Shadowhunters episode 12, “You Are Not Your Own“, aired Monday night on Freeform and we are still trying to recover from it! Directed by Billie Woodruff and written by Jamie Gorenberg this intense roller coaster ride of pain and heartbreak shocked us to our core. Even with prior knowledge of the body swap between Valentine and Magnus nothing could have prepared us for the emotional journey we were going to experience this week. To say that we were greatly affected would be the understatement of the decade.
From the first moment of the opening scene our hearts dropped as we saw Magnus, trapped inside Valentine’s body (Magnentine), locked in a prison cell in the basement of the Institute. Pounding on the glass and yelling for help, this desperate and painful moment set the tone for what was to be the most gut wrenching and dramatic episode to date.
The scene then immediately flashed to Valentine, trapped in Magnus’ body (Valentus), walking through the front door of Magnus’ loft. Agitated and out of breath he threw off Magnus’ coat and scarf and began ransacking potion ingredients looking for something that could help him. He soon realized the greater demon Azazel was already there and ready to reveal his reason for making the swap. He told Magnentine if he wanted to be switched back he would have to give him the Mortal Cup. Demons can be controlled by whoever possess the cup so it makes sense Azazel would want it. Harry Shum Jr. was incredible in this scene, and be prepared to hear us say that over and over. His transformation into Valentine captured his demeanor, posture, and even the timbre of his voice perfectly. We were absolutely riveted watching his performance while at the same time so incredibly anxious to see how this was all going to play out.
Back at the Institute Izzy brought Sebastian in to meet the gang and in true Alec fashion, he was immediately skeptical of this mysterious stranger. Reminiscent of season one when Clary first arrived, he didn’t seem ready to greet him with open arms even after learning he’d rescued his sister. But of course nobody seemed to listen to Alec’s concerns, even Jace was ready to bring him on the team after learning he was an expert on greater demons. Everyone appeared to be loving Sebastian immediately. (Insert book fans screaming) We thought Izzy was a bit hard on Alec as he left the command center frustrated. Considering how much he has tried to help her with her addiction and recovery we’re already wondering if this miracle drug she’s been given by Sebastian is going to affect her adversely.
It was great to see Matthew Daddario back in his element as salty Alec, rolling his eyes and raising suspicious eyebrows at everyone. We loved how he immediately spoke up in favor of trusting Magnus and using his help over that of a stranger. Of course he had no idea Magnus and Valentine had swapped bodies as he headed off to the loft, and just as we feared this was about to get extremely awkward.
Back at the loft, Azazel was putting pressure on Magnentine to surrender the Mortal Cup but unfortunately for him Valentine doesn’t know the first thing about Magnus’ magic or how to use it. Watching him flail his arms around and clap his hands together like he was trying to kick start them was hilarious. Harry did such a good job selling the fact that Valentine was clueless about how to use magic. Azazel seemed to be losing his patience more and more as the two continued to squabble. Azazel finally grew tired of negotiating and put an invisible choke hold on Magnentine, sending him to his knees gasping for breath, threatening to kill him if he didn’t hand it over immediately. Again, Harry’s performance, we were in awe.
Alec then showed up at the loft to check on Magnus after a strange phone call between them. Magnentine seemed quite shocked to find Alec at his door and continued to look baffled as Alec entered the loft and questioned him again and again about what was wrong. It didn’t take long though until he began to realize this was more than just a friendly visit. But before much else can be said Azazel pops out and throws Magnentine aside leaving Alec to face him alone. Whipping out his bow incredibly fast, somehow Alec managed to draw back and shoot an arrow right through the exact pea-sized spot Sebastian said would destroy him, all while flying backwards through the air. An amazingly epic shot by our favorite archer! Plus a really terrific effect, complete with windblown hair, which we loved.
Magnentine sure didn’t look too happy to see Azazel gone, obviously concerned that he wouldn’t be able to get out of Magnus’ body without his help. Alec was visibly shaken seeing how worried he was as he reached out to try and comfort the very distressed Magnentine. We are pretty sure we felt our hearts stop beating watching Alec being so sweet with him. Pulling him close, touching his face, telling him it was going to be OK. If only that could have been an actual Malec moment! But at least we got to see how much Alec cares about his boyfriend. After all of this trauma surely we’ll see more Malec moments coming in future episodes.
Having grown more and more frustrated and desperate, Magnentine called for Dot to come to the loft and help him regain his ability to do magic. He told her a lie that he’d lost it during the ordeal with Azazel, and she’d seemed skeptical at first. We thought maybe she’d see it wasn’t really him, but apparently she was just as fooled as everyone else. We have to mention again how brilliant Harry’s posture and stance were as Valentine. That sort of military way he holds himself matched with the condescending look on his face, just perfect.
This next scene is difficult to even talk about because our emotions are still so raw from its utter devastation. Rather than take you through the scene step by step we really just want to talk about what we saw and how it made us feel. As the audience we had the benefit of knowing we were looking at Magnus trapped in that terrible prison. Alan Van Sprang was a genius, really there’s no better way to describe what he managed to do. He gave us a frightened and broken Magnus Bane, begging and pleading for his life to the one person who might be able to help him. The look of terror in his eyes, his lip trembling with fear, he knew he needed to somehow trigger Alec to know who he was inside this monster’s body.
Alec busted in, temper flaring, and we could immediately see the rage on his face. No doubt he’d snapped after hearing Valentus calling out Magnus’ name for hours. Every Shadowhunter knows Valentine’s MO is always to lie and trick his way out of every circumstance. Anyone would be a fool to ever consider trusting him. But as Valentus spoke to Alec of these precious memories they had shared; the Omamori, their trip to Tokyo, kissing on the terrace, the “intimate details” that nobody else could know, Alec’s face began to transform and we could see the doubt creeping into his eyes as they shifted back and forth over Valentine’s face. His rage transformed to shock as he tried to process what he was hearing. Knowing Valentine was a master of manipulation, capable of really just about anything, all Alec could do at this point was run away.
Who’s the first person Alec would run to? Jace, of course. His parabatai and the one person he trusts above anyone else in the world. Unfortunately, when it comes to Valentine, Jace is the last person who could give an unbiased opinion. He’s the man who fooled Jace into thinking he was Michael Wayland for over ten years. Abused him, tortured him, then fooled him again in season one when he came back. Their relationship is riddled with deceit and tragedy.
We saw Alec’s face again show signs of doubt as Jace came up with a logical explanation that Azazel must have stolen memories of Alec and Magnus’ personal life so he could use them to trick him. Alec is so confused and unsure we think he’s on the brink of figuring out the switch was real, but then Jace asks him to please trust him on this… and that’s when we felt all hope was lost. Alec putting his faith in Jace over his own gut instincts, not trusting himself to know the truth. Really it isn’t a surprise since Alec has been struggling with a lack of self-confidence all season, especially since the death of Jocelyn, but still it was really disheartening to see.
Finally Magnentine and Valentus are brought face to face down in the basement of the Institute. Valentine knew he needed Magnus to help him if he had any chance of getting back into his own body. Now that Dot has shown him how to use magic he thinks he’s going to break Valentus out of his cell so they can escape. This scene is so groundbreaking for Shadowhunters we have to give major kudos to the director, Billie Woodruff. What an amazing concept to line up Magnus’ reflection along with Valentine’s face in the glass, cold chills were running over our bodies! This affect, mixed with the stellar performances of Alan and Harry, lifted this to an unprecedented level of greatness for the show. Anyone who doubted Shadowhunters has the ability to play in the big leagues with other fantasy/sci-fi shows should have been impressed. This is a perfect example of what we hope to see more of in future episodes. Really digging in deep with the characters and the story, adding high quality visual effects and new sets to bring even more fans to the Shadow World.
Unfortunately Magnentine’s powers were useless and he couldn’t do anything to help. The Inquisitor arrived and found him there looking quite suspicious, so she threw him out of the Institute. That left Valentus trapped again, with no hope of freedom. This next part was probably the saddest most horrific thing we’ve ever experienced as we watched the Inquisitor torture Valentus with the agony rune. This rune brought back nightmarish memories from Magnus’ past and mixed them with gruesome amounts of pain that surely left not a dry eye in the fandom. Once again Billie Woodruff and the special effects team used amazing techniques to flash between Magnus, Valentine, and even a young version of Magnus as a child, which only heightened the shocking devastation of this torture scene. If you love Magnus Bane there is no way this moment didn’t leave a lasting impression in your mind that you’ll not soon forget.
Back at the loft Magnentine has called for Jace to come and help him plan a special surprise for Alec. This was only a trick though as we then saw him blast Jace with a fiery red spell, shackling his arms together. Harry really captured the fatherly type of feelings Valentine has always held for Jace, although misguided and unhealthy. For a moment he’s almost smiling at him, realizing of course that Jace will never have any type of relationship with him no matter what. But Valentine holds some sort of interest in Jace still despite that fact.
Hearing of Valentine’s scheduled execution Alec found the Inquisitor heading back down to the basement. He stopped her just before boarding the elevator and she informed him that the Clave had rejected the order but she planned to carry it out herself anyway. Alec seemed confused by her willingness to break the law, so he followed her no doubt to keep an eye on what she was up to. Once they got down to Valentus’ cell things only went from bad to worse. Asserting herself as an authority figure over Alec she demanded he help her or leave. Then proceeded to use Alec as her assistant in this illegal execution. What is going through Alec’s mind during this debacle? We cannot say. But apparently he’s convinced himself this really is Valentine. And of course it makes sense he would have personal reasons to want him dead. After the kidnapping and torture of his parabatai as well as the countless people he has murdered, including the demon he sent lose in the Institute that possessed Alec and caused him to kill Jocelyn. We know Alec hates him. But even still, it was heartbreaking to watch him hoist Valentus into that execution chair. We were screaming at our TVs begging for someone to come and stop this from happening.
Thankfully Magnentine and Jace arrived just in the nick of time to confirm there was indeed a switch so that Alec could run back into the cell and save Magnus’ life. We’re pretty sure we weren’t breathing by that point, it was much too close of a call, but we were grateful the confusion was finally over.
Back to the loft, Magnentine and Valentus work together to create the potion needed to make the switch back into their own bodies. Again we are mesmerized by Alan and Harry’s amazing performances. Watching them stand opposite of each other was so surreal, you could see them inhabiting each other’s character but also noticing this about themselves. Which was very clever. Not only for the benefit of the actors but also for the audience who savored every little nuance. As the spell took effect their bodies were levitated off the ground and you could see the essence of each one slowly pull away from the wrong body and back to where it belonged. Another stunning visual effect!
Outside the door, which was protected by wards, Clary, Sebastian, and Alec tried to find a way to enter. Clary’s rune powers still weren’t working, but with the help of Sebastian she was able to channel her emotions into making a rune that would dissolve the protective magic. Alec looked at Sebastian with suspicion as he continues to be the only person questioning his motives. Soon they were barging into the loft to help, Clary leading the way. She steamrollered into Valentine tackling him through the portal and back to his prison cell.
In Magnus and Alec’s final scene of the episode we breathed a sigh of relief knowing Magnus was finally back to his body again. But that relief didn’t last long. Now we were faced with the aftermath of Magnus’ traumatic past being resurrected as well what will no doubt be a tough recovery from the brutal torture he’s endured at the hands of the Clave. Alec was trying to make himself useful, cleaning up broken glass but we know he’s got to be beating himself up inside, feeling the crushing guilt over what Magnus has been through. Not to mention his role in the ordeal and that gut wrenching Omamori scene with them in the cell. We feel fairly certain we’ll see more conversations between them addressing what happened and how they can work through it and overcome whatever damage has been done. Magnus probably won’t be OK for a while, and that’s going to be tough to see. But we know Alec loves him very much and will do anything to help Magnus fight his way back from the sadness. As horrible as it was for Magnus to endure, we hope it will somehow break down the walls he’s built around his heart over the centuries and allow Alec to know everything about him, the good times and the bad. So they can build a trusting relationship to stand the test of time.
You Are Not Your Own isn’t going to be an episode we’ll forget about anytime soon. The brilliant performances of Matt, Harry, and Alan deserve all the praise we can possibly give them. This was one of the few times our entire team immediately agreed as soon as the episode ended that it was fantastic. That initial feeling hasn’t worn off at all this week and the excitement for what is to come over the rest of the season has renewed our enthusiasm for the show. We can’t wait to see what happens next week in episode 13, which has already been called the most controversial they’ve ever done. The bar has been set even higher with 2B and we’re sure the best is yet to come!
Be sure to stay tuned to ShumDario News on Twitter to stay up to date on all of Matthew Daddario and Harry Shum Jr.’s projects and appearances. Shadowhunters Season 2B airs Mondays 8/7c on Freeform!