One of Shadowhunters’ consistent strengths as a show been it’s beautifully genuine approach to supportive and strong relationships. Sometimes the truest family isn’t the one connected to you by blood. Simon’s battle between the love he holds for his mother and the newfound vampire family his immortality will eventually force him to embrace is one such exploration. The deep and unbreakable Parabatai bond connecting Alec and Jace is another. “Parabatai Lost” proves the show has found it’s footing this season, and that themes aren’t “just for eighth grade book reports” as certain Emmy award winning writers might have you believe. So without further ado, let’s get to the good stuff.
Alec is still unconscious after his mission to find Jace using his rune turned out unsuccessful. Though two of the people he cares most about in this world are by his side, he can’t wake up because the person who holds the fragment of his soul is still not there. This is where the Parabatai bond comes in. The Parabatai bond is something that is constantly brought up on the show and the sheer strength of such a bond is frequently addressed. But, as Alec remains unconscious in the present and begins to internally delve back into his past, we are offered a peak into what makes these two men more than partners, more than brothers.
Magnus and Isabelle
Emeraude Toubia and Harry Shum Jr. were two of the standouts this week. Magnus becomes increasingly frustrated as the effort to keep Alec from slipping away from them forever drains him of his powers. He’s desperate to save him, but cannot revive him. Isabelle does everything in her power to save her brother, eventually having to give in her other “brother” to keep them both alive. Isabelle had to make hard choices this week, realizing that sometimes you need to look at the bigger picture and what matters most to you and that to save some, you might need to sacrifice others. There was a twinkle of Mayrs in her as she made her choice to give Jace over to the Clave for a trial so that Inquisitor Aldertree would help her save both Jace and Alec from certain death. Unlike her mother, however, she made the tough choice by looking with her heart whereas Mayrs does so out of honor and pride.
On the run from a different foe this week, the werewolves (including new addition to the show whom I already love, Maia!) have pinned the kidnapping and murder of Gretel, one of their own, on Jace. We know it was Valentine, but all the evidence pointing towards Jace is rather damning and, as Maia points out, Shadowhunters are meant to be the ones protecting Downworld. Jace, who needs to get to Alec before it is too late, gets roughed up along the way. (There’s an awesome werewolf transformation scene that was perfectly creepy and horrifying, and a chase scene in a hospital which was A+.) Jace almost makes it but is cornered by the wolves just as he’s nearing Alec. In a quick save by Isabelle, who was portaled in by Aldertree to save Jace for his official hearing, a direct order from the Clave forces the werewolves to backdown from their ‘blood for blood’ mission.
Simon, meanwhile, faces a ridiculous amount of voicemail messages from his reasonably worried mother. Apparently, she checked in on his excuse that he was dorming that year (nice one, Simon) only to catch him in the lie. Panicked, Simon vows to return home but Raphael stops him, imploring him to focus on the mission and forget his mother. He further intimates that Simon has a new family now, and the woman he calls mother will quickly age and die yet he will always stay the same. It’s the age-old vampire and immortality conundrum, and Simon, who is still young, can’t fathom a life without his mother. He worries that without him, she will spiral into a dark hole, imagining the horrors that could have happened to her child.
Having resisted Rachael, Simon stops by his house only to find his mother’s room a mess and an open bottle of alcohol. In a panic, he calls Clary and we learn that Simon’s mother is an alcoholic who had been sober for a while. Clary, his mom’s best friend and the person who feels most like family at this moment since she’d been with her through thick and thin, immediately helps him locate her. Clary tracks her down to a cafe and suggests that perhaps Simon should tell his mother the truth. Worried that she will perceive him as the monster he believes himself to be, Simon hesitates. Eventually, Clary convinces him that she would love him no matter what because she already does. We get another beautiful bonding scene between the two best friends that widens their history together and solidifies their friendship.
Finally plucking up the courage, Simon goes in alone only to find that his mother is not. She is having a bite to eat with Raphael who claimed to be Simon’s tour manager and concocted the perfect alibi: his band will be on tour. Simon becomes angry and worried that Raphael is threatening his mother when in reality, it seems like Raphael just listened to what Simon was saying earlier and went to fix it himself. The tour alibi is the exact excuse Simon proposed to Raphael earlier. Promising to come back home after he figures some things out (to put what he’s going through mildly), Simon leaves his mother with hope, unable to sever those familial bonds forever.
While in his comatose state, Alec recalls moments from his childhood with Jace, from their first meeting to them getting their Parabatai runes. We see them go from unsure children to a real team. Through a younger Isabelle (who mysteriously doesn’t have the clearly Latinx accent her older counterpart has….why couldn’t they find a Latinx little girl to act the part?) Alec learns to put aside his romantic feelings so he can savor the undeniable bond that the two have together. It’s a strong one, and one that doesn’t come around very often. Isabelle assures him that there will be other people who can hold Alec’s heart, but he will only ever have one person who can be his Parabatai in the way that Jace can. Together, Jace and Alex have a bond much deeper than the bond of the heart, a bond of the souls. In a beautifully acted climax by Dominic Sherwood, Jace recites the Parabatai bond ceremony to Alec, crying over his other half that he fears might not wake up and who only seems to be slipping further and further away. He declares he can’t live without him, something we have only heard Alec voice up to this point. It’s as if their bond hit equilibrium again, and Alec wakes up.
We have seen many times how desperate Alec is to ensure Jace’s safety and how much it would kill him to lose him. Finally, (finally!) we get to see it reciprocated from Jace in a symbolically beautiful confession that rounds out their arc. Alec has always believed that he cared more about Jace than Jace did about him. But, as Jace utters the words that we have only heard Alec voice, we see with striking clarity that they are truly a team and would be lost without one another. In what is perhaps the most brutal wake up call ever, Alec’s smile quickly fades as Jace is torn from his arms and arrested, to be held in the City of Bones to await his trial. In one of the most heartbreaking moment of the episode, Jace turns back to a confused Alec with a smile on his face and tears in his eyes, and assures him that it’s okay. His arrest doesn’t matter now that he has Alec back.
Heartbreaking moment number two was when Magnus leans down in the hope that perhaps a true love’s kiss would wake Alec up. It’s a moment of pure desperation and helplessness, borne of fear that he will lose Alec and doesn’t know what else he can do. All of his practicality and all of his magic exhausted, he turns to the heart he so often guards. I think I speak for everyone when I say we were all were hoping it would work. And it did, sort of. It seemed to spark some of the deeper memories Alec has been lost within, and that’s not nothing.
There was a lot of desperation in Jace this week. His bond with and love for Alex was all that kept him going when everything had been fighting against him. It was also nice to begin to see more of how mistreated the Downworlders are, and it’s important we see the bigotry existing in the culture since our main antagonist’s goal is to rid the world of them. However, I do think it’s necessary that we see it from their perspective more. Just as Valentine’s plans are quite similar to Voldemort’s, we need more prominent insight into the pure elitism that exists within the Shadowhunter culture. The superiority and bigotry that is conjured from that needs to be examined a little closer. When Maia was first explaining why they were after Jace and when she challenged his position and the laws of the Shadowhunters that vow to protect them, she does so because she and her people feel threatened by their protectors. I felt for her because she gave us an insight into the dynamic that we hadn’t heard.
Nevertheless, because we wanted so desperately for Jace to get to Alec, it was easy to get frustrated with the actions taken by the werewolves.We know he wishes no harm on any Downworlders. So while the situation initially started as a complex, two sided, and riveting conflict that expressed the strife of the bigger battle they will eventually face, the emotional power was lost due to our concern for Alec. Hopefully we get more nuance in upcoming episodes. Until then, here’s my new fave, Maia.