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SHADOWHUNTERS “Day of Atonement” Review

By on July 19, 2017
KATHERINE MCNAMARA, DOMINIC SHERWOOD

SHADOWHUNTERS - "Day of Atonement" (Freeform/John Medland) KATHERINE MCNAMARA, DOMINIC SHERWOOD

By Andrea Dixon

 

According to a tweet by showrunner Darren Swimmer, this week’s episode of Shadowhunters is “all about family – the good, the bad and the ugly.” The fact that this installment was directed by Paul Wesley, veteran actor best known for his role on The Vampire Diaries series, makes sense on a number of levels – he has successfully directed five episodes of that series, and naturally he is quite familiar with the supernatural genre, but most importantly, The Vampire Diaries, at its fundamental core was a show about family, and therefore it is a subject matter that Wesley deeply comprehends and is able to successfully adapt on Shadowhunters. The episode title, which alludes to penance, is also a common theme that runs throughout.

Some good old Lightwood family drama ensues when Robert Lightwood returns to assess his own son in his position as Head of the Institute. Alec fears he will lose his recently appointed position due to Valentine’s disappearance during the last mission. On the contrary, a good dose of guilt about his own transgressions against his family causes Robert to commit some pretty shady acts in the name of keeping his son in the leadership role. Alec learns that Robert has been blackmailing the Clave with threats to out their secret that the Soul Sword was never secured after Valentine staged his attack. Granted, none of us want Victor Aldertree back in that position, but Robert has a long way to go yet if he wants to earn back the trust of his family.

Speaking of repenting for the sins of the father, another father and son duo have a much more disturbing tête-à-tête in a secluded cabin in the woods. Sebastian (or should we now say Jonathan) and Valentine meet to discuss their tumultuous relationship after Jonathan spent a very long timeout in Hell – that’s right, Valentine punished his son by sending him to Hell. Father of the Year, right Jace? When Jonathan skinned a Werewolf, and brought his father its coat to make him proud, Valentine feared for his own life and sent his son away. You’d think someone who despises Downworlders so much would be proud of such an act, but I guess Jonathan is too much for even Valentine to handle.

Jace has his own memories of that cabin with Valentine, which helps him to correctly deduce Valentine’s location. With the help of Clary’s new portal-making rune, she and Jace are transported to Idris, an iconic location from the books. A swim in Lake Lyn leaves Clary hallucinating after swallowing some of its water, but the trip does allow her to receive information from a much-better-looking-than-last-time Ithuriel that her brother Jonathan is still alive. When Clary and Jace return to the Institute, the two of them do some digging in an old journal of Valentine’s that Jace was able to recover, and discover that there are two Jonathans – one of them being Jace and the other Sebastian. This is one messy family tree! Seems as though Valentine thought he would have a second go at parenting with Jace after failing the first time with Sebastian. Arguably, neither one of these attempts went particularly well.
Simon spent some time with his much more normal family celebrating Yom Kippur, a Jewish tradition that continues the theme of atonement in the episode. Maia helps Simon make it through his first family evening since turning into a Vampire and sparks fly between them once again.

This episode leaves our characters with the prospect of new beginnings forged from spending some quality time with their respective parental figures. Some of these bonds bode better than others for our main ensemble. Valentine and Jonathan reunited and armed with two of the three Mortal Instruments is a terrifying concept.

Wesley has proven himself to be a focused director who can deliver a strongly cohesive episode. It is confirmed that he will be returning to direct in season 3 and I cannot wait to see what else he can bring to the series.

 

Additional notes:

 

  • Next week it looks like Clary is meeting Jonathan in the flesh… literally and revealing that she loves him despite his hideousness. Will Jonathan keep up his guise as Sebastian even though he has revealed his true form to Clary?
  • Dot returns to help Clary and Jace in their search to find the other Jonathan. Sebastian is helping too. This should be interesting.
  • More Malec drama is set to ensue since Alec decides not to tell Magnus the news about the Soul Sword after all.
  • There is also a glimpse of a scene that looks like some kind of a stare down between Sebastian and Max. Should we be worried for the little Lightwood?

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