Let’s start this week by being happy that Shadowhunters has been picked up for a Season 2! Yay!! So this week’s episode is 1×10 “This World Inverted” and it follows Clary on her journey through an alternate dimension in order to find a way to her father. Today’s post we will be talking about the implications of the themes the show is focusing on, and some comparisons to the books.
The episode begins with Meliorn bringing Clary and Jace to the Seelie Glade to travel into an alternate dimension. The portal shard necklace Clary was given by her mother in episode 1 is a piece of a portal from another dimension, and if she goes into that dimension she can travel through that portal and find her father. The catch (because Seelie’s are sneaky) is that she has to go alone and that she will feel the same things as her Alternate Universe self, and run the risk of fully being immersed into that world and forgetting her mission. Jace is annoyed but lets her go and him and Meliorn wait and guard the entrance. Clary enters the Alternate Universe and finds herself in her kitchen with Valentine, her father. She is frightened as she thinks he is evil, but in this world he and her mother are together and are a happy family, and he runs a business that has created super high speed internet. She momentarily is pulled into the world where her parents are together and happy but a commercial on TV for Magnus Bane’s tarot readings snaps her out of it, as it is so different from her world.
She runs off to find Simon and is greeted with a confident Simon, not much like our world Simon. Izzy wears glasses and is a nerd who works for Clary’s father, Alec is openly gay and seems to have similar mannerisms to Magnus, and lastly, Jace is much more mellow and nervous. Clary’s dad runs the Institute, which is the headquarters for his company that created the super high speed internet, and Alec has organized an Alice In Wonderland themed party (shamelessly plugging Disney’s new Alice movie) in honour of the company. A romantic moment with Jace once again threatens to suck Clary into the Alternate Universe, but she escapes just in time to run off to Magnus’ in search of answers. She tells him she knows he is a warlock and that she is a Shadowhunter, but in this dimension, Shadowhunters haven’t existed for hundreds of years, so she has to prove to him by drawing the demons she has seen that she isn’t lying.
The only problem is his magic has been dormant for so long that he has to create a potion to help activate it. It works and they find out that the Institute is where the Portal is, and because Clary will be there for the party, all she needs to do is get Izzy to put him on the guest list for the party! At the party, seeing her parents together, dancing with Jace, and seeing Simon happy in a relationship with Izzy pulls Clary deep into this world. While she is enjoying her happy life, Alec lets Magnus into the party and the two share almost the exact same exchange as they did in episode 5, only in this dimension, Alec is out and confident, where Magnus is shyer and busy trying to find Clary. He finally finds her and pulls her out of the haze of this other world and they go searching for the portal.
At the Institute Izzy is arrested for being a part of helping Meliorn escape. Lydia and Izzy fight because Izzy believes she is just as bad as Valentine, only Lydia hides behind the Law to do bad things instead of breaking it like Valentine. Alec is furious, because if Izzy is convicted she will be stripped of her runes and exiled, though Izzy insists. Being stripped of your runes is an extremely painful process and he does not want her to have to go through it. He tells Lydia he can trade the Mortal Cup for Izzy’s safety. Only problem is, Izzy, Jace and Magnus stole the Cup in the last episode and so he can’t trade it. Oops. He is once again, angry, argues with Izzy and then tries to track Jace through their Parabatai runes.
Doing so is extremely dangerous as it can weaken or break their bond, which is not ideal, as neither man knows how much they rely on their bond when they fight. The tracking works and Lydia and Alec go to find Jace, though they don’t make it before Jace goes through to the other dimension to help Clary. Alec goes back to the Institute and apologizes to Izzy for not being able to protect her, and the two share a moment. Simon seeks Luke out this episode to help him control his urges to drink everyone’s blood and the two of them run into the Internal Affairs officer who has been looking for Luke for the past few episodes. Simon pretends to be the Demonic Murderer that the officer thinks Luke is, and Luke shoots Simon “dead” to trick the officer into clearing Luke.
The last few moments of the episode are centered around our Jace and Clary both being in the Alternate Universe. Jace arrives just in time to help fight off a demon that got through the dimensions, he gets injured badly right before Magnus finds the portal however, which will probably cause problems later. Magnus thanks Clary for awakening his powers and sends them through the portal. Clary thinks of her father and her and Jace end up in the warehouse in Chernobyl where Valentine has been experimenting on mundanes and turning them into Forsaken. The only thing is, Valentine is nowhere to be seen, and instead they find a man who looks like he’s been tortured for approx. years. Guess what! It’s Jace’s father, Michael Wayland. (I have a prediction that includes a shape shifting rune…because I do not think this is Michael Wayland)
Episode Grade: A-
This episode was extremely plot driven, and even though we got fun filler parts seeing how all the characters were different (I think mirrors of their love interests in many ways) in the alternate universe, ultimately the point of it was to find Valentine. Even in our universe Alec, Lydia and Izzy’s problems all revolved around figuring out the Cup was stolen, and pushing Alec’s anger even further. The show so far has presented the Lightwoods duty and honour as the most important thing to Alec, and in the last few episodes he has pushed his relationships with everyone to a breaking point because he believes he is doing the right thing. What is interesting however, is that that belief almost got an innocent person (Meliorn) tortured and killed. So to the audience, despite his intentions, he is actually morally in the wrong. The most interesting part of the Lightwoods story currently is that Jace and Izzy also value their families honour being intact, but they can see the bigger picture about how working together with other creatures of the Shadow world is what will really help them stay honourable in the long run.
Alec is still too blinded by his repressed and closeted life, and feels so betrayed by his parents for lying to them about being in the Circle that it seems like he is willing to push all of his relationships to the breaking point. I can’t wait to see what snaps him out of it! Seeing Simon work with Luke and seek guidance in him was a wonderful display of support, as well as illustrating how these different Downworlders can work together. Also, Clary taking control in the Alternate Universe and handling herself well was really really great to watch. A little bit of a filler episode but not enough to make it bad because ultimately everything was connected to driving the narrative forward to find Valentine. Also seeing everyone so happy (especially Alec) in the Alternate Universe, was an honest to God gift.
Girls! Girls! Girls!
Since this week’s episode wasn’t very character driven, despite the lovely alternate universe shenanigans, I am going to talk a little bit about the books in comparison to the show! My wonderful colleague requested last week that I delve deeper into a claim I made that Clary is not a well written character and so I am going to do that! First I would like to make it known that Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series, which the show is based off of, is not good. It has a very cool and rich world, as Clare focuses mostly on world building in her novels (I haven’t read any of her companion pieces to the series but even the fact that there are 5 of those speaks to her intense world building). There is no doubt that the Shadow world is explored in great depth in her novels. Additionally, it cannot be argued that there is a lack of action or cohesive plot. Her books are filled constantly with quests and obstacles to overcome. However, many of her characters fall flat, and the way she characterizes their relationships are weak. Also her complete obsession with fake or not fake incest storylines is almost unbearable. That is an entirely separate issues that I don’t think I want to delve into right now, so back to characters!
Last week I claimed that Izzy and the boys are more interesting and better written characters. I say this for two reasons. First, just personally I am drawn more to characters like Izzy who appear confident on the outside but are suffering on the inside (actually, Alec is like this too). Secondly, in the novels, Clary embodies traits of a Mary Sue character. And though the show is changing many things about her, ultimately they haven’t erased the traits she embodies that I don’t enjoy, and also I consider to be lazy and unoriginal. My first issue is with the way Clary fits the traits of a Mary Sue character. In the novel she is timid, thinks she is plain and cannot understand how Jace is attracted to her, her abilities are not explained in full for at least 3 books, and she is incredibly selfish. The way TVTropes discusses this extremely huge trope is that many of the traits of a Mary Sue don’t always have to equal the character being a Mary Sue, good characterization and explanation of abilities can easily stop a character from falling into this trope. Also, Clarissa/Clary is eerily close to Cassandra Clare, so honestly there is nothing that can convince me that Clary is not supposed to be some idealized version of Clare herself.
Here is where I have a moral dilemma. I do not think it is inherently bad that anyone writes for themselves, or even that idealized versions of authors exist. However, I have a problem with the Mary Sue trope because so many of the traits of this type of character are never explained. We aren’t given any reasons as to why they have the abilities they have, and ultimately there is no depth. I see it as laziness, and often times, because the Mary Sue’s personality is never really focused on, but rather the way that other characters react to them is what is more important often leads to bad storytelling. Where my biggest problem lies is that I like Clary. Is she my favourite? No. Is she interesting to me? Not really. But I don’t hate her. What my problem is is that I want better for her.
In the novels, she doesn’t even get trained properly to be a Shadowhunter until at least three books in. Also, her relationship with Izzy is almost always fraught with issues that always have to do with the boys (even Jace, who in the books apparently may have had some sort of sexual attraction to Izzy? I don’t know it’s all so weird) or that Izzy’s beauty and the way she dresses are always compared to Clary’s plainness and it becomes a reason to hate Izzy. Additionally, her interactions with Alec (and even his dislike for her) are all dripping in jealousy, and she threatens to out him because she is jealous of the attention he gets from Jace. Pretty much, Clare gives all of her characters just enough of something to be interesting, but then does everything in her power to ruin it by having their behaviour be constantly cringe worthy. So, when I say Clary isn’t written well I stand by it, because the book either gives her nothing to do, or tries to make us care about her only because she is the main character. And in reference to the show, as of this moment, they haven’t changed her character enough to surpass Izzy and Alec to me.
What the show is doing however, is learning from the mistakes that The Mortal Instruments movie made (it stuck too closely to the books) and changing huge parts of the plot. It has aged up the characters at least 3 years, there is no air of pettiness between any of the women, and Alec and Jace’s relationship is being explored in ways it was never allowed to in the books. Each one of these changes, along with more television friendly storylines that are all getting the story to the same place that the books get to, are working extremely well for the show. Alec and Clary still are at odds, and much of it does have to do with Jace, but Clary in this world would never threaten to out him. In fact, she seems to care quite a lot about Alec’s well being despite their general dislike for each other, because she doesn’t want him living his life in the closet.
Additionally, by erasing all of the pettiness between the girls, and allowing them to have a good and healthy relationship right away (unlike in the books where it takes probably 4 books, and then still it’s questionable) speaks volumes of how the writers of this show are handling writing for the show, and the social commentary they want to make. This article is really good and gives a glimpse into how the creators and cast are tackling making this show. I just think that because they still do have to follow a lot of things from the books, including characterizations, they can’t currently change Clary so much because then it wouldn’t be Clary. Though, by allowing her to start training, and directly challenging her selfishness, the show has worked miracles. And now that there will be a season 2, I can only hope for more improvements!
Saturday: We’ll be talking about why Gilmore Girls is an important show for young women.
Tuesday: Shadowhunters 1×11. Izzy will be put on trial for helping Meliorn escape. Will they save her, or will she be stripped of her runes? We will have to wait and see!