By all rights, the utter tanking of the City of Bones movie should have killed any chance of The Mortal Instruments being adapted to the big or small screen. It seems the producers did not share this opinion, however, and they greenlit a 13-episode tv ‘re-imagining’ that premiered in March.
I don’t know how this happened, guys. But since I’ve watched eight episodes so far and am committed to watching the rest, I may as well spare you the trouble of watching it for yourselves.
Because the show has a lot of the same bullshit annoyances as the books, I will be using most of the same or slightly altered counts as in Apep’s CoB/A sporks.
The counts are as follows:
Entirely Pointless: For when a scene, action, or even character is exactly this.
Un-Logic: Why is this happening? What reasoning led to this? Who knows!
Shoddy World Building: Just as it says on the tin.
Rapier Twit: For when the humour is like being stabbed with a three foot sword.
Our “Heroes”: For the times people just act like damn assholes and it’s not called out.
No Shit Sherlock: The audience knows it. The neighbours know it. The dogs three counties away know it, but it’s a surprise to our heroes!
Cringe Chemistry: For every ‘romantic’ or fanservicey moment that just doesn’t work no matter how they force it.
Imma Let You Finish But: Random scene breaks and POV switches. You’d think that these wouldn’t be a problem anymore, but you’d be wrong
Nudge, Nudge, Say No More: For when it feels like the show is jamming me in the shoulders with its elbow, saying ‘did you see that? That’s important, that is’.
Make Up Your Damn Mind: You’ll understand this one when it gets dinged for the first time.
This is my first time doing anything like this, and I may be too harsh or too lenient, so I would very much appreciate any tips or advice so the next one can be better.
All screenshots are either taken by me or from Screencapped.net
Without further ado, let’s begin!
We start off the inaugural episode with a night-time shot of what could be any city but is presumably New York then down to a street as Monsters by Ruelle plays in the background. I actually kinda like the song, but after about 7+ times rewatching this scene that could just be Stockholm Syndrome. We see that a dude in all black is apparently admiring the vegetables at a greengrocer’s stall while an elderly Asian man is being confused behind him. I’d be confused too if I saw someone doing their grocery shopping at 12AM.
A shot from the POV of the CCTV mounted to the greengrocer stall reveals that – gasp! – the dude in black is not showing up in recording! Or mirrors, apparently?
Elder Asian Man, possibly still confused, walks off and our vegetable admirer turns to watch him go.
And I will not lie, myself and a few Tumblr friends have a strong appreciation for this man’s looks. He’s absolutely delightful when he smiles, though when it comes to this show you’d be forgiven for thinking someone’s been forcefeeding him lemons before every take.
Spoiler: this is Alec Lightwood, as played by Matthew Daddario. I was pondering whether or not to use character’s names even if we don’t learn them as they’re introduced, then I realised how infuriating saying ‘the guy in black’ over and over would be. I already have to do it for unnamed characters anyways.
Alec follows Elderly Asian Man (EAM for short) in a completely unsubtle way, and there’s some kind of spooky wehoooo noise when he leaps up and out of sight to avoid being seen stalking the geriatric. He’s not even out of shot by the time EAM does turn, but it probably doesn’t matter since EAM couldn’t see him when he was close enough to smell his aftershave.
We pan up to the roof of the walkway going across the street (which looks oddly like a shipping container) and see Isabelle, played by the also lovely Emmeraude Toubia in an atrocious white wig. She’s a notable casting choice in that she, and the actress who plays Maryse, are both Latina. This will be both a boon and a curse writing-wise.
Isabelle stands up and poses for the benefit of the camera she can’t possibly know exists before crouching facing the other direction, an action I only recap for its sheer pointlessness.
Entirely Pointless: 1
She waves her stele – which I’m pretty sure is actually a prop from the movie– over her wrist and a rune there shimmers into being. I assume it’s a jumpy rune since she does just that and hops up a story to the nearest rooftop so she follow stalk EAM more effectively. She’s much better at this whole stalking thing than her brother.
Also, I don’t know what count it would be, but I desperately want to ding her for wearing heels. I literally winced seeing her land in gravel wearing those things.
On street level, there’s a nifty if low-budget effect as EAM bumps into a casually dressed black guy, then a white lady in a hot pink-and-black dress and becomes each of them in turn. It’s pretty safe to guess this is an eidolon demon, i.e. a shapeshifter (now with eyes actually the colour of antifreeze!) There’s also a slightly amusing continuity error; we saw the lady in hot pink behind the casually dressed dude not five seconds before he bumped into her from the front.
Between the changes, we get a dramatic close up of Jace on his own shipping container walkway.
Jace is played by Dominic Sherwood, who you may or may not know from a Taylor Swift music video. You can already tell he’s more important than the other two because he gets a close-up like Alec did but also a pose like Isabelle at the same time.
The other two join him, and then they all jump off as a team and do Superhero Landings about seven feet right behind Eidolon Lady, who apparently rolled a 1 on her Listen check this time around because the sound of three full-grown adults slamming into the pavement three steps away doesn’t raise so much as a hair on her neck. So, can she sense Shadowhunters or not? Earlier implied yes, this implies no.
Shoddy World Building: 1 (?)
Eidolon Lady struts her stuff along to the club at the end of the street, where we can see Clary hanging out near a van. And I swear, I was looking for a decent gif of this next bit purely because of the Pandemonium sign in the background, but I couldn’t find one so take my hackjob instead.
Nudge, Nudge, Say No More: 1
Also, I think it was at this point that I started wondering if the eidolon would have gone into the club as an old Asian guy if they hadn’t found anyone suitable, and if this is actually just how the eidolon goes shopping for clothes.
Jace, being the rude asshole that he is, bumps into Clary as he walks past. I can only assume this was purely because he assumes she can’t see him. This gets about the reaction you’d expect from Clary, giving us both our first look at Clary, and our first bit of dialogue to boot!
Clary: “Hey, can you watch where you’re going?”
Clary’s played by Katherine McNamara, I don’t know anything about her but I like her hair and, as with all the newbies in this show, I hope they move onto bigger things from here.
Jace, like the creeper that he is, moves in closer to her before replying. If I was Clary, I’d be backing the fuck up right there.
Jace: “You can see me?”
Apparently this line was considered enough of a hook by the showrunners because we get our title shot here.
In all honesty, I do like this opening scene. The teamwork comes across nicely, there’s the slight mystery of who these people are and what they’re doing, and it does try provide context for the weaksauce ‘you can see me’ end bit. The song was also a good choice that gives it a decent, almost World of Darkness atmosphere, and anything WoD in nature is a definite improvement over TMI.
We resume the show with a shot of a suspension bridge and ‘Eight Hours Earlier’, then cut to a shot of a newspaper reading ‘DEMONIC MURDERS’ on the front page and Clary reassuring herself as she heads into the Brooklyn Academy of Art. Google tells me that this is not a real place, the closest thing in real-life being the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts that shut down in 1945. I’m feeling generous so I’ll put this down as world-building and not a flub on the behalf of the writers.
Clary introduces herself then presents her portfolio to the waiting trio of judges. For some reason this interview is taking place what looks like the main performance hall (complete with a stage) instead of an office. Is this normal? I actually don’t know.
The main judge gives a backhanded compliment to one of the landscapes, ’certainly very…decorative’ before noticing Clary’s sketchbook that’s full of drawings of monsters and what readers of TMI will recognise as a rune and takes it out of her hands. Clary babbles and tries to wave it off as ideas for a graphic novel included by mistake because, oh no monsters have never been depicted in art ever, how terrible.
(I have to say, whoever did do the artwork should be commended, they did a fantastic job.)
The judge sternly tells Clary that they ‘don’t believe in mistakes’, resulting in McNamara looking like someone punched her dog.
New scene! We cut to a very fed-up looking Clary walking into a café to meet Simon, who promptly offers to end the professors, and then adds ’You know, with a scathing email to the dean.’ at Clary’s utterly withering look.
Simon is played by Alberto Rosende, and if you put him side by side with the guy who played the character in the movie, I think I’d have trouble telling them apart.
Clary passes Simon a piece of paper and to the surprise of no one, this was an obvious bait and switch and she has actually been accepted. They have a cute little fist bump to celebrate, complete with Clary waggling her fingers as she pulls her hand back. I can’t lie, this really makes me smile.
Also, it turns out that the drawings actually are for a graphic novel that is apparently a joint effort between them. I also like this!
Clary confirms that she has been aged up for this show with a declaration that the day will go down in history as ‘the greatest eighteenth birthday I ever had!’ as a waitress delivers the coffee and biscotti.
Since this is still TMI-related, we must shoehorn in a romance ASAP and so Clary immediately asks Simon about the situation between himself someone called Maureen, who is in his band. There’s a close-up of Clary’s hand as she puts down her biscotti on the tablecloth beside her coffee.
Nudge, Nudge, Say No More: 1
This will be heretofore referred to as the DOOMSCOTTI.
Clary insists Maureen likes him, Simon insists otherwise, and Clary hits us with an absolutely stellar line.
Bq. “Simon, how can someone as smart and perceptive as you not realise that the person sitting right there is in love with you?”Cringe Chemistry: 1 Nudge, Nudge, Say No More: 1
Can I take this as confirmation that the show doesn’t consider Clary smart?
Back on more relevant things, Clary has noticed that her DOOMSCOTTI is now a drawing. Yes, it seems we’ve departed from both making the ‘putting things into drawings’ a twist and making it dependant on runes. The latter, I can excuse. The former is just bad foreshadowing.
Simon’s nice enough to replace her lost biscotti with his own before they toast each other with ’L’chaim!’ in her honour. I’m pretty sure this is more actively Jewish than Simon ever was in the books.
We fade out on a third shot of the DOOMSCOTTI, this time with a Meaningful Sound Effect just to make sure you really were paying attention.
Nudge, Nudge, Say No More: 1
The Meaningful Sound Effect takes us into the next scene, becoming a train horn blowing. We know this is a good scene because the first character we see is Luke, played by none other than Isaiah Mustafa, the Old Spice Guy!
Sadly, we cannot stay focused on Old Spice Luke, and the next shot shows us a woman’s dead body wrapped in deep pink silk, looking like one of those awful ‘beautifully executed’ posters for Hitman. Luke and a guy who will be referred to later as Alaric confirm it’s the ’same MO as the others’, namely having been drained of blood. This is presumably one of the DEMONIC MURDERS on the newspaper earlier in the episode then.
We see that Luke and Alaric have gotten something of an upgrade; instead of being a bookshop owner and squatter in an old police station pretending to be a Chinese takeout respectively, they’re real police officers.
The dog nearby is flipping out, by the way, and is silenced by an eye-shimmer from Luke. Is that how werewolves establish dominance now, eye shimmers?
Luke establishes for us that this is the seventh body like this (were they all in silk too, I wonder? Is that an important part of the process?) before his superior, Captain Vargas, shows up and Luke gets a call from Jocelyn, which he declines. Vargas points out that Jocelyn would able to tell, then follows that up with telling Luke to ask Jocelyn to marry him already. Which, uh, that’s nice, lady, but how is that any of your business? Honestly, some shippers can be so rude.
Luke stares into the distance, all but stating that their Facebook status is ‘It’s complicated’, but at least he answers the phone when it rings again. Meaning the entire reason he didn’t answer the last one was so Vargas could fly her shipper colours.
Entirely Pointless: 1
We get a new scenes with an establishing shot of a shop with ‘Tarot Cards Read’ and ‘Psychic’ neon signs in the window, with Clary heading up the side alley next to it what I assume to be the back door/delivery entrance. The sign next to it reads Greenpoint Antiquities. I checked and there are actually a whole bunch of antique shops in Brooklyn, including a good few in Greenpoint. The series is filmed in Toronto but they actually did a decent job of matching the look too.
I’d say this may be one of the first proper and for the better changes to the story that the show makes, since this is actually Jocelyn’s shop. This does a lot more to justify the Frays living in gentrified Brooklyn than the books ever did.
This is not the only change we see as now we meet another character; Dot, who is played by Vanessa Matsui and is the young and pretty replacement for the old and disgruntled Dorothea of the books. Whether or not this change is an improvement is very debateable. She still seems to be a psychic though, and during the first bit of the conversation with Clary, she’s reading a set of tarot cards, first flipping over Death and then the Ace of Cups so the camera can focus on both meaningfully. It’s actually not as blatant as the DOOMSCOTTI was.
There’s a nice little bit banter back and forth (Shadowhunters is aware of social media! Yay!), before Dot presents Clary with a gift of the top we saw her in at the start of the episode.
Dot: “You might want to keep that on the DL, ‘cause your mom’s my boss, and I don’t want her to flip out.”
Clary: “Yeah, but that’s how I know it’s cool.”
I think it’s to McNamara’s credit that she makes that line sound playful and not bratty.
In fact, as much I’m skipping over it, I actually like this scene a lot. Maybe it’s just McNamara and Matsui’s acting or not having access to her every mean little thought, but thus far Clary has come off as a nicer person here than she ever did in the books.
Dot gives Clary a hug and tells her she loves her. This last bit is apparently enough to set off Clary’s weirdness sense and the tinny horror movie music in the background lets us know her intuition is in the right as Dot shoos her upstairs. There’s a further All Is Not Right With Things shot as Dot closes the store and changes the Open sign over to Closed.
It’s around this point when I started feeling faint, because it’s been 7 minutes and we have had five scenes so far, all of them introducing new characters and spanning the events of roughly two chapters in the book.
Clary heads upstairs (and what a beautiful upstairs it is) where a delighted Jocelyn is waiting. We also learn that she, like Dot, is also following Simon’s Twitter. Clary sounds so fed up with this. She hasn’t gotten to tell anyone the news herself.
Jocelyn is played by Maxim Roy and of all the actors, she has the toughest act to follow. Overall, I feel the show has much better casting than the movie did but oh do I miss Lena Headey. Still, Ms Roy comes off as likeable pretty much instantly, and the obviously close relationship Jocelyn has with Clary here instead of the distant, somewhat cold one in the books really helps that.
They sit down for a heart-to-heart and Jocelyn presents Clary with a stele inside a velvet-lined box. It means about as much to her as it would to any new viewer that missed Isabelle using it earlier. That is to say, she mistakes it for a paperweight. Jocelyn must be thrilled.
There a subtle duuunn in the background music as Clary recognises one of the runes on the stele, and Jocelyn actually makes an attempt to inform her of the situation like a responsible mother before she is interrupted by Clary’s phone. It is, of course, Simon, letting Clary know he’s on his way over. She’s going to go see his band, Champagne Enema, perform.
Yes, that’s really the name.
Simon, I am ashamed of you. The terrible names in the book were less terrible (and less gross) than that.
Jocelyn: “It’s your eighteenth birthday, and, uh, everything’s going to change for you now.”
Clary: “Mom? We’ve had the talk.”
Jocelyn: “We need to have a much different and more important talk.”
Jocelyn, to her credit, keeps trying, but Clary’s having none of it. Instead of having a tantrum, however, she assures her mother that she loves her and that they’ll talk about it over breakfast before she scuttles off to get ready to go out.
There’s a three second scene of Clary getting ready into the clothes we saw her wearing in the opening, like the show wants to reassure us that it’ll get back to that, honest! That’s followed by another three second scene in which Jocelyn stares forlornly at a stele and touches the runes Clary’s drawn on her sketchbook. I’m not sure if the stele is Clary’s or not. Granted, it can’t be since she took that to her room with her, but I don’t see that stopping this show.
The rune in question must be the Unnecessary Backstory rune as we fade into another frigging scene that I like to call ‘The Flashback That Ruins Everything’. Yes, it’s a flashback within a flashback, and it’s the worst scene yet by far. Not because it’s an awful scene in itself, but because of what it does to the rest of the episode.
We fade into a foresty park Ten Years Ago, where little Clary (played by Sofia Wells) is sitting by a lake and playing with a mermaid plushie while Jocelyn sits on a park bench nearby. A lady next to her leans in and goes “Your daughter looks just like you”, just in case we wouldn’t know that’s Clary and would think Jocelyn was just staring at someone else’s redheaded child.
Clary is befriending a lake frog when a toothy demon worm erupts from the water and attacks her. Jocelyn waves her stele over her arm and vanishes from mundane sight so she can slice the thing’s head open with a sword, causing the whole body to disintegrate into glowy ashes. She’s lucky the thing took ten seconds to pose before eating her daughter or this show would be a lot different.
Freaked by this encounter, Jocelyn takes Clary to the home of Magnus Bane, who, if the circular door is any indication, lives in the Shire. I can never tell these things but I really hope his eyes are bad CGI and not contact lenses because Christ, he looks ridiculous and I swear the contacts make him look ever-so-slightly wall-eyed to boot.
Magnus is played by Harry Shum Jr. He was in Glee. His makeup is terrible. I really don’t know what to say except what is even going on with these costume choices? He looks like an emo cockatoo.
Jocelyn ties Clary to some sacrificial pillars and insists Magnus takes Clary’s memories because “I don’t want her to be part of our world.”
-How the hell would taking her memories stop her getting eaten?
-What are the side effects of taking her memories?
-What are the moral implications of this?
-Will this make her less delicious?
-Won’t this just make it needlessly difficult to tell her the truth?
Magnus puts up a token protest, but we all know he caves, and he pulls Clary’s memories out of her with a little blue smoke effect while looking that he’s got two black eyes.
I’d trust this guy with my kid as much as I’d trust him with eyeliner.
I’ll go into an explanation of why this scene ruins everything at the end, but for now, we continue on, stopping only to tally the counts.
Imma Let You Finish But: 3 One for each three-second scene and the flashback within a flashback.
*Un-Logic: 1 *
Our “Heroes”: 1
Entirely Pointless: 1
Luke arrives and interrupts Jocelyn’s flashback. They have some Ominous Foreshadowing talk before Clary returns and we continue the running trend of Clary having a half-decent relationship with her family and friends with Luke giving her a set of spray paints that she’s genuinely grateful for.
Clary waves off Luke’s own attempt to reveal the plot, and further attempts are scuppered by Simon’s arrival to whisk her off to somewhere called Lombardi’s for his ‘big gig. And by big, I mean not so’ and then Pandemonium.
Clary: “What is with you guys? I’m eighteen, not going on some epic journey.”
If I didn’t have a million counts already, I’d include one for everything that makes me facepalm.
There’s some cute back and forth between Simon and Luke, and Clary and Jocelyn before Clary hops on Simon’s back and is piggybacked away so Luke and Jocelyn can have some more Ominous Foreshadowing about letting her be a kid for one more day.
We shift scene onto Clary sitting on top of a van with Simon and a friend called Maureen, complaining about her mother being over-protective. Because we couldn’t escape that stuff entirely, I guess.
Maureen, played by Chailene Garnett, is a character from the second TMI trilogy, first appearing in City of Fallen Angels. She’s been changed for the show and is now a black young adult instead of a pale blonde fourteen year old. I think that means she might be a composite of Maia or a replacement for her, but I’m not certain.
Simon compares Jocelyn to Ripley and/or the Queen from Aliens, “Defending her young!” It’s not a good comparison. This leads into how Jocelyn has zero family and Clary’s father died when she was young, with a kind of sweet aside from Simon about how the Lewis’s add extra chairs for the Freys at family get-togethers.
Clary: “I spend all my life in an art studio. My life couldn’t be more mundane.”
Maureen points out how that’s a little suspicious and how Jocelyn could be “hiding some deep dark secret,” which Clary scoffs at.
Clary: “My mother is incapable of concealing anything from me.”
Well, don’t say you weren’t warned, moppet. But if this keeps up, I will make that Facepalm count.
We immediately cut to Jocelyn at home, taking a runed swordhilt out of a box and posing with it so the glowy blade appears.
This is not a reveal when we already saw her using it not three minutes ago to shank a waterworm.
Imma Let You Finish But: 1
Entirely Pointless: 1
We cut to the University of Toronto which is standing in for the Institute, where Isabelle, awful wig in hand, is checking out her tight, white clubbing gear in a mirror before meeting up with Alec in the hallway. He’s as impressed by the wig as I am.
Isabelle: “What can I say? Demons dig blondes.”
Alec: “Of course they do, but that’s white.”
Isabelle: “Platinum! And they don’t exactly dig Shakespeare, Alec.”
Alec: “You’re plenty distracting on your own.”
I honestly just love this exchange so much. It’s the exact right amount of sibling back-and-forth, complete with a little ribbing. I’m also kind of amused that it’s such a known fact demons prefer blondes that Alec replies with ‘of course’. What I don’t like is Isabelle’s poke at Alec after, about ‘being yourself’. This will be a growing issue.
They reach what I suppose is the main floor of the Institute to meet up with Jace, and damn, has the place gotten a huge visual overhaul from the books. While the architecture is Gothic, there’s a lot of pretty advanced looking technology all over the place, six-monitor computer set-ups, whole server banks, as well as a massive touchscreen map of New York that can track demonic activity. It’s also chock full of other Shadowhunters who are all busy walking from one place to another and talking, giving the place a much more lively feel.
Jace compliments Isabelle on her choice of wig colour, echoing the ‘demons dig blondes’ sentiment, Alec chimes in sullenly in the background with ”It’s platinum.” Hee!
The team is following up on the demonic murders we saw earlier, which, as it turns out, are actually the result of demons, though no one has any clue why demons would be doing that.
Isabelle: “There must be something special about their blood.”
Alec: “What could be special about mundane blood?”
Isabelle: “You get me a sample and I’ll tell you exactly what they’re looking for.”
On one hand, the idea of Isabelle being a forensics expert is pretty cool.
On the other, Alec, fuck off with that bullshit.
There’s some implications that all demons are shapeshifters, probably because the showrunners can’t afford a load of CGI beasties, and we see that the Shadowhunters actually have proper intel in this show, having an up-to-date picture of EAM from the opening.
Alec says he’ll get approval for the mission, which Jace and Isabelle overrule with “By the time you send that message, we’ll have killed six demons already,” and “Besides, it’s more fun to break the rules than to follow them.” I feel betrayed.
Alec’s meant to be the leader, by the way. Just letting you know ahead of time because you sure won’t guess by yourself.
We change scene over to Clary & Co, who are at some hipster-looking coffee place that is presumably Lombardi’s. There is a Lombardi’s in New York, but it’s in Manhattan and I’m very sure a pizza place wouldn’t let an indie band sing in it. Especially not one doing an absolutely terrible rendition of ‘Forever Young’.
I don’t know what my original reaction was to that, but on a rewatch I’m just making the Sideshow Bob grumbles like I’ve been hit with a rake.
Clary is in the audience, looking proud, and we get a love triangle shot as the camera slides from her to Simon and then to Maureen, who is looking at him like she’s going to swoon.
Cringe Chemistry: 1
We shift scene to outside where Maureen thanks Clary for being their roadie and Simon thanks her for being their artist while taking off his shirt.
Cringe Chemistry: 1
Clary tags their van with the band name, which is now Rock Solid Panda instead of Champagne Enema and thank fucking god for that. She also adds the signature rune of the series, the ‘Angelic Power’ rune from the title shot, which Simon comments on. Clary is confused, because apparently at no point while making this professional, sharp-edged tag did she question what she was doing?
Does this mean Simon’s van is now angelically powered?
Maureen. “You know, they have confirmed cases of people waking up in the morning speaking French, and they never even studied the language?”
Clary: “You think that’s come kind of language?”
Maureen: “Sanskrit, maybe.”
Maureen, I like you. But what the fuck are you on about?
Eidolon Lady struts past Clary, the PanDEMONium sign flickers in the background, and Jace bumps into Clary like a dick.
Yes, fifteen minutes in, we have caught up to the opener! It turns out what came after was painful dialogue, surprise!
Clary snarks at Jace about him not seeing her, and he seems disbelieving of her having the Sight, saying ”How can I not know who you are?”
This kind of implies that Shadowhunters somehow know every single person with the Sight. Now, with the kind of tech they have in this, and the manpower, maybe that’s possible but I’m still not going to believe that Jace expects to recognise every single Sighted person on sight.
Shoddy World Building: 1
Anyway, Clary rightfully takes this as a terrible pick-up and gives a weak comeback. In the background, Simon looks like he’s crapped his pants and can feel it since, as we see from his POV, Clary is apparently turning down thin air.
Jace is called away by Alec and we have the standard ‘what, you guys didn’t see him?’ ‘what guy?’ conversation between Clary, Simon and Maureen. Simon suspects her latte was spiked, while Clary tosses off her hoodie so she can go into the club and ”get some answers” because she is now hung up on this.
Inside the club, Eidolon Lady is still strutting through the crowd while the team follows her. She passed on the bottle of blood to a black guy with a double circle rather viciously branded on his neck and only half hidden by his suit. He’s accompanied by a white guy in similar get-up. It’s safe to assume these are members of the Circle, baddies du jour. As far as I remember, neither of these characters are named in the episode but the black guy is Pangborn, played here by Curtis Morgan, and the white guy with him is Blackwell, played by Jordan Hudmya. Both were minor bad guys in City of Bones.
Meanwhile, Clary & Co have made their way inside and Simon goes to ”fail at getting [them] some birthday drinks”
Magnus is here, by the way, surrounded by badly dressed minion, including one dressed like a BDSM cop covered in spikes that is holding his drink. He notices the Circle members noticing Clary as she pushes through the crowd and goes over to tell them to GTFO as they are, after all, former members of the supernatural KKK/Hitler Youth.
Magnus is much better dressed this time, by the way, I’d almost call him attractive but the Glee association prevents me from doing so.
The Circle members tells him to chill out over ”ancient history”, which he does not take well to as this is his club and does a Force choke on them until they cop on. There’s literally the sound of bones shifting and cracking in Pangborn’s neck.
Pangborn: “We’ve endured worse!”
Magnus: “You’ve inflicted worse. Leave.”
Man, this sure would have made a good introduction for Magnus, letting us take him seriously while remaining mysterious about his role in the larger plot. If only we hadn’t seen that flashback earlier!
Entirely Pointless: 1 I will rack up this count for every time the flashback is made retroactively pointless.
Jace and Isabelle head into a back area where Eidolon Lady went and where a handful of other demons wait. Isabelle heads up to a little stage-step, shrugs off her coat and starts to dance all sexy. Honestly, it’s pretty damn hot, Toubia is a beautiful woman, but I don’t understand why she whips off the wig except for a dramatic head toss.
What happened to demons digging blondes?
Entirely Pointless: 1
Well, they apparently also dig brunettes, and there’s a silly growl sound from each of the various dude Eidolons as they get up to watch her. I can’t blame them.
While they’re distracted, Jace is with the Eidolon Lady, quizzing her about the mundane blood. She doesn’t even try to deny it because he’s outnumbered. Also, this boy has a thing for invading personal space, he’s right up against her back and talking into her ear. Alec is nearby, watching. He really is kind of a silent creeper.
Negotiations having failed, Jace activates his shiny sword, and Clary, who has snuck into the back to follow him and find out what the fuck, freaks out and runs up to push Eidolon Lady out of the way.
Eidolon Lady’s mouth splits open four ways like she’s an Elite from Halo and Jace shoves Clary away, giving us a silly shot of her sliding on her ass.
A fight ensues!
-Demons are apparently ridiculously easy to kill as one slash from Jace makes Eidolon Lady crumble.
-Isabelle’s snake bracelet becomes a whip and she grabs a guy around the throat because that’s all this show writer and Clare seem to think a whip can do. She then demonstrates good hand-to-hand combat prowess in heels.
-Jace expresses concern for Clary and tries to help her up before he’s punched in the face and loses his sword, causing the blade to deactivate. Clary picks it up and it reactivates.
-Jace throws a guy right onto the sword. Clary is horrified.
-Alec and Isabelle don’t lose their swords like dinguses, murder demons effectively and without traumatising nearby civilians. I think Isabelle in particular racks up a higher kill count here than she got in all the books combined.
-There’s a nice bit of teamwork as Alec tosses Jace his sword on request and Jace stabs a guy, passes it back then grabs his own sword from Clary and he and Alec get a tag team kill together on the last dude.
The fight over, Clary legs it and bumps into Magnus. There’s a bit of meaningful slo-mo and a split –second of Magnus with the blue memory-stealing smoke, then she runs home, leaving Simon and Maureen behind. There’s an ominous shot as the two Circle members watch her get in a taxi and leave.
Entirely Pointless: 1 For the flashback earlier.
I’m actually pretty chill with this scene overall though, because this actually seems like a pre-planned operation and they were all fairly competent, Jace’s butterfingers aside. I’m slightly confused however. Demons do not seem to be kill-on-sight as in the books but I can’t imagine why the fuck not.
Shoddy World Building: 1
We resume back at Clary’s apartment, where she is actually telling her mother what happened and looking for comfort and a reasonable, mundane explanation. Jocelyn is having none of that though, and reveals her own runes, which causes an understandable freak out from Clary that only continues as Jocelyn goes on about protections wearing off and how she’s been putting this off as long as she could.
Before she can tell Clary anything, however, Dot runs into the room to let her know that Magnus had called to warn her that they’ve found her, and outside four Circle members, including the ones we saw ealier, get out of their car.
Jocelyn actually attempts to prepare Clary in the short time she has, telling her that ”[she’s] made a powerful person angry [by taking] something from him and his followers],”, giving her a McGuffin necklace with a purple stone and telling her to go to Luke for help. Dot gives Jocelyn a potion, Jocelyn gives Clary hackneyed advice.
Jocelyn: “Trust your instincts. You are more powerful than you think.”
Ma’am, I know you love your little girl, but I can assure you that you are wrong.
The Circle members head up the alley, swords in hand and dropping the title of the episode, ”the Mortal Cup”, while inside Dot uses some shiny blue magic to open a Portal that Jocelyn promptly… dissipates (?) Clary in after a few more word of advice and declarations of love. I actually don’t know how to describe that.
Clary reappears on the floor of the police station, where she immediately meets Vargas and makes an excuse as to why she’s there at 2AM before going to wait in the cafeteria for Luke to be done with the interview he’s apparently conducting at 2AM in the fucking morning! Soon as Vargas’s back is turned, she heads for wherever Luke’s desk is. Of course.
Back at the Frey’s, two Circle members let themselves into the shop and Dot uses some weaksauce magic to make an easily blocked mace fly slowly at one of them before running. Pangborn takes off after her, while the other stays behind to raid all the antique cups, because Jocelyn would have totally put a treasured artefact of her people up for sale.
Dot runs into Blackwell at the top of the stairs and is tossed through a window for her trouble. We’re treated to a lovely shot of her slamming into the fire escape on the way down too, before landed dead-eyed on the ground. Charming.
Jocelyn uses a rune to set fire to everything in Clary’s room, then dramatically activates her sword and KICKS HERSELF SOME CIRCLE ASS! I love that this is a running thing with screen adaptations of TMI! She stone cold stabs a guy right through the heart! There’s three guys left and she’s clearly way better than any of them! She’s holding a potion in one hand!
The fight stops for some talk, and Pangborn reveals that they’re not looking for the Cup for themselves but for Valentine. It’s a name that means absolutely nothing to new viewers but fills Jocelyn with so much horror that once she’s certain Clary’s room is thoroughly scorched, she downs the potion Dot gave her before anyone can stop her.
“You’ll never get the Cup.”
She stares right at Pangborn as she drinks it too. You can feel the fuck you in her eyes.
Back at the NYPD, Clary finds that Luke is being questioned by two more Circle members, who offer him Clary and Jocelyn in exchange for the Cup. Of course, Luke bullshits about how he was only ever in it for the Cup and how he was it for himself.
There’s a great little moment when one Circle member gets all snippy and points a finger at Luke only for Luke to smack it away sharply like he’s a bold dog getting a swat of a newspaper, point in his face, then command him out of his office.
Clary, of course, believes the bullshit and has herself a little cry before running home in the rain.
We cut to Chernobyl!
See? I wasn’t lying.
We meet Valentine, played by Alex Van Sprang. I know nothing about this guy, but I have heard he does evil well. Currently, he is wandering along a set of cages full of zombie-sounding people, holding a syringe, so I hope he can pull off EVUL too.
The Circle members appear behind Valentine in a haze of purple Portal smoke, Jocelyn floating in front of them. You can tell by the looks on their faces that they don’t want to be here right now, at all.
And they have every right to feel that way as the clearly still-in-love Valentine gets his creep on, telling Jocelyn he’s *“so sorry it had to be this way,*” before reaching out to almost but not quite touch her.
He doesn’t take well to them not bringing her back conscious and unharmed, and when one idiot, apparently not able to pick up on subtle clues like ‘the boss obviously still being in love with his ex-wife’, starts shit-talking her for being a ”traitor [that’s only] capable of smelling like a mundane” he jams the syringe right into the lackey’s jugular. The guy drops to the floor, making sizzling noises and foaming at the mouth while his skin starts looking all cooked. It’s honestly pretty gruesome but I’m just rolling my eyes at Valentine.
Un-Logic: 1 Yes, Valentine, kill the minions. That’s a path to loyalty right there.
We cut back to Clary who has run all the way home and is most distressed to find a massive pool of blood on the ground outside and the shop trashed inside. She has herself a small breakdown in the doorway she calms herself down, picks up a frigging antique double-headed axe, and heads upstairs, still scared shitless but at least armed. I have no problems with this, even though she drops it almost straight away once she gets upstairs and sees Dot standing there. Unlike us, she did not see
Not-Dot goes straight to questioning Clary about where the Mortal Cup is. As you’d expect, it’s about as useful as asking a fish about astrophysics, and Not-Dot goes straight for the attack, her mouth splitting open like the Eidolon lady back at the club. They scuffle and Clary throws hers off after stabbing her with… something? I think it’s her stele. I guess she’s had it in her pocket the whole time she got it?
Not-Dot transforms into an albino Vorcha from Mass Effect and attacks again, cutting Clary’s shoulder and cornering her against a pillar. Then Jace Outta Nowhere jams his sword right through her (it’s?) chest two inches from Clary’s face and Not-Dot crumbles.
“What? No thank you for saving your life?”
Fuck you, Jace.
Rapier Twit: 1
Our Heroes: 1
Man, I was wondering when I’d get to up those counts.
He immediately switches to concerned mode and starts examining her, once again getting right up in her personal space, while telling her that A) demons exist, and B) that was a Ravener-type demon, and it’s Raveners that are the shapeshifters in this. Well, my bad then. Eidolon Lady shall be posthumously renamed.
Clary takes this fairly well but that may be because she passes out three seconds later. Jace catches her, then lifts her up bridal-style, saying ”I got you”. I think it’s supposed to be romantic.
Cringe Chemistry: 1
We cut to Clary in bed, having a McGuffin necklace-induced fever dream of Valentine creeping on Jocelyn and branding her with the Circle mark. She sit up and smacks right into Isabelle who was watching her sleep. Um? It’s also worth mentioning that Clary has a big rune right on her neck now, and it is actually the Iratze/Healing one.
Isabelle introduces herself and then the conversation immediately goes to how unusual it is that Jace is ”interested in a mundane”.
I just wanted to include this shot because it looks like Clary’s in an aquarium.
“You really don’t know much, do you?”
Yeah, Isabelle, I should hope that the random girl off the street doesn’t know much about your secret pseudo-military organisation, particularly not the name of a random footsoldier which no notable achievements.
Alec shows up to point out ”a mundane shouldn’t even be here”, followed by Jace insisting that she’s not a mundane because the sword activated when she held it. He introduces himself to Clary, then he and Alec has a bit of a bitch back-and-forth, which leads to my other favourite moment.
Jace: “Dial it down a notch?
Isabelle: “My brother doesn’t have a dial. Alec, I love you, but you have a switch that’s always on.”
Alec: “I love you too. But this -!”
And he gestures at Clary. Hee!
Jace shows as much respect for his commanding officer as we could ever expect from him and demands alone time with Clary
Jace: “Here’s a word you never hear me say. Please.”
Our “Heroes”: 1
Alec looks like he’s about to have a migraine and Isabelle leads him out before he has a conniption.
Out in the hallway, Alec makes a point that “there’s no such thing as new Shadowhunters.” Now, if this series followed reality, this would be complete bullshit for obvious reasons. Hell, in the Infernal Devices prequel trilogy, one of the main characters is the son of a Shadowhunter who married a mundane and left their society. But within the context of the show, Alec is right. And that mean that he’s totally right to find Clary suspicious.
Shoddy World-Building: 1
Isabelle, of course, turns it around and all but straight up calls Alec jealous, but Alec points out that Clary’s intervention earlier meant they never found out who was buying the blood before leaving a somewhat down-looking Isabelle behind.
Back with Jace and Clary, Jace lets her know that her wound has healed, which confuses her. She brings up all these ”stunning people [having] magical powers” He corrects her on the magical powers bit in a friendly way, which is especially nice considering he’s actually fairly confused once he realises she really doesn’t know anything.
“Warlocks, vampires, Seelies-“
“Literally, my brain is about to explode.
“Jeez, alright. Well, I’ll keep it simple for you. All the legends are true.*”
Warning: Not all legends actually true. The writers just like using that line.
He goes onto actually explain the situation a little; they’re Shadowhunters, they hunt demons, the people at the Pandemonium were demons. And Clary drops the most non-sequitur line thus far in response.
Clary: “I’m not interested in being part of your supernatural fight club. I just want to find my mom.”
This line was in all the trailers. It made more sense there than in context.
Lady, he didn’t even offer! Find your chill, all the boy has done is saved your life. Actually, regarding that, Jace knowing for certain that she’s a Shadowhunter means that he didn’t knowingly gamble with her life by healing her with a rune.
Clary begs Jace for help, then immediately seems to change her mind once he tells her he’s her best chance. Thankfully, her phone starts ringing. Once again, it’s Simon.
Turns out she’s been gone for two days and when he used the Find My Friends, it only led him to an abandoned church that he’s now outside of. Clary tells him she’ll be right out once she gets dressed, which does not put his mind at ease, and he starts worried about a meth problem. I think it’s meant to be funny. There’s a shot of Jace picking up her sketchbook (where the fuck did that come from?) and seeing the runes all over it.
As in the book, Clary’s clothes were apparently utterly destroyed by the demon venom from one tiny cut, and Isabelle has left her a leather mini-skirt and corset ensemble complete with knee-high boots that in no way would fit Clary if it belongs to a woman five inches taller and with a much curvier bodytype.
Clary: “You’re kidding me, right?”
Jace: “She’s very comfortable with her body.
Rapier Twit: 1 I don’t know if this is for Jace or the writers, but I feel it.
Clary notices and is, understandably, affronted by the rune on her neck and tells Jace he does not get to tattoo her without her permission. Charmer that he is, he tells her that he’ll let her die next time before actually explaining for her and the viewer that it’s not a tattoo but a rune, powerful for Shadowhunter, lethal to regular humans, yada yada. I won’t ding him for the change in attitude though, since he then tries to confront her about the runes on her sketchbook before realising that she has zero knowledge about runes as well as the Downworlders.
Jace: “Which is what makes you so interesting… Clary Fray.”
Boy. Personal space. Get yourself out of everyone’s.
Cringe Chemistry: 1
We cut to Clary heading outside, Jace following her with a sword because he saw something behind Simon. I think it says a lot that Clary automatically feels the need to tell him not to kill Simon.
Jace: “Protect the humans, kill the demons. You’ll get it eventually.”
Don’t even go there, pal. Just because Clary doesn’t know how inept you are at either of those things doesn’t mean I don’t.
Clary comes out of the Institute asking Jace why Simon can’t see him, and Jace explains that he’s using a glamour that allows him to go unseen by regular humans.
Jace: “It’s a shame, really, ‘cause… well, denying them all this.”
Rapier Twit: 1
Simon is horrified y not only Clary talking to thin air but what’s she wearing and rushes to give her his jacket to cover up with. I’m kind of confused, honestly. Like, it’s sure as shit not churchwear, but as clubwear it’s really not that bad, just a bit cleavagey. Am I just surrounded by sluts or something?
He offers to take Clary home, but she rejects it because “[she doesn’t] think [she has] one anymore.”
Clary, your mother’s missing but you still, as far as you know, have an apartment to go back to. You don’t know your mother torched your room!
The would-be touching moment is interrupted when a guy announces “Clary Fairchild!” from… behind her? Between her and the Institute?
And then Jace pops up behind him, which just begs the question of how the dude even got there to begin with, and puts him in a chokehold. The dude promptly headbutts his way out and the two have themselves a fight while Clary reacts with shock and surprise and Simon has no idea what the fuck is going on. It ends with Jace stabbing the guy real close.
Circle Man: “We’ll never stop hunting her!”
Jace: “This is for my father!”
Ugh, did you have to remind me?
The guy dies and we immediately follow this up with more of Simon thinking Clary’s lost it as she runs over to the body and demands to know if Jace has actually just killed a man in front of her. Clary, honey, he got stabbed by a sword that’s at least two feet long and collapsed. I know the end didn’t come out the other side, but seriously.
Glamour apparently wears off on death as the Circle Man’s body appears at Clary’s feet. She seems kind of more offended that Simon will thinks she’s crazy than upset a guy, a guy who did not crumble into magical glowy bits upon his demise, was just killed in front of her.
Jace reveals himself, and I forgot to mention earlier since it wasn’t given focus, but his glamour rune is in a totally gratuitously fanservicey place on his abs where he has to lift his shirt to get at it.
Cringe Chemistry: 1
Jace directs everyone to get back inside since Simon may have inadvertently led more Circle members to them. Simon assumes Jace is a meth dealer.
Rapier Twit: 1
The situation pretty much rapidly turns into both boys going ‘pick me! No, pick me!’ at Clary. Jace promises to help her find her mother, and that she’s one of them anyway. Simon insists that he can find help, and that she doesn’t even know Jace. These boys are literally on either side of her like they’re going to start playing tug-of-war while Clary’s looking at the camera like she hopes the viewer can save her.
And I hate to say it, but I’d have to side with Jace here. Simon, you can’t even see these dudes, much less protect her from or help her with them.
We cut away from this love-triangle set up to Valentine screaming in Pangborn’s ear about not finding the Mortal Cup, which is totally not a completely jarring transition into an unnecessary scene.
Imma Let You Finish But: 1
Pangborn tells Valentine about Clary, and Valentine decides that ”[he’d] like to speak to Jocelyn’s daughter.”
Uh, no shit, dude, that’s probably why your Circle followed her best friend to the Institute!
And so the first episode of Shadowhunters end with a shot of Clary closing her eyes as two jerks demand her attention.
Honestly, I half-liked this episode. It was worse than what I’d hoped for, but definitely better than I’d expected. But that mid-episode flashback kind of ruined the whole thing, trashed any possible mysteries, and will continue to do so down the line as the viewers wait for the characters to catch up. I genuinely cannot understand why it was there and I doubt I ever will.
As I said before, I would love some feedback and advice on this. I can already think of a few things I’d have done differently if it didn’t mean an entire rewrite, and I’m sure I missed a few points.
Thank you for reading!
Entirely Pointless: 7
Shoddy World Building: 4
Rapier Twit: 4
Our “Heroes”: 3
No Shit Sherlock: 0
Cringe Chemistry: 6
Imma Let You Finish But: 5
Nudge, Nudge, Say No More: 4
Make Up Your Damn Mind: 0