By Andrea Dixon
This show continues to surprise with the amount of meaningful content and character drama the writers are able to fit into one episode. This one packed a literal punch with social commentary via a gripping serial murder mystery while at the same time continuing a current upward trend in character development.
The after effects of the Soul Sword massacre really comes to a head this week when a mystery Downworlder bent on revenge starts flaying the runes off of Shadowhunters and leaving their bodies strewn across the city. As the bodies continue to pile up, the Institute takes extreme measures to pinpoint the culprit. No Downworlder is safe from suspicion as the killer goes to great lengths to make all of the groups appear guilty. This causes mistrust and unrest to fester between Shadowhunter and Downworlder connections.
When Jace is appointed Head of the Institute, he discovers that the perks of being a Herondale come with corresponding drawbacks as he is put in the uncomfortable position of someone who must bark orders to his friends and report to higher powers who have previously proven themselves to be less than humane in their tactics. His efforts to peacefully carry out the wishes of the Clave, which entails planting tracking devices in Werewolves, are met with violent resistance from Maia.
The blindly unsympathetic actions of the Shadowhunters towards the Downworlders this week provide a compelling analogy for the discrimination that takes place in our own society. At one point, Maia actually states that the Mundane police have suspected her of crimes based solely on her skin color and that she expected better from the Shadowhunters. It falls to the younger generation to correct the archaic and damaging habits of the government and enact positive change – another message which speaks volumes about our current situation.
Alec is faced with a similar moral dilemma when he is sent to collect a DNA sample to clear Magnus from the list of suspects – the audacity of which is astonishing when bearing in mind the harrowing events that took place at Magnus’ expense last week. Magnus tries to cope with said events by exaggerating his flamboyancy and exploring his vices. His walls are obviously back up, and although Alec’s apology at the end of the episode makes some small headway, it still seems that there is still a long way to go before Magnus will let them down again.
Magnus’ night of drinking does lead to a delightful dance sequence, however, choreographed by none other than Harry Shum Jr. himself. Fellow warlock actress, Vanessa Matsui, as Dot, keeps Magnus company as his dance partner and love-life coach, and an interesting romantic past between the two is uncovered.
Another actor has the opportunity to reveal his talents when Simon, played by Alberto Rosende, takes his band-turned-solo-act to the stage of the Hunter’s Moon with an original song written and recorded for the show.
Izzy and Alec’s little brother Max makes his first appearance this half of the season to begin his training at the Institute under the mentorship of Izzy. His eagerness gets him into trouble when he follows Izzy into the foray of the hunt for the killer. With the help of Raphael and Meliorn (also making his first appearance since 2A), Izzy is able to take down the killer, revealed to be Jace’s one-time Seelie fling, who apparently wants revenge on him for killing her brother when he activated the Soul Sword.
Faced with the onslaught of complications Jace is meant to deal with lately, it is understandable that he hands his title as Head of the Institute over to Alec, who has fallen comfortably into the role in the past. It isn’t all bad for Jace however, as we see that the tension between him and Maia seems to have also ignited a flame between them.
Another change in leadership is foreshadowed when it appears Simon has gained some vampire followers thanks to his display of Daylighter cockiness that took place last episode.
Again, we are left with much to think about by the end of the hour. With all that Alec has learned lately, and his relationship with Magnus, he could really use his new position to guide the Institute in a positive direction that promotes comradery and cooperation between Shadowhunters and Downworlders. The writers have clearly worked hard to create bridges that link these characters together – something that should make this plot direction all the more organic and rewarding once we get there.
- No Sebastian to be seen this episode, but he is guaranteed to appear in every episode for the rest of the season. Is it bad that I missed him in this one?
- Who is the next big villain to worry about? We have gotten a couple short-lived ones and that spot is kind of left open again now.
- The physical appearance of the Seelie Queen is really being kept under wraps, and from the promo, we know she is supposed to appear in the next episode. There are rumors that this is the guesting role that Sarah Hyland is meant to play.