Shadowhunters episode 9, “Bound by Blood”, premiered last Monday night on Freeform to a still rather shell-shocked audience, still reeling from the events in the previous episode. With Valentine’s plan unfolding as we speak the entire Shadowhunter and Downworlder communities were on high alert. The season really building up for a dramatic winter finale just around the corner, delves deeper and even darker each week. No doubt everyone is terrified to see if Valentine can successfully annihilate the Downworlders (Boy let’s hope not!) after his chilling scene with the young warlock Madzie at the conclusion of last week. Let’s jump in and find out how things are going for our favorite warlock and Shadowhunter duo.
We opened to a beautiful scene of Alec standing on the balcony of Magnus’ loft overlooking the city skyline. He appeared to be deep in thought as Magnus came out to join him. Alec asked, “How many Downworlders do you think live in New York?” Obviously he was contemplating the possible devastation to their entire community if Valentine completes his plan. Magnus told him, “I don’t know, but they’re not all your responsibility.” He has already learned so much about Alec and how he thinks, he knows it’s in his nature to take the weight of the world on his shoulders. We’ve seen this theme recurring throughout season 2. Alec immediately responded back to Magnus by saying, “You are.” (Can you hear our hearts fluttering?) This was a pivotal Malec moment because we are now seeing more clearly how invested Alec is in Magnus’ life and wellbeing. Their lives are becoming more intertwined as time passes and although we don’t see every minute of their relationship play out on screen this dialogue between them allows us to catch up to where their feelings are. Magnus smiled when he heard Alec’s response, giving away a bit of his joy for us to see, then goes on to tell him, “I can take care of myself.” But this is the important fact to their relationship. On both sides. Because really they can take care of themselves, and they have for most of their lives. Being a strong, fierce Shadowhunter and a powerful, magical Warlock they are perfectly capable of surviving on their own. That’s what makes their pairing so intensely satisfying to witness. Because it isn’t based on selfish needs, or codependency, or any of the other plethora of circumstances couples tend to bind together over. It’s based on mutual respect, friendship, trust, and what we will eventually see come to the surface… love. What a wonderful shining example to younger viewers looking for positive, mature relationships to emulate. This is what makes Malec special and really just in a different league from other relationships on television.
As their conversation on the balcony continues Magnus gently confronts Alec about what happened on the previous episode. He told him, “Nothing was as devastating as seeing you standing on that ledge.” We think the entire fandom would agree with that statement, having barely survived the stress of witnessing such a low moment for Alec. Magnus then went on to say, “Magic can’t create fears, only bring them out.” Which is what we had been discussing amongst ourselves all week. Knowing that Alec must have been harboring this overwhelming guilt even more deeply and severely than we thought. Alec at first seemed to try to brush off Magnus’ concerns but then his face gave away the truth behind the actions, helped along by Magnus letting him know he had also faced this same struggle in his own life. We remember his conversation with Simon in episode 2 when he told him about his suicidal thoughts. This conversation between Alec and Magnus was exactly what the fandom had been hoping to see. It addressed such a significant social issue that viewers can draw something from. Which we think is part of the responsibility of television and media, especially when dealing with younger audiences. The moment was captured and we feel justice was given to the importance.
As always, Alec and Magnus are interrupted by those pesky Shadowhunters. This time Jace and Clary are the ones barging into Magnus’ loft seeking help. (Insert our eye roll along with Magnus’!) Clary’s blood oath with Iris has resulted in her hand turning black, “The Burnt Flesh” Magnus calls it. He tells them if they don’t find Madzie before the magic moves to Clary’s heart she will die. Jace is obviously upset by this and Alec is immediately at his Parabatai’s side to help.
Later in the episode we saw Alec head straight into Aldertree’s office demanding to know where Isabelle is and why she’s been acting weird. Alec accused Aldertree that she hasn’t been herself since he sent her to the Iron Sisters. (Oh Alec, you don’t know the half of it!) Aldertree is quick to defend himself by mentioning Alec’s actions at the party, and his moment on the ledge. (A low blow even for Victor!) He even has the audacity to threaten Alec with a psych evaluation. (Better order one for yourself buddy!) Obviously Victor knows his plan, or mistake, whichever it was, is about to be uncovered so he’s trying to hurt Alec in order to throw him off the trail. The scene was acted brilliantly by Matthew Daddario and Nick Sagar, their fiery tempers flaring up against each other was a moment we’d been anxious to see. Alec having been removed as head of the Institute when Aldertree arrived in episode 1 he’d been harboring resentment and anger for the last nine episodes. This was only the beginning, more on that in a minute.
Next we are taken to the Hunter’s Moon where the leaders of each Downworlder faction, Luke representing the werewolves, Magnus representing the warlocks, Raphael representing the vampires, and Meliorn representing the seelies, are discussing what to do about Valentine’s plan to decimate the downworld. Everyone is quick to notice Meliorn is dressed in seelie armor, which is their sign of war. When Luke lays out the facts of Valentine’s plan Meliorn is quick to suggest they should execute Clary in order to save everyone. Of course Luke and Magnus are strongly against this idea, to which Meliorn replies they’ve become biased due to their relationships with Shadowhunters. Luke with Jocelyn, Magnus with Alec, and then he points out Raphael’s connection with Isabelle. Nobody knew this so Magnus started putting two and two together while Raphael insisted his judgement had not been affected and he’s all for the plan to murder Clary. (Uh oh!) This scene was so epic, we were loving the dynamic of the Downworlder representatives meeting in this council format. Not only are they incredibly strong and dynamic characters but the combination of these four actors together in a scene was mind-blowing and impressive!
Later that night we were back to Magnus’ loft where Alec entered in a very agitated state. Having received a message from Magnus that he might know where Isabelle is he arrives nearly frantic with worry. We’d been dreading this tiff since the promo and it didn’t disappoint us with its heartbreaking tension. Alec was angry that Magnus didn’t come to him sooner about Isabelle’s addiction, saying “I expect this from Aldertree but not from you.” Magnus tried to explain that he didn’t know until just that same night, having figured it out after speaking to Meliorn at the Downworlders meeting. So he revealed to Alec he’d seen Izzy attempting to buy yin fen from a disreputable warlock at the Hunter’s Moon. Now he thinks she’s getting her fix straight from the source, AKA Raphael, and Alec is irate. This scene was really powerful even though none of us want to see Malec discord of course. But relationships always face challenges from time to time and showing Magnus and Alec’s ability to face problems and deal with them head on only strengthens their relationship over time. On a lighter note, we loved Magnus’ outfit in this scene and Harry Shum Jr did a fantastic job, as usual, portraying the stylish and always well put together warlock!
Watch out Raphael! Here comes Izzy’s big brother to settle the score! We were riveted by this intense scene where Alec barges into Raphael’s apartment, easily leveling the guard at the door, to rescue his little sister. He charges the room and immediately lands a solid punch that sends Raphael flying over the back of the couch dramatically. But before Alec has a chance to continue beating him up Raphael tells him that Aldertree is the one who got her addicted to yin fen and he was only trying to help her. Raphael then grabbed Alec by the throat in an attempt to explain his real reasons for having Izzy there was because, “I have feelings for her.” Alec is shocked by this confession and Izzy seems equally surprised. She tells Raphael to let go which allows Alec to brutally lay into him again, landing punch after punch to his face. It wasn’t until Magnus arrived and fired up a beam of red magic to grab hold of Alec’s fist and send him flying backward away from Raphael that the fight was finally broken up. Alec jumped back up on his feet and responded, “This is my family,” to which Magnus could have countered that it was also his family, but it wasn’t in the dialogue. Although we were definitely thinking it at the time since it had already been established in a previous episode that Raphael was like a son to him. Alec goes on to insist this wouldn’t have happened if Magnus would have told him about the yin fen. Magnus tried to defend himself saying he didn’t know, but Alec doesn’t agree, telling him, “You knew enough.”
Alec grabbed Isabelle by the arm and took her away from Raphael’s leaving Magnus there to talk to him. Raphael again claimed he has feelings for Isabelle saying they are, “No different from you and Alec,” which Magnus of course knows that admittance is under the influence of the angel blood he’s been drinking. He tells him to see if he feels the same once he isn’t high, a slight foreshadowing to Raphael’s true nature, which would be explain in the next episode. The dynamic between the two families in this scene was dramatic and almost felt like a line was being drawn to choose sides. Surely a compromise will have to be made as Magnus and Alec continue to face the “Rizzy” relationship in the next half of the season.
In the alleyway outside of Raphael’s apartment Isabelle demanded that Alec let her go, telling him, “He saved my life.” Of course Alec is confused because he had no idea she was already hooked on the drug long before Raphael even came into the picture. Isabelle is adamant that she isn’t leaving, going as far as to say, “I’m not your baby sister anymore Alec. Just go, I don’t need your help.” Spoken like a true addict, it looks like she’s got a long road of recovery ahead of her. Alec is deflated and leaves her behind, but we don’t think this means he’ll give up trying to save her from her addiction. We weren’t too sure what to think of this storyline when it first began but now the relevance of the topic does seem to fit into the show quite nicely. Hopefully Izzy can battle back and overcome this soon, Emeraude Toubia has done an amazing job showing the audience her character’s struggle. Plus the strained relationship with her brother adds another layer to Alec’s already turbulent family crisis. The poor guy can never seem to catch a break.
Back at the Institute Alec attempted to assemble a team of Shadowhunters to search for Clary, who has been taken to Valentine by Madzie, but is thwarted by the arrival of Aldertree. He enters the command center in the middle of Alec’s orders and tells the team to disregard them. (Oh no he didn’t!) Alec is quick to inform Aldertree that he knows he was the once supplying his sister with yin fen and successful uses this information to regain control of the Institute. It’s so great to see Alec back in charge calling the shots! He reassembles the search team and tells Victor, “Don’t ever threaten my family again.” We love this strong, protective, take no crap from anyone, Alec. The characterization matches what we’ve seen in previous episodes as Alec continues to fight for the things he wants, rather it be in his love life or at work. Matt has this edgy, tough guy from New York spin on Alec’s personality that is really fun to see. Aldertree evidentially doesn’t want to mess with him so he admits his defeat telling the group to, “Do as he says.”
All in all we felt episode 9 really packed a punch. (Literally!) With no shortage of drama and action we were captivated by the twists and turns of the story, which is especially gripping for those of us who have read the books. Just when you think you might know what is coming next, the writers throw a curve ball that’s unexpected but entertaining for sure. There seems to be a lot of talk about who the show is being geared toward. Rather it be book fans or those who are unfamiliar with the Shadow World. But we feel it’s possible to satisfy and delight both sides equally with a careful mixture of book canon and quotes mixed with new storytelling. A difficult task for sure but one that is being met more often than not. With the winter finale just moments away we are sure to find even more drama and suspense to leave us hungry for season 2B later this year.