Shadowhunters S01E08 “Bad Blood” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Netflix, new episodes each week on Wednesdays
Writer: Allison Rymer
Director: Jeremiah Chechik
Essential Plot Points:
- Raphael arrives at the Institute with an unconscious and transforming Simon.
- Clary must decide whether to stake him or bury him and let him go full vampire. This involves talking to lots of people, gasping a lot and saying, “My God!” and “This is all my fault!” repeatedly for three quarters of the episode.
- Valentine sends a monster called The Forsaken to attack the werewolves’ Chinese takeaway.
- But it’s a ruse. The werewolves kill the Forsaken and the body is taken back to the Institute, which somehow (in a way that’ll presumably be explained next week) enables a “twin” monster to locate and infiltrate the Institute to have a dance-off with Hodge. Luckily Alec arrives to help Hodge wave his arms in the vague vicinity of the monster to defeat it.
- The Clave, fed up with the Lightwood kids having all the fun, send an envoy to whip them into shape.
- Said envoy, Lydia Bramwell, is all cold and harsh and judgey for about 10 seconds until she starts flirting with Alec.
- Alec, despite still having the hots for Magnus, proposes to Lydia, sacrificing his own desires for a canny political union (plus he’s showing every sign of bicuriosity).
- Clary decides to let Simon go full vampire. He wakes up with fangs and a ravenous hunger for blood. He is not happy about this and runs off to mope somewhere.
- Clary will no doubt say, “This is all my fault!” some more times next week.
What a shame. For the last two episodes Shadowhunters has been showing massive improvement, but “Bad Blood” is a huge disappointment. Bland dialogue, revelations that lead to zero emotional fallout and Clary spending the entire episode looking like a spaniel that’s just clambered out of a freezing cold pond make this a really dreary endurance test.
There’s little sense of the emotional enormity of Clary’s dilemma about whether to save or stake Simon, and in the end she might just as well have resorted to “eeny meeny miny moe”. Big new meenie Clave envoy Lydia arrives to kick Lightwood butt, is mean for about 1o seconds then starts pouring her heart out to Alec. By the end of the episode she’s merely another girly YA trope, all excited at the thought of marriage, albeit a marriage of political expediency. To be honest, the Lightwood kids could do with having their heads knocked together so it’s a shame Lydia didn’t hold off going all soppy for a bit longer.
Camille turns up to be defeated moments by Raphael’s superhuman debating skills… or something (it looked like the idea behind this scene was somewhat lost in translation to screen). Alec learns his parents are ex-Circle, which you’d think would be a cue for a massive strop or major slanging match but just kinda falls flat. Luke has a flashback that apparently has some emotional resonance to Clary’s dilemma but it’s so dull you drop off before the point is made. Jace tells a moral story about strangling falcons which has Clary mentally ticking off “puppy” from his potential Christmas present list.
Some of this might have worked if it weren’t all delivered in such a po-faced manner. What made the last couple of episodes so much fun was that the show was clearly aware of its own inherent silliness and was cleverly inverting (or even subtly sending up) its clichés and tropes. Here we’re back to “Let’s pretend this is serious, important drama”. The result amplifies rather than disguises the problems.
Let’s hope that next week we have the comedy misadventures of Raphael trying to teach Simon how not to be the crappest vampire ever turned. There’s got to be at least one, “And don’t bite your tongue,” gag, surely?
- Um… er…
- No, hang on… give us a minute…
- Oh, this was pretty… it reminded us of the Joker.
- Seriously, though, it wasn’t all bad, but there were no “great” good moments, just a few okayish ones. Alec proposing to Lydia was a solid piece of drama but we can imagine that Malec ’shippers were having kittens! And Simon made a great ravenous vampire at the end, but kinda ruined it by taking the “I’m a monster” way too far into teenage self-pity territory.
- Not much happens. And what does happen seems to drag.
- The Hodge/Forsaken fight is very poorly staged. It’s more like a weird interpretive dance.
- Scenes with vampires running superfast are always a little dodgy (it pains us to admit the Twilight films probably managed it best) but Simon skedaddling at the end here is like something out of a Hannah Barbera cartoon.
- Lydia Bramwell goes from “fearsome envoy” to “girly teen romance cliché” quicker than Alec got his shirt on when Magnus arrived.
- All the wit and spark from last week has entirely dissipated. Even Magnus is worryingly bland.
- Jace’s story about the falcon is a real eye-roller. And no, Clary complaining that “now’s not the time for stories” doesn’t make it any less corny.
- Clary actually says, “Now I’m left with two reprehensible choices!” Reprehensible? What teenager ever uses a word like reprehensible? The whole script is peppered with unnaturally florid lines like that.
- We get yet another of those conversations where Alec raises an objection, everybody else says, “Well, tough luck we’re doing it out way anyway,” and he backs down.
- What was the point in Camille turning up at all? She was so defeated with such perfunctory disdain, it hardly seemed worth paying the actress to appear.
And The Random:
- The director of this episode, Jeremiah Chechik, has directed loads of great episodes of a whole bunch of telefantasy shows (Chuck, Helix, Warehouse 13, The Middleman) but sadly he’ll only ever be remembered for directing the almighty turkey that was The Avengers movie (the 1998 one with Ralph Fiennes woefully miscast as Steed, not the 2012 one with the Hulk hitting Thor a lot).
- How come Simon’s mother seems totally oblivious (or insensitive) to the fact that Clary has just lost her own mother and her home? The whole scene suddenly makes you realise how Clary has almost slipped into a bubble universe since the pilot and the real world has pretty much forgotten she ever existed.
- Did you spot? The monkey that Jace knocks off the shelf to stop Clary blurting something stupid is the “speak no evil” one.
- This picture in Simon’s room is resting on a CD of the Tom Waits album “Swordfishtrombones” which featured the track, “Just Another Sucker On The Vine”. It’s probably a co-incidence, but Simon has just become, “Just Another Sucker…”
Review by Dave Golder