Shadowhunters episode 5 “Dust and Shadows” aired on Freeform Monday night after seven long torturous days of pacing back and forth, biting our nails waiting for the next installment. Such is the life of a dedicated fan, always wondering why a week suddenly feels like an eternity when it comes to your favorite show.
This week’s title “Dust and Shadows” was very fitting indeed since the episode eviscerated our souls with feels, leaving nothing but our dusty remains to be scattered into the shadows. The phrase of course taken from the last words spoken during a typical Shadowhunter funeral, a sentence from The Odes of Horace: Pulvis et umbra sumus. Which translates to “We are dust and shadows.” The last rites given before a Shadowhunter’s body would be set on a funeral pyre, which thankfully we didn’t see. Even with our knowledge of the meaning behind this title and attempts to prepare ourselves for the sadness to come, our pain still transcended above and beyond what we were ready to face. By the end of the show we were left asking ourselves, “Will we ever get an episode of Shadowhunters this season that doesn’t make us cry our eyes out?” And we’re not talking one sad event here, we’re talking multiple levels of torment coming from every angle and every character throughout the entire 43 minutes. Written by Zac Hug, an ostensibly jovial and upbeat kind of guy, apparently has a secret agenda to reduce the fandom to puddles of their own tears. You succeeded Zac! Or perhaps it’s the entire Shadowhunters writer’s room that needs a bit of cheering up. Maybe we should send them a puppy? Or better yet, a therapy dog! Whatever it takes to find some happiness for our beloved characters who can’t seem to ever catch a break these days. (Fingers crossed for episode 6!!!) We’ve been promised better times are on the horizon. But for now, let’s jump into this pain fest and discuss all the amazing moments that blew us away again this week.
The episode opens with a beautiful close-up shot of Alec Lightwood’s bow drawn as he takes aim into the night sky to fire arrows off the roof of the Institute. Each shot exploding like a flare over the New York City skyline, seemingly lovely at first until we realize it’s actually showcasing Alec’s visceral response to his current state of overwhelming guilt and pain. Upon closer inspection we see Alec’s bloody fingers where the arrow’s fletching has lacerated his hand from overuse. He’s been on the roof a long time, no doubt hours have passed, as he attempts to shoot away his pain. Having been possessed by a demon in the previous episode, which resulted in him killing Jocelyn, Alec can’t separate the demon’s actions from his own. Although everyone is telling him it’s not his fault he refuses to see reason. The undeserved self-loathing eating away at his protective walls causing him to not only hurt himself but also lash out at the recently exonerated Jace who comes to the roof to check on him. Alec’s conversation with Jace reveals to us the immense amount of blame he’s currently placing on himself for Jocelyn’s death, Jace’s mother as he reminds us. Alec painfully admits his feelings of personal failure by not keeping Jace safe or being able to rescue him from Valentine. Our hearts break yet again for our precious archer boy who tries to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders with no concern for his own safety. Knowing Alec’s character as well as we do this reaction isn’t surprising. He has always been the type of person to internalize his emotions and feel things acutely. His level of empathy and compassion for all people runs deep, rather they be Mundanes, Shadowhunters, or Downworlders. This sensitivity should not be mistaken for weakness, but seen as a profound strength of character unique only to him. It’s one of the main reasons Alec is so beloved by fans of the books and the TV show. His heart of gold and capacity for love are in stark contrast to the cocky self-assuredness of his Parabatai, Jace Wayland. When we see Alec’s pain we feel it in our hearts, and Matthew Daddario did an absolutely brilliant job conveying this trauma to the audience. No matter how hard Alec tries to hide his grief behind a tough exterior his eyes and the quiver in his voice confess the truth. Unable to face Jace any longer Alec jumps off the building and runs away, and we are already making a run for more tissues as the opening title credits roll!
This episode was focused mainly on Clary’s journey as we experience firsthand her struggle to come to grips with the loss of her mother. She takes inspiration from Simon’s current undead status and begins to formulate an idea in her mind about the possibility of bringing her mom back from the dead. This sends them both to Magnus’ loft in search of answers.
Magnus, who by the way looks like a million bucks again in this episode kudos to the hair, makeup and costuming departments, immediately thwarts any ideas Clary has about bringing back her mom. He tells her, “Sure there are warlocks who’ve done this sort of thing, but what you’re talking about is dark, dark magic. It’s wildly unpredictable.” He also tells Simon not to encourage her, followed by a silent exchange between them reminding us of Magnus’ current mentoring role. Magnus then goes on to explain why he feels this way, delving into his own backstory of losing his mother when he was 9. Having seen Magnus’ warlock mark, his cat eyes, she couldn’t face the shame of having bore the child of a demon, so she committed suicide. Harry Shum Jr. has us spoiled rotten only 5 episodes into this season with these beautifully tragic and soul stirring retellings of Magnus’ past. This one particularly gut wrenching as we get a glimpse into Magnus’ own personal hell. Coincidental in a way to what Alec is similarly going through at the moment. We predict these two might find common ground in their feelings of guilt. A commonality that could bind them even closer together. We also find out the significance of the dagger, or Keris as it is called, Magnus found at Camille’s in episode 2. He reveals to Simon and Clary it is the instrument his mother used to take her own life. Surely not the last we’ll hear of this object. Magnus then goes on to tell Clary that with time things will get easier. His last bit of advice really struck a chord with our entire ShumDario News team. “Losing your mom isn’t something you make better with magic, you just head straight into it and cry your eyes out.” Wise words from someone who has been dealing with his own grief for centuries. Harry’s delivery, arms crossed in front of his chest, chin held high, only breaks our hearts even more knowing the kind of deep catastrophic loss he has faced. The strength he’s shown through all the years of adversity, unimaginable pain and anguish, have only made him kinder and more willing to help and council others. He is truly one of the deepest and most inspiring fictional characters we’ve ever come across.The look on Magnus’ face after Simon and Clary leave, his jaw clenched, the genuine heartfelt concern for others despite his own equally tragic loss, is remarkable. You can literally feel the empathy radiating from his eyes. It just adds yet another layer of intricacy to the grand mosaic of Magnus’ incredible spirit and individuality.
Our one and only Malec scene this week, which was released days before as a sneak peek, shows a wounded and guilt ridden Alec sitting alone on Magnus’ fire escape. Having run from the Institute he went to the only place he really felt safe at the moment, Magnus’ loft. The two men have a very open and honest conversation with each other. Insightful as always, Magnus seems to read Alec like a book immediately spotting his refusal to use a healing rune on his injured hand. Magnus explains to him that his hopes that the pain in his hand will overpower the pain he’s feeling in his heart “isn’t that simple”. Alec sits quietly and doesn’t disagree, which shows his willingness to receive help and guidance from Magnus. Such a huge step forward on his road to opening up. Alec asks Magnus about sending Camille away and he confesses how difficult it was due to their extensive history. Alec doesn’t bat an eye, his immediate acceptance of Magnus’ past relationship with Camille, as well as the fact that he is bisexual, shows the audience Alec is far more receptive to these facts than was previously laid out in the books. A welcome change during this time in our lives when the rights and equality of the LGBT community as a whole are under threat. Positive representation in all forms of media now more important than ever really makes us feel proud to be fans of such a groundbreaking show. Alec goes on to admit he can’t face Clary after letting the demon in but Magnus reminds him that he will face her because that’s what he does. “It may take you a minute but I’ve seen it up close, I went to your wedding. You’ll blow up the very ground you stand on to make something right.” It’s amazing how candid these two can be with each other before even having a proper first date. It makes a good case for the theory of soulmates, or at the very least some sort of cosmic destiny that brought them together. This touching scene only further demonstrates the deepening connection between the two characters as they slowly become not only a safe place for each other, but a home at well.
This next part of the episode goes down a rabbit hole into a whole new storyline we’ve not seen before in the books. Clary’s desperation to bring back her mother sends her on a journey to find a warlock willing to perform the necessary “dark magic” needed for such a task. Alec joins along to help her, willing to do anything to ease his guilt. But Clary quickly finds out help comes at a price when she signs a blood oath to Iris Rouse, a mysterious new warlock. Even with Alec along for support they are no match for Iris as Clary is locked in the basement with a demon and Alec is knocked out cold. This entirely new and imaginative plot fit in perfectly with what we know of the Shadow World. It was completely feasible to believe Clary would seek out this sort of desperate help and we loved tagalong Alec whose sassy comebacks to Iris gave us a lot of laughs and welcomed comic relief. Probably one of the highlights of the entire episode was new character Madzie. A young warlock child who lives with Iris, befriends Alec in the most adorable way. His kindness and acceptance of the child and her “cool gills” had our Malec hearts fluttering with anticipation of Alec finally seeing Magnus’ cat eyes for the first time. Many fans on Twitter have already suggested Alec and Magnus should adopt Madzie and add her to their ever growing list of future Malec children. A concept we wholeheartedly agree with, although we’d like to see Alec and Magnus have some fun first before they have to join the PTO!
We end things with the event we’ve all been dreading. The funeral for Jocelyn and the other victims of Valentine’s planned demon attack. The moment we see Jace and Alec enter the room dressed in white, Alec visibly shaken and Jace bravely trying to keep himself together, we are overcome by the sadness of the scene. The ceremony itself is a formal yet beautifully tear-jerking tribute to the fallen. As Clary finally faces the reality that her mother is gone she breaks down into Jace’s arms, unable to recite her mother’s name aloud. Jace has the strength to continue in her place as we see Alec across the room devastated by his own crushing guilt. Tears being shed by such a strong warrior proves that Alec has grown so much in such a short period of time. Allowing his emotions to be felt and exhibited outwardly. Although terribly sad it’s also such a triumph for his character to overcome years of being closed off with repressed feelings bottling up inside him. We feel Alec is finally getting to the point in his life where he can open himself up to love, which we’ll finally get to see next week as he and Magnus have their first date.
All in all we really felt this episode was great, despite all the tears. The pacing and the time divided between each character seemed natural and had a nice flow. The overarching theme of loss and how it affected each character’s individual story tied everything together nicely. We really like the way the writers are exploring the essence of each character individually, allowing us to get to know them on a deeper level. This focus gives the actors time to shine, and boy are they talented! At the end of each episode we feel so emotionally wrecked, the character’s thoughts and feelings have transmitted through the screen into our own hearts bringing us along to experience their highest highs and lowest lows. It’s such an amazing collaboration of acting, writing, producing, and directing. We can feel the love and dedication that’s being put into each aspect so brilliantly. That’s why it’s so hard to wait a whole week to see what happens next! Be sure to tune in to Freeform next Monday, February 6th for the highly anticipated Malec first date! And follow ShumDario News on Twitter for all the latest news and information.