Shadowhunters S01E12 “Malec” REVIEW

Shadowhunters S01E12 “Malec” REVIEW


stars 3

Airing in the UK on Netflix, new episodes each week on Wednesdays
Writer: Michael Reisz
Director: James Marshall


Essential Plot Points

  • Izzy is planning Alec and Lydia’s wedding. Jace wants nothing to do with it.
  • Clary and Jace are still feeling a bit weird about each other after Valentine’s revelation that they’re brother and sister. Watching Star Wars together at the moment may not be a good idea.
  • Magnus makes one last play for Alec before his wedding but Alec remains resolute: he will marry Lydia for family, for honour, for giving this episode a dramatic, crowd-pleasing finale.
  • Clary and Jace are trying to pinpoint the Warlock who created the magical coma affecting Clary’s mum.
  • Hodge has narrowed it down to three candidates.
  • Magnus narrows it down to his old mate Ragnor Fell, former High Warlock Of London.
  • Clary, Jace and Magnus portal to “just outside London” and visit Ragnor.
  • After some fun and games (he’s a bit of a wag) he says yes he created the coma spell but to undo it he needs the Book Of The White, the whereabouts of which he no longer knows. But don’t worry because he has something upstairs that…
  • Oh bugger, he’s killed by a demon.
  • Clary and Jace portal back to the institute and Magnus starts transporting Fell’s belongings back to his flat to see if he can work out what might help locate the Book Of The White.
  • Jace is convinced that Lydia is a traitor because someone at the Institute who knew about their mission to see Fell clearly got a message to the Valentine who sent the demon to kill Fell.
  • Clary challenges Lydia who puts up a convincing defence.
  • Izzy turns to Simon – to Simon! – for advice on how to throw a good bachelor party for Alec. This is the very definition of desperate. Googling would be more effective.
  • Anyway, Simon says it’s all about strippers, or friendship. Well that makes things easy for Izzy; Alec only has one friend.
  • So she tricks Alec and Jace into discussing their issues and soon they’re bestest buds again.


  • Next day is the wedding, and urged on by the ghost of Ragnor Fell (or something) Magnus appears halfway through the ceremony, strikes a dramatic pose and flutters his eyelashes as Alec.
  • It’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Alec runs down the aisle and snogs Magnus. The elder members of the congregation are all shocked because they’re like squares, man, but all the youngster are like, “Go Malec! Go Malec! Go Malec!” Including, amazingly, Lydia, who gives Alec her blessing. That’s some benign reaction to being jilted at the altar!
  • Magnus shows Clary and Jace the objects from Fell’s house he thinks he may have a connection to the Book Of The White. Clary recognises a bookmark from her adventures in the parallel universe.
  • Magnus preforms a locator spell on the bookmark and discovers that the current owner of the Book is Camille… and she’s being held captive in a vault under Hotel Dumort.
  • Lydia is knocked unconscious when she takes the Mortal Cup out of its mystical safe (for reasons unknown).
  • The traitor is Hodge, who contacts Valentine to say, “I’ve got the cup – free me of my curse!”





Phew! A considerable recovery from last week’s messy, charmless misstep, “Malec” isn’t so much an episode as a montage of crowdpleasers linked by the minimum of plot. You want Alec and Magnus together? You got it? You want that without Lydia going all revengey and bitter? You got it? You want Alec and Jace best mates again? You got it? You want to see Clary and Jace come to a sensible understanding about their apparent newfound familial connection that doesn’t burn any bridges? You got it!

Okay this is the time in a season – with the finale looming – when loose ends need to tied, but doesn’t this all feel a little bit too tidy? Or at least, too easily achieved. Maybe they put something in the drinks at the wedding reception.

But if you judge a show by its service to fan expectations, well… a slam-dunk of a five star episode. But don’t you wish there’d been a little bit more… well, drama? Conflict? On one level it’s a pleasant surprise that Lydia doesn’t into a major strop. On another, the show has done so little to make such a reaction likely or believable. At best we would have expected sour acceptance; at worst a declaration of war.

The lack of any direct reaction from the Clave (we only hear what Alec’s parents have to say about them) also feels like a major omission. Surely Alec’s choice is going to cause shockwaves, but Maryse and Robert make it sound like their son has given his great aunts a touch of the vapours.

On the other hand the show has remembered how to have some fun again. Magnus is back on form after coming across a little creepy last week. Ragnor Fell provides some Harry Potter-esque silliness. Izzy as the world’s most clueless wedding planner provides some good moments. And the twist (well, it’s a twist if you haven’t read the books) with Hodge provides a hell of a cliffhanger.

Although a bit of a mish mash, “Malec” scores when it needs to. Overall it’s far from the show at its best, but it does have some moments that get there.


The Good:


  • Yeah, the kiss. Sure, it’s cheesy, but what’s wrong with a bit of cheese every now and then?
  • Ragnor Fell is a wonderfully curious fellow. Purists may not like the show’s reinvention of the character but having a refugee from Hogwarts turn up is far more interesting than another surly twenty-something pouting. Plus, we loved his line, “She offered me anything. You were only up to a timeshare of your flat in Paris.”


  • Simon’s geeky Graduate moment. Alec may not have known what he was going on about but we’re cultured.


  • Magnus’s magic-aided attempted seduction of Alec had a level of frisson and sensuality that this show rarely achieves and could do with a lot more often..


  • Ooooh, pretty.
  • Magnus: “It’s always happy hour somewhere.”


The Bad:


  • Ragnor Fell’s prosthetic headpiece looks horrendously artificial from some angles, and the skin tone between the horns is completely different to actor’s skin tone.
  • Lydia’s character arc from bitch to good guy has been as smooth as a slap in the face.
  • It’s really difficult to care about Ragnor’s death when we’ve only known him for five seconds yet we still have to sit through an overly long scene of Magnus grieving for him.
  • Some of the plotting is now like a fantasy adventure game; locating one mystical item after another with the help of really handy clues.
  • Ultimately Magnus doesn’t exactly do much to win Alec over. The church scene needs something extra to make Alec’s decision feel more momentous.
  • The reconciliation between Alec and Jace feels a little easy too. They just… talk. Which yeah, is how it happens in real life but it’s really dull on TV. It’s not like either of them comes up with a clincher which explains why the reconcile; they just mumble on about missing each other. Thrilling.


And The Random:


  • The two other Warlocks pictured alongside Ragnor Fell are Catarina Loss and Theresa Gray (aka Tessa Gray) both of whom are taken from the books.
  • Just in case you didn’t work it out (it took us a few moments) the episode title is a ’shipper term for the Magnus/Alec relationship: M + Alec. You know, like “Brangelina”.
  • Ragnor Fell is a very different character in the books; he has green skin, stopped ageing at 30 and is a surly, grumpy chap. But in plot terms, the major beats are identical.


  • Why on Earth did Izzy look so crestfallen at the mention of strippers?


Review by Dave Golder

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