What can we say about last Monday’s episode “Awake, Arise, or Be Forever Fallen”?! We were literally at the edge of our seats for this passionate, heartbreaking and emotional journey that lifted us to the highest highs then sent us crashing down to the lowest of lows. Not only did we experience these overwhelming feelings during the show’s 43 heart racing minutes, but it continued on into the days that followed. Leaving no doubt in our minds that Awake, Arise, or Be Forever Fallen, written by Jamie Gorenberg and directed by Amanda Row, will go down as our favorite episode to date, and quite possibly of the entire series! Our team has been rocked to the core by the events that unfolded between Magnus and Alec, so much so we’ve barely been able to function. Sitting here five days after the show has aired we’re still unable to fully process our thoughts and form coherent opinions about what we saw. This is surely a testament to just how amazing the episode was. To say that it was absolute perfection and everything we’ve ever wanted in life, still seems like a vast understatement. But we have to find a way to make it through this review somehow, so buckle up and we’ll start at the very beginning!
Our first look at Alec this week was in the command center, his body braced against that beautiful blue glowing table that we love, handing out orders to the gang. After Magnus had angrily stormed out of the Institute in last week’s episode we knew things were going to be rough for Malec. And it was clear by Alec’s weary and distraught expression he wasn’t fairing too well in the aftermath. Once everyone disbursed to track down Jonathan, Izzy stayed behind to ask Alec if he was OK. She put two and two together and realized he must have told Magnus about the sword. Alec responded with a silent but devastated look and our hearts were already breaking for him just four minutes into the episode.
In the meantime, Magnus was with Luke at the Seelie Court hoping to unite the Downworld in the hunt for Valentine. Now that they know he has the sword everyone is even more anxious to find him. As the Queen began speaking we quickly saw she had her own agenda in mind, telling Magnus and Luke they weren’t going to “play by the Clave’s rules.” Magnus managed to buy them a bit more time, telling her they needed to think it over, and she gave him a rose that would act as a sort of countdown. Once the petals turned black he would have to make his decision to either break allegiance with the Shadowhunters or “be on the losing side,” as she put it. This very businesslike and resolute version of Magnus was unusual and we felt the change in him as he ruled with his head instead of his heart. It was the first time we’d seen Magnus take a strong leadership role over “his people”, since way back in the beginning of season one. He has been so involved with Alec, and helping the Shadowhunters, we’d almost forgotten he’s in charge of all the warlocks in the area. Plus his position on the Downworld council is important as well. So now we see Magnus stand up to represent them and try to make the best decision he can. But of course we know that isn’t going to be easy.
Once Magnus got back to the loft we saw him holding the Queen’s rose with a suffering look of indecision on his face. His thoughts then drifted into the first Malec flashback of the night. All the way back to season 1, episode 6, after the notorious “drink break” scene. Where Magnus enticed Alec to “stay for one more drink and then decide”. We’ve always wanted to know what happened next. That’s a question many fans have been asking themselves for over a year now. And although we still don’t know quite what happened that night we did get the opportunity to see the morning after. Alec was asleep on Magnus’ couch, looking adorable by the way!
Magnus woke him, offering coffee, and it was fun to see the old grumpy Alec back again. Dodging away from Magnus, being salty and closed off, it made us realize even more just how much he has changed in such a short period of time. He’s really grown as a person, not only coming out and accepting his true self, but also allowing himself to find love and joy in his life. Matthew Daddario has given Alec many new emotional layers which significantly adds to his depth of character. The level of maturity we didn’t see back then has instilled a subtlety drastic change in Alec, once you compare the two side by side, that we really appreciated.
Hearing both Magnus and Alec say they trusted one another was authentic and genuinely moving. Even in that stage in their relationship, when basically there was no relationship, they were sowing the seeds that would eventually grow into love for each other.
After a few scenes of Alec and the others frantically searching the Institute for Jonathan in the wake of Max’s attack, we were taken back to the loft again to find Magnus standing at the window, looking out into the rain. When the music swelled we lost our ability to breathe as the second flashback commenced, this time taking us back to episode 2×7 for Malec’s “first time”. We knew it was coming, but we didn’t really know what to expect. But within seconds it was clear, we were not prepared.
The scene was unbelievable. It was so full of love and happiness with just the perfect blend of cute and sexy and adorable, our hearts literally exploded for Malec. Seeing their smiles as their foreheads were pressed together, hearing their little giggles as they excitedly pulled off each other’s clothes, it was more than anyone could have hoped for honestly. Matt and Harry made it so special for the fans, you could tell they really wanted all of us to experience the magic of this first time. It came off so effortlessly, there were no actors on the screen for us, it was just Malec. Living and breathing and loving each other for the whole world to see. We have cried so many tears of joy this past week there’s really no way to put it into words.
Even if we watched this 17,000 times, and some members of our team are probably close to getting there, it would still be just as amazing as it was the first time, if not more! Those of us who lived through #MalecDeservesBetter last February felt a sense of pride in what was accomplished with this initiative. Using our voices to call for change, then by some miracle to be heard by the showrunners and have those changes made. When does anything like this ever happen with a television show? It’s just unbelievable really. Such a wonderful outcome to a situation that at the time seemed futile. We hope all the fans were able to enjoy this incredible scene and take the time to tweet thanks to the cast and crew who made it possible.
Another crucially important part of the Malec relationship was also rectified in this episode when Magnus revealed his cat eyes to Alec for the first time. Harry Shum Jr. perfectly portrayed Magnus’ fear and vulnerability, which then played so well along with Alec’s total and complete acceptance of him. What a special moment. You could really feel that Magnus fell in love with Alec right then and there, having shown him his true self and receiving only love and tenderness in return. It was just beautiful.
After the second flashback Alec showed up at Magnus’ door asking him to come and help the injured Max. Which of course made sense because Magnus would be the one person Alec would trust above anyone else to help his little brother. And Magnus, being the caring and loving person that he is, immediately went with Alec to the Institute. You could feel the tension between them, but you could also see they both care very deeply for each other.
After Magnus checked on Max he came back out to the hallway and informed the Lightwood family there wasn’t anything he could do. He said Brother Enoch, the Silent Brother, would have to attempt a dangerous procedure if there was any chance of saving Max. This was a really touching scene. Alec was so upset and worried for his brother, as well as the whole family, you could see the desperation and fear behind his eyes. This put Magnus in a really difficult situation. He wanted to be there to help and support Alec, you could tell he was genuinely concerned for him, but at the same time the problems in their relationship were causing a palpable tension and strain that was really upsetting to witness. Fans of angst were probably thrilled with this scene.
Magnus then reached for Alec’s hands to offer comfort and we had a small hope that this tragedy was going to bring them back together. That was when the third flashback came, this time with Magnus and Alec in bed together the morning after their first time, and our hearts melted. Even though this had been a sneak peek we still felt overwhelmed by the love between these two. Their cute banter and pillow talk was so perfect, Alec’s little joke about leaving, their beautiful smiles, right down to the golden color of the sheets and the sunlight streaming in through the window. How many more times can we say it was perfect? But that’s exactly what it was.
Then the conversation took a turn into a heavier topic as Alec brought up the fact that Magnus is an all-powerful immortal warlock and he wondered what he could possibly be afraid of. You can see Magnus isn’t quite ready to completely open up about his fears but he does give an honest answer, “the key to having no fear is having nothing to lose.” Then he goes on to say that was the reason he hadn’t opened his heart up to anyone in almost one hundred years, “until I met you.” This admission brought a proud grin to Alec’s face, realizing he was the one person who had unlocked Magnus’ heart. He reached to take his hand sealing this pivotal moment in their relationship. Now both of them are really beginning to show just how much they care for each other.
In the final scene between Magnus and Alec our hearts were pounding out of our chests because we knew this was the moment where Magnus would have to make his decision. Max was out of the woods, but the Queen’s flower was almost completely black, so there was no time left to think things over. Alec apologized about the Soul Sword and told Magnus he’d made a mistake, but “we always seem to find our way back to each other,” had been his way of trying to persuade Magnus to keep fighting for their relationship.
Magnus then told Alec that he loved him but he felt he couldn’t protect his people and be with him as well. The shock and devastation on Alec’s face literally ripped our hearts out. He was destroyed, and his voice was pleading for Magnus to reconsider. “We can figure this out,” he begged him, but Magnus was firmly resolved. Watching him turn his back on Alec and walk away was sheer agony. Seeing Alec standing there in the hallway with tears in his eyes as the elevator doors closed was so incredibly sad. None of us can remember ever feeling so traumatized by a scene on television before. Matt and Harry really nailed the emotions. It was so real and raw, definitely one of the best scenes these two have ever done. Our entire team was simply gutted.
Now that this episode is over the big question is, when will Malec get back together? Because we all know they have to work this out. Hopefully sooner rather than later. With only two episodes left in the season there really isn’t much time to patch things up. And the thought of even attempting to survive a 5 month hiatus with their relationship hanging in the balance sounds like torture. Even just these past few days have been incredibly painful. Talking to other fans online everyone has been emotionally drained from crying and worrying about what’s going to happen. We will all have to cross our fingers that Magnus and Alec can find a way to work out their differences and unite in the fight against Valentine and Sebastian. These two are always stronger together than they are apart, and we think we’ll see that play out on screen during the epic two part finale.
We hope you loved this episode as much as we did, though sad it was truly amazing on every level. We congratulate the cast and crew on their stellar efforts, and we’re now even more excited to see what they have in store for us next year. Be sure to tune in Monday night for part one of the Shadowhunters finale, and also follow along with us on ShumDario News for all the latest updates on Matt and Harry’s careers. As the season draws to a close our team is gearing up to bring you all the behind-the-scenes content coming soon as the cast returns to Toronto to film season 3!