I was greatly anticipating episode four of ‘Shadowhunters’, ‘Raising Hell’, which aired in America on Tuesday evening and on Netflix UK on Wednesday morning. We knew in advance that this episode would give us our first proper meeting with Magnus Bane, one half of the fans’ favourite ship, Malec, which I know was a big attraction for many (myself included.) Having discussed my thoughts on episodes 1, 2 & 3 I appear to be making an ongoing thing of recapping these episodes, so I thought, why not address a few of my thoughts on episode four as well?
CAUTION! THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FOR ALL FOUR CURRENTLY AIRED EPISODES. IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED, PLEASE DON’T READ!
As I’ve said before, Kat McNamara’s acting is not great at all. While I thought that episode three had more chemistry between Clary and Jace, it was lacking once more in episode four. From the very first scene with Clary having a nightmare, McNamara’s performance was weak, with her scream when Jace applied the rune to Clary rather laughable. On the upside, Dom Sherwood’s performance is better; he still has weak moments but he appears to have settled into the role more, and is on a par with some of his colleagues in terms of line delivery, if still trailing behind the stand-out performers.
Early on we saw more of Simon’s contempt with Jace. I don’t blame Simon in the slightest for walking out; I would have. I do have to admit that, as cheesy as it was, the “come at me, Captain America” line made me laugh hysterically; it was the kind of bad cheesy line that the books are full of, which made it fit in to the show well. Simon’s scene with Maureen at his house made a good departure from Clary; I am glad to see that the show are actually using Maureen’s character now that they’ve brought her in, and her essential-rejection from Simon makes things a bit more interesting when it comes to her development (all of my thoughts on Maureen are based from the assumption that we will see her fill essentially the same role that she does in the books.) I am glad that we are seeing Simon begin to have adverse effects from his vampiric experience immediately, as I would have hated for it to go unmentioned for episodes before re-emerging later down the line. It was nice to see Simon’s return to the Hotel at the end of the episode too. I just hope that we see more of him next week.
The interactions between Isabelle and Alec are brilliant. Matthew Daddario and Emeraude Toubia have nailed the brother-sister vibe, and the moments between the two are some of my favourites of the series. What I enjoyed the most is the subtlety of Toubia in portraying Izzy’s reactions to Magnus and Alec. There were small moments, such as the momentary fear in her eyes when Magnus asks her about Alec when he is doing up the necklace and her watching the pair (as well as Jace and Clary) around the pentagram, that satisfied me as to her character’s strong emotion towards her brother. While her line delivery is not quite on a par with Daddario, Alberto Rosende (Simon) and Harry Shum Jr (Magnus), Toubia’s physical acting is some of the best, if not the best of the series so far.
Harry Shum Jr’s first real foray into the character of Magnus was pleasing. We saw many sides to Magnus – the comic, the flirt, the powerful warlock and even the softer side of him – and Shum played all of them with the recognisable flair we associate with Magnus. With the introduction of Magnus comes the introduction of Malec, the ship name for Magnus and Alec. Magnus and Alec are the highlight of ‘The Mortal Instruments’ for me, and bringing the two together was my most anticipated moment of the series. I’m glad to say I think the show did it justice. From Magnus’s reaction to seeing Alec (“Who is that?!”) to that look by the side of the pentagram, Magnus’s attempts at flirtation were very comical, especially combined with Alec’s attempts to cover up his shock and pleasure at being noticed. The scene at the end where Magnus reassures Alec was strong, and gives the impression that the show is taking this relationship more seriously than it appears to be taking Clary and Jace, thankfully. The dynamic between the two works well, and I am very glad of it.
The big moment of the episode was when Alec broke the circle around the pentagram when the demon took a memory of Jace as the person Alec loved the most. While I have seen many people calling the character stupid for that, I would like to say that I thought it was the perfect way of showing Alec crack under the strain of his sexuality. Now, I am heterosexual and have never known the fear of having my sexuality exposed, but I have been in situations where I have felt that my biggest secrets would be outed, pulling the rug from underneath my feet, and I can honestly say that in that moment I was not thinking rationally at all. Times that by 100 and you get how Alec would feel having teetered on the edge of having his sexuality exposed, and I am glad that we saw him suffer under that pressure, as it helps explain Alec as a character. I think that moment was perfectly within the bounds of realism (bar the demon of course!) and Matthew Daddario’s acting in that moment was probably the best we have seen of anyone all series – I felt his pain and almost cried, which is probably the most emotion the series has evoked from me so far.
The script had many weak moments again, but I think the actors have settled in to doing a good job to say them as convincingly as possible. There were many good book quotes (my favourite being Magnus’s “does he normally just lie there like that?”) and even a reference to ‘The Infernal Devices’ character Tessa Gray, which I, hating that character and series with a passion, did not care much for, but it was good to see the expansion of the world. There were a few plot continuity issues this week: it was far too easy for Clary to kill the supposedly impressive greater demon, while the scene with Pangborn poisoning the faeries and subsequently dying was purely bizarre, but generally I am still enjoying where the plot is taking us. I am also intrigued by Clary’s (disgusting) purple necklace – what is it and why is she seeing visions? In other areas of production, the set, costume and make up especially were good this week – I am loving Magnus’s appearance, and Izzy’s outfits continue to be brilliant. The CGI is still poor, as we have all gotten used to by now, but I can definitely handle it for the rest of the series (as long as we don’t have to see another memory demon!)
I think that overall, this episode is by far my favourite of the four aired so far. It felt like a little step up from the previous ones. Despite being exasperated by Clary (which I always have been, book, TV show or movie) I am still greatly enjoying the show.
‘Shadowhunters’ airs every Tuesday in the U.S on Freeform (ABC Family) at 9/8c, and is up on Netflix U.K. on Wednesday morning.