Episode 13 of the second season of Freeform’s Shadowhunters, titled “Those of Demon Blood”, aired Monday night promising to be the most controversial episode to date. Written by Zac Hug and directed by Michael Goi, our favorite sci-fi drama dipped its toes into some pretty hefty real-world topics that surely resonated with viewers around the globe. Tackling social and political issues such as prejudice, racial profiling, discrimination and equality, we saw the fantasy genre elevate into something very relevant to today.
At the Institute we first saw Alec with his sister Isabelle discussing their brother Max’s impending arrival. We learned Isabelle would be his tutor and she would also be in charge of overseeing his continuing training to become a full-fledged Shadowhunter. Izzy seemed quite nervous about having this new responsibility so soon into the process of her addiction recovery, but Alec insisted she was more than capable and would do a great job. It’s always nice to see a scene discussing Lightwood family matters because Alec’s role as a big brother and protector defines a huge part of his character. He’s always there to support his siblings and in many ways is a father figure to them.
Although it was great to see Max coming back to live in New York those of us on the team who’ve read the books are getting a sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs at the thought of what might be in store for him later this season. Alec and Izzy’s conversation was then interrupted by Jace and Clary reporting that another dead Shadowhunter had been found, their runes carved out after apparently being attacked by a wolf. This mystery killer(s) quickly became the main focus of the episode as well as the catalyst for some very controversial methods to find them.
Back at the Jace Wolf, Alec and Jace arrived interrupting an incredibly awkward and cringe worthy conversation between Simon and Luke. Thank you for that! Alec told Luke the Inquisitor would like to speak with him in regards to the alleged wolf attack and he was then taken back to the Institute to be questioned by Imogen herself. Based on Alec’s facial expressions during this scene we were getting the feeling he wasn’t so sure this was the best way to go about their investigation. While Jace seemed to be following along, Alec began to question Clave’s authority more and more.
After Imogen named Jace the new Head of the Institute we saw Alec’s disappointed reaction back in the command center. He told Jace he felt his relationship with a “guy who is a Downworlder” was the reason he was overlooked for the job. Also he pointed out the fact that Jace is now a Herondale, which we learned last week is considered “Shadowhunter royalty”. Alec told Jace to, “Enjoy the perks”, but before they can continue their conversation more dead Shadowhunters are wheeled in.
Alec, Jace, Clary, and Izzy then discussed reaching out to their Downworld friends to seek their help by collecting DNA samples to clear their names. Luke had already given a sample of his and so the gang split up and Alec headed off to the loft to see Magnus. Since this next scene was a sneak peek we already knew what was coming, but it was still hard to watch our favorite couple have to face this uncomfortable moment in their relationship. Alec seemed to not fully realize the truly offensive nature of asking Magnus for a DNA sample, probably because he saw Luke was so willing to offer his. But Magnus was rightfully upset by his request, asking Alec what about “trusting his gut?” An even more poignant comment considering the events of last week’s episode. After giving him a hair to test, Magnus threw Alec out of his house. A tough blow to Alec but probably just the wakeup call he needed to see that what the Clave was ordering him to do wasn’t right.
We have to take a moment to appreciate Magnus’ amazing look in this scene. He’s wearing a killer outfit, new colorful makeup, and even some highlights in his hair. This totally gave us a season one vibe which we loved and it was great to see our old Magnus back. However, this fab new look had an underlying reason that made us feel very sad. We know Magnus hasn’t dealt with the trauma he suffered in last week’s episode yet and it seems he’s trying to bury the pain with his old defense mechanism of being the life of the party. Alec immediately picked up on this drastic change. From the moment he opened the door he knew something wasn’t right. Even though their relationship is quite new, Alec knows Magnus well enough to see through his façade.
Next we saw Magnus, having spiraled into a bender, finish off the last of a bottle of whiskey. There was a knock on his door and Dot arrived, looking very pretty and smiling a bit too sweetly. Cue our slight panic! We learned that Magnus hadn’t told her about the body swap which only verified our earlier concerns that he was trying to block out what happened. We also found out Dot has known “Mag” for centuries and the two are apparently very close. Cue second slight panic!
Back at the Institute Imogen told Jace and Alec they needed to round up the Downworlders and implant them with tracking chips. This was the last straw for Alec who seemed to have finally found his own voice in this horrible situation. He stood up for what he knew in his gut was right and seeing he couldn’t make Jace see his side, stormed off refusing to be part of their plan. He then ended up at Clary’s bedside waiting for her to wake up from being drugged by the killer so he could tell her what had happened to Simon while she was asleep. An odd pairing for sure, but Alec and Clary were just about the only Shadowhunters seeing eye to eye at this point.
At the loft, Magnus and Dot were reminiscing about the good old days, and we found out they had once been lovers. Cue third panic! As well as Magnus’ crush on Freddie Mercury. Their conversation seemed to be veering more and more towards sex and although this scene was very informative it was hard to believe Magnus would put himself in a situation of being drunk with his ex. Finally we saw the highly anticipated dance between them which ended in a twirl bringing Dot within inches of Magnus’ face. We might have momentarily stopped breathing until Magnus officially rejected her kiss, saying he was in love with Alec. Halleluiah! Let’s hope nothing like that ever happens again this season because the stress outweighed the benefit of the screen time.
After the murder mystery was solved we found Alec, Jace, and Isabelle in the Head of the Institute’s office discussing her possible motives and if she was acting alone. That’s when Jace announced that his first official act as Head of the Institute would be to give the job to Alec by naming his as his successor. Boy we were sure glad to see this happen, nobody deserves it more than Alec. He’s a born leader and will do the right thing to promote unity and peace between Shadowhunters and Downworlders.
Finally at the end of the episode we saw Alec go back to Magnus’ loft to apologize for the whole DNA debacle and the two shared another “I love you” exchange followed by a brief kiss. We were glad to see them make up after the tension earlier but we feel more angst and drama will be coming soon as Magnus begins to deal with his past.
Watching these characters that we love face some very real and difficult issues definitely grounded the show in a sense of reality that was quite a departure from previous episodes. Normally we watch shows like this as an escape from the social injustice that surrounds our daily lives. But after seeing this episode we feel this was actually a great way, especially with Freeform’s younger viewers, to bring heavy topics into a context that can be understood by everyone. Hopefully people can learn something from the struggles the Downworlders faced and maybe even implement what they learned into their own lives. That’s quite a big job for a TV show, but the way the issues were addressed gave each character a new layer to their identity that only further enriched the overall plot and development of the show as a whole. We appreciated the care that went into handling these sensitive topics with integrity and honor, and we hope viewers felt the same.
We’ll be back again next week for our review of episode 14, The Fair Folk. In the meantime 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 latest projects. We will have exclusive live-coverage of Matt and Harry’s appearance at THOS Convention in Paris June 24th and 25th so you’ll definitely want to check that out!
Shadowhunters Season 2B airs on Mondays at 8/7c on Freeform!