Shadowhunters S01E03 “Dead Man’s Party” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Netflix, new episodes each week on Wednesdays
Writer: Marjorie David
Director: Andy Wolk
Essential Plot Points:
- Team Teen Shadowhunters needs to rescue Simon from the vampires. They work out he’s been captured by “Camille’s outfit” who are hanging at the Hotel DuMort (this requires about three seconds of detective work).
- Izzy, who has a “thing” for seelies (“fairies, the fair folk… pixies, nixies, elves, anybody half angel, half demon…”) shags a seelie fairy called Meliorn for information on how to get into the Hotel DuMort undetected. She didn’t need to shag him; seelies can’t lie so she could have just asked him. She was mixing business with pleasure.
- Alec, Jace and Clary fetch some weapons hidden in a graveyard in preparation for attacking the hotel. But there’s no bow and arrow (and every sci-fi or fantasy franchise must have an archer these days) so Jace returns to the Institute to fetch one. There Hodge urges him not to settle for being second fiddle. This makes Alec even more sullen than usual for the rest of the episode.
- Alec shows Clary how to use Shadowhunter blades in a scene that’ll have you howling at the screen, “GET A ROOM!”
- At the hotel the head vampire, Camille seduces Simon using this show’s version of glamouring. Some blood is exchanged.
- After a detour involving a flying vampire motorbike (in a subplot that’s screaming to be left of the cutting room floor) Team Teen Shadowhunters enters the hotel, kills some vampire cannonfodder and rescues Simon with (seemingly) the help of a vampire called Raphael.
- Or did Raphael let Simon be rescued for a reason?
Well, if you like weirdly passionless snogging and inelegant infodumping then “Dead Man’s Party” will be well up there in your “episodes of the year” list come the end of 2016.
This show seriously needs to start stepping up a gear. This is the second episode in a row with barely any plot just loads of world building (aka, exposition), low-rent flirting and medium petting. There are scenes here that are clearly supposed to have fans feverishly tweeting “HOT!” but which are instead just a bit dull or at worst downright embarrassing. When Jace shows Clary how to use his “flashing blade” any intended fisson ends up as so much seaside postcard sauciness. By the time Clary asks, “Can I even do this on my own?” you half expect the Shadowhunter weapon to morph into a glow-in-the-dark sex aid.
This episode we also get our first prolonged exposure to Shadowhunters’ take on vampires. It’s not promising. The two main bloodsuckers we get to meet are a bland pair. Head vampire Camille has some wonderfully droll dialogue at times (you have to love the idea of a centuries old vampire who’s sensitive about her age) but Kaitlyn Leeb is woefully miscast and brings no edginess or archness to role. Like pretty boy David Castro who plays Raphael she appears to have won the role on looks alone – and both are indeed mighty fine eye-candy – but there’s practically zero vampire in their acting DNA.
(The body fascism goes further when Clary reacts to a perfectly okay-looking if not pop-idol-gorgeous biker vampire as if he’s the ugliest thing she’s ever seen.)
Poor old Simon. He was one of the better aspects of the first two episodes; the loveable geek is a staple of telefantasy shows these days he and he bore the glasses and nervous, self-conscious humour well. Here, though, he spends most of the episode loved up on vampire blood and his awkward, gurning sexual fumbling is monumentally boring. It’s not helped by the fact that it’s difficult to work out if Camille is supposed to be deriving any pleasure from the experience (she looks like she’s been asked to snog a dead skunk most of the time) or if it’s all part of some plan.
The battle at the end is exciting, though, and Alec is actually more interesting the more sulky and the less bromancey he becomes. There are still moments when the show sparks to life but too often it’s merely the Lidl-brand version of The Vampire Diaries.
- The brief battle scene livens things up. “Dusting” vampires has come a long way since Buffy.
- The cliffhanger is a great WTF? moment if you haven’t read the books. On the other hand if you have read the books it’s WTF for another reason.
- Clary gets a few more lines that sound like the sassy Clary from the books (“You’re right, I really do know how to hurt a guy”). One day Katherine McNamara might learn how to deliver them.
- Izzy is still by far the best thing about the show.
- Best line: “Bloody Mary, original recipe.”
- Second best line:
Camille: “How much longer have I been at this than you?”
Raphael: “Three, four hundred…”
Camille: “You weren’t supposed to answer that.”
- Way too much infodumping. Again.
- Way too much not very titillating (in fact, downright dull) snogging.
- Kaitlyn Leeb is utterly vapid as Camille. She has some great lines but sucks the life out of them.
- Some of Jace and Clary’s flirting is downright embarrassing.
- Simon, who’s been mildly amusing in the previous episodes, is simply irritating here, especially his “comedy” escape attempt and his awkward sexual fumbling.
- Dear lord, who thought that flying motorbike scene was a good idea?
And The Random:
- Looks like the book’s going to skip that whole “Simon gets turned into a rat” nonsense and skip straight to a plot development that doesn’t happen until the second book. Probably wise.
- We wouldn’t normally highlight a mere editing mismatch; US TV is made at a rattling rate and continuity errors are common. But in the scene where Camille hears the Shadowhunters enter the building, Simon changes position in every cut an then finishes with a mismatch flourish when the glass he’s holding magically leaps back onto the table between shots. (Above and below.)
Review by Dave Golder