Shadowhunters S01E11 “Blood Calls To Blood” REVIEW

Shadowhunters S01E11 “Blood Calls To Blood” REVIEW

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stars 1.5

Airing in the UK on Netflix, new episodes each week on Wednesdays
Writer: Marjorie David
Director: Mairzee Almas

 

Essential Plot Points:

  • Mildly surprised to find that Jace’s thought-to-be dead dad, Michael Wayland, in a cupboard in Valentine’s deserted Chernobyl lair, Jace and Clary take him back to New York using a portal that Valentine has conveniently left open.
  • Jace is still dying from demon venom. They can’t back to the Institute, though, so they go the werewolves’ Chinese restaurant, Jade Wolf, instead.
  • Luke is mildly surprised to see Michael alive.
  • Clary and Simon go the Hotel Dumort where they blackmail Raphael into providing blood so that Jace can have a blood transfusion.
  • Jace has a blood transfusion in the back room of the Jade Wolf. It’s unclear who’s medically proficient enough to perform the procedure but it works.
  • At the Institute the Inquisitor arrives to begin Izzy’s trial.
  • Izzy asks Alec to ask Magnus to be her legal representative.
  • Magnus agrees but his price is Alec. Alec refuses, so Magnus lowers his ambition and asks for Alec’s beloved bow and arrows instead. Alec agrees.
  • Back at the Jade Wolf Michael says that Valentine will be found at an abandoned hospital in New York. Nobody is even mildly surprised he has this vital information.
  • Clary and Luke go to check out the hospital but Clary tells Jace to stay behind to recuperate. Michael says his son is a wuss for letting a girl into his life, and letting her tell him what to do.
  • At the Institute the kangaroo court is going predictably badly until Lydia is affected by Izzy’s plea for compassion. Lydia retracts her charges.
  • Izzy and Magnus think they’ve won but the Inquisitor says no way – she has the final say. She says that if she’s brought the Mortal Cup within 24 hours the charges against Izzy will be dropped.
  • Clary, Jace, Michael and Luke return to the hospital to fight demons and find Valentine.

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  • Clary finds her mother in mystical suspended animation.
  • Michael and Jace join her in the room and magically bolt the doors which are instantly besieged by demons (Luke is outside having an off-screen grudge fight against a Valentine boot boy we never realised actually had a name before now).
  • Clary produces the Mortal Cup and uses it to demand the demons find Valentine. It doesn’t seem to work.
  • Michael says he’ll give it go. He takes the cup and… transforms into Valentine!
  • Nobody is even mildly surprised.
  • But when he tries to command the demons, nothing happens either!
  • Clary has glamoured a mug to look like the Mortal Cup. She has the real one and uses it to call off the demons.
  • Jace goes to kill Valentine but Valentine says, “I am your father!” (we paraphrase in a Darth Vader impression).
  • Clary looks mildly surprised. Jace looks like he’s choking on a fish bone. Valentine makes his escape.
  • Clary and Jace return to the Institute and hand over the Mortal Cup to the Clave. Izzy is free!
  • Alec pays Magnus with with his bow and arrow, but Magnus tells Alec to look after them for him.
  • Luke tells Simon that Clary and Jace are brother and sister. Simon is not mildly surprise. Simon is airpunching like there’s no tomorrow.

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Review:

God this is awful. Really, really awful. And no, that evaluation has nothing to do with the desperately contrived and emotionally manipulative “siblings” revelation. We know the books. We knew it was coming. We also know how it pans out. So we were prepared to live with it as a necessary evil.

No, this episode is an epic fail (to use Clary vernacular) simply because so much of it is so poorly scripted and acted. Hardly anything about it works. Nearly every scene makes you go, “But… huh???” Characters either act like idiots or robots. Except the Inquisitor who barely acts at all and Lydia who acts like she’s suddenly reading somebody else’s script half way through the episode. Her suddenly change of heart comes so far out of left field you suspect Magnus is surreptitiously using some hocus pocus on her.

Michael’s so creepy it’s a wonder Clary needs that (clumsily inserted) slip of the tongue about her mother’s pregnancy to realise the truth. His story is so full of holes it makes Clary, Jace and Luke look like prize dimwits for not going, “Hang on…?” Even if we accept that all the regulars have had lobotomies this week, the way nobody goes, “Holy crap! You’re alive!” but instead react like they’ve found a fiver down the back of the sofa is really baffling.

The trial is utter pish too. It’s a pure TV contrivance which defies logic and only exists so that characters can speak in hideously artificial rhetoric. Lydia’s change of sides is unexpected, sure, but there’s been nothing paving the way for it. Surely Izzy’s hippy dippy speech alone couldn’t have swayed the hardnosed jobsworth we’ve seen so far?

It doesn’t help that that the actors seem as unconvinced by the threadbare script as the audience. With the exception of a couple of moments of humour when the cast comes to life, the rest of the episode looks like the director’s filmed the first read-through. The Inquisitor’s weary call for order after Lydia retracts her testimony has the dramatic impact of a self service till announcing, “Unexpected plot twist in the bagging area”.

Oh, and Alec and Jace bicker yet again because apparently this is interesting dramatic conflict. We’re not convinced.

Clary’s clever feint with the false Cup at least gives the episode a decent denouement, and Magnus has a sweet scene with Alec at the end (though it’s still difficult to work out what he sees in the sulky, ungrateful, whinging, floppy-fringed frown-on-a-stick). On the other hand, an earlier Magnus line, when he moans that Jace marrying Lydia is unfair on him, shows a worryingly self-centred side to Magnus that does him no favours.

This is the worst episode of the series so far; it’s almost contemptuous of its audience in its “that’ll do” quality threshold. Apparently a few shirtless scenes and a dopey shock revelation that drives a wedge between our love birds is all an episode needs. Demand better!

 

The Good:

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  • Clary making a mug out of Valentine.

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  • Magnus’s Harry Potter moment in court.

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  • Luke teaching Simon dinging etiquette for vampires was kinda amusing but we’re barrel-scraping now.

 

The Bad:

  • It’s tempting to say, “Everyhthing else” and leave it at that, but especially heinous were:

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  • The Inquisitor, who came across like a supply teacher who couldn’t control a class.

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  • The Inquisitor’s honour guard that looked like something out of ’80s Doctor Who.

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  • Clary’s mystifyingly vague, “I found something I wasn’t looking for in the parallel world” speech which surely would have left Jace going, “What the f**k are you on about?”

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  • The scene in which Simon blackmails Raphael should have been edgy and sparky but falls absolutely flat with dialogue that blandly “does the job” rather than has any fun with the situation.

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  • Magnus asking for Alec as payment for bieng Izzy’s advocate borders on stalkerish. Even if it’s not meant seriously it diminishes the character.

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  • Lydia’s change of heart. Yeah, we’ve gone on about this already in the main Review section but we just want to make sure you get the point. It was COMPLETELY unbelievable and unmotivated. It doesn’t help that Stephanie Bennett appears to be in coma for most of the episode .
  • After spending weeks determined not to give the Mortal Cup to the Clave, Clary suddenly meekly hands it over. Eh? What? Has she given them a glamoured mug too? Okay, she had to give up the Cup to save Izzy but it’s been such a big issue for such a long now you’d expect such an crucial change of direction to be marked with more than one throwaway line of dialogue.

 

And The Random:

  • Is Magnus’s line to Alec, “I’ll do you pro bono” supposed to be dripping with innuendo? All we could hear was, “bone”.
  • The Inquistor’s name is Imogen Herondale, and she was set to be portrayed by Sigourney Weaver in the canceled movie The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes.

Review by Dave Golder


Read our other Shadowhunter reviews

 

 

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