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Shadowhunters: Bad Blood

“People make mistakes.”

There are two running themes in this episode. The first is about the choices we make and the price we pay for them. The second dovetails into the first on multiple levels. Blood, in both the literal and metaphorical sense.

Simon’s fate results from both blood and choice. It was Camille’s blood that led Simon to the age-old question of to vampire or not to vampire. And while it’s Clary who’s forced to make the ultimate choice, there were many decisions that led to this moment.

Which is why Clary spends much of the day railing against Raphael and blaming herself for Simon’s death. It’s true Simon would be alive and breathing if not for her association with the Shadow World. Just as it’s true that Raphael delivered Simon into Camille’s hands. However, Simon insisted on being by Clary’s side despite knowing she was a Shadowhunter and he was a mundane. And it was his choice to go back to the Hotel DuMort after Raphael warned him away. Twice.

Clary knows the best choice would be to let Simon go. She admits as much to Jace. Simon left her a voicemail explaining his fear of becoming a vampire. Plus, she knows how religious Simon is and being a vampire essentially severs his connection with God. And if she had any doubts, Luke impresses upon her the difficulties of being a Downworlder, even if the above weren’t true. He reminds her to decide based on Simon’s best interest and not her own.

Yet when faced with telling Simon’s mother her son is never coming home, and the personal heartbreak of losing her best friend, Clary’s resolve crumbles. The price she’ll pay for her decision remains to be seen as Simon doesn’t yet realize his rebirth was because of her. What is clear is it wouldn’t have been his choice.

In the vein of questionable life choices, we discover that Robert and Maryse are former Circle members. Despite my belief their contrition is genuine, the implication it was their children’s actions that caused the Clave’s displeasure is inexcusable. The junior Lightwoods’ actions were contributing factors at best.

His parents' betrayal devastates Alec. He spent a lifetime striving to live up to the family name, only to discover his parents had dishonored it. What’s more, their choices now jeopardize his career and reputation as it appears advancement is closely tied to familial status (i.e. blood) and the political whims of the Clave. Honestly, the more I learn about the Clave, the less I like it.

However, does that make Alec’s decision any better? I don’t think he quite understood Magnus’s advice to live for himself. He chooses the political expediency of an alliance with Lydia instead of acknowledging Magnus’ blatant overtures. The first option could lead to the career and respect he aspires to, but the second, while it would hinder his career, might actually make him happy. I have no idea if Lydia will say yes to Alec’s proposal (I bet she will), or if they will marry (it could happen). But I think they are setting Magnus up to be Alec’s endgame. It does make me wonder what the Shadowhunter position is on divorce.

And what of the Clave’s Envoy? We’re meant to hate her, right? Lydia walks in, claims the Institute is poorly run, and takes over the joint. Yet, she doesn’t shut the Lightwoods out. She invites Alec to join her investigation. She strengthens the wards to protect the elder Lightwoods. And she seems legitimately surprised and upset when she realizes she hurt Alec by divulging his parents' past. I may hate the Clave. But the jury is still out on Lydia.

I also have to mention how much Jace surprised me in this episode. First, because his falcon story gave context to his less attractive qualities. Being raised to believe love makes you weak and perfection is imperative, explains both his superficiality and his arrogance. It also explains why he rationalized his feelings towards Clary as a Shadowhunter obligation rather than admit his growing attraction. It seems neither he nor his parabatai are particularly self-aware.

That said, given his dim view of love, his behavior towards Clary showed a surprising level of maturity. He gave her his honest opinion regarding Simon and then let her make her own decision. And when that decision differed from his, he chose to help bring Simon back. He also supported Clary when it appeared to go terribly wrong instead of dropping an “I told you so” bomb at her feet. There may be hope for him yet.

The convergence of blood and choice also includes Raphael. His decision to return Simon to the Shadowhunters wasn’t out of an abundance of compassion. Simon’s transition is the proof he needs to supplant Camille as leader of the New York vampires.

Lest we forget about Valentine. His desire for blood purity doesn’t negate his willingness to use Downworlder or Nephilim blood to achieve his ends. For all his talk of protecting mundanes, he created a special forsaken cocktail of faery and Nephilim blood to give his minions extra strength and access to the Institute.

All of which ties into the argument between emotions clouding judgment and love being a strength. This has been an overarching theme this season, and I suspect for the show as a whole. Jace, Alec and Lydia chose head over heart while Clary and Magnus subscribe to the power of love. This episode might have you believing that reason is king, but I suspect that love will conquer all.

The episode was a mixed bag. There were a few glaring info dumps and cringe-worthy emotional outbursts. However, the political machinations continue to intrigue me. Besides, much of what we saw was merely the preamble for the fast approaching finale. This can only mean Valentine will up the ante to retrieve the Mortal Cup and the Clave will do something unspeakably cruel.

Is it a bad thing that I can’t wait?

3.5 out of 5 forsaken

Parting Thoughts:

Food for thought: If Jocelyn hadn’t let Valentine see her on their wedding day, maybe none of this would have happened. And did you notice Valentine said he loves her? Present tense.

Why does Maryse defend Jace in a way she doesn’t for her own children?

Given he’s royally pissed at his parents and he eventually proposes to Lydia, it’s curious Alec makes a point of giving Magnus' report to his mother and not Lydia.

Perfectly squared off graves supposedly dug by the characters drive me crazy!


Isabelle: “There’s nothing a Shadowhunter can’t do in heels.”

Maryse: “There are rumors that local Shadowhunters have been interfering in Downworld affairs. But you two wouldn’t know anything about that, right?”

Isabelle: “Not a fan.”
Alec: “Jealous?”
Isabelle: “No. Maybe.”

Jace: “Third rule of Shadowhunting: Emotions cloud judgment.”

Lydia: “Piece of advice... In this line of work, the only thing worth falling in love with is the work itself.”

Alec: “Magnus is, um, quite magical. He’s uh, very... very good at magic.”

Isabelle: “I want to get my hands on that thing.”
Magnus: “Speaking of which, how is Alexander?”

Isabelle: “Not everyone gets the luxury of following their heart.”

Luke: “If you decide to bring him back, just know that his journey won’t be easy. So make sure you do it for him and not yourself.”

Magnus: “You don’t have to get dressed up for me.”

Clary: “It’s love that makes you fight harder for what you want.”

Clary: “You are the same Simon! You are my best friend!”
Simon: “I’m not. I’m nothing more than a monster.”

Clary: “What did I do?”

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


  1. Clary’s choice to bury her former best friend knowing he would become a vampire is a supreme act of selfishness and cowardice. It doomed Simon to a hellish undead existence as well as eternal separation from God. There is no doubt that the right thing to do would have been to “stake” him in order to free his soul. This episode left me with nothing but contempt for Clary and might be enough to keep me from watching any more of the series.

  2. I agree, Clary's choice was for her sake and not Simon's. But I can understand taking the easy way out instead of losing her best friend. I wonder if I would have done anything different at 18.

  3. I should also note that the series gets soo much better after the first season.

  4. Layers, layers, layers. This episode gave the plot and several characters many needed layers. I really liked it, it's my favorite episode so far.

    On the downside, the stuff with Camille was undercooked. I think we needed to know more about the codes that the vampires follow before the confrontation between Camille and Raphael happened. And the reveal that Valentine was using angel blood to make the monsters fly under the Institute's radar was cool, but then he only sent one monster to attack the place? Talk about a smart strategy immediately becoming dull.

    Elsewhere, the episode was a win. Shari, like you said, Lydia is the type of character that we are supposed to hate, but the writers wasted no time making her three-dimensional, and by the end of the episode it was evident why. My jaw dropped to the floor when Alec proposed. I'm spoiled on that plot point, but I had no idea Alec was the one who proposed.

    Alec's interpretation of "follow your heart" was extremely well written and very in character. Color me impressed, I thought this was the best character work so far and I did *not* expect this level of good writing based on the previous episodes. Alec went from disappointment with his parents to having their back when he saw them getting cornered. I liked that a lot. It's that type of protective feeling you have over your loved ones: you might be angry at them, but no one else can come for them. Then he ended up choosing duty over heart, even though he was (or he rationalizes it this way) following his heart. But following the heart, for Alec, means choosing his love for his parents instead of figuring it out what he wants for himself. Such clever writing. Like I said, I'm spoiled about this particular story, but I so want to see it unfold now.

    Clary's choice to bring Simon back as a vampire didn't upset me. I thought it was the strategic path (for Clary to have an ally amongst the vampires), but I knew that wasn't the point and it wasn't going to come down to that. Luke gave Clary terrific advice, and I think Clary ultimately decided that, like her mom did for Luke, she is willing to love Simon no matter what. But since this wasn't Simon's choice (unlike Luke, who was awake and decided to live as a Downworlder), it will remain to be seen if Clary made the right choice or not. Clary was a somewhat dull protagonist for the first few episodes, but she is coming into her own in the last few. The only thing that bugs me about her is her princess hair. I really don't like that hairstyle, I have no idea why. Skye/Daisy had the same hairstyle during the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and I hated it.

    Shari, your breakdown of Jace's actions in this episode was great. He is the only main character I remain cold towards, but after reading your review, I respect him more.

    Raphael is a vampire of his word, I like him.

    Though the main characters are progressively becoming better written, Luke and Magnus remain the best ones. They are all ridiculously gorgeous, though. Talk about a good-looking cast.


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