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Shadowhunters: Rise Up

“They put a bunch of unrelated facts together and came up with a big lie.”

This episode asks if there is such a thing as an objective truth or if it is all a matter of perception? Then adds the corollary of how to define loyalty and betrayal.

Let’s start with the simplest version of this. Simon and Clary (notice I did not say easiest). Clary’s decision to bring Simon back was because she didn’t want to live without him, and she wanted him in the Shadow World with her. It was not, as it should have been, about what was best for Simon. This left him justifiably pissed off.

One could make the argument that putting her needs over Simon’s, subjecting him to a constant battle between the love of his family and his desire for blood, and condemning him eternity of second class citizenhood qualifies Clary as a terrible friend. But even Simon acknowledges that it is not that clear cut. And he will overlook her massive betrayal of his wishes and beliefs because he knows at her core Clary loves him and wants the best for him.

Perception can work in the opposite way as well. Mrs. Lewis doesn’t have to know the truth about the Shadow World to understand that something is wrong with her son. Or to realize Clary is somehow responsible. Which is why she pleads with Clary to take care of her boy. If only it were that easy.

Given the givens, Robert and Maryse’s membership in the Circle was objectively bad. It was treasonous to the Clave and a betrayal of everything they’ve taught their children to aspire to. So why aren’t Jace and Izzy as upset as Alec?

In my opinion, it has more to do with their self-regard than their parent’s choices. For all their faults, Jace and Izzy are at peace with whom they are. Whereas Alec is painfully aware he is different, and those differences are socially, if not politically unacceptable. If he can’t be the model Shadowhunter, he’ll make damn sure no one else knows.

The problem with Alec’s view is that people are judged solely on their actions, with no weight given to context or mitigating circumstances. Jace and Isabelle can forgive Robert and Maryse hiding their involvement with the Circle based on the good they’ve done post Uprising. For Alec, forgiveness is an acknowledgement that his external adherence to expectations is as much of a lie as his parents’ concealment of the truth.

Does that make Alec wrong and Jace and Izzy right? Does Robert and Maryse’s desire for their children to be better than them negate their hope that they will also redeem the Lightwood name? That’s the problem with truth. Sometimes it’s not “either or”. It can often be “and”.

Alec’s belief in his parents’ betrayal bleeds into every other aspect of his life. In order to fix what his parents broke, he agreed to marry someone he respects but does not love at the expense of potential happiness with Magnus. And he’s willing to follow Lydia’s lead, despite knowing it may cost Meliorn’s life. Whether Lydia is worthy of that trust and respect remains to be seen.

Which brings us to Alec’s parabatai. How can they both be completely right and utterly wrong about each other at the same time? Yes, Jace is willing to break laws he might have only bent before. And, yes, Clary is the reason. But this has more to do with her expanding his view of the world than clouding his vision. At least that’s what The Powers That Be would have us believe. And while it’s true Alec’s initial distrust of Clary may have its roots in jealousy, Jace has completely misread his motives now. After his parents’ betrayal and now Jace’s, Alec is desperate for solid ground and the Clave is all he has left.

And yet, I wonder if there is some part of Alec turned Jace’s request down so someone was still on the inside to offer his parabatai a modicum of protection. Or is that just wishful thinking on my part?

There was a plot lurking under all this character introspection. Unfortunately, it relied heavily on inference not coherence. Valentine and Clave bad. Clary and Jace good. You should all know by now I’m no fan of the Clave. Their poor treatment of Downworlders is well documented. Meliorn’s trumped-up charges are just the latest instance. If they really believed he possessed Clave state secrets, they would interrogate the woman who gave them to him.

Rescuing Meliorn makes perfect sense. However, conflating the danger posed by the Clave’s racism with their possession of the Mortal Cup makes none. The problem with the Clave’s possession is it keeps Clary from her Mother. The Cup does exactly two things. Create Shadowhunters and control demons. That may help Valentine’s war against Downworlders, but not the Clave’s.

The better argument, and one they’ve made before, is the Clave is so wrapped up in their internal squabbles and blinded by racism they fail to address the real threat. Valentine. The Clave has already ignored the intel Robert provided on the Seelies in favor of removing the Lightwoods from power. They also deny any responsibility in Valentine’s possession of Seelie blood in favor of the belief the Downworlders must have betrayed them.

This is indicative of the show as a whole. Each episode addresses multiple themes such as love, loyalty, truth, perception, race, and self-acceptance, often with a subtlety surprising in a fantasy show aimed at a YA audience. Yet they consistently get the little things wrong. Like the argument against the Clave. Or the need to remind the audience what happened to Lydia’s fiancĂ©. The conversation between Alec and her was just awkward since she was the one who told Alec about her fiancĂ© in the first place. I understand the breakneck speed at which production moves, but these are the things that separate a great show and one with potential.

Character driven person that I am, I’m far more interested in the fallout between Jace and Alec, Simon’s transition from Mundane to Downworlder and the impact of Alec’s impending nuptials on Magnus than the how and the why of Valentine’s ultimate defeat. Which is why I continue to forgive this show's many flaws.

3.5 out of 5 rescue and recovery operations

Parting Thoughts:

Hodge knows Jace and Izzy were hiding something.

The Downworlders have a different entrance to the City of Bones? Let me guess “Separate but Equal?”

The Seelies have always seemed to know more about every situation then they had any right to. Is it any wonder that they know how to find Valentine?


Clary: “Did you say I’m right?”
Jace: “Don’t get used to it.”

Alec: “I’m going to fix what you broke. And I’m going to do it on my terms.”

Lydia: “Seelies always play both sides.”
Meliorn: “You should talk to your own people about playing sides.”

Raphael: “Even starvation can’t shut you up.”

Alec: “I’m getting married.”
Magnus: “Whoa! That’s a tad sudden, isn’t it? I mean we should at least go to dinner first.”

Lydia: “We rule with our heads. Not with our hearts.”

Clary: “Simon, what are you doing?”
Simon: “Whatever it takes to protect the Downworld. It’s my world now.”

Raphael: “Stay. Good dog.”
Luke: “Bite me.”
Raphael: "Roll over."
Luke: “Play dead.”

Jace: “I don’t want to be alive if we’re on different sides, Alec.”

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


  1. Okay, so I got it wrong. Or only partially right. It's not Alec's love for his family, but Alec's love for his family's name that is making him choose duty over heart. Still a very interesting situation.

    This is the second episode on a roll that I really enjoyed watching. The mythology of the series is becoming richer, and I'm digging the character work. I thought they handled the situation with Simon perfectly. Simon was mad at Clary, but at the same time he understood she had an impossible decision to make. No overt drama, just the right amount of conflict that built on the characters' history and strengthened their bond. Very good stuff.

    > You should all know by now I’m no fan of the Clave. Their poor treatment of Downworlders is well documented.
    > The Downworlders have a different entrance to the City of Bones? Let me guess “Separate but Equal?”

    Shari, I'm with you. There is only a Valentine because there is a Clave. I hope this is addressed. Since Clary, the main character, is becoming a source of connection between the clans, and Izzy obviously doesn't believe the Shadowhunters are superior to the Downworlders, I'm guessing the overarching conflict of the series will be the main characters bringing down the racist system? If so, I'm in.

    Terrific review, Shari.

  2. I don't think you're necessarily wrong. Alec does love his family and salvaging the family name will help them as much as it helps him.

    I don't think this is much of a spoiler but just in case:
    The Clave functions as an antagonist throughout the book and the series but I don't think our heroes ever take them on directly. It's more of a let's change them from within kind of thing.


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