Paris, Malec and the Seelie Court – episode 3×12 covered a lot of ground. It also provided a long-awaited reunion and revealed the first glance at Jonathan Morgenstern’s evil plan.

So… has anyone already recovered from all the Malec goodness we got this week? No? Don’t worry, we haven’t either. What an episode, huh? But before we get talking about the oh so many moments that ended us in the best possible way, let’s start with the other cool stuff that happened before.

3×12 picks up pretty much where 3×11 left off – just in a different city. While last week, we saw Jonathan and Clary getting to know each other in the icy solitude of Siberia, this week they traveled to somewhere a little livelier (and warmer). As twisted and evil as Jonathan may be, he sure knows how to pick an apartment location: in the middle of Paris, with a beautiful, scenic view of the city and the Eiffel Tower. Thank the Angel their apartment can magically switch locations, otherwise those constant travels from Edom to New York, Siberia, and eventually Paris would have gotten quite pricey. But there’s just one thing we’re wondering – do Shadowhunters (and half-demons) ever experience jet lag?

This week we finally learned more about the rune that Jonathan and Clary share and almost got them both killed at the end of last week’s episode. It symbolizes some sort of demonic bond created by Lilith and makes sure that whenever one of them gets hurt, the other will as well. Not exactly the best circumstances if you’re trying to come up with an escape plan, as Clary learns several times over this episode.

Later on, we get to catch up with Simon and Izzy – and learn that Isabelle Lightwood, one of the Clave’s best Shadowhunters and fearless weapons master of the New York Institute, is actually not as fearless as she pretends to be. While on a mission with Simon to find the vampire Raphael told him about in last week’s episode, Izzy gets to face her ultimate nemesis: a rat. This in turn leads to a – might as well admit it – funny and cute Sizzy moment when Izzy hides behind Simon, who of course teases her about her fear of rodents. Izzy’s reply? “I’m not afraid, I’m repulsed, which is very different.” Sure, Izzy. Whatever helps you sleep at night.

 

Alec’s day off

After a sweet Malec morning scene, we finally get to see the scene that this fandom has been anticipating ever since Matt Hastings posted that tiny little clip of Harry Shum Jr in workout clothes in the Institute training room: Magnus and Alec training together. Much like the rest of the fandom, we have been looking forward to this scene for months. Now that we finally saw it, we can confirm that it was definitely worth the wait. Alec and Magnus, both experienced and capable fighters, facing off against each other was already a sight to behold. Especially since they are both way too competitive to go easy on the other just because it’s their boyfriend they’re fighting against. If anything, that fact just spurs them on even more. Now add in a badass, fast-paced choreography, fitting background music, Matthew and Harry’s amazing on-screen chemistry and some flirty banter in between and you’ve got yourself what is definitely one of our most favorite Malec scenes to date. The fact that the scene ends with Alec and Magnus making out against a pillar and then disappearing (or in Magnus’ case bolting) towards Alec’s bedroom added an unexpected, playful twist to what was already a well laid out scene.

With Magnus and Alec otherwise occupied, the plot moves to the motel Luke has been staying at ever since he left the pack. More precisely, to Jace visiting Luke. The two of them have been fairly busy these last two episodes. Making use of Jace’s access to the Institute’s database and Luke’s investigation skills, they’ve made considerable progress and collected quite the amount of hints that point towards Clary still being alive. They could even pinpoint the location of Lilith’s apartment in Siberia. Unfortunately, they don’t know yet that the Morgenstern siblings have already moved on to Paris, so Jonathan is still one step ahead.

Speaking of Jonathan, now that he and Clary made it safely to Paris, they are ready to head out and explore the city… or whatever it is that evil half-demon half-Shadowhunters like to do when they’ve just abducted their little sister from her home and her loved ones. After raiding Lilith’s closet (she may be evil, but she still has an impeccable taste in clothes) and a cringe-worthy moment where they both sort of check each other out while changing, they head out.

 

Field trip to the sewers

Meanwhile, in the sewers of New York, Simon finds who he came there to see: the city’s oldest vampire and according to Raphael the only one with knowledge of how to get rid of the Mark of Cain. We soon learn why; the vampire in the sewers is not just a vampire in the sewers, but Cain himself – the very first Daylighter, name giver and first bearer of the mark. But this isn’t where the similarities between them stop. Cain also got his mark because of the Seelie Queen (anyone surprised? Show of hands?), and he is just as terrified of it as Simon is, maybe even more so.

Nevertheless, we enjoyed watching this encounter a lot. For one because it’s always cool to see the show referring to the legends and myths it is based on (which happens when Cain recalls the story of how Lilith turned him into a Daylighter because she was pissed at his father, Adam, for ditching her). And second, because we loved that Simon finally met someone who shares his fate. It didn’t seem like Cain and Simon would see each other again anytime soon, but it was cool to see Simon realize he’s not the only Daylighter out there. Even more so when Cain tells him that there’s actually a way for Simon to get rid of the mark that caused him so much trouble. There’s just one problem: He needs to get back to the Seelie Court. Also, the procedure might kill him. Other than that, he should be good to go though…. yikes!

The next scene was just as lethal as the mark removal procedure. Just not for a single person, but for the entire Malec fandom: While we knew that the training scene was coming and saw Alec and Magnus darting off towards Alec’s bedroom at the end of it, we certainly did not expect that we would see what happened afterwards. Calm down, we didn’t actually see what happened (this is still Disney, not HBO), but we got a pretty amazing afterglow scene that even almost included cuddles in bed. Almost.

Alec turns to Magnus, in full-on cuddle mode, just as Magnus gets up, out of bed and ready for the day, not giving Alec his much-needed cuddles. While Alec takes a moment to bemoan his lack of cuddles, can we take one to think about the fact that Magnus keeps one of his robes in Alec’s room at the Institute? Too cute.

That scene had us screeching into pillows, yelling at each other online in all capital letters, replaying it approximately 50 million times – long story short; we are dead, dead, dead. That being said, we can’t help but appreciate what that scene meant for Alec and Magnus. Magnus has always struggled with talking about his weaknesses and internal battles, even with Alec. It’s amazing to see how much that has changed. Remember when Magnus was tortured in Valentine’s body and at first didn’t want to tell Alec about how he truly felt? That wasn’t so long ago. It is heartwarming to see how much the trust between them has grown since then, and how comfortable they both are around each other. If Magnus had lost his magic in season 2, he would have probably come up with some sort of story as a deflection when Alec asked him if there was something wrong. Now, he is just outright honest about what is bothering him and that’s just such a beautiful and meaningful development to witness. Although we can’t shake the feeling that Magnus’ new “seize the day” mantra is simply another way to deflect how he feels about the loss of his magic.

 

(Freeform/Bruno Calvo)

The human behind the demon

After this delight of a Malec scene, the narrative switches back to Paris, where Jonathan and Clary are wandering through Montmartre and end up at a cute little café. In this picturesque setting, we finally get some backstory about Jonathan – more precisely why he pretended to be Sebastian Verlac in season 2 and 3A. He opens up to Clary about how he fled from Edom and Lilith, ended up in Paris – traumatized and with burned skin – and how Sebastian Verlac was the first person he came across who was actually kind to him. He says Sebastian was “everything I ever wanted to be,” which is why he ended up kidnapping him and then disguising as him. His only goal was to get revenge on Valentine for sending him to Edom. However, when he got to New York and Clary and the Lightwoods welcomed him at the Institute with open arms, he says it made him want to be good, because “it was the first time in my life that people cared.”

Did our hearts break a little during that scene? You bet they did. Jonathan is already fascinating enough, but knowing why he is the way he is adds an extra layer of complexity to his character. It also makes disliking him even harder (not that we could bring ourselves to hate him yet). Luke Baines’ performance doesn’t make things any easier; his way of portraying that twisted, conflicted and also kind of lost character is just amazing to watch.

 

The return of poet!Alec

The showrunners, writers, cast, and crew sure didn’t exaggerate when they said that 3×12 would be a Malec-heavy episode. After the masterpieces that were the morning scene, the training scene and the bedroom scene, the Malec fandom witnessed yet another stunning sequence. This time, they are out in the city, and we learn that Magnus really meant it when he said he wanted to make the most of Alec’s day off. After a visit to an art gallery and a quick stop at a Greek food truck in Queens, they are on their way to checking off the next point on Magnus’ sheer endless to-do list for the day, when Alec decides that he is no longer having any of it. Bringing back the soft eyes and sweet voice to make sure Magnus really listens to what he has to say, Alec gives him a very sweet little speech about how Magnus needs to slow down and how rushing after the next big moment will only make him miss the ones that truly matter. Poet!Alec does have a point.  

However, as it seems to be the tradition with sweet Malec moments in general and dates in particular, they are interrupted by Jace – who is not even physically present in that moment but manages to interrupt them anyway. As frustrating as this may be to some, it was actually quite funny as well. It seems like Jace has a talent for reaching out to his Parabatai at the worst possible moments. Small comfort: This time, it’s at least about something important – he tells Alec via fire message that Clary might be still alive.

And that’s how we find ourselves back in Paris, where we get to see some of the most beautiful shots probably ever included in this show (you just can’t beat Notre Dame in the golden hour), but also get a first hint at what Jonathan’s undoubtedly evil plan may be. Clary and him visit an antique dealer who is supposed to be in possession of an old sword that belongs to the Morgenstern family, which Jonathan claims to want to give Clary as a gift. A motive we didn’t believe for one second, because if there’s one thing we’ve learned on this show, it’s that Morgensterns and mysterious swords are never a good combination. Jonathan doesn’t exactly do much to lower that suspicion when he, upon learning that the antique dealer doesn’t have the sword anymore (or at least pretends not to have it), kills him in cold blood. His exact words? “If I can’t have your loyalty, I’ll have your fear.” He repeats these words just a few scenes later with a random, unlucky French Shadowhunter who had arrested Clary for stealing his stele moments prior and was about to take her to the French Institute. So we guess it’s safe to say that Jonathan’s “sensitive, bruised and battered least favorite child” kind of image got some serious cracks this week.

 

Back at the Seelie Court

After that scene, the episode switches settings once again and we find ourselves in the Seelie Court. As we all know, nothing really good ever happens there, so you can’t blame us when we got worried immediately. And we were right to.

After having visited Cain in the sewers and finding out that there actually is a way to get rid of the mark on his forehead, Simon is even more determined. With Izzy and Meliorn (which we were so happy to see again since we missed his indifferent, sassy self a lot) on his heels, Simon asks the Seelie Queen to remove the mark.  

Once the ceremony starts, things get quite intense. Not only concerning Simon’s life, but also for every Sizzy fan watching. When the ceremony almost kills Simon (can the Seelies please stop hurting Simon already, thank you very much) Izzy is his last hope of staying alive. Most of his blood has boiled away during the ceremony and his only chance at surviving is blood from a mortal – in this case, Isabelle’s.
Romantic thoughts aside, this moment was an incredibly important one that will irrevocably reshape their connection from here on out. By letting Simon drink her blood, Izzy consciously lets her Yin Fen addiction back into her life. She knows that she could suffer a relapse if the vampire venom gets back into her system. She’s aware that this moment might throw her right back to the beginning of the long journey she’s been through. You can see in her eyes how she’s struggling, how scared she is of falling back into old patterns. And yet, she does it anyway because Simon is just that important to her. We loved that the writers approached this pivotal moment with so much empathy and thoughtfulness, and found a way to both incorporate Isabelle’s backstory and her evolving feelings for Simon in the scene without neglecting one or the other.

The dramatic moments at the Seelie Court lead up to the final few scenes of the episode – which are almost as dramatic. Set on a bridge across the Seine in Paris (seriously, the locations this week were even more on point than usual), we get to see the reunion Clace fans have been waiting for ever since the 3A finale aired. Clary and Jonathan are walking across the bridge when suddenly Jace, Luke and Alec show up through a portal – ready to take on Jonathan. The only problem is that they can’t really do anything since hurting Jonathan would mean hurting Clary.

As much as Clary’s unpredictable, feisty nature gets in her way sometimes, this week, it actually proved to be useful. She may be stubborn and reckless, but she’s also brave and selfless when necessary, which comes in handy when she grabs Jonathan’s knife and stabs herself, and Jonathan by extension. Jonathan then runs off – and Clary finally gets to reunite with Jace. No evil spells, no even more evil brothers this time. Just the two of them with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Could it be any more romantic? We have our doubts.

But since this is Shadowhunters and we still have ten more episodes to go, the episode doesn’t end on that romantic note. Instead, we see Jonathan, back at the apartment, yelling, lashing out, breaking things – and in the very last shot flashing his captivating, black demon eyes in anger. If that isn’t one perfect setup for next week’s episode, we don’t know what is. We can’t wait to see where 3B will take us next.