Based on the best-selling young adult book series The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, Shadowhunters features everything you ever hoped for in a fantasy series. It’s got faeries, warlocks, vampires, and werewolves. It has shadowhunters, human-angel hybrids, who protect the world from demons. It celebrates your typical good verses evil story line that follows a bunch of attractive teenagers wearing tight leather and tons of eyeliner around New York City. Naturally there’s a love triangle thrown in for good measure.
Does this plot scream ABC Family or what? Wait. Scratch that. ABC Family has officially switched over to its new name — Freeform. Sure it sounds like engineering software, but company officials are certain this rebranding effort will help wrangle in some millennials to enhance the current demographic of Pretty Little Liar fans and those housewives who love to watch holiday-themed made-for-TV romances featuring Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Here’s a tip Freeform: Have Simon (Alberto Rosende) take his shirt off every week like he did in episode 1. If you tweet a GIF, I’m sure the tweens and those of us who appreciate a nice set of abs will find a way to tune in for the remainder of the season.
I am a connoisseur of YA novels and have read the entire Mortal Instruments series. As an expert, I can say that certain liberties the director takes to make the television show different from the books have been minor. For the most part, I was able to go with the flow and enjoy the ride. Even if it did cover a ton of information in a short amount of time.
Clary Fray (Katherine McNamara) is our leading lady. She’s a plucky art student who lives a relatively normal life with her mother, Jocelyn, and her best friend, Simon. When she turns 18, Jocelyn morphs into a control freak because her daughter’s life is about to change dramatically. In a flashback, we witness sweet little Clary playing by a small pond with her mermaid doll. A disgusting demon pops out of the water threatening to eat Clary for lunch. Jocelyn whips out a glowing seraph blade and kills the demon with one strike. Clearly after that experience, Clary is in need of some serious time on the couch.
WANT MORE? Keep up with all the latest from last night’s television by subscribing to our newsletter. Head here for more details.
Instead of taking her to a counselor, Jocelyn hauls the stunned child to warlock Magnus Bane. Jocelyn trusts him to remove all of Clary’s memories of the demon world. I trust he will eventually bust out some sweet dance moves since he’s played by the talented Harry Shum Jr. Time will tell.
In the present day, Jocelyn’s wish is for her daughter to have one more night of normalcy before having to explain that she comes from a long line of demon-hunting shadowhunters. Jocelyn’s not-really-but-kinda boyfriend Luke (the beautiful Isaiah Mustafa) promises to be there for moral support. Luke may not be a shadowhunter, but he is definitely magical in some way. Unless it’s normal for a cop’s eyes to glow green. Before Clary leaves for the evening with Simon, Jocelyn gifts her daughter with a family heirloom. It’s a steele. Shadowhunters use it to draw runes, or protective tattoos as I like to call them, all over their skin before battle. Of course, Clary’s mom doesn’t tell her that, and our birthday girl never why she received a weirdo paperweight for her birthday. She shoves it in her pocket for safe keeping. Teenagers.
Clary meets Simon and his duet partner Maureen to offer moral support when they tackle open mic night. After their set, Clary helps them load up their gear in a van that rivals the Mystery Machine when mysterious Jace (Dominic Sherwood) bumps into her. She yells at him to watch where he’s going and he turns, confused by the fact that this fiery redhead can see him. It’s love at first sight.
Simon is convinced his best friend was roofied because she appears to be talking to an imaginary person. Clary rushes inside the club and follows Jace behind a curtain. Siblings Isabelle (Emeraude Toubia) and Alec (Matthew Daddario) flank Jace as he questions a woman who gave a container of blood to two random dudes known as Circle members. Jace whips out his seraph blade, and Clary launches forward to save the woman from certain death. Neither of us were expecting tentacles to come out of the woman’s mouth!
NEXT: Be my Valentine
Isabelle, Alec, and Jace work together as a well-oiled shadowhunter machine, taking out demon after demon as Clary watches from the sidelines. Witnessing one disappear on the seraph blade she was holding is too much. Clary runs home to report her hallucinations and the fact that she may have accidentally killed a guy to her mother, who calmly asks ridiculous questions like, “What did the tattoos look like?” Suddenly, the downstairs shop owner, Dot, bursts through the door to report that Magnus called with a warning: The Circle has found them.
Jocelyn gives Clary a necklace, instructs her to call Luke, and tosses her into a portal that Dot conjures. Clary lands at the NYPD, where Luke works. Meanwhile, the Circle thugs kill Dot and threaten to do the same to Jocelyn if she doesn’t give them the Mortal Cup. Jocelyn takes out a few bad guys but stops short when one of them mentions Valentine. She vows to never tell where she hid the Cup because she doesn’t want Valentine to create an army. Then she drinks the green potion Dot gave her before Dot was catapulted out of a window.
Next we learn who this Valentine dude is, and it’s not good. He’s more of the massacre type than the cherub variety. I actually saw him melt a guy’s face off for saying Jocelyn “doesn’t deserve our respect” since she’s been hiding among the mundanes for nearly two decades. Obviously Valentine has a thing for Jocelyn and he’s pretty ticked that she’s currently suffering from a Sleeping Beauty curse. He pets her as she floats unconscious in a shimmery orb. This villain is creepy.
Over at the police department, Clary hears Luke tell two more Circle members that he doesn’t care what happens to Jocelyn. He has been playing her for years and is equally frustrated that he hasn’t located the Mortal Cup either. Mortified, Clary runs through a rainstorm back to her dark, abandoned house because this is a mandatory decision every girl from any horror movie must make. At least she grabs a battle ax while screaming for her mother.
That’s when Dot shows up, even though we saw her body collapse on the sidewalk earlier. Interesting. There’s no way her bones or internal organs could have recovered from that drop. Does she have a twin? Why is she babbling about the Cup? Why that’s not Dot at all! It’s a disgusting demon who wiggled itself into Dot’s body to try and trick Clary. Of course! Demon Dot strikes Clary on the shoulder, and just as it’s about to do more damage, a seraph blade cuts through the demon’s torso. It vanishes, and there’s Jace’s lovely face staring back at Clary. She passes out. We don’t know if it was from her injury or from Jace’s spectacular facial features.
When Clary wakes up, she’s in the Institute where the shadowhunters live. Isabelle is indifferent, Alec is annoyed, and Jace is enamored by the fact that Clary has no idea what she is or the secret life she’s forgotten. Jace explains to Clary that all the fairytale legends are true. And he is her best shot in finding out what happened to her mom.
Their conversation is interrupted by a call from Simon. By tracking her phone to an abandoned church (the Institute is conveniently hidden from mundanes by magic), he inadvertently leads one of the Circle members straight to Clary. Jace heads outside to take care of the bad guy while Clary looks like a fool talking to the air. Jace removes his glamor rune so Simon can see him in all his glory. Although Simon is convinced that Clary isn’t a meth head, he is still concerned that she is blindly trusting a random dude instead of asking Luke for help. Jace offers to keep her safe. Simon offers to always be there for her. The guy on her left is a promise of adventure. The guy on her right is a promise of stability. The only thing for certain is the danger that lies ahead as her mother’s life hangs in the balance.
Grab your favorite weapon, people. It’s time to rescue Jocelyn!