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Shadowhunters: Day of Wrath

“Be thee innocent or guilty, may the truth free they soul.”

This episode had less to do with wrath than with the themes of justice, forgiveness, and mercy.

The Clave’s vision of justice can be summed up by their motto, “The law is hard, but it is the law.” That might be easier to swallow if we haven’t seen them repeatedly bend if not outright break those same laws. Last season, it was accusing Isabelle of treason to blackmail her friends into giving up the Cup. This week, we see the Clave’s latest form of vampiric motivation, which looks a hell of a lot like torture to us mere Mundanes.

“The ends justify the means” would be a more accurate description. In this, the Clave and Valentine are not dissimilar. A fact that makes Jace’s accusation all the more ironic. After all, Aldertree’s goal is to save Mundanes from Camille’s depredations. That he’s willing to slaughter an entire clan to get at one vampire is just a necessary evil. It’s the same argument Valentine has used to justify his actions.

There’s also the issue of Jace’s treason. I’m torn as to whether Jace believes he is guilty or just wants to be punished. He did not kill the Downworlders, and he does not believe in Valentine’s vision for the future. Yet, Jace can no longer blindly follow the Clave’s orders and the Clave demands unconditional loyalty. On those grounds alone, he can understand Aldertree’s recommendation of life imprisonment.

However, that's not why Jace submits to the Clave’s justice. Jace has two fundamental beliefs. The first is that to love is to destroy, and the second is that demon blood has corrupted him. It’s why he believes he still has romantic feelings for Clary. It’s also the reason Valentine wants him. As he so aptly put it, he is Valentine’s weapon. Everyone is safer if Jace remains in the City of Bones.

Questions of justice and punishment also come knocking on Magnus’ door. He’s forced to be the arbiter between the Downworlders he’s taken under his wing, the former paramour who saved him, and the Clave’s “justice.” Camille has flouted Shadowhunter law time and again. She has no respect for the vampires she’s sired, which is anathema for the Warlock condemned to be childless. And she’s slaughtered Mundanes.

However, turning Camille over to the Clave is a death sentence. And her assessment of Magnus is on point. Losing loved ones is his weakness and despite her above-mentioned faults, she is still on that list. Though I find it hard to believe Camille ever had enough empathy to save anyone other than herself.

Camille’s mistake was in thinking his attachment to her supersedes all of his others. Magnus’ relationship to Alec may be new and, by immortal standards, short term, but the same cannot be said of Raphael. And both Raphael and Simon are more likely candidates to come to Magnus’ aid than Camille in her currently murderous state. If the Clave demands a pound of flesh, Magnus would prefer it to be hers.

Punishment may be the most visible aspect of justice, but it isn’t the only one. Forgiveness and mercy have their place. Jace may not believe in forgiveness, but he is still granted his freedom. Though I have a feeling Jace’s reprieve has more to do with the fact he saved Aldertree’s life than in Aldertree’s fundamental belief in the Angel’s mercy.

Jocelyn might be a better example. Despite stealing the Cup and going into hiding for 18 years, she’s been given a chance at redemption in Idris. As we learned from Hodge, that could have been much worse. Of more concern to Jocelyn is rebuilding her relationship with Clary. Removing her daughter’s memories, lying about her past, and hiding her brother’s existence is a lot to make up for.

As Isabelle reminds Clary, at least Jocelyn is willing to make the effort. Their conversation did triple duty. The comparison between Jocelyn’s love for Clary and Maryse’s disappointment in Isabelle served the immediate plot issue of Clary’s potential move to Idris. It also reminded us of the Lightwood’s family drama in preparation for Isabelle’s demonic confrontation with Alec. Most of all, it hammered home the need to be grateful for the time you have with the people you love.

Whatever Jocelyn’s faults may have been, she loved her daughter, and did what she thought was best to protect Clary (Jocelyn’s behavior towards Jace, not so much). Regardless, the conversation allowed Clary to reconcile with her mother before a possessed Alec brutally murdered her.

Which brings us back to the title of the episode. Wrath, like the theme of justice, comes to us in many forms and through multiple people. Not the least of which is Valentine.

While the Clave often seem to take their laws as suggestions, it at least provides guardrails around the worst of their excesses. Valentine has no such barriers. His hatred of and need to destroy the Clave appears to outweigh his desire to destroy anyone or anything tainted with demon blood (which may or may not include both Jace and himself).

Valentine had no qualms about creating a new and more dangerous form of demon or killing the Shadowhunters he needs to bring about the demons’ downfall to get what he wants. Which is why Valentine prioritized liberating the Soul-Sword over rescuing his son, and the concern he professes for Jace has more to do with his use than any paternal feelings.

It’s also not out of the realm of possibility that a building full of trained soldiers under an authoritarian government might have anger issues. Which makes using a demon that feeds off negative feelings as a diversion a no-brainer. Though I wonder what Valentine will think when he finds out his diversion caused Jocelyn’s death.

I may despise Raj, but by Clave standards, he’s a model soldier. He does what he’s told without question. Who is Lydia to look down on him, considering the fact she’s been so recently and publicly demoted? And as for Isabelle, her conversation with Clary reminds us she believes she’s the black sheep of the family. Is it any wonder she resents Alec’s supposed place as the family’s favorite? Loving and resenting her brother aren’t mutually exclusive.

The question I have is what negative emotions did Alec have for Jocelyn? Could it be for shooting at Jace or possibly to punish Clary? Whatever his underlying resentments might have been, Alec wasn’t responsible for killing Clary’s mom, but there is no scenario where he won’t feel guilty.

For all its angst, this episode served as more of a transition than anything else. It ended Jace’s treason arc and for better, and most definitely worse, solidified Clary’s independence. Its repercussions will be felt for some time to come.

3.5 out of 5 Classic Possession Hangovers

Parting Thoughts:

I think it’s telling that Izzy’s trial was public, so they could twist the screws and get Clary to return the cup. There’s nothing to be gained from Jace’s trial, so it’s down in the City of Bones with only the Silent Brothers to bear witness.

And is it just me, or was Aldertree’s line of questioning more about twisting the proverbial dagger than assessing Jace’s guilt? While his relationship to Valentine may be relevant to Jace’s loyalty to the Clave, why were the questions about his feelings towards Clary necessary?

Raj is still a dick!

I’m glad Simon was there for Clary. And I think Jocelyn's death is a valid excuse for missing dinner.

RIP Hodge. He may have made poor choices, but he also got the short end of so many sticks.

Dot, make up your freaking mind! Whose side are you on?

Quotes:

Jace: “There is no together for you and me, Clary.”

Alec: “Impossible just means try again.”

Aldertree: “What a hero you are, Raphael.”

Simon: “You sound just like Grandma, except with more guilt.”

Clary: “Wow, does the Institute have, like, a Twitter feed?”

Isabelle: “No one in Idris is going to teach you how to fight in five-inch heels.”

Magnus: “She isn’t pure evil.”
Simon: “Not to doubt your word, but I need proof of concept on that one."

Alec: “What did I do?”

Valentine: “You see what these people do to you when I’m not around to protect you?”

Jace: “Prove what kind of Father you really are.”

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

2 comments:

  1. This episode shocked me. I thought it was going to be a relatively contained monster-of-the-week type of story, but it kept getting bigger. I loved how the script built to Jocelyn’s death. First it established how the demon possessed and killed, then it showed that Alec had been possessed by it and killed someone, leaving us wondering whom he had killed.

    I presumed Jocelyn was a main character from the books, I never expected her to die so soon and in such a matter-of-fact way. A random demon after so much effort was put on her rescue last season? To be honest, she never really clicked as a character for me, so it’s not like it’s a huge loss. But, in the context of the ongoing story, it surprised me a lot.

    Now that Alec has blood on his hands, now that he killed Clary’s mom, even if it’s not really his fault, I hope he stops being so unbearable towards Clary. Humble up, dude.

    > And is it just me, or was Aldertree’s line of questioning more about twisting the proverbial dagger than assessing Jace’s guilt?

    Not just you, he is the worst.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The interesting thing, is that unlike so many YA Fantasies, Jocelyn survives all 6 books in the Mortal Instrument series. However, I did not know that when I first saw this episode. So I was not as shocked as I might have been.

    ReplyDelete

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