Shadowhunters S01E05 “Moo Shu To Go” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Netflix, new episodes each week on Wednesdays
Writer: Angel Dean Lopez
Director: Kelly Makin
Essential Plot Points:
- Big Mama Maryse Lightwood arrives at the Institute and instantly makes Alec and Izzy feel like something she scraped off her boots, but treating Jace like he’s the best thing since sliced Circle members. We suspect no one’s ever bought her a “World’s Greatest Mum” mug for Christmas.
- Alec tries but fails to tell Jace that he loves him – and not just in a BFF, parabatai bro’ kinda way.
- Maryse deploys Jace and Izzy to talk to the Seelies to find out why they’ve stopped communicating with the Clave.
- She tells Alec to keep an eye on Clary and keep her at the Institute.
- Clary has other ideas. When Alec is distracted by a phone call from Magnus (“Fancy a shag… sorry, drink some time?”) she nips out to go back to her burnt-out home. There she hopes to find a box that her mum used to open in secret when she didn’t think Clary was watching.
- Simon – who’s suddenly developed into Super Simon, but no one seems capable of putting two and two together and coming up with “Vampire blood!” – helps her find the box under the floorboards. There doesn’t seem to be anything useful inside it.
- But then the two of them are captured by werewolves (who are also after the Mortal Cup) because Simon’s super powers mysteriously vanish whenever they might actually be useful.
- Having found out nothing useful from Izzy’s Seelie bed-buddy, Jace and Izzy meet up with Alec so that Jace and Alec can have this week’s sulky Jake-and-Alec-argument-scene. They try to trace Clary using their parabatai shtick but fail, either because Clary is over water or because Jace isn’t hard enough… sorry, isn’t concentrating hard enough.
- Finally, Luke comes to the rescue in werewolf form. He kills there werewolf pack’s alpha and becomes de facto the new alpha. One problem: he’s critically injured in the fight. (What does happen when an Alpha dies instead of being defeated? Do the others draw straws or organise an election campaign?)
- Valentine does something nasty to some extras. We’re sure it’ll all become clear soon.
Let’s face it – “Everybody has fun at Alec’s expense” is a far more interesting plot line than, “Everybody wants the Mortal Cup”. After the Circle and the vampires, this week it’s the werewolves who want the bloody thing. In coming weeks we fully expect to see the pixies, the Spanish Inquisition, the CIA, the Illuminati, the Hair Bear Bunch and the IRS turn up to demand, “Where’s the Mortal Cup!?” while hanging Simon upside-down from his feet. It’s getting a little dull now.
On the other hand, while most of the actors (especially Matthew Daddario as Alec) are still giving performances that teeter on the border between “icy restraint” and “can’t be arsed”, some of the character work in “Moo Shu To Go” is a lot more engaging than previously. Clary is a little spunkier and a tad more like her counterpart in the novels. Jace is finally being allowed to smile. Alec is irritated that everyone except Jace seems to have noticed that his wandering eyes tend to wander below the belt. And Simon has apparently gotten over his vampire fugue and is now leaping and quipping about like Peter Parker after the radioactive spider incident.
So while the werewolf plot is about as interesting as watching a dog moult, the central relationships are finally showing signs of being able to carry the show through less exciting episodes.
We also learn more background about the Lightwoods and the Shadowhunter world, though thankfully for once there are only teasing mentions rather reams of exposition. So now we know that the Lightwood siblings have another brother called Max who’s a bit like Simon, and that the Shadowhunters have a hidden homeland called Idris (which, despite its name, isn’t located in Wales – see below). Plus, we meet Maryse, who for the moment appears content to fill the stock role of “hard bitch mother” (with a hint of “tough love”). Nicola Correia-Damude has little to do other than say her lines while scowling (which is some feat considering she’s also sporting an extreme Croydon face lift).
- The werewolf-flap in the Chinese restaurant was very amusing. Why did Sam Merlotte never make one of these for himself?
- Simon has rediscovered his sense of humour. The comment, “I’m at the Jade Wolf Chinese restaurant on the pier at Greene Street… and they have really inexpensive cocktails!” is wonderfully random and kinda sweet.
- Clary also seems slightly closer to the cheerfully irreverent Clary in the books this week, too. The best moment in the episode has to be when she outs Alec:
- The brief phone-call Alec receives from the unashamedly fruity Magnus is great fun too. It’s highly amusing watching everyone except Alec acting as if Alec’s sexuality is a matter of public knowledge.
- While a couple of the werewolf shots are a bit ropey, most of them are very impressive for a TV show.
- Finally, Luke has something useful to contribute to the show.
- The fuzzy effect the show’s suddenly decided to use whenever a Shadowhunter does some Shadowhuntery action is cheap’n’not-very-cheerful. It looks more like something’s gone wrong with your TV.
- Even granting that we don’t get to see much of Maryse she’s spectacularly wooden and one-dimensional.
- Bloody hell, will somebody just find the bloody Mortal Cup. We’re already fed up with people demanding to know where it is.
- Simon’s powers seem to fail him when they’d be most useful.
- The werewolves are a right dull old bunch. (It would make a refreshing change to have an urban fantasy franchise where the werewolves are the posh aristocratic ones and the vampires are the blue-collar louts).
And The Random:
- So why is Clary sketching pictures of Bruce Willis? Yeah, okay, it’s supposed to be Valentine, but even accepting that – why’s she sketching him? Does the Institute need a photofit?
- When Jace and Alec perform their parabatai there’s some graffiti in the background saying “Rise! Rise! Rise!” which is surely some comment on what’s happening inside Alec’s kecks.
- Right, okay, so the Shadowhunter’s weapons are invisible when they’re not in use! That answers one query from last week.
- This episode introduces two new key elements from the The Mortal Instruments novel series (and in an unusual step for this show leaves them both as casual mentions for now rather the regaling is with massive swathes of infodumpage). Alec and Izzy’s brother Max is nine in the books but we’re guessing the show will make him older when he eventually appears. Idris is the Shadowhunter home country, a sanctuary hidden from the mundanes, that’s situated in Central Europe, between Germany, France, and Switzerland.
Review by Dave Golder