Thursday, August 17, 2017

Shadowhunters, Season 2, Episode 20: Besides Still Water

Jonathan is alive… but only briefly. He bleeds and calls for his mother, his blood forming a pentacle which summons a great big ugly demon

Hey, I’m with you demon mum, someone calls me unexpectedly in a morning will not get me at my best

Simon and Luke have noticed that Maia is missing and they go to visit the Seelie Queen (well first they visit Magnus who is all “excuse me, valentine, genocide, et al. Priorities”) who they have randomly decided is responsible (accurately but hey, Valentine is running around but you assume the Queen is at fault). She lets slip she made a deal with Valentine to get him out of the city and Simon and Luke pretty much spend the rest of the episode playing in the Seelie realm looking for Maia. This would be the magical fae realm of Plotboxia!

The Shadowhunters - well, Izzy, Clary, Alec and Jace since the rest of the Shadowhunters only exist in crowd scenes in the Institute. They fight the big demon which splits into a gazillion little demons which all run and hide. This is when Clary gets the news from Luke that Valentine has fled the city. They can’t take down the warlock ward against angel blood because it will let the demons out.

Wait… why… what?

They also decide people need to go to Idris to protect the lake from Valentine’s shenanigans. Yes there’s an army of Shadowhunters there but they’re ALL CIRCLE MEMBERS. Seriously like half the Clave is a circle member. Of course Clary and Jace go. Of course they do.

That leaves Alec and Izzy to stop the demons by closing the portal. For that they need a powerful warlock. Magnus you have been summoned, at least he makes it clear he’s not doing this for the Clave. They go to the portal, fight more demons and seal the rift. And by “they” I mean Magnus

So, to Idris where Clary and Jace discover that the army led by chief Clave member Malachai are all Circle members. No, really. I told you so. He makes a big speech about how the Downworlders are totally the worst and how Clary and Jace have to die - starting with Clary

We even pull out the sad music for Clary’s impending doom. I didn’t press fast forwards. I was tempted. To the shock of no-one, Jace activates his wondertwin powers and he and Clary kill everyone. How shocked

To the lake before Valentine (hey, is this a good time to remind everyone Valentine only knows about the lake because of Clary & co? Yes?) and Valentine appears and stabs Jace. Woe he’s dying. And dying. And still dying. And Alec is feeling it through his rune and oh he’s dying and dying and woe and DIE ALREADY

Look, absolutely no-one watching this thinks Jace is actually going to kick the bucket. Stop wasting your dramatic tension on this

So Jace is dead and Clary imprisoned and Valentine makes another speech about how he’s totally not a bad guy - and he summons the Angel Raziel

And I honestly expected better CGI. This is your angel, Shadowhunters do better! Valentine announces he wants all demons dead. And all Downworlders. And all nephilim who don’t support him (all 6 of them).

Raziel points out heaven is totally uncool with this - killing Nephilim is bad. Killing Downworlders (who have souls) also totally bad. Killing demons is cool though

Valentine doesn’t even pause on hearing this (fuck the will of heaven apparently) and plans to go for it anyway- because apparently if you cut yourself in front of the angel he totally has to do what you ask

Who wrote this rule? Why did they turn an angel into a 1 wish genie?

Clary breaks free and she and Valentine go at it, while Raziel watches like it’s pay for view. Despite him being the better fighter she manages to surprise him with a knife and yay Valentine is FINALLY dead. At long bloody last. I don’t know whether to celebrate it or be petty because Clary got the kill.

That leaves Clary there with the angel and a chance to make a wish. World peace! End to world hunger! End to disease! Renewing Sens8!

Nope, she resurrects Jace. Of course she does. Damn it Raziel, look at what you’re unleashing on the world!

They’re not in love and it still feels quasi incesty. Alec & co arrive just in time to acknowledge the day has been saved. Hey can they take it in turns to make angel wishes? By the 1156th wish you’d totally be down to “dance for me! Dance angel!”

Alas there is no dancing angel. There is a big party which makes me roll my eyes to friction burns because of all the saccharine nonsense

Simon and Clary are friends forever again because bygones
Alec and Magnus bury all their issues about Alec lying because SIMPLES
Luke is hugging people because whyyyyy?!
Simon and Maia are together
Clary and Jace are a couple
It’s all just so twee. And I totally like a happy ending but there are CONFLICTS here that need addressing beyond a drink

But we do have plot hooks for next season: Simon made a deal with the Seelie queen for them to escape. It seems to involve him becoming her guest
Olly finally asks Luke about being a werewolf (this could end quickly by him having a vampire wipe her memory)
Jace is sick… apparently? Or maybe he can’t hold his booze. He looks like a lightweight

And at Jonathan’s body all the demons come together to form a woman… who calls Jonathan her son. Evil demon lady will be next season’s antagonist

Having read the books I hope they do a better job with this villain than the utter trainwreck of the City of Heavenly Fire

It’s no secret I’m not a fan of this show. The acting has massively improved over the last season - because damn that bar was set low - but the storyline has not. The entire plot of this show rests on Clary having super powers or pulling information out of nowhere. A lot of the plot relies on people making ridiculous decisions which I’ve noted over and over again. There’s a lot of bemusing elements - like the complete lack of experienced adults leading the Institute - and a really frustrating refusal to see the flaws and problems with the Clave or acknowledgement that Valentine’s opinions are HEAVILY represented with the Clave. Any portrayal of the Downworlders objecting is demonised or distracted from. This needs analysing, it needs to be considered, especially with the Downworld colluders

We do have a fair few POC on this show - including some in minor roles, background roles and who have been passed on - like Melion, Victor Aldetree, Cleophas and background shadowhunters, warlocks, werewolves etc. There is a definite inclusion of POC in many scenes; it’s certainly not glaringly white.

But the actual plot lines of these characters are more dubious. The main POC on this show are Luke, Raphael, Magnus and Maia. And Raphael gets plot boxed regularly. The problem is that the leaders of the Downworld share a major issue: collaborators. I could almost say this would be interesting to analyse parallels with minorities, especially part of large powerful organisations, being more wedded to power and politics than they are to the people they’re supposed to be representing. But Shadowhunters is never that deep or nuanced. It is cringeworthy to see Raphael, Luke and Magnus continually sing the praises of the Clave and Shadowhunters which has done nothing but hurt them. Magnus is their go-to magical servant (hey at least show them writing big cheques for his bank account!) and Luke would see his whole pack burn if it would spare Clary a stubbed toe. It makes these characters servile, subservient and self-sacrificing not just of themselves but for their entire people. Luke in particular is extra hollow for having no role or storyline beyond service and betrayal (can’t we see him more involved in his pack? Or knowing their names? Can’t we see him and Cleophas having issues beyond her being a plot point everyone actually forgets for several episodes?)

I actually put the most hope in Maia because she’s the one main POC characters whose life doesn’t revolve around Clary and the Clave, is willing to call them on their shit and actually seems to care about the Pack as well as having her own history her own storyline and her own romance. The issue is that when she does challenge the Clave and Clary she’s demonised for it - and I worry if she’s ever more than another fangirl in Team Clary she will be villianised and her objection is needed

Raphael and Izzy could have an interesting relationship without sex - but it’s very very hard to get past their toxic addictive beginnings and just how dangerous they are for each other

I do like the Simon being Jewish is constantly remembered, it wasn’t a one off reference and it influences his family, his holidays and his celebrations

As to Magnus and Alec and the LGBTQ inclusion - y’know I think I’d be a lot happier with this if it weren’t for the trainwreck of last season and if it weren’t for the show creators, fandom et al all being so damn obsessive about this and building it into a huge great thing it isn’t. I mean, i still have problems, since everything I’ve said about Magnus above still applies. His role is servile. And while Alec isn’t being demonised as enemy of Clary now (because he’s onside which isn’t exactly a plus), his role as “leader” seems to mean less decision making and more Jace and Clary not having to bother with authority figures when they run around doing whatever they want. But still, I’ve seen far worse: what is annoying is the hype over this… nothing. Magnus and Alec spend next to no time together, the time they do spend has a surprising amount of space between them and generally keeps contact brief. They’re supposed to have this epic relationship but we never see this developed, we just see them appear with the presumption this relationship is happening. The only time we actually get hints of this is when forces are driving them apart OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

The hype of this hollow relationship is aggravating because the whole construct tells us how we’re supposed to be happy with nothing

And I’m only going to mention Olly. Because so far that’s all she is