TV Recap: Shadowhunters s01e06: “Of Men and Angels” or “Magnus Explains It All”


So this week, Shadowhunters takes a big dump all over us—an info dump, that is. Magnus and Luke answer all our burning questions, but sadly still don’t tell me when this show is going to get cancelled already.

Wait, who am I kidding? You know my ass is gonna end up recapping this shit until 2050.

We open with Clary and Jace bringing Luke into Magnus’s lair. Luke in his delirium has a dream vision, presented to us with a soft misty filter so we know it’s a dream vision. Luke is wandering through a garden, calling out for Jocelyn. He has a bright red Death Eater Circle rune on his neck. Jocelyn appears, also sporting a Circle rune. She tells Luke that “Clary is the key” and Luke can unlock her by telling her everything. She says Clary is the only one who can find the Mortal Cup and stop Valentine.

I hope you guys don’t mind this gif, because it will be a recurring motif in this episode.

Back in the present, Magnus tells Clary that the poison from the alpha’s bite is causing Luke to have a spontaneous werewolf transformation. Magnus gives Luke some bark to temporarily stop the transformation.

"Bite down; it'll make this episode less painful—painfully boring, that is."

“Bite down; it’ll make this episode less painful—painfully boring, that is.”

At the Institute, Isabelle reports to Meryse that the Seelies are thinking of switching to Valentine’s side. Meryse warns Isabelle not to trust a creature who can’t lie, because they’ll find more creative ways to stab the Shadowhunters in the back.

Meanwhile at Magnus’s lair, Simon is excited by the blood on his hands and licks it before catching himself. Lucky for him, no one notices.

"Needs more corn syrup."

“Needs more corn syrup.”

Clary feels guilty for doubting Luke and Simon reassures her. Magnus needs to get some ingredients for an antidote. Jace shows up in time to overhear and volunteers, along with Simon. Jace knows a guy who can get him the ingredients, but Simon can’t let Jace get all the glory and insists on tagging along. Magnus needs Alec for “virgin Shadowhunter energy” and asks Jace to contact him. Simon cracks, “That explains so much.” Yeah, you would know, asshole. Jace is a whiny pissbaby over his and Alec’s fight because clearly their interpersonal drama is more important than Luke’s life. Clary appeals to Jace while Magnus taunts him in the background. I kind of love Magnus.

Back at the Institute, Isabelle and Alec’s Dad shows up with Max, who is played by one of the most lily-white children I’ve seen. Unless Max is adopted, this is one of the most hilariously terribad casting decisions I’ve ever seen. It’s like the people on Scorpion trying to convince us Elyes Gabel can pass as a lily-white Irish guy. And don’t any of you fuckheads try to fanwank this shit with nonsense about recessive genes and whatnot. This is TV land, not real life. If you have to fanwank elaborate back stories to explain shit that should be obvious, it’s bad storytelling (or in this case, casting). Stop.

A totally blood-related, happy family.

A totally blood-related, happy family.

Dad Lightwood’s name is Robert, and I am disappointed at how normal his name is. He doesn’t get a vaguely regal-sounding name like Hector or Thaddeus or Gabriel or something? For shame, show (or book, I’m fuzzy on the deets by now). Robert presents an anecdote of Max’s adorably rambunctious baby Shadowhunter antics in an attempt to tug at heartstrings that I do not possess, but other viewers might. Nothing good will happen to this kid, will it? Robert warns his offspring that Clary running around loose is a security risk.

Jace calls Alec on Magnus’s behalf. Alec refuses at first, not wanting to get involved in more downworlder drama, but Jace appeals to Alec’s honor. I have to ask why Magnus couldn’t just call Alec himself. He called him last week, so he clearly has his number. Maybe he thought Jace might have more pull convincing Alec or something, but this strikes me as adding an unnecessary middle man. Oh wait, it’s so Jace and Alec are forced to work out their issues because they can’t just put them aside like grown-ups when dealing with some lunatic madman supervillain. I forgot.

While Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber are out, Magnus and Clary start making the antidote with the ingredients they do have. Clary expresses her fears about her new Shadowhunter status, telling Magnus that she’s an art student, so “all [her] adventures are supposed to be two-dimensional.” I don’t know, Clary, that’s a pretty apt description of this show. Because Clary is a Mary Sue, Magnus has to reassure her of how special she is. Luke briefly awakens and tries to talk to Clary, but he’s in extreme pain. Magnus says the poison is spreading and gives Luke a hit of magical painkillers.

"Our noble recapper stole all my medical marijuana, so this will have to do."

“Our noble recapper stole all my medical marijuana, so this will have to do.”

The Two Stooges walk past the graffiti-covered side of a building, so I guess we’re to assume they’re in a dodgy part of town. Simon calls Jace out on his shitty treatment of Alec, which makes me like Simon for about a minute before he gets annoying again. Jace informs Simon he’s been friendzoned by Clary, which enrages Simon enough to come after Jace with a dagger. Jace taunts Simon before easily knocking him down. Simon seems shocked by his own actions. Jace becomes suspicious and wants to know what went down at the DuMort, but Simon brushes off the question. Jace is not convinced.

The captions just write themselves.

The captions just write themselves.

At the Institute, Alec finds Maryse crying. He shares an anecdote about the time when he was ten years old and was bullied by another kid while training. Maryse tells Alec his technique was perfect, which was the problem. He needed to break the rules and improvise. He did, beat the bully, and all’s well that ended well. In a similar way, Alec offers to help his mother get around whatever it is the Clave demands of her.

Back at chez Magnus, Clary asks Magnus what is so important that Luke risked his life for it. Magnus answers, “Everything that Jocelyn hoped to hide from you.” He magicks a sketchbook for Clary, because she will need “her bliss” while he tells her. Hey asshole, I need some bliss too. Preferably the kind that comes in a glass and contains grain alcohol.

Sharing is caring, motherfucker.

Sharing is caring, motherfucker.

Magnus begins his story. Many years ago, Valentine was a noble Shadowhunter. In a flashback scene that isn’t reminiscent of the Harry Potter marauders at all, Valentine gives a rousing speech to his Shadowhunter friends with Jocelyn at his side. In a flurry of bad acting, Valentine declares Shadowhunters allies to the downworld who must not break their oath. The casting team exhibits the same adeptness casting young Valentine and Jocelyn as they did with Max, choosing actors who could not look less like their older versions.

“This is the last time it’s socially acceptable to dress like emos!”

Flash forward about two years, and Valentine had begun his descent into villainy. Valentine finds Jocelyn after he’s been in a fight with Warlocks. Jocelyn worries that Valentine broke the Accords, but he says “the Accords are a fallacy” and killing demons is the Shadowhunters’ destiny. Valentine is obsessed with purity of blood, a detail that does not bring to mind another fictional villain whose name starts with V and has three syllables, at all. Magnus says that Valentine felt threatened by the downworlders, as they possessed powers he did not. So Valentine wanted to kill all downworlders. Yay genocide!

At the Institute, Isabelle overhears a heated discussion between her parents about something Alec must do. Isabelle asks her parents what they’re talking about, but Meryse evades the question and walks away. Robert, who’s always been closer to Isabelle than Meryse is, tries to butter up Isabelle by giving her an Idris cookbook. I had no idea Isabelle liked to cook, but OK. Isabelle won’t let the matter drop, so Robert tells her that the Lightwood name has been tainted due to the unsanctioned missions she and Alec have been partaking in recently. Robert warns Isabelle that restoring the family’s honor will require a tremendous sacrifice. All we’re missing is an ominous DUN DUN DUN.

So they don't just like, draw a food rune and food appears? What's the point of having magicks, then???

So they don’t just like, draw a food rune and food appears? What’s the point of having magicks, then???

Back to Clary, who’s drawn a horned downworlder being stabbed in the back with a sword. Sounds blissful to me! Now, she’s just found out from Magnus that Valentine and his followers had gone on special missions to slaughter downworlders. Clary asks Magnus how Valentine got away with it. Magnus replies that Valentine told the Clave that the downworlders he killed had violated the Accords, making up all kinds of justifications. Nobody called shenanigans because Shadowhunters are so obsessed with laws that they couldn’t fathom any of their own betraying them. Yeah, they are so obsessed with laws, that’s why everyone but Alec has been actively advocating rule-breaking through this entire show’s run. Magnus says the Clave is still in denial of the threat Valentine poses, because we needed a reminder that we’re smack-dab in the middle of an idiot plot.

Magnus tells Clary of an event called the Uprising, which we witness via flashback. It’s the signing of the Accords, and all the bigwigs of the Shadow World are present. Because the Clave are idiots and this is an idiot plot, they place the Mortal Cup on display as a symbol of their idiocy power. Valentine sees his chance and massacres everyone at the event in order to get the Cup. Dude, you could’ve just taken out the guards or Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible’d your way into the room. The Cup is guarded only by a single rune, which Valentine gets past by stabbing it with his sword. Shit, he didn’t even have to contort his way through a sea of crisscrossing laser beams or anything. The fucking mall food court runs a tighter ship than this joint.

This is the fanciest soft drink I’ve ever seen.

So anyway, Valentine’s goal is to use the Cup to create a new order of Shadowhunters—the murderous genocidal kind, that is.

Jocelyn and Luke try to change Valentine’s mind and prevent the Uprising, but they fail. I’m sure all a homicidal maniac needs is a good heart-to-heart to come back to the light side. At the Uprising, Luke intercepts Valentine after he’s gotten the Cup. They fight in front of the building but Valentine gains the upper hand. Before he can deal the final blow, Jocelyn sees them from the roof and hurls a knife at Valentine. From the roof. Yeah. The knife sticks Valentine in the back, distracting him long enough for Jocelyn to leap from the roof. They fight and Jocelyn knocks him down long enough to grab the Mortal Cup and run. Valentine quickly recovers and goes after her. Luke, while alive, is still incapacitated.

Speaking of Luke, he interrupts Magnus’s story time when he wakes up and blurts out, “It was our fault!” Magnus gives him another hit of magic painkiller.

At the Institute, Alec is training when Isabelle finds him. She tells Alec what Robert told her, that their parents are going to force Alec into an arranged marriage to restore their family’s honor. Um, what is this, the 1600s? I don’t care that the Shadowhunters are supposed to be ass-backwards, honor-obsessed medieval weirdos, it’s still 2016. As protectors of mundanes, they have been exposed to human society enough to observe social changes. Yeah, yeah, arranged marriages still happen in some countries. But this story takes place in the US and we can assume the Lightwoods are American, since they aren’t speaking with strong accents as is the convention for non-American characters on American TV shows. Judging by Isabelle’s reaction, arranged marriages don’t seem typical even for Shadowhunters. If they were, she’d have probably just accepted it. Anyway, Isabelle tells Alec that her task is to convince the Clave to placate the Seelies since she has ties to them. What ties? Fucking one? Yeah, that’s a real tie.

As you can see, I’m getting a little cranky. It’s 20 minutes in and I feel like I’ve been watching this shit for days.

Alec is this episode and I am the punching bag.

Meanwhile, Jace and Simon have arrived at the headquarters of Jace’s contact, a black market dealer and downworlder. Jace makes Simon wait outside, and we’re treated to yet another round of these morons having a metaphorical dick measuring contest. Simon hallucinates a vision of Camille and runs after her, only to see a vision of himself, dead with a vampire bite mark on his neck. Jace runs out and the vision disappears. A large scorpionlike creature chases after Jace, who kills it. He and Simon run off. I’ve yet to see Simon demonstrate any kind of function other than chauffeuring the Shadowhunters around. I didn’t recap this earlier, but Jace crashed Luke’s car into a pole, which is why they couldn’t take the car or Jace would’ve made Simon wait in it and then we wouldn’t get his stupid visions or be treated to the two of them fighting over who gets to lift their leg and pee on Clary first. The narrative is just so enriched by all this drama.

At the lair, Magnus warns Clary that he is running out of magic. Alec makes a timely arrival and offers to lend Magnus his strength. They clasp hands and share a meaningful look and all the fangirls freak out. The Dumbass Duo come back with the missing ingredients, Clary finishes the antidote, and gives it to Luke. He is instantly cured and all the tension drains out of the scene.

Love and CGI are in the air.

Love and CGI are in the air.

Isabelle argues with Maryse over Alec and I’m not going to bother recapping this because nothing new is revealed. At the lair, Clary awkwardly thanks Alec, and he and Jace reconcile. Jace seems to think this is Clary’s doing, because the power of the Sue heals all, and they share a UST-charged moment. Simon shows up then because we got a love triangle to fuel. He tells Clary that Luke is asking for her, and she goes to Luke. Simon flounces, but not after grudgingly offering Jace a crumpled $20. I’m not sure what this is for, and I can’t be arsed to go back and check.

To build up Max’s lovability factor so we pretty much know now this kid is doomed, Isabelle is shown affectionately quizzing him with flashcards of runes. Maryse walks in, and I swear to every deity if this is another fucking conversation in which nothing new is conveyed I’ma flip the entire Institute. Maryse reveals that she was once a rebellious youth who broke the rules and it came back to bite her in the ass, because this is not a plot twist Hellen Keller could’ve seen coming a mile away.

Now that Luke is better and can form more than a single coherent phrase at a time, he continues the Valentine saga where Magnus left off. He says that the reason Valentine lost his shit is because Luke and Jocelyn betrayed him by falling in love.

Clary asks Luke if he is her father.

I just realized, after writing that sentence, how slick this series isn’t by naming a character Luke.

Luke says he and Jocelyn never acted on their feelings, but Valentine was convinced Luke and Jocelyn were having an affair. Valentine became obsessed with winning Jocelyn back. In another flashback, we see him injecting himself with downworlder blood, as he’d been experimenting with the stuff to make him a better soldier. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to win Jocelyn back, since it’s pretty clear she’s not the kind of person to be swayed by such things, but whatever. Valentine is crazier than a shithouse rat.

Luke explains to Clary that Valentine was extremely idealistic and charismatic, basically the same spiel our history books give when describing evil dictators.

I would ask if there’s anything about this series that isn’t heavier-handed than an iron glove but that would be an even bigger waste of time than these recaps. Luke also explains that ever since the first Shadowhunters were made with the Mortal Cup, the Clave forbade anyone to use it to create more Shadowhunters. We’re not given the reason for this and I’ve given up on pondering.

Because this episode and recap still refuse to end, we find out via flashbacks that Jocelyn was an artist like Clary. We also learn how Luke became a werewolf. Valentine took Luke with him on a mission, then double-crossed Luke and left him to be mauled by werewolves. Obviously, seeing as he’s still alive and all, Luke managed to escape but was bitten.

Isabelle writes Meliorn a Dear John letter, which she sends to him with a rune. Then she dons a conservative blue dress (well, by Isabelle standards) and ponytail like she’s on her way to intern at the white house. Alec and Magnus knock back a couple of drinks, Magnus reveals that he really just made shit up because he wanted to see Alec again, and they share another fangirl-baiting moment of obvious UST. Maryse calls Alec, but we don’t find out what she wants. Alec stays for another drink. I definitely feel you, Alec.

"A toast to our poor recapper, who has expired of old age while writing this."

“A toast to our poor recapper, who has expired of old age while writing this.”

Now that Clary knows everything, she’s frustrated that she still can’t figure out where the Cup is. In a search for clues, she gets the box she and Alec retrieved from the loft last week and shows it to Luke. Luke informs her that JC doesn’t stand for her fictional father’s intials, but for her brother’s—Jonathan Christopher. Clary’s brother died in a fire at Fairchild manor (Fairchild is Jocelyn’s real last name) that Valentine set. Clary touches the box and it turns into a drawing. Luke suggests that Clary apparently has unusual angelic powers, because of course she does. Clary asks if the powers can be inherited, then says she knows where to find the Cup. End episode, finally.

And now I find my own recap magic is drained, and I must replenish it with a late-night snack and some bleach to wash it down. Until next week!