Shadowhunters S01E02 “The Descent Into Hell Is Easy” or “All You Have To Do is Watch This Show”

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Aaaaaaand I’m back with another Shadowhunters recap. Let us rejoice and be glad!

OK, well, you can rejoice and be glad. I’m just going to be drunk.

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We pick up where we left off last time, with Clary, Jace, and Simon standing outside the shadowhunters’ hideout, called The Institute. I love these creative and original names. They quibble for a bit before Clary talks Simon into trusting Jace, at least enough to follow him into a creepy abandoned church. Simon refers to Jace as the “Mick Jagger looking guy” which leaves no doubt in my mind this dialogue is being written by middle-aged people. Simon enters the Institute, and the show displays its CGI budget with a de-glamouring sequence. Simon is awed at first, but pretty much takes everything in stride. Of course he does.

Jace wants to take Clary to someone who can help them figure out why the Circle took Jocelyn, but Jace doesn’t want Simon there. Isabelle sashays over in her black leather bondage gear and offers to baby-sit Simon. She looks at him the way I’d be looking at a full bottle of whiskey right now and every word she says sounds laden with innuendo. Now, generally speaking, I have a great appreciation for hot women on my screen especially when I’m watching a shitty TV show, but I’m already getting kind of sick of how sexualized this character is. OK, we get it, Isabelle is hot. This script is so bizarre in the sense of being both juvenile and prurient, as though it were written by a 14-year-old and 40-year-old at the same time. Isabelle is like, the perception of sexy you’d get from a young teen or a basement-dwelling redditor who’s probably never kissed a girl in real life.

In a parking garage, Luke intercepts the female Circle agent he was interviewing the other day before she attacks a guy with a couple horns sticking out of his forehead.

What's she gonna attack him with, extra-strength Clearasil?

What’s she gonna attack him with, extra-strength Clearasil?

We find out the horned guy is a warlock, and Luke wants to know what the Circle wants with him. The Circle agent calls Luke a traitor and disgrace to the Circle, and accuses him of killing some guy named Conrad. Luke denies killing Conrad and makes like he’s going to arrest the Circle chick (on what charge? Almost attacking a weird horned guy that normal humans don’t even know exists?). They fight, and she seems to be gaining the upper hand when the camera cuts away to an angle with both Luke and the Circle chick obscured by an SUV. An animalistic roar sounds and the SUV lurches backward under the force of the attack.

At the Institute, Jace takes Clary to see a guy named Hodge. In the books, Hodge was a wise Dumbledore knockoff who ran things. In the TV show, he’s a young Chuck Norris type who works as the Institute’s weapons trainer. Jace tells Clary that Hodge defected from the Circle and is now confined to the Institute. Jace and Clary interview Hodge, but when he talks about his days in the Circle, a rune on his neck causes him excruciating pain. According to Hodge, it’s how the Clave—the ruling body of the shadowhunters—keeps him from talking. OK… I don’t get it. Earlier, Alec tells Clary that the Circle led a failed revolt and since then, shadowhunters are forbidden to ever talk about it. But why? Why prevent people from talking about an organization that was once such a threat? Why suppress potentially valuable information from an inside man like Hodge? Why am I overthinking this messy ass show?

Pictured: the guy who had to edit this script.

Pictured: the guy who had to edit this script.

Hodge informs Jace and Clary that Valentine’s plan would kill most of humanity if successful. Well, seeing as Valentine’s the bad guy, it’s kind of safe to assume he’s doing something shitty. Thanks, Captain Obvious. Hodge also shares that Jocelyn was a member of the Circle, but she defected, and Valentine died in a fire years ago. No, he didn’t, you liar, he died centuries ago when his son Francis disguised himself as a knight and staged a jousting accident—oh wait, wrong show. Valentine is obviously still alive and kicking, so he must’ve escaped that fire somehow. Hodge says Valentine wants the Mortal Cup, which Jocelyn has hidden from him somewhere. The cup can be used to create more shadowhunters or to control demons. It also does your laundry if you drop a few coins into it.

Jace urges Clary to try to remember anything she can about her mother or the Mortal Cup. Clary responds that her mind is “just this empty blackness.” No argument here. Jace suggests that Clary’s memories were wiped by a warlock. If Magnus Bane and Dot are anything to go by, Shadowhunters warlocks function much like the typical pop culture impression of them—they gots magicks, basically. Jace describes them as half-human and half-demon. Interestingly, this is very similar to Buffy’s perception of vampires as demon/human hybrids. However, Buffy’s vampires can’t perform magic; they’re just strong, immortal bloodsuckers. Jace’s description implies that warlocks’ abilities to perform magic are connected to their demon heritage. So does that mean all demons can perform magic? Also, what kind of demons are we talking about here? We know there are different kinds of demons in this ‘verse because we’ve seen them, and they have different powers (shapeshifters, the loch ness monster, vampires–we haven’t seen any yet, but the shadowhunters mentioned them). We also know that warlocks are not hybrids of the same demon since that one dude had horns, but Magnus and Dot look like normal people. So if a warlock is half-demon, then wouldn’t their powers depend on what their demon half is? Yet Jace says only warlocks have the ability to wipe or restore memories and to create portals. How does this even work?

I really need to stop overthinking this show.

Anyway, Clary figures out that Dot is a warlock since Dot opened the portal that took Clary to the police station, so the plan now is to find Dot. (Remember, Clary didn’t see Dot get thrown out the window, so she thinks Dot is alive).

Cut to Luke, who’s collecting stuff from Clary and Jocelyn’s ruined apartment. Dot shows up, in really good shape after being thrown out a window. So I guess warlocks are immortal, too? Dot tells Luke that she glamoured the apartment so police wouldn’t show up. Does that mean Dot went around glamouring all the neighbors so they wouldn’t remember the attack? Or did she glamour the apartment as the attack was happening so no one noticed? If so, she did all that and opened the portal? I feel like a glamour that complex would require a lot of magical energy. Either this chick is incredibly powerful or all warlocks are this powerful, and they’re just dicking around running antique shops and dance clubs instead of making other downworlders their bitches. Given how structured the shadowhunters’ society is, are we supposed to believe the downworlders don’t have any kind of structure? You’d think individual downworlder species would at least form clans or covens or some shit. I find it hard to believe that with the amount of power they possess, warlocks aren’t downworlder bigwigs.

Dot tells Luke she sent Clary to him via the portal, and Luke informs Dot he never saw her. They worry that the portal misfired and Clary might be in limbo. Luke tells Dot he’s collecting this stuff so the Circle can’t track Clary. If Luke was going through Clary’s room, well… it’s in pretty good shape considering that Jocelyn razed it. So if Clary’s possessions are still in good enough shape to track her with them, what was the point of Jocelyn burning them?

Fire pretty. Script bad.

Fire pretty. Script bad.

Dot sets out to employ Magnus Bane’s help in finding Clary. Wait… Dot’s a warlock too, right? So why can’t she just find Clary herself? What can Magnus do that Dot can’t, unless he’s an even more powerful warlock than she is? Or is finding Clary somehow so much more difficult than say, glamouring an entire fucking apartment that it takes two warlocks to do it? Don’t any of these fuckers have a “find my friends” app on their smartphones? It worked for Simon.

I really need to stop overthinking this show.

Next we get a painful scene of Isabelle flirting with Simon that plays like the opening to an Internet porno. SEXY DOMME BANGS NERD!!! I would’ve said “hot nerd” but that doesn’t apply to Simon. Simon wants to protect Clary from Jace, but Isabelle argues that Jace is the “fastest, strongest, fiercest,” (this is indeed a direct quote) sexiest shadowhunter ever. Remember what I said in the last recap about informed attributes being the mark of shitty ass character development? There you go.

The Institute are still trying to locate Jocelyn using their supercomputers, and Jace gazes broodily at a thoroughly nonsensical display on the screen. What the fuck does any of this even mean? Did they just grab a bunch of vaguely tech-y photoshop brushes and throw them all over the screen? Why even show it to us? What’s the point? There’s a flash of Valentine staring creepily at Jocelyn while she remains suspended in the CGI halo, because apparently we need reminding that he’s still got Jocelyn in his lair. Thanks guys, I was so captivated by Isabelle listing Jace’s attributes that I forgot.

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“Guys, we can’t let CSI:Cyber beat us in the most impossible and ridiculous tech contest!”

At the police station, the captain and Luke share a rather pointless conversation in which Luke finds out Clary was here, but ran off before she could see him. Um, didn’t we already go over this with Dot? I guess Luke knows now that Clary isn’t in limbo, at least. But I still question why we needed these particular scenes to convey this info. One of the first principles you learn about effective writing is that every scene must move the story forward. If you can remove a scene, it shouldn’t be there to start with. This applies to the Simon/Isabelle scene, which conveys nothing the viewer doesn’t already know. Simon doesn’t know everything the viewer does, but we can infer that Alec or Isabelle would fill him in while Clary and Jace are gone. This could all be covered with a quick “Hey guys, I told Simon everything” line from Isabelle next time she sees Jace and Clary. The police station scene with Luke is also unnecessary—it could’ve happened offscreen before Luke sees Dot, and then come up during his conversation with her: “Hey Dot, the captain told me Clary swung by the police station last night but I never saw her. You know anything about that?”

You know, I take back what I said about this script coming off like a 14-year-old wrote it. It’s more like an 8-year-old wrote it.

Clary and Isabelle share a scene in which Isabelle lends Clary her “least revealing outfit” which still looks like club wear. Come the fuck on. Isabelle assures Clary of how special and awesome Clary is, and that Isabelle and Jace aren’t making the beast with two backs. Isabelle says that Jace is like a brother to her because her and Alec’s family took him in after his parents died. Those who have read the books, however, know sibling relationships are not a problem when it comes to the sexing so I’m not even sure why this is here. Isabelle is still being super-flirty and sexy and strokes Clary’s hair, and I was sincerely hoping she and Clary would make out. But the show won’t even give me that. Fuck you, show.

"Oh honey... your colorist did you so wrong."

“Oh honey… your colorist did you so wrong.”

Once again we get a useless Luke scene in which he tells his partner that Clary was here and likely saw him interviewing the Circle members (Luke’s partner is apparently in the know). He instructs the partner to track down Simon to find Clary. Again, is there a reason we need all these scenes to convey basic information? It took this long to figure out that tracking Simon’s fucking cell phone GPS would’ve probably led them right to Clary? Seriously???

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Back at the Institute, the group quibbles over whether they should follow the Clave’s orders to let them take care of things, or find Dot themselves. Clary’s amulet senses another disturbance in the force, injecting (I assume) into Clary’s head a vision of Dot running into Pandemonium. Clary tells the group she knows where Dot is.

"What do you mean, it's not a wig???"

“What do you mean, it’s not a wig???”

At Pandemonium, Magnus has opened a portal and is herding his warlock cronies through it. He informs Dot that Valentine knows a warlock brewed Jocelyn’s coma potion, and Valentine’s hunting them down one by one. Dot implores him for help, claiming her magic is dangerously low from portaling all over town in search of Clary. Once again… you couldn’t just track the GPS on her cell phone or Simon’s? Why is this entire show an idiot plot? Magnus tells Dot to get out of dodge while the getting is good, and it’s her funeral if she doesn’t. He disappears through the portal, leaving Dot behind. As Dot leaves Pandemonium, she’s waylaid by Circle agents.

"Last chance to save yourself... from this shitshow."

“Last chance to save yourself… from this shitshow.”

Also, is that a drink in Magnus’s hand? A man after my own heart!

En route to Pandemonium, Clary’s amulet delivers a vision of Dot being apprehended. You know, a heads up a little earlier would’ve been nice. Even the inanimate objects in this show are morons. Without Dot, the gang is at a loss as to how to restore Clary’s memories. They decide that their only option is the Silent Brothers, a trio of super-powered Shadowhunters (but not so super-powered they are able to go outside rather than locking themselves up in a tomb called the City of Bones). The Silent Brothers can restore memories, but the process could kill Clary. Wait, why is it this process could kill her and not a warlock’s magic? What’s so much riskier about the Silent Brothers’ magic? Hey, you know what plot twist might work here and actually make a lick of fucking sense? One that engages basic rules governing use of magic. Maybe only highly trained warlocks can retrieve memories, and without a highly trained warlock, Clary would have to go to an apprentice or a demon using magic illegally, or something else risky that abides by the ‘verse’s own internal logic. But there is no internal logic in this ‘verse, so we’re stuck with this.

Cue another useless scene in which the group arrives at the City of Bones and quibble about the same shit we’ve already established. In a moment of hilarious irony, Simon asks Clary how she’s not freaked out by all this. Bro, you’re the one who just found out demons are real and your bff is part of some elite group of magical people who protect humans, and you’re cool as a fucking cucumber. It’s shocking that Clary isn’t freaked out but not that you’re not freaked out? That’s pretty insulting to Clary. And I don’t even like Clary.

Back at Valentine’s lair, Valentine tells Dot he’ll let her go if she reverses Jocelyn’s spell. Dot claims she can’t break the spell because she didn’t cast it.

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So Clary and friends went through all this trouble trying to find Dot and she can’t even break the fucking spell because she didn’t cast it???

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Valentine wants to know who cast the spell. Dot won’t give Magnus up, so Valentine injects her with a substance that’s supposed to scare her but doesn’t seem to affect her very much—she just goes slack in the cage. I’m not sure how this is going to convince her to do anything. Ladies and gents, our criminal mastermind.

Back at the City of Bones, Simon can’t go in because any mundanes who enter will die. Everyone quibbles about the matter some more, and I’m going to slit my wrists. Ultimately Isabelle volunteers to baby-sit Simon while Alec, who’s about as done with this shit as I am, peaces out to keep watch. I have to question why Simon is still here. Let’s see, he led the Circle guy to them, ate their food, injected pointless annoying commentary and unfunny jokes into important discussions, and now needs a baby-sitter while the group do things that are actually productive. He can’t fight, doesn’t seem all that smart for being such a nerd, and probably makes crappy music. He did provide free transportation with his van, but the shadowhunters could just take the van and leave the useless mundane at the Institute. That way Clary knows he’s safe and they don’t have to worry about his ass while doing dangerous things. There’s probably some wanky as fuck reason why they’re still hauling him around though and I can’t be assed to rewind and check.

Back at the police station, the captain informs Luke that his two witnesses (the Circle agents he was interviewing) have both turned up dead. The woman (and SUV) appear to have been attacked by a vicious beast. Luke blames it on “the demonic murder crew” but the captain remains suspicious. She leaves, and Luke’s partner confronts him about the Circle woman’s death. Luke claims it was “self defense.” Why do we need to see this conversation? Anyone not a fidiot can infer that Luke is the one who killed the Circle woman, seeing as, you know, she’s dead and he’s still alive. And since we saw the fight, we know it was self defense. But I guess it’s to set up the partner warning Luke that he better find Clary before the Circle does. The dialogue suggests that Luke is a double agent, but if he is, then why did the Circle chick he killed call him a traitor? Why did he deny any relationship to Luke or Jocelyn when he talked to the Circle agents? If he’s not a double agent, how is Luke finding Clary going to stop the Circle from looking for her? When is this fucking show going to make any gotdamn sense?

So Dumb and Dumber are venturing into the City of Bones, which appears to be some kind of medieval catacombs set down in the middle of New York City. They find a statue with the episode title engraved into it: “For shadowhunters, the descent into hell is easy.” I think they mean, “For viewers of this show….”

“Actually, it really says, ‘COME TO THE DARK SIDE, LUKE.’”

“Actually, it really says, ‘COME TO THE DARK SIDE, LUKE.’”

They walk into a creepy chamber with a circle of light in the middle of it. It’s nighttime, right? So where’s the light coming from? Is it moonlight? Still pretty bright for moonlight shining through a hole in the ceiling. A deep voice booms, “shadowhunters!” and the silent brothers appear. They look like corpses wearing robes, with their eyes and mouths stitched up.

It might be time to ease up on the botox, bro.

It might be time to ease up on the botox, bro.

I have to ask why I’m hearing their voices if they’re the Silent Brothers, but maybe they’re speaking to Clary and Jace via telepathy or some shit. I don’t even fucking know anymore.

Back to people no one cares about, Simon is being annoying. Isabelle wants to hear his band’s crappy music, but he’s got it on his phone and left his phone in the van. Isabelle goes back to the van with him, but before they can make out or whatever, she hears a suspicious noise and goes to investigate. Simon locks himself in the van, but these two brilliant minds forgot the first rule of horror movies (after Simon claims to have seen so many of them), and that’s to check the backseat. Shit, even the Scream Queens characters aren’t this bloody stupid. Someone grabs Simon.

Inside the tomb, Clary undergoes the spell, which involves a sword suspended right above her head.

So close, yet so far.

So close, yet so far.

We flash back to a memory of teenage Clary overhearing a convo between Luke and Jocelyn, revealing that Valentine is her father.

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I’m a little confused that this memory was blocked by Magnus’s spell, when he initially cast it on eight-year-old Clary. Does she have to keep going back for like, memory-wipe booster spells? Or is the spell continuous? Does it have some magic algorithm that determines when people are talking about shadowhunters or Valentine or some shit in front of her and blocks it? If so, why is it not blocking all of these convos with Jace and co? Or does it only block memories of Jocelyn talking about Valentine—oh, fuck it.

Back at Chernobyl, Dot uses her magic to break out of her cage. Again, I have to ask why she couldn’t have done this earlier. Did her magic have to recharge again after expending it in the search for Clary? That would make sense, but the narrative doesn’t make it clear, and any narrative that requires assumptions and theories from fans to make sense is not a good one. A weakened Dot makes her way to floating comatose Jocelyn, assuring Jocelyn (and viewers) how strong and brave Clary is, because a shitty narrative can’t go a scene without more informed attributes about its main characters. Valentine’s head lackey finds Dot and attacks her, but Dot sticks him with a syringe she grabs during the fight. Valentine comes in and, seeing his lackey is dying, finishes the job. Dot tries to crawl away (what made her so weak? She didn’t seem that badly injured in the fight) but Valentine grabs her and is about to stick her with his light saber when the scene ends.

"That's what you get for scaring the shit out of me in The Grudge!"

“That’s what you get for scaring the shit out of me in The Grudge!”

Dumb and Dumber emerge from the tomb and inform Alec of what they found out. Alec is skeptical of Clary, and remains the most logical and clearheaded of the characters in this shitshow so far, probably because he’s the only one without a hard-on for Clary. Isabelle tells them Simon is missing, and they run off in search of him. Someone calls out to them, and they see two emo-looking types standing on a bridge, dangling Simon over the edge by his ankles. Drop him! Drop him!

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When I asked why Simon is always hanging around, I didn’t mean literally.

No such luck. The emos are vampires and propose a deal: Simon in exchange for the Mortal Cup. And here we end on the least harrowing cliffhanger ever.

Logically, the shadowhunters have no incentive to save Simon. I’ve already listed the reasons he’s useless, so now let’s add “gets kidnapped by vampires” to that list. Not to mention, the shadowhunters don’t even have the Mortal Cup, so they’ve got nothing to barter for Simon’s life. Simon dying would lighten everyone’s load and leave them no worse off. Unfortunately, Clary is attached to this loser, and since everyone but Alec is in love with Clary, they’re going to have to save him.

And I’m going to have to recap it, aren’t I?

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