Shadowhunters S01E06 “Of Men And Angels” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Netflix, new episodes each week on Wednesdays
Writer: Y Shireen Razack
Director: Oz Scott
Essential Plot Points:
- Werewolf Luke is not reacting well to having been bitten by an Alpha.
- Jace, Clary and Simon take him to Magnus rather than the nearest vet.
- Magnus needs special ingredients to concoct a cure.
- Jace and Simon fetch the ingredients – bickering all the way – while Magnus administers magic painkillers to Luke.
- Magnus also says he needs Alec’s “virgin Shadowhunter energy” but sulky Alec doesn’t come running immediately.
- Magnus tells Clary a bit about the the history of her mum and dad; how Luke and Jocelyn stopped Valentine from using the Cup to make an evil Shadowhunter army to eliminate all downworlders.
- Back at the institute Dad Lightwood (Robert) and little bro’ Lightwood (Max) arrive.
- Seems all of Alec’s, Izzie’s and Jace’s unsanctioned adventures have dented the Lightwood’s reputation within the Clave. Mum and Dad clash over how to rectify this.
- When Alec learns he is going to offered up for an arranged marriage, he leaves the Institute in a strop.
- Izzie, however, decides to be a good little girl and become the obedient Shadowhunter her parents want.
- Alec arrives at Magnus’s and gives him the strength he needs to keep the magic painkillers working (allegedly).
- Luke and Simon return with the extra ingredients for the cure. Luke is saved!
- Luke tells Clary the rest of the story of the him, her mother and her father back in the day because Jocelyn told him that the key to Clary finding the Mortal Cup is for her to know “everything”.
- Seems Valentine went insane because he thought his wife, Jocelyn, and his parabatai, Luke, were having an affair (though it could have just been because he hated the way Jocelyn drew him in her terrible pictures).
- Learning all this doesn’t seem to open any new memories in Clary’s head, so she demands to know everything… including what’s so important about that box she found under the floorboards of her old house last week. The one her mum hid that has the letters JC on it.
- Reluctantly Luke reveals that JC stands for John Christopher; Clary’s brother who died in a fire when he was very young.
- (Audience hums Star Wars theme…)
- The shock of this news makes Clary accidentally turn the box into a sketch of a box. Realising this power could be hereditary she announces she knows where Jocelyn hid the Mortal Cup.
- Magnus admits that he lied about “needing” Alec… he just wanted to see him again, and says he fancies the pants off of him. Alec doesn’t know where to look.
Good grief, for an episode bursting with so many “MAJOR REVELATIONS!” this was suspiciously like being read a bedtime story at times. The last third may as well have been bedridden Luke reading passages from The Mortal Instrument books aloud.
Sure, there were some pretty-looking flashbacks full of impressive fights and special effects showing a bit of what happened back at the time of the first Circle uprising. But the story isn’t told in flashback; the story is told in voiceover. The flashbacks are more like illustrative material or edited highlights. They look great but crucial elements of the story are delivered via exposition only. We don’t get to see the Circle, or the uprising, or the Clave in action; we see Joceyln, Valentine and Luke and that’s about it.
The result is that Valentine still doesn’t feel like the epic, world-ending threat we keep being told he is. He comes across more like an abusive husband, which is a bad thing to be, sure, but hardly makes him the new Pol Pot; the tale feels too small and too personal.
Plus, we get an awful lot of exposition again. The episode tries to use the flashbacks to disguise that fact but it’s stealth exposition nevertheless. Which when added to all the extra new info being dumped on us by ma and pa Lightwood, leads to a very dialogue-heavy episode. Once again, the show seems to want to load every little detail from the books on us as quickly as possible and the overload means we get told a lot without actually seeing much.
The show’s main saving grace at the moment is Magnus, who livens up every scene he’s in. His “coy” attempts to get into Alec’s pants are amusing and kinda sweet. Let’s hope when the two of them do get together all the fun vanished.
Surprisingly, Jace and Simon make an entertaining double-act this week too, even though Jace is doing what he’s done every other week with Alec badly: bickering. There just feels something more genuine about these two butting horns and it helps that the arguments are tinged with self-effacing humour too. The only bum note is Jace’s rather muted reaction to Simon pulling a knife on him. Either Jace thinks that Simon is infected with vampire blood, in which case he would follow it up, or doesn’t, in which case he’d be “WHAT THE F**K, MAN???” Just kinda letting it drop feels wrong.
So, having left us with revelation fatigue this week, hopefully the show can have a couple of weeks when it moves on the plot in the present. After all, Valentine has done precious little since the pilot and ma and pa Lightwood haven’t done much apart from natter on about vague details so far. Let’s see the arc plot actually start to make some significant progress.
- The bit where Jace comes running out of the meeting with his black market supplier chased by a giant scorpion was wonderfully random. We thought we were going to be in for a dull, dialogue-heavy bartering scene. This was much more fun.
- The Magnus/Alec relationship is just about the most natural, well-played, engaging relationship on the show.
- And while Magnus is a tad camp at times he remains the show’s most memorable character. We loved, “I’m not being cryptic, I’m being coy.”
- Not sure why, but the little moment with Simon licking blood off his hand, worked well, even though it’s a beat we’ve all seen before in a zillion vampire shows and movies. Maybe it was the slightly baffled way Alberto Rosende played it.
- And while the Jace/Alec arguments are usually the low point of any episode, the extended Simon/Jace bickering scene here was pretty entertaining, perhaps because they did sound like two sulky schoolboys – one a geek, the other a wannabe alpha male – arguing over a girl. “There are tons of women out there who have more-than-a-friend feelings for me,” was a painfully recognisable line, while Jace’s petulant, “Where are they?” was the kind of dumbass playground logic we’ve all heard at some point.
- The young Val versus young Jocelyn fight scene was pretty decent.
- Our first look at Idris was impressive.
- Alec and Jace argue so often it was difficult to recall why they were both sulking at the start of the episode.
- Far, far, far too much clunky exposition, even for this show.
- Robert and Maryse Lightwood’s motivations are really muddy and vague, even at the end of the episode. What are they planning, exactly? What is their beef with each other? You get some vague idea but not the details. Which probably wouldn’t matter except that their actions and decisions impact on Alec and Izzie in ways it’s difficult to fathom. Alec initially seems happy to play the obedient little boy, but then learns he’s going to be married off and simply vanishes in a huff. The complete opposite happens with Izzy, and yet in both cases it’s not entirely clear what’s instigated these changes.
- There’s some really inelegant dialogue. Worst offender: “If only the Clave would listen to reason!” “We have to make Val listen to reason.”
And The Random:
- This is the first episode to feature both Robert Lightwood and Max Lightwood (who we were pleasingly surprised to see was around the age he’s supposed to be in the books; we assumed the show would take the opportunity to introduce another good-looking teen).
- Did Owen Roth’s audition for young Valentine consist of him proving how many different ways he could glower?
- How to make Ham-Pye. 1) Take a selection of actors from Shadowhunters…
- Sorry, but we couldn’t help sniggering when Magnus told Alec, “I’m glad you came…”
Review by Dave Golder