Shadowhunters – Season 1, Episode 4: “Raising Hell”

Shadowhunters – Season 1, Episode 4: “Raising Hell”
Grade: C+

We have reached the point where I officially like this show. I’ve been on the fence with whether or not I like it, and I’ve finally decided that I do. Even with all its flaws and changes from the book, I do like it. Or maybe I enjoy watching it, to make fun of the bad and be surprised by the good. And I will certainly continue watching (though I was going to until the end anyway, but now I am with more enthusiasm.) It’s possible this episode made it easier for me to see where the show is going, and my excitement for what’s to come now that Magnus has arrived, that it seems more together than the other three episodes to air before it. But also, it’s just generally not very good. I’m taking the show for what it is and hoping for improvement.

Though the writing hasn’t improved much—okay, at all—but the acting in this episode seemed to improve a lot, which was unexpected. I think it greatly has to do with the director and/or writer of the episode, both different from the first three (though still not the greatest). Harry Shum Jr’s Magnus (my favorite character in the books) seemed to reach the Magnus Bane level of sass we’d all hoped for and started to feel like the Magnus we know from the books. In the first moments of him in the show he seemed a bit too serious, too intense. Now it seems he’s the perfect choice. I think with screen time and more time with Alec will soften him up. Kat McNamara is still a great Clary, but at times her acting is a bit off for me, though this episode was mostly good (except that strange moment when Jace drew the rune on her and she screamed terribly). Alberto Rosende as Simon is my favorite. He’s been the strongest part of the show since the first episode and really shined in this one. But Matthew Daddario is the highlight of this episode for me, because he actually smiled (though Alec isn’t the type to do so often). He’s been great as Alec, but a little too stiff for me until now. Him meeting Magnus helped that a lot.

I do like what they’re doing with the show so far. The deviations from the book seem necessary and they’re starting to get back on course with the book (of what I remember). Understandably, a lot of the first episode needed to be reworked to make sense to people who haven’t read it, timing it better for TV. The scene with the memory demon was fine, even if the effects weren’t the best, it started off great. I had two problems with it, though: why does Clary not know how to find the point of a star to stand on? And the idea that Jace would be so shocked to see himself as Alec’s most love—they’re parabatai, after all. Isabelle’s brother was hers and Clary’s mother hers. It didn’t seem to scream “I’M SECRETLY IN LOVE WITH YOU” so Jace having that reaction, and Alec having an equally “WHAT? NO. NO HOMO” moment that ended up with him breaking the circle and letting the demon free, didn’t feel believable. I don’t remember from the books, but I believe Jace has always known about Alec and Alec never had that kind of denial, but I could be wrong. Either way, that didn’t scream “I’m secretly in love with you” but “I love you like Isabelle loves her brother, like Clary loves her mother” and the entire scene felt forced, needing someone to break the circle to cause hell to break loose—kind of literally. And someone has mentioned that killing demons seem to be a lot easier in the show than in the books—which I failed to notice, but now that I have it bugs me.

The episode worked in a lot of ways, especially Simon’s transformation into a vampire, which I like that they’re doing slowly and not too rushed. I like the addition of Maureen early in the series, too, giving her a different kind of role to Simon early on. We finally see Alec show an emotion other than intense seriousness, anger, and some more seriousness. He smiled while meeting Magnus and suddenly Alec came to life a bit. The introduction to Isabelle’s necklace was nice, giving it more of a standout moment rather than having it been hers all this time, with Magnus giving a little backstory of how it had been a Lightwood’s for a long time. The connection of the necklace between Magnus and Camille this early is interesting, just like it’s interesting to introduce her so early, too. But I like where it might lead.

My concern is that Luke is doing absolutely nothing. They started the first episode off with a change from the books with demonic murders that he’s investigating, but after he isn’t doing much else but sit at his desk and telling the other that jerky is to eaten AT ALL TIMES OF THE DAY. I want more werewolf stuff. I’d much rather they introduce more werewolves early on, too, just to get the story moving on that end and give Isaiah Mustafa something to do.

Overall a good episode, definitely the best thus far. I’m enjoying the few changes they’re making, but mostly I love that they’re staying pretty close to the book (from my memory at least; a luxury, on my part, not being able to nitpick every difference in detail.)


HIGHLIGHTS

Simon’s story
has really become the best part of the show. Alberto’s acting is great and his comedic relief is needed, though his angered moments toward Jace and Clary at the beginning are well done as well (despite his non-ironic use of “COME AT ME, BRO”). His slow transformation into a vampire is intriguing. (Right now, I think he’s only a fledgling in the books, correct? He still has to die and be buried, yeah?)

Malec
both Magnus and Alec, together and on their own, seem to have fit nicely into the show and I’m excited for more scenes of them together.

The acting has greatly improved,
even if it’s for this episode alone, I know that it’s there. The actors can do it, so I hope it improves exponentially.

LOWLIGHTS

Luke has had nothing to do
and it seems like a strange place to drag out nothing. Give him something to do! Add more werewolves to the story!

Jace’s, and then Alec’s, reactions
to the memory demon revelation that Alec’s most beloved is Jace was a bit over the top and unneeded. Though that scene did work nicely for the show and the involvement with Magnus more in the show works to its advantage.

Having Valentine in every episode
in his strange lair in Chernobyl is unnecessary. I think for a good villain, less time with them is more. There needs to be more build up. If we see him all the time, the eventual showdown between him and the good guys won’t have as strong of a reaction. A few mentions of him or a scene every other episode would give him more impact later in the season. He’s not really doing anything there but torturing his followers when they fail him and watching over Clary’s comatose mother. One villain done incredibly well is Jessica Jones’ Kilgrave during the first episodes of the season: less is more.

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