Shadowhunters S01E03 “Dead Man’s Party” or “This Show Gets Homoerotic as Fuck”

It’s that time again! Time for another Shadowhunters recap!

No, I will never tire of this gif.

No, I will never tire of this gif.

The episode is titled “Dead Man’s Party.” Hmmm, where have I seen this title before? Under normal circumstances, I’d chalk it up to coincidence, but given that Cassie Claire is a fan of Buffy (she must be, or she wouldn’t have put all the quotes in the Draco Trilogy), and City of Bones has a chapter with this name, I’m less inclined to offer the benefit of the doubt.

When last we left our heroes, Simon had been captured by vampires, who sought an exchange with the Shadowhunters for the Mortal Cup. Back at the Institute, the Shadowhunter gang discuss their game plan. Clary bitches at the others for letting Simon get captured, to which Alec ripostes that humans should also have a modicum of common sense. I really like Alec so far. He’s not here for any of this shit and seems to hate everything, so we have two things in common. Jace assures Clary that the vamps won’t harm Simon; they just wanted to draw her out. They don’t want Valentine to get the cup any more than the Shadowhunters do because then Valentine would be unstoppable.

At the vamps’ lair, Simon is being held in a tomb or some shit full of props stolen from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Some Lestat wannabe walks in and menaces Simon with his fangs.

“Let’s see you find a better pair at Party City!”

“Let’s see you find a better pair at Party City!”

At the Institute, Clary points out how pointless all the fancy screens and tech are, and I hate that I agree with her on something. The Shadowhunter gang recognize the vamps as being part of a gang led by someone called Camille, and their headquarters are at a hotel called DuMort. Slick. Clary wants to charge in all half-cocked but Alec points out that they need to clear it with the Clave, and they also need a plan. He smarmily adds that downworlders are slaves to their impulses, unlike Shadowhunters, and teases Isabelle about her fondness for Seelies. Jace explains that Seelie is a catch-all term for fairies, pixies, etc.—anyone half angel and half demon. Clary still wants to charge in, but Jace talks her into making a plan first. Alec is unhappy about attacking the vamps without permission from the Clave, but Jace reasons that since the vamps broke the accords first by kidnapping Simon, the Clave will just give the Shadowhunters a slap on the wrist and that’s that.

Budget Lestat drags Simon into a fancy room that looks like a museum. Simon grabs a knife from one of the displays and hurls it at Budget Lestat, hitting him in the shoulder. That’s pretty freakin’ good aim for a hipster who talks too much and probably never throws anything but shade at men with more romantic luck than he has. Budget Lestat is, expectedly, unharmed, but he’s pissed that Simon ruined his jacket, and I really need to know what the point of this scene is other than wasting airtime. A seductive woman in a lace cocktail dress sashays in, addressing Budget Lestat as “Raphael.” At least he has a name now. She’s sporting some serious clawlike press-on nails. I was going to ask how she wipes her butt with those nails, but then I recalled that vampires don’t poop.

Cut to the credits, which are as weirdly dated as the rest of this show, right down to the grungy photoshop brush overlays that look like they came straight from a banner for a fan fiction story posted on livejournal circa 2004.

“No new chappie till I get 15 comments!”

“No new chappie till I get 15 comments!”

Since the Shadowhunters can’t take weapons from the Institute without anyone finding out, they have to get them elsewhere. They steal Simon’s van and take it to a churchyard to retrieve a stash of weapons hidden in a grave by their ancestors. The Shadowhunters explain to Clary that “all the ancient religions recognized demons” but slacked off in recent centuries now that the Shadowhunters are here to protect humans. This looks like a Christian cemetery, so I’m going to assume that Christianity is included among the “ancient religions” Isabelle refers to. But why would she call it an ancient religion if it’s still being widely practiced today? When exactly did the Shadowhunters get here? What happened before Shadowhunters showed up? Did priests and nuns go around slaying demons with lightsabers during the Middle Ages or something? Because that would be kind of awesome.

Isabelle leaves to get info from a contact, while Alec pulls Jace aside and warns him to quit risking their lives because he’s hot to get into Clary’s faux-leather pants from Contempo Casuals. This convo is interrupted when Clary finds the grave. The gang retrieves the weapons, including the light sabers from before, but this time the blades are fully extended. OK, so these are magical weapons, right? Why would the ancestors have stored them with the blades extended? It’d make more sense to retract the blades in case a mundane stumbled onto the weapons or even just for basic safety.

“You could take someone’s eye out with that thing!”

“You could take someone’s eye out with that thing!”

Alec warns Clary to put down the blade since she doesn’t know how to use it, and she retorts that she knew how to use it when she killed the demon at Pandemonium. O RLY? Literally the only thing Clary did with the light saber at Pandemonium was pick it up, hold it awkwardly, and wait for Jace to shove a bad guy onto it. Yeah, she really knows her shit.

Alec and Jace have another homoerotic moment where Alec reassures Jace that he’s still on his team despite expressing perfectly logical and rational misgivings over risking so much over an unknown quantity (Clary) who happens to be the evillest of the evil’s daughter. Alec goes off to sneak into the Institute for a bow, which begs the question—if Alec is just gonna smuggle a bow out of the Institute anyway, why bother with this scene? Why not just have them all smuggle weapons from the Institute? If the higher-ups at the Institute won’t notice a bow and arrows are missing, then why would they notice a few extra light sabers? Does the Institute only have like, 4 light sabers or something?

Jace trains Clary with the light saber, since he also recognizes that she doesn’t know what the fuck she’s doing but unlike Alec, isn’t going to say so because it’s probably not the best way to sweet-talk a girl. Blahbity blah, training session with phallic weapon using terminology full of sexual innuendo, you get the idea.

“My light saber might not be as long, but it’s just as lethal!” *eyebrow wiggle*

“My light saber might not be as long, but it’s just as lethal!” *eyebrow wiggle*

So after Clary swipes the blade once Jace concludes she’s already an expert with a light saber and that actually wasn’t innuendo, at least not on my part.

Clary mentions that Alec dislikes her, and Jace explains that Alec hates everyone. Maybe Alec is my secret soulmate. Jace goes on to tell Clary that he and Alec were raised as brothers and share a special Shadowhunter bond, connecting them at a deeper level than anything you piddly humans have. While in battle, Jace and Alec’s “hearts beat as one.” It sounds like Jace and Alec are brothers in the Game of Thrones sense, if you catch my drift.

Jace also reveals that Shadowhunters are half-angel, which makes me wonder about something. They’re supposedly more powerful than the downworlders, right? So what’s their other half? If it’s human, then why would Shadowhunters be more powerful than Seelies? You’d think Seelies, being demon/angel, would be kicking everybody’s ass with their combined powers. Unless demon and angel powers cancel each other out or some shit. And why are all these demon/angel/human combos shoehorned in here to explain mythical creatures, anyway? If this show just did like Lost Girl or Grimm and posited that different mythical creatures exist with differing levels of power, most viewers would just accept it at face value. The mythical-creatures-as-hybrids conceit just makes me think of Buffy, which presented vampires as descendants of demon/human hybrids. In Shadowhunters, however, the characters continually refer to these creatures’ hybridity in present tense.

oprahwhatistruth

Back at the vampire lair, Simon is babbling at Camille and Raphael. Camille snaps her fingers and Simon just freezes, like a DVR put on pause. Man, I wish I had that ability. Camille and Raphael share some “as you know, Bob” dialogue to fill in the viewer—they’re using Simon as bait to lure Clary, and will then use Clary to find the Mortal Cup. Raphael is concerned that Clary will bring the Shadowhunters, but Camille assures him the latter are greatly outnumbered by vampires. She also seems about ready to eat Simon up in more ways than one. I really have to wonder why beautiful supernatural women are so drawn to this shmuck. Does he have beer-flavored blood or something?

Meanwhile, Isabelle has changed into a slinky red dress. Did she pack the dress in the van, assuming her contact would come through? She saunters into a domicile in Central Park that looks like a circus tent, but is furnished like the world’s smarmiest bachelor pad. A pointy-eared character who looks like a hybrid of Fabio and BSB’s Howie D circa “The Call” is pruning a bush, and no, that’s not a pun.

“I’m going to a place nearby / Gotta go”

“I’m going to a place nearby / Gotta go”

His name is Meliorn, and he’s FWBs with Isabelle. They both try to seduce information out of each other—he wants to find out about Clary, and she wants to find out about the vampires. Isabelle knows Meliorn is FWBs with Camille and as a Seelie, he can’t lie. I feel like this scene is supposed to be super sexy but it’s actually kind of hilarious given how utterly clichéd everything is.

Simon and Clary head to a biker club called Hardtail which, according to Jace, has something he needs. Which reminds me, I need a shot of vodka to get through the rest of this recap. Clary tells Jace they need to rescue Simon, not hang around a bunch of posers. Um, Clary, you’ve been hanging around the Shadowhunters all this time. Just saying. Jace continues to be Clary’s Yoda and teaches her how to discern the true identities of creatures masquerading as humans. She IDs a couple as vampires, so apparently, this is a vampire biker club.

I find it curious why that club is decorated with portraits of Native Americans. This, mixed with the biker imagery, makes me think of the Native American werewolves in Twilight. I know the TMI books predate Twilight, but this show doesn’t, and the bar scene isn’t in the book. It just strikes me as a really odd juxtaposition.

Yay, genocide?

Yay, genocide?

Jace points out a skeezy biker guy, and I can smell the cigarette smoke, motor oil, and Axe body spray through the screen. Jace tells Clary to go compliment the guy on his bike, because somehow this is supposed to help Simon. Clary just takes Jace at his word and flirts with the biker guy. He does some glamour thing on Clary reminiscent of what Drusilla did to her victims on Buffy. He transforms himself so his hair is all slicked back as opposed to the ‘90s boy band ‘do he was sporting before, and I’m failing to understand why this is supposed to make him more appealing, until I realize he’s emulating Jace’s hairstyle. He clocks Clary as a Shadowhunter because of her runes and the fact that she “smells like an angel.”

Back at the DuMort, Camille seduces info out of Simon, who spills the beans about Clary’s blocked memories. Camille deduces that Magnus Bane put the memory spell on Clary. This is semi-off topic but being a vampire leader and all, you’d think this chick could find herself a decent manicurist.

Gurl, those cuticles…

Gurl, those cuticles…

We check up on Isabelle and Meliorn, having a postcoital chat about how to sneak into the DuMort. This guy is just so ridiculous I can’t not comment on it because I seriously cannot get over it. I feel like he was inspired by ‘80s Harlequins, Dracula B-movies, and ‘90s BSB videos. I don’t recall him from the first TMI book, but maybe he shows up later, I don’t know. If he’s an original creation of the TV show, he fits in perfectly with the rest of this cheesy  frankenworld.

"Meliorn, you've got to fire your interior decorator. It's killing my buzz."

“Meliorn, you’ve got to fire your interior decorator. It’s killing my buzz.”

I’m going to interrupt this recap for a brief tangent on world building. I know I criticize the world building in this show a lot, particularly the similarities to Buffy and Harry Potter. Defenders of the series will undoubtedly insist that these are all common fantasy tropes. I agree, and using common tropes is not the problem. The problem is the way the show uses them. Both Buffy and HP wove tropes into their universes in a way that felt felt fresh and made sense. Shadowhunters, however, just seems to gank whatever tropes seemed cool in their original habitats and doesn’t bother to hide the seams. The result is a world that feels like a bunch of different worlds mashed together, hence the term “frankenworld.” (I can’t take credit for this term—I’ve seen it used in other recaps, but google hasn’t yielded any of them, so I’m not sure who to credit here).

Back at the Institute, Alec runs into Hodge while retrieving the bow. Simon starts to explain about Clary, and Hodge deduces that Clary must be Valentine’s daughter since “the roaches are coming out of the woodwork again.” Hodge’s rune burns him as soon as he says the name “Valentine” and I start cracking up, because gee, what other villain whose name starts with V made everyone terrified to say his name? Since calling Valentine “he who must not be named” would be too obvious, Hodge calls him “the monster” instead. Never mind the fact that in this series, Valentine just looks like a normal person and acts like a cartoonish villain, carrying all the menace of Wile E. Coyote with magicks. If you’re going to have a villain so frightening people can’t even say his name, at least give him a fucked-up face or ominous-looking robes or something.

Furthermore, if everyone and their brother can figure out that Clary is Valentine’s daughter, why did Clary have to go through all the trouble of seeing the Silent Brothers? Why couldn’t Hodge have just figured it out earlier? Unless one of the Shadowhunters told Hodge and I either forgot, or it was buried in some quick line or two of dialogue I probably missed in the process of condensing a 42-minute TV episode into a text recap shorter than War and Peace, though the length of this one is probably not making my case very well.

Hodge talks to Alec and assures him he won’t tattle, it’s homoerotic as heck, etc.

“Look at it this way, kid… it was this or The Shannara Chronicles.”

“Look at it this way, kid… it was this or The Shannara Chronicles.”

Back at the Hardtail, Clary is still under the biker guy’s thrall when Jace shows up and picks a fight with him. In the process, Jace obtains the keys to the guy’s bike and he and Clary steal it. OK… so this whole thing was a ruse so Jace could pretend to be the scorned boyfriend and steal the keys? Generally speaking, I can tolerate scenes of women using their feminine wiles to gain information (like Isabelle does with Meliorn, though she genuinely seems to enjoy his company) or to steal something. If Clary had flirted with the biker guy to steal his keys (which is what I thought she was doing to start with) then I’d be like OK, whatever. But apparently, Jace wanted her to understand that vampires like to glamour their victims and play with them a bit before feeding on them. So he couldn’t have just told her this without putting her in a potentially dangerous situation? If I were Clary, I’d be pretty fucking pissed that my mentor/love interest let me get magic-roofied by a smarmy vampire so he could rescue me and teach me a lesson. Fuck you, Jace.

So the bike turns out to be a special bike that runs on demon energy. I guess vampires save on gas? Jace and Clary speed out of the bar on the bike, and the bikers just stand around staring at them like dumb asses. Jace tells Clary this bike was “modified” which apparently means it can fly. In the book, Clary and Jace steal a vampire motorcycle (though under different circumstances), and the impression I got was that all vampire motorcycles could fly. But I guess this had to be a special bike, because otherwise Jace couldn’t teach Clary a potentially date-rapey lesson rather than just stealing one of the many bikes parked in front of the bar.

Also, while I know Shadowhunters are invisible to humans because of a rune, I don’t remember if demons and angels and whatever are invisible to humans too. If they are, are their bikes invisible, too? You’d think NYC residents would notice a bunch of motorcycles flying around.

Alec and Isabelle sneak into the DuMort via the basement, as per Meliorn’s instructions. Camille is making out with Simon while feeding him a “Bloody Mary.” She abruptly stops when she smells angel blood, and sends vampire goons out to investigate the breach.

"Trust me, it's the only way to get through an episode."

“Trust me, it’s the only way to get through an episode.”

Clary and Simon land the flying bike on the roof, apparently planning to sneak in while Alec and Isabelle distract the vampires. Jace draws a rune on Clary to prevent her from falling victim to another glamour. Clary worries that Simon has been turned into a vampire, but Jace explains that turning someone into a vampire is a complicated process without actually explaining how the process works. He does say that vampires like to drain victims slowly, and if Simon is under the thrall of a vampire, he’ll feel like he’s in love with her. Clary is horrified. Jace seems to interpret her reaction as jealousy and suspects she has feelings for Simon. Right, asshole, because everything’s about you, and Clary couldn’t possibly be expressing sympathy for a victim of vampire rape-by-bloodysucking-proxy. Fuck you, Jace.

Jace and Clary share a heavy-handed conversation about Clary’s friendship with Simon, which Clary tries to liken to Jace’s bond with Alec. The upshot of the whole convo is to show how stoic and tortured and un-understanding of basic human nature Jace is, like some kind of emo version of Star Trek: TNG‘s Data. In Data’s defense, he still comes off as more human than Jace because he was written by people who are actually competent. This scene is setting up the same tired narrative of the guileless heroine teaching the broody hero to love, yawn. Also, it seems to be setting up a love triangle reminiscent of the Buffy/Xander/Angel dynamic on Buffy, if Buffy had ever expressed romantic interest in Xander (which she never did unless under some kind of spell or acting out of character, and I’m grateful that the show never went there).

The vampire goons locate Alec and Isabelle, who just start cutting them down like nothing. It reminds me of Star Wars: the Phantom Menace, in which the trade federation’s forces insist on sending out battle droids even though they’re completely useless against the Jedi. You know shit’s dire when you’re being compared to a Star Wars prequel. I should also mention that Isabelle is doing all this fighting in her slinky red dress and heels. I know that nitpicking impractical clothing on this show is an exercise in futility, but this is Bryce Dallas Howard’s heels in Jurassic World levels of absurd.

Clary and Jace sneak into the DuMort and run into smarmy vamp biker and some goons. I’m wondering how he knew that Jace and Clary were headed to the DuMort–oh, fuck it. While Jace is distracted with the goons, smarmy biker tries to glamour Clary. She pretends to fall for it before kicking him in the nuts.

These vampires really need to fire their manicurist.

These vampires really need to fire their manicurist.

Clary thinks she’s Buffy and makes a witty quip without bothering to make sure the guy stays down. He gets up after like a minute and attacks her again, managing to disarm her despite the Shadowhunter blade burning him. Things aren’t looking good for Clary when Alec shows up just in the nick of time. He fires an arrow into the wall, creating a hole that lets in sunlight (the sun came up while the gang were sneaking into the DuMort) and fries smarmy guy. I have to ask what kind of arrow that is that will cut right through an entire wall, and how thin are the walls in this joint, anyway?

The DuMort clearly uses the same contractors as the Bronze.

The DuMort clearly uses the same contractors as the Bronze.

Clary kills a vampire with her sword and has a crisis of conscience for a moment, which flies in the face of her earlier boasting to Alec that she killed the demon at Pandemonium, but whatever. Meanwhile, Camille is busy trying to do damage control, and she’s using a vintage landline to communicate with her underlings instead of a cell phone like any twenty-first century vampire would.

"Did you assholes forget to pay my T-Mobile bill again?"

“Did you assholes forget to pay my T-Mobile bill again?”

Simon tries to make a break for it but is caught by Raphael, who urges Camille to escape through the tunnels since the Shadowhunters are approaching. Camille does, but instead of running or expressing any form of urgency, she just sashays off like this whole thing has gotten too boring for her. I can relate.

The Shadowhunters walk in with their weapons in a shot blatantly reminiscent of the various “badass walk with weapons” shots in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme. And yes, I would have just called it coincidence if there weren’t already so many other similarities to Buffy in this episode. Raphael holds Simon at knifepoint and tells the Shadowhunters to follow him. He leads them to the roof and helps them escape with Simon. Simon thanks him, but Raphael says it’s not about him, it’s about Valentine “and the chaos he brings.” Raphael also warns Jace to “remember who his friends are.”

Simon and Clary share a tearful reunion while Jace and Alec argue about Clary yet again. Apparently, “subtlety” is not an option when it comes to setting up this love rhombus or whatever. Clary and Jace share a meaningful look, and finally the episode ends.

“Can y’all hurry up down there? I’ve had to take a whiz since we fought that biker.”

“Can y’all hurry up down there? I’ve had to take a whiz since we fought that biker.”

This is all really obvious setup for Simon being vamped by Camille, and if I had to guess, a future episode will be occupied by efforts to prevent Simon from becoming a vampire and all will be well that ends well, because if he did become a vampire, that might actually be interesting, and we can’t have that.

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One thought on “Shadowhunters S01E03 “Dead Man’s Party” or “This Show Gets Homoerotic as Fuck”

  1. Pingback: TV Recap: Shadowhunters S01E11 “Blood Calls to Blood” or “How to Get Away With Trying to Murder a Seelie” | The Unicorner

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