SHADOWHUNTERS REVIEW: “A HEART OF DARKNESS”
BY KATHERINE PFAHLER
The Lightwood siblings must do everything in their power to save Jace from Lilith’s manipulations on this week’s Shadowhunters. With some help from Magus, Luke, Simon, and Maia they may just have a shot at bringing their brother back.
We left off last week with Alec and Izzy being portaled to Magnus’ loft while Clary was left to deal with the fallout in Alicante. She’s immediately taken to trial and, of course, what kind of shadowhunter trial would it be without the Mortal Sword? Clary tries to deflect by reminding Jia Penhallow that it lost some of its powers the last time she used it, but as soon as her hands touch the surface it’s clear there’s no way out of telling the truth.
Throughout the episode, the lies slowly begin to unravel as Clary is compelled by the sword. After revealing that Jace was the one digging up Valentine’s grave, she also tells the Clave he’s been possessed by the Queen of Edom. Possession (of that level at least) isn’t exactly common for shadowhunters, so clearly the jig is up with Clary hiding her use of Raziel’s wish. Although she does attempt to hold back the truth, the sword is too powerful. Before letting it compel her further, she tells the truth of her own volition. With their one safeguard rendered useless, Consul Penhallow is fairly upset. But Clary counters with some solid reasoning of her own, saying:
“To you and insurmountable evil is a world overrun by demons. To me, it’s the mass murder of all creatures with demon blood. Any wish that has the power to cause that kind of destruction is not a gift. It’s a curse. I’m glad it’s gone.”
It’s a very mic-drop worthy moment that speaks a lot to how much Clary has grown over the seasons. Her character has a tendency to get a lot of flak—deserved and undeserved. Some of it definitely stems from her naiveté in terms of the Shadow World, and her tendency to act first, ask questions later. However, even with the secret-keeping at the beginning of the season, she’s been allowing more people to help her figure things out and not immediately doing her own thing. It’s great that she’s able to stand up to the Clave in this way as well. Because she’s had the opportunity to be raised as a mundane she can see the corruption of the Clave as an institution more clearly. Standing up for the downworlders to the Consul is a big deal, and Clary makes a great point—and also shuts down the idea that she used the wish for purely selfish reasons.
Despite how epic Clary’s moment was, the heart of the episode definitely lies with the Lightwood family. From little snippets of their past to Maryse offering to help with the Clave despite being excommunicated, each member of the family got a chance to shine.
At Magnus’ loft, it’s determined the best way to get to the real Jace is through his parabatai bond with Alec. Even though Magnus agrees, it still puts Alec at a high risk—luckily there’s a way to minimize that by allowing Izzy to go with him. Before they can get too far into the process, they all catch a lot of grief from Owl!Jace, who is doing his best to get under their skin—especially Alec and Magnus. He tries to rattle Alec by bringing up his insecurities about Magnus’ past relationships and tries to rattle Magnus by using Alec’s ties to the real Jace against him. Neither is having it, though—and it’s pretty satisfying when Magnus finally gets Owl Jace to shut up.
The reason the Owl demon is so effective at making people angry (fans included) is that his character is specifically supposed to do exactly that: rile people up. He knows just the right buttons to push and there’s no reason for him not to do just that. Last week he preyed on Izzy’s fear of getting too involved with Charlie and exposing him to the dangers of her world. This week his target is Malec (which is so incredibly not cool, Owl!Jace). However, it’s a testament to how far Alec and Magnus have come as characters and a couple that they don’t let his comments phase them.
After a failed attempt while Jace was in the Malachi Configuration, Magnus is able to get Alec and Isabelle inside Jace’s mind in an attempt to bring him back. What they find is anything but comforting, as Lilith seems to be erasing all that Jace loves. In an attempt to catch up to a younger version of Jace, Izzy and Alec get separated. Isabelle manages to find young Jace as he’s playing the piano. He’s convinced that she’s been sent by Lilith until she begins singing the song Maryse sang to them as children.
Alec, however, finds an adult Jace in a room full of dead Clarys. It’s clear that he’s been living in his recurring nightmare for some time. Alec, being the great big brother he is, manages to bring some comfort to this Jace as well. When Izzy arrives the dead Clarys and young Jace disappear, leaving the present-day Lightwood siblings to themselves. While Alec and Izzy swear up and down they are going to get him out of Lilith’s possession, Jace doesn’t want to take any chances. He asks both of them to kill him rather than let Lilith take over again. Both refuse to kill him, and in a completely tear-jerking moment, Isabelle says “Three go in…three come out,” harkening back to her younger self she saw in Jace’s mind.
The whole sequence with the three of them at the end is probably one of my favorite moments of the entire episode. Not only do you feel incredibly bad for Jace, who’s barely hanging on to his sanity, but also for Izzy and Alec, who have to see their brother so broken. I just want to give them all a big hug, and maybe portal them away from all the chaos. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be Shadowhunters if the characters could catch a break every once in a while. Just when it seems like things are going our way, Lilith shows up to Magnus’ loft on a tip from the Seelie queen. She doesn’t kill him (because Asmodeus would not let that slide), but she does put a damper on his magic. With Magnus (briefly) unable to help, Lilith takes Jace once again, right after Alec and Isabelle promised him they wouldn’t allow it to happen.
Next week is the two-hour midseason finale, and the teaser for the episodes is epic to say the least. I can’t wait to see what happens—hopefully some good stuff before we’re thrown into a Shadowhunter-less existence for the next three months.
- The Simon/Maia/Jordan dynamic is not only incredibly awkward in this ep, it’s also incredibly powerful. When Maia tells Jordan to just let her hate him…Alisha Wainwright is such a gift to this show. While I think Maia deserves a break—I wonder what leaving means for her and Simon.
- Yet again Luke and Maryse are an unexpected bright spot in an otherwise emotionally heavy episode. I love a good slow burn and Isaiah Mustafa and Nicola Correia-Damude deliver it in spades.
- I was definitely missing Magnus a lot in this episode, but it did make up for it with him looking really good when he was using his magic to connect the Lightwood siblings. Harry Shum Jr. looks amazing always but I’m always astounded at how great of an actor he is down to the last detail—like pretending to shoot magic beams out of his hands for an hour without it looking extra cheesy.