Shadowhunters S01E13 “Morning Star” REVIEW

Shadowhunters S01E13 “Morning Star” REVIEW

Shadowhunters_1.13_morning_star_clary_simon

stars 2.5

Airing in the UK on Netflix, new episodes each week on Wednesdays
Writer: Peter Binswanger
Director: J Miles Dale

 

Essential Plot Points:

  • The Shadowhunters discover Lydia unconscious and learn of Hodge’s betrayal.
  • Hodge gives the Mortal Cup to Valentine who starts using it to transform humans into a new breed of Shadowhunter. Apparently creating armies of Shadowhunters using neon-glowing magicky-type stuff in the local docks at night can go by totally unnoticed by the locals.
  • Valentine tells Hodge to sling his hook – giving him protection was never part of the deal.
  • Jace, Alec and there werewolves hunt for Hodge while Clary, Simon and Izzy go the Hotel Dumort to convince Raphael to let them talk to the captive Camille (last week we learnt that Camille owns the Book Of The White which contains the spell that can free Clary’s mum from her magical coma).
  • Jace finds Hodge first, they have a fight and Jace slices off Hodge’s hand.
  • He then forces Hodge to take him to Valentine. But Valentine’s skedaddled.
  • Raphael doesn’t want Camille set free so Clary and Simon sneak down to where her coffin’s being kept and wake her anyway.

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  • Raphael’s not happy about this and calls off the vampire/Shadowhunter truce.
  • But Camille’s not being very helpful either and refuses to tell Clary where the Book Of The White is until Simon signs a “Writ of Transmutation” to say that he became a vampire willingly; this will stop the Clave accusing her of killing mundanes.
  • Reluctantly they agree and visit Magnus to get him to draw up the document. While there Camille – a one-time old flame of Magnus’s – kisses the warlock in front of Alec. Ooopsy.
  • Camille takes them to an apartment she owns which is full of books, then reveals she doesn’t know which one is the Book Of The White. Luckily Clary is very good as educated guesses and inspired by her mum’s favourite chicken recipe (no, really, honestly – this does happen) she locates the book.
  • But Jace has learnt that Valentine, who wants Jace to join him in his campaign, is going after Clary and co in an attempt to leverage Jace into agreeing to his terms.
  • So everybody ends up at Camille apartment and there’s a big face-off with Valentine’s men holding Clary and co hostage while Jace pulls funny faces. Finally Jace agrees to join Valentine and vanishes though a portal with his dad to sail off on a container ship packed with Valentine’s new Shadowhunter army.
  • Back at the institute Magnus uses the Book Of The White to wake Clary’s mum and Simon wastes no time in trying to fill a Jace-shaped hole in Clary’s life.

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Review:

So, everyone ready for the big season finale next week? Hang on, what do mean that was the season finale? Surely not. That was just a load of set-up. Where were the big fight scenes? The huge character revelations? The jawdropping twists? The resolutions and the teases for season two?

There’s precious little of any of that in “Morning Star” which brings a whole new dimension to the concept of anti-climax. Honestly, the show might have been better off finishing last week; at least the Magnus/Alec kiss felt like the conclusion to something. There’s little sense of any pay-off of any sort here.

For example, we keep getting told that Valentine will create an army when he gets his hands on the Mortal Cup, which kinda hints that there’s going to be some kind of big battle (even the first book ends with a battle between werewolves and Valentine’s followers). But all we get to see here is one (not very exciting) transformation then a shot of the army sailing off into the distance at the end. It’s not exactly thrill-a-minute and just continues the vibe we’ve been getting all season that most of Valentine’s reputation comes from what the Shadowhunters say about him rather than much that he’s actually done on screen.

Meanwhile, Jace is apparently going to the Dark Side, but again, we learn this more about this from what the other characters tell us rather than anything we actually see. Because what we see is Jace being forced to side with Valentine to save his friends. That’s heroic, not evil. There seems to be some disconnect from the writers think they’re showing us and what the episode actually shows us.

Simon was definitely more fun when he was a geek and makes a very unconvincing vampire. What’s going on with his hair? Is he modelling himself on the Bride of Frankenstein? Why didn’t they just make him a geeky vampire instead of trying to make him “cool”? And if you can judge a vampire by the quality of their sire, Simon’s sunk in that regard too. Camille is such an insipid character she actually makes you think less of Magnus for having dated her.

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Perhaps part of actress Kaitlyn Leeb’s problem playing Camille, though, isn’t her fault. The character needs to be arch and larger than life; she needs to be what Lady Gaga was for American Horror Story: Hotel. But nobody on this show, it seems, is allowed to act in anything other than “neutral”. Aside from Magnus demonstrative displays of emotion are frowned upon. Everyone has to brood, glare seethe or simmer and nothing else. For example, early in the episode Alec says of his parents, “I’ve never seen them so angry.” Really? That was the angriest they’ve ever been? We’ve seen people angrier when they’ve burst a tea bag.

Even Izzy, who was fun for the first few episodes, has been blanded out. Her reaction to discovering Hodge is a traitor is barely more than a wistful sigh, and even her retort to Raphael – “Typical vampire – always underestimating a Shadowhunter” – feels a little half-hearted. Earlier in the season she’d have been vamping up a line like that gloriously.

Luckily the High Warlock of Brooklyn is still on form and Harry Shum Jr resolutely refuses to downplay his performance. He’s by far the best thing about the show and there’e even evidence from a couple of exchanges in this episode that he could be the saving of Alec. There are moment in the episode when Alec shows more charm and charisma than he ever has previously.

It’s a shame to have to be so negative about the show, especially as there have been occasions this season when it’s shown it can have fun and produce sparks. But a finale like this seems determined to suck all the fun and spark out of the show. It’s clearly going for the Vampire Diaries/Teen Wolf audience with its mix of YA romance and supernatural but it’s playing things far too safe at the moment. There is going to be a season two so let’s hope it can shake things up a bit and deliver a few surprises. Not so much in terms of plot; more in terms of tone and bringing some vitality to the characters.

 

 

The Good:

Shadowhunters_1.13_morning_star_crazy_camille

  • Magnus’s sign-language assessment of Camille: “Screwy!”

Shadowhunters_1.13_morning_star_lydia!

  • Lydia’s best performance yet!

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  • Good for Jace for slicing off Hodge’s hand; and congrats to the prosthetics team for actually making the hand look real.

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  • The ship of doooooooommmmmmm!!!

 

The Bad:

Shadowhunters_1.13_morning_star_camille

  • Camille – as bland as ever. It takes more than vaguely-gothy make-up to make a decent vampire queen.

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  • The strange fuzzy effects during fight scenes are back; we think it’s supposed to look like the characters are moving super-fast but it actually just looks like there’s something wrong with the picture.
  • For a finale, there’s not much of a feeling of it being a finale.
  • There’s another round of the “I’m to blame” game at the start. When it comes to guilt, the characters in this show make Catholics look like amateurs.
  • We keep getting told by the other characters that Jace is on the verge of going to the Dark Side, but you never get the feeling that there’s much internal conflict going on from Dominic Sherwood’s performance. Even when he does join Valentine it’s only because he’s forced to.

 

And The Random:

  • We were worried the show was suddenly going to burst into a musical during the following exchange which was delivered like something the Munchkins would have sung in The Wizard Of Oz:
    “Where’s the book of the white?”
    “The book of the what?”
    “The book of the white.”

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  • Was Hodge getting ready to fight here or give us a performance of kabuki theatre?

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  • Meanwhile, Jace was giving is his Darth Maul tribute act. As a side note, that graffiti in the background is slightly worrying: “ASK ME ABOUT THE CHEM TRAILS”. There’s a bunch of conspiracy theorists on the net who think that aircraft vapour trails are, in fact, secret chemicals called “chemtrails” being used by “the man” to control weather/poison us/deliver hallucinogenic drugs that make us willingly pay to see Batman V Superman.

Review by Dave Golder


Read our other Shadowhunter reviews

 

 

 

 

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