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Shadowhunters: This Guilty Blood

“I know you think you understand this world, but you don’t.”

The above quote sums up the theme of this week’s episode. After last season’s quest for self-discovery, our heroes appeared to be little more than pawns of their “betters” in this season’s opener. Whether that was Valentine, the Clave, Maryse, or even Jocelyn.

I assumed, or maybe hoped, the opening scene was Jace’s nightmare, or perhaps a spelled trance. Instead, the dead Mundanes strewn about the deck bore witness to Valentine’s callous disregard for human life. A fact he proved repeatedly. After all, how many of his hard won and newly created Shadowhunters did he sacrifice just to test Jace?

Was it a loyalty test? Or were these mind games Valentine’s latest attempt to break Jace down and build him up in his image? I vote for the latter. Valentine knew Jace’s loyalties were conflicted long before he coerced Jace into joining him.

Instead, Valentine uses Jace’s desire to protect the innocent as proof of his need to kill. Just as he twists Jace’s love for Clary into evidence of his demon urges. Valentine’s antics may feed Jace’s self-doubts, but I suspect even Jace realizes Valentine’s explanations are half-truths at best. Yet if anything could tip the scales in Valentine’s favor, it was Jocelyn’s crossbow attack and Valentine stepping into the bolt’s path. That said, I refuse to believe he saved Jace out of an undying love for his son.

What should we make of Jace’s demon blood? It certainly reinforces his belief in his inner darkness. Yet if I remember correctly, Valentine also injected himself with demon blood. It’s why Jocelyn and Luke believed he went mad. If Valentine’s hatred of Downworlders stems from their impure blood, why would he condemn himself and his son to a similar fate? If it was only Jace, I believe Valentine would sacrifice him once his mission was complete. But Valentine's ego demands he rule over this world he’s creating. So, is this about acquiring power or has Valentine truly gone mad?

Once again, the Clave is giving Valentine a run for his “I’m the Big Bad” money. At least they’re consistent in their willingness to jump to conclusions and their intolerance of any perceived failures. Jace is with Valentine. He must be a traitor. Lydia lost the Cup. Therefore, she is ineffectual and must be replaced. If Lydia was the epitome of the good soldier, Aldertree is the consummate politician. Mirroring everyone’s hopes while hiding his true intentions. Although, it would not surprise me if Aldertree’s marching orders were to provide the Clave with evidence to support Jace’s kill order.

Jace’s manhunt affects all of our heroes, but none more than Alec. I’m not sure what scares Alec more, the fact Jace is with Valentine, that the Clave wants him dead, or that Alec can’t sense him through their parabatai bond. Regardless, his panic is palpable, causing him to lash out at Lydia, his sister, and Magnus.

Knowing Alec as well as she does, Isabelle sloughs it off. Jace is family, and they’d both do anything for their family. Lydia may not have Isabelle’s insight, but she understands parabatais. Plus, she’s objective enough to realize Alec is no longer rational. Magnus knows the man he cares for is hurting, but he has neither Isabelle’s insight nor Lydia’s understanding. And after suffering the insults of Shadowhunters all evening, he’s not interested in being Alec’s punching bag.

At least Alec was man enough to admit when he was wrong. He owed Magnus that apology. And Magnus was gracious enough not to make him grovel... much.

Speaking of politics, it didn’t take Maryse long to sell out her adopted son. Given her treatment of Alec after the wedding, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. Once upon a time, Maryse doted on Jace to the exclusion of her own children. It makes you wonder what other “cancers” she’d be willing to cut out in the name of self-preservation.

This episode is certainly not a testament of parental love. If you need additional evidence, I present Jocelyn. I trust Clary’s memories of Jocelyn crying over the mementos of her dead son. So, one would think that finding out Jace hadn’t burned to death in a fire would be a good thing. So, why oh why would she try to kill him?

I guess it really about blood. Jocelyn must know Valentine used demon blood on her son, and she must believe he’s irrevocably tainted. How is that so different from a Downworlder? She doesn’t seem to share the Shadowhunters’ aversions to Downworlders when it comes to Luke and Simon. One would think she’d give her own son the benefit of the doubt.

As for Luke and Simon, their fondness for each other hasn’t diminished since Simon’s transition to Vampire. However, the rest of the New York pack doesn’t share Luke’s affections. He has been relegated to a warehouse outside the restaurant. Simon may not have been pleased, but it’s for the best. The restaurant has windows. The warehouse does not.

This episode is proof that Valentine’s previous uprising has left landmines our heroes are only now uncovering. What a strong start to the new season. It gives me hope that the narrative inconsistencies of last season are a thing of the past.

4.5 out of 5 kill orders

Parting Thoughts:

The Seraph blades got an upgrade! These are much better than the wannabe light sabers.

The rune Valentine uses to “show” Jace his birth was comprehend.

Please tell me Luke did not know what Jocelyn was planning to do to Jace.

What possessed Alec and Izzy to think that Aldertree would call off the hunt for Jace just because they asked?


Valentine: “Your skills may be unparalleled, but your loyalty is sorely lacking.”

Magnus: “The Clave being unhelpful? Who’s shocked? Show of hands?”

Luke: “Be bold, Simon.”
Simon: “I’m bold... adjacent.”

Jace: “If that blood is so evil, why did you put it in me?”

Maryse: “Life is full of hard choices.”
Alec: “Don’t kid yourself. You’re not making a hard choice. You’re saving your own ass. And unlike you, I don’t push someone away just ‘cause they’re a hard choice.”

Simon: “You’d think there’d be some kind of handbook for the Shadow World like Shadowhunting for Dummies.”

Magnus: “Here’s the thing. We’re always going to face challenges. So when things get crazy. Don’t push me away.”

Maria: “Look at you. You got your stick all ready to go and now you can’t use it.”


  1. Wow, what an improvement. I'm glad I gave this show another chance, it's operating on another level now.

    > Or were these mind games Valentine’s latest attempt to break Jace down and build him up in his image?

    Kind of both, I guess? I was so impressed with the character work for Jace here and Valentine's interaction with him. Valentine first tortured him, then activated his healing rune almost as a sign of mercy. A peculiar manipulation tactic, I'd say. Jace's conflict with his (supposed) inner darkness is being so well written and acted. He is easily my favorite character right now, and I never thought I'd say that.

    Aldertree is the worst, but that type of character you love to hate. Very good addition. Alec, on the other hand, just annoyed me a lot in this episode.

  2. They got a new showrunner the second season and it shows.

    Dominic Sherwood's performance as Jace is so nuanced. He may not be my favorite character, but he is the most interesting at the moment.

    I'm with you on Aldertree. He's the absolute worst! But I kind of admire his maneuvering.

    I can see how Alec could get on your last nerve but I have a soft spot for him. And the more you learn about Parabatai, the more you realize how traumatic Jace's disappearance is for Alec. I'm not excusing his behavior just offering context.


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