Shadowhunters – Season 1

Shadowhunters – Season 1
Grade Average: C+

After a less-than-great start, a rocky middle with good episodes and bad, Shadowhunters ended on a great episode with a finale that had everything I’d wanted for the show at the start. If it would have started on the same level of what the finale had, the show would have been incredible. I can’t even imagine what the show could’ve built up to if that had been the case. However, that wasn’t the case—the season just wasn’t the best. On average, it scored a C+ from me for the season as a whole (that’s averaging the grades I gave for individual episodes, which I think is a pretty fair outcome). But it consistently became better and better. With my expectations for the future of the show as a whole slightly lowered, and with the finale being genuinely the best episode so far, I’m excited for the second season.

There were several additions to the show that I liked, like the new character Lydia, though with her came a subplot that I didn’t care for—Alec’s engagement to her—but I did enjoy her as a character and hope she’s integrated more in the show, because the actress playing her is great. A lot changes from the book didn’t seem necessary, but a few of them came around in the end for the story they wanted to tell. All that happens in the books happens, just differently from what we know as readers. The route is different, but the end results of the storylines are the same, keeping it fresher for the show’s viewers. Although I wish they’d kept closer to the books, I understand some of the changes.

Mostly, I find it strange that they’re merging plot points from the first four books into the first season—Camille being introduced far later than in the show and Alec and Magnus’s discussion of their mortality/immortality because of her first appearance in The Mortal Instruments’ fourth book comes much sooner than needed, as they haven’t even started dating yet. It seems like they’re using the second book as more of a bridge, ending fairly close to what happens in the middle of the second book, on the ship with Valentine. One major change I feel was necessary, was bringing Jocelyn out of her coma early. It wouldn’t have made sense to keep her in that magical coma for almost three seasons if it had followed a season one = book one, season two = book two, season three = book three, etc. which makes the first season have much more of an arc.

What I predict for the second season is that it’s going to use the end of the second book as the midpoint of the season, while converging book three’s plot throughout and end the season with the end of the third book. I don’t know their long-game here, because in two seasons that would cover three books. If they were to continue that way, it would mean only a total of four seasons. Of course they have an entire mega-series to work with, but according to Cassandra Clare, they only have the rights to The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices, not being able to touch the rest. Does that mean she won’t sell them the rights if the show is going well? I don’t know. If that were to happen, how would they integrate The Bane Chronicles? Tales From Shadowhunter Academy? The Dark Artifices? The other two trilogies Clare has planned? I don’t know. I just hope they don’t chomp through too much plot and are left to create their own storylines after the sixth book’s story has been used up.


HIGHLIGHTS

Lydia Branwell’s
introduction had me weirded out at first. I thought an additional character wasn’t needed, but she quickly became interesting and the actress playing her, Stephanie Bennett, is great. I didn’t like the Alec and Lydia pairing or the entire wedding subplot at all, but it ended up well, and with Lydia being so kind and understanding to Alec made me like her even more. I hope she’s in future episodes.

Acting by Alberto Rosende
was consistently great and really carried the show in the first half of the season when it was at its worst. Simon is a highlight of the book series and I’m thrilled he’s just as much a highlight in the show.

Effects improvement
was definitely noticeable. I do wish the portals looked cooler (which didn’t change at all during the season) and that there was some consistency with runes, but for the most part, there was definite improvement (or I just got used to it, which might have happened). In the finale, Valentine communicating with the ring looked okay, but after taking the ring off, the effects of him disappearing looked great. Magnus’s magic looks great. But again, those portals are abysmal. The fight scenes also improved tremendously, the first few edited terribly to a point where you didn’t know what was going on.

Episodes ten and thirteen,
“This World Inverted” and the finale were the best of the season. “This World Inverted” was hilarious and worked really well, while the finale brought everything together and raised the bar for the show’s level of greatness.

LOWLIGHTS

Strange changes
that were just unnecessary and could potentially create plot holes for future events (though they could be working on that and doing it on purpose) and created straight up plot holes all season, just making decisions that didn’t make sense for what was already set up in a previous episode.

Tim Burton’s Through the Looking Glass
promotion during “This World Inverted” just felt weird. It made me uncomfortable. I loved that episode a whole lot, but it felt like a lot of it was written just to make that promotional deal? It very well could have been an “Oh! Your episode reminds us of our movie. Let’s do a fun promo!” but it just felt weird to include Alice in Wonderland into the actual episode.

Kat McNamara’s
acting was so inconsistent. I like her as Clary and she has some shining moments, and is fairly fine throughout, but there are moments that are so terrible I don’t understand how they left it in, how they didn’t have her do the scene again. I hope that improves going forward.

Magnus
is played really well by Harry Shum Jr, but I’m saddened that his character is being written too unlike book-Magnus for my liking. Magnus is my favorite character—a lot of people’s favorite character—and I’m disappointed in how they’re writing him, making him feel harsher (especially in the first few episodes) and not as fun as he is in the books. Though again, Harry Shum Jr. is doing great.

Valentine in every scene
in the first few episodes was a terrible decision. Instead of being afraid of him, we saw almost every moment of him being in Chernobyl—another odd choice—and it just didn’t work for the story. Less is more, and we got too much of him, making him showing up in the later half of the season less exciting.

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