The episode this week has two main fronts. While Clary, Jace, and Simon go to the Seelie Court, Alec and Izzy stay in the Institute and try to take the first step to peace with the downworlders. After being on the verge of starting a war, Shadowhunters goes head-deep into diplomacy, elevating the stakes on both political and personal levels.
The Fair Folk
Alec, now Head of the Institute for a week, comes up with an idea to mend the relationship between the two factions. He installs a cabinet with representatives of the four downworlder races and promises “total transparency on all matters involving downworlders”. The idea is, unsurprisingly, met with resistance by both downworlders and shadowhunters alike.
As good as Alec’s intentions are, actions speak louder than words. After last week’s witch hunt, it is no surprise the downworlders are wary; Luke chief among them. With everything that has happened, which includes the decimation of three-quarters of his clan, being excluded from the funeral of the love of his life, and being accused of killing shadowhunters, it is no wonder Luke is very disinclined to accept Alec’s attempt at peace. It is only after a suspicious call that promises access to Valentine’s cell that Luke agrees to attend the meeting.
In order to keep things strictly professional, Alec calls Magnus to ask him to come, but as the warlock representative not as his boyfriend. Their talk on the phone is somewhat sensitive, but Magnus puts on a brave face and assures Alec he would be on his best behavior. Even though they make their best effort, we see both Alec and Magnus supporting each other on a much deeper level than leaders would. They are still struggling to find their way around one another, but they are also well on their way to do it.
The other participants of the meeting are Raphael, Leader of the Brooklyn Vampire Clan, and Meliorn, acting as the Seelie Queen’s proxy. While Meliorn steals the show every time he graces our screens, Raphael’s presence is the most prominent after Luke’s. He agrees to the meeting in order to see Izzy again, who is helping Alec receive the downworlders. After everything they went through, Raphael and Izzy finally seem to have found a common place and mutual affection towards each other.
However, their budding relationship crashes straight into Sebastian. Since his arrival in 2.11, Sebastian has been an ally to Izzy. He was the one who was most equipped to help her get over her addiction and continues to show nothing but support. Unfortunately, Sebastian’s motives in doing so seem less noble than simple altruism. It is no mistake that Sebastian’s past aligns so perfectly with Izzy’s struggles and that he always seems to know exactly what to say to help her.
And to alienate her. Sebastian takes it upon himself to tell Raphael off, effectively hitting where it hurts. He urges Raphael to leave Izzy alone. This leads to Raphael rejecting Izzy’s wish to develop a real and healthy relationship between them.
However, Raphael and Izzy are not the only victims of Sebastian’s words. Throughout the episode we see Luke battling against the opportunity the mysterious caller presented him: three minutes alone with Valentine, just them and a dagger. But Alec makes it clear Luke cannot execute Valentine without the Clave’s permission. Luke also learns that Magnus shares the body swap nightmare and that the Clave is hushing it up. Only after he knows all this does Luke ultimately make the desperate choice to take things into his own hands.
Sebastian, in charge of the cabinet’s security, informs Alec that Luke headed to the cell’s floor and they are able to stop him. Alec has Luke put in cuffs, but unknowingly frustrates Sebastian’s plan when he decides to let Luke go as a show of good faith towards the downworlders.
Alec is not the only Lightwood looking to mend damaged relationships. Maryse is back to the Institute and her positive character development is showing. She still won’t leave Robert, but she intends to make things right with her children and those she has wronged in the past. That leads to touching scenes, like when Maryse and Alec’s talk in his office. Or when she she apologizes to Luke. The best of those scenes, however, features the two Lightwood women; Maryse and Izzy reveal their secrets to each other and receive nothing but support in a powerful bonding moment between mother and daughter.
Meanwhile, Clary and Jace are sent to the Seelie Court to further investigate Kaelie’s crimes. The shadowhunters do not believe Kaelie acted on her own. They hope to extract more information from the Seelie Queen.
Simon joins them, to Jace’s clear frustration. He is unable to dissuade Simon from going, so the three of them literally jump into the other realm. The scenery is one of the most beautiful the show has ever come up with and the blurred edges certainly help to create an eerie sensation. The show has consistently been able to make each dimension seem completely unique and this time isn’t different.
As beautiful as the Seelie Court is, it is just as dangerous. Jace keeps telling Clary and Simon to be careful, stressing the importance of following the rules. It is a nice nod back to season 1, when Meliorn noted Jace’s knowledge of the Seelie customs.
Unconcerned and even a little bit obnoxious, Simon doesn’t listen and gets too close to a Kill Tree. Jace saves him but not before Simon accidentally smashes some bugs with his hand. That proves to be his downfall when they finally meet the Seelie Queen. Ancient and twice as cunning as every other character combined, she quickly dismisses the talk of Kaelie’s crimes. She affirms that she has taken care of the Seelie knight who helped with the murders, and changes the subjects to what she calls “Valentine’s experiments”.
The Queen is not impressed when Clary says she is Valentine’s only child but that neither her nor Jace know the extension of their pure angelic powers. She also wants to know more about Simon’s status as a daylighter and manages to talk to him into a private audience. The Queen offers Simon her friendship and tutelage on music. Simon refuses when she insists downworlders cannot trust shadowhunters. “They always choose their own kind, and so must we,” the Queen says.
To prove her point, she creates a deadly game. Using vines that only obey her, the Queen grabs both Simon and Jace and announces they will be strangled as punishment for killing her kind, the bugs Simon smashed on their way to the Court. The only way to stop the vines is if Clary kisses the one she most desires.
Much has been said about the love triangle between Jace, Clary, and Simon. It is no secret that a good portion of the fandom dislikes the romantic relationship between Clary and Simon. Everyone who knows anything about the books on which the show is based knows Jace and Clary end up together. When your audience already knows the end game, the only way to make it worth the while is focusing on the journey there.
And that is what the show has done, by adding to the layers of the iconic kiss scene from the books. Not only does it reveal Clary’s deeply buried feelings for Jace, but it is also a political move on the Seelie Queen’s part. She is teaching Simon a lesson in most cruel way possible. In the end, Clary will choose Jace and not him. Seelies always tell the truth, not matter how much it hurts everyone involved. And it does hurt. A lot.
- It seems Mr. Bane and Mr. Lightwood cannot help themselves. Their exchanging of awkward yet endearing not-so-subtle pleasantries is a nice touch, even if Raphael doesn’t agree with it.
- Izzy already knowing of Robert’s cheating was a surprising twist. It goes to show that what happens between a couple should not necessarily interfere with a parent’s relationship with their children. Izzy urges her mother to leave her father, despite the fact that she still adores her father.
- What was Olly doing at the Jade Wolf? It is great to finally see her girlfriend, Samantha, but it seems Luke’s nosy partner just stumbled onto the Shadow World, as she spots a wolf in the pictures she took of Luke. That can’t be good.
- The scene between Clary and Izzy, however short, is very sweet. Those two have had their ups and downs, but it’s always nice to see ladies supporting ladies. The fact that Izzy went to Clary when Raphael turned her down shows their friendship is still strong. I’m glad Clary has a shoulder to cry on. After losing her mother, only Luke and Simon remain from her old life and now she has possibly alienated the latter.
- Sebastian becomes creepier and creepier at every appearance. (Possible spoilers! Do not continue if you have not read the books!) He not only has a man tied up in his closet, someone who he has clearly tortured, he was shown playing the exact same song Jace was playing at the beginning of the episode. The theme of “copying others” has been systematically strong with Sebastian, starting with the cook he imitates and then with the piano song. Could that mean the man in the closet is the real Sebastian Verlac, the man he is passing himself off as?