be expected.

Valentine is capturing and killing warlocks in search of the one who can wake up Jocelyn. Magnus appears to be the leader of the warlocks, which makes him the obvious choice. Unlike Dot, he was smart enough to go into hiding. We’ve also learned he has no love for Shadowhunters. Since he blames Jocelyn for Valentine’s manhunt, I don’t think he’ll be itching to help Clary get her mother or her memories back. What do you think?

I can’t say that I’m surprised to find out Valentine was Clary’s father. Killing his own man in defense of Jocelyn seemed personal. And the way he said “daughter” had some seriously Darth Vaderish overtones. Oh yeah, we also learned his plans for the The Mortal Cup include the death of most of humanity. Fun times.

The Vampires think Clary has The Mortal Cup, so they kidnapped her pet Mundane to trade for it. Word travels fast in the Shadow World. A few hours ago, no one even knew who Clary was.

Luke used to be a member of the Circle. That he abandoned their ranks gives me hope he may (literally) be on the side of angels. Also, given what we did and did not see of Luke’s fight with that woman, I will go out on a limb and say one of them was a werewolf. Since she had the seraph blade...

I wasn’t as impressed with this episode as I was with the premiere. It felt more paint by numbers than the last one. Although that was mostly due to the rehash of information. Still, I like the characters and I’m curious enough about what will happen next to keep watching.

3.5 out of 5 Soul Swords

Parting Thoughts:

I would love to know what’s in Valentine’s “medicine.”

Is it just me, or did Luke’s captain suspect he might have had something to do with the Circle members’ deaths? That’s a pretty big leap when she knows him well enough to be friends with his girlfriend and her daughter. Then again, she’s not wrong.

Quotes:

Jace: “In the Shadow World, no training and no plan gets you killed.”

Isabelle: “Is this the part where I give you the pep talk about harnessing your inner Shadowhunter and accepting your true destiny?”
Clary: “Was that the pep talk?”
Isabelle: “Basically.”

Clary: “Simon, there are demons out there. Actual demons with tentacles that want to murder us. Do you know how to kill a demon?”
Simon: “I’m an internet search away.”

Isabelle: “Fifty bucks says he doesn’t approve this mission.”
Alec: “I don’t approve of this mission.”

Magnus: “Valentine can’t kill what he can’t find.”

Clary: “Who are the Silent Brothers?”
Jace: “Shadowhunters with superior powers.”
Isabelle: “They possess the ability to recover memories.”
Alec: “A process that can also kill you. So, there’s that.”

Isabelle: “Don’t tell me you’re afraid.”
Simon: “Are you kidding me, I was born afraid. Which sounded a lot better in my head.”

Jace: “You have to understand the Silent Brothers aren’t like us.”
Clary: “They lack your charm and superior people skills?”
Jace: “Most people do.”

Clary: “I’ll do anything. Walk through fire, battle demons, whatever it takes. I have to get my Mom back.”

Simon: “I’ve seen every horror movie ever made and the funny best friend who gets left behind... dead man.”
Jace: “You’re not that funny.” (I hope not.  I like Simon.)

Isabelle: “I’ll mind the mundane.”
Jace: “Your sacrifice is noted, Izzy.”

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

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