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Shadowhunters: This World Inverted

“On a scale from one to namaste, how screwed are we?”

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, alternate universes are a staple in the sci-fi, fantasy world. At their best they offer commentary on “the normal world” in addition to serving as a fun plot device. Showing the same characters under different circumstances can provide insight on who they are at their core.

Unsurprisingly, we see Clary and Jace’s relationship is more than just a fling. If Magnus’s reading is to be believed, maybe my theory of a supernatural basis for their “magnetic” attraction is not completely insane. Seeing the normally cocky Jace tongue-tied when introduced to Clary’s father gives weight to her importance in his life. So, while he may not be the fearless demon-killer we're used to, standing up for himself in their relationship takes its own kind of strength.

We also see that for all Alec’s talk of his and Lydia’s partnership, he is as attracted to Magnus as Magnus is to him. The role reversal of an out and proud Alec and a more inhibited Magnus extended even to flipping their lines when they met. It’s also worth noting that Clary was responsible for both versions of their meet-cutes.

Earlier in the season Isabelle calls Simon “Nerd Hot.” This episode suggests her attraction was more than a passing fancy. Nor was it one-sided. And her preference for Simon means I don’t have to speculate about what her attraction to Valentine was meant to convey.

Speaking of Valentine, we learn in the absence of Demons and his obsession with the Downworld he would have used his genius and charm for good. And that his love for Jocelyn is real. Seeing this version made me understand why Jocelyn loved him and almost made me wish “our” version wasn’t the monster he is. But where’s the fun in that?

As interesting as the similarities are, it’s also interesting to see what wasn’t there. While it’s clear, Alec and Jace knew each other there is no apparent connection between them in the inverted world.

I wonder what happens to that world now that our Jace and Clary departed. If, as we're led to believe, the changes are permanent, will Clary be able to explain away Jace’s misunderstanding when she has no memory of it. More importantly, was Magnus able to close the portal and keep the demons out or are the Shadowhunters of that world destined to reform?

Back in our world my hope that Alec stayed behind to protect his parabatai was only semi-dashed. Alec kept Jace and Clary’s involvement in Meliorn’s rescue quiet until Izzy was arrested for high treason. Even then, he offers up The Mortal Cup which breaks his promise to Jace but doesn’t condemn him to exile. Unfortunately for Alec, the mistrust goes both ways. Jace stealing the Cup pushes Alec over the edge. He decides to use his parabatai bond to track Jace down despite Isabelle, Hodge, and Lydia telling him not to.

It’s now clear that while Lydia may be the antagonist on numerous fronts, she is not a villain. Once again, she regrets the pain she causes Alec by arresting Isabelle. And fully expects him to call off their engagement. Neither is she’s angry when she learns he withheld The Mortal Cup from her. Instead, she assists in its recovery, even though it makes her an accessory by almost any law.

And can we take a moment to point out the hypocrisy that is the Clave? Their motto is “The Law is hard, but it is the law.” Yet the two most law-abiding characters both know Isabelle’s actions will be forgiven if the Clave gets their hands on the Mortal Cup. Just as they knew the arrest of Meliorn for his attempts “to learn state secrets” was an excuse to torture him for information on Valentine. Have I mentioned how much I dislike the Clave?

In repayment for his rescue, Meliorn opens a door into another dimension, disclosing a secret the Seelies have kept for centuries. That Meliorn risks execution to erase his debt to Clary is fascinating. Does he object to owing his life to a Shadowhunter, or is it the debt itself he finds abhorrent? And are his objections typical of the Fey or particular to Meliorn?

In the distant C plot, we have the resolution to Luke’s legal woes. Internal affairs is still convinced he responsible for murder and mayhem, some of which is true. What to do? Give them someone else to blame. The setup may have lacked credibility but Simon’s turn as a serial killer was just plain fun.

Clary and Jace survive the trials of a Shadowhunter free world to reach Valentine. However, instead of finding Clary’s evil Dad, they discover Jace’s supposedly dead one. Theoretically, that should be a good thing. So why am I so nervous? I loved the balance between light and dark moments in this episode. I love that I did not see the final twist coming. And I loved seeing alternative versions of characters I’ve grown to love (Hello nerdy, Isabelle). What I didn’t love was the mountain of disbelief, I’m still required to suspend. There are so many good things about this show, why are they deliberately making it so hard to love?

3.5 out of 5 alternate universes

Parting Thoughts:

This may be the kinder, gentler Valentine, but some things don’t change. He still calls his daughter “Clarissa.”

The alternate universe confirmed my suspicion of Isabelle’s closet nerd membership. She may be a badass in heels because she’s mighty young to be an expert forensic pathologist.

Loved Clary’s imitation of Magnus’ spell casting.

Raj is a dick in every universe.

And why is it always high treason? Is there such a thing as low treason?

This episode’s sloppy writing award goes to the moment Luke claimed internal affairs believed he killed his commanding officer. Fisk specifically said he didn’t believe Luke killed her, and that he was Luke’s alibi. UGH!


Meliorn: “I see Isabelle is the smart one in the family.”

Jace: “With the Seelies there’s always a catch.”

Luke: “And you decided to go to the one place you could get torn apart by wild dogs.”
Simon: “Seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Magnus: “This is the longest I’ve ever abstained... From a lot of things.”

Isabelle: “She had to pick today to finally land her roundhouse?”

Valentine: “People sad I was mad, so I owned it.”

Alec: “I’m not letting Jace sacrifice my sister for his girlfriend’s pointless crusade.”

Isabelle: “Alec, what did you do?”

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


  1. As alternate universes go, this was a decent one. While I've grown to care about the threat Valentine poses, we are deeply into the season and barely know the guy. So I liked that he got some decent screen time, even if it was a different version of him.

    Simon and Izzy were together in the alternate universe. Is this supposed to hint that they might be an item in the future? I like Izzy and Meliorn together, and Meliorn was pretty cool in this episode.

  2. The only thing that saves Valentine from a stereotypical mustache-twirling villain is his love for his family. That feels real.

    But while the argument that there are more Demons and Downworlders than Shadowhunters and the Mortal Cup can balance out the numbers is valid, his position on blood purity would be a lot easier to take if he didn't spend all his free time experimenting with it. It feels more like a justification for his ambitions than a firmly held belief. Then again, he could just be crazy...

  3. > his position on blood purity would be a lot easier to take if he didn't spend all his free time experimenting with it. It feels more like a justification for his ambitions than a firmly held belief.

    Depending on how it is written, this contradiction/hypocrisy could be a good character trait.

  4. What side do you come down on? Good character trait or not? It's straight from the books, although they take it further in the show, so I have to assume the hypocrisy is deliberate. I think he probably started out with good intentions but now it's just about the power.

    Your thoughts?

  5. > Good character trait or not?

    On Agents of SHIELD, they had a villain that claimed to be against all types of organizations and oppressive leaderships, while he was an oppressive leader himself. I couldn't stand the hypocrisy. Then again, I couldn't stand that character.

    I'm a few episodes ahead on Shadowhunters, but I'll keep this spoiler free: I'm really liking what they are doing with Valentine, and in his case, as far as I have watched, the hypocrisy works as a character trait. Ultimately, real-world fundamentalists and fascist-type leaders are contradictory, so it really comes down to the writing to make it work on fiction, and I think that the writers are doing a good job with Valentine.


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